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Discussion Starter #1
Hello, I am a new member and look forward to all the late night reading ill be doing here. I recently got a 1977 Catalina 27. The boat is in pretty good shape for the most part thanks to the PO and in a freshwater lake. I am slightly concerned about the condition of the bilge (cracking and rusty bolts). The PO said the bilge and bolts had been done maybe around 6 to 8 years ago. I would like to clean the bilge up and apply a coating like Owatrol C.I.P. and a new coat of paint. I do not want to cover up anything that should be fixed. Should I just sand through the cracks and wire brush the bolts, then reseal everything? If anyone has input or suggestions as to how to make this bilge shine again please let me know. Many thanks! - J
 

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Wow. What is that stuff? It's almost as if something was poured and allowed to set up around the nuts? You can see the rust shooting through it where it cracked. And it totally conceals the layup.

First, I'd suggest digging all that stuff out so you can see and assess the condition of the stub...Get down to the actual fiberglass if you can. That stuff looks like it might peel up in chunks? You want to make sure that wasn't poured in an effort to conceal damage from a grounding. As cracked up as it is, its doing nothing for you now. And, at least from here, those bolts look real bad, and should be replaced. My opinion is make this a priority. Might not be a disaster. Clean the rust as best you can and get a better look. Sometimes it looks worse than it is. But stainless steel needs oxygen. All that rust, and something poured around the bolts gives me serious paranoia...

If you're going to do more than poke around...haul the boat first.
 

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Yes, looks like gel coat was poured in place after whatever else was done.

Not a good situation. The rust on the visible parts of the bolts is concerning too - doesn't look like SS to me (at least not 316), so wondering what was used when the 'keel bolts were done'. And how they were done.

Thick layer of gel coat is never a way to go, but hopefully the extent of cracking is a result of bad prep rather than continual flexing and movement.. but it will be tough to figure out until you haul the boat.

Did you haul for inspection/survey upon purchase?
 
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Thanks for the input. The boat lives in the water for now, I am not sure what my options are to get it out right now. I got it for next to nothing from the PO because he had to move to the other side of the country and did not want to deal with trying to sell it from far away. I knew him and he is a good guy and did not sell me a perfect boat, nor did I expect one. So, no inspection. I am saving for a wedding, so no major overhauls right now. I would hate to not be able to use the boat but obviously would hate for the keel to drop off. I have heard this is not probable. I will dig into the center a bit to get an idea of whats hiding next time I am at the boat and post an update. Beyond that I will have to put the keel overhaul on my extended to do list.
 

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al brazzi
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I agree, nothing about that looks good, I replaced the nuts on my Boat right away when they didn't look right more than likely they were 304 SS and the studs were perfect and they are 316 for sure. First you can't seal in anything to keep it from corroding that's the best way for corrosion to breed, second the studs look like they are crumbling and not even SS at all. Im not familiar with how Catalina does things but all that needs to be dug out to clean FG and the nuts either removed or more if it doesn't look right. As mentioned any more than a quick poke dictates a haul. Maybe hire a surveyor to look at that area specifically, pay him by the hour not a full per ft survey. Good luck hope it's not too bad. You might try a nut buster and see what the metal looks like under one of them if it doesn't break loose and you are in fear of breaking a stud.
 

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Make sure you have a good bilge pump set up while the boat is in the water. It will be a major PITA to fix the keel bolts. May want to get quotes from people who do it for a living. And compare it to a cost of a C27 in a decent shape. If it is higher, I would strip all the good parts and scrap this boat.
 

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.....The PO said the bilge and bolts had been done maybe around 6 to 8 years ago......
.....I knew him and he is a good guy and did not sell me a perfect boat, nor did I expect one.......
If you knew him and he's a good guy, you should call him and get a thoroughly straight answer about what's going on there. There is just no doubt it was intended to cover something. At best, it was just covering a dirty fouled bilge of some sort, but it was still a bad idea. At worst, the stub was cracking or delaminating and you genuinely could lose the keel. Or both.

Were the bolts really replaced 6-8 years ago (they look older to me) or just inspected? If replaced, how?

Was the keel dropped and inspected?
If you have a lead keel, the bolts would have needed to be melted out and cast back in. Very expensive.
If iron, it theoretically could have been done one bolt at a time, with no look at the stub or keel joint.
What was the goo intended to accomplish?

Let us know what he says. At a minimum, you need to dig all the goo out and have a look.

The biggest warning sign in boating is a boat that is being sold for "next to nothing". :eek:
 

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Don't panic. It won't really cost you anything but time to dig that crap out of the bilge.

Just dig it out and wire brush everything with a high speed drill as best you can, in order to get a decent view of what's left of your keel bolts.
If the nuts and bolts have enough meat left on them, it's probably fine for the local day sailing and overnighting that you'll probably do.

If the bolt threads clean up well and you think you can use a nut splitter to remove the old nuts, you can replace them with new stainless nuts and washers.
In the absolute worst case of severe wasting, you can sometimes drill into the keel and "sister" in some large sections of all-thread and put nuts on them to reinforce the original keel bolts.

The originals are often "J" shaped sections of all-thread cast into the lead. This prevents them from ripping out of the keel. Your sister bolts won't be as strong, but working in conjunction with the original keel bolts, you should be safe enough for casual sailing.

No ocean crossings for you, though. ;)
 

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Before sistering, you must absolutely know the stub is in good shape, or you're just boring more holes in something that was weak to begin with. Second, whomever you go to sell it to is going to ask, "what was wrong with the keel bolts?", and it's unlikely you'll have an acceptable answer.
 

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Before sistering, you must absolutely know the stub is in good shape, or you're just boring more holes in something that was weak to begin with. Second, whomever you go to sell it to is going to ask, "what was wrong with the keel bolts?", and it's unlikely you'll have an acceptable answer.
Sell the boat? He got it for FREE. I doubt he's really concerned about his ROI. (but I'll let the original poster speak for himself)
Respectfully, you've got the 54-footer point of view. I think this person is just interested in casually dinking about with a free toy. :)

But yes, obviously the keel stub should be known to be in good shape. I wouldn't be sistering in bolts in the water. I'd haul out and inspect everything before I go drilling holes in the boat.
 

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Sell the boat? He got it for FREE. I doubt he's really concerned about his ROI. (but I'll let the original poster speak for himself)
Respectfully, you've got the 54-footer point of view.
My point has nothing to do with the size of one's boat, nor ROI. Eventually, everyone sells, unless you die. If the OP's boat won't sell, it could be very expensive to have scrapped.

It's also hard to give a boat away that is not worth what it will cost to have repaired.

I think this person is just interested in casually dinking about with a free toy. :)
I don't know if the OP meant free, when then said next to nothing.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
I appreciate the replies from everyone. I do not plan on reselling the boat, at least not in the foreseeable future . I am pretty handy and always need a project or 12 going on or I go nuts. I look forward to spending time working on this old boat.

Like I mentioned, I am saving for a wedding, so I'm not going to be dumping any more money than having a boat already sucks out of you for right now. I have other things that I can work on with it. I will however take the advice given and begin planning on fixing this problem. I use the boat for short outings and the occasional overnighter. I don't race it or sail in rough weather right now. I don't foresee the keel falling off any time soon.

I am going to talk to the PO asap and get whatever information he has on the work that was done. I will try to wire brush one of the bolts and post some more pictures with an update as soon as I get some free time next week.
 

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I think my first step would be to use an ice pick into one of the "cracks" and see if the sub-material is solid. The cracking paint to me does look like they tried to cover up a messy bilge with paint or gel-coat without proper prep. What is concerning to me is the condition of the bolts. if the keel stub is soft (I think there is plywood in there, at least there was in the Catalina 30) then you are going to have to haul the boat out and pull the keel and dig out the stub and repair. I would consider using something like G10 to replace any wood in there. Then replace the keel bolts and put it back on and you're in business. Really should not cost much money mostly time and haul/storage fees and few hundred in supplies.
 

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One thing you can do immediately that's free and fast is grab a pair of googles and a waterproof light and dive on the keel. Look at the lower leading edge for any signs of severe impact. Also, look at the join between the stub and the ballast...there is a well known Catalina Smile, but that's generally not that big of deal when dealt with properly. Look for serious gaps. Look at the point where the front of the keel meets the hull, and the where the back of the keel meets the hull. Feel for signs of compression/tension damage in the hull at those points, since that's where the highest strain would generally be.

Not pointing fingers at your buddy, could have been whoever, boat is 40 years old, but there is some reason those bolts were replaced, and with non-stainless, it looks like, and then goop poured in. Add that all up and it sounds either nefarious or incompetent as hell. Or both.

So eyeball it, if you're going to sail the boat. Peace of mind. And it's free.
 

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.....I don't foresee the keel falling off any time soon.......
I hope you're right, but I can't see what you're basing that conclusion upon.

I had this foggy recollection that a C27 is known for keel trouble. Type the following into a google search and you will find much discussion on the subject.

This will give you all the discussion here (exclude the quotes), it's come up several times...... "site:sailnet.com catalina 27 keel"

Congratulations on the wedding!!
 

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I agree with Ajax. This is not a panic, but dig the nuts out and take a look. I'd haul out for that. You can check the fit and condition of the keel while the boat is out, maybe get someone with more knowledge to take a look It is an unknown, but not necessarily a fatal flaw. I wouldn't pay big bucks for a boat with this weird dodgy repair, but that doesn't mean this keel is going to fall off either.
 

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I agree with the owner - first figure out exactly what was done and why. To me it doesn't look like the keel bolts were actually replaced, maybe the "repair" that the PO did, he considered the work being "done" but what exactly was done? You need to find that out. These boats have been around for a while and there should be a LARGE amount of data on stuff like this.
 

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al brazzi
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Don't panic. It won't really cost you anything but time to dig that crap out of the bilge.

Just dig it out and wire brush everything with a high speed drill as best you can, in order to get a decent view of what's left of your keel bolts.
If the nuts and bolts have enough meat left on them, it's probably fine for the local day sailing and overnighting that you'll probably do.

If the bolt threads clean up well and you think you can use a nut splitter to remove the old nuts, you can replace them with new stainless nuts and washers.
In the absolute worst case of severe wasting, you can sometimes drill into the keel and "sister" in some large sections of all-thread and put nuts on them to reinforce the original keel bolts.

The originals are often "J" shaped sections of all-thread cast into the lead. This prevents them from ripping out of the keel. Your sister bolts won't be as strong, but working in conjunction with the original keel bolts, you should be safe enough for casual sailing.

No ocean crossings for you, though. ;)
I have a 4' long 5/8" drill we made years ago, just brazed a bit to a long rod and drilled 4 or 5 holes in at a small angle so the pull wasn't straight down ran some SS lag bolts in and sailed it for years and sold it just fine. Annapolis 26 neat little Boat Keel never fell off. It was a $2000 Boat 20 years ago so not a throw away but not worth an expensive repair either. She had a single cyl Diesel you could hand start when it was hot outside.
 

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I'm sure the OP appreciates all the optimism and it's my wish that this turns out to be benign. However, none of us, including the OP, know what was hidden under that bilge goo.

I'm curious what the PO has to say. Are those really 6 year old bolts?
 
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