Repair or Replace Aluminum Toe Rail - SailNet Community
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post #1 of 17 Old 11-13-2011 Thread Starter
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Repair or Replace Aluminum Toe Rail

The toe rail of my Aphrodite 34 was damaged during Hurricane Irene. Toe rail is single piece of aluminum on each side. I have searched for a matching rail everywhere and can't find one.

One option is replacing the rails on both sides - a major expense that I am considering.

Another option is simply bending the rail back. While the rail will remain scuffed and scarred, I might be willing to live with it. Does anyone have a suggestion on how to bend the rail?

I am attaching a picture of the damage.

I would appreciate any other suggestions.

Thanks.
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post #2 of 17 Old 11-13-2011
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Use an adjustable wrench and brute force. The torail is already damaged. If you insert a piece of thick cloth between the wrench and the rail,you will overcome further damage.
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post #3 of 17 Old 11-13-2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bake81 View Post
The toe rail of my Aphrodite 34 was damaged during Hurricane Irene. Toe rail is single piece of aluminum on each side. I have searched for a matching rail everywhere and can't find one.

One option is replacing the rails on both sides - a major expense that I am considering.

Another option is simply bending the rail back. While the rail will remain scuffed and scarred, I might be willing to live with it. Does anyone have a suggestion on how to bend the rail?

I am attaching a picture of the damage.

I would appreciate any other suggestions.

Thanks.
I second Celenoglu - an old Ukrainian mechanic I knew, who held them in contempt and refused to own one, called it a "Ukrainian fitall" - a crescent wrench to the rest of us. Use a big one and pad it.

Your chance of finding matching holy rail is as close to zero as you can get - there were nearly unlimited shapes & patterns and the European stuff was different again from what was sold here. Theirs also tended to be clear anodized like yours, while ours was generally black.

One possibility is a marine scrapyard. Now that glass boats are being scrapped you MIGHT be able to get some from one of them. Shipping would be pricy though, if each side is a single piece.

I, myself, personally intend to continue being outspoken and opinionated, intolerant of all fanatics, fools and ignoramuses, deeply suspicious of all those who have "found the answer" and on my bad days, downright rude.
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post #4 of 17 Old 11-13-2011
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You can try to 'C' clamp ~3/8" plywood strips on each side of the rail and use a pipe wrench tightened over the plywood to encourage the rail back into shape.
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post #5 of 17 Old 11-13-2011
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Or you can use two pair of "linesman" pliers and bend it a little at a time. However you do it, I'd definitely say repair vs. the cost in time and material to replace. From the picture, doesn't look "that" bad.
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post #6 of 17 Old 11-13-2011
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What if you cut out the damaged piece and took it to a machine shop to have a new piece milled. Even if it was 500 it would be a cheep repair.
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post #7 of 17 Old 11-13-2011
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Or how about removing rail from both sides a few feet back and replacing with something very different. That way it would look like an upgrade.
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post #8 of 17 Old 11-13-2011
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How "perfect" do you want your boat to be and how much are you willing to spend to get there? - that is the question.

I, myself, personally intend to continue being outspoken and opinionated, intolerant of all fanatics, fools and ignoramuses, deeply suspicious of all those who have "found the answer" and on my bad days, downright rude.
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post #9 of 17 Old 11-13-2011
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Well, the "proper" way to repair it is either to cut a section out and splice in a new one, welding the joints and drilling/machining to match the pattern.

That might not be impossible even if the rail is no longer made, because sometimes you can steal a few feet from one end (and match the other side) or sometimes you can have a machine shop slice off three (six?)feet of aluminum angle iron, and match it up.

Onceuponatime this was something any village blacksmith could do everyday. These days--you can also do some of it online with CAD/CAM tools. Take a look at CNC Machine Shop | Custom Waterjet, Plasma, Laser Cutting | eMachineShop.com for one place that will give you free CAD software, let you work out the plans, and then they'll machine the stock for you. If your local machine shop wants big rent money to do work... There are online resources.

Of course if you've got a generous insurer or the damage in someone else's problem, you just say "Pull both rails and replace with something very similar" and that's REALLY the right way to do it, if you can't fabricate in a new piece.

Old boat? Beater? Lots of wrinkles? OK, then you just bang it back into shape as best you can. Body shops used to repair Rolls Royce the same way, a good tinsmith can work that metal back to damn near new. In fact, if you go to a local auto body shop with some photos, you might be able to get a pro to come do the work on his own time. They have an array of special hammers, anvils, wheels, designed to reshape the metal without distorting it. Getting rid of the distortions, or preventing them, takes skill and practice.

The main thing is, "make haste slowly". Check out your options, you may find pleasant surprises.
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post #10 of 17 Old 11-13-2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by emoney View Post
Or you can use two pair of "linesman" pliers and bend it a little at a time. However you do it, I'd definitely say repair vs. the cost in time and material to replace. From the picture, doesn't look "that" bad.
I strongly disagree with this option. Linesmans pliers have "teeth" that will mar aluminium and are not nearly long enough to get the leverage you require - holy rail is strong stuff, much harder than the aluminium most people are used to. The first time I installed it, hacksawing through it was not a lot easier than steel.

You need the biggest, or rather, the longest Crescent wrenches you can find, cover the jaws thickly with tape and "nibble" your way along - one behind the area you want to bend to keep the bending stress localized and one on the area to be bent. Remember, you want to TWIST the rail. Putting a thin strip of something on the outside to fill in the area under the rolled lip will help to keep everything aligned. If the wrenches don't give you enough leverage to twist the rail, try using long pipe clamps - you can get as much leverage as you want that way. Do everything the same as with the wrenches - just tighten the (padded) jaws on the area you want to work and pull on the end of the pipe while a helper watches the work area closely so you don't over bend it.

I can see one crease alongside the turning block - the only possible way I know to get that out is to hammer and dolly it like an auto body - you'll need a heavy hammer though.

I, myself, personally intend to continue being outspoken and opinionated, intolerant of all fanatics, fools and ignoramuses, deeply suspicious of all those who have "found the answer" and on my bad days, downright rude.
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