Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Replacing the Rub Rail on C34

Replacing the Vinyl insert Rub Rail 

At sometime in Eximius' past, it had a crunch on the Stbd side sufficient to crack the gel coat above the rub rail and to totally disfigure the profile of the Aluminium Rub Rail extrusion. We added to that when we bumped the Stbd Quarter of the hull against a concrete dockside while trying to avoid an unexpected out flow from a Fort Lauderdale Pump station on the New River just downstream from Andrews Avenue Bridge two years ago.

We left the repair until our planned haul out as it would be much easier with the boat out of the water than trying to do it in a dingy at the dock. 

The vinyl insert is secured to the boat by insertion into an Aluminum extrusion around the entire boat about 4" below the deck on the outside. 

The extrusion is secured with #10 pan head screws that just go into the side of the deck, but also a Pan head bolt about every 12" that has nuts on the inside of the hull, they are part of the deck to hull joint. 

Removing the vinyl rub rail was easy: Just remove the two 1" screws that hold the rubber strip where the two ends join at the center of the transom and then teasing out the ends with a screwdriver and then pulling the rubber strip out, it's about 70' long! (In our case, it was in two pieces as it was broken at the stern quarter right on the corner of the transom) When the first damage occurred, we don't know but when it happened, the owner decided to Glue the vinyl insert to the aluminum as it would no longer 'clip' into the upper and lower edges. We found out when removing the vinyl rub rail.

This pic shows the where I cut out the piece of Aluminum before cleaning up the surface and before chamfering the holes to allow decent sealing where the screws secure the extrusion to the sides of the deck.

I used a 4 1/2" cut off wheel to cut the extrusion on either side of the damage, that was about 2' long.


In this case, I had to remove the vinyl covered piece of plywood that covers the underside of the lamp valance in the aft berth. It's just three 2 1/2" SS screws.This pic shows the where I cut out the piece of Aluminum before cleaning up the surface and before chamfering the holes to allow decent sealing where the screws secure the extrusion to the sides of the deck.

I used a 4 1/2" cut off wheel to cut the extrusion on either side of the damage, that was about 2' long.

I ordered the Vinyl rub rail from Catalina Direct - $248. And, when I found the damaged extrusion and the glued attempt to fix it, I had to order a 6 1/2' piece of the Aluminum extrusion - $31 plus a bunch of shipping, but no getting around it. An expensive bump!

With the rubber rail removed, and the aluminum cut out, it took about 30 minutes up and down a ladder trimming the new piece of the metal extrusion to fit the gap and get the holes drilled to line up with the original.

I used Butyl tape to seal the holes and Peggy helped at the top of the ladder while I secured the nuts onto the pan head screws inside the aft berth. 

When it came to installing the new Vinyl, that's when it got tough! 

I anticipated that the vinyl might have curl memory as it arrived in a coil about 18" in diameter, so I planned to uncoil the rub rail vinyl and secure it to the boat at each stanchion with a tie wrap overnight in order to remove the curl. It's much more flexible than that, and there was really no need to unroll it. Remember that I'm doing this in South Florida in January with temps around the 70ºs.

Starting at the center of the transom, I worked at getting the vinyl inserted into the aluminum for about 90 minutes and only getting the port side and the bow done and my hands warning me that they were done too! Then I figured out how to do it easily! Dang!

To insert the vinyl rub rail into the Aluminum extrusion, simply lay about a foot of the lower edge of the vinyl into the metal rail, don't worry about trying to get the lower edge into the extrusion profile, then push down on the top of the vinyl and get about an inch or so of the top inserted. Lubricate the top edge of the vinyl with liquid soap and then hold the top edge of the vinyl about 1" off the metal rail about about 3 inches away from where the top of the vinyl is already inserted. Now press the top edge of the vinyl with a plastic handle (I used an old chisel) at about 45º off vertical, such that the vinyl bends outward. In doing so, the lower edge is forced into the lower part of the extrusion, and the upper edge pops into the upper part. If I had to do it all over again, it would take more time to move the ladder around the boat than it would take to insert the rub rail!

In order to get the two ends of the vinyl rub rail to meet nicely near the center of the transom, I left about 2" in excess at the start, then when I had completed the insert all around the boat, I trimmed the other end so that it was close to the center line. After drilling holes for the only 2 securing screws, I trimmed the vinyl so that the ends would butt nicely once the screws were holding it in place.

The whole job took about 4 hours, including cleaning out the years of salty crud that had accumulated under the vinyl rub rail. The original was Tan colored, but the replacement was Grey (my choice) and now I have about 10', not sure exactly, left over. But I hope we never have to replace it!

We could have just replaced about 8' of the original in order to repair the damage we caused, but the vinyl looked original, 30 years old and the lady deserves some fresh make up.

See you on the water.

Paul