Day 340 Track /hatches
No one day would be enough to complete the mounting of a home-built genoa track. Especially when tools purchased for the job are unreliable!

Because the bulwark rail is an enclosed area, mounting track to it has been somewhat of an issue. We could have welded nuts on to accept screws through the track, but alignment would be a problem. I came up with the idea to drill and thread a bunch of 1"x1"x1/4" SS squares and weld them on. This seemed like a lot of work and could cause distortion in a place where one definitely doesn't want "ugly"!

After searching around for a few weeks, it seemed Gena had found the solution. Stainless rivot style nuts. They are quite expensive, about a dollar a piece.
These insert into a 3/8" hole and, with the tool designed specifically for these ( like a rivet gun ), the insert is crimped into place. The idea is that the rivet accepts a 1/4" bolt by which the track can be mounted.

The above photo shows how it is all supposed to work. After drilling all of the holes out to 3/8", Gena started popping them in and riveting them down. After 3 rivets, the tip of the gun snapped in half! That's the part that screws into the rivet. No replacements came with the $60 gun.
I took the two pieces down and welded them together. After one more rivet, the flanging tip broke! Gena just held it in place for the next  rivet. After a couple more rivets, the pivot pin in the gun broke!!!

That was pretty much it! Over the side with the gun, the rivets, and anything else that was in arms reach!

Foam's coming out everywhere!
$200 worth of rivets that are useless. To add insult to injury, the rivets weren't even tight enough to stop rotating. There were no instructions with the gun, no hole size info -even though they were tight going in. Did anyone actually test this thing???

What a waste of money. I don't recommend this system to anyone. It doesn't work! The gun doesn't work either and is extremely poor quality.

We know these tracks take a lot of abuse and the amount of screws in them is necessary. Each one has 40+ mounting holes over 12'. This is good because we ended up re-drilling another 40 holes and tapping for 1/4" bolts -what should have been done in the first place.

The other "big" holes need to be filled so I decided to put foam in the rail, to create a support for silicone which will be under the track.

This slowed things down as we had to wait for the foam to stop oozing out of all of the holes ha ha!

The bent track
Some of those cheap nylon inserts (like drywall inserts) probably would have worked better, but then who knows what the strength would be like? If we had to do this again, I think we would just tap again. The holes are definitely strong and "unstrippable"
The track on the other side has been annoying. When the holes were aligned and drilled on the drill press, the track must have been hanging over in a curve. The holes line up when the track is held this way, but when flat, the holes gradually fall out. My solution to this was to bolt the two together, then tack every few inches with the welder.

After using the bender ( photo right ) the holes still line up well. After cleaning up the welds, a slider was run across. It took some smoothing  with the grinder but it slid freely. Any vertical bend in the track will jam the slider. I mean ANY!

This can be remedied by buffing the track down some.


 Gena also mounted the inner foresail track on to the deck. Just a slight build up in the paint on the deck jammed the slider. No wonder those tracks are so expensive! They are a lot of work to make perfect.
Anyway, the port side bulwark rail track is on. One more to go!
While waiting for the foam to dry, Gena finished smoothing down all of the welds below the water line. They still look a bit gaudy, but we want to keep the strength. She has been building up the paint to them over several coats on other parts of the boat. They are now more smooth bumps than weld seams. Good idea!

No I wasn't sleeping in the job! Blankets protect the deck coat!
Apart from helping with the frustrating track mounting incident, my job was to get all of the hatches drilled for the Lexan. Because we use water for cooling the drill bit, it's probably a good idea to finish that before the temps drop below zero. The nights are getting there now already.
Buffing track edge to a shine                     8 hatches drilled for "glass", 136 holes

Buffing down bottom welds
We are fairly independent on our judgment of a product, and pride in making the right decisions when purchasing things for the boat. Based on our experience these days, in the past few years, what you see is not always what you get. For a boat, as with anything, getting other peoples experiences with the item is a must. We sometimes ignore this and really shouldn't. Forums are a real, honest mark of opinion on a product. Reviews on the site of the product are really just advertising and shouldn't be all!
Also, similar products are just that, similar. I have seen aluminum mounted "nut rivets" in use for years in trucks and thought the SS ones must be even better.
We have also realized that renting specialized tools is a really good idea. They must be high quality or they wouldn't be rentable. Not to mention the good advice that comes with it.

Day 340:
14 hours-mounted tracks, prepared SB tracks, buffed welds below WL and painted over, drilled hatches.

Day 339

CD Baby, music for the masses!

To Day 341