I have been busy all summer in the process of removing the entire aft 1/2 of the starboard Cascade aluminum toerail, and the 16+ feet of solid mahogany 3x5 carlin underneath it from my Cascade 42
. Not a fun job and a sad day indeed when I discovered the rot
The problem was due to the fact that the original build used SS wood screws from the top down through the toerail directly into the carlin. Water
leakage went down the screws into the wood with nowhere else to go, thus rotting it out. The side bolts were thru-bolted, but not the top ones. Unfortunately I guess that's how they did it back then.
Fortunately, the rest of the rail and carlin seems ok, and I only lost
one quarter of it presumably due to the pressure and movement of the aft dock
lines acting on the toe rail over time. The boat is 35 years old, so it lasted a while before failing.
1) Always through bolt any deck fittings. period. All else asks for rot
2) Use butyl rubber bedding on the toerail stanchions, and deck hardware
. The original bedding(looked like 5200) failed after corrosion
in the aluminum loosened it. The toerail fell off into my hands when the screws were removed.
3) Use some sort of buffer between dissimilar metals to prevent above mentioned corrosion
, such as between the aluminum toe rail and the SS screws. Don't count on even hard anodizing. The metal-metal rubbing action will penetrate even that, and failure will occur over time. Eventually loss of aluminum at the screw heads will not leave enough to hold the flat head
screws and they can and will pull through the rail. I found these little babies solve the problem VERY well, and seal the bolt holes to boot: Nylon Fasteners by Nyltite - Industrial Nylon Fasteners and Plastic Fastener Components
4) Permanently repair any wet thru-deck holes before re-bedding, especially in problem areas which get extra stress, such as stanchion bases. Dry out, then drill oversize and fill with epoxy
or resin, then re-drill for the bolts. This leaves no wood exposed to possible rot from future failures. I used to use penetrating epoxy
, but have been reading about problems associated with it not being fully waterproof and leaving microscopic pores which wick water
in and won't let it out easily, so for now I'm sticking to solid epoxies until I can prove it one way or another.
5) Check and re-bed things at even the slightest hint of failure. I would have halved the job if I would have done it when I first suspected a problem rather than let it set one more season in the rain. - Butyl rubber makes this easy and they sell it in white.
Do EVERYTHING right, and your odds of spending the summer fixing rather than sailing your boat lowers considerably. But don't sweat it when stuff still breaks. It's a sailboat after all... If your not breaking things, you must not be using it hard enough.