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Old 31-07-2009, 10:53   #1
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Best Way to Reseal Toe Rail - Top and Bottom

Greetings Mates!

Need some advice please. We just bought a 65ft custom sailboat. The integrity of the toe rail had been compromised due to the poor installation of sealant between the deck and the toe rail. Moisture/saltwater has seeped behind the toerail and under the paint on the hull below the toe rail. We can tell this is not the first time the toe rail has been resealed at the deck. The toe rail is flat aluminum without any bends as you can see in the pictures I've posted. The original installation of the toe rail had a bead of some type of filler under the toe rail that made it look nice (cosmetic in nature) with a curve. Then they had painted over the filler with LP. We've had to remove all the filler under the toe rail and sand it all down and clean it up. We don't have any plans to remove the toe rail at this point. Here are my questions.

Question #1: Should we seal the deck side with 3M 4000 or 5200?
Question #2: Do we need to seal the bottom side of the toe rail with anything other than the linear polyurethane we had planned to repaint with?
Questions#3: Would a sealant at the top of the toerail be sufficient and therefore not need to apply any 3M or caulking under the bottom edge of the toerail?
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Old 31-07-2009, 12:11   #2
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Are you talking removing the rail and rebedding or just putting a bead of caulk along the edge?? If it's the latter, you are just putting lipstick on a pig. I don't care what sealant you are using, it will eventually pull away and leak. There just isn't enough surface area to keep the sealant in place for the long haul.

If you are talking pulling the rail and redoing it, I would be sure all of the toe rail was covered in sealant before reinstalling. Any voids are places for water to get in and corrode the aluminum. It's going to be a god awful mess to re-install and clean up but would, hopefully, be the last time you'll have to think about it. I wouldn't use 4000 but might think about 4200 if there is a possibility you might want to remove the rail in the future. 5200 is touted as an adhesive and has a reputation for not wanting to let go.

Personally, I'd use LifeCaulk or 3m 101 sealant. It's a Polysulfide rather than polyurethane that I've had good luck with for the past 40 years. For me, it's easier to work with and remains pliant even after 30 or 40 years, personally verified. I've heard some rumors that 4200/5200 harden after many years.

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Old 31-07-2009, 12:39   #3
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Hi moon, yes i stay with roverhi, the best way to cure the problem is to take off all the rail , i know is a pain in the neck, lot of screws and bolts, with the rail off maybe you discover a lot of corrosion in the base off the toe rail , best to clean all the corrosion with some kind off acid for aluminium and with the rail clean and the the deck clean to, put the rail in place with lots of sealant , i dont recomend you 3m5200 , is a hard stuff, and dont flex like 3m 101 , put some tuf gel in the stainless screws to islolate from the aluminium and bingo!!!! Good luck.
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Old 31-07-2009, 14:19   #4
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It's a common problem with extruded rails, To do it right I would remove the rail entirely and grind and fibre glass the whole thing together. I suppose another option is a teak bulwark cap dry fitted and then completely filled underneath with 5200 allowing as much to extrude out as stays in. Then you are going to have a whole bunch of holes in it again though..:>(
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Old 02-08-2009, 11:27   #5
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From what I can see from your pics, you may have to dig into the construction method before attempting a fix. It looks like there is some sort of plate (the white section) that is covering the hull deck join that also attach's the toe rail as I see no sign of any bolts to directly attach the toe rail. As all others have said just applying a sealant will not address the issues long term. It looks like there is paint blistering from the white on the first picture...is the white section a pieces of aluminum. If so it may have been primed correctly. I replaced the toe rail on my boat after painting the deck. Put down lots of tape then over applied the sealant so that it squirted out of every opening and joint. I used Duralac on all SS to Ali connection points.
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Old 08-11-2009, 09:17   #6
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Hey guys....thanks for all the input. We decided not to take off the toe rail for now, knowing in the future that it will have to be done sometime in the next 10 years. We cleaned out the toe rail as best as we could.....then took a power washer to it and then blew it out with an air compressor to help dry it. We already have some blisters starting to show but we expected this and are mentally ready to deal with them one by one for now. It's the best we could do for now but it looks very good except for a few problem spots. Maybe they will eventually go away with a little TLC and spot repairing. I'll post a pic soon. I actually was willing to take the toe rail off at one point but my Dad was against it. Next time! I can't wait!
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Old 08-11-2009, 09:34   #7
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that does not look like a flanged toe rail. what stops it from flexing/tilting to either side. if there is no flange then the problem will keep happening. (not enough surface area for sealant to do a proper job).
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Old 08-11-2009, 21:31   #8
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You can't just caulk it. You also need to decide if you need to reseal the hull to deck joint or just rebed the toerail.
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Old 08-11-2009, 22:16   #9
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I'm very sure the deck is glassed to the hull, therefore, no seam to worry about. This is no ordinary, cookie-cutter boat (i.e.Hunter, etc), It's a custom boat. The designer went to many lengths to build her like a brick ****-house. The toe rail has been machine bolted to the topside of the hull at the deck. I will look at the blue prints tomorrow to make sure this is the case (no seam at the hull/deck).

Mike, you're right, it's not a flanged toe rail. It's a flat, long piece of aluminum that runs from bow to stern. Probably not the best toerail out there right now but it's all we have at this time. What toe rail doesn't flex/tilt with the boat to a degree? This one is bolted very well to the side of the hull.
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Old 09-11-2009, 14:40   #10
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this is a very difficult structure/rail to seal because there is not much mounting surface, so the torsional stresses side to side will be problematic to maintain a seal more so than a flanged one good luck with it
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Old 10-11-2009, 06:35   #11
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Originally Posted by moonlightsailor
...it will have to be done sometime in the next 10 years.
Every month that you wait, you are allowing moisture to seep into your hull and deck, which will cause rot. The sooner you fix this, the less it will cost in the long run. Wait 10 years and your boat may well be a write-off by that time. This is NOT the sort of thing that should just be caulked and... well, maybe we'll fix it sometime in the next 10 years. Your father needs to talk to someone who knows boats and can explain to him the serious damage that can be done--and the extraordinary expense to fix that damage--if this is not done right, and done right now.
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