Curtis in Alaska broke a keel screw and contacted me to find out if I’d fixed mine yet. I hadn’t yet so he had to learn about it on his own. He’s done some research, started it and sent me pictures. I’m glad he is slightly ahead of me in this. With his encouragement I decided to get started.
The swing keel folds up into a well in the center of the cabin. The weldments are on either side, down near the sole (cabin floor). They are called weldments because a flat piece of metal is welded onto the top of a threaded socket. The red arrow on the left is trying to indicate the inside of the compartment, not the oscillating saw!
I got out my oscillating saw and went to town. Curtis used a drill to clear out fiberglass material, but I didn’t find it that usefull. I just used the saw entirely.
Here is the view from the bottom looking up into the well. Aft is towards the bottom of the picture..
I bought a special 1/4″ drill that is 12″ long. With it I drilled up from the bottom through a weldment without a bolt so that I could see the location from inside the cabin. I didn’t have to go the full 12″. Note this finding technique will only work on the port aft weldment. As you will see later, on the starboard side the drill will just stay behind the keel well wall. You won’t see it until you cut through the wall.
The rear port weldment is located at the aft end of the forward dining table seating compartment. The picture below is taken inside the compartment looking towards the center of the boat. (to the right in the picture). Here I’ve made a few exploratory cuts to get to it. Water started flowing out of the space under the dining table well as soon as I cut through the wall. I’m not too concerned since the boat was half full of water when I first got it.
Below, you can see the first hint of the metal showing through the fiberglass.
To do this cutting, I did have on a breathing mask. Fiberglass dust was flying everywhere. I would definitely NOT do this without some sort of breathing protection! I also recommend wearing a disposable suit or at least long sleeve shirt. I didn’t and it’s been a bit itchy yesterday and today.
After some more cutting I got to this. You can see the weldment is completely clear of fiberglass. You can also see that I cut too much and went right through the hull! The weldments are so close to the edge of the fiberglass that it’s near impossible not to do so. Out of the 4 weldments I cut out, only on the second one did I manage to not to cut through the hull. I’ve placed the new weldment in the picture to give a comparison of how much is still imbedded in the fiberglass.
Once it was clear of fiberglass, I took a 1/4 inch bolt, put a couple of nuts on the end and hammered upwards on it from below till it popped out. In the picture below you can see I’ve knocked it upwards a bit already. A few more smacks with the hammer and out it came. On some of the others I didn’t clear out so much fiberglass first, so they wouldn’t come out all the way until I went back and cut out the fiberglass that was still in the way.
Once the first weldment was out, I started on the second one. I measured the holes on the hull and transferred the measurements to the top. After more fiberglass cutting the second weldment appeared. This is the only one I didn’t cut through the hull on.
With this experience under my belt, I tackled the weldments on the visible side of the keel in the cabin. Following Curtis from Alaska’s example, I taped the smooth finished fiberglass so it wouldn’t shred. Then I again drilled through a weldment to get a location. This time it was the forward starboard weldment. In this picture I’ve opened up a hole to access both weldments, and have the aft one almost cleared.
The cylindrical thing sticking up on the right side of the cut is the drill bit through the forward starboard weldment. I started first on the aft weldment. The exterior cut is a bit high so I could get the oscillating saw in at the correct angle to cut down through the fiberglass to the weldments. Not sure how I’m going to patch this up and have it look OK, but that’s another project!
Here is the view of from starboard inside the cabin after the weldments are out and it’s cleaned up.
Here is a close up
Notice the dark lines above the left weldment? There are some smaller ones on the right one too. Those are holes where I cut through to the keel housing well. Notice also that the tape didn’t seem to help all that much. The edges are really jagged.
So there it is. If you’ve had a keel bolt shear off on a Catalina 22 (and probably goes for a Catalina 25 too) you just have to cut them out of there and put new ones in. Let me know if this post helps. I sure would have liked to have found a post from someone else that had done it. If you’re doing one of these, let me know how things turn out for you!
Now I have to read up on epoxy and fiberglass so I can patch this back up!