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  #1  
Old 06-19-2005
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Keel Bolt question

I am under contract, pending survey, to purchase a 25-year old boat with a lead fin keel bolted on with stainless steel bolts. I didn''t count but there are probably about ten 3/4" bolts holding the 5000-lb keel on the boat. Inside the boat, the bolts and nuts appear to be in great condition, and they certainly don''t "sound" punky. The washers are well-bedded with polysulfide inside the boat, so leaks at the joint don''t show up inside the boat. Outside, there is a small amount of rust that weeped from the small crack at the keel-to-hull joint on the starboard side. The crack is probably within the realm of what would be considered normal for a bolted-on fin keel. When the current owner bought the boat in 1986, his survey report indicated the same problem on the port side, and called for re-bedding of the keel bolts, which apparently was done.

Obvioiusly, since then the joint has opened up enough to allow seawater into the bolts again, which have corroded some more to produce the rust. So how worried should I be about the integrity of the keel bolts? Could I sail this boat from the Chesapeake up to New England before undertaking further work?

If I brought the boat home, what would be the best course of action: (1) caulk the joint from the outside and forget about it; or (2) drop the keel to inspect the bolts and re-bed the whole joint?

Presumably these are "J" bolts cast into the lead, but since lead and stainless shrink differently, should I be worried about corrosion of the bolts down in the keel, and not just at the joint?

If I do drop the keel to inspect and rebed and the bolts look scary, then I guess I could sister them. Or should I just go ahead and sister them anyways?

If the decision is to drop the keel, how do I do that with the boat on blocks and jackstands in my backyard? Do I jack up the hull rest of the boat (~5000 lbs), or do I lower the (5000 lb) keel on jacks? Or do I hire a crane to come by for 1/2 a day?

Thanks,

Tim
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Old 06-20-2005
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Keel Bolt question

A lot of the answer is dependent on the actual SS used for the keel bolts and how the boat was constructed and maintained. I ma increasingly running into recommendations that bolt on keels be removed and inspected at some point in the boat''s lifespan with estimates being as little as 20 years and as long as 30 or more years. Depending on the boat, dropping the keel is not all that big a deal to do. Normally bracing is contructed to support the ballast keel in all directions and the boat is lifted off of the keel. I have generally seen this done with a Travelift but I suppose with care the boat could be jacked off of the keel. You will need to have large contact area lift points, that are rigidly tied together so that they cannot shift as the boat is jacked vertically.

While the boat is in the air, I would recommend using a dremel tool and making a socket around the keel bolt where it enters the lead so that the joint between the lead and the keel bolt can be well caulked and so that the bolt can be inspected below the top of the lead.

Good luck with whatever you chose to do.

Jeff
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Old 06-20-2005
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Keel Bolt question

Catamount,
Not to confuse matters, but it is not uncommon in boats of that age to show rust from iron filings mixed with the lead in the keel casting. I had an experience with a ''79'' boat that had huge veins of rust throughout the keel. It was explained to me by a knowledgable professional that this mixing was a common practice and that if they didn''t do it well these sort of problems result. Everything I have read on the matter of buying a boat that has any question concerning the keel(i.e. removing it) advises to walk away, as the complexity and the expense can quickly get out of hand.
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Old 06-21-2005
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Keel Bolt question

Dropping a bolt-on keel is a very routine job for a yard and happens quite frequently. It is not all that expensive or complex a process (the last time I had one done on a boat of mine it cost roughly $400 and took about a week and a half with drying time.

Mixing iron filings into a lead keel was a very uncommon practice with cast keels and usually meant that the lead was salvaged and reused from some other source (such as a recycled batteries, spent rounds from a firing range, or wheel weights). That would be a far more significant reason to walk away from a boat than having to drop a keel.

Jeff
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Old 06-21-2005
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Keel Bolt question

I guess my real question is, how long can I go before lifting the hull off the keel to get a better look at the situation? I''m in New Hampshire, the boat is in Maryland. My plan is to store the boat in the water at my father-in-law''s dock in Annapolis for the next year, and then sail it up to New England next summer, and finally have it trucked inland to my home for its overhaul. I guess this is a question to ask my surveyor. And maybe I''ll bring sockets and a breaker bar when I come down for the survey and reef on the things to check them out, too (although I won''t be able to get to the ones under the mast step with a socket; maybe I can get a spanner on them...).




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