View Full Version : Rubrail Restoration Help

04-13-2012, 11:02 PM
Well folks I finally got my rubrails back after taking them to metal guy. Let me tell you they look awesome....brand new. He actually stripped off the annodizing. Now they look chrome. Anyone here think I should re annodyze them for something other than looks?

Also, I have a major problem now. The rear piece that fits as a "u" shaped around the transom flew out of the back of my truck on the way home (what an idiot I know). This i feel is a huge problem as that piece not only fits perfectly square around the rear corners of the boat, but also had a slight bow in its shape where the edge barrels a bit above the transom.

Question is, does anyone know how they installed the rails on the classics? Did they screw in and bend as they went? Did they have to heat the aluminum J rail as they bent? Wow Im afraid I'm totally screwed on this one. BTW I was driving home half asleep in a huge rainstorm 1.5 hrs from home and there is no way I can find the mangled rail on the highway.

Im thinking of ordering a couple pieces of rail, having them polished, cutting piece on one side to line up with screw holes, wrapping around the back as I screw in. Hoping the natural barrel back bow will occur naturally as I continue to screw! then butt up to the end of the piece to the side rail on the other side, mark and cut. Thoughts???

Thanks any help is greatly appreciated!!

blemishes in pic are from tape residue


04-14-2012, 07:29 AM
It's a shame about your loss.
It's always difficult to fit the rails back on to the boat, even when they came off the exact same place.
I always had the best success hanging the rails on w/all the screws in place but loose and not tight. You might do this w/the side pieces and mark the location of the ends of the rails toward the stern.
If you can find a single piece of rail that's long enough to make it all the way around the stern, carefully measure the piece so that the holes will line up theoretically along it entire length. I say theoretically, because this is hard to do.
You'll want some overlap on each side and the forward ends should land between the existing holes after they're trimmed to fit the existing side rails, b ut you do this after everything else is done.
Start in the middle of the transom and start installing the mounting screws through the new rail. After all the screws are installed loosely, start tightening the screws a little at a time until the screws are tight all across the transom.
The corners are a bit more difficult, and if you look at a lot of boats, you'll notice there's always a small amount of "slop" in the bends. The rail not only has to make the bends, but the holes around the corners have to line up. I think the best tool ro make the bends is a plastic "dead blow" hammer. Obviously, you have to be careful, but the aluminum is very soft and it makes the bend pretty easily.
After everything fits, trim the forward ends of the new rail to fit the existing rails.
If you have to use two pieces, then make your joint in the middle of the transom.
Unfortunately, the nice shiny surface won't hold up w/o a lot of polishing. I'd check w/the local powdercoating shops and see if they could do a clear powdercoat that will maintain the finish. Unfortunately, anodizing just doesn't hold up a long time, but a good powdercoat can last a lot longer than you'd ever consider owning the boat.

04-14-2012, 09:06 AM
the arch is not really a big thing. if it can be made in one piece that is the way to go. the alum rail is much easier to work with then SS.

bend and screw as you go , thru bolt where possible. when it comes to the joint have a file handy and cut a little long then put a slight, opposing beveled edge on each end like a 45 cut, probably not that much something like this \ again not that much just a couple of passes with the file . the joint will be nice and tight and harder to see.

Morgan's Cloud
04-14-2012, 09:07 AM
This is kind of tough for two reasons . One, you lost the key piece and two, you went through the trouble of stripping the old stuff and now need a new piece that if you strip that one too, may look a bit different than the old pieces.
This is where the powdercoating option will take care of that issue. Untreated aluminium will start to corrode almost immediately .

If you removed the old ones yourself then you should have an idea how to reinstall them, but like George said , they never seem to go right back on exactly as they came off. That six inch spacing seems to morph when you remove rub rails and trust me , the predrilled 6'' holes on new strips never line up.

I hate messing with rub rails almost as much as I hate installing windscreens !

All that said though , when installing new stuff from scratch I put the bow and transom sections on first and then do the side ones. The side ones are easier to mess with in terms of trimming for length, etc .

Ideally , you really want a new 12' section. The problem with having two pieces with the joint in the centre as George mentioned , is that it's impossible to get the nice curve on the rail. I made this error when I did my first partial resto on my boat back in the later 80's and had to live with the discombobulated look for 20 years.

oh , I'm talking about working in S/S here btw ..

04-15-2012, 09:28 AM
Bummer about the missing piece

As previously noted the anodizing is what keeps that aluminum shiny. It might look like chrome now but not for long!

I like to clear coat polished aluminum with glisten of. It's self leveling and dries as hard has a rock. http://www.por15.com/GLISTEN-PC/productinfo/GPCGG/. I've had great luck with all sorts of aluminum and polished pieces.

Just Say N20
04-15-2012, 09:49 AM
+1 on Powdercoating. My hull/deck joint couldn't survive another set of holes, so I had to reuse the aluminum rail that came off the boat. And it was very bashed up. I decided to powder coat it white.

I was delighted at how the powdercoat filled in about 90% of the damage areas on the rubrail. Powdercoating is durable, and virtually maintenance free.

A local shop in Grand Rapids did the entire rubrail for my 16 for $105.

04-15-2012, 10:27 AM
Thanks for posting that picture Bill.
I did thiis years ago w/great success, but folks seem to have an aversion to the idea, like it's sacreligious or something.

04-15-2012, 11:56 AM
Its no more sacreligious than polishing your aluminum to a mirror finish...

I have powder coated lots of things over the years. I prefer using two part epoxy paint, it's harder and when it scratches, you cannot feather it out and paint it. To boot, I don't think the finish is as shiny i was told by my powder coater to use armor all if you really want it to shine.

That Glisten PC stuff works amazingly well. Ive used it on my motorcycle restorations, mainly for fork lowers.

04-15-2012, 11:57 AM
btw Bill I think the white rub rails look pretty trick! I like it!:yes:

04-16-2012, 12:58 PM
Thanks for all the great input folks.

George is correct, I should have powdercoated the pieces to start with but I couldn't find anyone that could do the pieces due to size. Also, I was not in love with the fact that I would have to have another shade of grey. George's application works because he powder coated other components of his boat the same color as the rail. For me, the chrome of the air vents and hooks, along with the fairly shiny chrome windscreen frame I have, would mismatch a grey colored rubrail. Bill's boat looks really slick, but once again, if I went red, it would be way to monochromoatic for my TR and would not look right. Hence, powdercoating was out of the question for me on this one.

Now the solution after all your advice:
I think I am going to order another piece of j-rail through a semi local West Marine to save on shipping. I will have polished like the others i had done (which by the way all gashes and scratches were filled in during that process). Then I will coat with Glisten product thanks Dunesman! Do I coat with 1 or 2 coats? Just apply and let dry? this is going to save me alot of time and $ I think vs. the clear powdercoat option. This is great information.

Option B:

Order enough j rail product and just re-do the entire thing if option A does not work.

On another note, I have many, many screws that have started coming out due to a large screw hole udner the rubrail. Does anyone else have this problem?? I was shocked when I also had several screws come loose in my air vents, vent rattled loose, swung in a half moon scoring the top of my deck on a long trip! I think I can shoot resin inside those effected holes and re-screw yes?

thanks again guys!!

04-16-2012, 01:07 PM
They do come loose if they're screwed into the wood strip.
The worst area is in the bow, which is somewhat accessable.
The best solution is to find someone really small to climb up in there and add washers and lock nuts to the new machine screws you'll replace the wood screws with.

Morgan's Cloud
04-16-2012, 01:12 PM
When I can't through bolt sections of the rubrail I simply dip all the screws in a polysulfide sealant first (NOT 5200 !)
Same with the hull to deck screws .. I've never had any loosen up .

04-16-2012, 01:21 PM
Oh ok, I will do a combination of both of these thank you. You really dont want to see the damage that was done to the deck form that dam air vent coming loose and swinging around.....The screw on the opposite side stayed in partially and tapped a nasty half moon etching in the gelcoat as it swung around and rattled.

Gary S
04-16-2012, 03:59 PM
While I don't own a Donzi,I like to dream! I replaced my rub rail on my Correct Craft,which I think must be much like yours. I held off a long time because I thought it would be way too hard. Here is the best picture I could find of mine,the rear piece is lower on each corner than the middle and is curved too.Just go one fastner at a time you'll be surprised how easy it is to bend to the contour you need. Imo I would not try to line up the new rail to the original holes,you will have enough work making the ends line up, just fill them and redrill. Get yourself one of these
It will make your job alot easier. I used West Marine too but the rail itself is made by Taco Metals. http://tacomarine.com/cat--Aluminum-Rub-Rail--cat2_aluminum_rr.html


04-16-2012, 04:53 PM
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Love your boat Gary. One of my favorite color combos too btw. Looks like you have the exact j rail as mine except the fatter version. let me ask you, your bend around the corner looks very nice, you just bent as you went, ey? Also the attachment says "invalid" when I try to click on the tool you mention I need to get.....

Gary S
04-16-2012, 05:44 PM
Thanks. In my case the rail seam starts a foot or two around the side. So naturally I started there and worked my way around one screw at a time. As I worked my way around the back on the corners I did use a dead blow hammer very lightly,I just went real slow. I know I sound kind of vague,but it went so easy it's hard to describe. Others had told me how hard it was so I was worried. The tool you need is called a self centering drill bit,it pilots in the countersunk hole in the rail and is spring loaded,you then push on it and the bit drils out the hole.I got mine at a woodworking store,I don't rember the make, and used a #6 for the screw size I was using. Try this link,this is what they look like. http://www.snappytools.com/products/guides.asp

04-27-2012, 06:29 PM
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Thanks Gary I may need one of those.


Just an fyi for people trying to source the J rail. In addition to aforementioned methods of getting this stuff, you can look at the Taco website where they have a list of suppliers. Some wholesale and some retail. Namely, West Marine is mentioned but only certain West Marines are. Also, shipping has said to be a big problem as these pieces are 12' minimum. As a shot in the dark I decided to call my local west Marine that was NOT included on their list in CA and sure enough it will be here next Tuesday! $54 delivered to my local West Marine. This being said I decided to buy 4 12' pieces. They will need to look it up in their book:

Part #: TACA110151TAL12D

Long story short, just call your Local WM for those who are looking.

I may pass on the re-fitting my transom piece, polishing, then spraying with a seal and just replace them all with these new anodized ones.