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Old 28-09-2007, 14:12   #1
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Keel Bolt Replacement

I have looked through the forums and I am sure that I am missing it (or the many). as I am sure there must be threads on replacing keel bolts.
Can someone direct me to a thread on replacing keel bolts?
If there happen to be none, then the question that I have is:

What would be involved in replacing the keel bolts on a 1969 36' Columbia?
I have the possibility of trading the Cal 29 that I have been working on for the 36' Columbia, which is closer to what we want, but the owner states that the surveyor says the the keel bolts "need attention". I will assume the worst, that they need replacement.
I believe that this job will be beyond what I am willing/capable of doing so in the event that I do get this boat, I will hire the job done. The cost of this will be a big determining factor in if I get this boat or not.


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Old 28-09-2007, 14:39   #2
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Aloha Clausont,
I'm not certain how the Columbia has its keel attached. For my Cascade it was a matter of grinding glass away from the flange holding the keel to the bottom and then driving the bolts out and putting new bolts in. I think each boat is a bit different and depending on how the bolts are attached in the keel determines the difficulty.
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Old 28-09-2007, 16:06   #3
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Can't speak to Columbia's specifically but on the back of Practical Sailor this month there is an article on how to "sister" Keel bolts into a boat with a lead keel. Hi lights are drill an over sized hole in the keel from the top. then find the bottom of the hole on the keel and carve a hole in the keel. Put SS all thread down the hole from the top and use some type of epoxy to bond the all thread to the lead keel. The drill a hole thru the all thread and bolt a stainless steel cover plate to the all thread and over the second hole. Then fill the second hole with epoxy. Didn't sound overly difficult except for getting the holes straight and true. The Cover plate would then need to be faired into the keel. The cover plates and bolts would act as the bent part of the J bolts that are cast in place.

Also this is something I pulled off of the Islander 36 maintenace forum.

"On 11/30/00 19:51:49 you wrote:
I have a small business called Keel Bolt REPLACEMENT AND REPAIR. I had a company called Keelco and made many of the Islander keels. I have a method were I take the keel of the boat and take out the old keel bolts and replace them with new 304 stainless steel j shaped althread material. I weld them back into position with a special lead alloy that make the new keel bolt 2 to three times stronger than the new old keel bolt. I can travel to anywhere and repair the keel at the boat yard. I charge about $150 per keel bolt to replace it plus traveling expenses. Give me a call at 310 547 4604 at night or Email me at

Don Huseman"

Sounds alot cheaper than anything I have heard of. Message is pretty old though.
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Old 28-09-2007, 20:10   #4
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I would be very wary of using stainless steel for keel bolts in a lead keel. There may be others on this forum who know more about the subject than me, though my understanding is that stainless steel needs to be in contact with oxygen to avoid corroision problems. Which is why it is not a good idea to use below the water line. While it may be expensive, silicon bronze is the tried and proven material for keel bolts in lead.

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Old 28-09-2007, 23:58   #5
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As long as the SS keel bolts are not submersed in salt water they are fine. They should be dry unless you have normally wet bilges. Mine are SS and have been in place for 26+ years.
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Old 30-09-2007, 11:52   #6
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Hi All and thanks for the information. The owner of the boat sent a couple of pictures of the keel after they had ground out the joint. I am attaching the pictures. If anyone has any comments on this, please feel free to do so.
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Old 30-09-2007, 12:23   #7
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Sistering keel bolts is a common repair in some older catalinas (especially the C-27). The most common method with these boats is to put a big stainless lag bolt into the keel through the bottom of the stub.

Here is a link to a site that sells the kit:

Catalina Direct: Keel Bolt Retrofit Kit For Lead Keel

To save money, I personally would order the materials seperately from Grainger or McMaster-Carr in the US (or what ever is your closest industrial supply house). The materials are something like half the cost when purchased this way.

It is also possible to seal the joint between the keel and the hull without removing the keel. Grind it out, seal it and then fair it smooth. I have done this job successfully. The only thing special I did was to fill the joint with 3-m 5200 before I fiberglassed over it.

Good luck.
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Old 30-09-2007, 12:37   #8

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Clauson, if you are planning to hire the job out, I would suggest discussing this with whoever you would be hiring. Or at least having a surveyor look at it and try to estimate the actual problem and repair costs. Without knowing the structure of that boat, and the extent of the real problem, guesses are almost meaningless.

"the owner states that the surveyor says the the keel bolts "need attention"." This implies that a surveyor has already seen it, and further details should be available. If they are not--that survey and that surveyor are worthless. Many keel bolts are capped off with carbon steel washers and nuts, and those may bloom into huge rust stains (and worthless nuts) without the bolts being affected. In that case, you may only need to replace the washers and nuts, one at a time, clean up and torque up, to be back in good shape. Or you may need (or prefer) to lower the lower, clean out the joint, and rebed it with 3M 5200. If it is properly rebedded that way, the 5200 alone can be strong enough to hold the keel.

The real question is, are the bolts themselves OK, or what? "Needs attention" sounds like a surveyor who is unsure of what he is looking at, not a survey report.

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