Bulwark & Toe Rail

Project Logs

November 22, 2011

I spent the past weekend continuing my work on the toe rail.  I faired the entire toe rail, plus  the bow platform.  Fairing was especially necessary, because when I first laid the fiberglass + filet, I found that the thickened epoxy filet had impressions underneath the thin, 14 oz. cloth.  This resulted in what I can only describe as a “bumpy” toe rail.  Here’s an image to explain what I mean:

If you look down the port toe rail, you can see how the toe rail looks “bumpy” due to the unevenly spread epoxy thickener below


So, to solve this, I sanded the toe rail down as best I could.  In some spots, unfortunately, I had to sand down through a layer of fiberglass.  This isn’t ideal, because sanding through fiberglass layers essentially weakens the bond between the fiberglass, toe rail and deck, however there weren’t too many spots I needed to do this in.  Once sanding was complete, I put on the first coat of fairing.  I’ll definitely be hitting this fairing with some more sanding, plus another round of fairing/sanding or two, but overall I really liked how it turned out.  See the first results of fairing below:

First round of fairing on the port toe rail.


Stern lazarette deck and toe railed after first fair.

 November 10, 2011

Over the past few days I’ve been working on installing the toe rail.  I’ve had my friend Ben Young working with me for the past 3 nights.  Overall, the toe rail took me 4 days to fully install on deck.  I’ve decided to give an overview of what I did each day to paint a picture of the steps required to complete this project:

+  Day 1 – I began by cleaning up the old toe rails.  I removed all the old caulking and sanded the toe rails to make for easier handling.  Once cleaned, I moved the toe rails on deck and aligned the forward toe rails with the bow platform.  I would install one, 1/4″ fastener at a time.  I would drill a hole in the same location as the original fasteners had been starting with the forward most hole.  I slowly worked backwards until the forward toe rails were both on.  Then, using the same “drill a hole, install fasteners forwards to back” technique, I installed the aft toe rails.

+  Day 2 – Ben and I installed 1 toe rail today.  I removed the fasteners I had installed the previous day, then inserted shims between the toe rail and the deck, allowing us to put 5200 caulking below the toe rail.  Once the caulking was in place, I drilled the fasteners through the deck and Ben installed the nuts and washers below deck.  Ben also cut all the glass for the toe rail layup using 2 layers of 7.5 oz cloth.  One layer was 14cm, the second layer was 18 cm.

+  Day 3 – Ben and I installed the second toe rail today using the same 5200 + 1/4″, 3″ fasteners.  We also thickened the bow platform and aft toe rail into place.  I then sanded the toe rails and trimmed any areas that were slightly out of alignment using my oscillating saw.

+  Day 4 – This was a big fiberglass day.  Ben helped me for a few hours and we installed the bow platform glass, plus the port toe rail.  I finished up by glassing in the starboard and aft toe rail.  I also made sure to install a block on the aft toe rail to mount a stern anchor roller.

November 9, 2011

I’ve decided to add toe rails to the boat instead of bulwarks.



Page Menu

9 Responses to Bulwark & Toe Rail

  1. Next time you tackle a project of this type…..learn some more about fiberglass, you have created a monster! Learn from the master boat designer, I doubt this boat will ever be as good as Carl Alberg designed it to be. You must own stock in 3M.

    Submitted by: Warren Hulbert on December 14, 2011 at 9:33 am

  2. Before you attempt another project like this, learn a little more about fiberglass. Mr Albereg would turn over in his grave if he could see this mess…..but what did he know.????

    Submitted by: Warren Hulbert on December 14, 2011 at 11:43 am

    • Only thing Alberg would turn over in his grave about is people telling other people what to do with their boats. Thanks for keeping this blog up Andrew, and for keeping it real out there. Useful stuff.

      Submitted by: Zach on May 31, 2016 at 6:57 am

  3. Hello Warren,

    I appreciate your input on this project and for sharing your critique on how things have come together so far. I should be clear that at this time, there’s still a lot of sanding to do to get ready for paint, which is why you might see this as a “monster” for now. If there are other reasons, please share those as perhaps I’m misunderstanding your comments.

    It’s my opinion that exposed wood is less than desirable for a long-term cruising boat, so I’ll be excluding that material from the exterior wherever possible. I realize this a bit of a break from tradition, however from my research/consideration, it makes sense to go this route.

    Again, thanks for your feedback and feel free to continue to share your thoughts.


    Submitted by: Andrew on December 19, 2011 at 5:51 pm

  4. We’ll never know what Mr. Alberg would think, but seems like he would be disappointed that someone let a boat he designed decay to the point where it needs a 5 year restoration job. And this likely due in part to the ongoing maintenance of keeping teak looking good! I like to think that all yacht designers would be thrilled to see a boat they designed brought back from the scrap heap and rebuilt to serve the new owners purposes, whatever those purposes may be and whatever minor tweaks are needed to satisfy them. From 100 yards this boat will still look like a Bristol 27, teak toe rails or not…

    Submitted by: Doug on January 1, 2012 at 7:15 pm

  5. Dont let people knock you for what you are doing, I have worked in the wooden boat field for years, and the rich guys and wood rubbers, have all but forced out the the regular person from owning, and working on a old boat, Take no notice of the naysayers, research what you do, make a informed choice on how to do each project, based on your ability and available money, and go for it, if you try to listen to all the boat experts you would never get it done, well done and good luck.

    Submitted by: Shaun on April 12, 2012 at 6:38 am

  6. amazing job Andrew !

    Submitted by: bela on June 29, 2012 at 9:42 am

  7. Are you still available for a question about a 27 bristol?

    Submitted by: tom truman on October 6, 2018 at 7:27 pm

    • Hi Tom,

      Yes, I’d be glad to answer any questions you have regarding a/your Bristol 27. Feel free to e-mail me directly – andrew@bristol27.com

      All the best,

      Submitted by: Andrew on October 7, 2018 at 12:39 pm


Leave a Reply to Warren Hulbert Cancel reply

* = Required field. Also, your email address will not be published.