Catalina 22 Keel repair – keel winch cable eye bolt – good enough?

After all the mess with getting the crud off the keel, I awoke one morning last week worrying that I had not bought the correct keel for this boat.  Supposedly, these keels were cast in the sand on a beach in Mexico, and pictures I’ve seen show a “Mexico” stamp on the upper end of the keel.

Mine doesn’t have the stamp.  I finally got around to it tonight to measure my keel against the boat, and it looks like a fit.  On the keel, from the pin hole to the eye bolt is about 52 1/2 inches.  I crawled under the boat and it’s about the same measurement there too.  Whew!

Another concern is that my eye bolt may be too coroded to rely on.  I don’t think so, but just to be sure I asked StingySailor to send me a picture of his.  He’s redoing his keel and pretty soon we’ll see an amazing writeup of the way to do it.  Until then, you’re stuck with me bumbling along and hoping I get it right.

Anyway, here is his eye bolt.

stingy sailor keel eye bolt

stingy sailor keel eye bolt

Here is another view

stingy sailor keel eye bolt after epoxy

stingy sailor keel eye bolt after epoxy

Now, here are some pictures of mine:

CapnRehab's keel eyebolt

CapnRehab’s keel eyebolt

Keel winch cable attachment point

Keel winch cable attachment point

Keel winch cable attachment point

Keel winch cable attachment point

There is no doubt that mine is not as built up as his.  However, I think it’s pretty solid.  I can grab it and yank it around and there is no give.  Unless I hear a major uproar, I’m going to go with it.  What are your thoughts?

Also, I still have the nagging issue of how to put the keel pin into the keel.  I got a bushing from catalina direct, but it doesn’t fit.  I’m going to have to drill out space for it, then braze in the bushing and the missing cast iron that has been worn away.  Here is a picture I posted previously.  Wish me luck.

pivot pin bushing

pivot pin bushing


9 thoughts on “Catalina 22 Keel repair – keel winch cable eye bolt – good enough?

  1. By the PVC pipe, I meant that they cast the epoxy around the pipe instead of the pin and then removed the pipe, leaving a hole big enough for the pin. I’m not crazy about the idea either and would only try it as a temporary fix. I think you’d be happier in the long run if you reamed the hole out to weld the bushing in.

    I made my own shims, of course. It’s the stingy way! I bonded them on after the last epoxy sealing coats and before the primer and paint coats. I also placed mine in the upper corner of the keel. I think the instructions tell you to put them lower because most owners install them with their keel on the boat and that’s as high as you can reach. Notice that they show one corner already started up into the keel trunk so that no matter how sloppy the keel pin is, the shims will slide up into the trunk and not just bind on the edge. Just be sure they won’t interfere with the keel lock bolt at any point in the keel’s rotation. On my ’81, the bolt is centered 15″ from the pivot pin center. I drew an arc on the keel and located my shims outside that arc.

    Mind if I link to your last bolt photo above? Besides the now five-part series on refinishing, I spun off another article about lifting system maintenance blunders, one of them is assuming the bolt is invincible when it’s the last link in the chain of parts that keeps your keel attached to the boat. I’m not saying that YOU blundered. You bought the keel in that shape and you’re going about making it right, which is commendable!

    I’ll start publishing the refinishing series this month. All I have left to do is reattach the keel, replace the cable and hose, and check the swing fit on land, if possible. It’s gonna be epic!

    • Sure! Link or copy to the photo, whatever you like. Consider this an open ended invitation (to you only).

      Thanks for the clarification on the PVC. I’ve read up on welding cast iron and apparently it’s tough because you have to heat the whole thing slowly. I have ZERO welding experience, and ZERO success finding a welder willing to work with cast iron. I guess I just keep looking. Not many machine shops around here.

      Thanks for the info about the shims, I’ll need it even though it’s still in the future for me.

      I’m considering buying a sand blaster. Seems like they’d always be handy to have around?

      I’m looking forward to the series. See, I dragged feet long enough and got you to go first!

      • Thanks for the link permission!

        I’ve done some welding but not with cast iron. Maybe look for an old-schooler who’s worked on heavy equipment before. It often has cast iron parts that need repaired.

        I considered buying a sand blaster too. I could also use it on my spare trailer. But they need a huge compressor to work well and those are more expensive than I can justify. I know it’s not something I want to do for hire on the side. And it also makes a huge mess. As much as I wouldn’t mind living on a beach, palm trees don’t do well up here.

        Good luck with all your projects.

  2. Curtis from Alaska here. Why not just replace your keel eye bolt? Is it the cost, or is it difficult to remove? I am planning on dropping my keel this spring so I can finish the fiberglass work I started from the outside. I hope to fix the slow leak. While I had the keel down I was thinking to replace the eye bolt. I was also going to check out the pivot pin and its associated hardware.

    • Hey curtis,
      It’s not the eye bolt that’s the concern. It’s the material around it. I think the eye bolt is fine.

      When you drop the keel, replace the bolts that hold the brass hinge in. You’re supposed to inspect and replace every year. Replacing 4 bolts is WAY better than replacing a keel. Trust me.

      Hope you get that leak fixed. It’s very troubling to me.

  3. Your eye bolt might work fine for you for years to come. It’s held on this long, right? If the cable only pulled inline with the bolt, I wouldn’t be as concerned, but it pulls at a decent angle at the beginning of raising. Every mm of distance the cable end is away from the solid casting edge multiplies the torque on the metal at that point like a claw hammer. If you do take the keel to a welder for the pin hole repair, it would only take them a few minutes more to build up around the bolt and then you could sleep better at night. Or worry about other things : )

    About the pin hole, I was skimming over old posts about keel refurbs this past weekend and came across one where somebody described using a piece of PVC pipe as part of a mold in their keel hole and filling it with epoxy and graphite to repair their hole. Not sure how long it would last or handle the stresses, but it might be an option to consider if you can find the post. I was probably searching at the time.

    Good luck. I’m almost ready to paint, but I’m considering adding shims to the trunk end first.

    • That’s a good suggestion. If I can find welding help for the pivot pin I’ll definitely include some build up on the eye bolt.

      I’m not sure I want to use PVC on the keel.

      I got the shim kit, I was wondering when to include it in the job. I’m really looking forward to your final post so I can figure out how to do this before I actually get there.

      Can’t wait to see it!

  4. You taught me a new word: braze
    Brazing is a metal-joining process whereby a filler metal is heated above melting point and distributed between two or more close-fitting parts by capillary action. The filler metal is brought slightly above its melting (liquid’s) temperature while protected by a suitable atmosphere, usually a flux.

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