Tent Model IX is on life support; it won’t take another storm of any kind. So the top priority is to get the boat ready to convert the tent from a gargantuan spray booth to as small a winter tent as possible. For that to happen, the rub rails that I polished a few weeks ago have to be installed and we have to complete the prop shaft strut barrel installation.
The rub rails have to be installed because the tent will once again extend all the way to the ground, and the wooden tent uprights and 1-1/2″ PVC poles might move around during high winds. The stainless will protect the new Awlcraft 2000 paint from incidental contact from the tent structure.
Many of the screw holes had been filled when we were fairing the hull back in 2009, so the fairing compound had to be drilled out. I used an undersized drill to lessen the possibility of cutting into the threads. Because the epoxy fairing compound is softer than aluminum, the drill tended to track into the softer material.
There’s one hole every 6 inches. The boat is 46 feet long (plus the curve of the bow). Each hole takes 30 seconds to locate and drill, then a minute to tap. If you do the math, you should conclude (as I did) that this was one tedious job that took a loooooong time to finish.
In the pic above, I’m installing the second rub rail back from the bow piece on the port side. First, I suspend the rail from the overhead tent pipes, then install a screw at one end of the rail and work my way back. While the stainless is very rigid in the Y axis, it’s a freakin’ wet noodle in the X axis. And since they’re 12 feet long, that’s a lot of wet noodle to work with. It would have been faster with a helper, but everybody was busy. Even offers of beer didn’t get a response!
The rub rail screw holes on these aluminum boats are notorious points of failure for the paint. Back in the day, they didn’t have Tef-gel–a magical goo that reportedly keeps dissimilar metal corrosion at bay. A good sealant on the outside of the rub rail and screw, like Sikaflex 291 LOT, only protects half of the screw. The other half that protrudes on the inside of the hull is bare metal. Because it’s in the relatively humid interior of the boat, the screws will collect condensation when the metal is cold. That moisture can wick into the threads from the backside and start the process of making aluminum oxide that pops the paint off of the aluminum. Tef-gel on the threads of each screw and, using the included mascara brush, inside each threaded hole should stop moisture from getting into the threads.
Add the time required to apply Tef-gel to each screw and screw hole in the “tedium factor” calculation you did earlier. 😉
This is, unfortunately, an operation I’ll have to repeat. Aside from the fundamental need to get the winter tent built, the purpose of this installation is to drill out all of the holes and ensure the fit of the rails. I’ll have to remove them all and reinstall using Sikaflex for the final installation. I previously sanded the rub rails to a satin polish but did not do the final buff to make them really shine. Because the tent frames might rub up against the rails over the winter, it would have been risky to final polish them. With the holes cut and drilled, removing and reinstalling next year shouldn’t take more than a couple of hours.
While the upper rub rails had a few open screw holes and telltale marks indicating where the filled holes were, there were no such marks for the lower rub rails. The paint job was perfectly smooth. Without any indicator of where the holes were, there weren’t any starting points for the rub rails. There are three stainless sections: the port and starboard parts, which go around the turn at the transom, and the center piece on the transom. The holes for each of the side pieces are in different positions, so they’re not interchangable without drilling lots of new holes. The orientation of the center piece is also determined by the orientation of the outer pieces. There were no apparent starting points, but then I noticed the clue that told the story.
Problem solved! On to the tedium of drilling, tapping, and Tef-gelling!