Plan for sealing keel bolts -- Comments? - SailNet Community

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Old 01-05-2009
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Question Plan for sealing keel bolts -- Comments?

When I bought it two years ago, my '79 San Juan 28 had seawater seeping in around a few of its keel bolts. (Fiberglass hull, exposed lead keel with (8) five-eighths-inch stainless keel bolts through ~2-inch-square backing plates under stainless nuts.)

I staunched the flow with neoprene o-rings under backup stainless fender washers.

Now I'm on the hard, and want to seal whatever spaces there are hidden in there. The boat's supported by its keel and boat stands, and I'm ruling out totally taking off and re-bedding the keel.

I'm thinking that, over the next couple of months, I should:
  • one-by-one, pull off the original nut, backing plate, & any additional o-ring & fender washer;
  • replace each nut with a castellated nut, upside down on a 3/4-inch washer, to allow passage of fluids;
  • flush first with distilled water, to carry out whatever salt I can, & let dry;
  • flush next with acetone, to help dry out the moisture;
  • run in some penetrating epoxy to fill the voids, until it won't take any more;
  • reinstall the original nuts, plates, etc., & torque 'em down.

(BTW, externally I'm replacing the gelcoat with a barrier coat below the water line -- the boat has a serious case of the pox.)

Am I off in the weeds, or on the right track? Thanks for any impressions you might share.

Last edited by broggerp; 01-05-2009 at 02:19 AM. Reason: additional info
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Old 01-05-2009
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by trying to seal where the water is on the inside of the boat, all you are doing is sealing the water into the laminates of the hull creating more problems. to repair this properly you will need to drop the keel and sandblast the top down to bare metal, seal it with epoxy, dry out the keel socket in the hull, seal this with epoxy then rebed the keel with a true bedding compound, like sikaflex 291. if you are not planning to do the job right you will never be able to stop the water completely. what you will end up with is delam in the hull and severly corroded bolts and lead turned to chalk between the top of the keel and the interior of the hull. my advice is to repair it right or sell the boat.
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Old 01-05-2009
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I ditto SVTFW's comments and further add that if you have had long term salt water ingress you could very well have crevice corrosion in your keel bolts that can only be seen and dealt with by dropping the keel.
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Old 01-05-2009
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They're two ways to do this. The right way and the wrong way.

The skipper of the Filthy Whore has it right.

Sorry.
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Old 01-05-2009
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I'll sing with the choir. There's a reason the job is done that way--and not with the creative use of castellated nuts. Do it right, and you'll only have to do it once.

And if you use 3M 5200...the keel will stay on even if the bolts fail.(G)
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It's unanimous. (I've got some planning to do . . . )

Thanks!
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Old 01-05-2009
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Good luck and keep us posted. I'm a fiend for photos, so please snap a few!

I think you'll find that this isn't too bad of a job and that it will give you a great deal of peace of mind. On the list of things I don't want to worry about while underway, the keel is right at the top.
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Thanks for that.

I'm assuming I brace the keel, loosen the bolts, and jack the hull up with well-placed boat stands. (Someone else had done a keel in the boatyard a few months ago.)

Relevant details must have been previously posted here -- do you know where? Do you know of a book that covers the process?

Thanks again.
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Old 01-05-2009
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Here's a short description with a couple of pics that might be helpful.. google is your friend here!

Google Image Result for http://sailingbuzzardsbay.frankgerry.com/img/keel2.JPG

Click on "more" on the article about half way down the page....
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Old 01-05-2009
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It is best to do the work in a yard that has a travel lift. keep in mind that any reputable yard will require taking down the rig before removing the big heavy counterweight at the bottom of the boat. after removing the mast, you will want to remove the fasteners from the inside of the hull and have the travel lift come pick the boat off of the keel and set it down beside it on boat stands. the dificult part may be seperating the keel from the hull enough to drive wedges in between the keel and hull. two years ago I tried to remove my iron keel from my coronado 41 to change keel bolts and rebed/reseal the keel. I had severe corrosion all over the exposed areas of the keel. with the nuts removed from the keel bolts I had the travel lift pick up the boat, but the keel came with it. the 34 year old sealant held the keel in place so well the faring compound didn't even crack when we tilted the boat at a 45 degree angle. I had no choice but to have the keel sand blasted in place and re-sealed without accessing the top. but my story is diferent, my keel was not leaking, I just wanted to go the extra mile.

WARNING: trying to use bottle jacks to raise the boat off its keel is very dangerous and could kill even the most attentive and competent shipwright. if you value your life, hire a travel lift.

joey

Last edited by svthefilthywhore; 01-05-2009 at 08:51 PM. Reason: disclaimer
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