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R 34 Bulwarks

Structure and repair
Posted: 6 Jan 2015 - By: Alexander Arthur

Unusually, Raasay has an aluminium toerail along the top of the bulwark, rather than a capping timber.  The toerail is through bolted, but because it is 'L' shaped, it only covers the top and goes down the outboard side.  This means that it doesn't really seal the top of the bulwark.

It is clear that there has been some delamination, but it doesn't look as though the bulwark itself is structural (the hull deck joint is laid up from the inside).  I've taken off a piece of toerail at the stern, where the problem is worst.  The linked photos show what I found:

What the pictures show (I think) is the deck moulding, the hull moulding, and a filler piece in the middle.  The filler piece is some kind of plastic - it's a little bit hard to tell what.  In some places it is quite solid and in others (where it has swollen a bit) it's a bit rubbery.  (I suspect it's meant to be hard, but maybe prolonged exposure to water made it rubbery?)

A previous owner has fiddled around (somewhat ineffectively) with sealant, but this clearly isn't doing much good and is pretty messy.

I could, of course, remove the toerails completely, dig out whatever the plastic is, replace it with something substanial, and replace the toerails (possibly with a proper capping strip).  I'm not going to do this this year ... and maybe never, unless there is some really good (non-cosmetic) reason for doing it.

What I'm thinking of is simply cleaning it up a bit, removing the ineffective sealeant, and doubling up on the bolts to reduce the scope for delamination and water ingress, and (possibly) increase the strength of the join.

I'd be really interested in any members' thoughts on this - especially if anyone has addressed the problem before.

Also, if any of my assumptions about the structural relevance of the bulwark are misguided ... well ...

Raasay is an early build (hull no. 6).  When I bought her last year, the surveyor made no comment about the bulwarks.  The slight bulging (on the inboard side) from delamination was quite visible at the time - although I didn't notice it until later!




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