Bottom Rails and Footplates

by Brent

I am just beginning to put up a new 27' round pool and having a hard time rounding up the bottom rails, or even getting them to form a complete circle for that matter. The problem is that they keep popping out from the tabs in the bottom plates in various places.

My rails are steel as are the plates. The metal tabs that stick up on the plates that help keep the rail in place are forced to bend in order to fit in the rail when trying to form a complete circle and thus they easily pop out of place. Never thought the first step would be this tough. Please help! I appreciate any help from anyone, thanks!

Hi Brent. Some bottom plates leave so much to be desired, it can be totally frustrating at times. One way or the next we always find a way to keep the tracks in the plates long enough to get the wall up, after that they won’t move as long as you are careful not to bump them.

Here is how I do the initial bottom track layout on all round above ground pools. I stick a screwdriver through the end of my tape measure and stick it in the ground at the pool center. Actually, this center spot and tape measure placement are the first thing I do. The center never moves once I start removing sod or leveling ground, my tape and screwdriver are always in the center of the pool.

making the pool round

After I have all the bottom rails and footplates laid out I take my tape measure with me and set all my bottom rails at the correct radius. I connect two rails into a footplate and give them the gap I think is needed for that particular pool. The gaps are all different and setting them is just an educated guess but all pools will have a gap between the ends of the rails. Most of the time I will then use a set of

channel locks to pinch the footplate. Most of the time tightening the plate against the rail is enough to hold them in place. Sometimes a gentle squeeze is all that's needed and other times I may have to tighten the plate onto the rail so much it leaves the rail pinched with only a small opening for the wall to fit into. There are even times I may have to open the tracks back up, one at a time, as I am unrolling the wall. This is done by using a screwdriver to open the track just before inserting the wall.

I have installed used pools where the footplates would break apart as they were tightened onto the rail. In this case I would shoot a screw through the rail into the plate to hold it all together. The point is to do whatever it takes to keep the rails in the plates, otherwise you will not get anywhere.

At each connection I squeeze the plate and set the radius with my tape measure. The very last connection is never exact to I may have to go back and move the entire ring in or out just a small amount. A 27' pool seldom lays out at a perfect 13' 6". It may be 13' 5" or it may be 13' 6", it does not matter as long as the rails are all the same distance from the center. This may take some time but your pool needs to be perfectly round.

Once the wall has been installed you may find your rail gaps are off, this is normal and happens to all of us. It's how you deal with it that really makes a difference. If the wall is short and you need a couple of inches you must back up and reduce the rail gap at many different connections and not make up the difference in just one or two. Again, we are keeping the pool round by doing this.

This process can be seen being used on this page.

Above Ground Swimming Pool Installation

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