One of the jobs that our Boat Care team specialise in at Deacons Marina, is keel removal and refit, with the aim of replacing the keel studs or fitting a new keel to the hull.
The following article details the stages for refits undertaken this summer to an Elan 333, a Feeling 1040 and a Westerly Tempest. The Feeling 1040 and Elan 333 required keel stud replacement – this is common and it is advisable to have the keel studs inspected periodically. The Westerly meanwhile, further to a tour of the UK, required keel modification to add some 300 Kg of lead (not done at Deacons) in order to make her faster, stiffer and overall more comfortable both at anchor and whilst sailing - we were tasked to drop and replace the keel.
For the keel refit to the Feeling 1040 and Elan 333, we started by un-stepping the mast, before lifting her out of the water with our 20T hoist. She was then held in the slings with her keel firmly held in a keel stand. From here, the boat care team jumped aboard and loosened off her keel studs – spanners, a socket set and a torque converter are required. Once loosened, the keel was ‘let-go’ to the keel stand – and the hull lifted off the keel carefully.
Once the keel is dropped, the task begins to replace the keel studs and to clean up the “mating surfaces” – these are the flat parts of the keel and hull where they meet. We started by stripping back the “mating” surfaces first, using a grinder to remove the old sealant. We then moved on to the studs themselves, first drawing them out of the keel, ready to measure up for new ones. We manufacture new studs out of machined A4 stainless bar, cutting it down to the perfect size to match the old stud; you do have to be careful to check that the old stud you are measuring from, actually fitted well in the first place. We then thread the new keel studs in to position in the keel.
To refit the keel to the hull now all the surfaces are cleaned up as new, threads are checked for burs and cleaned with a die as needed.
We then coat the cleaned up mating surface of the keel with Sabatack – this is a MS polymer-based moisture curing sealant and adhesive. About 8 tubes are used.
Once Sabatack preparation is complete, we now offer up the keel to the hull again, slowly and very carefully lowering the hull to meet the keel in line with the studs.
The final inch is a very careful process – resulting in a satisfying squelch and ooze of the Sabatack.
The keel studs are carefully torqued up with a torque converter – simultaneously scraping away the excess ooze of the Sabatack, to leave a tidy join, ready for antifoul or copper coat application and a yacht ready to safely cruise once more.
We often undertake coppercoat application to yachts whose keel we have refit. Stand by for our next blog!