Tips for changing the shaft zinc...underwater - SailNet Community

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Old 08-17-2008
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Tips for changing the shaft zinc...underwater

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Last edited by otaga05; 01-03-2009 at 05:50 PM.
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I'v done this with a snorkel before and you are right...it is tough to get it done without dropping things. Many zincs have little plastic washers on the screws so they don't fall out of the half they are in easily. If your zinc does not, it should be pretty easy to fabricate a few so that then you are only dealing with the two halves and the allen wrench. I try to get one top and one bottom screw loosely attached before coming up for air, then do the balance of the screws and tightening down in subsequent dives. Don't forget to bang on the zinc with a hammer to get good contact with the shaft before you tighten down the last bit on all the screws.
Good luck!
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Duct tape the pieces together. If you do the tape job properly, you'll be able to start the screw before having to remove the tape. Make the tape long enough to leave a folded over strip you can attach a lanyard to, so if you drop it, you don't lose it. Fstbttms should have some better suggestions, since he does this for a living. Don't forget to put a lanyard on the allen wrench.
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I bought a big T-handled allen wrench just for zinc work. I can tether it to my wrist in case I drop it and concentrate more on the other parts.
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If you are in Maine, the biggest thing you will find out is that it will take you longer to do it, and you won't be able to hold your breath as long when you are actually concentrating on something. Easiest thing is to go with a wrench you can teather like suggested and I use a big zip tie to hold everything together. Before you go in the water, practice putting the screws and zinc together on land blindfolded! Yes, I said blindfolded. Even though you will probably be able to see what you are doing, having practiced with just using your tactile senses will make it that much easier.
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Take some button thread--that's the heavier stuff--or good nylon thread. Carefully tie a loop just under the head of each bolt, and tie something obvious (like a wine cork or a length of ribbon) a foot back from it. Now at least if you drop the screw, you've got a chance at seeing it or grabbing it--or tying it onto the shaft so you can't drop it.

You may also find that working next to the hull, you get your head banged against it. Any kind of protective gear, even a couple of knit caps to cushion your noggin, can help with that.
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I got one of those copper hanging baskets, the tiered ones you hang in your kitchen for holding fruit, onions, etc then hung it on the shaft so if I dropped the zinc, it would go in the basket.
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I just use one of these...helps greatly.
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Old 08-18-2008
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Quote:
Originally Posted by otaga05 View Post
It sounds like a combination of the strategies suggested above will do the trick Cam's plastic washers, SD's duct tape and the lanyard for the wrench. The button thread with the cork attached sounds like a neat trick too, I'll let you know how it works out. Thanks for all the feedback.
Everybody is making this waaaay more complicated than it needs to be. Here is this professional zinc installer's method:

1.- Disassemble the zinc and lay the parts on the dock. Assuming there are no screw "keepers" (the little red washers found on Martyr brand zincs from West Marine), leave one screw in the zinc half, put the other screw by on the dock. Have a hammer and screwdriver or allen wrench on the dock as well.

2.- Get in the water. Wear a wetsuit glove only on the hand you will not use to turn the screwdriver or wrench.

3.- Tuck the loose screw under the wrist strap on wetsuit glove. Slip the hammer under your weightbelt. Put the screwdriver or wrench lanyard over your bare wrist.

4.- Grab the two zinc halves being careful of the screw you left in one.

5.- Swim to the prop shaft. Place the zinc half with the screw still in it on top of the shaft. Place the other half under the first zinc half, making sure the screw fits into the receiving hole properly.

6.- Holding both halves together with your gloved hand, start the screw with the screwdriver or allen wrench. Once the screw is started, the zinc will not come off the shaft.

7.- Rotate the shaft and place the loose screw that is tucked into your wrist strap into the empty hole on the zinc. Tighten it up snug. Rotate the shaft and tighten the other screw.

8.- With the hammer, set the two halves with 5 or 6 solid blows to each half. Put the hammer back in your belt and retighten both screws. You're done!
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Well that settles that! Thanks Fast!!
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