Pool Top Rail Location

by David

We recently bought an Aquarian 200 27' round pool from In The Swim. After installing the top rail we went on to add the ledge and the directions give poor instructions as to the screw pattern (where ledge holes match the plate).

We tried to line it up as it looked and was left with over an inch overlap on the end. Any help would be appreciated. Thanks

Hi David. Some of those patterns can be difficult to get right, some can be nearly impossible to get right and some are just wrong.

Getting it right is pretty easy if you try it my way.

I have to assume here your pool was installed correctly. It must be round and all the bottom rail gaps even. Being perfectly level helps also.

I make sure every upright is perfectly level. I can line them up with the lines on the wall. Some of my employees are not as good at that and place a small level on the side of each upright.

After installing about three rails you will know if your hole pattern is working or not. If the uprights are staying level up and down, and the same pattern used on each top cap, you are probably doing it right.

If after a few rails you know it's not right, start over. Set your uprights straight and lay a few rails in place. Find a hole pattern that gaps the rails evenly. Try to follow that pattern for a few more rails. It really does not matter the pattern, you are trying to keep your uprights straight and the space between the rails the same.

If you are installing your top rails and you notice half way around the pool that your uprights are leaning, stop, this is not right. If you keep the uprights straight you will end up right.

There was one summer when Asahi had a 15' model that needed about a half an inch cut off the last top rail. This is very rare. In my 40 plus years of installing this was the only time I had to do this. There were a few models where the last retaining rod needed the hacksaw, again, very rare.

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Support Post Problems

We have purchased a used 28' round above ground pool and are having terrible problems installing it.

We have leveled the area, put the support blocks and bottom track in place. The problem is that we do not have exact measurements to go by. When we assemble the bottom track to the two notches on the metal plate, it will measure out to about 26'10", not 28'. When we put the wall up, the seam matches perfectly. However, when we go to put the support post on and we are down to about the last 3, there is a problem with wall.

We have to pull the top of the wall out so that the top metal plate will "catch" the wall and hold it. This then causes another area of the pool to "cave" in, therefore, the wall is not stable. Do you have an easy solution, what are we doing wrong?

Hi. It sounds like you are off to a good start. It also sounds like you have a 27' pool which would not be at all uncommon. I think Doughboy is the only brand with a 28' so the 27' is more than likely correct.

When you set the bottom rails it is very important to work off of a radius. Measure out from a center point and make sure all the rails are set at the same radius. This assures you the pool is round.

I would guess the problem you are having is not using the proper holes in either the top rails or the top plate.

If you backed it up to the beginning and set up a few uprights and rails. Use a small carpenters level and make sure every upright is straight up and down, in both directions. The correct hole placement will leave every upright straight.

I have encountered pools where the hole patterns either made no sense, or just did not work. That is when I would use the level method. Where ever the top rails fit, leaving the uprights straight up and down, that is where they got screwed down.

Hopefully that will take care of your problem.

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Top Rails Not Fitting Correctly

by Jeff
(Cumberland, RI)

We were able to level off the yard, set the patio blocks, put down the bottom plates and rails, and put up the pool wall. When we got to put on the top rails, they didn't work out. There was an overlap on the top rails which lead us to believe that we installed the bottom rails incorrectly.

When measuring, we realized that the wall posts and bottom plates were not uniformed. How do we know how spaced out the posts should be? Is there a gap needed at the bottom plates between the bottom rails and if so, how big a gap?


Hi Jeff. I wish I knew what size pool you are building and whether it is an oval or a round pool. On a round pool all the bottom rails should be the same length, so there would not be a problem with the wrong sizes in the wrong places. With an oval pool there would usually be 3-4 different size bottom rails that all need to be in specific places.

Above ground pool footplates usually have a stop button, or tab, that show how far the rails need to be inserted. A rail would usually go into the plate, up to the tab, and then backed off just a touch. That would be the gap I talk about a lot. The gap is always different from pool to pool but they almost always have one.

What you did not say was if you got the wall up or not. When building a round pool this lets you know how the gaping turned out. If the wall fits you probably did OK. If the is a foot to long it probably means you need to go back and gap your bottom tracks.

Keeping the bottom rails of a round above ground pool perfectly round is one of the keys to building the perfect pool. The other is making it perfectly level.

I start by finding a center point and nailing a tape measure in place at that spot. When it comes time to connect the bottom rails I take the tape around with me so that every rail is set at the same radius. This page illustrates that process.

Above Ground Swimming Pool Installation

Only when the wall is up do you know how the gap turned out. How you fix the problem is critical. If the wall is a foot away from meeting correctly I would take it all down and start over. That is the only way to keep the pool round. If you are just off an inch or less I would take the wall out of the rail for about fifteen to twenty feet and re-gap just that area. You never want to make all of your adjustments in one or two footplates, they should all be the same. Making adjustments incorrectly will cause the pool to be out of round and will also cause your top rails to not fit correctly.

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Missing Top Rails

by Dee

Probably a stupid question....

We were given an 18 foot round pool, with no top rails, we have everything else apparently. No one seems to be able to tell us what kind of pool it is or anything. It's fairly old though, that much I know. 15 to 20 years.

What would happen if we put it up with no top rails?

Thanks, Dee

Hi Dee. There have been pools sold that had nothing but coping over top of the liner. Technically it is fine. If the pool is perfectly level and perfectly round it should stand just fine with no uprights or top rails.

no top rails on pool

Hopefully you have metal rods and upright caps that go over top of the rods holding them down. In that case you should be fine without top rails. They are more decoration than parts that actually hold the pool together.

It might be possible to find a used 18' pool in your area that is selling for real cheap, or maybe for free if you haul away. These are good sources of extra parts for your existing pool. Most any top rails would work. You might wind up with a bunch of other neat stuff also. Used pools are a great source for filter upgrades, cleaners and other cool pool stuff.

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Top Rail Not Fitting

by Ahimsah

I have a 12x28 Summervill oval pool I am installing. The last top rail is over lapping by about 2 inches. I have verified that I am using the correct holes for the screws and that all of the vertical uprights are level in all directions. All the top rails line up until the last one, if I take another one out then I can get the top rail to fit then I have the same issue with the next top rail. Any help would be great thank you.
Hi Ahimsah You need to use a different set of holes that will keep your uprights straight and set the rail ends closer together. It is possible new holes will need to be made but in the end it is worth the effort.

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