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Old 16-02-2015, 15:35   #1
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Stainless bolts, mild backing plates, iron keel

Inspected a 31' boat today. Overall, she's very pretty and is wonderfully well built and sturdy, and I really like her. She has a lot of good things to commend her. Apart from some minor issues (standing rigging totally spent, with cracked and rusted terminals, a wobbly keel strut and prop shaft, toasted running rigging, and some other issues), there is a large problem.

The boat has not been used in forever, and has been allowed to sit in the water for five to six years. The (deep) bilge had about two inches of water in it, and while it was clean (no oil) there was a thick layer of rust sediment on the bottom. This sediment came from the mild steel backing plates of the stainless steel bolts (whose bolt heads looked okay actually once rubbed by hand a bit under the water, but I understand they corrode at the joint). The backing plates themselves lose lots of material at a touch and I think are pretty much all the way corroded. The bilge water tasted salty with a strong flavor of iron. The engine compartment was very clean and the engine hasn't been run in a while, so I'm pretty sure this saltwater came through the keel/hull joint. The stainless bolts go through a pretty solid keel strut to the cast iron keel, and are threaded in with about 12 threads. I asked to pull a bolt, but the broker and owner said that if I did so, any damage, such as a sheared bolt, would be at my expense. I've attached photos. The keel bolts aren't epoxied over, by the way.

Since I can't take out a bolt (unless I want to own her by default) is the only other gauge of this issue to haul her and see if she's weeping rust out of the hull/keel joint? I believe the fix is to either drill through the bolt holes and nut new, long threads at the bottom or drill additional holes in the strut and tap new bolts in - does anyone have any idea what this would cost for a 31' with about eight keel bolts and a mass of cast iron about 3' in height? Is she even worth the survey/haul or would you run? She's 31' long and priced around $12,000, a Neptun31.

Also - because there have been no zincs, i feared electrolysis. However, the rudder stock inside the hull where it exits the fiberglass tube looks okay, and the drive shaft only shows a little bit of rust at the accordion clamp where it enters the hull. I was not permitted to dive her, so couldn't inspect underwater, but would electrolysis show on the non-immersed in water parts of the metal?

Thanks for your help!
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Old 16-02-2015, 19:14   #2
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Re: Stainless bolts, mild backing plates, iron keel

You were not permitted to dive on her? You're a brave man, sir, to be willing to dive in Boston Hbr this winter.

If it was the boat owner who did not permit it, I'd surely wonder why. What were they concerned you'd find that they hadn't disclosed?

FWIW, I watched someone with an iron keel trying to fix it up after salt water got to it, he was using a small portable jackhammer that he had to hold about shoulder heighth, through a large port he had cut in the side of the keel. Although he worked hard for the hour or so I could see, he made no noticeable progress. He would have got the job done eventually, but at the cost of days of grueling labor (he'd already spent 4 days on it, he said), and at the cost of two or more weeks on the hardstand. Based on that experience, I'd walk away from the boat you're looking at. YMMV
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Old 16-02-2015, 21:29   #3
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Re: Stainless bolts, mild backing plates, iron keel

While I've been involved in a few polar bear swims, including one in a wedding dress in St. Andrews, Boston Harbor would be too cold for me this winter too, Anne! I've actually been in Florida the past couple of days looking at boats. While the broker had implied I could dive on her, when I arrived, he was worried that the marina (owned by the city) would not approve of it because of liability reasons, which I thought was fair enough as he's been very straightforward and honest.

It sounds like this bolt issue may kill this purchase. I had read of people tapping new holes and securing new keel bolts over the space of a weekend, but being laid up for two weeks repairing this is very unappealing! I most certainly don't have these skills myself yet, so I also fear it would be expensive as well as time-consuming. I will call a couple of tradesmen perhaps to get an estimate as well, and will report back! Thanks for your advice,
Dan
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Old 16-02-2015, 23:08   #4
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Re: Stainless bolts, mild backing plates, iron keel

It sounds like the keel needs to be dropped, cleaned up, bedded and reinstalled with new bolts and backing plates, SS ones this time. If you really want the boat, write it into the contract for the owner to do it. Doesn't sound like this boat is seaworthy without doing that.

$12,000 for a 31' foot boat in decent condition is not that attractive a price in todays market. With all this boats red flags, wouldn't want to buy at that price till all the issues are taken care of. If the owner can't get the engine started and won't agree to taking care of the keel issues, I wouldn't waste any money on a survey that it seems sure to fail. Of course that gives you ammunition to bargain with but also could be a total loss if the seller won't cooperate.
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Old 16-02-2015, 23:51   #5
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Re: Stainless bolts, mild backing plates, iron keel

Sounds like "Free" might be an appropriate price for the boat you've described, but that might be overstating its value. It's true that the things you've described aren't that hard to fix, but boats are cheap these days. Is the rest of the boat pristine?
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Old 17-02-2015, 05:46   #6
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Re: Stainless bolts, mild backing plates, iron keel

Thanks everyone for the advice. The rest of the boat is pretty pristine, and the engine is pretty new/clean and the access gorgeous (cockpit floor lifts up). The boat is stick-built, no liner, and very well put together, which is what makes her tempting. I'll keep looking around, but surprisingly I'm not finding many boats in this size/price range in Florida that don't have serious warts; whereas they are abundant in Massachusetts.


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Old 17-02-2015, 08:52   #7
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Re: Stainless bolts, mild backing plates, iron keel

Ann, as usual, has it right.
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Old 17-02-2015, 11:07   #8
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Re: Stainless bolts, mild backing plates, iron keel

Quote:
Originally Posted by brownoarsman View Post
I'll keep looking around, but surprisingly I'm not finding many boats in this size/price range in Florida that don't have serious warts; whereas they are abundant in Massachusetts.
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There were several for sale on the hard in Green Cove Springs Marina when I was there last summer. A couple looked to be well priced and in decent condition. Call the marina and ask them if they know anything about them.
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Old 17-02-2015, 12:05   #9
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Re: Stainless bolts, mild backing plates, iron keel

There's a Neptune 31 for sale in the Boat Trader & located in Daytona Beach. If that's not the boat you're looking at you might want to check it out.
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Old 17-02-2015, 12:13   #10
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Re: Stainless bolts, mild backing plates, iron keel

Thanks Scout, that's her. Only two in the US apparently, so it would be odds-off if another showed up for sale!


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Old 17-02-2015, 12:48   #11
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Re: Stainless bolts, mild backing plates, iron keel

Interesting boat. She looks pretty good in the pics. Nice motor. Kind of a strange cockpit enclosure but might come in handy. Replacing keel bolts is a big job but once it's done you don't have to worry about it again. Although counter intuitive I've read that stainless steel keel bolts can perish due to oxygen starvation & that galvanized steel can actually last longer. Personally I'd look into silicon bronze bolts.
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Old 17-02-2015, 13:00   #12
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Re: Stainless bolts, mild backing plates, iron keel

You've probably seen these listings from my previous posts but you might want to check them out.


https://tampa.craigslist.org/hil/boa/4877393734.html


https://tampa.craigslist.org/pnl/boa/4833577770.html
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Old 17-02-2015, 13:17   #13
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Re: Stainless bolts, mild backing plates, iron keel

I'd tell the owner to haul the boat on him, or split it! If he has nothing to hide, he should not object. Standing rigging is not cheap, in perspective to price of boat. Also what do you mean by wobbly keel strut and shaft. A new 1" by 42" Aquamet shaft is about $580.00 Does the engine run, and how well? By the previous Craigs list listing that boat isn't a bargain by any stretch!!!!!!
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Old 17-02-2015, 13:51   #14
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Re: Stainless bolts, mild backing plates, iron keel

No seller is going to pay to haul a boat every time someone is interested in it. It's the buyer's responsibility to pay to have the boat hauled for survey which happens after a price is agreed on and the buyer gives the seller a deposit.
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Old 17-02-2015, 14:23   #15
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Re: Stainless bolts, mild backing plates, iron keel

I read that silicon bronze is great with lead but will eat away at the cast iron, I'll put the link up when I find it. I did see those listings, and have sort of been considering the Morgan 30. Apparently the boats in this size range get snapped up by snowbirds earlier in the year according to the brokers, who take them to the Bahamas. Good info for any who come later.

The strut/prop wobbles side to side but not up and down. I figured corroded bolts but don't know if the strut itself is okay. Good to know that they are expensive!

Edit: Don Casey's link:http://www.sailnet.com/forums/gear-m...-concerns.html "Bronze cannot be used in a cast-iron keel (unless the bolts are electrically insulated from the iron) but it is a superior choice for attaching a lead keel."
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