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Old 07-06-2016, 07:07   #1
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Irrational fear / keel bolts

No I am not "afraid" of keel bolts, I just don't like what I can't inspect/see.

The situation is:

Our partner in NH on Lake Winnipesaukee dropped out last year on our old Catalina 30, and since she definitely was not ocean worthy so we sold her off.

We now potentially (the wifes approval being the "potential" part) have a line on a 1 owner 1984 Catalina 30 out of Narragansett Bay. The price is very reasonable and the owner is a close family friend that I have known since I was born.

I know the history on the boat and the maintenance that was done on it.

The boat has been dry docked/winterized in his yard for the last 4 years due to health reasons.

I plan on getting a survey and getting the engine running and checking the operation of all the systems. But the one thing you can't see is if there is corrosion on the keel bolts at the keel hull joint.

I have absolutely no reason to believe anything in the keel is compromised or in poor condition. The maintenance on the boat has been impeccable and knowing the owner and his family the boat has not been "abused". He's never even let it leave dock with out him on it.

Now to the "irrational fear" part, Aside from torquing the keel nuts to full spec to make sure the fiberglass or plywood is not compromised I have no other way to check for corrosion of the keel bolts from unknown water ingress. There is no cracking at the keel hull joint (aside from the catalina smile which is normal) and no other evidence to lead me to believe there is a problem. So I guess the big question is, Is there a point in a boats life where you should drop the keel to check the bolts as regular maintenance or do you wait for certain signs before doing anything?

If this deal goes through I will be leaving the lake for good and keeping the boat in Narragansett bay. Which I've been wanting to do for a very, very long time and I am very excited about upgrading to the ocean!!!!!! But with that comes some anticipation of the unknown and what I can't inspect. You all have much bigger waves on the ocean and things I wouldn't worry about on the lake I am second guessing for the ocean.

So am I being ridiculous about phantom corrosion on keel bolts or due to age is there something I should be doing before or after purchasing?
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Old 07-06-2016, 07:22   #2
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Re: Irrational fear / keel bolts

I have the exact same fear! Not much I can do except tighten the bolts to spec.
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Old 07-06-2016, 07:36   #3
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Re: Irrational fear / keel bolts

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Originally Posted by alctel View Post
I have the exact same fear! Not much I can do except tighten the bolts to spec.
Ha! Should we start a support group? Keel bolts anonymous

To clarify a little for me anyways is. I am a certified Aircraft Mechanic (not currently working as one but I have my A&P certificate)

I think going through that school has made me more nervous due to being more aware of things that can go wrong. Way too much info. But on a plane I can inspect everything and it gets inspected regularly. You can even check wing spars for cracks or stress. A keel is as important as a wing and yet I can't check it with out major and possibly unneccessary work.

You see one pic like this and you can't help but wonder.
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Old 07-06-2016, 08:44   #4
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Re: Irrational fear / keel bolts

I've my pilots license, and I'm sure that lends itself to my nervousness. Especially after I had a low level engine failure and crashed into a swamp a few years back. I don't like not being able to check stuff I can't see!
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Old 07-06-2016, 09:41   #5
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Re: Irrational fear / keel bolts

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Originally Posted by ontherocks83 View Post

So am I being ridiculous about phantom corrosion on keel bolts or due to age is there something I should be doing before or after purchasing?
Well you already called it irrational fear. Other than that I see no reason to get into the same old same "discussion".
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Old 07-06-2016, 09:48   #6
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Re: Irrational fear / keel bolts

It isn't exactly rocket surgery to drop a keel. You undo some bolts and lift the boat off, the process is exactly the same as if you want to check the bolts on your winch, just everything is heavier.

If you are that worried, make it part of the inspection.
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Old 07-06-2016, 10:07   #7
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Re: Irrational fear / keel bolts

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It isn't exactly rocket surgery to drop a keel. You undo some bolts and lift the boat off, the process is exactly the same as if you want to check the bolts on your winch, just everything is heavier.
True. I just dont have a fork lift to lift the boat with, any idea on costs to have a yard remove, inspect and rebed a keel?
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Old 07-06-2016, 12:07   #8
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Re: Irrational fear / keel bolts

Ask your question on the Catalina 30 Owners Forum. But I doubt you will find a problem.
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Old 07-06-2016, 12:55   #9
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Re: Irrational fear / keel bolts

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Originally Posted by ontherocks83 View Post
True. I just dont have a fork lift to lift the boat with, any idea on costs to have a yard remove, inspect and rebed a keel?
Not a clue. You would need to know how it is attached.

Realistically it took us two days (two people) to remove the keel on a 70'.

1) up step the mast
2) put boat on blocks
3) unbolt keel
4) cut away goop
5) lift boat off and put it somewhere else
6) take old keel out of pit and move to storage
7) put new keel in pit
8) move boat onto new keel
9) add goop
10 drop boat on keel
11) torque bolts
12) step mast

I have done a keel bolt inspection for a J-22 by just loosening the bolts and lifting it strait up with a yacht club crane 6", then putting it back down 10 minutes later.

Removing a keel is just like un bolting any other deck hardware. You undo the bolts, break off the goop, then reinstall it. Sometimes you get half way thru and realize you stripped a bolt (I hate slotted machine screws!!!), or the core is rotted and you have to fix that now too, or the washer was 5200ed in place and need a nuclear bomb to get it off...

But so long as it goes according to plan probably a couple of hours in the yard just to inspect it. If things go wrong it could take months before you are sailing again.
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Old 07-06-2016, 16:54   #10
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Re: Irrational fear / keel bolts

If bolt problems are known on this design, run and find another one, where they are not.

If bolt problems are unknown on this design, inspect, maintain and sail.

b.
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Old 07-06-2016, 17:22   #11
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Re: Irrational fear / keel bolts

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If bolt problems are known on this design, run and find another one, where they are not.

If bolt problems are unknown on this design, inspect, maintain and sail.

b.
They are not known. I am just an anal worry wort.
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Old 07-06-2016, 18:05   #12
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Re: Irrational fear / keel bolts

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Originally Posted by ontherocks83 View Post
They are not known. I am just an anal worry wort.
In my book you are 100% fine. Do not run to the doctors asking for a cure. I am just like that too. Looking at eleven PAIRS of age known M12 Swedish quality steel SS keel bolts holding full 3000 pounds of our ballast ... ( I start thinking of what they are like there where I can't see'em ... ;-)

It is OK to worry.

Inspect, maintain, sail.

Big hug,
b.
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Old 07-06-2016, 18:25   #13
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Re: Irrational fear / keel bolts

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It is OK to worry.

Inspect, maintain, sail.

Big hug,
b.
Hahaha!

Thanks for the reassurance....

Smooches
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Old 07-06-2016, 18:40   #14
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Re: Irrational fear / keel bolts

If you find yourself constantly worrying then why not do the check next spring? Do it early in case you have an issue so you won't lose valuable sailing season. I also believe there will be no issue with the bolts as you described, but from a psychological point of view after the inspection you will feel at ease and get a certain feeling of satisfaction and piece of mind. From your description I believe you will be happier with that feeling. I know I would be as I'm a bit too meticulous and into details from time to time. Old pilot
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Old 08-06-2016, 08:58   #15
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Re: Irrational fear / keel bolts

First I would determine what metal the keel bolts are made from. Bronze should present no corrosion problems. Stainless steel or iron "could" be a problem. What condition are the nuts in the bilge in? What are the nuts made of? Anyone in the Catalina club should be able to tell you if the keel bolts are "J" bolts or threaded into holes tapped into the keel. Also is the keel lead or iron?

I was concerned about my Pearson "smile" and attempted to drop the keel this past winter. After spending many hours with a Dremel and my head in the bilge, I determined that my keel bolts had been glued with resin into their holes, the keel bolts and nuts are bronze and after trying to "cut around" the keel bolts with a long core saw that kept melting the fiberglass as I was cutting, then the saw "freezing" into the melted resin, I gave up. The whole keel is "glued and screwed" to the keel stub. I don't think my keel will drop off even if I remove all the nuts from the keel bolts.

In the end, I patched the smile and now after all that work, I can sleep easy.
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