Custom vs Catalogue Units - to hell or back?

This is a huge topic which may well dictate whether refurbishment is easy or impossible so pay attention! I'm really targeting this at Windows, but to a lesser extent these comments apply to hatches too.


Companies that sell ranges (eg Lewmar, Gebo, Goiot, Moonlight etc) would have what we term catalogue models. An example would be the Lewmar Standard Portlight in size 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 4L, 4R and 5. These are (New Standard, or were in the case of Old Standard) off the shelf models/sizes.


Companies that make windows specifically for a model of boat, on a bespoke basis make what we call custom windows. These also include the companies listed above, who do both.


Some custom windows are produced in such volume that manufacturers regard/treat them as catalogue units. For example the Bavaria short and long opening portlights.


Marsh Walters made a huge number of custom windows for the likes of Westerly, which given the company no longer exists are no longer available new.


Window manufacturers tend to support catalogue models for considerably longer than custom. They also often ensure that a new model is a direct replacement for an older model, without modification. So for example, a 1990 Lewmar Old Standard Opener size 1 (a common size) can be swapped out with a current Lewmar New Standard Opener size 1. Note that only applies to a complete unit swap, the parts (eg glazing and fixings) are not interchangeable.


So if your boat has catalogue units the chances are that even if obsolete, you may well be able to replace with a current model without modification, if refurbishment or spares replacement is not an option. Some manufacturers (eg Beneteau) only used catalogue units; good for them (and you)…


If you have a premium yacht (eg Hallberg Rassy, Malo, Najad, Dufour, Hanse etc) the chances are you will have some (if not all) custom windows.


Spares and indeed replacement units are generally not available from manufacturers for custom units, so refurbishment is often the only option.


Now you’re a smart reader so I’m sure will be asking the obvious question. What happens if my boat has custom units that can’t be refurbished? Good question, difficult answer.


Let me give you two examples;


Firstly, the easier one. You have a Beneteau 40.7 from 1998, fitted with several Lewmar New Standard opening portlights, size 1. These have hinge/latch fixings (what Lewmar term mouldings) which are bonded to the moving acrylic pane.


Two problems; first, Lewmar won’t currently allow anyone else to bond fixings and second, there are two (official, actually four) versions of the New Standard portlight, Mk 1 1997-2000 and Mk2 2000+. The Mk 1 used fixings which were clamped to the outer frame, the Mk 2 used bolts (see this Blog post for details). The mouldings are not interchangeable and no Mk 1 mouldings now exist at the factory. Thus spare acrylics for Mk 1 cannot now be produced.


But the good news is that Mk 2 units will fit as a straight swap. So for our Beneteau owner, no spares, but a complete replacement with Mk 2 units is supported and available, but you do have to buy the complete window (~£178+VAT for Size 1).


Secondly, the difficult one. You have a Najad 373 from 2003 (as one client has). A beautiful yacht crafted in Scandinavia to a very high standard. Fitted with custom portlights, similar in construction to Lewmar New Standard openers, with the same Mk 2 mouldings but slightly different sizes.


No Mk 1 vs Mk 2 issues here, but as custom, these are no longer available off the shelf from Lewmar. Equally, given they have bonded fixings we are not able to machine replacement lenses.


On the face of it there are no refurbishment or replacement options. Ouch!


Is there a solution? Possibly. In this instance we can theoretically arrange for Lewmar to manufacture a batch of new replacements (as if we were a builder), but for each size there is a substantial setup charge making this a very expensive option when viewed on a boat by boat basis (as each may have several sizes). This can work we believe where groups of owners get involved to share the setup costs. Ideally 10+ owners per batch. The unit costs are expected to be similar to catalogue units (but, plus setup). This opportunity is only available through us as Lewmar, perhaps understandably, don’t want to deal with owners direct. This is an area we hope to develop in 2021, but if of interest please get in touch or socialise through your owners groups.


Custom fixed pane windows, whilst unavailable for replacement can more often be refurbished. Custom openers, particularly those where the pane is held within a moving frame are also often feasible for refurbishment. Ultimately only knowing what you have allows an initial assessment, so please get in touch.

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