01 November 2017

More Rust Prevention Tricks

Everyone says that the trick to keeping a steel boat afloat is keeping up with rust. Obviously that is correct, but you'd be a fool if you didn't try to prevent the rust from occurring in the first place.

One place rust can get a start is when protective paint has been chipped or rubbed off. The most vulnerable parts of the boat are on deck, where paint has a very hard life trying to co-exist with pieces of steel chafing on it.

For example, where the standing rigging -- the steel cables holding up the masts -- attaches to the rail.

To give you an idea of what I'm talking about, here is the steel tab which had one of the forestays attached to it:

Forestay tab

Now, this piece of steel has been helping to hold up the mast for 40 years, and it still has plenty of life left. It's about a half inch thick and not about to break, but you can see that it's nearly impossible to keep paint on it. Thus it is a constant source of rust stains, despite everyone's best efforts to keep it painted.

To help solve this problem, Howdy cut the tab off the boat, and welded in a replacement made from stainless steel. The picture below shows the new -- unpainted -- SS tab with forestay attached.

You can imagine how difficult it was to keep the tab painted. Now we won't have to.

Stainless steel tab with forestay attached
We were tempted to take the same approach to the rail, where all the shrouds -- the wires that keep the masts from moving from side to side -- are attached. However, Howdy recommended a different approach.

He created some new stainless steel bushings which consist of a stainless steel tube, with a washer welded on one end. The tube is inserted through a hole in the rail, and another washer fits over the tube on the other side. I should mention that the whole fitting is embedded in 4200, so it doesn't move in place.

Once in place, the shroud fitting bears on the stainless steel, not on the paint.

A picture is worth a thousand words... Here is a picture of the bushings ready to receive the shrouds.

Stainless bushings for shrouds
And here is what it looks like with the shrouds installed.

Shroud attached to bushing

Sorry for the weird photo orientation. It was a bit awkward to get these photos!

I don't expect these bushings to eliminate rust, but I do hope they will keep the paint intact longer, and thus slow it down. It should be relatively easy to periodically (once a year) remove the bushings, repaint the holes, re-bed the bushings, and re-install the shrouds. I will post an update in a year or so to let you know how this has worked.

Another place rust begins is where anchor chain or dock ropes chafe on paint. John and Gill used a set of fire hose pieces to minimize this chafe, but I wondered whether it would be simpler to put the chafe gear on the boat, rather than the lines. We found some 5/8" water hose, split it, and found that it fight tightly on the rail. We may bed it down, just to minimize chafe and to ensure it stays on the boat.

It blends in so well, you might need to click on the photo to see the hose on the rail.

On Petronella, dock lines attach to the tall bit behind the rail, and run OVER the rail to the dock.

We are using more hose to minimize chafe from the anchor chain.

Water hose clipped onto rail
Finally, here are the granny bars re-installed on fiberglass pads which have been firmly bedded to the deck. Howdy believes it is easier to bed down the fiberglass pad, than the SS feet of the granny bars. This will again slow down the development of rust under the pad.

I really hope this lasts for a good ten years, because it was a pain to take down the ceiling in the cabin to get at the nuts under the deck! Again, we shall see!

Granny bars bedded down on fiberglass pads
Inevitably, rust will rear it's ugly head again, but the black paint on the rail will make it a little less visible until we are able to effect repairs to the paint.

The big news here is that Howdy and his crew have finished painting the hull! The tape is coming off today, and I hope I will have a great photo to share soon. In the meantime, here is the latest photo with tape still masking the boot stripe and black trim.

Hull painting complete!
I'm hoping they keep the space next to Petronella empty so that I can get a good picture tomorrow with the morning sun on her. In the meantime, this back-lit photo is the best I've been able to do. We are getting there!

Tomorrow, Howdy and the boys start on the deck, and hopefully we will launch in a week or so. Cobb's Marina has been great to us, but I can't wait to head south.

Next Up: The Deck


  1. Great work and great selection of master-craftspeople/helpers/elves. You will enjoy many years of reduced maintenance and maintenance related aggravation /worry from these efforts, all the better to focus on the funner stuff.


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