Cockpit Scuppers
This page was last updated on 2 April 2003.

UPDATE (January 2004)
Complete Scupper Reconfiguration and Replacement.  Click here.

After adding core and other material to the cockpit, it was necessary to redo and refair the scupper openings, both those in the cockpit seats and in the cockpit well.  When installing the fiberglass and new balsa core, I left these areas open, intending to refair them later.

(Left-cockpit well drain; right-cockpit seat)

Refairing was a multi-step process involving several applications of epoxy fairing compound.  I found that the best tool for the job was my finger, so I dipped my hand in the pail and went to town with the sticky brown epoxy--it looks like chocolate frosting, but surely tastes a lot worse!  Using my finger, I gooped the stiff in and around as necessary, attempting to get a decent-shaped hole without clogging up the drains.  I was able to do a decent job in the first coat, but will have to come back, sand and refair at least once more--and probably several more times--in order to get a smooth, symmetrical surface.  The process was pretty much the same for the deck scuppers in the seats and the main cockpit drains in the well, although with the 1/2" core in the well the opening around the drains was deeper and a little more difficult to fair.  The two photos below show the scuppers after the initial application of epoxy--the upper is the cockpit well, the lower is the cockpit seat (the same  drains as shown in the photos above).  

After several more coats, sanding in between coats, I finally achieved a decent, smooth, fair surface on the scuppers and drains.  This was a lot of work, requiring much hand sanding with little bits of paper, but the overall shape of the scuppers is important--after all, it's these details that will make the overall project a cosmetic success.  The photo to the right shows one of the drains built into the cockpit seats.  The inner part is not perfect, but doesn't need to be--I'll probably cover all the openings with grates to keep out debris anyway (at least the two in the cockpit sole) and any minor imperfections 1/2" down the tube will never be noticeable.  Besides, the one existing, unmodified scupper on the starboard sidedeck (not affected by the deck work) looks much worse than any of the ones I redid.  These photos (below) shows the same two scuppers after much fairing and reshaping.  I need to do a little more work on these two scuppers, but, as you can see, they're pretty much there.  
I completed any final touches on the fairing in my final paint preparations, when I filled pinholes and minor uneven spots with a smooth, creamy filler (Interlux epoxy surfacing compound).  Later, a week or so before launching the boat at the end of the project, I installed some little debris screens made by Perko.  They're meant as ventilator screens, but were the best thing I could find to work on these scupper openings.  They are 2-1/2" in diameter, and I installed them with screws and a bed of polysulfide to seal the holes.

There are drains in the cockpit seats and on the sidedecks just outside the cockpit, which connect to additional hoses that in turn connect to the main scupper drains beneath the cockpit.  One of the first "replacement" projects I completed was installing new hoses on these four drains, as before long the access to the bottoms of the drain fittings on deck would become much more difficult.  With the galley and icebox removed (and the rest of the boat entirely stripped out as well), access was as good as it was going to get.  I took this opportunity to install new fabric-reinforced hoses on all four drains.


Then, I replaced the scupper hoses with new fabric-reinforced water hose for the two pair of deck drains, and wire-reinforced engine exhaust hose for the main cockpit scuppers.  Getting this stiff hose in place in the very short run available was a trick, but I finally got it onto the new seacocks and the slightly cut down fiberglass drains from the cockpit above.  I clamped the new hoses in place with high quality, all 316 stainless AWAB clamps.



When the boat was launched in 2001, I checked the hoses and found that the port hose (which takes the most contorted turn onto the tailpiece from the scupper) was leaking a bit at the tailpiece.  The immediate solution was to close the seacock, which I did.  However, this meant that I had only one of the two scuppers in action--fine for the short term, but hardly ideal over the long haul.

In late May 2002, I decided to tackle the problem.  No amount of clamp-tightening would do the trick, so I guessed that I would have to try another type of hose. Thinking that some heavy-duty fabric-reinforced hose would be easier to deal with and more flexible, I ordered some 1-1/2" from Hamilton Marine.

When the hose arrived, I could immediately tell that it was stiff stiff stiff.  Still, I hoped it would do the job.  Out on the boat, I removed the old hose (destroying it in the process--hoses really grip that ridged section of the tailpiece).  Then, cutting a piece of the new hose to length, I  tried to get it into place.  Ha!  There was no way this stuff was going to work.  It simply wouldn't bend the way it had to, and when I tried it merely kinked anyway.

The problem with getting the hose to fit stems from two issues:

1.  The scupper outlet beneath the cockpit, onto which the hose clamps, is too close to the seacock and tailpiece beneath

2.  The seacock, naturally being at something of an angle because of the curvature of the hull, faces away from the scupper outlet at an odd angle, making a transition for the  hose very awkward and, as the earlier try showed, impossible to seal tightly.

My next thought was to create a way for the hose to make some bends using pipe fittings and such.  Heading to town for some fittings, I assembled a bewildering array of adapters, plastic, bronze, elbows, and tailpieces that I needed to make the various transitions in size from the 1-1/4" seacock to the 1-1/2" scupper outlet; the seacocks use "full flow" tailpieces that allow the use of 1-1/2" hose with the smaller seacock.  At this point, I didn't know that a 90 full flow tailpiece was available, so I had to come up with a series of size adapters based on what I could find at the store. I knew it was ridiculous, but I still hoped the plan might work.  Of course, it didn't.  I returned all the dumb fittings.  

Then, I discovered that they make 90 full flow tailpieces, so I ordered one, hoping this might make things easier.  Nope--the curve is way too high, and there was not enough clearance to even thread it into the seacock; it kept hitting the scupper outlet.  Shoot.

Meantime, the scuppers--from the cockpit and two sidedeck drains--were free to flow directly into the bilge, since the hose no longer was connected.  Obviously, I needed a way to stop this.  In desperation, I pulled out a spare length of cheap bilge hose (the clear stuff with black reinforcement that I used on my bilge pumps and water tank fill--total junk, by the way.  Don't use it for anything; I'll probably replumb the bilge pumps for next year.)  Yes, I know this stuff is not meant for this use.  I just needed something.  I was able to get the hose on, but it didn't seal well at the top end this time.  Oh well...good enough for now.  I still leave the seacock closed when I'm not on the boat, but at least I can open it if it rains hard or I wash the boat down to allow the sidedeck drains and scupper to work properly.  Note the tortured angle the hose has to make--and also check out the drop of water caught in midair by the battery cable in the background!

I think the only solution may be to move the seacock farther away from the scupper drain, and then use the 90 full flow tailpiece to provide a smooth path for the hose.  But that will have to wait till the boat is hauled.  The cheap hose allowed me to open the seacock from time to time during the season, as necessary, when we were on the boat; mostly, though, it remained closed, as I would never trust this junky hose and setup when leaving the boat.

The Final (Temporary) Solution

In spring 2003, I revisited the port scupper.  I didn't want to go in the water without a better, more permanent solution--one that would actually keep water out of the boat!   The first thing I did was remove the cheap plastic hose.  Then, figuring that--in situations like this--a longer length of hose is better than a shorter length, I found a 2' length of wire-reinforced exhaust hose (left over from the old galley sink drain) that seemed about right, and attempted to install it.  First, I clamped one end to the seacock tailpiece, ensuring that I slipped the hose all the way over the nipple and securely clamped it in place.  With one end secure, I twisted the flexible hose around, trying various methods, curves and angles to get the top end in place on the fiberglass scupper tube. 

Quickly, though, it became apparent that what remained of the scupper tube was not going to be capable of accepting this hose.  Not only was the protruding portion too short to give a proper clamping surface, but the old, resin-starved fiberglass tube was cracked and damaged, and when I tugged at the cracked portion, a large chunk came off in my hand--and with it went my dream of solving this scupper problem on that day, since there was no way that any hose would be able to clamp to the remains successfully.  I sighed deeply, and regrouped.



Because of the design of the scupper--incorporating two deck drains into a single outlet, combined with the cockpit drain itself--a simple replacement was not in order.  Not only that, but replacing the drain would involve quite a bit of glasswork, fairing, filling, and working in a confined area.  Not something that I had any intention in getting involved with at this point in the season.  Clearly, a solid, strong, watertight and trustworthy solution was needed to get me through at least the upcoming season.  Then, perhaps after the season, it will be time to revamp both cockpit scuppers and make the whole thing right once and for all.

Temporarily stumped, I closed things up and left for a day or two, all the while running ideas through my head.  What I came up with was an idea to epoxy a bronze 90 tailpiece to the fiberglass stump, onto which I could easily install the scupper hose.

I rummaged through my spare parts and found a myriad pieces and parts left over from last year's attempts at scupper reconfiguration.  My initial hope to simply glass a regular tailpiece to the fiberglass tube was dashed briefly when I realized that the threaded end was too small to fit over and around--or too large to fit inside--the fiberglass stump.

bronzeassy.JPG (158688 bytes)However, I soon found the perfect solution in my box of tricks.  I happened to have a 1-1/2" to 1-1/4" female coupler that I had purchased earlier, and found that the wide end was the perfect size to slip over the fiberglass stump.  With the 90 tailpiece screwed into the smaller end of the coupler, I could effectively accomplish what I had set out to.  After double-and triple checking the fit, and tightly threading the tailpiece into the coupler (since there would be no way to screw it in once the coupler was epoxied in, because of tight clearances with the seacock immediately next door), I mixed a batch of epoxy thickened with adhesive silica, cleaned all the mating surfaces, and glued the bronze pieces in place, carefully ensuring that any and all gaps around the coupler and the fiberglass tube were filled with solid epoxy.  I wedged the pieces in place with a couple wrenches to hold them, and let the epoxy cure for a couple days.  In the photo below, the black hose to the right is the new scupper hose, clamped to the seacock that is hidden behind the green rag.

When the epoxy was cured, I twisted the hose around and clamped it securely in place on the new tailpiece. The hose runs straight up from the seacock, then curves down and sideways to join the new elbow beneath the scupper.  I guess it's sort of like having a P-trap on the scupper--the operation principal should be the same.  I need to install some chafe gear on the hose where it rubs against a fiberglass cockpit stiffener, as seen in the center photo.

     newscupelbow.JPG (172296 bytes)     scupfromabove.JPG (186415 bytes)     newhose-drain.JPG (159241 bytes)

The bodged-together port scupper arrangement worked adequately during the 2003 sailing season, though I never trusted it enough to leave the seacock open when I wasn't on board.  While the "repair" was enough to get through a season, it was obvious that no longer could I put off the ultimate reconfiguration of the scuppers.

In early 2004, warm inside the boat shop, I began the much-needed scupper replacement project. 

Click here to continue.>

Glissando, Pearson  Triton #381

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