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Zevirii 08-30-2006 11:11 AM

Catalina Keel bolts
I have read several articals on keelbolts, and read several posts on it aswell. So this is not just a fast keel bolt question without looking for answers first.

I just bought a 1982 Catalina 25. I am not sure, haven't been able to find out if this is a Iron keel or a lead keel and are the bolts stainless or mild steel. I am thinking the bolts are steel as they are not epoxied over have a bit of rust/corosion on them.

I also looks as 1 of the bolts has been replaced(drilled out and a screw type bolt put in its place). For this reason I am almost positive that these bolts are original. Now I have heard that the fix for this is to "sister" in some lag bolts and leave the originals in aswell. This seems like a quick fix and not the right one. Also if I understand right, catalina's bolts are in the keel when it was formed so if not doing the "sister" fix, then keel replacement is the only other option? And if I was going this route(replacing keel), how much do they run?

Thing is I have a 2yr old and a 5 month old(youngest stays with sitter currently), and I am affraid to take them out sometimes due to thoughts of the keel falling off and boat capsizing traping my kid(s).:eek:

Thanks for any help.

Faster 08-30-2006 12:20 PM

Going sailing worried about the keel falling off is no way to start. I'm assuming you did not get a proper survey or you would have put your mind at rest by now, either that or already have dropped the keel for repairs.
The boat would have to be in pretty deplorable condition to be about to drop the keel. You can check for stainless steel bolts with a magnet (it shouldn't stick - although some low grade SSs can be slightly magnetic)
Catalina user group websites should be able to provide more information for your specific boat.
As for how much a new keel runs, I don't think West Marine stocks them <G>.
Anyway get some good professional advice and a proper inspection.

sailingfool 08-30-2006 02:28 PM

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If your keel is steel you should be able to tell because it is almost certain to have rust spots on it.

Whatever you're problem, I've never heard of someone replacing a "worn" keel - it may be the one part of a boat not subject to wearing out. Get a hold of a local surveyor and find out when he/she will be in your boat area. For an hour's pay the surveyor can look at your bolts and advise on repairs - better yet, if you did not have a survey done, have the whole boat inspected - if you need encouragement for this expense, read

One is far more likely to have the mast come down than the keel fall off...

Zevirii 08-30-2006 10:54 PM

I haven't hauled the boat out yet, so I have no idea what the bottom even looks like. I know I was crazy to not hire a survey when I bought the boat, but I just didn't really know any better. I plan on having it hauled out this winter sometime anyway to inspect/clean bottom so I might just get a survey then.

The keel bolts don't look as they are going anywhere, its mainly fears from owning my first keel boat. So I am guessing by your responces that keels will give you plenty of warning signs before falling off, or becoming loose?

Sailormon6 08-31-2006 09:59 AM

I bought a Catalina 25 with a cast iron fin keel in 1981. If I remember correctly, the fin keels on Catalina 25s were cast iron until about 83 or 84, when they started installing lead keels. To the best of my knowledge, rusting keel bolts was only a significant concern on boats kept in salt water. I never heard of it happening in a fresh water boat.

Catalina Direct supplies parts for used Catalina 25s, and they have a keel bolt replacement kit. I've never installed one, but I've heard they can be installed without removing the keel. I've also heard that it takes a serious drill and bit to drill deep holes into the cast iron keel.

Log onto the website for the Catalina 25 national association (, and you'll find plenty of information on the matter, as well as people who have done the repair.

pigslo 08-31-2006 10:24 AM

Tap the bolts with a small brass hammer. What do you hear? Dull sound or solid sound. If you are unable to interpret this sound, then pay a surveyor to do it. Establish what your problem is before you try to fix it.

sailingdog 08-31-2006 10:54 AM

A couple of things... A lead keel will not attract a compass or iron one will. Have you tried a large, speaker type magnet on the keel. If it sticks, it is an iron keel...if it doesn't then it is probably a lead keel. The only way I can see a keel getting "worn" is through repeated groundings... and if you've got that problem...replacing the keel isn't really going to help much.

Lead keels often used galvanized steel bolts, as lead presented a problem with corrosion for stainless steel bolts IIRC. Stainless steel can is stainless, not stainproof...and a magnet should be able to tell you whether it is stainless or not, as the austentic stainless steels used in the marine industry, 304 & 316 are non-magnetic. Be aware that some of the lesser grades of stainless are magnetic.

A competent surveyor could tell you whether the boat is at risk for losing the keel. Why you didn't get a survey when you first bought the boat is beyond comprehension...

Zevirii 08-31-2006 11:05 AM


Originally Posted by sailingdog
Why you didn't get a survey when you first bought the boat is beyond comprehension...

Being that all my previous boats were small power boats, surveying never came to mind really. But after reading all these post, hind sight is 20/20. I will just hire a survey sometime this winter. The boat seems fine, and the previous owner was know by the marina staff and neighbors to my slip as taking extreme care of the boat. My worrys are the fact that I read the boats should be checked every 5 yrs and replace every 10 acorrding to the sailnet articals, and yet I have a 20+ year old boat with bolts that might be the originals. There are no signs of the keel being loose, just new keel boat owner fears I guess. Like I said I will have it hauled out and surveyed sometime this winter when the lake goes up(very low right now).

sailingfool 08-31-2006 11:51 AM

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"My worrys are the fact that I read the boats should be checked every 5 yrs and replace every 10 acorrding to the sailnet articals, and yet I have a 20+ year old boat..."

I think you've got some articles confused, I don't think I"ve ever read advice to replace keel bolts on a schedule, let alone only 10 years. If it offers any comfort, in my thirty years of boat owning I've never seen a replaced keel bolt nor do I recall any other owner recounting replacing a keel bolt. I believe that bolts from reasonably conscientous builders will last the indefinite life of the boat, but I'm no engineer or expert. The keel fasteners on my twenty year old CS look no different than I expect they looked the day the boat was shipped from the factory.

Parley 08-31-2006 12:37 PM

I own a '77 C-27 that I am currently refitting. I have obtained tons of useful info from the catalina owners web site ( There is quite a bit of info there regarding the keel bolts. Additionally, Catalina Direct has keel bolt replacement kits for this very job ( If nothing else, you can call Catalina. I have found them to be very helpful with just about any question I've posed. They have some of the best customer support I've experienced in todays world.

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