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NC33 – Recreating the toe/cap rail

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    Hello all, this is our first post since joining the association.

    A month ago we bought a NC33 1979 and we are currently renovating her. Last week we took off the wooden handrails and stanchions in order to clean them up, we also wanted to remove the teak toe rail (cap rail?) cleanly because the the layer of wood sandwiched between the fiberglass and inner teak plank felt completely rotten to the point we could pull out bits. As the stanchions and fairleads rely on the rail being fairly solide, we wanted to take it appart in order to have a good look and replace the rotten plank.

    Unfortunately we completely failed to take off the rail cleanly. In the end out came the crowbar and I think you can guess the rest.

    Anyway, now we have successfully wrecked the toe rail (starboard side from wheelhouse to the bow), we need to make a new one. Appart from the photos in the Gallery, I haven’t come across anyone who has written a post on the refurb of the toe rails (on this website or the facebook group “Nauticat International”).

    Do you know of anyone who has already done this? Any pointers? Any idea what type of wood may have been used sandwiched between the fiberglass and teak?

    We have access to plenty of woodworking tools and machinery, unfortunately they are a 4h drive from the boat, so any major work will have to be done from at a distance. Depending on how it goes for the starboard side, we would like to renovate the port side as well as it is also quite damaged.

    What’s the saying, “Better ask forgiveness than permission”?

    I will post some pictures shortly

    Best regards,
    Avel Mor’s tormentors



    victor crowhurst

    When my N37 was being built I visited the Siltala yard. They had changed from toe rails to a metal angle bracket along the side of the deck, similar to that seen on Hallsberg Rasseys. My 33, which Dave Babsky now owns, had a solid but jointed teak toe rail and a solid toe cap. By 2000 Siltala had gone to laminating their teak especially at bends and I saw in the factory several jigs made of plywood with dowel pegs for producing the hand rails. I think obtaining a solid piece of teak from a tree with the right shape is going to be difficult. Kai Gustafferson once told me that Siltala had made a very big investment in teak prior to the international restrictions on exports from Burma. They had stored it deep in the forest near to their yard.
    You could use an alternative hardwood such a Iroke and stain it to darken it. If you go for lamination, you may have to improvise a steam box to start the bends then tighten the curves within a jig with movable pegs. If you have to joint it, use a router cutter with a deep “v” shape. Good luck.

    Simon Williams

    I have a similar vintage NC33 Mk2 and I have refurbished the forward toe rails. The structure consists of two vertical pieces of teak either side of the GRP bulwark, a teak capping toe rail, the inboard vertical and the toe rail have an inner packing. This was originally pitch pine. In the course of 40 years most of this will have disintegrated. The “packing” consists of an L shape. The L is 33mm wide at the top, 25mm below the toe rail, and then extends 50mm below the rail and is 10mm wide at this point. I have replaced mine with iroko that was machined in two parts one square bar and the other piece as a shallow L. To remove the toe rails and the supporting timber it is best if the boat out of the water. It is a very strong structure with over 200 screws holding the box section together. You can’t easily remove one side without removing the other. It’s an all or nothing job. I have replaced all the outboard vertical teak, and about 50% of the inboard verticals, all the packing and all the toe rails. There are pairs of 50mm screws that go through the inboard timber, through the packing and into the GRP, and into the outboard timber. However, behind the inboard vertical and packing are further screws that secure the outboard vertical. It is immensely strong but a long patient job to remove it all. I recommend a 10mm Forstener bit, and a sharp 10mm chisel to remove the 200 or so teak plugs over each screw. The screws are probably original. They are slotted phosphor bronze wood screws; many with shear off, on others the heads will just disintegrate. Using a plug cutter I cut around these and then removed them with mole grips once the timber is off and the remains of the screw are exposed.You will need buckets of new A4 stainless screws to reassemble it all. The good news is that you can cold bend the new teak around the bow with heavy sash clamps and a lot of patience. My skills don’t extend to the long scarf joints Sitala used on the verticals so I simply used 45 degree butt joints. The final finish doesn’t end up being very different. Good luck!



    Thank you ever so much for all this info, and sorry for the late reply.

    Simon, for the inner iroko, did you put the shallow L on top, and the square on the inside, or the other way round?

    What do you think of using iroko for the whole structure ?

    Many thanks

    Simon Williams

    I will make up a pdf with some images and dimensions, which will probably better illustrate what I did. I am in the process of remaking the after toe rails which are a different construction, and include details of those as well. Iroko is very brittle to work with and wouldn’t be suitable for the whole structure. For the inner core I used a number of small sections to manage the curves of the substructure, then overlaid the longer pieces of teak. There may be an alternative to using teak, such as Flexiteak but you are probably best talking to the manufacturers, and a shipwright. I chose go down the like for like route for simplicity and longevity. I invested in a table saw and a mitre saw both which were essential in ripping down the timber and getting angles right.


    When the weather peaks up, we will start work on the toe rail, with the help of the yard’s carpenter.
    He has a lot of experience steam bending, so we are going to use that technique, and as few screws as possible.

    I was originally going to go for Iroko on the inside (packing) and teak on the outside, but then I came across an ad for good quality iroko someone was selling a couple of hours away. It was so cheap I bought enough to do the entire toe rail with it, with more to spare. The carpenter said it should steam well enough for what we need to do, so fingers crossed!

    I’ll let you know how it goes. I just wish this bloody rain would stop..

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