Detaching Hand Rails? How hard? Issues? - SailNet Community

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  #1  
Old 11-03-2008
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Detaching Hand Rails? How hard? Issues?

My boat was winterized, hauled, washed, and blocked up on the hard today. It is time for maintenance. Most of it is small stuff discovered during my purchase/insurance survey that is easily accomplished, but the one big thing is that I need desperately to refinish the hand rails on my cabin top (and all the other exposed wood, for that matter). I don't know when the previous owner last gave them attention, but I'd guess it was at least 3 years ago. Much of the wood finish is gone and the exposed wood is seriously weathered. What finish remains is already peeling and is removable with a scraper and a modicum of effort (I've already started).

Maintenance is a weak area for me. I've sailed all my life, thanks to rentals from military marinas, but this is the first boat I've owned and I have lots of noobie questions. I'm wondering what the issues involved with removing the hand rails from the cabin top of My Islander Bahama 30 are. I could do a much better job refinishing them if they were detached. I can't really see detaching anything else, but with all those curved, concave surfaces I'd rather deal with them off of the boat.


Specific questions I have for your consideration:

1) How hard is it to detach the hand rails?

2) How closely do the hand-rail through-bolts line up with the zippers in the salon overhead in the '84 Islander Bahama 30? If they are not close, what must I do to get to them?

3) Are there any special tools I will need?

4) What must I do to ensure I get a good seal again when I put the hand rails back on?

5) Have you any words of advice as to how hard to tighten them?

6) What am I not seeing?

DaCAP.

Last edited by dacap06; 11-03-2008 at 02:00 PM.
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Old 11-03-2008
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Not a big deal, I removed the rails on my Islander for re-bedding. Some of the nuts on the inside can be difficult to get to and it is easier with two people. The rails on my Islander where thru-bolted. There are plugs in the top of the rail that I used a screw driver to take out. You will need new ones, they can be bought at West Marine.

The tools to remove are just a screw driver and open ended wrench.

When you reinstall be sure to get all the old sealant off the top and inside of cabin roof. Re-drill the holes a size larger to insure all the old sealant is removed. Seal inside the rail, between the rail and cabin top, and between the underside and washer.

Turn the nut not the bolt, you will need a helper. Tighten until the sealant begins to squeeze out, do not over tighten. It is good to tape off around the rail base points, makes clean up of sealant easier. Cut away what is squeezed out.

The wood sands easily and the finish can be amazing. What are you going to use for a finish?
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Old 11-04-2008
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First off, I'd recommend Don Casey's Complete Illustrated Sailboat Maintenance Manual to you. It is well worth the price and will allow you to tackle such projects with the benefit of some sound wisdom.

You're on the right track with the removal idea. You'll get a far superior outcome.

You'll find that a heat gun and a plastic bladed putty knife, or plastic scraper, will make removing the old finish a snap. You'll damage the wood much less as well. Scrub them down with oxalic acid after you've removed the finish and they'll look much better after varnishing.

Search through the threads here on rebedding hardware so that you do not create a future problem. You're going to want some epoxy so you can re-do your holes through the cabin top. Sailingdog has many posts on here describing the proper procedure in detail.
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Refinishing Hand Rails

Thanks for the advice folks. I know wisdom when I hear it and intend to follow it. I'm still looking at finishes, but the most appealing product I have run across so far is Cetol. Do I hear a recommendation for an alternative?

DaCAP
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Old 11-04-2008
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decap...try the Cetol NATURAL teak color rather than the original or the light. Top it off with some Cetol Gloss for a nice look!
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Old 11-05-2008
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RE: Cetol Natural Teak

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Originally Posted by camaraderie View Post
decap...try the Cetol NATURAL teak color rather than the original or the light. Top it off with some Cetol Gloss for a nice look!
Ha! My thoughts exactly, Camaraderie!
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Old 11-05-2008
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What is appealing to you about Cetol?
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RE: Why Cetol?

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Originally Posted by NOLAsailing View Post
What is appealing to you about Cetol?
Varnish vs. Cetol sounds suspiciously like another of the "religious" debates one sees so often on the Internet -- Mac vs. PC, Linux vs. Windows, Ford vs. Chevrolet, Japanese vs. American, etc etc. Ultimately, it comes down to a personal preference.

I was attracted to Cetol ever since I watched an acquaintance rehab a project boat with it. I like its integrity in the face of moisture, its longevity, UV resistance, and ease of maintenance once the initial coats are on. Roughen with sandpaper, add another coat, and it's good for another year.

That said, I didn't like the color, especially as the coats built up. It was too dark for my tastes. But the new, natural Cetol is much lighter and lets the natural grain show through. Adding a gloss coat is simply icing on the cake.

DaCAP
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Old 11-06-2008
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NOLA...it is all about achieving a good look and EASY maintenance to me. Varnish is absolutely better looking...but there is no contest in ease of maintenance and standing up to the elements in my opinion. In either case though...you can't let it get away from you as taking down Cetol to bare wood is no more fun than removing varnish.
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Old 11-06-2008
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Cetol - the next coat is simple

Next season when you want to take care of your Cetol, you will appreciate the ease...

Basically,
Step one is wash to remove all wax.
Step two is wipe down with something to clean off oils and silicone.
Step three is mask with good fine-line tape.
(Sanding or scuffing is not required but I do a smoothing with fine paper.)
Step four is apply coat of Cetol.

Clean up:
I go after the tape as soon as the coat gets toward "firm jelly" state. I don't want to damage the coat but I do want to get the tape off before the coat is hard. If I did have a problem with cetol seeping under the tape I still have a chance to clean it up.

Be warned, the Previous Owner wasn't careful about masking and our I28 has stains that will be there until the gelcoat is removed...

Here is the "what I think" science, the new coat of cetol seems to cross link with the existing coats to "heal" them. So keep up your annual coatings until you don't like the appearance. Then scrape, sand and re-start the annual schedule.

BTW, as you are removing your handrails, be sure to coat the bottom surfaces. It helps to reduce water infiltration to the wood. That water migrates through and can lift the coatings off the tops of the rails...



Enjoy!
Paul Comte, I28 Milwaukee WI
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