Sailboat Sailing on Water Near Island

Over the past couple years we’ve experienced two main issues concerning our Gebo portlight window knobs. One issue is frustrating and the other is potentially a serious problem. This article and accompanying video explains the issues and demonstrates how to effectively fix them.

Watch the video immediately below and for further explanation, read below for more details.

How to fix a Gebo port light window knob video

Over the past couple years I’ve opened and closed all of our ten Gebo portlight windows

I often prefer to open the Gebo’s because they’re lower on the boat hull so if and when it rains the water is less likely to enter the boat. I also like opening the Gebo windows because they provided excellent ventilation.

After a few months of owning our boat, an Oyster 56’ (built 2003), I remember the unsettling feeling I experienced when I ran into issue number one. Before upping anchor and heading for our next bay, I tightened one of the Gebo knobs and just as I felt it was almost tight, the knob stopped tightening and started to spin freely.

Gebo portlight window

Later on in our sailing adventure I experienced this issue both when tightening and opening the window

Imagine it’s hotter than heck outside and the only saving grace is the nice breeze that enters perfectly through the Gebo portlight window. Then visualize my frustration when I go to open the window and instead of the knob loosening, it instead spins freely remaining tightly closed!

The issue is that the plastic knobs hold a brass fitting that allows the knob to screw tight and screw loose. Unfortunately after too much use or an overly aggressive twist, the plastic casing breaks away from the brass fitting leaving the knob useless (and me in an overheating situation)!

Gebo Portlight Window Knob Issue #1: The knob stops tightening or loosening and spins freely

For a temporary fix, you have to yank, or sometimes saw, the plastic knob off exposing the brass fitting. Once you see the brass fitting you can use a pair of pliers to tighten or loosen the latch.

Don’t be fooled by how simple this task sounds

With some of our knobs it’s taken hours to saw off the plastic casing!

The second issue that we’ve come across with our Gebo portlight window knobs is extremely problematic – especially if you’re planning on sailing!

Recently we’ve had two knobs corrode within the frame and upon twisting them shut, they’ve pulled completely off the window. Imagine having to sail somewhere and you can’t get a low-to-the-water-line window closed? In our situation we had to sail with a load of towels packed in around the window and another time we simply choose to motor instead of sail.

Knowing what we now know we always have several Gebo porlight spare knobs!

To fix the disintegrated screw fitting, you’ll first need to order a replacement screw. Once you have the screw, there’s a sliding rod of metal in the frame that comes loose when you unscrew a small holding screw. Once you loosen the holding screw, the rod will slide to the left or right. You can then position the new knob screw fitting into position, slide the rod through and then tighten the holding screw.

Note that if the sliding rod doesn’t slide, wash the area out with warm water. The rod is most likely fouled by salt or crud.

So, Gebo Portlight Window Knob Issue #2: The screw fitting that attaches from the window frame to the knob disintegrates and pulls off

To start the process of changing knobs, you’ll need to take a small knife or screw driver to pry the top of the knob off. Once the top is off there’s a screw that needs to be take off. After that, if the brass fitting is still attached to the plastic outer knob, the knob will unscrew.

Gebo Portlight Window Knob Takeaways?

  • Add another task to your yearly cleaning jobs: Clean the Gebo knob fittings with warm water to reduce the rate of corrosion and eventual failure.
  • Always carry spare Gebo screw fittings and knobs.

I’ve been told by several marine servicing professionals to avoid opening my Gebo portlight windows. They have a reputation for breaking and the more you use them the higher the chances that they’ll fail.

For me, however, I love fresh air so I’m okay with paying the price of failure

As a side note, if you have a Gebo that will potentially go under water when sailing, don’t leave it to inexperienced crew to close these windows. You seriously have to tighten them with maximum strength – otherwise the potential for water to come in is high.


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