We’ve been lucky, we have screens for our major hatches and companionway, so bugs haven’t been a big issue on our travels to date. We were plagued by black flies on the trip up the Rideau Canal to Ottawa, but that was mostly on open water and was actually an entertaining introduction to bug killing for the girls.
We were, however, missing screens for our aft birth and bathroom portlights, two rooms that would benefit from having the portlights open more often than not.I scavenged a couple of square screen frames from a condemned boat and decided to see if I could make them fit the Lewmar (New) Standard ports. Luckily the metal removed from one dimension was just enough to lengthen the other side. I used the method that the screens were originally made with, that is crimping in a piece of aluminum with a punch. I made the joints out of some aluminum scraps.
With so many joints, it doesn’t leave much of a recess for the traditional screen cord. The screens were originally made with the screening inside the joint but with so many joints, and small children with pokey fingers, I figured it was best to come up with a solution that would facilitate frequent screen replacement.
I tried the thickest spline (rubber screen cord) I could get, it was too thin, the spline was a super-thick custom spline. I tried tubing but it didn’t have enough spring to stay in place on the shallow-groove areas. I finally hit upon the idea of using some steel cable I had lying around the shop. It was exactly the right thickness, grippy, zinc plated and free!
I brazed it and trimmed the cable so it wouldn’t fray, then stuffed in the screen. It seems to work perfectly. The only drawback to these frames is they will have to be removed to shut the port, but that’s the case with all (with the exception of the Beckson) so we are used to that.
The black screen is for the Beckson cockpit/aft birth hatch screen that was subject to small curious fingers several seasons ago. This frame had the screen material melted into the plastic frame itself. I used a soldering gun with a flat tip and it looks as good as new.
Of course, I could have just ordered the screens but this was a winter make-work project. I’d rather use the $150 for something else, like a night at a marina or a couple of decent dinners on a summer cruise. The total cost was $14.95 for a roll of screening material, most of which will be kept onboard for future repairs.
We’ll see how they last…