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Old 12-08-2012, 13:28   #1
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Keel Bolts

As many of you know I'm rebuilding an 1968 Spencer 42. You can see my blog link at the bottom. To read more about Spencer Yachts in general go to: Construction Info | Spencer Yacht Owners Group ~ S.Y.O.G.. These boats are old school solid fiberglass. Heavily layed and no core. The hull/deck joint is heavily layed on the inside before the hull even comes out of the mold.

Here's my issue that sooner or later I'm going to have to deal with. The 8000 lead keep is held on with 9 - 1 inch stainless steel bolts. When I got the boat I had planned on dropping the keel and re-bedding it since it hadn't been in the water in over 15 years. I loosen one nut to see how easy or hard just the nuts would be to remove ... and with very little effort the nut simply fell off. Seems it corroded where it penetrated the hull.
1. are any of the other bolts in similar condition.
2. should I re-mold the entire keel
3. can I dig down, install a 1" coupling and new stem

This something I need to deal with while I'm still on the hard. I'd hate to lose a keel ... that would just plain reck a perfectly good sailing day.
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Old 12-08-2012, 18:07   #2
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Re: Keel Bolts

You are going to have to try all of them. If one fell off then the others are suspect. Had a similar thing happen with my Cascade and I replaced several keel bolts because of it.
Unless we knew the original construction it would be hard to advise the best way for a repair. Is the keel separate from the hull or is incapsulated?
kind regards,
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Old 12-08-2012, 18:44   #3
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Re: Keel Bolts

Losing a keel really would just spoil the day, wouldn't it?
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Old 12-08-2012, 19:12   #4
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Re: Keel Bolts

Call a reputable machine shop in your area and ask them for whoever it is that does the nondestructive testing of bolts in place. In this day and age they can test the integrity of the bolts without removing them. Local marine surveyors might know a company that does it. Whatever it costs it will be better than worrieing or maybe taking your boat to pieces , and not needing to. Good Luck with it.___My 2 cents worth._____Grant.
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Old 12-08-2012, 19:32   #5
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Re: Keel Bolts

I've thought of x-ray or what ever they do to look through stuff like that. I have a submarine background. Took 2 boat's through the yard and every hull weld was Xrayed for cracks and integrity.
The keel is a separate unit and the bolts are embedded in it; they do not go all the way through to the bottom. I don't know if the bolts have washers, or a plate down inside. I've invisioned, of course everything is easy when you invision it, dropping the keel, using a long hole saw and sawing around the bolt, then chieling out the lead. After the couple and stud are in place I melt and pore the lead back in place.
Easy, huh .... until you actually start doing it.
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Old 12-08-2012, 19:51   #6
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Re: Keel Bolts

G'Day CS,

First, is the builder of your boat still around? Original info about how the keel bolts were installed would really be helpful for you. As you may know, there are several different means of doing it: through bolts (which you say are not used here), cast in place with some sort of device to prevent them being pulled out, or sometimes bolts that intersect athwartships holes in the upper part of the ballast where nuts were placed.

Considering the conservative nature of your boat, I would expect that some means of bolt removal was considered in the design. Good luck with your investigation.

Cheers,

Jim
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Old 12-08-2012, 20:01   #7
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Re: Keel Bolts

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim Cate View Post
G'Day CS,

First, is the builder of your boat still around? Original info about how the keel bolts were installed would really be helpful for you. As you may know, there are several different means of doing it: through bolts (which you say are not used here), cast in place with some sort of device to prevent them being pulled out, or sometimes bolts that intersect athwartships holes in the upper part of the ballast where nuts were placed.

Considering the conservative nature of your boat, I would expect that some means of bolt removal was considered in the design. Good luck with your investigation.

Cheers,

Jim

"J" bolts are very common. They cannot be removed. This is one reason that a retrofit is sometimes done with cheek bolts placed between the old bolts.
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Old 12-08-2012, 20:31   #8
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Re: Keel Bolts

I think you will have to drop the keel. If one bolt snapped off the rest just may be waiting to go. That isn't something you want to leave in an unknown state. And the bolts are 44 yrs old (in place).
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Old 12-08-2012, 20:34   #9
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Re: Keel Bolts

This is unclear to me. You say the nut fell off because it was corroded at the hull. Is that what you mean or did the stainless steel stud snap off at the hull when you put torq on the nut? If it is only the nut, just replace the old corroded nuts, one by one, with new stainless steel nuts. If the stud (anchor bolt) snapped at the hull you will have a hard time extracting the stud from the ballast keel. The hull will have to be lifted off of the ballast keel. The keel studs would have been cast in place (less likely) or the lead keel would have been drilled and tapped to receive the studs (more likely). When you try to back the keel studs out of the ballast keel you may only have a 1 inch stub to work on. This is not much for a truck-size breaker bar or a long handled pipe wrench. I backed out my keel bolts and and replaced them with stainless steel. It was, physically, the hardest thing I have done on my boat. Best of luck.
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Old 26-08-2012, 16:46   #10
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Re: Keel Bolts

Sam Plan B ... and all ... Thanks for the input.
No, the builder is not around anymore.
I've also not gotten any feed back from any other Spencer 42 owners. The 42 & 44 were basically built the same. The 35 had internal lead keel and I don't know about the 51/53 but I'm sure they all use the same keel design. Even so, there were only 78 boats built including all 4 lengths.
I've been told, from the Spencer Group administrator, that he thinks the keels were pored around the studs but doesn't know if it was studs with washers or attached to a plate in the bottom.
... and, yes, as one person questions: the stud, not the nut, snapped at the bottom of the nut. When I lift the boat there will be a small portion of stud that goes through the hull still there.
That's next years project. I have to finish the interior and paint the outside first. Then I tackle the keel problem.
More feedback in 6 - 9 months. .... at least on this topic
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Old 22-09-2012, 15:53   #11
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Re: Keel Bolts

I've just bought a catalina 22' with badly rusted keel bolts. I haven't found a definitive article on repair. I have iron fin keel. Ideas?
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Old 22-09-2012, 16:21   #12
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Re: Keel Bolts

Lead keel or steel keel?
If lead I've known people who drill new hols beside the old bolts, make a recess in the bottom of the keel for the bolt heads, 5200 the bolts into the keel.
Make sure you uses silicabronze bolts.
If steel ..... personally, I would suggest making a very sturdy box and making a sand cast of the old keel, make a bottom and top plate with holes for the new silicabronze bolts, put nuts and washers every several inches, take it all to a soft metal foundry and have them pore you a new keel. You can use the old keel to make a template for the new bolt plate that way it should bolt right up.

Mine isn't quite that bad. I'm going to try to drill down with a hole saw to fresh metal and using couplers make a new extention.
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Old 22-09-2012, 16:32   #13
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Re: Keel Bolts

Are the bolts actually studs threaded into the steel keel? If so you may be able to back them out and replace them with new, although, you may have to drill them out and tap the hole for a larger stud.
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Old 22-09-2012, 16:44   #14
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Re: Keel Bolts

I am probably in over my head here, but what the hell! We have a 1986 Beneteau Idylle 11.5 on which we have replaced the 14 keel bolts several times due corrosion noted by the surveyor. The last replacement, several years ago, we epoxy painted the bolt heads after installation and installed a garboard drain to keep the bilge dry when on the hard. So far, so good!
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Old 22-09-2012, 16:49   #15
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Re: Keel Bolts

Hmmmm.... not a bad idea. What ever the source of the water for corrosion the key is to keep the bolts dry.
What material are you replacing your bolts with?
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