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Old 03-03-2010
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Rebedding handrails that are not through-bolted

This thread is related to the broken screw thread, but really, it's a separate topic about rebedding, so I'm starting a new one. Hope that's OK!

As I mentioned in the other thread, we're removing and rebedding our handrails. I was surprised to find they are screwed into the deck with self-tapping screws.

Now, I'm ALL FOR sealing the core from deck hardware. And I hate that the hand rails are just screwed in place. However, there are roughly 40 - 50 screw holes, and there is no way to through-bolt them without serious interior damage/modifications that I'm just not going to do. Each "foot" of the handrail has two screws, and the handrails are very long.

The cabin top and the handrails are curved, so once off, they don't just "line up" with the original holes. So pressure will have to be applied to get them to line up.

So is it realistic to drill out the holes (outer skin and core only, not the inner skin since there's no hole there), and fill with epoxy, then redrill holes in the epoxy for self-tapping screws? Would this even work? How would I make sure the new holes lines up? And can one just screw into epoxy without it cracking or something? Why are we here?

Or should I just clean it all up, and rebed with polysulfide, knowing that it just needs to be redone every 5 years (it probably hasn't been done once in the last 26)?

Thanks as always!
-J
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Yes it is realistic, but you don't want to just go driving screws into your freshly epoxy-potted holes. Drill pilot holes for each screw, and if you want to make sure you never have to do it again, dip each screw in epoxy prior to installation.
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One other choice is to drill and tap the holes after potting them with epoxy and using machine screws instead of wood screws. Thickened epoxy, especially if you've used a lot of silica as the thickening agent, will hold a thread fairly well.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sailingdog View Post
One other choice is to drill and tap the holes after potting them with epoxy and using machine screws instead of wood screws. Thickened epoxy, especially if you've used a lot of silica as the thickening agent, will hold a thread fairly well.

So that begs the question--how to mark the position for the holes and get them tapped in the right places? It's not like I can just place the rail in position, but it doesn't hold the right shape. It only lines up when you start screwing everything in. Any ideas?
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Yes, what you propose is possible. In fact, it's covered in Don Casey's book "Sailboat Maintenance Manual", which I highly recommend. It's the best written, most concise DIY book I've seen, and IMO, is the best $60 you can spend if you are going to projects on a sailboat. You can also search this forum. I did this project with jib car tracks (though they were though bolted) and developed a pretty good system, and did a thread on it. Yes, you would have to drill pilot holes. I would be reluctant to epoxy the screws in. If you do have to replace/repair the rail, you'll have screws sticking out of your coach top/deck. Then what? Yeah.... you could get them out, but it would be ugly! I would do the epoxy to seal the core (if it really has been 26 years, you may be in for a surprise. Hopefully you won't find too much rot!), and still bed the rail. IMO, re-bedding is simply part of sailboat maintenance. Get the book, you'll thank me!
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Hello,

I had a similar problem with a deck organizer. My last boat had deck organizers mounted port and starboard. The port unit was through bolted, the starboard unit was just lag bolted to the cabin top. I found this out when it pulled out of the deck. I repaired it (or tried to) by drilling over sized holes, then pouring 'git rot' in to the holes to dry out any remaining moisture in the core and then pouring epoxy into the holes. After the epoxy dried I drilled pilot holes and again lag bolted the deck organizer. It seemed to work fine but a few weeks later the line organizer again pulled out of the deck. The epoxy did not bond to the wood cabin top and the lag bolts and epoxy ring just pulled out. I ended up moving the organizer a little and then properly though bolted it.

Since your handrails won't have much load on them, and have lots more screws, you will probably be OK. Personally I would just use a good amount of polysulfide when I screwed it back down.

Oh, if you haven't removed the broken screw, I would just pull up hard in the handrail to expose a little of the screw and then cut it off with a saw.

Barry
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X marks the spot. Establish a line parallel to the rail at each existing hole then make a line perpendicular on both sides out say 3" into the clear un-epoxied/un-sanded area. When you are done the hole will need to be drilled at the 3" center of the 6" line you now have.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by josrulz View Post
So that begs the question--how to mark the position for the holes and get them tapped in the right places? It's not like I can just place the rail in position, but it doesn't hold the right shape. It only lines up when you start screwing everything in. Any ideas?
The way Casey recommends, you still have the original holes (now filled with epoxy. The way I did it (see thread mentioned above), mark the outside of rail before removing. After epoxy is in place, have a helper (two would be nice!) hold a small section of the rail on it's marks. mark (or drill if you're confident) pilot holes, using the rail as a guide. You might be able to install screws at each end of the rail and work towards the middle, depending on the rails weight and flexibility. Otherwise, simply work from one end to the other.
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