Restoring the Port Lights

We have 6 opening port lights and 4 stationary ones. All of them are original and were in pretty good condition except for the fact that they were leaky and very dirty.

This must be really old butyl tape or something waxy like that (still doing it's job though!). It is a major pain to remove, but I found the best way was to use a scrapper to remove what I could and then use paint thinner (not acetone - it does nothing) to remove the last sticky bits.

The frames are aluminum and had quite a bit of corrosion build up were the seals were bedded so I trashed the old, rock hard, seals (which were the cause of all the leaks) and then scraped out as much gunk as I could. Vinegar helped to break down the really bad parts. 

I wanted to polish the frames so I did a little googling and found that Cream of Tartar works great as an aluminum polish. After the frames were all clean and destickified, I made a paste with Cream of Tartar and water and brushed it on the frame with Matt's toothbrush  an old toothbrush.

Then just give em a fresh water rinse and voila! They look like new (not quite) again! Way easy and finally a task that didn't involve using toxic chemicals!


  1. Thank you so much for documenting this. It will come in handy.

  2. We have the same port lights, but ours have been kept clean so don't need restoring. But the screens that fit these port lights are no longer being manufacturered. If you come up with any tips for restoring the screens, or making new screens for these port lights, I'd be interested. Have been researching for awhile and have not come up with any sources/ideas.

  3. Just wanted to stay thanks for all the posts. I just bought an older boat and will be bookmarking your blog for ideas.

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