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cghubbell 10-14-2009 10:56 AM

Rebedding aluminum toe rails
This is "yet another which goop do I use" posting. I did scour the archives, but I'm still not 100% certain of my decision...

I have removed the beastly 27' long aluminum toe rails from my boat to allow me to perform a deck repair. Just as well, on a 30 year old boat it was time to put a nice new seal in place. It appears that they were originally bedded in some form of a butyl rubber. It was grey and sticky like thick mozzarella cheese in most places, but a few spots had dried more. I removed all the thick chunks, leaving only what's pressed into the hull to deck joint.

It seems from my reading that butyl is a great choice for deck hardware in general. Except for one thing... I'm trying to imagine spreading a nice even thin layer of this stuff over the length of the rails, and then having it squeeze out evenly... This stuff seems pretty thick compared to a thinner caulk-like product. Especially in cooler fall/early spring temps.

Also of note is that I do not plan to clear the old hull-deck joint which is sealed with this stuff. So, whatever I bed the rails in will be up against some butyl in the joint, albeit a thin layer.

Would I be better off using 3M 4200 or 101, or something else? I'm not a big fan of 5200 since someone else may need to re-bed it down the road. Should I stick with butyl? Is it practical for this application? I haven't used new butyl before (nor have I rebedded toe-rails!) so my concern is based on observing what's on there now.

Thanks in advance,

mitiempo 10-14-2009 11:51 AM

I'd stick to butyl as it's lasted in all original deck hardware on my CS27 for 32 years. The only issues I have are with the chainplates and other fittings added by previous owners. Butyl tape is easy to lay in place before you bolt the toerails on. Trim what squeezes out with a razor knife.

WinterRiver 10-14-2009 04:52 PM

Butyl tape comes in lots of sizes. I've seen rolls 1/16" thick, about 2" wide. This might work well for you. Check your local RV parts dealer.

Gary M 10-14-2009 09:14 PM

Check at a home window glass shop, they have rolls of butyl in variuos thickness.

Pub911 10-14-2009 09:50 PM

I have done this job on my 36(!) year-old boat. I too, had grey goop in various stages of gooey-cracked-n-dry-leaking condition. My first step was to have the toerail powdercoated before rebedding. It really made a difference in the look. I used a polysulphide bedding compound - lifecalk - at the recommendation of a reputable yard. So far so good. The only issue i've found was mine - I moved to quickly to tighten down the toerail before letting the lifecalk set up, and squished too much of it out. Fortunately this was in just one or two spots on the 36 foot run of the rail. 6 years later things are water tight and look great. The calk is still pliable and working and the powder coating looks great except where heavy abrading had worn it down to metal. Still, looks a helluva lot better than the corroding, chalky white pitting that was there prior.

good luck

sailingdog 10-14-2009 10:04 PM

RV shops will have butyl tape too...

cghubbell 10-14-2009 10:15 PM


Originally Posted by Pub911 (Post 532120)
My first step was to have the toerail powdercoated before rebedding. It really made a difference in the look.

Isn't it pretty tough to find a facility that can handle pieces that long? Also, if you don't mind sharing it, I'm curious what kind of expense that would be. I love the idea of coating those chalky rails... Mine are definitely looking a bit toasted.

mitiempo 10-15-2009 12:10 AM

The bolts should be tightened when the caulking is put on, not later otherwise you run the risk of breaking the seal you're trying to create if a bolt turns on set caulking. Don't listen to Casey on this - he's wrong.

Maine Sail 10-15-2009 06:29 AM

Use gray butyl. The factory used a gray flat tape and my boat is 31 years old and still dry. My toe rails are still bone dry at year 30. I would not use anything but butyl in this type of install..

sailingdog 10-15-2009 07:47 AM

I'd point out that Butyl tape has the advantage of a very long working time....unlike some of the other sealants you might use, which start to cure rather quickly.

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