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Toe-rail fixings

Posted: Fri Oct 20, 2017 3:39 pm
by Whistler
I have a problem with severe rust-staining around many of my toe-rail fixings. This is on a Fulmar but I think the fixing detail is similar on several classes of Westerly.

I have seen other boats with an odd one or two in this state but on mine it is something like 30 - 50%. It is almost as if somebody put their hand into the wrong bin of bolts all those years ago and used the wrong grade. Y10 gel cleans things up for a while but the staining leaches back out after a few months so I am looking for a more permanent solution.

With all the problems of headlining and glassing-over, the chances of being able to remove the old bolts and re-tighten new ones seem pretty slim. I have tried removing a few as a trial - 2 came out, 1 spun and 1 one was so badly corroded that it sheared off.

One option I am considering is to remove the old rails and fixings completely then use new rails fixed with wood-screws into the fibreglass deck, but I'm not sure how thick the outer fibreglass is - whether it would be strong enough, and what length the screws should be.

Alternatively, perhaps I have to face up to gaining access to the nuts under a percentage of the bolts.

I have read Bill Redgrove's articles, but I have the opposite problem to him, as I want to replace the fixings which he worked hard to retain. I have nevertheless sent him this query.

Any thoughts, advice, or good and bad experiences would be greatly appreciated.

Neil Stuart

Re: Toe-rail fixings

Posted: Fri Oct 20, 2017 9:47 pm
by Jolly Roger
Hello Neil

Welcome to the forum. I was surprised to see this is your first post as an established Fulmar owner.

Having seen Whistler at Ipswich last year, I know your problem is worse than most. I think the staining is due to crevice corrosion of the bolts. The only real way to fix it is to replace those bolts.

I stripped all the varnish off my teak toe rails and rubbing strakes, leaving them to go silver. This has started some staining in the wood, suggesting that the varnish may helped stop this staining by stopping moisture entering. The tiller, companionway timber and coachroof handrails were varnished this year using Le Tonkinoise, which is a traditional natural oil varnish. The first coats soak into the wood and later coats build up a smooth gloss finish. This finish is excellent with 5 or more coats on bare wood. I am definitely varnishing the toe rails in the near future.

There is a way you could mask the rubbing strake by fitting a stainless steel section. There some photos on this page. ... t=3&page=4 The associated text is in the second post on this page. ... 8&start=45

It may mean if the varnished toe rail keeps looking good, I may remove the stainless section on the rubbing strake and varnish them before refitting the strips.

You would be welcome to have a look at Concerto, as she is close to you in Chatham Marina. Just get in contact if you want to meet.

Re: Toe-rail fixings

Posted: Fri Oct 27, 2017 11:23 am
by Whistler
Thanks for your thoughts Roger, much appreciated, and I also have some ideas from Bill Redgrove.

Re: Toe-rail fixings

Posted: Fri Nov 10, 2017 6:18 pm
by FulmarOnia

I had the same problem with my Fulmar. The solution was simple -- just replace all the toe rails ! It too me about 4 years and there was still one I hadn't done when I sold the boat ! I reckon it probably took about 10 hours per section. Instructions are as follows:

1) You need to have access to the underdeck - so if you haven't done it replace and headlinings glued direct to the underdeck with headlining glued to thinnish ply boards ( we had already done this as part of an initial refurb)
2) Dont even try to shape the new teak toe rails with hand tools - I gave up after the first one! I got Robbins Timber in Bristol to profile the teak to match existing toe rails - well 1mm larger all round!
3) Carefully remove existing toe rails ( you need the old ones as a pattern for drilling holes- see below). I suggest you only tackle two at a time unless you have a lot of spare time. Drill out plugs in existing rails. Use dremel tool on underside of deck to expose the other end of bolt and nut. Then remove nut and through bolt-- this is obviously a two person job.
4) Drill out the holes left by the nut and bolt removal to 10mm, or larger if you want.Also remove any care that is obviously damp. Fill holes with a suitable epoxy filler mix ( a syringe is useful for this)
5) Now using the old toe rail as a pattern try and drill holes in exactly the same place as the old one. I think the bolts are 5mm, but I have consistently found that you need to make the holes slightly larger, say 5.2mm ( search in internet for drill bits at 0.1mm size increases -- very useful for this type of work)
6) Use a plug cutter to cut plugs from the new teak ( I think I used 10mm) it is worth buying a good plug cutter that makes lightly tapered plugs. When you order the timber from Robbins get at least some of the pieces slightly longer than you require so you have spare for the plugs. You could use teak from the old toe rails for plugs, but colour match will be poor.
7) As well as cutting the ,say, 5.1mm or 5.2mm hole you also need to cut a 10mm hole for the plug. This is actually quite difficult ! I practised on the old toe rails. I finally found the best technique was to sue and auger bit, but to initially turn the bit the wrong way so that it doesnt try and splinter the edges of the holes, and rather than doing it after I had drilled the 5.1mm/5.2mm hole I initially drilled a 2 or 3 mm hole so that the auger bit had something to centre on but didnt try and pull itself on. Needless to say this is a hand tool only job!
8) Now return to the boat, clear up any epoxy excess and clean off the old rust stains.
9) You should now be able to use the new toe rails to drill through the old holes ( now extended to 10mm and filled with epoxy), use Sikaflex to make a seal between toe rail and deck and to help seal round the bolts. Obviously a two person job to bolt down.
10) Fix the plugs, they should be a tight fit so only a small dab of glue, don't hammer in too hard or you will split the toe rail. Later cut off protruding plugs ( best not to have too much protruding to start with)
11) Decide how you want to finish the toe rails, varnish or just leave etc.
12) Now repeat for all 8 toe rails!

In the WOA archived magazines another method is explained whereby the old bolts are left in place but the heads cut off and replaced with nuts. To my mind this would seem to be just encapsulating the old problem ( rusted bolts) within new toe rails.

One possible short cut is to try and re-use the old toe rails. The rust staining does not go very deep, so can be planed out, but you will be left with a smaller toe rail and cutting new holes for the plugs isn't easy.


Re: Toe-rail fixings

Posted: Mon Nov 20, 2017 1:18 pm
by Whistler
Thank you for your reply - there is a lot of useful information. I am now expecting to have to gain access to the under-deck, I am sourcing higher-grade stainless bolts to resist crevice corrosion, and possibly new teak as well. A trial length is planned for later this winter.