Bottom Plates and Rails

by Doug

Help! I am having a very hard time getting the 18 foot diameter set for my round above ground pool. When I get the rails in the plates and then start to adjust them all to 9 feet from center, the rails start putting too much outward pressure on the cheap metal plates and they break.

It’s like the rails are too long to come together to form an 18 foot circle. What am I doing wrong?

Hi Doug.There's a lot going on with those bottom rails and footplates. This is compounded by the number of manufactures of above ground pools, and they are all different. The plates are different, the gap is different and the actual radius is different.

So, if you have a stake in the center with a tape measure hooked to it, start assembling your bottom rails and foot plates. At every plate set the rails at 9'. As you go around the pool you are setting every one at 9'. You are also guessing at the correct rail gap, the space between the rails in the footplates.

Now you reach the last rail. Does it fit correctly, with the same rail gap, and still set at 9'? If so you are good to go. If not, you have a couple of choices.

You can go back and set every footplate a little over 9' or a little under, depending on what's needed. Some pools will measure 9' 2" and be just fine. The important thing is that it measures this all the way around. Remember, perfectly round and perfectly

level. Some pools may measure 8' 11" and be fine, you just don't know and the directions will not tell you.

If I get to the end and find that my adjustments will take me beyond an inch or two either way of 9' I will consider adjusting the gap. Adjusting the rail gap, in or out, needs to be done evenly, all the way around. This becomes just a guessing game because the only way you will know if you are right is when you install the wall.

You make you best guess, with actual pool size and rail gap, then you install the wall. If the wall is 6" too long you know you were wrong. You take it all down and reset the rails making the radius smaller. There is just no magic way of doing this, but it is extremely important to do it as many times as needed to keep the rails perfectly round and evenly gaped.

You mentioned the footplates braking. Did you mean the rails popping out? This is a common problem. On most models, when I set the rails, I have a pair of pliers in my hand and squeeze the tabs to hold the rails in place.

There are some pools where the plates really do break, or in the case of used pools, they are broke, I then use a short sheet metal screw though the rail and into the plate. That holds them where they belong.

Bottom rails can be a problem and there is no way I can tell you what will work with your pool, but hopefully one of these ideas will work.

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Jun 12, 2013
by: Doug

Okay thanks. I will set each plate at 9' as I go. When I did that before the last rail was about 5" too long. So, I have my gap all the way in to the little dimpled stop. Yes, the plates are breaking. The tab that holds them in is bending and snapping off. I will try using the sheet metal screws on those that have broke. Thanks for all your advice. I know that I need to get this part right or I will have problems later on. Maybe my pool needs to be set at 9' 1" or 9' 2".

Hi Doug I would set the rail at whatever measure it is with the bottom rails up against the tab. With any luck this will be close. But you will never know until that wall is unrolled. So screw those rails down, set the gap up tight and set the radius exact, and then go for it. The worst that could happen is that you pull the wall down and do it over again. But the second time you will know what you need, more gap or less gap, and then adjust the radius accordingly. It can be a pain, but you are right, this is important to get right.

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