Installing aluminum rub rail around the corners on a Sunfish...

Thread starter #1
I have a really nice 78 sunfish...I bought new alum rub rail for it ...Is there a way to make it bend around the front and back corners without kinking it...I was going to try with a rubber mallet going slow and pounding down the top and bottom as I go... any advice ?


Active Member
If you try to bend around the bow the results will be usable but it will still kink as you try
to compress the metal sides of the trim. As the curve was originally done in a press or with a bending
machine I'm not sure there is a simple solution. If you made a steel buck in the shape
of the curve you would be able to work the metal a bit. When I did it I found it good enough,
just not factory perfect. I used Vise-Grips to try to compress the kinks but that made
the trim twist. At $25 bones for a 5 foot section I didn't feel like experimenting any more.


Well-Known Member
1) There may be a YouTube tutorial. Search using "aluminum extrusion, bending, curve, buck, -steel". (That's minus steel).

2) Order a nice used one (as I did :)) from Alan S. Glos. Specify polished or dull finish. Save your straight piece for possible partial repairs later, or resale (here).

The cost (value) has increased to 25 clams. ;)


signal charlie

Well-Known Member
Staff member
I'd try the rubber mallet but go easy. Keep in mind you are banging on the deck/hull seam. There will probably be a few kinks, I'd put a cloth over those and squeeze them down with vise grips, they will not pound down.


Insert random Warhawk canoe (currently in paint) photo.

Thread starter #7
Yes I have the old trim and If I cant bend the new trim...Thats what I was planning on...Great idea thanks......I have tried bending the trim on another boat with little success... I may just just turn the old trim over and re drill it ...As I am going to sell the boat because I just bought a vanguard fish and can't keep both... The new trim I bought new off ebay for 12 dollars a 5 ft section and will just resell on ebay as I don't think I will get a return selling with the boat that I will be asking $800 for...
Thread starter #9
I would be happy to sell the new trim to a sunfish brother for what I paid for it 12x7 =84 plus shipping...shipped in a cardboard if wanted...


Active Member
Well I think there is a way that might work. Take a piece of wood and cut it in the
shape of the bow. Then take a edge router and route the edge top and bottom so
you have a lip the trim can fit on. Now take a square block of wood and route a channel
that snuggly fits over the trim. Perhaps a channel across the width of a 2 foot long
2X4 so you can get a grip on it. Put the bow shaped piece in a vice, put the trim on
and use the 2X4 to bend the trim. The idea is to get the sides of the trim to compress
as you bend around the curve. Should be the same idea as the original trim bender
in a much more primitive form. You don't need a rubber mallet if your trying to
free-hand it. After marking the center of the trim, pop rivet one end of the trim to
the hull with two rivets and start bending by hand, pop-riveting as you go around
the hull. You'll get those pesky kinks and the sides of the trim will try to spread apart.
You mileage will vary as to how good the final result is. You should achieve "good enough"


Active Member
I think I over complicated my plan. Next time I'll make a bow shaped
buck and route two grooves on the edge side for the trim to slip into.
Should be able to rubber mallet it around the buck with the grooves
keeping the sides from kinking. The simplest solution is usually the
correct one.
Thread starter #14
Well I put the trim on and it came out great...The way I did it was to heat the aluminum almost to its melting point and then cool with water and then bend it...It makes it softer and a bit easier to work with. After some experimentation with cut up pieces of the old rub rail. I took a 1/4 inch wide piece of plywood and cut it the same shape as the front bend and another for the rear corner. I simply put the wood in the vice and heated the metal with a handheld propane torch holding it with gloves and then cooled it down with a spray bottle of water and bent it around the wood slowly. I had a pair of side cutters and put electrical tape around the jaws and any kinks I just got rid of with the pliers . The trick is to use plywood thick enough that when you get rid if the kinks the rub rail is still the correct width to still fit on the boat......It took about an hour and a half to bend the pieces with making the jig and experimentation...I bent at least 10 pieces of the old rub rail before I tried to bend the new stuff...I feel a sense of accomplishment and it looks so good!!!
Last edited:
Thread starter #17
Really cool. I need to try this. Do you have any pictures?
Yes I have pictures...If you are going to to do this practice is the key. If you have some old rub rail to experiment with...It kind of like welding you have to do it perfect. The key is the right amount of heat without melting the trim. I used map gas in a handheld torch heating for about 30 seconds then cooling with water and then bending. If you get it too hot the trim will melt and distort or just break and fall on the floor. If too cool it wont be soft enough and you can reheat...It wasn't that hard ...I am a marine mechanic by trade and also a I know about metal...I read something about heating and bending aluminum on the internet and I said ..."I can do this" and got to work....many thanks for the suggestions from the forum members as I wouldn't of though of these ideas...
Last edited: