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Is My Keel Going To Fall Off!!!

Pingpro

New Member
Hi everyone,
I've been working to rehab my 1982 J/24 for a few months and have put a lot of work and money into it. Today I was shop vacuuming all the mess and did the bilge too. After cleaning it, I noticed cracks about 2 inches away from the bolts around the aft bilge compartment (See Pictures). I know I should have checked this before I started, but I looked and didn't notice them or I just didn't look hard enough. Is this a death sentence or are there ways to determine the extent of the damage and mitigate? I don't even know exactly what the bolts go through or what the cracked material is, doesn't seem like fiberglass, more like concrete .IMG_7949.jpgIMG_7953.jpgIMG_7947.jpgconcrete...
Any help is much appreciated. I was set to splash in a few weeks.
-Christian
 

VinceH

Member
I think it's probably ok. I believe the material is polyester resin, likely with some fillers of some sort. What does it look like on the exterior? I guess fine, or you would have mentioned that there was something suspicious about the keel. It would make sense to re-tighten the keelbolts. Here's a link to an article about keelbolt maintenance from the class association: Keel Bolt Maintenance Bulletin | International J/24 Class Association. It looks like it's actually specific to J/22s, but it applies to 24s also. Just check the diameter of the bolts. I don't remember offhand.

And here's another article about keels and keelbolts: How to check keel bolts - Practical Boat Owner

For reference, here's a photo of a keel without fairing or finishing. You can see the joint between the keel and keel stub about 185 mm down from the hull (more at the front), through the tape that covers the joint:
DSCN1201.JPG
And here it is now:
IMG_20210520_163316s.jpg
 

Luke Fricke

New Member
I think it's vermiculite they use to put them in the 24 bilge before they found out that it tends to expand when kept on a trailer or in my case a hoist. I had mine removed but I would look into getting it removed its a hard and sadly expensive job if there is anyone around you that knows j24s ask them and where to get it removed I'm guessing it could be about 5 grand to do it but see what someone that can look at the boat in person says (preferably someone who owns/races j24s) Best of luck but in all I think you will be ok for the time being
 

VinceH

Member
I don't think so, Luke. Vermiculite was used in the very earliest boats, in the resin mix that they filled the keel sump with, to lighten it. Unfortunately, it absorbs water and becomes sodden, lowering the strength of the composite mix. TPI, the builder, became aware of the problems with it relatively early on, and by about 1980 they made a change. The boats with vermiculite were filled to near the level of the inside of the hull, and the keel bolts were long enough to accommodate that. This boat, like the other one in this thread: Mysterious bilge water has shorter keel bolts in the center and forward part of the keel sump. These were both built after TPI stopped using the vermiculite-filled resin in the sump, I've concluded. The class website has a "used boat buyer's guide", that says "In 1980, Tillotson-Pearson, Inc. (T.P.I.) implemented two major construction changes on J/24s. The new style hatches appeared and vermiculite was removed from the sumps. This occurred at roughly hull #1900." So that agrees.

My 1978 boat had vermiculite in the keel sump, and it wasn't constructed like that.
 

Pingpro

New Member
Thank you guys for the replies. I assumed it was Vermiculite until Vince's last reply. It does seem a bit like concrete, the boat was built in 1982, hull #3205 and it has the old version Bowmar hatch which I've replaced since the photo below... (unless there was a version before that one), I'm not sure. Regardless, there are no exterior issues on the keel and the area in question in the bilge is hard and dry, so I'm just going to go for it for now. If it is vermiculite, I've read that it can be replaced by hand with a handheld version of a jackhammer and a bunch of epoxy. Not something I want to get into right now though.
IMG_7054.jpg

Thanks,
Christian
 

VinceH

Member
When we're talking about old hatches, we mean like these:
... and there was similar fabrication for the forward one. I don't immediately have a clear picture of that.
IMG_20180906_154538807s.jpg
 

Pingpro

New Member
OK, I have the new one then. I didn't realize both the companionway and forward hatches were updated. Maybe I'm vermiculite free. Thanks for the info.
 

VinceH

Member
Original style forward hatch. Cosmetically not great, but works fine. After many years some of the resin in the surface erodes away leaving exposed fibers.IMG_20210601_152156~2_resize_94.jpg
 

Jott19

New Member
Not being your surveyor, I can't say for sure if it will fall off but you're probably ok. I did the keel sump last year on hull 2219, March 1980 production. In theory, they stopped using vermiculite that month... I researched the hell out of the job before doing it and some techs online were saying they'd seen old-style sumps in 82 or even later boats. Your sump looks a lot like mine did. When I got it, the keel bolts were bedded very solid but there were cracks in the gelcoat that were longer than what you have in your pic.

I decided to redo the sump and hacked out the thick (5mm+) still extremely hard gelcoat that was all over it, and the vermiculite/resin mix that while waterlogged, was still very solid and put up a hell of a fight. Took me 2.5-3 hours using a cold chisel, made a hell of a mess to clean up.

I made a set of templates from cardboard and used 1" Coosa layered with 1708 and vinylester resin. Also replaced the stringers with new ones cut from 1/4" g10, which happens to be what the originals were made of. Had to make templates for those too. The tabbing of the stringers in the orig was a little loosey goosey, used csm and poly resin, plenty of voids, I added fillets of thickened vinylester and 1708 for the tabbing.

Tightened the keel bolts to clamp the keel blocking together, then overlaid with a couple plys of 1708.

This is the class legal repair, make sure you take lots of pictures as you work if you ever want the boat to pass measurement again. They want to know there isn't lead shot down there... Coosa was an acceptable substitute for the Penske board that the builders eventually switched over to. Is now airex board, I think. It was impossible to get locally, I was able to buy a few square feet of Coosa from a local fabricator shop.

So, your sump looks like mine did. Mine turned out to be very solid, but my surveyor was pretty freaked out. After taking it apart, I'm sure I could have ridden it hard for years. But I'm also glad the job is done.

Took about 3-4 yards of 1708, a 3'x2' piece of Coosa, about the same in G10 and about two gallons of resin. You can use epoxy, I didn't to try to control costs. Could be done in a weekend by an experienced fabricator, I spread it over many weeks in small bites. The templating took more time than anything.

Waterline used to sell a kit, including the stringers and a piece of teak and Holly for a new sole. They don't anymore. Their new parts manager kid was a nice enough but sounded confused by the idea of selling anything.

I'm now rocking a painted piece of plywood for a cabin sole.
 

Jott19

New Member
Oh and 2219 had a bomar hatch too, just like yours. My hatch had a prod date of 1997, so clearly wasn't original, but the boat was clearly framed for it since the old style hatches were way different.

Apparently there was a kit for this mod too, I saw no evidence of mine being messed with in this way: found factory beige gelcoat all the way over the foredeck and hatch frame when sanding away 10 years of bad paint jobs on mine.

The hatch polished up well enough that I wasn't motivated to spend 600cdn on a new one...
 

Pingpro

New Member
Not being your surveyor, I can't say for sure if it will fall off but you're probably ok. I did the keel sump last year on hull 2219, March 1980 production. In theory, they stopped using vermiculite that month... I researched the hell out of the job before doing it and some techs online were saying they'd seen old-style sumps in 82 or even later boats. Your sump looks a lot like mine did. When I got it, the keel bolts were bedded very solid but there were cracks in the gelcoat that were longer than what you have in your pic.

I decided to redo the sump and hacked out the thick (5mm+) still extremely hard gelcoat that was all over it, and the vermiculite/resin mix that while waterlogged, was still very solid and put up a hell of a fight. Took me 2.5-3 hours using a cold chisel, made a hell of a mess to clean up.

I made a set of templates from cardboard and used 1" Coosa layered with 1708 and vinylester resin. Also replaced the stringers with new ones cut from 1/4" g10, which happens to be what the originals were made of. Had to make templates for those too. The tabbing of the stringers in the orig was a little loosey goosey, used csm and poly resin, plenty of voids, I added fillets of thickened vinylester and 1708 for the tabbing.

Tightened the keel bolts to clamp the keel blocking together, then overlaid with a couple plys of 1708.

This is the class legal repair, make sure you take lots of pictures as you work if you ever want the boat to pass measurement again. They want to know there isn't lead shot down there... Coosa was an acceptable substitute for the Penske board that the builders eventually switched over to. Is now airex board, I think. It was impossible to get locally, I was able to buy a few square feet of Coosa from a local fabricator shop.

So, your sump looks like mine did. Mine turned out to be very solid, but my surveyor was pretty freaked out. After taking it apart, I'm sure I could have ridden it hard for years. But I'm also glad the job is done.

Took about 3-4 yards of 1708, a 3'x2' piece of Coosa, about the same in G10 and about two gallons of resin. You can use epoxy, I didn't to try to control costs. Could be done in a weekend by an experienced fabricator, I spread it over many weeks in small bites. The templating took more time than anything.

Waterline used to sell a kit, including the stringers and a piece of teak and Holly for a new sole. They don't anymore. Their new parts manager kid was a nice enough but sounded confused by the idea of selling anything.

I'm now rocking a painted piece of plywood for a cabin sole.
Thank you for all the information, I really appreciate everyone on this forum for their knowledge and the time spent helping others. I've decided to just roll with what I've got and I think your post reaffirms my decision. I'm not racing the boat seriously and will just be out for day sails not too far from shore in the gulf. Whatever is in there seems very solid and there is no exterior sign of any issue on the keel so I'll re-access next time I haul her out. After replacing the toe rails and rebedding/replacing hardware, the bilge is pretty dry. Hoping this will stop any progression of issues that may or may not have been forming.
Thanks,
Christian
 
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