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Go Back   SailNet Community > General Interest Forums > Gear & Maintenance
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  #1  
Old 01-31-2011
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My Boat Has a Question About Her Swim Ladder

My boat has now taken to throwing the parts at me that she wants fixed--how handy is that? She, working with the stern lines and the wind, fidgeted the screw-in pins out of the swim ladder hinges, leaving the lower section hanging there. A few waves and it would've been in the drink.

But it caught my attention and now I can attend to some rust that was forming at the hinge. Here's the issue: This is a two-part hinged ladder. The lower section sits against the transom folded up pretty much all the time, with it's female hinge part pointing down. Any water intrusion into the stainless tubing appears to have nowhere to go but to sit in those two solid hinge legs--one of them is shown in the pic. Given that each step has 4 holes in its crossbar, and the bottom two or three steps go in the water, I would think some water intrusion is always a possibility.

It's hard to picture sealing the tread screw head side so it never leaks. Should I drill weep holes at the bottom of the tubing where the hinge ends are welded to the tubing?
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Old 01-31-2011
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You might have to drill multiple small holes to find the low spot without just drilling into the solid spot or weld material, and that would be a mess.

Maybe clean out the tubing (rinse, dry, repeat) and then immerse it in a small pot of liquid bees wax, allowing that to fill the end of the tube. That will keep water out and stay bonded pretty well inside the tubing. And form itself around the hole without interfering.
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Old 02-01-2011
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So, are you saying fill the whole ladder with bees wax, hellosailor? It's got holes on all 5 rungs--the picture just shows the rung at the hinge. But I see your point of drilling near the weld at the hinge--not hard to picture making a mess of that.

But even if I fill the hinge stub leg with wax, I'd still have the problem of how to effectively seal the tread screw holes. Looking at McMaster-Carr, I see curved washers, but not in stainless.
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Old 02-01-2011
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I think he meant to drill a weep hole and fill up to the weep hole with bees wax. The hole would now be the low spot
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Old 02-01-2011
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I think he meant to drill a weep hole and fill up to the weep hole with bees wax. The hole would now be the low spot
Ohhhh. Thanks for handling some of the thinking for me I'll consider that.
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Old 02-01-2011
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Beeing a former beekeeper I would bee skeptical that the beeswax would adhere tightly to the inside of the stainless, somewhat rusty, surface of the tubing. We used to melt our wax in a stainless tank, and once cool and brittle it would pop off easily. In fact, I would bee surprised if it didn't trap any moisture that did happen to collect inside making the problem even worse. I would drill a weep hole straight into the bottom of the tubes, in between the two flanges. The movement of the boat in the water will probably slosh water from any low spots into the vertical tubes and out the holes. When drilling use as much pressure as the bit will bear and slow speed.
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jrd, clearly you are the expert on beeswax. I like your idea of the end hole! Probably going to go that way. Thanks!

Tom
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Old 02-01-2011
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I wouldn't use wax on the steel, because of adhesion concerns that JRD points out, and the fact that it is far more likely to trap water and cause crevice corrosion than leaving the piece unfilled. At least unfilled, some oxygen will get in, and the water will occasionally get out.

I would also change it from a screw to a clevis pin, since the smooth sides of the clevis pin will not trap water as much as the screw threads do.
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I would also change it from a screw to a clevis pin, since the smooth sides of the clevis pin will not trap water as much as the screw threads do.
That's where I'm headed, SD! The hinge was actually enclosed in a small shackle with the shackle screw pin going through the hinge parts. I figured to do away with the shackle and just put a clevis pin in there. The shackle's screw pin only had threads at the end, so I don't know that water retention was a problem there, but I do think a cotter ring will be less likely to undo itself.
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Old 03-10-2011
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News flash: I'm an idiot. The maker of the ladder was way ahead of me. The side tubing apparently is solid at the joints, so any leaks around the treads stay in the cross pieces. I figured this out after drilling maybe 3/8" into the end, way past where I should have broken through. I'll fill the hole with epoxy, back away, and pretend it never happened

And then I'm just going to leave it alone.
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