BY GLEN CAIRNS
A COMMON REPAIR in fibreglass powerboats is replacing the existing rub rail, be
it aluminum, vinyl or stainless steel.
Getting an older boat all spiffed up with
new paint or canvas and hardware can
really show up the scruffy looking rub
rail with its oxidized metal, scrapes and
dents. The only solution is to replace it.
There are only a few manufacturers
of aftermarket rub rails, the largest of
which is Taco Metals. You can replace
the rail with a match of the original, or
choose a new look; it just depends on
what is available and what the owner
wants. A flexible vinyl rub rail is easy to
install and makes a good bumper, but is
also easily damaged. A rigid vinyl and
aluminum rail with vinyl insert also
offers good protection and has the
advantage of being somewhat easier to
install in a straight line. However, the
insert is still vulnerable to damage. A
rigid vinyl rub rail using a stainless steel
strike overlay is perhaps the best, as it
will stay looking good even after several
close encounters of the bad kind and is
recommended for boats over 30’. Be
sure to select a rail that is compatible
with the type of hull deck joint found
on the boat.
We’ll review a few basic tips for
replacing the rub rail. Most of this information is available in more detail elsewhere, including Taco Marine’s web site.
This is just a brief outline of what to
keep in mind. The equipment required
is very basic: a couple of cordless drills
for drill bits and screws; a measuring
tape; a scraper or putty knife; a good
sealant; a metal file; and don’t forget
safety glasses. If you are using vinyl or a
rail with a flexible insert, you’ll also need
Probably the easiest way to approach replacing a customer’s rub rail is to get a
complete kit from Taco Metals. All parts and instructions are included.
a heat gun, garden shears (for cutting
vinyl), a hack saw for the metal strip and
a rubber mallet.
Make sure you order more rail than
just the basic length needed. Take the
length and beam together and double it.
This will mean there’s extra in case of
damage. If you are changing the rail to a
new style, be sure the new profile is at
least as wide as the original or you’ll
have cosmetic repairs to do in the
exposed area. Do a careful check of your
purchase to be sure you have all of the
material you’ll need such as insert, end