what's under there

A PEEK at what’s under the rub rail: screws holding it in place.

Had I thought about it, I would have first taken a photo of a couple of little bulges along the rub rail of my three-year old Nitro. Well, first, I would have had to notice them, but Joe Uribe, Jr. over at Anglers Marine, noticed instead and sent me home with some easy instructions to follow.

Along the cap line of the hull/deck the rub rail is a bumper of sorts, being the most outward edge of the sides of your rig. More importantly, according to Joe, the bracket that secures the rail is screwed into the fiberglass, although in older boats it was likely riveted.

So, like everything threaded, with enough vibration screws can work loose. And that’s what those bumps were–evidence that some screws had worked out far enough they were pressing on the rail from the inside.

screws not rivets

CLOSE-UP you can see the “grooves” that let the rubber pop back into place.

Fortunately, this can be addressed with a minimum of technical savvy and tools, which is a good thing. It means before the rail shakes loose and blows back in my face, I can secure it for next to nothing. (Well, 6 bucks for some blue Loctite). With a flat screwdriver, pry off the rub rail and see the condition of the screws. You can do a whole side of the boat, or go a few feet at a time if you’re cautious like me.

a little Loctite

A LITTLE Loctite on the screw before retightening…

The screws on the Nitro were crossheads (Phillips), so I just went down the line checking those that weren’t obviously protruding. If a light loosening turn revealed the screws wanted to come out, I loosened them further to expose more thread. If they were fairly snug, I tightened them no more than a quarter turn.

back in place

BACK IN PLACE, you can’t tell it was ever off…

For those that were clearly sticking out, as Joe recommended, I put a couple of drops of Loctite on each screw (actually, on five or six screws at a time), then went back and tightened them up. But just a note, you’re screwing into fiberglass–so don’t try and ratchet them as if you were going metal to metal.

Then go back with a large flathead screwdriver, and while holding the lower edge of the rub rail in its slot (you’ll see what I mean when you first pry it off).

All you have to do is push down on the top slotting and the rubber will ease back into its track. After each couple of feet, I then used a rubber mallet to tap along the course, just to make sure it was in place.

Took me maybe an hour as a first-timer. If I had to do it again, it wouldn’t take half that.


7 Responses to “Just about anyone can do it: ‘Rub rail rehab’”

Even with loc tight George, It won’t be your last time pulling the rub rail out to tighten a few screws.Nitros and Skeeters are famous for that. Just wait for a rough day at Mead and it will be back to square one.

by George Kramer

You ought to try it some time, NoCal… 😉

I’m just saying I ran both brands for many many years and I know that was one of the problems they had. I ran a new Skeeter from 1987 to 2002 than a new Nitro from 2002 until 2005 and that was one of the problems the boats had at that time under the same management staff.(Skeeter management jumped ship from kilgore TX. To Nitro management Springfield Mo.,and that was Tracker marine. I’m sure they got all those little glitches out by now.

by George Kramer

Irrespective of the reason, it was good to learn something about the boat and take action. I’ve had 16 days on Mead in the last 13 months, so I’m sure that contributed. But I was just needling you because I know you’d be more than comfortable with us out in the desert in September! (And its been one of the coolest summers in memory).

Great, now I have to go check the rub rails on my boat too!

Thanks, George!

Not any more George, Back in the 805 again.

by George Kramer

That much closer to “the River.”