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Thread: MFV wooden bilge keel repair

  1. #1
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    Default MFV wooden bilge keel repair

    Hi

    I currently have my 56' ex pilot cutter out of the water for some work. She was built in 1957 by Scottish builders Miller's of Monance, and is larch planking on heavy sawn oak frames with similar construction to most MFVs, except originally she had alternate bronze nails and rivets on each plank.

    I have noticed that one of the bilge Keels has come loose at the front and will need refastening.
    The shipwright who has helped me with her before has emigrated to New Zealand, so correspondence can be a bit intermittent! However, he has advised either drilling right through and pulling up with threaded bar or coach screw with some bedding compound inbetween.

    I am a builder by day, and very practically minded. However, this will be the first time I have done any repairs to her under the waterline without guidance - so needless to say I am a bit apprehensive..*

    This is my intended plan of action:-

    *Drill suitable pilot hole through middle of B/keel, plank and frame as far as necessary
    *using a tube of oil-based mastic, gun in as much as I can get in small gap between keel and hull
    *use a galvanised coach screw and nice chunky washer (possibly square washer), and tighten until gap is reduced
    *re-caulk seam with oakum
    *paint over caulk gap with Teamac Metachlor or lead paint
    *fill with red lead putty

    Anyone's input on this method would be greatly appreciated
    Thanks

  2. #2
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    Default Re: MFV wooden bilge keel repair

    Welcome to the forum.

    Is the bilge keel planted on over the plank, or is it an extra thick run of plank? How wide is it, how many fastenings have let go?

    The cure will differ for each alternative. However in either case it should be pulled all of the way back to where it used to be, not a reduced gap, but all of the way home.

    Putting galvanised steel in amongst non ferrous fastenings is a bad idea. You can buy bronze rod and nuts to make up your own bolts with a die stock or a friendly local machine shop.
    It really is quite difficult to build an ugly wooden boat.

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  3. #3
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    Default Re: MFV wooden bilge keel repair

    Many thanks for your reply. The keel is about 4x3 and yes, planted on top of the plank at the turn of the bilge. I think a few of the fastenings might have gone as it has a decreasing gap from the front to about 1/3 of the way aft. My intention was to pull up tight, but my shipwright mentioned caulking, so I wondered if there should be some sort of crevice left for this? When she last came out 4 years ago she had all of the top sides refastened with galvanised dumps. And obviously all of the metalwork is steel anyway. Would electrolysis be a big concern with this in mind? It will have new anodes all round and possibly some extras.

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    Default Re: MFV wooden bilge keel repair

    Quote Originally Posted by Topknotrob View Post
    I am a builder by day, and very practically minded. However, this will be the first time I have done any repairs to her under the waterline without guidance - so needless to say I am a bit apprehensive..*

    ... *use a galvanised coach screw and nice chunky washer (possibly square washer), and tighten until gap is reduced

    Anyone's input on this method would be greatly appreciated
    Thanks
    Just a tiny reminder as you say you haven't done any repairs under the waterline on your own yet: don't forget to wind some oakum around the bolthead before driving it in.

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    Default Re: MFV wooden bilge keel repair

    Is oakum better than cotton for this? When I watched my shipwright he used cotton around all of the nails, but this was above the waterline though

  6. #6
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    Default Re: MFV wooden bilge keel repair

    Quote Originally Posted by Topknotrob View Post
    Is oakum better than cotton for this? When I watched my shipwright he used cotton around all of the nails, but this was above the waterline though
    You say that the topsides are now galvo but she was originally all bronze fastened, what is in the bottom where you will be working? Don't mix metals when fastening a boat especially in the bottom
    Cotton or oakum around the bolt heads is immaterial, it is just a matter of availability.
    As the bilge keel is planted on, there should be no need to caulk, it should fit without.
    As it is letting go over a third of its length you might be better pulling it right off, cleaning up, priming the faying surfaces with thick paint and refitting. In which case boat boat nails one size larger than the original fastenings may do.
    It really is quite difficult to build an ugly wooden boat.

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    Default Re: MFV wooden bilge keel repair

    A number of great designers, L Francis Herreshoff among them, approve galvi above the waterline and bronze below. Just do not mix them below the waterline.

    What are the keels made of? Are they backed on the inside?

    Some pix are in order.

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    Default Re: MFV wooden bilge keel repair

    Ian, she is a heavy sawn frame boat, the bilge keels are what I would call a sand clog, put on to protect the planking from stone and shell if she dries out on her bilge. They do not need any backing stringers as a bilge keel subject to hydrodynamic forces would. I suspect that the bilge "keels" were spiked on, as the repair progresses I expect we shall learn more.
    It really is quite difficult to build an ugly wooden boat.

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    Default Re: MFV wooden bilge keel repair

    Thank you Nick. A good precaution for boats that dry out on shingle and such.

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    Default Re: MFV wooden bilge keel repair

    I am inclined to agree with Nick. Maybe better to pull it off completely and clean up all the mating surfaces, plug all the holes and then refit with new fastenings, and bedding.

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    Default Re: MFV wooden bilge keel repair

    I came in late but early on Sat. morning to your query. Good advise has been given but I will add that I would prefer an oil based sealant as oppesed to one of the modern synthetics as it will be easier to reef out or remove if the bilge keels will need service later on done the line. I prefer cotton soaked in linseed oil around fastening heads as it will pack in tighter and is not as porous as oakum.
    Jay

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    Default Re: MFV wooden bilge keel repair

    Quote Originally Posted by Topknotrob View Post
    Hi

    56' ex pilot cutter
    Definitely need pictures!

    Rubbing strake then?

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    Default Re: MFV wooden bilge keel repair

    Quote Originally Posted by lupussonic View Post
    Definitely need pictures!

    Rubbing strake then?
    Not really, those are normally in the topsides. It is the thick strake just above the bilge poppets in this picture.


    Normally a thick plank rather than planted on but hey, different strokes for different folks.
    It really is quite difficult to build an ugly wooden boat.

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  14. #14
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    Default Re: MFV wooden bilge keel repair

    Kate has them.

    Bilge rubbing strake?

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    Default Re: MFV wooden bilge keel repair

    Just wanted to say many thanks to everyone for their contributions thus far - I never expected this thread to expand so much! Its nice to chat with like minded folk who are as passionate about wooden boats as I am, so I'm extremely grateful and very humbled.

    A quick update. I have scratched back some antifoul today to see more of what is going on, and it looks like there are several fastening repairs that have been done over the years with various bronze screws and galvanised nails driven in by past owners. There was also a large amount of sikaflex�� inbetween and along the joints..

    The Keels are 5x3 in oak, and I suspect nailed on with bronze dumps originally so it could be removed/repaired easier?

    Unfortunately I am not sure whether I can get a bolt fixing as the water tanks sit right over where the bolts are likely to come out.. I thoroughly cleaned out between the plank and keel with a hacksaw blade, then propped the keel to see if it would actually go back to the planking nice and snug - all seemed ok.

    My main concern is whether I can drill through and get a decent fixing without hitting other nails, rivits or drift bolts.

    All thoughts welcomed & considered. I have tried to upload some pics but am not having much luck atm.. I shall perciver, so watch this space

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    Default Re: MFV wooden bilge keel repair


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    Default Re: MFV wooden bilge keel repair

    Quote Originally Posted by Ian McColgin View Post
    A number of great designers, L Francis Herreshoff among them, approve galvi above the waterline and bronze below. Just do not mix them below the waterline.
    Excuse me please, I know it's not my thread, but I'm struggling with a similar problem. May I ask which of the two materials will destroy the other first? My boat was made with galvi nails above and below water (1960). I will start re-doing all the fixings soon and was planning to use bronze.
    Thanks, Dody

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    Default Re: MFV wooden bilge keel repair

    Sounds like you're tempted to work just on where the problem appears rather than take the thing right off. I'd be so tempted also but you could well be storing up trouble. Unless you're facing a major time problem and will have time in the fall to do this right, I think you should get that thing off now.

    I'd go at it sanding to wood on that plank first so you can see where each fastening is. They should be bunged but you can still find them. I'd have a depth marked hole saw just a nudge more diameter than the bungs. Cut out around each fastening to the depth of that outer plank. Now you can peel the plank off without more damage and you've got an end of the fastenings proud where you can extract them. Bung all the holes in the plank and hull, inspecting for rot as you go. Fasten in new places.

    G'luck

  19. #19
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    Default Re: MFV wooden bilge keel repair



    Nice craft.



    It really is quite difficult to build an ugly wooden boat.

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    Default Re: MFV wooden bilge keel repair

    Quote Originally Posted by Topknotrob View Post
    Unfortunately I am not sure whether I can get a bolt fixing as the water tanks sit right over where the bolts are likely to come out... My main concern is whether I can drill through and get a decent fixing without hitting other nails, rivits or drift bolts.

    All thoughts welcomed & considered. I have tried to upload some pics but am not having much luck atm.. I shall perciver, so watch this space
    What kind of clearance have you got above the watertanks? Would it be possible to lift them up with chainblocks, wedges, jacks or whatever high enough so you can reach the bolts to tie them up? Safely, I mean!

    With drilling, you don't want to hit the frames of course. Theoratically you should be able to see where the planks are fixed to the frames from the outside, so this is the area to avoid.

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    Default Re: MFV wooden bilge keel repair

    Hey Dody. Would a bolt through the keel, plank and frame not be a stronger fixing?

  22. #22
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    Default Re: MFV wooden bilge keel repair

    Quote Originally Posted by Topknotrob View Post
    Just wanted to say many thanks to everyone for their contributions thus far - I never expected this thread to expand so much! Its nice to chat with like minded folk who are as passionate about wooden boats as I am, so I'm extremely grateful and very humbled.

    A quick update. I have scratched back some antifoul today to see more of what is going on, and it looks like there are several fastening repairs that have been done over the years with various bronze screws and galvanised nails driven in by past owners. There was also a large amount of sikaflex😣 inbetween and along the joints..

    The Keels are 5x3 in oak, and I suspect nailed on with bronze dumps originally so it could be removed/repaired easier?

    Unfortunately I am not sure whether I can get a bolt fixing as the water tanks sit right over where the bolts are likely to come out.. I thoroughly cleaned out between the plank and keel with a hacksaw blade, then propped the keel to see if it would actually go back to the planking nice and snug - all seemed ok.

    My main concern is whether I can drill through and get a decent fixing without hitting other nails, rivits or drift bolts.

    All thoughts welcomed & considered. I have tried to upload some pics but am not having much luck atm.. I shall perciver, so watch this space
    Confirm how it is currently fastened. If it can be driven off with careful application of force perhaps using folding wedges, which will confirm that it is fixed with dumps you can then refix it using dumps of a larger diameter, about 1/8" max larger should do it into the same holes (which should go through into the frame futtocks). Alternatively use coach screws of root diameter the same size as the hole left by the dump, you will have to counterbore for the plank and head though.
    As Ian advises, be on the look out for rot, which may be why the fastenings let go in the first place. Then again it might just be that the galvo repair nails have rusted out and failed. Try to avoid making more holes, as each one weakens the plank. If you do have to plug and drill again, aim for the sister futtock to the one originally used. Scraping the plank clean will tell you where the plank fastenings are so you can plan any new holes.
    It really is quite difficult to build an ugly wooden boat.

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    Default Re: MFV wooden bilge keel repair

    Quote Originally Posted by Topknotrob View Post
    Hey Dody. Would a bolt through the keel, plank and frame not be a stronger fixing?
    stronger for sure, how is it done now?

  24. #24
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    Default Re: MFV wooden bilge keel repair

    Quote Originally Posted by Dody View Post
    What kind of clearance have you got above the watertanks? Would it be possible to lift them up with chainblocks, wedges, jacks or whatever high enough so you can reach the bolts to tie them up? Safely, I mean!

    With drilling, you don't want to hit the frames of course. Theoratically you should be able to see where the planks are fixed to the frames from the outside, so this is the area to avoid.
    If you cannot get access without shifting those tanks, you must nail or screw into the frames.
    It really is quite difficult to build an ugly wooden boat.

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    Default Re: MFV wooden bilge keel repair

    I can't quite tell because of the water tanks, but I will try to inspect further tomorrow.

    I have tried to find a local shipwright, but they are getting far and few nowdays. Would be interested to know of a travelling shipwright?

  26. #26
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    Default Re: MFV wooden bilge keel repair

    ^ send Simon http://forum.woodenboat.com/showthre...a-few-odd-jobs a PM, he might know of someone.
    It really is quite difficult to build an ugly wooden boat.

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    Default Re: MFV wooden bilge keel repair

    Thanks Peerie maa

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    Default Re: MFV wooden bilge keel repair

    Lovely boat. Haven't most of those been smashed up as part of a fishing industry restructure? Great to see one being saved.

  29. #29
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    Default Re: MFV wooden bilge keel repair

    Cheers Phil.

    She was actually the Tyne pilot boat with a service life of nearly 30 years. Between '89/90 she underwent a major refit which included new wheelhouse and coachwork, masts, bulwarks & stantions, steering gear etc. I managed to get in contact with one of the pilots who served his apprenticeship on her and he told me that she operated without fault in at least one near-hurricane sea state. Certainly keeps me and my brother busy with the varnish brush, that's for sure!

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    Default Re: MFV wooden bilge keel repair


  31. #31
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    Default Re: MFV wooden bilge keel repair

    Very nice conversion.
    I might be inclined to re-fix that bilge keel with trenails (trennels, tree-nails, take your pick) rather than metal fasteners
    http://www.boat-building.org/learn-s...ood/treenails/
    As already stated, full removal would be advised to ensure it is fully bedded (red lead or black pudding) when re-fitted.
    I would avoid any ferrous threaded bar/coach screws in this application.
    p.s f***book has a bunch of like minded characters in the converted fishing boats page that you might want to take a look at (you'll find more technical knowledge on here though).

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