Bedding a genoa track with butyl tape

Esper Refit 37 – how to bed a genoa track with butyl tape; rudder doesn’t fit

In this week’s refit video we show you how we bedded down our genoa track with butyl tape. No Sikaflex, no 3M, no polyurethane adhesive, just tape. Also I get to hang out with the locals, now that I’m fully entrenched in my new abode.

Weekly Video Round-Up

The video isn’t just about the genoa track. There’s rum, more rum, and a rudder that no longer fits.

Bedding a genoa track with butyl tape

Since recording our first stay-sail track bedded with black butyl tape we’ve made some improvements on the technique. These photographs are to accompany the video clip, which is more comprehensive. If you can’t watch the video, however, here’s a quick breakdown on how to bed the track.

1. Clean everything

As in, clean the deck, the track and the bolts with acetone. Make sure it’s clear of grease, dust, dirt and, in my case, sweat.

2. Countersink the bolt holes

Perhaps the most important aspect of this exercise is to ensure the bolt-holes are countersunk. This ensures that the tape creates a gasket when pushed down into the hole.

3. Line the track with tape

The tape comes with a dividing strip, so lay the tape on the track and keep that plastic strip on it for the moment. This will prevent the tape from getting dirty. It’s important that the tape comes right up to the edge and that it is even. If the tape is not wide enough, lay another strip along side it and trim.

Countersink the bolt holes

4. Put tape under the bolt heads

The tape is easy to manage, especially in the tropics when it heats up and goes as soft as Blu-tac. First wrap tape around the heads of the bolts. This will ensure that the countersunk hole in the track is filled with tape.

Wrap tape around the bolt heads

5. Push the bolt-heads through the track

Take the plastic tape off the butyl tape on the track and push the bolts through the holes. Once done, turn the track over and wrap tape around each bolt so that it tapers down. This ensures the the tape fills the countersunk holes.

Push the bolts through the genoa track and taper the butyl tape

6. Push, don’t screw, the bolts down

The trick here is to ensure that you do not screw the bolts. Ideally they should only be pushed into place as turning them can break the seal you’re creating with the tape in the countersunk hole.

7. Do up the nuts without moving the bolt

This really requires two people. One should stay on deck and hold the bolt in place whilst a second person does the nuts up underneath.

8. Trim the extruded tape

Like any sealant the tape will extrude from under your fitting. In fact it can extrude for some days afterwards, so I like to trim as soon as I’ve bedded the track then return to it a day or two later to see how much more extrusion has occured. If it’s significant, do the bolt up a little more.

Job done. It took us two hours to bed our port track down and that included 40 bolts. Hope this helps.

Rudder Doesn’t Fit

Time to put the rudder back on. It’s a big job as the thing is heavy and has to be dug underneath the skeg to allow the rudder to be put back in place.

Putting the rudder back in place

Somewhere in the back of mind, when we were completing our osmosis treatment, I made a mental note to not put too much biaxial on the rudder and skeg. It was so far in the back of my mind that I forgot all about it and this happened:

The rudder no longer fits the skeg

What you are looking at here is a rudder that is now too large to fit up the skeg. Doh! Still, nothing that a quick bit of sanding couldn’t sort out.

Sanding back the rudder

It’s not all bad news

The varnishing is looking good. Dang is now applying the last coats of polyurethane on the veneer, this time with the spray gun. It’s an unpleasant job, working in the close confines of the forepeak and the cabin, but it’s starting to look rather special.

Polyurethane on the veneer
Polyurethane on the veneer

What’s Next?

More deck fittings. Yes, more. Give me a break.

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4 thoughts on “Esper Refit 37 – how to bed a genoa track with butyl tape; rudder doesn’t fit”

    1. Hehe, a good point, Phil. In fact we have tried to line the bolt heads up but as the bolt tightens it can move slightly. Because we are trying to avoid turning the bolt any more than we have to quite a few are not lined up.

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