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LIfelines for the last time

Finally.  after 6 weeks of weekend trial and error (about $200 of error) here’s the solution – figured somebody might be facing something similar and may benefit from my solution. Throughout all of this, I had the “solution” of cutting out the headliner which would have been acceptable with a teak blank to cover the hole but I really didn’t want to do that if I could avoid it just because that was something I was sure I would not do sufficiently well to make it look like something I could be proud of.

I first discovered the Toggler Snaptoggles. They come in stainless steel and are rated to hold up to 356 pounds in in 5/8″ drywall. I was planning on using 4 of them in 1/2″ fiberglass which, while I don’t know for sure, I figure is stronger than drywall so it should be good.

Since I can’t get to the backside of the bolts I’ve been drilling out the existing stainless steel screws on the stanchion bases – 4 per base. Good times.

I say “was planning” to use the snaptoggles because it turns out the depth of 2 of the 4 holes was not sufficient to allow the snaptoggle to rotate behind the deck and be used – it was only about 1/2″ deep and the toggle itself is over a inch long so it would not even go all the way into the 2 most inboard holes (1/2″ think fiberglass, 1/2″ deep hole). Much swearing occurred and we decided to retreat, reorient and re-attack. After a few beers of course.

The next thing we found was the PlusNut blind fasterner. Amazingly, these also come in stainless steel (although they only had 41 in stock but I only needed 34 total). I tried these out last weekend between rain showers and they fit right into the most inboard holes perfectly and allow the 1/4″ bolts to fit. Again, I am not sure how strong these are in 1/2″ fiberglass but I’m going to bet the lifeline on it that it’s strong enough. Especially since about half the bolts I found had no backing nut on them at all any more (if ever) so I’m 100% certain I am better off than I was before I started all this. Looking at the chart for these (in kN so I had to convert) it looks like I could expect at least a couple hundred pounds of force to be supported – and with 2 of them that should do the trick.

So now I am putting the snaptoggles in the outboard most 2 holes as I believe these will actually give me stronger results (and I already have them anyway so I might as well use them) and then I’m using the PlusNuts on the inboard 2 holes.

All together I am pretty sure this solution will provide a much stronger installation than I had, maybe even better than the day the boat rolled off the production line. And they won’t leak.

I know what you’re thinking, but I can unequivocally state that the original design on these stanchions did not have backing plates. Not a single lifeline stanchion on the boat has one (and I think it’s all original) and only about a third had a washer underneath. I suspect more of them may have had washers at one time but they’ve since fallen off and disappeared although I have come across a couple that only had a nut and lock washer as the backing as well as more than a few that had nothing at all (I assume any backing had completely vibrated off over time but who knows).  I do know this boat has been sailed in blue water quite a few times without a backing plate on the lifeline stanchions and otherwise been perfectly fine for over 25 years without them. I would feel better with a backing plate on there for sure but this seems a pretty reasonable alternative given the past performance without any backing plate and how this is actually a upgrade to the prior installation.

I would have loved to put backing plates on these if I could but this is the best I could make of the situation and I know that I am now better off than I was at least. Given that each of these rates at well over 200 pounds of force to pull out, I’m thinking this is pretty secure with 4 of them spreading the load a bit.

Now to drill the rest out and get the port side done.  Yeah, boat jobs are a bitch alright.


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