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Varnish lifting at joint in toe rail etc.

Discussion in 'Technical Discussion' started by cleanslate, May 28, 2020.

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  1. d_meister

    d_meister Senior Member

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    I pondered weighing in on the epoxy approach, but hadn't resolved it in my mind before rtrafford finalized his method. I was leaning towards a flexible material.
    As a an un-gifted amateur woodworker, I'm familiar with woodworking methods that compensate for expansion, like breadboard ends. Those are only glued at the center boards to allow the longitudinal boards to expand/contract across the grain, as an example. The thing about toe rails is that they are securely fastened to the structure and protected against moisture intrusion by the bedding and topcoats, so expansion and contraction should be very slight, especially if the fasteners are very near to the butt joints. I guess we'll see if there is enough movement to crack the epoxy over time. I would caution about the catalyst used with the West,though, as the fast catalyst discolors very badly in a relatively short time. The 207 Hardener should be the best. West cautions against using 205 or 206 for clear-coating.
    The approach of making a jig and performing a precise repair is great. Besides being professional and workmanlike; If the joint doesn't perform satisfactorily, the same jig can be used to repair and redo. Please let us know how it turns out, and also please mark your calendar to give us an update! We can all learn from your experience.
  2. Capt J

    Capt J Senior Member

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    It sounds to me that the joint is too tight. I'd slice the joint a little wider and then fill it with a material that expands and contracts and then varnish over it.
  3. rtrafford

    rtrafford Senior Member

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    Joint isn't too tight. The end grains not being clean won't hold the adhesives used to bind them and their biscuits. Much of that is brought by moisture, very often introduced from beneath and through rub rail fasteners. Widening the seam allows for effective "cleaning" of the end grains exposed. The biscuits are still present. Epoxy will do its job. Movement is inevitable because, well, boat and UV. Yes, you could use a G-Flex type adhesive that allows movement, but by cleaning the grains I'll get good adhesive with the West System which I designed to bond to the wood well. By eliminating the moisture sources, much of the hyper expansion issues will be eliminated. At that point the joint will behave just like the rest of the cap rail. If there were no biscuits or butterflies or whatever techniques to additionally mechanically bind the joint, then I'd favor the flexible sealant.
  4. T.T.

    T.T. Senior Member

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    cleanslate, 1/4' x 1/4' is width and depth. You do not need to go all the way through. The penetrating epoxy sealer is very thin.
    Do make sure your cut is centered over the joint.
  5. rtrafford

    rtrafford Senior Member

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    Not if you can eliminate the introduction of moisture to the situation.
  6. rtrafford

    rtrafford Senior Member

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    You need to get to clean wood. That's all. Otherwise the epoxy, even thinned, is trying to adhere to the mold/etc and damaged end grains.
  7. Beau

    Beau Senior Member

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    Why so wide on the cut? This method breaks my heart! Imagine doing this to a Trumpy
    Last edited: May 31, 2020
  8. Beau

    Beau Senior Member

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    Somethings wrong if you can't even get a season out of properly varnished teak toe rails? I'm not sure even these cut and epoxy solutions are going to help you. Who manufactured your boat? How old is it. You may have a deck problem that the toe rail joints are just reflecting. How is your toe rail attached to the deck? is the deck/hull connection still strong and complete? Is there a cleat right next to the joint? Does your hull or deck flex? Do you run 30 knots thru 6 footers. Just some of the things to consider before you "cut" Once you turn that wood to sawdust you ain't replacing it.

    Do you have a marine carpenter at or near your marina who could take a look for you?
  9. rtrafford

    rtrafford Senior Member

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    If the problem keeps recurring, there are but two culprits: considerable structural flex or moisture. Most often the issue is moisture, and often it comes from places not obvious to the eye.
  10. cleanslate

    cleanslate Senior Member

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    Sorry I haven’t reply to all of your suggestions. Just got back from the boat . Busy doing other projects , interior aft state room new wall / bulk head fabric coverings .....
    And took the time to use the boat ! Lol
    5 hour lunch with friends at a nice Anchorage.

    Both port and starboard Toe rails have three joints in them on a 45° angle.
    The varnish lasted about two years , with one coat per year . it’s definitely getting wet from of the joint expanding and contracting.
    My boat was outside all winter uncovered and it rained like hell this year not helping the cause.

    I think I’m gonna make a small cut with a Saw Zaw 14 tooth blade right down the joint . Use Mas epoxy thinned with acetone on the end grain . Then fill in the joint with brown Sika flex.
    All failures are at the joint on the top. Not from the bottom or the rub rail.
  11. cleanslate

    cleanslate Senior Member

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    1981 Ocean Yachts 42’
    This past winter was nasty ..
    Wet , wet , wet and cold .
    Boat was uncovered.
    I usually take it to a covered slip On the Chesapeake for the winter.
    I’m paying the price now.
    Last edited: Jun 1, 2020
  12. Capt J

    Capt J Senior Member

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    How are you hauling the boat? I managed a 63' Ocean SF that was a 1987, owner owned it since 1988, the first couple of times the owner hauled it with slings, the gunnels would compress in almost 6" and always crack the varnish up there. After that, we put 6x6" long blocks under the rub rail in that area to extend the load and it stopped it from cracking the varnish.
  13. cleanslate

    cleanslate Senior Member

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    It’s not cracking it’s getting moisture under it and lifting off the wood and turning yellow.

    my boats fairly solid given that it’s not so long and wide as the big ocean you worked on.
    also I have the aft cabin top that helps give it more strength. She doesn’t flex much .

    but I see what you’re saying it wasn’t visible with the eye but those joints might’ve moved a little bit during the hall out and the relaunch I would be surprised. I usually stay in the water year round , but had to stay out this winter for projects. So they could’ve gotten hairline cracks in them and then the rainwater gotten him through the winter.
  14. rtrafford

    rtrafford Senior Member

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    Please stop and consider what you just said above in bold. Once the varnish is laid, there is no opportunity for those end grains to get wet. In order for them to get wet:

    • There is some cracking created by hull movement, be it temps, sea, lifting, that creates a portal for water from the top
    • There is an opportunity for water to enter from the rub rail either via a fastener or seam in the varnish (because the SS rails weren't removed when varnished)
    • There is an opportunity for water to wick up from beneath via the deck surface, an exposed fastener, some other location for water to collect
    You cannot have water transport itself through the varnish surface and impact the end grains. So.....how is the water/moisture getting into position to impact the wood in that location? That answer solves your problem. If you don't resolve it, stop the moisture, whatever fix you impart will fail.
  15. Beau

    Beau Senior Member

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    Cleanslate, if you keep it NE, cover it this year - snow. ice, rain, sun all ever changing are killers on the best of wood joints. Oceans have a great fit and finish, and generally the teak I have seen is more golden so it my be less difficult to blend in a repair? Good luck. Nice boat.
  16. cleanslate

    cleanslate Senior Member

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    Thanks. It's the Sunliner model. No fish allowed ! Except filleted fish ready to cook.:)
    I know all about the weather...it stinks up here. It was really wet at Cape May this winter. Yes, It has a great fit and finish. But I like the idea of carefully cutting and cleaning out the joint, the wood is black at the joint about 1/8''. And seal it with epoxy then Sika then varnish over it. I'm going for the 3-4mm width cut. I do not stain the teak on this boat. No need to. Not like mahogany. I use straight varnish. 10 coats gets it to a nice amber. not golden. You can see some of my toe rail on my post about the new rubrail I installed. 1981 Ocean Yachts rubrail removal .
  17. Capt J

    Capt J Senior Member

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    It's possible the moisture was radiating up into the toe rail from the old rub rail leaking.
  18. Beau

    Beau Senior Member

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    Go for it! Let us all see how it works out. I like the idea of a thinner cut.
  19. T.T.

    T.T. Senior Member

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    Exactly!!

    Expansion, contraction, age, and the biggest culprit, Moisture! If you are able to keep moisture from under your finish, you are good.
    Sealing the end grain, and I mean saturating until it will not absorb any more, will prevent the moisture from wicking into the end grain.
    One must cut the rail to expose the end grain.
  20. cleanslate

    cleanslate Senior Member

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    I will keep you posted. Not going to get to it for a week or two.
    This weekend is get my Chris Craft Dory cleaned up, painted and in the water. It fired up and ran fine ( on the trailer) last weekend. But the trailer ( boat is in my boat yard) had a seized up drum brake so now it's just a yard trailer..lol. It was a tandem ( quad) wheeled. Now it's a trike ! :rolleyes: It will get me to the ramp next door. Time to rebuild the trailer some time...it's a 2002.
    I'm nuts right? We all are a bit nuts on here. You have to be to own a boat and like it!