How do I install a cleat? - SailNet Community
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post #1 of 27 Old 06-09-2009 Thread Starter
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How do I install a cleat?

I need to install a new cleat on my boat. I know most of the installation is generally obvious...but I'm sure there's a right way and I figure I should ask before drilling holes in my nice boat. This isn't going to be a mooring cleat, it'll be used to tie up the furling line for my headsail, so it won't be subjected to heavy loads.

I know the obvious...drill holes, bolts, big washers and nuts. I don't think the deck is cored at the place I'm going to be installing it, so I don't have to worry about sealing the core with epoxy or anything like that. The existing cleats have some sort of "goo" all over the nuts to seal them all in and keep them from loosening....any idea what that is? Just silicone maybe? Should I bed the cleat in silicone or something else on the exterior of the boat?

Never done it before and want to do it right.
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post #2 of 27 Old 06-09-2009
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Pretty much everyone will chime in and say "no silicone!" so I'll get that out of the way. Butyl rubber works nicely for sealing, so does Sikaflex. You're not looking for an adhesive (so no 3M 5200!) but something that stays flexible, yet can be gotten up later if necessary. Some might suggest a backing plate, but for a furling cleat, I think fender washers with lock washers will do.

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post #3 of 27 Old 06-09-2009
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1) Make sure there is no core. If so be sure and seal it with epoxy.
2) Even though you are not planning on a heavy load, I would still use a backing plate. It is only slightly more work and hardly any cost difference. If you do not use a backing plate, at least use the largest washers you can find.
3) Seal the bottom of the cleat and the top of the screws with polysulfide (such as 3M 101) or polyether (such as 3M 4000) sealant.
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post #4 of 27 Old 06-09-2009
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Others may have more detailed advice, but I'll offer a few thoughts. In my experience there are two issues you want to address: 1/ spreading the load; 2/ stopping any leaks.

Load spreading is best done by reinforcing the deck from the underside with a "backing plate" of some sort. Size, shape and material of the backing plate depends on things like deck material, thickness/strength, how the line is lead to the cleat, loads on the cleat, etc. Big washers might be fine in some situations, but totally inadequate in others. With a reasonably strong fiberglass deck, a block of 3/4" plywood as big as practical might work well for a furler line. Alternatively, a metal plate would probably work as well. (Note: the loads on a furler line with the sail completely furled or 100% deployed are not great, but a reefed headsail is a different matter. Here the furler line is all that's keeping the sail reefed and the loads on the line will depend on wind force and how much sail is out.)

Re. keeping the water out -- use a "bedding compound" under the cleat. I wouldn't recommend silicone. If you're sure you've got it in the right place and won't be moving it you could use 3M's 5200 adhesive/sealant (make sure you buy 3M's general adhesive solvent to clean up the excess that gets squeezed out as you tighten the bolts. Note: 5200 seals well, but is a very stong adhesive and could damage the gel coat if you later decide to remove the cleat.

My preferred method for this type of deck installation is to install the cleat with bedding compound covering the entire surface that's in contact with the deck (pay particular attention to making sure the compound seals the areas around the bolt holes), and then tightening the bolts enough to squeeze some, but not all, the compound out. With the nuts tight, but not really torqued down, some sealant remains under the cleat. At this point use the adhesive solvent to clean up the excess sealant. Now let it cure. When it's cured, go back and torque down the nuts -- the cured sealant may "bluge" out a bit, but that's the effect you're after. The layer of cured sealant becomes a gasket under the cleat that will keep the water out.

Good luck with the installation.

P.S. -- I like to coat the washers with sealant as well so that you have a seal working on both sides of the hole in the deck.
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post #5 of 27 Old 06-10-2009
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I don't recommend using 5200... it is essentially a permanent adhesive and far too aggressive IMHO. I would recommend using Butyl Tape, as described in this post on my blog.

I would highly recommend using a large backing plate, either fiberglass or aluminum.

Make sure the backing plate is properly set against the underside of the deck with no gaps or spaces, using thickened epoxy to build up the deck to match the backing plate.

I would point out that the cleat should be at least 16x the diameter of the line in length.

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Last edited by sailingdog; 06-10-2009 at 04:21 PM.
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post #6 of 27 Old 06-10-2009
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Quote:
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I would point out that the cleat should be at least 16x the diameter of the line in length.
Dog, Help me out with this recommendation. Not sure of what you mean here.
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If you normally plan on using 1/2" lines on a cleat, you'd want to have 8" cleats. A cleat that is 16x the diameter of the line will generally be able to handle two lines of that diameter. A 10" cleat would be appropriate for TWO 5/8" dock lines.

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Dog, Help me out with this recommendation. Not sure of what you mean here.

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post #8 of 27 Old 06-10-2009
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No 5200 - you or the next owner will eventually want to remove it for painting or some other reason - and 5200 will remove gelcoat! Butyl or Sikaflex 291 or 4200 are fine. Countersink holes in deck so that the sealant will form an o-ring around bolts. Tighten permanently when putting cleat on deck, as if you wait you are risking breaking the seal and introducing leaks. See this link to Mainesail's excellent tutorial on this:Re-Bedding Hardware Photo Gallery by Maine Sailing at pbase.com
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post #9 of 27 Old 06-10-2009 Thread Starter
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Okay...okay....no 5200! Thanks for all the advice. I'm not going to do a backing plate; if I'm going to sail with a reefed headsail, and I can put the line to a nearby mooring cleat (that held through a hurricane). I don't really see this cleat taking any big loads.
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post #10 of 27 Old 06-10-2009
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I would recommend the backing plate even though you don't expect the cleat to be taking loads. You never know when in a tough situation, a bit of panic on your mind, you need something secure to tie some line off to NOW and your furling line cleat is the closest available one.

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