Sunday, November 21, 2010

Anatomy of a Toerail

Curiosity got the better of me this weekend after reading a post on the Plastic Classic Forum regarding the Alberg 35 toerail.  I cut out a 2' section just to see what the damn thing looks like under the mahogany.  Even though I will be replacing the toerail on Magic, I have deliberately left it in place because it acts as a nice epoxy 'splash guard'.

But I have been building up a disaster in my head for some time now, wondering what I would find when I opened it up.  It seems like whenever I uncover something on the boat or my house (built ~1860) I am usually greeted by something wet and rotten that I can't cover back up without fixing and doubling my original estimate for cost and time.

This happened to me this fall when I needed to replace 2 rotten boards on my front porch.  Of course as soon as I pulled the boards out to replace I found that the entire structure of the porch was built by beavers who had never heard of dimensional lumber (the main porch beam was literally a log with some bark still on it).   Anyway, to make a long story short, I spent 2 weekends and several nights after work gutting the entire porch and rebuilding from scratch.  This is the story of my life.

So I was pleasantly surprised to find that when I pulled the toerail section off on the starboard bow, it seemed really clean.  No gaping holes, no delamination, and a hull to deck joint that actually appears sound.  I'm sure that once I take the rest of the rail off things will be different, but let me have my fantasy for now.

On the deck front, I finally got around to taking the port side deck off.  Now that it is too cold for more glassing, I decided to focus on getting ready for next spring.  First, I pulled the chainplates with little drama and found that 2 of them were 'new'.  By 'new' I mean that they were not the originals.  I haven't cleaned them up yet to see if they are worth keeping but they do look a lot cleaner than the old ones where they pass through the deck.  Once they were clear, I broke out the circular saw.

It's amazing how comfortable I am with taking a circular saw to my deck now.  When I first started on this project last spring, I agonized over cutting into the decks and actually lost sleep over it in the days preceding the initial work.  Today I just went to town and had the entire port side deck off in under 20 minutes.   As expected, the entire core was soaking wet and it didn't take much work to get the core out.  In fact, I was able to pull up most of the balsa in strips with my fingers and no chisel.

The areas around the chainplates were soo bad that there wasn't even any wood left around them.  I think it just completely dissoved and leaked into the cabin over the years.  There was just a top skin, a bottom skin and a bit of brown soup in between. 

I didn't have the time (or desire) to grind the bevels on the edges this weekend.   That will be next, I hope to get it out of the way over thanksgiving weekend, but given our tight schedule, I wouldn't be surprised if it got put off. 


  1. Found your blog from a post on the plastic classic forum. I started my own blog last summer -- I'm refitting a 1971 Luders 33, hull 98. I replaced about 15 square feet of cork core in the fall of 2007, but didn't have a blog at the time. I still have lots of work -- standing rigging, chainplates, toerail, and non-skid are next as soon as it warms up.

    Looking forward to your next posts.

  2. Hey Don,
    I'm still here but right now the skiing is far better than working on the boat. I plan on another push this spring once things warm up a bit.
    I came really close to buying a L33 before the Alberg. I really liked the boat and it was appointed much better than my A35, but the survey revealed that the hydraulic backstay had basically ruined the hull-deck joint from too much pressure while racing to Bermuda.

    Anyway, it's nice to hear that someone is seeing the blog even though it isn't active right now.

  3. Hello, nice to see Magic getting a makeover. We have hull #52, Quickbeam. We have (now) a solid hull and deck, new wiring, standing rig etc. Now for the fun stuff like: cabinets, new heater, stove, running rig, sails, bow roller, and much more.
    Do you want to trade tips and part sources?
    joelsgoldstein at yahoo dot com