Tuesday, May 24, 2011

REBEDDING HANDRAILS: Part 3 Remounting the rails

 Back at the boat I first used a Brad Point drill run in reverse to enlarge the screw holes along the cabin top. I learned about this technique from an informative blog from Compass Marine Services.

When all the holes were enlarged I used another technique from the Compass Marine site to rout out the core material using a Dremel tool with a  115 Dremel High Speed Cutter bit in the now enlarged hole:

As you can see below it fits through the opening and allows you to grind out the core material in between the fiberglass deck and the inner fiberglass. This keeps as much as the deck intact as possible while removing as much core as possible:

The cunning plan I had here was to put the screws that held the hand rail back up through the cabin top and the newly routed core area and then fill area around the screws with epoxy like I did in Part 2 of this project. The photo below shows what I was planning:

Well it sounded like a good idea. Until I found out that many of the screws would never line up with the rail once the core material was removed. The screws did not have enough support to hold them in proper alignment.  Also  in one or two of the holes I had actually broken through the inner fiberglass panel.  To make things even harder the boat's manufacturer had installed a molded inner liner on the boat which limited access to small holes in the decorative liner as shown in the photo above. I decided if I was going to be able to use epoxy to replace the routed out core material I would need better access to the underside of the cabin top. So once again I used a Dremel Tool this time with a 199 high speed cutter blade to cut out a rectangular opening in the inner liner that would allow more room to work:

Notice on the left in the above photo the hose of my  two gallon wet dry vacuum that I carry on board. This really helps in sucking up any dust that comes from cutting into the liner. It's a practice I recommend when working on this project. Below is the cutout ready to be removed:
Once I had easier access to the underside of the cabin top I was able to use a strong gaffers tape to seal the screw holes and fill the routed out area with epoxy from above using the same technique I used in Part 2 of the project.

After the epoxy had set I used a drill with a countersink bit to countersink epoxy a little. If you look closely you can see the countersink in the epoxy:
Counter sinking also allowed me to easily find the center of the filled space. I then used an over sized drill to drill through the epoxy for the screws to fit through before they screwed into the handrail.
 The countersunk hole will also fill with some polysulfide chalking (I used Life Chalk)helping to create a nice seal with the screw threads once the hand rail is tightened down.

TIP FROM CAPT MIKE: I was able to re-install the rails myself. After first aligning a few of the screws into the handrail before adding others. But, it is important to make sure ALL the screws are aligned into the epoxied holes of the handrail before tightening them down. In order to make sure of this I found an inspection mirror laid on the deck allowed me to view the underside of the rail and make sure the screws were aligned properly in the handrail epoxied holes before tightening them down as shown in the photo below:

Finally after several coats of Cetol the handrails were ready to be installed back on board. With the holes on the deck and in the handrail now filled with epoxy I can sleep better knowing that I won't have any wet core in this area and the next time I have to re chaulk the handrails or refinish them it will be much easier to remove them and do the work off the boat.


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