Heritage West Indies 36
|A Charley Morgan Design|
I decided to go ahead and replace the stem fitting. Only 4 of the 7 (actually 9 which I will explain) through bolts were holding the fitting in place and upon inspection the metal fitting was entirely eaten through. Only a previous repair held it in place. Given that the two upper countersunk bolts had pulled about a quarter inch into the hull, I decided it was worth the effort and feel better having done so.
The existing repair made it more difficult than would otherwise be. I used a metal cutoff wheel on an angle grinder which we attached to a boat hook with two hose clamps (working in the anchor locker is not great fun!). After cutting thru the repair work (1/8” stainless plate bent over the existing metal ), the original fitting came right loose (Figure 1). In this photo, the right side is forward and the corroded end laid in the V of the bow. Rust had eaten thru the weld that held it on to the hull plate which chipped out in pieces.
Why was this in such poor shape? Well, on the underside of the cast aluminum bow pulpit that serves as bow roller, and chain plate for the headstay, there are two bolt holes that go right into the nose of the boat (Figures 2 and 3). The bolt holes lead nowhere! The bolts that were there long ago fell out and since the hull deck joint is not sealed there, saltwater would just pour right in whenever it had the opportunity. And when it did, it ran right down onto the iron stem fitting .
I hung a sheet of thin plastic in the inside hull and laid a saturated piece of heavy cloth in there to get the radius for the new piece. This set up nicely and then i made the vertical and top plates from thin plywood. The fabricator was able to mimic the radius perfectly and tacked everything up (CAD schematic is available).
With everything removed, it was noticeable that there was some significant deterioration of the existing bolt holes. I decided to fill the existing holes and redrill two on each side and drill two new ones on each side (there were three, now there would be four). I also decided to use straps on the outside for overkill. By dry fitting the tacked up fitting and marking the holes I was going to reuse, I could split the difference for the new holes and have the shop punch the holes, not me.
Everything went back together perfectly to my great surprise. I drilled pilot holes to locate the centers, drilled the holes and used copious amounts of thickened epoxy to set everything together. You have to have help to do this with a 25lb fitting and hanging stretched out in an anchor locker. I paid a helper rather than ruin a friendship. The only issue came about when we overtightened the bolts slightly and developed a putty crack on the stem. This is a strange deal as there was a layer of putty underneath some woven roving on the exterior of the stem across the lowest center bolt hole (Figure 5 shown after grinding away). I don’t know if this was a previous repair or what. Why would there be putty underneath the cloth like this? Who knows? Anyway, I filled with glass and epoxy layup and got my boat guy to spray after final sand and fill. The final fitting is shown in Figure 6.This was not a horrible job. The worst part was just hanging half way in the anchor locker and grinding with your head in the locker. Now I can crank down on the backstay without wondering if I’m gonna end up pulling out that fitting. I don’t know why they put the holes in the underside of that bow pulpit but it was not a good combination with the open hull to deck joint (that whole area got a heavy dose of thick epoxy by the way and a 5200 fill for good measure) and the iron stem fitting
|New Stem Fitting Plate in place|