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Leak at Keel Bolt into Bilge - RL24 Swing Keel MkIII
I have a slow leak with water collecting into the bilge of my RL24, just infront of the keel trunk. I searched and searched for leaks, without luck. I finally decided while it was on the trailer, to start filling the inside with water to see where it comes out. The only place water comes out is at the port side keel bolt. I saw the little bit of water trickling out when I crawled underneath and looked up inside the keel trunk. After I cleaned up all the water I began looking for a solution by removing the previous sealant. I have removed most of the sealant I can, but I don't know what to do next. The water is not coming into the cabin, just down into what must be a small bilge area below the cabin floor and bottom of the boat. I just don't understand how the keel bolt is suppose to seal, and where the access to the bilge from the keel bolt is. Please help. Do I need to remove the keel?
Nick Bender 24-Jul-2012    Edit    Delete 
Re: Leak at Keel Bolt into Bilge - RL24 Swing Keel MkIII
I do not understand your photograph, it seems to show a brass bush protuding from the keel case. Is this so? If it is, someone has wrongly added it after manufacture and created the problem.

Brass, stainless steel, and cast iron together creates a big problem with electrolysis, and it is likely that your keel and bolt have seized up thus breaking the seal between the bolt and the case.

If you can give me a better idea of what goes on around the keel bolt I would be better placed to assist you.
Rob Legg 24-Jul-2012    Edit    Delete 
Re: Leak at Keel Bolt into Bilge - RL24 Swing Keel MkIII
Hi Rob
Can you advise the recommended way to seal the keel bolt?

I pulled the keel out of my RL soon after I brought it to repair alot of rust that was on the keel. When I put the keel back in, I just completely covered the bolt head and nut will alot of sealant.

After a while this started to leak slowly (generally more when the keel was down and sailing). I felt this is because the keel bolt is rotating and slightly breaking the seal.

I have taken the sealant off. But when I put the new sealant off, I made a seal around the washer and only loosely tightened the bolt. I then tightened up the bolt the next day. This appears to have worked, however I have only sailed twice so far...

Andrew 25-Jul-2012    Edit    Delete 
Re: Leak at Keel Bolt into Bilge - RL24 Swing Keel MkIII

I have been having a wee look see at your photograph (using a magnifying glass) and it would appear that at some stage a very naughty person has fitted a carbon steel keel bolt to your boat and this is a major No No!. If your boat has or was moored in sea water at some stage then this bolt could have become the sacrificial anode to your DC electrolysis corrosion circuit.

If you can confirm this, I then strongly suggest you have the bolt and keel removed. The bolt should then be replaced with a bolt and nut (and any washers) made from grade 316 stainless steel.

Be very careful as all stainless steels are not the same when used in sea water. Some of the other grades have a different position in the electrolysis noble metal tables and they also suffer from other problems when immersed in sea water. When buying the bolt check the nut and bolt have the letters 316 marked in the bolt head. 316 is more expensive than some of the other grades and this has caused a few major problems in the shipping industry over the years when the cheaper and wrong grade is used.

I also suggest that you use the more expensive sealant SIKAFLEX as this is a top product and has good flexibility and more important adhesive properties to all surfaces. Google the word 'Sikaflex'.

I hope this helps
Alastair Russell 25-Jul-2012    Edit    Delete 
Re: Leak at Keel Bolt into Bilge - RL24 Swing Keel MkIII
If water is not entering the cabin but going directly into the bilge, there could be a split in the fibreglass near the bolt providing a path for water to the bilge.

Some yacht owners have stopped trying to seal the keel bolt.

Instead they have secured plastic plumbing fittings over the bolt ends using sikaflex to secure the fitting then adding a plumbing sealing cap to stop the water.

That allows a larger area of the keelcase to be used clear of the bolt head to get the seal and a seperate cap to cover the area. Checking and maintenace involves unscrewing the cap to get at the bolt head or nut.

Sealing the bolt head and nut is an option inside the cap, if it leaks the cap stops it getting into the cabin.

Greg 26-Jul-2012    Edit    Delete 
Re: Leak at Keel Bolt into Bilge - RL24 Swing Keel MkIII
You have the right idea, and in the majority of cases that I am aware of the leaks are caused by the keel bolt binding on the keel, and causing the bolt to turn and break the seal. Boats that are usedon a regular basis are not often affected, and I am aware of boats mored out over 20 years that don't have trouble if the keel is raised and lowered regularly.

See the drawing for the origonal construction that will give good service if the bolt is kept free.

Note: Mixed metals and close tolerances just do not work in a marine environment and the keel bolt should be treated as a free pivot and not a tight fitted bearing.
Rob Legg 26-Jul-2012    Edit    Delete 
Re: Leak at Keel Bolt into Bilge - RL24 Swing Keel MkIII
Thanks for all the advice guys.

The short section of pipe sticking out from the keel box is PVC which had a brass cap on its end. Iím not sure about whether the bolt is carbon steel or not.

I plan to remove the current access port by cutting a larger access hole around it. I will then inspect the trunk around the bolt to see what sort of shape it is in. That will determine what I do next. If the fiberglass seems poor, I will remove the keel and make the necessary repairs. If it looks serviceable, I plan to block the keel in place and remove and replace the bolt, nut, washers, and sealant per Rob Leggís drawing. For the sealant, should I use 100% silicone? Then I will cover up the new access hole with a larger diameter piece of PVC pipe and cap. I think I could seal the new pipe to the outer trunk with 5200. If I have to remove the keel, Iíve not figured out a way to safely do it at my house with the boat on the trailer. Iím not excited about the prospect of going to a marina and paying them to help me remove it, but maybe that will be my best option.

Thanks again guys.

Nick Bender 26-Jul-2012    Edit    Delete 
Re: Leak at Keel Bolt into Bilge - RL24 Swing Keel MkIII
Hi Nick,
Itís not that big a deal to take the boat off the trailer onto some tyres (I usually use rolls of carpet underlay as it is a bit softer and leaves no skid marks, my mate is a carpet layer) and with the mast up, use it as leverage to tilt the boat over and remove the keel. As long as you have enough room at home for this to happen. If not, I sneak into the reserve at the end of our court and do it there. I have had the keel in and out of my boat three times in the last 7 years. I usually do it with 3 blokes no probs, once the keel is out you just winch the boat back on the trailer and take it back home for the work to be done. You may need a couple of extra bods as your MKIII will be a bit heavier than my MKII and your keel will be heavier as well. I am happy for you to email me your contacts and I can talk you through it over the phone and tell you what to watch out for.
I can also sent photos of my keel bolt set up as I have devised a S/S (that I have had machine) fitting that works well.
Hope this helps Darryn (dgs@aapt.net.au)

Darryn 27-Jul-2012    Edit    Delete 
Re: Leak at Keel Bolt into Bilge - RL24 Swing Keel MkIII

I am not really sure about your mark 3 keel as they tell me it has a different installation and that the keel is heavier than the earlier versions of RL 24s.

I swapped my mark 1 keel for the heavier and bigger mark 2 keel way back in I think 1980.

After taking the lid of the centre board box off I used some old toe strap webbing as a double sling as it was easy to slip it down and then up the other side of the centre board box . I built a temporary structure to span the sliding cabin hatch and then I used my super dooper low friction 10 to 1 main sheet to take the weight of the keel. We then removed the keel bolt and the keel was then manhandled out through the cabin door. The new wider Mark 2 keel was fitted back into the boat in the reverse way which was through the cabin door.

Another way to remove a mark 1 and 2 keel would be to drop your boat off the trailer on to soft ground with the mast up. Then using the spinnaker halyard pull the boat down using your normal towing vehicle (with tow bar). When the mast is parallel to the ground lash the mast to the vehicle and then climb in the boat and remove the keel bolt. Two or three strong blokes can then slip the keel out of the centre board slot from the outside.

Nick, where is your home port?

I hope this helps

alastair 27-Jul-2012    Edit    Delete 
Re: Leak at Keel Bolt into Bilge - RL24 Swing Keel MkIII
I would like to offer a word of caution on using Sikaflex sealant where silacone sealant has beenpreviously applied. I had lots of trouble sealing the keel plates on my RL28 using sikaflex and only got it sealed when I reverted to the original silacone sealant.
Ted Ashton 29-Jul-2012    Edit    Delete 
Re: Leak at Keel Bolt into Bilge - RL24 Swing Keel MkIII
Thanks for all your help.

Since my last post, I removed all the excess materials around my keel pivot bolt. I jacked up my keel while the boat was on its trailer, and removed the bolt. Luckily the fiberglass keel trunk is still in pretty good shape. I found the existing connection had no washers or sealant. The hole in the keel seems to be in good shape, and the bolt looks flawless. I decided to replace the bolt with two new washers and attempted to seal everything up with some marine silicone I had. Everything is dry now except the weather here in Myrtle Beach, SC. Hopefully I will have a chance to test my fix, or rather return to Rob Leggís original design, later this week and I will report back my findings. Thanks again Mr. Legg. The picture you posted was a great help, and removed my misconceptions.

Nick Bender 30-Jul-2012    Edit    Delete 
Re: Leak at Keel Bolt into Bilge - RL24 Swing Keel MkIII
Re sealants. I stopped using silicone sealants years ago. I found that in too many cases the silicone separated from one surface. I had to drain the front buoyancy tank after water entered between the towing bolt and the hull. I also had to reinforce the u bolts that anchor the shrouds after the silicone sealant let water through the dexk and caused the timber under it to rot. I use a polyurethane sealant, Bostik seal'n flex, for most jobs or Matrix if I want an adhesive/sealant. Both products remain flexible but don't let go like silicone. Seal'n flex is also a good barrier between stainless steel fittings and the mast or boom.
Mike 8-Sep-2012    Edit    Delete 
Re: Leak at Keel Bolt into Bilge - RL24 Swing Keel MkIII
I have no leaks but am curious as to how much lateral movement is acceptable in an RL 24 swing keel..mk3
Andrew Szery 9-Dec-2013    Edit    Delete 
Re: Leak at Keel Bolt into Bilge - RL24 Swing Keel MkIII
Hello to any active RL24 owners out there. Recently obtained a 1982 US built RL24.
Does anyone know of a good source for boom rigging parts and sails in the USA?
Jeff Kennedy 3-Jul-2017    Edit    Delete 

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