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Old 09-20-2018, 04:40 AM   #1
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Stainless steel handrail grade

How sufficient would 304 grade stainless steel be for handrails instead of 316?
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Old 09-20-2018, 05:40 AM   #2
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If the wall thickness is the same, there shouldn't be any significant strength difference. Rusting in a saltwater environment with be another issue. Make sure the welder is very good with stainless steel. While strength is important, how the welds are treated will determine if they rust or not.

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Old 09-20-2018, 05:59 AM   #3
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If you're going to polish the rail, you should use 316...it's worth the extra money.



Hand polishing is tough to keep a good finish on...electro polish.



Aluminum is a good choice too.



I just bough some aluminum for a job, and was shocked at how expensive it has become.



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Old 09-20-2018, 07:17 AM   #4
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Are the hand rails going to be exposed to salt water or inside ?
316 has better salt water corrosion resistance and the same strength as 304.

300 series SS has high distortion when welding, if you are fabricating, make sure you use either 304L or 316L and use an educated welder. L is for Low carbon which improves corrosion resistance. Welds should also be passivated or electropolished as mentioned.
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Old 09-20-2018, 08:02 AM   #5
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These are exterior handrails so yes they are exposed to the atmosphere and to spray when underway. These are not polished, but the shipyard uses 304 for all their handrails. Im not sure that passivation is practical for welded rails. Can the acid be brushed on?

I will discuss with them further and take a look at older boats that they built to see how the SS is holding up.

The 316 on the market is triple the price of 304, so the price difference would likely be significant for a couple hundred feet of tubing.
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Old 09-20-2018, 11:04 AM   #6
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If you are going with 304, When they are new, apply a sealer like Rejex then get a good supply of Collinite Metal Wax on going. Both will cut maintenance way way down. Also try to wipe them down after a cruise.
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Old 09-20-2018, 07:28 PM   #7
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Expensive? Welcome to Trump tariffs. This will end badly if they persist but with NAFTA still in chaos and our bunch of goofy Liberals doing the negotiating, don't hold your breath.
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Old 09-20-2018, 08:18 PM   #8
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Expensive? Welcome to Trump tariffs. This will end badly if they persist but with NAFTA still in chaos and our bunch of goofy Liberals doing the negotiating, don't hold your breath.


Don't think this is being built in Canada or the USA.

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Old 09-21-2018, 01:02 AM   #9
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If you are going with 304, When they are new, apply a sealer like Rejex then get a good supply of Collinite Metal Wax on going. Both will cut maintenance way way down. Also try to wipe them down after a cruise.
Collinite 850 metal wax is brilliant for removing light rust staining and getting a high polish. But as it says on the label, for a more durable result use a 'last step' wax. I've started using Collinite 885 Fleetwax paste for this. Pretty easy to apply and remove, but avoid using in direct sunlight. Now my rails and deck hardware are Taiwan 1981 vintage. I don't know, but guess they are 304.

For areas that get a lot of salt spray or have fiddly surface/screws etc I find Rust-Off Gel to be very good. Easy to apply and just brush off with water. It does not give the high polish Collinite 850, but lasts quite well. https://marinetradesupplies.com.au/p...off-gel-650gm/

To the OP, I would likely go with 304 but electro polish then apply a sealer. Unless you are building something really glitzy, then only highly polished , perfectly maintained 316L will do!
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Old 09-21-2018, 06:04 AM   #10
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I think your SS fabricator is blowing smoke. 316 SS is somewhat more expensive than 304 but not three times more, closer to 50%.


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