Toerail design

Discussion in 'Sailboats' started by ronnykarlsson, Feb 24, 2007.

  1. ronnykarlsson
    Joined: Feb 2007
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    Location: Spain Malaga

    ronnykarlsson New Member

    I´m rebuilding a 30 ft Hustler and will glass/epoxy over the hull to deck joint this summer after removing the worn out teak toerail.
    I haven´t decided if I should replace the old toerail with a;
    -teak toerail
    -alu toerail
    -built up fibreglass toerail over a core with (perhaps) teak "caps" on the top and outside

    Interested in opinions about the fibreglass way (pros/cons, building issues).
    Right now it´s my preference because of the possibility to "integrate" a good support for stancions, genua track, fairleads etc
    Have searched the web but haven´t found any info. Perhaps that´s because it´s a bad way to make a toerail?

    Strength, easy addition of hardware and easy maintenance is my priority as this is a "solo longsailor project" (I know a lot of people will disagree on the boat type for that, but that´s not the issue here. I rely on this boat even when it get´s really nasty).

    Regards - Ronny
  2. Tim B
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    Tim B Senior Member

    The basic rule (with any boat) is stick to the same material, unless there is an obvious reason to change it.

    Personally I'd use teak. Don't use GRP, they get VERY slippery. Aluminium is fine, but you may spoil the look of the boat (and it's more slippery than teak).

    All the deck hardware (tracks, cleats etc.) should go into the DECK, not the toe-rails.


    Tim B.
  3. SailDesign
    Joined: Jan 2003
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    SailDesign Old Phart! Stay upwind..

    I'll second Tim on the hardware location, unless your toe-rail was specifically built from aluminium to accept hardware (some were, and did the job well, if heavily).
    We very often use carbon over a foam former to make toe-rails (actually, we do it all the time) and they then get non-slipped.
    That said, if you haven't done it before, then I would do as Tim said, and stick to what was there before.
  4. SuperPiper
    Joined: Jan 2003
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    SuperPiper Men With Little Boats . .

    Ronny, I don't agree with Tim nor Steve. In the next generation, kids are going to say: "Did you really spend your weekends mowing grass and washing your car? Did you have nothing better to do?" It is for that reason that I don't like wood on boats.

    The aluminum toerail sure is practical.
  5. alan white
    Joined: Mar 2007
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    alan white Senior Member

    Regarding plastic vs wood, having owned both, I prefer wood for a lot of reasons. Primarily, the difference is aesthetic. If I were making a living on the water, I might change my opinion. After all, I don't walk to work now. I drive a truck constructed of everything BUT wood.
    However, sailing and boatwork in general is an aesthetic experience for me. I would add that it doesn't seem to be the wood, per se, that creates the work, but the attempt to make wood do what plastic does.
    As a result, boats made of wood never have galvanized fittings any more, and cheaper woods no longer "cut it". Latex paints, cheap as they be, applied with a roller each season in an hour and a half, don't "look refined".
    Hard chines, the answer to inexpensive hulls made of plywood, are seen as "second best". Yet each of these are aesthetic choices.
    We are kept from the water not because we are working on our boats, but because we are convinced that our boats must look a certain way.
    For some, this means more work to prevent maintainence than to do it. For others, it means more work to earn the money to buy a near no-maintainence product than to maintain it.
    The advantage of balancing these two kind of work, for some, is the best option. The boat maintainence is entirely relative to "work done", so it is always proportionate to the enjoyment of the craft. Not always so with all up-front costs. A near maintainence-free boat may never see water, but it's too late. You now own it, and possibly still owe on it.
    Then too, many aspects of boat maintainence are very enjoyable, a kind of "pay as you go" thing where "payment" ain't so bad.
    To each, his own. What makes sense to one isn't applicable to another. Some people even seek the excitement of going to sea in a leaky tub, and more power to them. Their reasons are as good as anyones.

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  6. Amgine
    Joined: Mar 2007
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    Amgine New Member

    Jason's toerail

    Ted Brewer used a nice design for his Jason design which was very simple for the boat yard. It involved a bronze casting for the bow and stern, and for each lifeline stantion base, which through-bolted to a backing plate and carried an approximately 4" built-up plank of teak.

    This toe-rail had a 3/4" gap the entire length (excellent drainage.) The large plank of wood could be oiled or left to gray, but served as a strong physical connection between the stantion fittings which also benefited from the width of the plank to be extremely solid and resistant to lubbers pulling themselves aboard from the top of the stantion or the top lifeline. And the continuous gap allowed for infinitely adjustable position of snatch blocks or whatnot along the length. Easy (but tedious) to put in place, just through-bolting a billion times (well, 4 for each end piece, and 3 or 4 for each stantion) but sealing only at the bolts and not the continuous length.

    Not cheap, of course, to design fore, aft, and stantion fittings to have cast for your boat. But a lot easier than you might think (just carve from wood,) and will last as long as the boat with minimal maintenance.

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  7. alan white
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    alan white Senior Member

    Nice setup. No need to cast bronze either. I would tig weld SS (or bronze to match) plates to the outside of the stanchion pipes and drill four holes in each plate to receive four round head machine screws and maybe instead of washers under the screw heads outside, use a smaller square plate with four holes in it to back them. Bulletproof. If the outside backing plates were let into the wood flush and flat head screws used, that might look kind of elegant.
  8. Dan Newton
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    Dan Newton Junior Member

    New Member

    Hello All. I'm new to this forum. A Cabinetmaker drifting inexorably into boatbuilding. And while reading Alan's comment in #5, I was reminded of some things the British designer/woodworker David Pye said about why the built environment looks the way it does. Profound yet simple. I really like the 'nuts & bolts' feel to the boatdesign site. Thanks.
  9. bruceb
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    bruceb Senior Member

    leaky rails

    From an old boat dealer- Alloy rails start to leak after several years because they expand/contract at a much greater rate than the hull, and attaching high load fittings just makes it happen sooner. Some production builders have gotten the details down to where it is a reliable system, but hard to duplicate on a one off boat. Wood requires much more attention and eventually leaks anyway. (Looks nice though) A glassed over hull/deck joint "can" be maintenance-free and can also look very sleek. How long are you planing on keeping your boat? There are plenty of examples of each on production boats. Ask around at at any marina and you will have plenty of opinions:D Bruce
  10. apex1

    apex1 Guest

    Well that was a opinion. ok

    Experience says: go for the original material to get the best result! So I have to concur with Alan, Tim and Steve.

    But I also have to mention that our recommendations are a bit late, yes? the thread died in 2007....................
  11. Steve Dodge
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    Steve Dodge New Member

    Synthetic Decking for Toe Rails?

    I am planning to replace the toe rails on my 1970 Morgan 28 sailboat. The teak toe rails (approx. 1" by 1" by 16' long--2 pieces per side) on the boat now are damaged and loose and allow rain water to leak into the cabin through the 1/4" / 20 machine screws which fasten the toe rails to the hull/deck joint every 8". I could replace them with teak or Ipe, but am considering the possibility of replacing them with synthetic "wood" such as Lumberock, a "mineral plastic composite" "made from high density polyethylene with a mineral (crushed rock) added to increase strength and decrease expansion/contraction." This product is marketed as a backyard decking material; it would require no maintenance and would retain its dark brown appearance. It is less expensive than Starboard and available as long planks--Starboard, as far as I know, comes only in 4 x 8 sheets. It can be sawn and planed. The manufacturer of Lumberock has said I should not use lengths longer than 4 feet and provide gaps in between to allow for expansion. Is this really necessary? I assume that the fiberglass sailboat also expands when it gets warmer. Both are plastic. Does anyone know the coefficient of expansion of a fiberglass sailboat? Also, some have told me that no caulk sticks to synthetic lumber, and that I will have a problem bedding the new toe rail if I use synthetic lumber. All comments and suggestions are welcome.
  12. alan white
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    alan white Senior Member

    Don't use that stuff. It has terrible structural properties, while wood has superb structural properties. That plastic will not stay tight because any pressure screwing it down compresses it but the tight fit under the fastener will gradually become relaxed, wherupon when you retighten the process of one=way compression would continue until the fastener completely deformed the toe rail.
    Teak will last a very long time using modern protective finishes. 1" x 1" is a cheap teak order (order 1" x 5" x 16' for the entire job).
    Come on. Spend a little on the old girl and do it right. Use white oak if you want to save money---- stain it and varnish it or paint it gray, and save a lot compared to teak.
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  13. alan white
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    alan white Senior Member

    Nothing could be as impractical as a couple of thousand dollars for the aluminum toe rails. If you're rich enough to afford them, you also could afford a lifetime of yard maintainance on the wood toe rails with enough left over to buy a decent riding lawn mower.
    Using wood, the old holes could be used as well, rather than matching to predrilled holes.
  14. TollyWally
    Joined: Mar 2005
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    TollyWally Senior Member

    Plastic lumber has a great deal of thermal movement.

  15. hha
    Joined: Jan 2005
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    Location: Denmark

    hha New Member

    Hi all,

    I made my toe rails by using an anodized rectangular alu-profile 20x30 mm. On the sides of this profile I epoxy glued wedge formed teak.

    This "design" has the advantage that you can route control lines inside the toe rail.


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