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Those lifelines!

Still working on those.  Still.  Here’s the deal, they bolt through the deck and have backing bolts and washers underneath the deck so they have sufficient strength to hold you onto the boat (although you’d be a little crazy to depend on these in seas much past a foot, you’ll flip right over them).

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAYou can see how they lay out in the picture at right.  There are 4 bolts, 2 close to the edge and 2 a little further inboard.  We can’t just unscrew them because the backing bolts, once they break loose, just spin.  You could drive the drill’s phillips head all day long and never move them a fraction of a inch.  You gotta get underneath and hold the backing bolt with some pliers or a wrench – your fingers won’t work either since a little adhesive originally used squeezed down on the threads.

Bolts on StanchionsNow, let’s look at the cross section so you can see what the problem is with getting that tool on the backing bolt.  Once you get past the artistry of my graphic design work, you can kind of see what I’m talking about.  The gap at A is about the same as the thickness of my hand, a little wider at the back end of the boat but narrowing to less than a quarter inch at the bow.  The gap at B goes about an inch.  Any tool I use must fit into the gap at A, turn 90 degrees and then reach all the way to the most inboard bolt – about 4 inches.  And to get that tool onto a bolt, you have to feel your way since there is no way you’re going to get a really good look at it.  Believe me, we tried to find a tool that could do that:  Home Depot, West Marine, various internet outlets, nothing does this.

Fortunately, there is a guy a couple boats down that is a really good guy and likes to help out a little.  I guess he’s taking a little pity on me or something.  His name is Hoover and that’s all I know … well, I also know he has a enviable lack of body image issues.  Either that or all his shirts are in the laundry and too dirty to wear.  Still, great guy to have around the marina.

Hoover and I talked about it and decided the only way to go was drill them bolts out.  I have some toggle bolts that will let me bolt everything back down.  I got the detailed course on how to drill out stainless steel from Hoover and even borrowed his bad ass drill.  And then, I drilled.  After that, I drilled some more.  Then, I drilled.  After a short break, I drilled again.  The next day, I drilled some more.

Drilling out stainless steel is slow process or you risk tempering it to such a hard state you will never drill it out.  You have to put a lot of pressure on it to keep the bit fully engaged so it pulls out slow, long ribbons of stainless steel.  It takes forever and you do it leaning down on it as though in a tight push up position.  Good times.  But drill them out we did.  Damn right.

I dropped my cool new snap off toggle bolt down the hole.  The excitement of finally mounting these stanchions back on was palpable, the anticipation on Amy’s face was something to behold.  The toggle bold slid into the hole … and stopped.  The toggles are longer than the one inch gap and cannot flip open so they hold.  Yeah, I think you know how the conversation went next.  I have since heard of people under extreme duress speaking in strange tongues. I became conscious that a steady torrent of obscenities and swearing of all kinds was pouring out of me; I was working in profanity the way other artists might work in oils or clay (movie quote there).

The 2 bolts closest to the hull have enough gap for the toggle bolts.  I just need a solution for the 2 inboard bolts.  We tried some plastic expanding toggles but no luck, you need more space to get them to fully expand.  We didn’t even get them started enough to begin expanding so they were totally worthless.

We will mount them next weekend.  I don’t know how yet.  I’m looking at some traditional “wing style toggle” bolts but for the quarter inch bolts I need I think the wings may be too long to expand.  Plus, they keep turning up on the search as stainless steel but when you go to the details they’re never stainless steel.  Dissimilar metals on a boat can cause issues but that seems to be limited to when they’re in contact with water so maybe some non-stainless toggles will suffice – these things go underwater I’m probably stepping up onto the life raft.



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