After both rails were attached, we had to inject a super-sticky, two-part structural adhesive under the lower edge of each one, to provide extra adhesion. This stuff comes in a dual-tube cartridge, like the ones used for epoxy glue; pressing the plunger forces both parts into a static mixing tube, then out through a needle tip small enough to fit between the Smart-Rail and the hull. (The space is about 1/16-inch wide.) The plunger is designed to fit into a standard caulking gun, which makes the job easier. Thiel injected the glue, and I followed along, smoothing it out and wiping off the excess with a rag. The adhesive hardens in 15 minutes and cures in an hour, so we were careful to fill the gap completely with one pass; any gaps would require waiting until the first coat cured, then squirting in a second one. This was a messy, annoying, time-consuming job that used lots of rags. However, the instructions say it’s critical, since the lower edge of the rail takes the greatest stress. They also say to fill the ends and top edges with adhesive, too—but we didn’t read that far until we were already cleaned up and the tools put away. In any case, the Smart-Rails are adhering perfectly to Ava T. after a season of hard use, so perhaps that step isn’t as important.
Was it worth the trouble? Thiel says the Smart-Rails have made Ava T. a better boat. The M-1000 rails cost $589 per pair. (Prices of other Smart-Rail models, and lots of info on how to choose, locate, and install them, are on the company Web site.) Installing the rails took us only a couple of hours despite our inexperience, demanded no special skills or esoteric knowledge, and wasn’t dirty or messy, other than wiping off the adhesive—which you can make your helper do. It’s an easy, relatively inexpensive project that will drive the spray gremlins off your boat.
This article originally appeared in the November 2006 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.