Chip Ford's 1974 Catalina 22 Restoration Project
Sail #3282  l  Marblehead, Massachusetts

The never-ending project to fill my hole in the ocean while bailing it out

The Keel "Thunk" Repair Project (2007-08)

Click thumbnails for a larger picture


Today I had Chip Ahoy hauled-out at Marblehead Trading Company in Little Harbor to have the boatyard check the keel for the cause of the "thunk, thunking" sound coming from the keel for most of the season, if not longer.  Then I planned to trailer it home for the winter.  The keel's movement port and starboard had been driving me to distraction, and seemed to be worsening.  Once in the straps of the yard's giant crane, the problem was obvious -- I could move the keel by hand 4 to 6 inches port to starboard and back with little effort.  (Oct. 2, 2007)

With a fork-lift truck beneath, the crew had the keel off in 10-15 minutes -- the way to do it!

Then the four of them just picked it up off the forks and carried it off to the side, out of the way.  There, Tommy the yard manager and I inspected it.  Chip Ahoy's fully-restored-in-2004 keel was a mess:  The pivot hole in the keel was shot, expanded and elongated.  The brass keel pin, installed new along with the bronze keel hangers and keel spacers only late last July, appear to be still in good condition.

The restored-in-2004 keel is looking tired already.  What's most incredible is that Chip Ahoy is only in the water for some four months a year, five at the very most and not often -- a total of maybe 12-13 cumulative months since the $2,000 keel restoration project the boatyard did over the winter of 2003-04.

Rust and corrosion have already taken a toll, after only four seasons.

Tommy the yard manager plans to have the hole bored out to a slightly larger diameter then press in a stainless steel sleeve, followed by inserting a smaller delron bushing.  He wants to replace the brass keel pin with a stainless steel one.  He's still thinking about the best solution to either prevent this from happening so frequently, or make frequent repairs easier and less expensive -- with "sacrificial" parts.

Note the gouges where I once or twice tightened down the keel locking bolt from inside the cabin locker -- then forgot to loosen it when I lowered the keel the next time.  I otherwise never use the locking bolt, only tightened it in an attempt to stop the thunking:  I've never tightened it since and never will again!  (It didn't do much but damage anyway, as is apparent in the photo.)

Chip Ahoy without keel is lowered onto its "new" trailer.  (Oct. 2, 2007)

Chip Ahoy parked out of the way in the boatyard until the keel is repaired and replaced, the mast dropped, before I can trailer it home for the winter.  (Oct. 3, 2007)

I was called by Tommy, the boatyard manager, yesterday to come down and take a look at what he's done to Chip Ahoy's keel so far.  (The weather has turned Arctic cold, single digits, so he's working inside for now and got a jump on the keel.)  The new bushing is installed and looks good.  (Jan. 4, 2008)

Along with replacing the bushing and pin, he's refinishing the keel itself.

The new stainless steel keel bushing pressed into an enlarged hole. (See closeup)

See:  Before and After

The cleaned up "new in 2006" keel hangers with new stainless steel bushings pressed in and a custom new bronze keel pin.  The new pin is now so tight in the hanger bushings that it sucks air with a pop when pulled out.  We're having two more pins made up for future replacement -- it's the sacrificial part in the new unit.  (Jan. 4, 2008)

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Related Projects: 

Keel restoration (2004)

Keel cable, hose & turning ball replacement

Keel winch restoration

Keel hangers, pin replacement; spacers added

It's never-ending ... but Sailing Season '08 is ahead and coming!

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