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Old 04-05-2006, 23:15   #1
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Rust/Cracks Around Keel Bolts

I'm looking to buy a boat and the only thing I could see that was questionable was some rust and surface cracks around the keel bolts in the bilge (the bilge has some water due to winter storage with mast up). Does this look like it may be a problem?
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Old 05-05-2006, 04:21   #2
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Could be. This boat needs a survey. Its the keel damaged?
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Old 05-05-2006, 04:36   #3
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Can you give us more details of the boat please. Size, keel type and material.
The keel bolts look like a mild steel threaded rod, but I am not sure.
I also suggest there is no room for guessing here. If you are unsure yourself, and you are in the best position to assertain if a problem may exist, then I suggest you pull the bolts and drop the keel and see how far those cracks have gone. Plus, I suggest a plate being fitted to take the strain over a wider surface area than just the bolt head/nut.
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Old 05-05-2006, 04:53   #4
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As a temporary measure, pending discovery and remediation of the root cause, drill a small hole (only through the gellcoat to “good” glass) at each end of the fissure(s). This stops further crack propagation.
Then grind or gouge out the cracks (in a ‘vee’ shape) clean and fill with epoxy. This prevents water penetration into the substrate.
Do these things immediately, to mitigate further damage.
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Old 05-05-2006, 08:28   #5
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Deep fin

Look like a deep fin feel, probably lead. The photo is the for or aft end and the cracks may be superficial or not. If the boat was grounded the hull would have deformed a bit aft end of keel pushes INTO the hull, forward end of the keel pull away from the hull. Cracks are more common on the aft end I would guess.

Since the bolts are exposed, dropping the keel would be a wise idea and having a close in inspection.

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Old 05-05-2006, 09:17   #6
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The boat is a 1997 J/32. I believe the keel is made of lead. I've attached a picture - at the time of inspection, it didn't appear damaged. I have had an accredited marine surveyor look over the boat who didn't mention anything about the rust or cracks being a concern - but the bolts/cracks didn't look right to me so I thought I would seek out a second opinion. Thanks for all of your feedback. I'll talk to the local yard about having the keel dropped for a more thorough inspection. Let me know if you have any other thoughts/opinions.
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Old 05-05-2006, 09:18   #7
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Keel bolts

Too many keel bolts come lose. It may be the manner in which they are attached. I believe many are bolts, some with a hook in the end, that are encased in the lead. Experience from other models of the same boat, and or finding out how the keel is attached, would be a good idea. The surveyor may have that info. If I found a boat with a lead keel that was not attached properly, I might give it a miss, or after purchase I would drop the keel and bolt it on properly. You can drill a round hole about 2 1/2 inches through the keel, side to side, and put in a bronze plug that has been threaded to accept the keel bolt from above. The larger surface area of the plug gives more support. You cap the ends of the plug. The exact details of the plug and capping, are available from the smart designers.
Michael
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Old 05-05-2006, 10:08   #8
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J-Boats are built by TPI, a highly regarded manufacturer (innovators of the “SCRIMP” process) - so I cannot imagine that they’d have used a simple straight bolt, as opposed to the preferred “J” Bolt (bent).

The J/32 keel is made of cast lead, reinforced with 4% antimony, with stainless bolts cast into the lead. The molded keel stub area of the hull uses multi layered fibreglass laminates over keel stringers. The lead keel is seated in epoxy and thru-bolted to the stub and then spray coated with a minimum of four coats of specially formulated epoxy primer.

The keel bolting arrangement on the new(er) J/125 has been improved to include twin sets of bolts. The keel flares at the hull to allow a wide bolting base c/w large backing plates spanning the pairs of bolts.

There might be more specific information of the Unofficial J/32 Sailboat Owner's Page: http://sailj32.home.comcast.net/
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Old 05-05-2006, 10:35   #9
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J32

I like the fact that there is a long attachment point for the keel.
Regarding the J shaped bolts. I am not an engineer but my preference would be the way I decribed earlier than the bent bolt. However if the bent bolt has given satisfactory service, than that is a good sign. Some J boats are built in France. SA has been posting info regarding a J105. It was a J40 that I was thinking of that had a lose keel. I do not know the details. The J32 would be a nice size boat.
Thank you all for the opportunity to reach 1000.
Michael
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Old 05-05-2006, 10:46   #10
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You might call j/boats and ask them, they're good folks and they'll tell you if there have been keel problems or, from the photo, how serious it looks to them.
I don't know what the bolts are really holding into, whether those cracks are in a cosmetic layer or a structural one, normal or not. They will.
But on the rust...not unusual to see some. Keel bolts are often capped with nuts and washers that are the real source of the rust, or they are machined with high-carbin tools to cut the threads in them--and that will leave particles behind which weep rust. Very common in stainless, and just cosmetic if that's all you are looking it. Cleaning, coating, and keeping dry will take care of it if that's all.
The fiberglass...that's more of a reason to look carefully into this.
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Old 15-05-2006, 10:43   #11
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I think you would answer some questions if you took one of the nuts off. You'd see how far off is the hole with respect to the bolt. One of my bolts had two drilled holes next to each other(overlapped) because they missed it the first time. But the space between the bolt and structure will tell you alot. Moldy, smelly, wet, or dry? And definately larger SS backing plates. You have plenty of room there for 3/8" thick SS plate.
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Old 15-05-2006, 11:43   #12
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I found another mention of the keel bolt problem here

http://list.sailnet.net/read/messages?id=188269

From the description it sounds like what I see in your pictures, non-reinforced resin poured into the bilge where the keel is attached.

hth,

Phil
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Old 15-05-2006, 15:48   #13
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What exactly is rusty in the picture? My C&C 34 is of similar construction but has round backing plates under each nut. Kind of like giant washers. When I first looked at the boat the plates looked a bit rusty but it was really some sort of gunk build up. I was able to clean everything up quite nicely with a wire brush and it's been fine ever since.

I wouldn't drop the keel unless I knew more about the construction and bedding in there. Surely there's a J32 user's organization out there that would have tons of information.
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Old 15-05-2006, 16:25   #14
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Which bolts are these?

Starting from the bow going back. (bolt 1, bolt 2)

There is a transverse crack from the bolt that does not have a backing plate. If this is (bolt one) it could be an indication of a hard grounding. Or the crack might be nothing because the bilge is usually resin rich with gel coat.

If it is cracked it is a very easy fix and would certainly not be a deal breaker in my eyes.

Always liked J Boats.
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