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Old 05-05-2013, 09:56   #1
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Hard to Reach Bolts

Impossible to reach actually. I'm trying to rebed my lifeline stanchions (I got the butyl tape fever). The stanchions are through-bolted and getting to the back side to hold the bolt so we can loosen it is essentially impossible - trying to linr it back up to reinstall is something I don't even want to think about.

The gap to reach the underside bolts is a 90 degree turn and a little less than the thickness of my hand. Of the 4 bolts, I can just touch 2 of them if I really force my hand into the gap, the other 2 are an inch or so beyond my fingertips (I can't even see these around the corner).

Any tips on how to get at these things and then reassemble them without tearing the boat apart? Some special tool or method? The overly tight space and inability to even see the bolts has me stumped.
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Old 05-05-2013, 10:07   #2
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Re: Hard to reach bolts

I have taped nuts and washers to a long thin piece of wood and I have taped wrenches to a long thin piece of wood. I have taped nuts and washers to my fingers.

I've never done this (yet), but Harbor Freight sells a video system that would allow you to see what you are doing in blind spots such as you describe. It's surprisingly inexpensive. I may buy one for inspecting hard to reach areas of the boat.

I installed a pair of running boards on my truck and the hard to reach nuts came from the factory spot welded to a metal rod that was to be twisted off after installation.

Each situation is unique and you have to use your imagination.
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Old 05-05-2013, 10:08   #3
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Re: Hard to reach bolts

A hole saw and plastic trim buttons may be the only way to get at the nuts. Believe McMaster Carr carries a wide range of the caps in plastic.
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Old 05-05-2013, 10:14   #4
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Re: Hard to reach bolts

Just be persistant and inventive. Hard to say without see it, but I have seen some that I wondered how you would ever do it. If you can get them off, you can get them on. It will be a two person job and I have used the screwdriver with tape on it to hold the nut many times also! or wrapped tape around a finger (sticky side out) to hold a nut. This is an application I would likely use a nut and lockwasher rather than a nylok on....
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Old 05-05-2013, 10:14   #5
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Re: Hard to reach bolts

Bolts and nuts on a some keels are very tough to get to and tighten. Extension arms to hold the nuts attached to the wrenches, are a must have. Mauritz
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Old 05-05-2013, 11:12   #6
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Re: Hard to reach bolts

Getting it apart could be done by drilling the heads off the screws, and pushing the screws down through the holes.

Getting it back together is the larger challenge. My rail stanchions are attached with machine screws that thread into aluminum plates that are bonded to the underside of the fiberglass. If you can get a piece of aluminum plate in position from below you might want to try the following.
  1. With stanchion removed drill a single 1/4" hole through the fiberglass at the center of the stanchion position.
  2. Drill a 1/4" hole in the aluminum plate to match.
  3. Place a 1/4" bolt through the plate.
  4. Coat the plate with 3M 5200.
  5. Install the plate and clamp it up from above using the bolt.
  6. After it sets up, drill and tap machine screw holes through the aluminum plate to fit the stanchion base.
  7. The 1/4" bolt could be removed or left in place depending on whether or not it interferes with the stanchion.
Your specific conditions may or may not be suitable for this repair.
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Old 05-05-2013, 17:31   #7
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Re: Hard to reach bolts

When you go to put it back together, put the bolts through from the bottom, use nylocks or acorn nuts on the top. The sealant you put on the bolts and backing plate will help hold them up when next you have to remove a stanchion.

Would it be feasible to put in an inspection port that would admit your hand (as well as eye) to the area? When there are leaks, it would be super to rule out that particular stanchion base as a source of difficulty.
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Old 05-05-2013, 21:12   #8
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Thanks, good suggestions. I did pick up one of the little cameras I can snake up in there, thinking I'd take a close look at all of them and see what I was up against. I discovered that as I move from the aft most where I started to the forward stanchions, the gap to work with narrows. The front third of the boat has he gap narrowing to less than 1/16 of an inch - can just barely get the tip of a screw driver in there much less my finger or a tool of some kind. After that, still have to turn the angle. No way I'm gonna be able to do most of the stanchions coming through that way.

I like the idea of drilling out the center and reworking this install, solid suggestion and it may be exactly what I end up doing.

Another suggestion I got was to drill out the bolts, fill the holes with epoxy and then just screw it in. Very iffy. But...the bolts I did see with the camera, I would say about half had no backing bolts on them at all. Several had bolts but they'd slipped down halfway or more. Looks like I've lost a lot of bolts to the ship's motion so this solution may just be status quo. I'm not a big fan of this but I thought I'd see what you guys think.
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Old 05-05-2013, 21:15   #9
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Re: Hard to reach bolts

Hi:

Is it the headliner that is in the way? I cut away the entire headliner perimeter. I started just selectively cutting it out for stanchion access, but then I decided it all had to go. Now I can actually see and touch essentially all the stanchion and hull deck joint hardware. Some day far in the future, wood trim can replicate the lost cosmetics of this hack. The exposed area makes a great wiring highway too.

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Old 05-05-2013, 21:25   #10
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Hey Boulter, it's not the headliner but fiberglass roof. It's a kind of lip that comes up to the hull, I suppose the intent was to make it prettier than simply butting up squarely. I was able to do the aft stanchion only because there is a deck drain about four inches from the stanchion mount and there was some cutaway to allow the drain pipe to connect.
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Old 05-05-2013, 21:34   #11
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Picture worth a thousand words. You can see how a finger barely fits. Once you get up in that gap, you have to turn 90 degrees and go over about 4 inches to the bolts.
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Old 05-05-2013, 21:40   #12
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Re: Hard to reach bolts

If they are not leaking I would leave it alone.
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Old 05-05-2013, 21:42   #13
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Yeah, that's my problem ... they are leaking. Believe me, I'd love to leave them alone!


What about something like these http://blog.artvenue.com/2011/09/how.../toggle_bolts/. Not as good as a traditional through bolt but better than just screwing in.
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Old 05-05-2013, 21:44   #14
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They do make articulated socket wrenches, but sounds like even that won't work. I have an articulated wrench now that I bought for one single purpose - taking the impeller housing off my genset. When I was a commercial diver we used to touch a welding rod to nuts and then use the rod to snake and hold nuts in tight locations. Once the nut was threaded and tightened down, we'd just wiggle the rod back and forth until the little blob of weld fatigued and the rod would come off.
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Old 05-05-2013, 21:48   #15
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Re: Hard to reach bolts

Here's a few tricks
1. Stainless Steel Tee Nut Insert for Wood Type 316, 5/16"-18 Int Thread, 3/8" L Barrel, 4 Prong

2. Bulletwood

You can use a knock in insert made from SS (search above word chain in mcmaster-Carr catalog for all choices. Simply drill out screw from outside. Remove stanchion. Put a knock-in insert in a thin piece of teak or even softwood(or bulletwood which is hard as well a bullet if you are concerned about strength) You can make the wood long enough to hold and line it up by using a coat hanger to line the hole up. Then add lots of caulk to the bolt and stanchion and thread it in.


or you can buy manikara (also known as bulletwood) and drill a couple sizes under and the bolt will thread itself in. Use 5200 and it will glue and waterproof.

Use your imagination. Score the softwood with insert so you can just snap it off at the score line after bolting.

The only problem with these methods is it is harder to butyl tape but you can if you get creative. 5200 does come loose with heat, hammers, and solvent.

Epoxy the bulltwood so it doesn't turn while you're threading it
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