Rail Non Skid

I like the neoprene non skid that Waterat glues to the rail of their boats. It gives good grip, is nice to hike on, and doesn't wear out your shorts and your shins. It does not last forever! Replacing it is one of the worst maintenance jobs on a 505!

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What you Need

Waterat uses a neoprene strip with one edge and one end beveled. The bevel allows for a nice transition at the edge of the neoprene. You could bevel it yourself, but it is far easier to buy it already beveled from Waterat. You will need a high quality waterproof contact cement, some sandpaper, and a nice sharp chisel. I have seen people use epoxy to bond the neoprene to the rail. BAD IDEA! The epoxy will soak into the neoprene and harden it, and sooner or later the neoprene will wear out, and you will need to replace it. If you thought removing contact cement was a pain, just try epoxy!

Removing The Old Neoprene

This takes forever! I start from the edge of the neoprene bonded to the top of the tank. I slide the chisel underneath the edge, and push in. The idea is to scrape the neoprene and the old contact cement, off the gelcoat surface, without scratching the gelcoat surface. Grab the corner of neoprene as soon as you can, and pull up on it. You keep scraping at the glue - gelcoat join, with a short tapping or pushing motion. The chisel doesn't scrape the corner all that well; I find it quicker to remove the neoprene in two pieces, top first, then side. Have patience, this will take a long time. Use the sharpest chisel you can find, otherwise you will chew up the gelcoat. Chisels are dangerous implements. Be careful as you hold the peeled-off neoprene in one hand and scrape with the chisel in the other (My left thumb is bandaged as I write this due to the chisel trying to cut the end off my thumb!

Preparing to Install the New Neoprene

Once you have all the old neoprene off, go back over the uncovered area with the chisel, removing any leftover contact cement. I often find cracks in the rail from past collisions and repair them now. If you left any serious scratches from the chisel, those can be fixed now as well.

Lightly sand the uncovered area so the new contact cement will stick. The neoprene must be cut to fit around the guy cleat pads, and the twing fairleads. When all that is done, coat the inner side of the neoprene with a thick coating of contact cement (the neoprene soaks up quite a lot). Then coat the rail. Wait the appropriate amount of time (read the directions on your contact cement), and then starting at one end, lay down the neoprene. Be especially careful to force the edges down flat. A small block of wood can help here.

I have replaced the neoprene on my 12 year old Waterat two or three times, and am just replacing the neoprene on my 5 year old Waterat, for the first time.


Ali Meller
ameller@mcimail.com