It finally happened. The day we’ve all been waiting for. I found a welder to fix the keel.
Before I show what happened though, I’d like to review a bit and explore why this took so long. This boat has now been at my house (either in the driveway or the garage) for 2 years. I initially bought a replacement keel but didn’t want to do any work until I got clear title to the boat. Then I didn’t want to do any work on the boat until I was sure I could fix the weldments that hold the keel on. (they are partially fixed, but I’m sure I can finish) Then I didn’t want to do any work on the boat till I was sure I could get the keel fixed. I “assumed” that I would have to have it done at a machine shop, and wasted some time finding one and getting them to quote the work. Finally, after some prompting by $tingy$ailor, I went back to my old standby, Craigslist. There I found 3 welders and emailed them all.
One never replied. I got into a discussion with the other two about the job. I sent them both pictures and asked about welding cast iron. One said welding cast iron couldn’t be done and he wanted to build a brace around it:
“No. As I stated that will not work. Here’s why: 1) cast iron is extremely hard to weld properly because of the nature of the metal itself, 2) old cast iron cannot be welded, especially in the condition of your keel, 3) drilling cast iron is really really hard to do because the metal is so hard itself, 4) how can anyone weld the bushing in without blocking the pin, 5) rusted metal of any type cannot be welded, etc., etc.”
When I told this to the other, he said
“Lol cast iron can be welded for sure. Let me come by and look at what u have and c what can be done “
Here are welders that say they have 30 years experience telling me the exact opposite information! How is anyone supposed to know what to do?
I had heard of people welding cast iron before so I went with the second guy. He came by two weeks ago and we scheduled for him to come over and do the work yesterday.
First he ground out out the old rust, there was a lot of deeper decay in there too. He said it was like a dentist starting to fill a cavity and then finding out the decay went deeper than first appearance. He ground out a bunch until there was room for the new stainless steel bushing.
Grinding old rust
Then he started welding in some fill above where the bushing would go.
I watched most of this remote on the GoPro. I didn’t want to accidentally blind myself by looking at the spark. He was kind enough to let me interrupt him for pictures. Here is part way through the fill.
Filling the space
I have lots of pictures of flames coming out of the keel.
Keel on fire
He got a little carried away, and had to go back and grind out some of the fill to fit the bushing in the hole.
Then he tack welded the bushing in place.
tack welded bushing in place
Seeing the bushing burned and melted was a bit worrisome too. I wondered if the pin would still be able to fit.. A little more welding, and then grinding smooth.
Welded in and ground smooth
And my concern was realized! The pin wouldn’t fit. No big deal though, bring out the grinding drill bit and worry-no-more!
Before we started, I was a bit concerned about getting the bushing aligned correctly, but even though the hole was worn away, overall the bushing pretty much only fit one way. It looks pretty straight to me.
The job cost $240. I think that’s a bargain. The welder’s name is David Pinkney. He’s a certified welder and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
So there you have it. Keel fixed. Or is it? What about the keel winch eyebolt? Stay tuned for what happened there.
So far costs are:
$250 – keel
$ 9 – bushing
$ 43 – video
$131 – keel hangar casting kit with pin
$240 – repair
With the refinishing supplies estimate provided by $tingy$ailor, total costs should run around $1400. Wow, this free boat is getting expensive!