by Stacy Stepanovich
Prior to buying our 1971 Concorde motor cruiser Stacy’s World, our boating experience consisted of a bass boat and a pair of kayaks, so we knew we would have our work cut out for us learning how to maintain a 47-foot boat. Our first major project came rather unexpectedly—we weren’t able to insure the boat because the handrail wasn’t adequately secured. The entire length of the wooden toe rail was dry rotted including where the stanchions were mounted—a screwdriver could easily be pushed into the soft mahogany.
After receiving a few $10,000 bids to replace or treat it, we chose to salvage it ourselves and sought advice on how to restore the toe rail. I had never worked with epoxy, fiberglass or fillers before, so I received a crash course in cure times, bonding hardware and surface preparation. The planned course of action was to treat the dry rot and then smooth the surface of the toe rail using West System and a fairing compound before painting.
First, I numbered every stanchion, fitting and section of the handrail and took pictures before dismantling it. It took two days to remove all of the hardware—I could pull some of the screws in the rail out by hand, but the deck screws proved to be more difficult since they were set with 3M 5200 caulking.