Lifting Bolts for Pearson Ensign (Revision 1)
Published: Friday, 26 February 2016 23:55
By Bill Murphey, #176
Two slings or a travel-lift are the standard methods for moving an Ensign. The boatyard uses their crane to step the mast, and you just write another check for services.
However, for the traveling racer, do-it-yourselfer, or people who hate writing checks to boatyards, there is an alternative. I put in some lifting eyebolts, and they are great. You will need one other ingredient, an old Lightning mast or similar, to create a gin pole to set your Ensign mast.
All metal is stainless steel
Ward Woodruff told me about a method of installing lifting eyes in the keel. He has had them for years. Ward used ¾” 316 stainless treaded rods and 1” polyester web slings. Ward’s materials are available through the McMaster-Carr catalog.
I used ½” by 12” threaded eyebolts from a local hardware store. Having done some research the ½” rods are rated at 8000 lbs. each. Your boat weighs 3150 lbs at most.
2) ½” by 12” Threaded Eyebolts
2) ½” Nuts
10) ½” by 2” Fender Washers
1) gallon fiberglass (FG) Resin
2) can colloidal FG filler
3) 30x36 sheets light FG mat
10) ft 3/8 shotpeened chain (5000 lb. rating)
1) 15/16” shackle
2) locking caribiners
12) ft 3/8” braided line
1) Interlux Solvent Wash 202 or acetone
Latex gloves, rollers, pan liners, mixing bowls (cool whip), measuring cups (yogurt containers 8oz.), plastic drop cloth for cockpit floor, etc.
First some welding.
Have a local welder add 2” to the shaft of one of the eyebolts. The welder must ensure that the shaft remains straight and the weld is no thicker than the threads. The bolt will have to fit down a ½” hole for its entire length so it must be straight and not more than ½” diameter. Also, have him weld the gap in the eye back to the shaft to form a complete ring.
Holes in the boat
Now go to your Ensign and prepare to drill two holes through the keel. First, scrub the bilge from 4” under the cabin back to the bilge partition and 12” up the sides. Dry this area and then grind the surface clean to provide a good bonding surface. Grind any remains of the original eye stub (used to lay the keel) down flush. Vacuum the dust and wipe down with Interlux Solvent Wash 202.
To locate the lifting points, measure 8” forward and 8” aft of the original keel eye. Measure the centerline in the bilge. You will need a 14” long, ½” diameter metal bit and a big, two handed, power drill. I borrowed one from an electrician. Drill the two measured spots as vertically as you can. The goal is to come out in the center of the bottom of the keel. You will notice that the drill is fine until the twist of the bit goes into the hole. After this, you will need to use a posthole digger method (drill ¼”, pull out, remove metal from bit, repeat). Go all the way through.
From the bottom, find your holes and use them to guide a 2” diameter hole saw bit up through the fiberglass. You will cut into the cavity between the fiberglass and the lead. Put the bolts in from the top. The longer bolt goes in the forward hole. Test fit the washers to ensure they go all the way up to the lead of the keel. Ensure that the ends of the bolts are about ½” inside the finished surface of the fiberglass opening.
In the bilge, ensure that the eyes of the bolts are lined up fore and aft. Lightly tap the bolts down snug. This is to keep the eyes aligned fore and aft and to keep the bolts from pushing up during the next step. If your bolts are loose you should hold them steady in some way.
Now for the messy part…
Down below, mix a batch of resin and filler to the thickness of mayonnaise (ooze but not drip). Put some mix on the first washer. Push it up on the bolt to the bottom of the lead. Repeat four times (5 washers total). Screw nut up as tight as it will go by hand. You do not want to get a socket glued up in there. Cover with remaining mix. The resin between the washers will harden and remove any slack between the nut and the keel. Repeat for second bolt.
Cut two 12” squares of plastic and put duct tape around the edges. Save them for later.
Mix a batch of resin and filler to the thickness of soft clay. Press this mess up into one of the boltholes until it is flush with the bottom of the keel. Try to avoid air pockets. Use one of the plastic pieces to tightly cover the goo and hold it up in the keel. Repeat this step for the second keel hole. (AN alternative method is to reuse the hole saw plugs, but alignment and proper sealing are obviously important.)
After the resin has set, grind it fair with the keel and apply a second coat if needed. Prime and coat the filled area to match your current bottom coating.
Back to the bilge
Cut the FG mat sheets as follows:
From sheet 1 cut four pieces 7.5”x36”
From sheet 2 cut one piece 12”x36”. This leaves one piece 18”x36”
From sheet 3 cut one piece 14”x36”. This leaves one piece 16”x36”
In the pieces from sheet 2 and 3, cut slits for the eyebolts. To locate the slits draw a centerline down the long length of the mat. Then measure 8” fore and aft of middle of the centerline. Cut a 2” slit at each location.
Now you will mark off the area in the bilge for a fillet along each side of the bottom and for the placement of the FG mat pieces. Using a pencil, mark 10” forward from the front bolt and 10” back from the aft bolt. At these two marks draw a line across the bottom of the bilge. These two lines should be 36” apart. Along the side of the bilge, in the area between the first two lines, draw a line 1” from the hull on the bilge bottom. Then draw a line 1” up from the bottom of the bilge on the hull. Now draw a line 4” up from the bottom of the bilge on the hull.
The 1” lines mark the area for the fillet. The 4” line is to align the 7.5” mat strips along the corners. The larger pieces will cover the bilge bottom and be located by the slits for the bolts.