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  #1  
Old 11-19-2011
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Grab Rail Attachment

How do I securely attach my grab rails to cabin/deck top....?

I have made up some rails from Cumaru and want to attach to cabin top , looks like there were some rails there at one point but not there now to use as example..

No corresponding holes in cabin ceiling, so must be bolted/screwed from top..?

Do I just drill thru glass into core..? Toggle bolts..? Some sort of drill out and reinforce...?

And should they be removeable..? or glue and seal them with 5200..?

I'm hoping to cover up the existing holes with new rails...
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Grab Rail Attachment-003.jpg   Grab Rail Attachment-007.jpg  
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Last edited by Squidd; 11-19-2011 at 09:14 AM.
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Old 11-19-2011
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I would probably lag screw them from underneath, two at each attach point to the cabin top. Through bolting would be stronger, with a nut plate epoxied unde the cabin, but then you need to drill out the handrail and recess the bolt head to plug it. Lots of work. In either case, the holes through the cabin top need to be over drilled, filled with epoxy, then redrilled to the proper size, allowing the epoxy to seal the core. There are plentynof threads on this site on how to bed with butyl tape. Do not glue down with 5200.

Before I did any of this, I would finish cleaning up and painting that cabin top. You shouldn't just cover old holes, you should seal them first.
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Old 11-19-2011
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I would through-bolt with a flush-cut plug to cover the hole on the top-side. Skip the adhesive-type bedding compound and use a butyl-type bedding compound to seal around each bolt set into a chamfered-edge hole in the deck, a-la MaineSail and others.

Although I didn't retrofit through-bolts on my screwed-from-the-underside factory-installed handrails, I did add a chamfer to the deck holes and used butyl when I was revarnishing and dealing with a few leaky mount points.

That was 3 years ago and I haven't had a problem with water intrusion since.
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Old 11-19-2011
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I agree with the cleaning and painting the cabin top, but I think I should get my mechanical attachment points secure and in place before final finish work...

I didn't mean just "cover" the old mounts, I'm thinking I should dig out the old silicone/caulk (?) and epoxy the holes shut then drill and secure new attachment points.. then do the top refinish before final mounting of rails..

What if I drilled say 3/4" hole from the top, thru core, just to ceiling...then epoxied in 3/4" wood dowels...and used them as attachment points (screwed down rail from top) ??

That should make the rails "removeable" for refinishing, secure enough not to pull out if I "grab" one... and not have visable anchors on the ceiling from the inside...?

Or am I missing something here..?
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Old 11-19-2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Squidd View Post
I agree with the cleaning and painting the cabin top, but I think I should get my mechanical attachment points secure and in place before final finish work...

I didn't mean just "cover" the old mounts, I'm thinking I should dig out the old silicone/caulk (?) and epoxy the holes shut then drill and secure new attachment points.. then do the top refinish before final mounting of rails..

What if I drilled say 3/4" hole from the top, thru core, just to ceiling...then epoxied in 3/4" wood dowels...and used them as attachment points (screwed down rail from top) ??

That should make the rails "removeable" for refinishing, secure enough not to pull out if I "grab" one... and not have visable anchors on the ceiling from the inside...?

Or am I missing something here..?
Visible anchors are okay. My screws have finishing washers (like used in kitchen cabinets) to smooth the transition between the screw head and the ceiling.

Some boats have matching grab rails installed in the cabin, so that there's no fasteners to see, but you might not have the room or the inclination to do that.
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Old 11-19-2011
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Agree with using butyl rather than adhesives.. overall I think you'd be better with bolt ons than screws, but you'll need to cut/buy plugs (since you must have some scraps a good plug cutter would be a great investment.. your plugs will match)

Handrails above and below make sense, all bolted together through the same deck penetrations.

As for sealing old holes, definitely remove old caulking, then cut out some of the core around the hole (maybe redrill slightly larger too, to ensure there's no lingering silicone) and fill with thickened epoxy. If looks like you're in for a paint job anyhow, so once faired the repairs should disappear (of course if you're reusing the original locations the repairs will be mostly under the rails once installed).

As mentioned, Mainesail has some excellent tips and tricks for this kind of work. Check it out.
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Yep, saw the Maine Sail thread on Buytl tape, looks like a better option than adhesives or silicone..

I have the plug cutters so that's the easy part... I also have inside hand rails, but they are not in the same placement (inside) to match where I want them outside, and I didn't cut my rail/mounts to match...So it looks like I'll have two sets of holes in the cabin top.
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I would finish the cabin top first, otherwise, taping and working around and under the rails will be a pain. If you are concerned about ease of removal, I would screw from underneath. If you drill through from the top, you will need to remove and replace the plug each time. Caps can be made for the screw head inside the cabin if they are not hidden by a liner.

Again, bolting through would be best for strength. When you first assemble, you can pre-glue the bolt to the washer and then glue the washer to the cabin top as you tightened. In the future, you will have a permanent nut plate and can R&R from above.
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Old 11-19-2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Minnewaska View Post
I would probably lag screw them from underneath, two at each attach point to the cabin top. Through bolting would be stronger, with a nut plate epoxied unde the cabin, but then you need to drill out the handrail and recess the bolt head to plug it. Lots of work. In either case, the holes through the cabin top need to be over drilled, filled with epoxy, then redrilled to the proper size, allowing the epoxy to seal the core. There are plentynof threads on this site on how to bed with butyl tape. Do not glue down with 5200.

Before I did any of this, I would finish cleaning up and painting that cabin top. You shouldn't just cover old holes, you should seal them first.
I concur with Minnewaska. I have lagged mine from underneath with no problems ever. Ironically, the only handrails I ever had trouble with (cracking & splitting) were through bolted.

There are several requirements and advantages to lagging from below;

The rails can be completely pre-finished prior to installing.

They can be easily removed to re-finish (as long as you don't use an adhesive sealant).

Select a lag screw whose major diameter is close to 1/2 the width of the handrail.

You MUST carefully drill them so the lags cut properly into the wood - undersized holes will split them, oversize holes will strip and release the handrail at a VERY inopportune time. The holes should be sized to correspond with the minor diameter of the screw.

Use large fender washers under the screw head.

If the cabintop is cored in the area you are mounting them, you MUST pot the holes to seal them and eliminate crush.

The cabintop hole must correspond to the major diameter of the screw.

Countersink both the top of the hole in the deck and the hole in the handrail to create a small O-ring of sealant around each screw - this will help ensure they stay sealed.

Finally, if you sand all markings off the screw heads and polish them and the fender washers they will look very good below - at least to my somewhat "tech" eye.
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Old 11-19-2011
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Or you can through bolt with the bolts going from top to bottom. I would drill the holes a bit under size in the rails and thread the bolts in, possibly with a drop or two of epoxy. Enlarge the cabin top holes to allow easy passage of the bolts. Treat the cabintop holes as suggested, potted with epoxy and with a chamfer on the edge to hold an "O" ring of sealant. Matching plugs on the rails will cover the bolt heads and never need to be removed. Butyl is an excellent choice for bedding. On the inside a fender washer and either a nylok or an acorn nut can be used with the bolt trimmed to the correct length.

This creates the strength of through bolting with easy re-bedding for future maintenance. And you will never doubt their strength.
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