A few weeks ago I borrowed a friend's single-hatch scupper classic to go out diving. I ended up dropping the hatch cover in the water and was unable to recover it (and I got skunked ). I tried calling kayak dealers all over the US to find a replacement and they all responded the same after they stopped laughing: "You'll never find one. They have been out of production for over a decade and there are a thousand other people with the same problem.
With no other option, I knew I had to either buy a new kayak or make a replacement cover. My first thought was to mold one out of fiberglass. I borrowed a hatch from a friend and tried to make a fiberglass copy. It was a complete disaster. I spent a bunch of money on fiberglass and resin, made a huge mess, and ended up with a terrible part that only resembles a hatch cover if you squint. I vowed never to work with fiberglass again and moved on.
My next thought was to make one out of polycarbonate (Lexan). That ended up working really well so here is a step-by-step guide to do it yourself.
You will need:
- Pen Torch
- Tape measure
- Cardboard sheets
- 18"x24" polycarbonate sheet
- Silocone sealant
- Trim-lok gasket
- #10x32 machine screws, flat washers, neoprene washers, and nylon lock nuts
- 1.5" webbing and buckles
First, cut out a cardboard outline that just fits over the hatch.
Then draw a 2" border around that shape.
Then score the inside oval and cut out some wedges so the cardboard will bend.
Fold and tape it into shape and trim so it fits just right. This might take a few iterations to perfect, but it's worth it to spend some time getting your cardboard model just right.
Now you have a perfect cardboard model of the hatch! Next, unfold it and trace the inside oval and the outline onto a piece of polycarbonate. I used a 18"x24" piece that cost about $20. Then cut along the lines with a jigsaw.
You can cold bend lexan, but it is really difficult to do by hand. I used a pen-torch to slowly heat the bend lines and then bend the piece to match the cardboard model. If you heat too much or too quickly, the material bubbles and is a little unsightly.
Next, peel off the protective film, seal the seams with silicone, and press on a trim-lok seal. I got a 25' roll of trim-lok from amazon for $35. I tried to heat weld the seams, but that didn't work very well so I went with silicone instead.
Drill a hole and install the tether buckle and it's good to go!
It worked so well that I made another one, cut out the rear hatch well, and turned the boat into a double-hatch model.