Keel smile

Lone Gull

Junior Member
Hi everyone, I'm trying to become an Ericson 32-3 owner, I mean I have an accepted offer on a 1985 model but there is an issue with the forward 1/4 of the joint between the ballast keel and the boss/sump it meets with. The joint has a crack from the leading edge back to the first double set of keel bolts. Does anyone now how this area of the keel was constructed? Is there any wood between the keel boss and the grid system that may be compromised so the forward keel bolt could sag and open that tiny smile? We want to close within a week or so but really want to know I'm not getting into unresolvable problems.

Would love some feedback,
Thanks
Kevin
Lone Gull
 

nquigley

Sustaining Member
Is there any evidence of compression in the hull where the upper aft edge of the keel meets the hull (as you might get if the bottom forward edge of the keel hit something hard)? As the keel is lead, you'd also expect deformation in the leading edge of the keel if that has happened.
Just get a surveyor to check it out. It's most likely nothing to worry about if it's just a crack in the gelcoat in that area.
Are the keel bolts in good condition in the bilge? (not noticeably corroded/'rusted') - if they are in good condition, you likely don't have seawater seeping up into the bilges, as you might if the forward keel bolts are loose.
 
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Loren Beach

O34 - Portland, OR
Senior Moderator
Blogs Author
I would earnestly suggest that you have the keel dropped and re-bedded, as a first 'deferred maintenance' chore.
I had that done over a decade ago. I had a small leak around one bolt, and that cured the problem.
Our hull has no 'wood' in the sump anywhere, and I doubt that yours will either. The interior grid lays flat bonded onto the hull - which is also solid glass laminate.
 

goldenstate

Sustaining Member
Blogs Author

I found some degradation of my keel bolts when my keel was removed. This is very difficult to diagnose without the removal.

Your prospective keel is probably fine regardless. The boats are quite well built.
 

mbp

Ericson 34
We just had this “repaired” on our 1987 boat when the boat hull was stripped of many layers of paint, barrier coat applied, followed by bottom paint. As the boat yard explained, a keel smile is inevitable on boats our age. Our boats have two large flat surfaces butted against each other with tremendous side forces applied to them. The cosmetic gel coat will eventually crack.

When the old paint was stopped away, our boat showed signs of a previous epoxy filler patch over the keel joint. The yard checked the keel bolts and found no problems - no excess moisture and no loose or rusty keel bolts. The boat yard laid on several layers of fiberglass over the joint, building up a 6” wide strip to cover the entire length of the keel - hull joint. They expect it to last perhaps 6 to 8 years. Covering the crack with just some epoxy filler would last a couple years. But the crack will eventually reappear whatever the repair. It’s the nature of the hull to keel joint that makes this inevitable.
 

Lone Gull

Junior Member
Thanks for everyone's help. I have a surveyor coming today to check keel bolts with torque wrench. There is no cracking radiating out from the aft end of the keel and no evidence of water leaking out of the crack. This is a freshwater boat so I feel confident the bolts are in good shape but one never knows without dropping the keel. I'll keep everyone posted.
 

Lone Gull

Junior Member
The surveyor gave all the keel bolts a torque test, everything took 1/8th of a turn, examined the hull and sump areas then pronounced the keel good to go. I concur and closed on the boat today. I'll keep posting our progress and asking for suggestions when stumped. Thanks everyone.
 

Kenneth K

Contributing Partner
Blogs Author
The surveyor gave all the keel bolts a torque test, everything took 1/8th of a turn, examined the hull and sump areas then pronounced the keel good to go.
Do you know what he torqued them to? Just curious.

Congratulations on the boat.
 

Lone Gull

Junior Member
He went to 175 fp. We're all ready to make the 200 nm sail home this weekend. Kind of like a mini-Mac. Reaching all the way if the weather Gods hold true.
 

Sean Engle

Your Friendly Administrator
Administrator
Founder
The surveyor gave all the keel bolts a torque test, everything took 1/8th of a turn, examined the hull and sump areas then pronounced the keel good to go. I concur and closed on the boat today. I'll keep posting our progress and asking for suggestions when stumped. Thanks everyone.
Congrats on the boat!
 

driftless

Member II
We're all ready to make the 200 nm sail home this weekend. Kind of like a mini-Mac. Reaching all the way if the weather Gods hold true.
Sailing to Milwaukee from Sturgeon Bay 2 weeks ago winds were forecast from WNW and we had SSE all the way to Sheboygan. I hope your luck proves better than ours.

We purchased our 38-200 with pretty good cracks along the front of the keel seam, stretching maybe about 4 feet back? Surveyor wasn't overly concerned. The PO had the keel dropped and rebedded about 4 years prior to our purchase. The spring before launch we ground it down to take a look and it was purely superficial. Just cracking through the layers of bottom paint, but you couldn't tell that from the surface. We cleaned everything up, filled and faired everything with thickened GFlex and slapped VC17 on top. We'll see how it looks when she comes out of the water in a month or so.

May not be a directly transferrable experience, but I believe the keel/hull construction of the two boats is similar enough to be relatable.
No good photos because I recently lost a hard drive, but here's the join after grinding and filling:

1632327979441.png

Congrats on the boat! Where do you sail out of? I'm in Milwaukee.
 

Lone Gull

Junior Member
Hi Tyler, We sail out of Northport, MI for the time being. When my partner retires in 2023 we plan to extend our horizons to points east and south.
 
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