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A melon with a dream...
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
i have a '69 Columbia 28 and I am a little concerned about the keel bolts. When I hauled out last April there was no separation of the keel from the hull or signs of it, but the tops of the bolts in the bilge look fairly rusted and pitted. I don't dare touch them to tighten them down. I am considering an extended trip and would rather not have the keel fall off in transit. The hull is fiberglass and the keel is lead. Is the only way to know what the bolts look like to pull one? Is that even possible? Or can I simply (ha!) drill down and sister in a few bolts for added security and call it good?
 

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No, you can't sister in more bolts.

On some, you can remove a bolt or two and plate from inside the boat and inspect. Perhaps it will tell you what they are all like, but it's no guarantee. You could do them all one at a time too. Major, major PITA.
 

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One of None
Hunter 34
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Boat that old.... drop it! There is a way to use lag bolts in lead. Catalina owners have a kit available just for that. I'd still want to know how bad/good they are
 
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A melon with a dream...
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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Shoot. Of COURSE there is no easy way out. ;) I guess it's a question of how secure do I feel in just leaving them be vs. tackling a major PITA project? I would definitely prefer not to have to drop the keel. Maybe when I haul out this Spring I'll have a crack at seeing if I can get one out from inside to inspect it. That should give at least some indication of whether a real problem is probable or not.
 

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One of None
Hunter 34
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Most people only raise the boat up a couple inches while the keel stays put. The big issue is getting the nuts broke loose! (Ya might break "them" too) :eek:
 

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Bill SV Rangatira
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it is possible to remove old j-bolts but you need to cut a tapered hole(bigger on the inside) and set new j-bolts in fresh casting of lead but it is a lot of hassle and mess pouring new lead into a keel .... word of caution when working with molten lead all surfaces must be clean and dry or it will erupt in a mini volcano of lead
do some research on lead casting or have it done profesionally
 

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A melon with a dream...
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208 Posts
Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Well, I have a lot of work to do already and will be on the hard for a bit... I'm just not too awfully keen to open up yet another can of worms. But... then again... I will already be out of the water so maybe it makes sense to just address the situation rather than worry about it all summer. Or until the keel falls off. :eek: It seems like a much better winter haulout project though. I suppose I have a couple of months to think about it. And, you know, when I get in and tick item after item off of my to-do list at a rapid pace I may just have a bunch of extra time on my hands for other projects before I splash again...:laugher
 

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Master Mariner
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I've always used a 20# sledge and a 2 X 4. Have someone hold the 2 X 4 alongside the keel below the joint to the hull. Have someone else hit it with the sledge. You lay your palm across the joint. If there is any movement you have a problem. Don't be shy, give it a couple of good whacks, but don't miss the wood. If the keel bolts can't take that, then you've got a problem anyway. Simple and absolutely foolproof.
 
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Master Mariner
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good thing there are a lot of fools in here to test that theory
Been doing it that way for more than 40 years and I'd guess the old guy that taught me was doing it that way just as long. If your boat can't take that, you probably shouldn't take it out of the slip.
 

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And, you know, when I get in and tick item after item off of my to-do list at a rapid pace I may just have a bunch of extra time on my hands for other projects before I splash again...:laugher
Rapid Pace, extra time or working on a boat, which is it?
 

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One of None
Hunter 34
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5/8" x 1.5" deep hole saw (starett) over the bolt without a drill bit, should be able to saw down through the nut. Other sizes available too. Just thinking here!
 

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Been doing it that way for more than 40 years and I'd guess the old guy that taught me was doing it that way just as long. If your boat can't take that, you probably shouldn't take it out of the slip.
The classic necessary vs. sufficient debate: I don't think anyone would debate that passing your sledgehammer test is necessary to be seaworthy. The question is whether it's sufficient. Maybe you and the other old guy were just lucky for 80 years. Do you have any proof that passing this test assures healthy keel bolts?
 
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Slugging with a hammer does not seem like a very precise way to test bolts. Surely if the keel moves then something is wrong. But if no movement is detected does that mean everything is okay? I wouldn't think so.

The way I would test bolts is as follows:

Remove one nut. If that breaks the nut or bolt you have a problem.

Clean the nut and exposed threads. Measure the size. Lube the threads with heavy grease.

Look up the suggested torque for a bolt of the size measured. It makes a difference if it is plain steel or stainless.

Replace and tighten to the specified torque. If something breaks you have a problem.

Repeat for each bolt one at a time.

Given that the boat is very old, and the bolts suspect, and the usual over design, one might limit the torque to some lesser force. Maybe half.

I've been wondering about my own keel bolts. But a few weeks ago I flew off the top of a square breaking wave and landed hard on the beam ends several meters below. The keel stayed on. So maybe that is good enough.
 

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Corsair 24
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hold on here guys

look!!!!!!!!!!!

know your boat, how its designed and go from there

who said keel bolts cant be sistered in? interesting...

who said you cant tighten keel bolts? beyond weird

who said you have to drop a keel always? man!

seriously

how is your boat built, how is the keel attached?

what metallurgy? what backing plate...what bolt design? j, straight, cast what

seriously advice is only advice if its pertinent to the design of the boat in question

I dont know the columbia 28 well however if you give me some time GOOGLE FOO will come up with some pertinent answers RELATED TO YOU BOAT honey doo

no offense to the previous posters
 

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Just wondering, has anyone heard FIRST HAND - not a "they say" or "I know someone", who has had a keel fall away. I have seen some boats that have hit solid objects HARD and the keels are still there. (Been around boats more years than I like to count)
 

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Tundra Down
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The 2x4 I have. Now to find a 20# sledge.

I haven't performed that test yet. My haul out contractor tests my keel bolts every time we set the boat on his trailer. From falling between the keel support beams to just banging into something. I repair the fairing every season. My keel bolts look badly rusted where they are exposed in the bilge. I haven't felt safe putting a wrench on them but..... There is almost no sign of a seam anywhere at the hull keel joint, so the keel isn't working loose. I am counting on signs of failure showing up well before a catastrophic failure.

What do you think? The 20# Whack Test should be sustainable by any keel! The Brownell Trailer Drop Test is another way of monitoring the condition of your hull keel joint. Ha!

In a discussion about grounding in another thread, I gathered it would take quite an event to suddenly remove the keel. Since the boat is floating the vectors distribute impact fairly well. Perhaps intentionally bumping the keel into something "soft" like wood when you have options would help with your decision.

Dropping the keel, shipping it off to have new bolts installed and resetting it will cost serious dollars. It sure would provide some valuable peace of mind.

I am still watching for signs of separation. The Islander 28 has a good reputation. Some boats have chronic keel problems.

I think you can "sister" your bolts. Drill down to insert new bolt. Outside, drill in from the side to place a nut and washer directly in line with the bolt hole. Insert new threaded bolt from above, thread it into the nut and tighten her up from above. Fill the hole in the side of the keel with an epoxy paste made with the lead shavings you collect when drilling. Make sure the bolt is set in something like 5200.

Don't forget a survival suit!

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