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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I was looking at 20-25 years old Catalina 30 listings and I have a question. I can see couple of boats 1983-1985 with new engine installed. I can also see boats from 1987-1989 with original motors. Slightly older boat with new engine seems to be better value than couple year newer boat with original engine. Price is almost the same. Is Mark II boat with original motor better value than Mark I boat with new engine? Any advice or comments?
 

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There is one thing..

There is one big difference. On Catalina's newer than 1988 there is NO plywood laminated into the keel stub!!

On most Catalina models older than late 1987 they used plywood to laminate the keel stub up. This is a big problem if it gets wet, which it eventually will, if not properly cared for. Wet plywood can cause keel stub delamination and flex between hull and keel. It is probably the number one cause of the Catalina smile. While very few have actually fallen off it can happen and once wet will most likely get worse as time moves on..

I've done this repair on my old Catalina 30 and it's NOT fun!!! The moisture had also caused crevice corrosion of my keel bolts and all but two needed to be replaced! Crevice corrosion is VERY serious because you can't see that it's happening and a surveyor can't tell you either unless you drop the keel!

If you want my advice look for 1988 or newer Catalina's. The little extra you pay upfront for an 88 or newer should save you in the long run..

Buy a boat with a solid glass keel stub!!! just my .02 worth having been there and done that...

This is what happens to wet keel bolts:
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thank for response halekai36! I looked at C30 association and they say that boats after 1988 have non-wood mast step support. Is that that you mean by "NO plywood laminated into the keel stub"? Or they actually have plywood to support the keel????
 

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Ichorniy,
This is Max Munger's response to C30 hull construction from another post. Thought it might shed some light on the subject for you...
He wrote:


"...the fact is the hull of C30 is over an inch thick of solid glass along the hull bottom and in the bilge areas. The cosmetic "cover" of glass over the wood is 1/4 or less and the amount called for recovering by Catalina is even less. The 4500# keel would never stay attached if there was only 1/4 under the bottom of the wood.

Since we both know the bolts do not stretch, then (IF) your bolts were "sinking", the only result would be that the lead keel was separated from the hull by an equal distance. And the bolt hole(s) had to be open to sea water which of course allowed water into the wood area.
Your keel was severely damaged somehow and the PO or surveyor should have noted this as a condition of sale.

As I said in the first email "Only the worst cases of grounding the keel would result in movement of the bolts causing any leaks.".
 

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Thank for response halekai36! I looked at C30 association and they say that boats after 1988 have non-wood mast step support. Is that that you mean by "NO plywood laminated into the keel stub"? Or they actually have plywood to support the keel????
This is a big problem MOTS C-30 owners are not even aware of. Catalina will even send you the new lamination schedule to do this repair!

There is plywood laminated into the keel stub as in the picture below! I'm not talking about the mast step but the area sandwiched between the keel bolts and the keel.

While wood has it's utility in decks it has NO place being laminated into a keel stub where it will be surrounded by water from both the ocean side and the bilge side!!!!

P.S. Max may be the C-30 tech editor but having done this repair I can assure you he is WRONG about the thickness of the glass in the bottom of a C-30 (at least on my specific boat he was and is very wrong)! I've seen it touched it felt it ground it and sanded it and I can assure you it is NOT 1 inch thick.

Think about it? If it was an inch thick they would have had NO need to laminate plywood into the stub!!! I wish I had owned a digital camera when I did the repair on my C-30's keels stub.

Again my advice is certainly worth what you paid for it but I've been there, repaired this problem and feel it my duty to suggest to those looking at buying a pre 1988 Catalina to do a full keel stub examination BEFORE purchase to ensure it is DRY!

I'm in no way trying to dissuade anyone from buying a C-30, they are great boats, but please do so carefully and with full knowledge of what may lie ahead!

DISCLAIMER: This photo is NOT a C-30 but rather a Pearson 26.
My Catalina 30's keel stub was built very similarly to this photo although slightly more robust in the glass thicknesses!

Delamination from the plywood: Note how easily the fiberglass skin peeled away from the plywood!

The sandwich construction method!
 

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Halekai36,
Why don't you hear about catastrophic keel problems with the thousands of pre-1988 C30s out there? The PO of my 1980 C30 "fixed" the Catalina smile with some kind of application of epoxy. I can't recall all the details of the fix, but at last haul out, the hull and keel were as sound as a pound.
 

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Because it's not going to fall off unless you hit something fairly hard! The wood will get soft and create the Catalina smile which can lead to leakage and crevice corrosion as happened in my C-30. If a keel is going to fall off it would most likely be due to crevice corrosion and not because it ripped through the glass. That damage to the keel bolts is my biggest concern because it happens where you or a surveyor just can't see it..

It should be noted that the re-lamination schedule on the C-30 site is NOT representative of the construction in my particular boat. They show the plywood stopping about half way the length of the top of the keel and mine ran into the engine compartment.

Perhaps Catalina changed the layup along the way but the fact of the matter is if this wood gets wet you should address it SOON before crevice corrosion sets in. The biggest expense is the replacement of keel bolts not the re-lamination aside from removing the engine as I had to do.

Again, not trying to dissuade anyone on a C-30 just do your due diligence in the purchase to make sure the keel stub is dry or just buy a post 88 model.
 

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halekei36,
is there a way to test the keel stub to see if it is dry. i just purchased a '78 c-30 with the smile. i'm stripping the bottom this spring and adding a barrier coat. before i do that, what should be used to repair the smile?
 

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There are a few ways to check.

There are a few ways to check.

1) Use a moisture meter but make sure your bilge has been bone dry for at least a few days. Pay specific attention to the areas directly around the forward keel bolts and note any differences in moisture elevation. Compare the rear end of the keels stub to the forward or leading edge. Catalina was supposedly only putting wood under the forward most keel bolts so if they did that on your boat you may see a difference in readings between the aft portions of the stub and the forward portion. My keel stub was wood the entire length so they apparently did not lay all boats up with the same techniques. Moisture meters can return metals as moisture so don't be totally alarmed if it's picking up the lead of the keel. What you'll be looking for is differences in moisture. If you move away from a keel bolt and the needle drops you most likely have moisture in there.

2) Sound it out with a hammer. Move from the bilge turns to the flat areas between the bolts and be looking for sharp sounding returns. If it's a dead sounding thud that's not good. You want it to sound similar to the bilge turns although the tone will be different the sounds characteristics should be similar if that makes any sense?

3) Drill test bores with a small drill bit about 1/4 inch deep and within an inch or so of one of the forward keel bolts washers. If the sawdust comes out looking like new wood your good. If it's brownish it's moist, if it looks like coffee grounds it's toast! DO NOT forget to fill any test bores with West System or similar epoxy when your done!!

Many times moisture finds it's way in through improper installation of a bilge pump. Many boat owners were unaware that these keel stubs had wood in them so they just drilled in a few machine screws to hold the bilge pump and the float switch without bedding them with a proper bedding compound. The moisture in the core is not always from a leaking keel bolt but the resulting effect, crevice corrosion, can still ensue..
 

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If you have the "smile" you will have corrosion on the keel bolts. I saw a picture of a piece of 309 stailness cut in two by a rubber band . Oxygen, in this case, prevents corrosion because the oxide coating prevents more damage to the steel. When the steel is enclosed inside the fiberglass, and a crack allows sea water to get in, corrosion takes place in an oxygen free environment. Like under the rubber on the band. I was astonished at this, but this comes from a powerplant maintenance periodical. You will have to face this eventually if your Cat has the smile.
 

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Just an aside and a bit off topic but we had a raging argument over the Caliber encapsulated keel and how ALL such keels were susceptible to water intrusion in a hard bump or grounding. Now might be a good time to remind the group that we seem to have far more ACTUAL problems reported with bolt on keels. Is that because there are far more of them? Dunno. But it must be noted that NO keel type is without problems.
 
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