Best kind of cockpit trim?

Thread starter #1
Hello. I hope you are all well.
I am starting to get my boat ready for the season and one job is to replace the cockpit trim. My boat is old and had the aluminium kind, but I am thinking of replacing it with the new plastic kind ...although I have never seen a boat with it on. Do people have strong opinions about which is best?
 
#2
In theory, the vinyl cockpit trim is great - but it is difficult to get it to stay adhered to the cockpit lip - glues just don't like to stick to the vinyl. I used to have a 1983 Sunfish with the metal trim, and a few rivets came loose. Instead of riveting it back on, I removed the rivets and glued the trim on. It was a long time ago, but I think I used something called Goop, or Marine Goop - it seemed to be a combination of silicone and something that smelled like Duco model airplane glue. It never did come loose, and it is still glued in place - I know the current owners of the boat. 5200 might hold it in place too - anyway, that is my reco - the aluminum trim glued on.
 

signal charlie

Well-Known Member
Staff member
#3
The vinyl trim sold by the Sunfish parts dealers works great. Or some of the parts dealers here may have cockpit trim to ship. My opinion is that the vinyl trim is easiest to install.
 

L&VW

Well-Known Member
#4
In theory, the vinyl cockpit trim is great - but it is difficult to get it to stay adhered to the cockpit lip - glues just don't like to stick to the vinyl. I used to have a 1983 Sunfish with the metal trim, and a few rivets came loose. Instead of riveting it back on, I removed the rivets and glued the trim on. It was a long time ago, but I think I used something called Goop, or Marine Goop - it seemed to be a combination of silicone and something that smelled like Duco model airplane glue. It never did come loose, and it is still glued in place - I know the current owners of the boat. 5200 might hold it in place too - anyway, that is my reco - the aluminum trim glued on.
IMHO, vinyl is not a structural replacement and adds too little reinforcement to an essential fiberglass edge where even partial failures could lead to very difficult repairs.

Cockpit trim, although seemingly weak, is fairly stiff—whereas vinyl definitely is not. Secured to the cockpit's fiberglass edge, the trim becomes very resistant to collapse. I'd glue it securely and replace all the rivets—doubling-up the rivets where fiberglass mounting points have failed. ("Belt and suspenders"). Preparations and riveting should be completed before the glue has taken a "set". (Wood furring strips clamped together in pairs every 16 inches should give adequate clamping force).

I'd just advertised here for a piece of outer aluminum trim. However, the outer margins of the Sunfish' fiberglass deck trim are cosmetic, and add little for strength. The cockpit trim is the one area of aluminum trim I would not attempt to replace with short sections—but replace the entire cockpit trim as one aluminum structural piece. Even "pre-owned" replacement cockpit trim is preferable, and I advise this as a 210-pound "solo" sailor. :oops:
 
Thread starter #5
Thanks for all the advice.
Light & Variable winds, I am heavier than you! 1lb heavier to be precise. That is a very good point. Perhaps I should stick with Ally trim. (I am considering replacing all the hull trim too as it is generally falling to bits)
I guess, if I am honest, that I was tempted by the plastic trim because I imagined that bending the trim to the inside of the cockpit would be quite a hard job.
 

Webfoot1

Active Member
#6
It's bending the trim around the bow without kinking that's the problem. The factory must have used a press or wheel bender to get the shape.
 
Thread starter #7
I was wondering about that too. But at least with the bow you have room to work. I can't figure out where the 'working end' of trim goes before/as I bend it to the cockpit edge as the walls of the cockpit are only a few inches away. Unless I make a form with a similar radius to the cockpit corners and then bend them on that before fitting.
 

Webfoot1

Active Member
#8
As you say there just is not enough room to wrap a single strip completely around. If you had the old trim you would have a pattern to make some type of form. I don't think it would be too hard to screw four radius corner blocks to a wood table and bend around that. Whether you can do it without kinking I don't know.
Hopefully you have plenty of scrap trim to experiment with as each mistake is $25. If you could pack the trim groove with something flexible like a rubber strip it may help with the kinking problem somewhat.
 

L&VW

Well-Known Member
#9
I replaced the cockpit trim on my #3 Sunfish using a "pre-owned" piece available from a Sunfish "breaker". (What US' folks today call "salvage yards"). Back before lawyers got into the business, we could take a wrench and remove the part ourselves—"That'll be 75¢, please—thanks for visiting our junkyard—don't mind the pit bull". :( The used piece snapped right in. :cool:

Anyway, here's a good site for locating a 2nd-hand (but preformed) cockpit trim:
Aluminum Trim Section... | SailingForums.com

Shipping across the pond is sure to be costly, even by "Surface", but bending aluminum trim to a curve is difficult (especially with a finish that is "chrome-like"). :oops: Packaging the used piece will need to be "overdone". "Surface" can break wooden boxes! :eek:

"...If you could pack the trim groove with something
flexible like a rubber strip it may help with the kinking problem somewhat..."
I'd use something less compressible, yet disposable—like water-soaked thin wooden skewers from stores like Dollar Tree, Jo-Ann's, Wal-Mart, or craft stores.
 
Thread starter #11
Thanks for all the suggestions! It might not be practical to ship a pre-formed cockpit-shaped hoop of trim as it would be a pretty large and delicate parcel. I am going to see what Alan thinks (That is, if he has any) Otherwise packing the trim before bending sounds like good tip and I can practice with some of the old trim I am taking off. Something like those lollypop-stick/tongue-depressors might work well for the packing. Annealing sounds a bit daunting and perhaps has the downside of weakening the trim. Worth a try though. I might end up doing it at least for the trim around the bow as that is the place one where I care more about it looking good than being strong ;^)
 

Webfoot1

Active Member
#12
Never tried it but a good guess might be packing it with beach sand and wrapping tape around
it.

I've shipped a splash rail by simply doubling cardboard over it. If you ship the trim tape it to
a piece of plywood the same size. I might survive the postal manglers one hopes.

Heating aluminum is tricky as you can't tell visually how hot it is. One of those laser
heat meters would come in handy.
 

beldar boathead

Well-Known Member
#13
If I had realized this was for a project in Europe I’d have said to just get vinyl trim. While I think aluminum is better, it isnt so much better as to make Shipping it across the pond worthwhile .
 

L&VW

Well-Known Member
#15
Thanks for all the suggestions! It might not be practical to ship a pre-formed cockpit-shaped hoop of trim as it would be a pretty large and delicate parcel. I am going to see what Alan thinks (That is, if he has any) Otherwise packing the trim before bending sounds like good tip and I can practice with some of the old trim I am taking off. Something like those lollypop-stick/tongue-depressors might work well for the packing. Annealing sounds a bit daunting and perhaps has the downside of weakening the trim. Worth a try though. I might end up doing it at least for the trim around the bow as that is the place one where I care more about it looking good than being strong ;^)
Try Craigslist-gb. Ya never know! ;)
craigslist | united kingdom
 
Thread starter #16
I tried it! ...Unfortunately neither Craigslist nor Sunfish ever really caught on over here :^(
The other source you mentioned isn't willing to ship outside the US.
Thanks for all the advice guys. lots to think about. I am going to do a bit of experimental trim-bending with the old stuff I am taking off. Depending how that goes I may decide on vinyl for the cockpit after all.
 

Wavedancer

Upside down?
Staff member
#17
I seem to be a minority here, but IMHO vinyl trim is just fine. My relatively new (2006) Sunfish has it and I doubt it really has a structural role.
 

L&VW

Well-Known Member
#18
"The minority" seems to prefer vinyl for the later boats—which were structured differently. (I've never seen one—yet).

IF the aluminum cockpit trim was not structural, why or how did mine fracture?

(I don't know the answer to my own question :oops: as it didn't fracture on my "watch"). :confused:
 

Webfoot1

Active Member
#19
The trim is not structural for bonding the tube to deck but does stiffen
the over-hang for things such as grabbing the lip when getting out of
of the water or transporting/moving the boat. Does it stiffen the deck
when you sit on it? Most of the damage is transporting and storing
so that would be my guess has to how it broke. Is the deck around
the cockpit have spider-web cracks?
 
Thread starter #20
Interesting. I do have a habit of hiking with my feet under the lip of the cockpit rather than the hiking strap. I find this more comfortable when it is not windy enough for a full hike. So perhaps keeping that bit of extra strength on the overhang might be a good thing for me
 
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