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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Hello everyone. Spring is in the air and the fiberglass is flying again. Digging into the trough that leads into our boat bilge I located four 1/4" bolts that are running into the vessel with nuts and washers. I wanted to open this up to everyone because they are located directly above the skeg and my theory is that the factory bolted the strut on to secure it while they structurally laminated it. The locations of the bolt support this theory, they are located at the beginning and end of the strut outside of the vessel. Has anyone seen this done? Does anyone believe that there is any structural relevance to these fasteners because they are rotted and the nuts are gone from two of them, I can't imagine a 1/4" bolt doing much good holding a vibrating strut with the prop shaft log running through it. Please see the attached pictures for an idea of what it is I am dealing with. I already decided a while ago that I wanted to add a laminate or two of tri-ax weave glass to the strut to hull joint because I can see evidence that the props vibration has done a number on the gelcoat here. I just want some input on whether I should hog these fasteners out and replace for structural reasons. THANKS for the input!
 

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My skeg is bolted through the hull with 4 small (less then half inch) bolts. I had one which was rotted which I took out by tapping it with a hammer until it broke through the fairing compound. Replaced the bolt, washer and nut and refairred the skeg.
 

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Need some clarification - do you mean 'strut' for the cutlass/prop shaft or skeg for a 'skeg-hung' rudder?

If the former I'd guess the bolts are pretty important.. if the latter it would depend on how the boat was built originally.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Good questions. Firstly, it is the strut that I am describing, I always look at our boat and consider the two one structure, which they are not. Also, as you can see by the picture it is a solid fiberglass strut, not a metal extension. It has a good 2' section of joint contact to the hull. The white tape represents exactly where the bolts are, I drilled the two forward bolts out, through their centers to see where they exit. Its a very steep angle and again, I cannot see these four bolts offering much at all in the way of structure, more than likely just a way to get the struts structure tight to the the hull for the epoxy to set and laminates to be applied. I will be grinding away a lay of the glass all along this joint and building it back up with with either tri or quad weave laminate along with West System G FLex as it will offer better resistance down the road to cracking. SO, I could attempt to replace the two forward bolts but I think it may not be necessary, laminates on the exterior should offer a better mechanical solution to vibration than small bolts mounted close to the center which have no lateral strength due to their poor triangulation angle. If I am way off let me know and I will hog in there and seat new bolts at this this crazy angle, might just be another headache down the road though. I mean, how to get those tiny bolt heads to distribute any kind of load along the entire length of the strut would require a backing plate. Thanks for the replies, glad this is not unique
 

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Based on that pic I think you're on the right track. There doesn't appear to be significant cracking externally along the 'skeg' (probably a more appropriate term in this case) and the hull proper. The bolts may well have been simply to hold the piece in place prior to glassing in as you've speculated.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
It's good to have that theory supported because I honestly don't see a good way to replace the bolts and get any kind of strength from them. The two aft fasteners still have nuts on them and I will re-encapsulate them in the trough but the forward bolts are done and gone. The vessel has made it 40 years and no signs of structural issue here so a little reinforcement for peace of mind and I think it should all be fine. Thanks for the feedback and have a good one.
 
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