Need help with Chrysler swing keel fix

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Need help with Chrysler swing keel fix

Postby LesleyS » Sat Nov 13, 2004 1:52 pm

Hello everyone,

I am thrilled to have found this forum. I am new to sailing, and have been learning to sail this summer on a C26 swing keel. Early this summer, my father cranked a little too hard on the keel winch and the cable snapped, slamming the keel down. We repaired the cable while in the water, and eventually got the keel unstuck and running up and down freely. Which was a very happy thing, as I then got to the serious business of learning how to sail. :D

The information on this forum was immensely helpful, thank you everyone who contributed to earlier questions regarding swing keel repairs.

My question is: Since the swing keel slammed down, I have noticed water seepage on the lower deck, around the aft base of the swing keel tunnel. I have not disassembled the keel winch/dining table assembly yet, but want to do this before pulling the boat from the water, so I can see exactly where it is leaking. It does not leak into the bilge, and only seeps slowly. It seeps more rapidly when the river is choppy with lots of boat wakes, or when sailing. When I was getting the boat ready for the water this last spring, there was rust and loose caulking around the leading edge of the keel, where the swing keel attaches to the fiberglass hull. I don't know if this is possibly the area where it is leaking, or whether the fiberglass hull or tunnel cracked from the keel slamming down. (I thought the whole bottom of the boat had fallen out! :shock: )

I would greatly appreciate the advice of anyone who has experienced this problem, and where to look for the source of the leak. Any and all advice is welcome, as I am completely new to sailing, sailboats and any type of fiberglass repair.

Thanks in advance for any and all information that you might be able to provide.

Kiwi II
1979 Chrysler 26
Wilmington, Delaware


Swing keel fix

Postby mjt » Mon Nov 15, 2004 2:30 pm

Hello -

It would seem to me that you might have two issues at work here.

First, it sounds like you may need to remove the keel and reinstall the swing keel brackets. Hopefully, your existing brackets will be in good shape and merely require a liberal amount of marine caulk (3M 5200, if I recall) to prevent leaking.

From the sound of it, leaking occurs when there is motion created by wakes or when you are sailing. Your description of the rust/caulk leads me to believe that might be the source of much of the water. It takes a cradle to lift the boat off the trailer, a transmission jack to hold/lower the keel out after you've removed/cut the existing keel pin.

If your swing keel brackets are in poor shape, you can have new ones made at a machine shop out of stainless. Here's a tip. The swing keel bolt is 5/8" and is inserted into the port bracket, through the keel and into the starboard bracket. Most port brakets have a cap that screws onto the bracket after the pin has been installed. This is expensive to machine, etc.

Rather than having a cap that screws on the outside of the bracket, have the machinist make the bracket so you can screw a bolt into the end of the port bracket that will keep the pin in place and act as a plug.

If you ever need to remove the pin the future, it is far easier to remove the bolt with a wrench than it is to remove a cap with a pipe wrench.

It works better and reduces fabricating time/cost.

If it isn't the swing keel bracket that is causing the leakage, it could also be a problem with water seeping in the back of the boat.

Again, you said you had more leakage when there were waves or you were sailing. C-22's have self bailing cockpits. It could be that water is coming into the scuppers and sitting in the area where you probably keep your gas tank (assuming you have an outboard with separate gas tank) and then finding its way inside. Just another thing to check out.

Hope this helps.


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Joined: Wed Aug 25, 2004 8:06 am
Location: Wilmington, Delaware

Thanks - more questions

Postby LesleyS » Tue Nov 16, 2004 7:30 am

Hello Mike,
Thanks for replying to my post. Since I have not disassembled the keel tunnel yet, I don't have a good mental picture of the bracket assembly. Hopefully the info you provided will make more sense when I dissasemble this week.

One quick question - how difficult is it to access / remove the keel brackets? The boat will be pulled either this week or next, so I was wondering if the boat could be propped high enough to allow me to lower and remove the keel if necessary? If I did this, how much clearance do I need? Does the keel need to be fully lowered PLUS some clearance to remove? Or can it be partially lowered and still gain access? I would like to prop the boat for winter storage as low as possible, while still having access to the keel brackets and any other parts of the keel trunk for repair.

Thanks for the info on the scuppers. I'll have a look, but it seems to me that it is dry back there. I am only seeing seepage along the aft port side of the keel trunk. When I dry it and place a paper towel down, it is seeping from a spot just forward of where the keel winch is located. It could be wicking along the trunk and back to that spot, or possibly leaking from right in that area. I have double-checked the clamps on the hose that the keel cable runs through, and it is dry around top and bottom, so unfortunately not a quick fix. I will let you know what I find when I disassemble. Looks like nice days on the Chesapeake through the end of the week, so it might have to wait until I get one or two last days of sailing in this season! 8)
Kiwi II

1979 Chrysler 26

Wilmington, Delaware

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Postby EmergencyExit » Tue Nov 16, 2004 9:34 am

Hopefully this doesn't show up twice..having a bit of access trouble, and just tried posting this reply, but crashed..


click on "how to" at the left for some useful photos and directions of both C26 and C22 keel bracket repair...

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Joined: Wed Aug 25, 2004 8:06 am
Location: Wilmington, Delaware

Postby LesleyS » Tue Nov 16, 2004 12:06 pm

Thanks! I found this site a while ago and found it to be HUGELY helpful in figuring out how the swing keel mechanism works. This allowed me to make the emergency repairs that got us underway earlier this summer when the cable snapped.

I am off to the boat for an overnight stay, so thanks for all the helpful advice. I will be pulling the swing keel mechanism apart this weekend or early next week, so I'll let you all know how it goes.

Thanks again for all the helpful advice and links to information.

Kiwi II

1979 Chrysler 26

Wilmington, Delaware

Posts: 1
Joined: Wed Dec 15, 2004 3:06 am
Location: Tennessee

Swing keel trunk repair

Postby xjetn » Wed Dec 15, 2004 3:23 am

Hi Lesley,

You definitely need to do some investigation and remediation. I hauled Windward for a similar problem and ended up doing some wholesale repair to the aft end of the swing keel trunk. I also discovered about .75 bazillion blisters, which took a lot more work to repair, but that's another part of the story :cry:

Prior to my purchasing the boat, the cable apparently broke. When that happens, the 800 lb swing keel comes down with a vengeance, slamming into the back of the trunk. What happened in this case was that it cracked the trunk, permitting water to enter. The prior owner said he'd fixed the leak, but the trunk in that area is a double layer and he really just plugged the inside, permitting water to seep in for a long time without being directly noticed. Bad mistake.

If you look at under the Work Log - 2003 photos section, on thumbnail pages 3,4 7 and 8, you'll see a step by step of how I dismantled the aft end of the trunk and did repairs, using West Systems epoxy, silica thickeners, kevlar, woven roving and various weights of fiberglass cloth and tape. ... 180055.JPG shows most of the material I used.

Attend to this as soon as you can. You may be able to inspect the damage looking up into the swing keel trunk from below. That would be good, because if you have to excavate from the inside, it obviously means you have to rebuild even if you don't find a problem. However, if it's begun leaking since the cable broke, in all probability the trunk as been damaged.

Your swing keel pin may not (or may, of course) have sustained any damage in the keel drop. The swing keel trunk pivot pin is housed between two iron castings that are bolted up into the base of the keel. The Chrylser Sailing Assocation website at has a set of pics detailing replacement of the bracket. While some of the details I'd like to see, like the keel base without the casting, are not available, it will give you a good idea of what it is and how it's attached.

Best of luck. Let me know if you have further questions, and let us all know how the work progresses.
Fair Winds,
s/v Windward
1978 Chrysler 26, #481

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