Keel repair continues – news from the machine shop

I decided to make a template for the machine shop to use when brazing the keel pivot pin bushing .  My dimensions are 5″ 3/8″  front to back, 4 7/8 wide at the front and 5″ wide at the back.

keel bracket template

keel bracket template

I’m not sure how useful this information is to anybody, or even if this template is needed – but it seemed like something worth doing to help the machine shop get this bushing in the right place.  The two pencil lines are the actual size of the slot in the hull where the keel swings up.  Notice that the brass brackets are significantly over into the swing space.  That’s as expected and the directions are to grind them down to the correct size to minimize the play in the keel from side to side.

In the above view, the template is actually upside down.  Here is it from the top:

keel bracket , right side up

keel bracket , right side up

The bolts will come up through the brackets like this, and will screw into the weldments as shown in the next picture.

weldment/bracket configuration.

weldment/bracket configuration.

You can imaging that the upside down “L” shaped weldments are embedded in the fiberglass at the bottom of the boat.  You’ll have to imaging it because I haven’t done it yet.

So, on to the machine shop news.

I dropped by a machine shop after work this week, and talked to a friendly guy about my keel.

It seems I had 3 jobs for them.

  1. Mill the brass brackets down to size
  2. braze or weld the bushing into the keel and build up the area around the pivot hole
  3. Sand blast the keel

He needed to talk it over with his boss and go online here to check out my pictures so as to get a good feel for the job without me hauling my 550 lb keel over there.  He did, and the prices were a bit more than I want to spend.

  1. $300 to mill the brackets
  2. $800-$1200 to weld the bushing into the keel
  3. Didn’t get to discussing the price for sandblasting, but in our initial conversation he did mention they didn’t usually do stuff this big.


In our conversation he was very helpful and realized this was out of my price range.  He suggested that maybe using JB Weld was the way to go to get the bushing in, and that with a grinder I should be able to downsize the brackets as needed.

So, bottom line, as that old saying goes:  If it is to be, it’s up to me.

I’m going to start grinding the keel this weekend to fit the bushing and get the crud off the sides.  Stay tuned.





18 thoughts on “Keel repair continues – news from the machine shop

  1. What I meant by rotating the chain plates is circled in the following image.

    Yes, the toggles that connect the turnbuckles to the chain plates allow the turnbuckles to angle towards the mast but the tension of the shrouds will place a lot of lateral torque on them in that orientation, especially when under sail and there are hundreds of pounds of tension on the leeward shrouds.

    Instead, with the chain plate heads aligned toward the mast, the pins through the heads act as hinges and allow the toggles to align straight with the turnbuckles and the shrouds, keeping everything in alignment until the connection to the chain plates. This also eliminates excess wear on the pins and deformation of the toggles.

    Aligning them this way will look counter-intuitive when you step and unstep the mast because the turnbuckles won’t swivel down as the shrouds come down but that’s okay. The tension on them comes off in proportion to the angle of the mast and is way less than when under sail. If stepped properly, it won’t damage them during stepping/unstepping.

    You are missing a toggle on the upper shroud in that picture and the turnbuckle bolt looks bent already. Same with the forward lower shroud on the starboard side.

    • I understood your original post. I sailed the boat last night with a working jib and standard size main sail in 11MPH wind and everything held up, but I do plan on turning these chain plates as you described this weekend. I also have some tuning to do as these turnbuckles have loosened themselves already. The set nuts on the tube style turnbuckles don’t seem to hold. I looked up the open housing turnbuckles but the price for them have since doubled.

      • Kewl, just wanted to be sure. Yeah, new turnbuckles are pricey. If your T bolts are drilled at the threaded ends of your open bodied turnbuckles, have you looked into using split rings through the holes to capture them onto the turnbuckle bodies? There are also some special clips that will do the same thing only easier. I’ve also had good luck adding lock washers under the lock nuts.

    • Thanks for the encouragement. Wow! You had quite an ordeal. Looks like the weldment and keel bolt damage was really bad. After looking at your pictures I guess I’ll quit whining. Congrats on getting her in the water. It’s shocking how that pin hole wore all the way through the keel.

      I don’t quite understand the way you put the steel bars inside the boat. I’ve got a hump so the the pin brackets can go up in it. So it isn’t flat there. I’m probably just not understanding exactly how you fixed it.

      I should be making more progress, but I don’t think I’m going to be able to put much time in over the spring/summer.

      • Capnrehab – The hump you have that I see in one of your posted photos is just a build up of fiberglass from the factory. My boat essentially didn’t have that, but rather a mountain of epoxy that was placed when someone tried to repair my boat. So imagine on your boat that hump doesn’t exist between the bolts and on either side of the bolts as well. I laid a plate along the keel trunk and ran stainless bolts down through this plate into the existing holes. The plate essentially levels out the load of the keel along the floor of the hull. I did this because the entire area was all epoxy and I didn’t trust it and didn’t want to take the time to cut it all out and start over as the existing epoxy did have a great hold on the keel trunk.
        $tingy Sailor – I will make the chain plate head adjustment you suggested as I understand what you mean. Only one of the T bolts doesn’t have a pivot pin at chain plate head where all the others do. I placed that T bolt on the upper stay which had little to no bend required.

        If either of you ever make it to Orlando and can go for a sail, send me a message. 🙂 Sailing Club is Lake Monroe Sailing Association: (we are also on Facebook).

      • I have added one more picture to the gallery which I hope helps explain what I did and how that Stainless steel plate works.

        ” I don’t quite understand the way you put the steel bars inside the boat. I’ve got a hump so the the pin brackets can go up in it. So it isn’t flat there. I’m probably just not understanding exactly how you fixed it.”

      • I think I understand now. I’ll have to go out to the boat and take a look. I’m surprised, because it looks like the hump in the fiberglass is what would accept the hump in the brass pin brackets. I like the idea of the steel plate spreading the load from the keel bolts. Thanks for adding the pic, and thanks for pointing me to the album.

    • SwimFly, turn your chain plate heads so they point toward the mast and you won’t bend your T bolts and toggles stepping the mast and tuning the rig. You should replace all bent ones before they break and you lose the rig.

      Love the stripes, tho 😉 Congratulations on getting ‘er wet again. That was a lot of ugly damage to fix.

      • Good idea on the turning of the chain plate heads. The only T Bolt that doesn’t flex are for the upper stays which are nearly strait up from the deck. The lower stays have more of an angle to the mast, but those T-Bolts have a pivot ring at the chain plate head which allows the T-bolt to turn/lean towards the mast. None of the T-bolts are bent. I know to replace them when they are or become bent. Pretty pricey, but safer bet.

  2. Wow! I hope you ran and did not walk in the opposite direction. Does that guy work for the DOD? You could probably purchase a new keel for that much (less shipping). I would expect all the work done for around $300. Cost me $77 + tax for sandblasting. Everyone else in your area must be cheaper, so maybe keep shopping.

    • Thanks for the price comparison. Glad to hear you got the sandblasting done already! I think I’ll just grind it down like in the video and put rust sealer on it. Are you shaping it now? Did you decide for or against using bondo?

      • I suggest you see how clean you can get it by grinding first before committing to that route. Grinding alone was too slow and ineffective at getting down to metal on mine.

        After about 6 hours of vigorous hammering with a 20 oz. framing hammer followed by three passes with an angle grinder, I still had a LOT of oxidized metal left. I’d probably still be grinding away if I didn’t take it to sandblasting.

        Plus, I had LOTS of pits and one large cavity that grinding couldn’t touch. I didn’t feel confident that a rust treatment would halt the decay and I don’t want so see so much as a hint of rust out of this thing again.

        To make matters worse, the rust starts reforming almost immediately from the almost pure iron composition. So you’ll see shiny metal today, rusty metal tonight.

        I coated mine in two layers of epoxy last week but I forgot to buy hardener for the fiberglass reinforced filler I wanted to start fairing with last weekend. I’ll probably start that this week. The guy at the auto paint supply store talked me into it due to its waterproofness and better adhesion than polyester. It costs more but again, I only want to do this once and do the best job I can.

        Hope that helps!

      • The process I used on my keel was the longer route. Though the decay could be considered different from boat to boat. I used a framing hammer on mine for about 30 minutes and got nearly everything. The main thing I did differently than what I have read here is I used OSPHO which turns rust into iron phosphate I picked up a half gallon from Ace Hardware for $14. It is like water, so I applied it with a brush and let it sit over night and then did a second application. Then let it sit for days before doing anything more with it and no rust was found. The Iron Phosphate turned the keel black (which looked pretty cool). After that I used Fiberglass and West Systems Epoxy to wrap it and fair it. I didn’t know what to use even after searching the web for other posts, but If I ever do this again (next boat), I’d want to do a better fairing job for sure.

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