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Old 25-11-2020, 00:50   #1
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Rust on keel bolts- should I be worried?

Hi everyone,

First post on cruisersforum. I've recently bought a 1998 Etap 39S with a lead keel. The boats have a double skinned hull with closed cell foam in between, virtually making them unsinkable. So far I've never seen any water in the bilge.

Before I purchased the boat I had a shop look over several things, including the keel bolts. They had some rust on them around the washer which bothered me, but when showing it to them they said it was nothing to worry about the way it looked now. See attached photos. Several article reads later I am wondering if I should be worried and if so what I should do?

Thanks for any advice
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Old 25-11-2020, 01:35   #2
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Re: Rust on keel bolts- should I be worried?

There are two problems if you use a wire brush to remove the rust it will leave tiny bits of metal which will increase the rust. The other probem is I had a steel boat and rust converters don't work. The only way to fix it and stop it coming back is to sand blast it and paint it with Zinc rich epoxy. There are small sand blasters for yachts. https://www.google.com/search?client...ster+for+yacht
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Old 25-11-2020, 01:48   #3
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Re: Rust on keel bolts- should I be worried?

Welcome to the Forum, Kavu!

And congratulations on your new baby.

What's she called? (Pics please)

Oh and a-hem. Keelbolts.

Those look pretty damn good to me. My only question is, if there's a concern, why don't you just unscrew and have a look at the entire length of them? (With the right prep, of course). Do you think they are seized/never have been examined so you figure - if it ain't broke, don't mess with them....? Or you prefer not to check until your next haul and your next haul is a while away...?

Many happy days sailing to you and
Fair, fair winds,
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Old 25-11-2020, 01:50   #4
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Re: Rust on keel bolts- should I be worried?

Oh, and just a boring administrative point: if you update your profile with your location, it will help us in future in providing responses.

Remember, this is an international forum....
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Old 25-11-2020, 01:56   #5
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Re: Rust on keel bolts- should I be worried?

You know who is a good resource on this Forum for his *professional* opinion?

Boatpoker. (Semi-retired Marine Surveyor of many years' experience.)

Why don't you send him a private message ("PM") with a link to this thread and ask him to weigh in?

Warmly,
LW
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Old 25-11-2020, 06:17   #6
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Re: Rust on keel bolts- should I be worried?

Greetings and welcome aboard the CF, kavu.

I’d certainly endorse any opinion the Boatpoker might care to offer, but those bolt heads don’t look bad, to me, as LittleWing77 also noted.

I vaguely recall reading the Etap was seeking “certification” (?Lloyds?) that they were unsinkable.
Did anything ever come of that?
Is there such a certification?
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Old 25-11-2020, 06:37   #7
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Re: Rust on keel bolts- should I be worried?

To me it looks like the backing plate is rusting and not the bolts. That would be an easy fix, just replace it.
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Old 25-11-2020, 07:18   #8
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Re: Rust on keel bolts- should I be worried?

You might want to look at the bolts underneath the nuts and plates.
What type of stainless ?
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Old 25-11-2020, 07:53   #9
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Re: Rust on keel bolts- should I be worried?

Well, you can actually get to the keel bolts. That's a big improvement over many boats!

That does look more like a rusty plate than rusty bolts. If it were my boat, then at the next haul-out, I'd remove the nuts for inspection (just one group at a time - not dropping the whole keel). Then lift the backing plate and see what's going on underneath.

If it's just surface corrosion on the plate, and the threads are fine, I'd probably either clean them up and reinstall them (if feeling cheap) or have a metal shop cut some new plates from a better alloy, probably 316 SS, as what's there looks like it's either a cheap austenitic grade like 304 or a ferritic grade. But if there's rust on the threaded rods, and when you clean them up you can see degradation of the threads, then you're looking at a more significant structural issue that could become safety-critical. That's the point where you might want to consult an engineer or an NDT specialist.
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Old 25-11-2020, 08:25   #10
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Re: Rust on keel bolts- should I be worried?

Keel bolts don't fail from rust on the exposed parts, it's corrosion where they're buried down in the fiberglass structure. The only way to know is to pull the bolts and/or drop to keel to examine them. That's easy to do on some boats, not on others. No idea how that works on this model. So basically good looking bolt tops and nuts don't mean much. If they look bad on top, that definitely warrants concern.
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Old 25-11-2020, 08:55   #11
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Re: Rust on keel bolts- should I be worried?

In my mind there is no reason to be concerned. Considering the age of the yacht these bolts and plates are in better shape than normal.
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Old 25-11-2020, 09:17   #12
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Re: Rust on keel bolts- should I be worried?

I agree with the others who say the bols and nuts look fine.
You can clean them up with dishwashing pads, like scotchbrite. They have pumice in them. and will act like fine sand paper, sort of. Then you can paint with rustoleum or zinc rich paint, if that pleases you.


If you want to test the bolts, you can loosen them, one at a time, then check with the builder, or someone who knows about these things, and torque the nuts to the correct tightness.

If there is a bad bolt, the nut will pull it up, instead of tightening it. (pay very close attention as you torque. all you need, to know it's pulling up, is maybe one full turn of the nut, beyond where it started.) I've done this on Catalina 27s, on the notorious front keel bolt. As long as the bolt stays in the hole, it doesn't leak enough to be scary, even if it pulls up a bit.
Of course, if you have a couple of keel bolts that do pull up, it's time to thing about a haul out pretty soon.
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Old 25-11-2020, 13:31   #13
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Re: Rust on keel bolts- should I be worried?

They look fine to me, if it were my boat, I would cafully clean with mineral spirits and then paint white with an oil based paint, from the top of the bolt to the fiberglass. White shows everything any issues moving forward and there will be no guessing what it looked like ?, if it’s getting worse ?, are the bolts loosening?
Sorry I can be obsessive about things.
Sometimes rust is from moisture in the bilge the paint protects the knots and bolts.
Cheers, and welcome.
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Old 25-11-2020, 15:57   #14
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Re: Rust on keel bolts- should I be worried?

Looks like the backing plates are where the rust is coming from ,personally not in favour of playing with keel bolts with the vsl afloat ,when the vsl is next slipped and the weight of the vsl is on the keel is the safest time to bo these jobs, my guess is the backing plates are not of high grade ss ,if at all magnetic replace all ,DONOT paint ss as this may promote corrosion., good luck ⚓️⛵️
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Old 25-11-2020, 16:04   #15
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Re: Rust on keel bolts- should I be worried?

Quote:
if at all magnetic replace all
This is not a useful metric for determining quality of s/s plate. 304 plate will pass t he magnet test easily while 2205 duplex, far stronger and more corrosion resistant is highly magnetic.

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