If removing and resetting my hardtop wasn't enough... 

In the process of transporting the glass from my windshield, I've managed to crack a pane.  Replacement will take 3 or 4 weeks says my glass guy.  With three to four weeks of the boating season out, I'm not contemplating deleting this year's boating season in favor of getting my last major project done... the toe rail.  

I found this article from Dick Moreland in our Files section: Microsoft Word - Toe Rail Router Bits.doc (ning.com).  I've sent a message to Bruce Martin, and I'm curious if the whereabouts of the router bits are known?  Also, in search of any additional information on this fun project that might be useful.  The objective would be to set up a sort of temporary work area next to my boat for the summer to knock this project out... just want to know what I'm in for, and what all I'm going to need for it.

1967 42 Commander
"What If..."  As in "What if we canned the boating season to try and get the last big project knocked out?"

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Get a hold of Chris Wade

He replaced his teak towrail on a 38 sport fish several years ago 

There's a whole story with pictures somewhere on line  but I couldn't find it .


Unfortunately the router bits went with the many tools and parts that Patty sold and could not be recovered.

Hi Chris,

WOW!! That is all I can say. My advice is not what you want to hear. Put her in the water and use it when your windshield is done. The toe rails will be there. This summer with your kids and family won't be. Just my silly old man thoughts. Take care. If it makes you feel better. I am still on the hard too!

better yet, make a temporary window from plexiglass and use the boat now. then replace it when the glass comes in.

That's what's going to happen to all my great specialty tools and other odd stuff

Charlene Pike said:

Unfortunately the router bits went with the many tools and parts that Patty sold and could not be recovered.

An update.... First and foremost, I have to give a big shout out to Char Pike... while the story of Chris Wade's toe rail replacement wasn't on our site, she was able to find it and recover some pictures and provide a document.  That along with some old posts, and I have a much better idea of what I'm up against.  So, thanks Char... awesome!

Now, I'll say that I'm not a professional wood worker, but with this boat I'd say it's a nice hobby, and I'm not afraid to jump in.  I also have my dad who is a pretty accomplished wood worker, so that covers the talent aspect mostly.  For other questions, I will of course look to the club, and other friends.  That being said... 

I think we will bite the bullet and do the project this year.  Sterling, it's not a light decision to do this, but we are already out of the water, and taking one season to do this, vs. a half a season, and another half a season... well... best to just jump in and go.  The hardtop is really not so difficult (now that we've removed everything it's attached to), and with already being in a shed... well, it'll be a good project for me, and a good way for my son to start getting involved.  

To save some time in the event of any problems when pulling it all apart, we'll go with 4/4 Burmese teak.  I would consider mahogany as an alternate, but 10 coats of varnish will take a considerable amount of time.  I'd perfer to have a larger cost up front in wood, stick with the original factory look, and have the option of finishing it later.  In short, going with teak should allow me to complete the project before winter sets in, and give me time to get some other projects out of the way.

I've done some preliminary measuring... On the 42, there are a total of 12 boards that need to be replaced, the largest of them being around 9" - 10" in width (the curve at the bow), and the longest being just over 12' (first boards from the aft corners forward).  This is challenge number one... finding 10" wide boards, and finding 12' 6" long.  I'll verify the measurements this weekend, but for the moment I have a place in the suburbs of Chicago (not so far from me), that has the boards I need.  Price per board foot is about $34, but I'll finalize that figure when I get my final measurements.  

Aside from that, I've started to round up the list of things I'll need on site to do the job, and my dad will thickness sand all the boards before he tears down his shop (he's moving this fall so my "shop" time will be limited to the next 3 or 4 weeks, and sometime after the 1st of the year.  On my list of key items... a drill press, variable speed router (and table), table saw, and a jig saw, belt sander, hand sander, and a drill.  There are other things as well, but these seem to be the key ingredients along with some hand tools.  I have to purchase some, others I have (or my dad does), so from that perspective we are good.

At this point, I'm estimating about 4-8 weeks to complete the majority of it.  Happy if it's shorter, but I have additional time if needed.  We'll start this weekend by starting to take it all apart...  Stay tuned!

Another Update... and some pics... 

So, with the decision to go it was get a bit more serious with my estimations.  Armed with a pencil, a note pad, some string, some nails, and a tape measure I looked at each board, sketched them out (not to scale), and wrote up measurements...

A few things above... you can see my string and nails.  I used them to ensure i was getting a straight edge on the inside curve.  With that I could measure from the two points of the inside curves, out to the outer edge of the main board - not including the trim board width.  And yes, my existing teak boards are really in bad shape.  

So, within a few hours, I had all 12 boards that make up the main toe rail boards documented.  This was key to determining the size boards I needed.  The widest boards are on the bow (4 boards at nearly 9 1/2" wide), and the longest... the two aft most sides that rang in at 12'4".  Finding the right wood took a number of calls to local lumber yards... many saying that boards more than 6" wide were a challenge, and the same with boards longer than 8'.  In the end, I got in touch with a company in the Chicagoland area that had both the width and the length that I needed.  In the end, I wiped them out of their long boards (8 boards that were 12'6" in length, with widths from 6" to nearly 12"), and also one 8' 4" board for a total of 80 board feet.

Above: My dad and my son holding one of the two larger boards - 12'6" x 11 3/4".  All of the wood I purchased was 4/4, S4S Burmese teak.  The boards look amazing, and if you're into wood... well, the smell is amazing!  In all, with tax, we nearly hit the $3k mark.  This is in line with what I've read, and some inflation since those articles / posts.  The boards went up to my dad's shop where the initial cuts (lengths and widths) will be made for all of the main boards, and 9 pieces of 12' outer trim.

Above:  Dismantling the existing toe rail.  I would say that so far I haven't come across much that has surprised me.  The overall condition of the teak boards... very thin in spots, some cracked areas, and some cupping due to the thinness.  In all, it is a job that was overdue... one that I knew was coming. The picture above is the aft most piece on the starboard side.. many of the bungs were gone already, so it was a matter of putting the RP bit on, and zipping them out.  

As easy as it seems... there were some challenges.  The 42 has two Sampson posts on the aft corners, and 4 cleats.  The Sampson posts have 4 bolts with RP heads, and steel nuts that you can can get to by wiggling your way into the transom cavity behind the headboards.  One Sampson post has 4 nuts that look like rusted blobs, the other looks better.  I used some spray penetrant so they can soak.  For the four cleats... One is behind the storage area as you go down the stairs to the aft cabin (inaccessible unless some major work was done to dismantle the storage area), one is up by the forward head (access through the sliders above the sink/countertop), one is in the galley (you have to remove the shelving and work your way in), and the last one is in the aft head and is nearly inaccessible.  For me... I fought a bit with one - the one by the galley.  All of the others came off with no issues.  For the one by the galley... I drilled off the heads of the 3 bolts that would not release - to be fair, someone had already been there and partially stripped the heads out so I was at a disadvantage to start.  I drilled off the heads of the three and I'll remove the steel plate they are mated to to take them out.  

Above: A side view of one main toe rail board, after the outside trim board was removed.  I'm sort of surprised at the amount of bedding used, and was also surprised at the strength of the caulk used on the trim boards.  Because of the condition of the trim boards, I managed to break some in a few places taking them off.  Not a big deal because it's trim, and I have the lengths.  The main boards are delicate, but as they'll be my templates, I'm taking a bit more time with them to ensure they come off as in-tact as possible.  Not easy in their condition and with with the amount of bedding and caulk.  In this picture you can see a pretty decent sized bump in the middle of the board.  This is where fitting was... so you can see the amount it's been worn down over the years.

While my son and I were dismantling, my dad was cutting... here are six boards cut - 4 from the very bow, and the two for the transom.  He's ordered plenty of sandpaper for the thickness sander... he'll need it because of the nature of teak... It'll be interesting to see how much paper he goes through.  He'll start with 100 grit to get it down, then 150 grit to finish it off.

Above: My son and I taking a break from dismantling to feed our faces. 

So, at the end of one weekend, we were able to pick up the wood and deliver it to my dad, then get out to the boat to get all of the hardware off, most of the bungs removed, the trim boards, and two main boards off of the starboard side.  Not quite as much progress as I'd like, but a good healthy start.  That's it for now... stay tuned for more as we go through the summer... 


AWESOME....you had the worst old toe rail in the club......I'm impressed!

Another week... another update... This week while I worked on not so fun work projects, my dad started on the teak.  My dad is on a timetable to take his shop down, so I drove my 14 year old son up to help him out... a great way to get some real life shop class in.

Above:  After making the cuts to the original 9 boards that I purchased to get the 12 boards needed, my dad and my son took to surface sanding.  In the end, they are all slightly over 3/4" thick.  My dad's small shop in the basement of his house proved to be a bit challenging to manage the 12' 6" boards, so having my son there to help was huge.  Good grandfather / grandson time!

Reading from Chris Wade's toe rail replacement experience on his 38 Commander, we skipped the planer, and just sanded.  My dad elected to no go so aggressive with the sandpaper - 100 grit to start, and 150 to finish it.  As you can see, teak is an oily wood, so many changes of sandpaper were made along the way.

Above: My son's project... using a few scraps of the teak to make bungs.  In all, 715 bungs were made (I estimate about 630 or so are needed)... but I'll count them out just to make a note of it.

Above: Along with the main boards, the outside trim boards were made.  Here is a picture of my dad's setup for cutting them.  A bit less than 3/4" wide at the base, and 7/8" tall with a 10 degree angle.  The trim pieces on our boat were not consistent from side to side, but in general, they ranged between 5' 1" (transom)  to 11' in length - 9 pieces in total.  We cut a total of 10 trim boards that were 12' 6" in length giving me a little extra in case something happens along the way.

Above:  A very productive week by my dad and son allowed us to deliver the wood at the boat in 7 days time.  In this picture you can see almost all of the old boards, and all of the replacements.  We ended up taking the shorter boards (the front 4, and the 2 for the transom) back home so I can work with the easier pieces during the weekday evenings.

Above:  My son and I working on taking the base of an anchor roller off.  We won't put it back on as the windlass does not work.  I like the look of a clean nose, so we'll go back to what was original, with the anchor mounted to the deck.  

Above:  You can see where where some additional teak was added at the nose when the windlass was put on.  I'll fill the holes and touch up to match the gelcoat.  You also get a nice picture of the curved bow piece for the outside trim.  This will be re-made along with the aft corners.

While I don't have a picture to show, the Sampson posts on the aft proved to be a bit challenging due to some ceased fasteners.  Of the 8 bolts, one was sheared, 2 were challenging to break free, and the other 5 came off with little effort.  The deck waste fitting is the last item to be removed... It seems there is no clamp on it... so perhaps just rocking it back and forth to disconnect it from the hose?  This was the case for the water fill on the transom toe rail.  Side note... there is a shore water hook up on each side of the 42, and a way to fill the water tank using that... can't think of why I'd need to have s separate water fill, so I'm considering not putting the water fill fitting back on... thoughts?

And that's it for this installment.  The next step will start this week / weekend with making templates of all the main boards out of 3/16" thick hardboard.  I was going to use the existing main boards as templates, but between all the crud on the bottom side, and the overall condition of the boards, it's probably best to go with a template - Thanks to Byron Smith and my dad for nudging me in the right direction for that.  While it's an extra step, it will make it easier for doing the routing on the main boards, and if someone needs it... templates for the 42 toe rails.

Personally I wouldn't get rid of the deck fill. I use it exclusively and never use the city water

As we were discussing joints between the boards, originally 15 degree angles. I think I would butt joint the pieces, then cut a 1/4'' dado with a router and spine cutter the pinch dog those boys together.  Jeremy??

Not a bad way to go .

Many of the commander tow rails I've seen always have issues at all of the joints with water and expansion. 

A spline or even a biscuit would be nice.

Before gluing with epoxy , multiple wipe downs with alcohol to remove natural teak oils will go a long way.

Another very effective way to minimize joint movement it to inlay a butterfly at each joint 

Changing from butt joints to ship laps is another great way of keeping a joint from moving .


Byron Smith said:

As we were discussing joints between the boards, originally 15 degree angles. I think I would butt joint the pieces, then cut a 1/4'' dado with a router and spine cutter the pinch dog those boys together.  Jeremy??

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