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S&S Swan General - Replacing alloy toe rail for teak
17 April 2018 - 17:56
#1
Join Date: 10 January 2016
Posts: 7

Replacing alloy toe rail for teak

Hi,

We are thinking about biting the bullet and replacing the alloy toe rail with a teak one. Realise the rail has a huge amount of bolts that are no doubt well corroded in, heard that some Swans have cut off the top flange and bolted or attached the new teak rail to the cut off sectioned alloy rail, but would be concerned about long term corrosion setting in.

 

Anyone carried out this job and if so any idea of how long it will take, also appreciate will need to dissmantle the interior.

 

Any photos out there??

 

Cheers

 

Jonty Sleeper X

oaktree.layfield@gmail.com

17 April 2018 - 18:05
#2
Join Date: 29 January 2007
Posts: 754

Dear Jonty,

alluminum toerail is structural part of our S&S Swan, I know of at least a S&S Swan Owner who got rid of the original toerail, installed a new one (carbon fiber, designed and engineter by a "top expert engineer"), and have now serious problem of cohesion between deck and hull.

My opinion: do not do it.

Our Professor will be more technical of course, and we are looking forward to his words.

Fair winds

matteo (47/069 Vanessa)

18 April 2018 - 18:43
#3
Join Date: 02 January 2008
Posts: 1356

Dear Jonty 

The hull to deck joint should preferably remain bolted together, and the existing bolts can take care of this. It is suggested you leave them, this saves a lot of work.
Then there are two possible approaches 
- either use a hole saw for cutting out an aluminium washer around each bolt, and finally lift off the rail without washers, or 
- cut off the vertical toe rail flange with a vertical saw cut where the vertical flange radius begins outside the bolts. This leaves most of the horizontal flange in place.
 
The wooden rail should enclose the remaining aluminium parts completely, and have a lip on the outside, meeting the hull edge, To be bolted down with 400 mm spacing. 
You may also need to look at the stanchion bases, and how to drain water from the deck.
 
Corrosion can be prevented by treating the underside of the wooden rail with epoxy, putting a thin sheet of plastic between the aluminium and wood, and filling all voids with mastic.
Would it help if I make a sketch? 
Kind regards
Lars

 

18 April 2018 - 18:54
#4
Join Date: 31 July 2007
Posts: 71

I built a 37 ft boat many years ago. The hull - deck joint was similar to what our vintage Swans have, in that there is a flange on the hull, the deck is solid glass where it attaches to the flange and the core of the deck starts a little inboard. I used 5200 on the joint and bolts every 12 inches. Then I installed a teak rail, thru bolted with bolts every 12 inches so that I ended up with a bolt every 6 inches. And then I left it to cure. If you disturb the joint - as you plan to do - there is the risk of rupturing the joint. The deck and hull form a box and you can visualise the condition by taking a shoe-box and twisting it with and without the cover. When your boat is hauled out and sits in a craddle you can not tell what stresses are on the hull and what might happen when you go into the hull-deck joint. Also, at the time I could buy teak 20 feet long, so I had only one joint. My Swan has three joints on each rail.  

19 April 2018 - 06:28
#5
Join Date: 05 August 2010
Posts: 125

Dear Lars and others,

yes I think a sketch drawing would be very welcome. It seems that corrosion on the aluminium toerail is not a singular event; I have seen the topic before and I can see our own toerail as well. If anything comes close to being a "common" problem on our boats, this would be a candidate, I think. So if you can add a sketch to the enormous treasure chest this forum is for future solutions, please please do.

Humbly,
Martin

25 April 2018 - 12:21
#6
Join Date: 02 January 2008
Posts: 1356

Dear Martin

Here a sketch to start with.

Kind regards

Lars

02 May 2018 - 18:55
#7
Join Date: 29 January 2007
Posts: 754

Dear Friends,

Lars and Martyin just sent me a fabolous document they worked on together, with full instruction on ho to do the job in the correct way.

You can find the document on the "manual" section, under "maintenance".

Of course this part of our website is accessible only by S&S Swan Association full Members.

Thanks a lot to Martin and Lars!

Fair winds!

matteo (47/069 Vanessa)

04 July 2018 - 01:00
#8
Join Date: 27 August 2014
Posts: 12

I have NOT done this ... but have been thinking about it as well.

 

My thought has been to cut the "rounded" top off the aluminum rail and thru-bolt and epxoy the teak onto the remaining vertical part of the aluminum toerail structure.

 

Any thoughts on this approach versus the professors?

 

Larry

05 July 2018 - 05:42
#9
Join Date: 05 August 2010
Posts: 125

Dear Larry,

thank you for the idea and the request for comments. I am not sure we will ever get to an ultimate solution, so I find any new input interesting.

My first impulse to cutting away the round top was "but why would you do it?". That top is the part of the rail that is normally maybe a bit scarred but free of corrosion, and corrosion would be my primary (and only) reason to work on the toerails. If the rest of the rail is free of corrosion, you might as well keep it. If it is not free of corrosion, and you still keep it but cover it with teak, my main concern is that you simply transfer ugly (=visible) corrosion into veiled (=invisible) corrosion. Stopping the corrosion is difficult enough in small areas, and getting epoxi to stick to aluminium is too.
Finally, on this note, your design (contrasted to the one proposed by Lars) has considerably more contact areas where you would need to establish a watertight connection, and every slight irregularity makes that difficult in my opinion. Aluminium toe rails that have served for four decades and more will have some slight irregularities. Maybe even lots.
Your teak design is also quite thin on the wood, but as the hollow teak rail would have a metal backbone, I don't see a stability problem. The metal backbone (the vertical part of the flange) has numerous holes, though. How do you propose to fill them in order to stop water collecting and weakening the teak from the inside? Or would you cut the teak around some of the holes to make water drains?

Interesting topic, in any case.

Best regards,
Martin (48/039)

30 July 2018 - 23:24
#10
Join Date: 20 March 2016
Posts: 16

My "two cents" and humble opinion is: take down the head liners ONLY where the corrosion is ( and can ALL be seen ) once you have ALL the stanchions off and the stanchion bolts ONLY in regard to the stanchions) ) . Then :

1.clean out and grind out ALL the major corrosion .

2 Then use a carbon fibre ? kevlar two pot expoxy to bridge between the the good areas. (Lars or someone with EXPERT knowlegde eof what products woud be best to use would be paramount here).I would contact west systems or similar .There must be a high tech product that has exceptional strength on the market that can be used here and then fairing compound over that (if need latter) ?

3. Then obvously fair .

4. Protect what you have (is paramount) with etching compound .then tow pot  highbuilds (and fair )  Then decide what finishes you are goind to use on the rail . Awl Grip etc (what is the HARDEST marine paint on the market/) Lars ? Matteo ? (you will obviously need to make sure each coat is compatable with the following coats before hand)

5.Then decide if that is aesthically OK. This path naturally finished here IF there are no stuctural issues re the L shaped longitudinal Al "Beam".

6 . Personally I think the teak covering would look far FAR better than the AL toe rail. from an Aesthic pointo of view and goes withe the Swan "look".

I would be very interested to know from Lars or Matteo and others why S and S did not go withe a teak toe rail in the first place.

Make sure you STOP salt water sitting on top of the bolt heads on the rail (that is THE problem IMHO) .There should of been a plastic ? washer etc between the blots and teh Al rail ?.  Maybe fill up OVER the S/S bolt heads with epoxy? . Lars Matteo . what are your or others thoughts on this ? 

 

Obviously replave ALL crappt bolts nuts etc with New Ones and use Anto corrosion greas etc under neath and on the threads . imho

 

Thankyou and all the best .I would be very interested in pics etc as you proced with thsi job.

 

Lats drawings are excellent. I wonder if you could tack weld short Al  "spaces" as well on the flat flanges? Lars ?

 

Fair winds

 

31 July 2018 - 11:05
#11
Join Date: 29 January 2007
Posts: 754

Dear Diogenes,

thanks for your message.

I think they both wanted the toerail to last as long as possible. A teak one would have not been so strong as the alluminum one, and honestly I can tell you most of the corrosion which you can see in those 35/40 years old anodized Nautor built toerails are more superficial (cosmetic) than structural.

Which make me think they did choice the right way!

That's my personal opinion.

Fair winds!

matteo (47/069 Vanessa)

31 July 2018 - 13:45
#12
Join Date: 02 January 2008
Posts: 1356

Dear Diogenes

Many of your questions have been discussed in an earlier thread. pls see
https://www.classicswan.org/forum/post_thread.php?thread=1977
 
A few comments to your last post
2. Do not use carbon fibre together with aluminum, as this will cause galvanic corrosion. Good adhesion is paramount here, and WEST should be able to advise.
4. Awlgrip is considered the longest lasting marine paint.
6. Actually the five first Swan models have teak toe rails, i.e. the Swan 36, Swan 43, Swan 40, Swan 55, and Swan 37 (except for the 4 last hulls). Sums up to a total of 280 yachts.
Aluminum rails were considered more practical because of the convenient attachment points provided by the many rail holes.
Newer Swan models have plastic washers between the bolts and the rail.
You are right - preventing water from reaching the bolt heads will eliminate galvanic corrosion.
You can not tack weld to the rail while in place, and the anodization must be removed completely in the weld area before welding.
Kind regards
Lars

02 August 2018 - 05:08
#13
Join Date: 20 March 2016
Posts: 16

Yes, that is what I have experienced too. The issues on my toerail were caused by saltwater sitting in the heads of the S/S screw tops but I solved that issue permanently. I also found that salt water and rainwater with sait residue wahing off the decks was collecting arouund the lowest point of drainage on the toe rail around the entry stanchions and gate area so I drilled out the holes in the toe rail lower in those areas so the rail drains now .

 

Thnbks so much Matteo.for all your work and dedication to these yachts and so many owners over the years. You truly are awesome :D    I am buying a property in southern Italy and hope to be abvle to help out and crew for those in the Naples Amalfi coast area. 

02 August 2018 - 05:23
#14
Join Date: 20 March 2016
Posts: 16

Thanks Lars for the detailed reply , especially the information regarding carbon fobre and Al .

""You can not tack weld to the rail while in place, and the anodization must be removed completely in the weld area before welding""

 

Lars , I am just wondering why you don't recommend tack welding the rail while in place. Is it because of the possibilty of heating up the fibreglass laminate ? and affecting the structural integrity of the laminate under the rail? 

Do you think West systems is the best for filling in the totally corrodded away areas under the rail? or is there a better product or method?

 

Thankyou so much for your lifes work .

 

Another question I have is the old "stuck blakes thru hulls".

I have managed to get every single one working again, cleaned reseated and greased , EXCEPT the one that discharges sink water under the galley on the port hand side (its hard to get too as well) .    Looking on Youtube I cannot find much info on unsticking thruhulls that have "welded together" throug galvanic activity.   I am seeing people unfreeze galvanic welded bolts using:

Heat and parfin wax ,

Heat and then pouring water over the bolts

or using automatic transmission fluid and acetone 50/50 mix.    I am wondering what your,  Matteos and others thoughts are . 

 

Thankyou 

02 August 2018 - 10:18
#15
Join Date: 02 January 2008
Posts: 1356

Dear Diogenes

It is likely that welding would heat up the adjacent laminate so much that the polyester resin breaks down.
For filling the recesses you could also consider a "liquid metal" like Belzona. Check the surface preparation recommendations for the products of interest, aluminum is a demanding substrate.
 
For the stuck Blake the recommendation is to cool the center spindle with dry ice, this causes it to shrink in relation to the body. 
Kind regards
Lars

26 August 2018 - 17:53
#16
Join Date: 01 February 2007
Posts: 53

In 2006 I bought my 1972 Swan 40 which had an original varnished teak toerail.   In 2007, as part of a major refit at Walsteds in Denmark, the deck and toerail were replaced.   Walsteds proposed to leave the toerail unvarnished.   After 11 years it still looks fine though some of the softer fibres in the wood have been washed out.    No doubt varnishing would extend the life of the wood but require a lot of maintenance.    How many years might the unvarnished toerail last ? (Of course there can be no precise answer to this question but any thoughts would be welcome)

26 September 2018 - 17:36
#17
Join Date: 22 May 2016
Posts: 3

On corroding toe rails and other things, anodes for example.

I have a 57 from 1982 and the toe rail is okay, despite the tremendous amount of "bad-electricity" introduced over the years after leaving the yard. I have cleaned out three garbage bags of bad cables.

Any how, shore power will introduce electrical currents causing galvanic corrosion, it is complicated to explain exactly how it works but it is a fact. The remedy however is simple, install a separating transformer (for. example a Victron) and the problem is solved. If you chose a particular one, input can be 110 as well as 220 volts.

30 September 2018 - 21:36
#18
Join Date: 31 July 2007
Posts: 71

On corroding toe rails and other things, anodes for example.

I have a 57 from 1982 and the toe rail is okay, despite the tremendous amount of "bad-electricity" introduced over the years after leaving the yard. I have cleaned out three garbage bags of bad cables.

Any how, shore power will introduce electrical currents causing galvanic corrosion, it is complicated to explain exactly how it works but it is a fact. The remedy however is simple, install a separating transformer (for. example a Victron) and the problem is solved. If you chose a particular one, input can be 110 as well as 220 volts.

In 1991 I bought 040/012 and I have the original wood rails. They were varnished and that is a lot of work. Left bare, the teak will weather away at a rate of about 1/16 inch per decade.  During my ownership I would have lost about 3/16 inch and on some of the wooden cleats it shows. I have been using Starbrite Tropical Teak Oil Sealer made by Star brite, Fort Lauderdale FL  The consistencey is about like mustard, that makes it very easy to apply. It lasts several years. My last coating was about 2012 and I should put some more on. Very little sanding - just remove the dirt using sandpaper. It does not flake off. It is probably a stain. It protects the teak and looks very acceptable.

On my Blake seacocks I adjust the bolts so that the handle is easy to turn but not so loose that it leaks. It is a very fine line. The 1 1/2 size is more difficult to adjust. It takes a 15 mm open end wrench. I should take them apart and lubricate them again using waterproof grease. The last time I did it about 20 years ago but I check them about once a year. If you adjust them too tight, you can move the handle for a few days and then it becomes stuck. I find the cover plate can wiggle a little and they do not leak. It does not help that they are mostly difficult to access and it does become more difficult the older I get.

The 40 is a delightful boat to sail. Between myself and the autopilot we can handle it by ourselves. That has become very important as my friends and crew are dying off and I am getting more peculiar and want to be alone.

11 June 2019 - 11:15
#19
Join Date: 10 January 2016
Posts: 7

Hi,

 

Is it possible to purchase new alloy toe rails, realise it is a big job and would have to take out some of the internal furnitiure, the problem is the rail is alloy and bolted down with S/S bolts and will be a big job to remove and replace, we like the alloy rails as is traditional and very strong.

 

Any clues as to where we could purchase some rails?

 

Rgds

 

Jonty

11 June 2019 - 11:16
#20
Join Date: 10 January 2016
Posts: 7

Dear Jonty,

alluminum toerail is structural part of our S&S Swan, I know of at least a S&S Swan Owner who got rid of the original toerail, installed a new one (carbon fiber, designed and engineter by a "top expert engineer"), and have now serious problem of cohesion between deck and hull.

My opinion: do not do it.

Our Professor will be more technical of course, and we are looking forward to his words.

Fair winds

matteo (47/069 Vanessa)

Hi Matteo,

 

We will take your advice.

 

Jonty

11 June 2019 - 11:27
#21
Join Date: 29 January 2007
Posts: 754

Hi Jonty,

you can buy a complete set from Nautor in Finland.

Fair winds!

matteo (47/069 Vanessa)

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