Keel Bolts



From: John Mosforth []
Sent: Tuesday, February 05, 2002 1:56 PM
Subject: Islander 36 keel bolts.

Gary, does anyone know what the factory spec is for torquing up the keel bolts? Our boat is a 1974 (sail #208) that we have done much work on, including replacing the original keel bolts, but I cannot eliminate the crack at the hull/keel joint and I have to fair it every season. I feel the keel bolts may not be tight enough. The keel is cast iron with carbon steel bolts, nuts and washers. I originally tightened the bolts to 90 ft. lbs. but I get widely varied recommendations from various "knowledgeable" people. (as high as 350

If the designers or the factory spec is available, that is the torque figure I need. Thanks





The C&C group publishes the following for C&C yachts. It may or may not apply to the Islander 36 but is better than guessing.

For 3/4 inch bolts with 1&1/8 inch nuts: 250 foot pounds

For 1 inch bolts with 1&1/2 inch nuts: 350 foot pounds

Hope this provides some reference.

Cheers, Ron May

I have questions on replacement of rusted keel bolts. A recent article in Practical Sailor recommends that the entire keel be replaced when the keel bolts are rusted and integrally cast into the lead ballast. An expensive proposition to say the least! I have a '71 model I36 which appears to have galvanized keel bolt by their eroded condition. Does anyone know whether the keel bolts in early model I36's are integrally cast into the lead ballast or are they threaded at the bottom so that they can be removed?

Richard Balcom, Ala Wai Boat Harbor, Honolulu,

Sounds like an unpleasant job to me. I think the keel bolts are bent into a "J" shape and cast into the lead keel. Since I have no other info to offer you perhaps some of our members can help you. Good luck.

Happy Holidays, Gary Salvo


I've got a '72-73 Islander and have dealt with the "rusted" keel bolt problem as follows.

A surveyor picked up the issue some years ago and we agreed to do the work over two haul outs. The yard removed approximately half of the old nuts by using a nut cutter, (or saw in a few cases.) Then they re-cut the threads and installed new washers and nuts, painting the whole job with an epoxy barrier coating. This was not cheap (I seem to recall about $1,500 each time.), but it solved the problem.

I agree with Gary, that the keel bolts are not threaded, and to drop/recast the keel seems like too drastic a solution if the keel bolts themselves can be reworked. During our Fall Meeting, our guest speaker Jock McLean of the KKMI yard here in S.F. talked briefly about how hard it is to replace even one keel bolt itself - and that in many cases the keel is hard to get off even after the nuts are removed from the bolts! (Jock did the work on my boat when he was at a different yard.)

I was very happy with my solution, so I hope something similar can be done at your yard. I would suggest that this is not a "do it yourself" project.

Clear Sailing, Rick Van Mell, "Vanishing Animal"


Thanks for the info on the I36's Keel Bolts. According to Thomas Wall you were right about them not being threaded at the bottom. I managed to remove the badly eroded nuts with a pneumatic impact wrench. The portion of the keel bolts above the nuts were also badly corroded but the treads were still intact where the nuts had been threaded. After cleaning up the treads with a 1x8 thread chaser I installed new galvanized nuts and washers which I embedded with 5200. The old nuts and keel bolts were magnetic therefore I didn't use stainless nuts because of concern over interaction between dissimilar metals. At the same time I also cleaned the rust off of the steel backbone plate that runs the length of the bilge with a pneumatic chisel and rotary wire brush, which is exposed in my '71 I36. I coated the backbone with liquid galvanizing and then covered the backbone with epoxy reinforced with glass cloth. I also covered the keel bolts with epoxy to protect them from futher rusting. Hopefully this will keep my I36 sailing for many more years and stop the bilge pump from spitting rust every time it goes on.

Thanks for the info you e-mailed me and smooth sailing in 1999!
Richard Balcom,

Here's a keel bolt exchange between Don Huseman and Rick Van Mell in December 2000:

Thanks for the clarification. I've changed the old Keelco listing to just your name and number. I would assume you will know something about options for people wanting to do "something" with their keels!


On 12/05/00 15:59:46 Don wrote:

No Keelco does not exist any more. I was the President of Keelco . Unfortunately California EPA will not let me cast any more lead. I now repair keel bolts in lead keels. I take the bad and put in the good. I just made that up. I do travel to the boat and replace the bad keel bolts . I can change a few to all the keel bolts. In the 70ies they used galvanized keel bolts and they are starting to fail now. I would like to get list of they size and makes of keel bolts that are failing and then put out non factory recalls to the owner. A classic example of keel bolts failing off is the Clipper 26. When I was at boat shows the Clipper 26 owners would come over and recount their stories of how the keels were falling of and their boats would not sail worth a dam. These were funny examples but the fact is it is normally death defying to loose a keel. You might have access to the ABS and see if they are keeping records of the keels that are falling of. May be their is a marine surveyor group that is keeping track.

----- Original Message -----
Sent: Tuesday, December 05, 2000 3:26 PM
Subject: Re: Replacing keel bolts
I have just finished adding your Keel Bolt information to the Vendors page on our web site. But, while I was doing so, I noted under "Keels" the listing for Keelco-I40, 327 East B Street, Wilmington, CA - with your name as the contact!

Does Keelco still exist? Are you also still part of it? Help us out so we can pass along the right information to our members.
Rick Van Mell

On 11/30/00 19:51:49 you wrote:
I have a small business called Keel Bolt REPLACEMENT AND REPAIR. I had a company called Keelco and made many of the Islander keels. I have a method were I take the keel of the boat and take out the old keel bolts and replace them with new 304 stainless steel j shaped althread material. I weld them back into position with a special lead alloy that make the new keel bolt 2 to three times stronger than the new old keel bolt. I can travel to anywhere and repair the keel at the boat yard. I charge about $150 per keel bolt to replace it plus traveling expenses. Give me a call at 310 547 4604 at night or Email me at

Don Huseman

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