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post #1 of 13 Old 03-30-2009 Thread Starter
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Keel Bolt Question

I have searched "leaking keels" and read all the information and still have questions. My boat is a 77 Dufour 31 and I am trying to determine if the keel is encapsulated. At last haulout (2007)I do not remember seeing a joint between the keel and the hull. It is a lead fin keel (5'9")and has 14 bolts inside the bilge and they are glassed over.
The owners manuel states " the keel is fixed to the hull by 14 bolts in S/S which are 14mm thick, with a layer of GRP. A layer of fiberglass completes the joint. It is usual to see a small crack at the keel/hull joint".
On the last 2 haulouts we had a small place at least 3/4 down from the bottom of the hull ground to clean metal, epoxied, and barrier coated.
However after reading the postings about weeping keels, I am wondering if this is more than thought. The boatyard seemed like "no big deal".
Would it be prudent to remove the GRP from one of the bolts to see what it looks like? Is anyone familar with the makeup of this boat? I know the hull is solid glass. Any suggestions?
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post #2 of 13 Old 03-30-2009
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If indeed the keel is "encapsulated", which usually means the keel is part of the hull mold and the ballast inserted into the resulting cavity, then it would be most unusual to see any keel bolts. Since you know they are there, and are mentioned in literature it's most likely you have a bolt-on keel.

Yours sounds like a rather solid connection, btw, since you see no evidence of the infamous "smile" or other cracking at that joint area.

Glassed over keel bolts are not ideal, you cannot inspect them or have any idea of their condition. But without any evidence of a problem I'm not sure that it's worth the (very dirty) job of grinding out all that glass..... although it could give you some peace of mind. If you do expose one of them and it looks OK, that's a good indicator, but of course no guarantee...

Ron

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post #3 of 13 Old 03-30-2009
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Umm, stainless steel will rust when deprived of oxygen. If the bolts are glassed in and water gets to them you can expect them to rust over time.

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post #4 of 13 Old 03-30-2009
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Neicy, there is no purpose to placing barrier coat on a lead keel. Barrier coat is normally placed on the fiberglass of the hull to prevent water entry into the material. So, you have some confused information. Not knowing what previous owners may have done toyour boat, it might be worth having a surveyor or other trusted party take a look when you haul, and noting things down in writing.

Usually the keel-hull joint is bare and exposed, and on many boats there is some slight crack there after a number of years, and sometimes weepage through it. That would be a classic "leaking keel" joint, made worse if the keel had impacted something in a collision or in a lightly built racing boat where simple inertia had loosened it up over the years, as it tacked back and forth thousands of times.

Sealing over the top of the keel bolts inside the boat is a mixed blessing. A great idea for keeping bilge water off the bolts--but a terrible idea since any water that gets to them, is equally well trapped on them. And damp stainless steel is subject to rather horrid failures, the term is generally "crevice failure" or "anoxic corrosion". In the absence of oxygen, and the presence of stagnant water, stainless can crack and fail quite suddenly.

Personally? I'd get that fiberglass cover off them and examine them, and if you are at all unsure of their condition, get them surveyed professionally. Many builders use plain carbon steel washers or carbon steel nuts on the keel bolts--and if those rust, they are easily replaced. When you are done, you may want to protect the bolts again. Tar, beeswax, paint, epoxy, all can be used. Themore durable they are, the harder they are to remove for reinspection. Beeswax has the advantage of being cheap, easy to clean, easy to apply or remove.
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post #5 of 13 Old 03-30-2009
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Sorry to ask the question, but are you positive it's a lead keel? Many euro/French built boats used iron keels, which would explain the seal coating on the keel itself......

Ron

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post #6 of 13 Old 03-30-2009 Thread Starter
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Sorry about the barrier coat thing. The actual boatyard invoice states "grind open two weeping spots on keel. Fiberglass, prime & paint.
Also The owners manuel does state, "It is usual to see a small crack at the keel/hull joint. This is due to the difference in elasticity of the ballast and GRP and can easily be filled in with a layer of anti-fouling paint."
Sorry for the confusing statements.
I just did not remember seeing a joint.
I posted after reading several older posts regarding encapsulated keels and not understanding exactly how to know what I have.
The other purpose was to see if my issue was of enough concern to haul now instead of the fall for another look. The work was done Feb 2008.
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post #7 of 13 Old 03-30-2009 Thread Starter
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It is a cast iron keel. There is also a "Lifting Ring" inside the bilge. It is not glassed in and has a little rust showing where it comes out of the glass.
It was for lifting the boat out of the water through the main hatch. It came with a 40mm dia shackle. The instructions were to remove the dining table and you could lift the boat with a single strap attached to the lifting ring.
This would as stated avoid damage to the hull caused by slings.
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post #8 of 13 Old 03-30-2009
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Boats can be lifted this way... it's unusual for a mid sized cruiser, but possible with the right crane and lifting gear. We lifted our 24' day racer that way,and all the AC boats are lifted similarly.

One would never pick up a boat with a true encapsulated keel that way, so I'd say it's certain you have a bolt-on keel. Not surprised it's iron (but unfortunately you stated in your OP that it was lead) and that explains the periodic repairs needed to the outer coating.

Ron

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post #9 of 13 Old 03-30-2009
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What brand of boat do you have? This sounds similar to the upkeep for my iron keeled Jeanneau.

Altho after 22 yrs with out a major refinish on the out side, I had to grind down the exterior, and recoat with epoxy 2 yrs ago, will see how she looks later this summer.

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post #10 of 13 Old 03-31-2009 Thread Starter
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The boat is a Dufour (French) just like the Jeanneau. So "Faster" are you saying that this is common for iron keels? Would this mean that I shouldn't be extremely concerned with the bolts at this time since the spot is low and not up near the hull area where the keel would be attached?
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