I have a couple questions about replacing the acrylic in the salon and bow hatches. I would really appreciate your opinions and maybe some practical experience and success stories (and maybe a deflection calculation). I've seen most of the postings on the boards, and there are some beautiful hatches out there, but they don't deal with the issue I am most unsure about - should I use 1/2" polycarbonate to replace the 1/2" acrylic?
I have the Atkins & Hoyle alloy frame hatches, equivalent to today's XR200 (22" x 22") and XR300 (26" x 26") on my 1980 E38. The frames are in good shape. There are no reinforcing bars in the lids, and they use no fasteners to hold in the acrylic. The sheet just gets sealed into the lid with a 3/16" bead of sealer surrounding the properly shaped sheet. The 1/2" fits flush with the top of the lid. (www.atkinshoyle.com)
1. Would 1/2" polycarbonate work? I am concerned that the 1/2" polycarbonate will flex too much and create leaks around the edges where the somewhat stiffer acrylic won't have that problem. We walk on them all the time, particularly the larger one, which gets the abuse of the mainsail related activities.
2. Would a slightly thicker piece of polycarbonate 5/8" or 3/4" be the solution - beveled at the edges to match the lid?
A little more info: I can have Atkins & Hoyle do the job with acrylic for about $1100 for the pair, including shipping. Three weeks door-door-door at least. On the other hand I can get acrylic and polyarbonate locally by the pound (I found a 28" x 48" remnant of 1/2" scratch resistant polycarb. for $150) and have a local shop do them, or try it myself.
I am thinking about getting clear, rather than a gray or bronze tint. It's cool up here most of the year and I'd like to brighten up the boat on the cold cloudy days. I would install a shade below each to keep out the occasionally unwanted sun. Clear stuff is much more readily available - and cheaper.
Many thanks in advance for your help.