Shipyard Memories #17: Keel Bolts


To answer some of the questions asked about the keel bolts after my last entry, here are some photos from Friendship that show the process a little better.

This is the lead keel for Friendship (900lbs) freshly poured and cooled. You can see the copper pipes, 1/2" in this case, sticking out. You can also see the effect of the molten lead on the pieces of plywood that were used to keep the pipes in position.

This is the lead with the concrete mold broken off of it.

In this photo the lead has been laid on it's side and the wood keel has been clamped on and drilled through the pipes. Then it was bolted together and righted. Then, with the two bolted firmly together, the wood keel was planed and sanded to perfectly match the lead.

The next step is to fix the wood keel to the hull permanently and drill through keelson using the holes in the wood keel as a guide. Now you have holes on the inside of the boat very close to their planned positions and the necessary strengthening pieces can be installed directly onto them.

Prior to mounting the boat onto the lead keel, the keel is counterbored to recess the nuts on the bottom ends of the bronze keel bolts. Even on this small keel you can see how little room there is for error in placing these holes.


Now a thick layer of epoxy is troweled onto the top of the keel….


and the boat is lowered into position. One person on the inside of the boat drops the bolts in, the bottom nuts are installed and then the top ones are tightened. 

The excess epoxy is cleaned up and it's time to relax.


Sorry I wasn't clear the first time. This should clear up the foggy spots.

Thanks for the questions. They definitely make for a better experience for everyone.


The early bird gets the worm but its the second mouse that gets the cheese.