Leaking Chain Plates

This was the biggest risk in buying the boat. Lots of details to follow of a) The damage caused b) The surveyors view c) The taking apart d) The solution.

The Damage.
The chain plates had been leaking for a long time at the through deck fitting. This was far worse on the starboard side. The water had penetrated the cuboards and had found its way down to the bilge damaging wood work on the way. This had put off many potential purchasers as it was not clear how the bulkheads were impacted by the long term soaking. On the port side where the larger main bulkhead was positioned there was less damage but cosmetically there were stains on the teak. The full extent of the damage could not be ascertained prior to purchase. Luckily I had taken the precaution of having a local refit expert ex Camper and Nicholson have a look to advice me of the absolute worse case should both bulkheads need replacing. A scary figure but an aid to working out the first offer price and at least gave me some indication of the risk I was taking.

The Surveyors View
RP Marine were commissioned to do the Pre-purchase survey. Roger the surveyor was great. More on this to come. On the subject of the chainplates his judgment was awaited with trepidation. This is the extract. "The chainplates for cap shrouds and intermediates were in the form of stainless plates protruding through the deck and supported by a hollow wedge shaped stainless fabrication that was through bolted to the main and partial bulkhead. There had been water ingress through the deck in the area around the chainplates on both sides and had damaged the linings and joinery surrounding them. This was particularly bad on the starboard side. The linings and fixed joinery prevent a full evaluation of the damage. However some concern/caution should be exercised that the water damage extends into the bulkheads." His recommendation marked "Essential" was "Further investigation as to the extent of the damage caused around the chainplates should be undertaken. The chainplates/linings and surrounding joinery should be removed for closer inspection. Repairs should be undertaken as to the findings."
Ok not a clean bill of health but not a walk away recommendation. I realised if I was going to buy then I would need to have this work done under the supervision of a surveyor both for my piece of mind but also for any resale.

The Taking Apart
The boat was moved to Conwy and the stripping of the interior helped to reveal the chainplates. TLC carried out the removal of the plates for a detailed inspection by a local surveyor. Andrew Potter gave them a detailed inspection. I sat nervously waiting for his judgement on the extent of the damage and remedial action. Time passed very slowly. Finally he summoned me to the boat to point out the problems. Thankfully his first words were "Its a pleasure to survey a quality boat. They dont make them like this these days." He went on to point out the actual fitting of the chainplates was to solid fibreglass and the water damage was to the veneer covering only. He recommended removal of the veneer, removal of rotten cabinet mouldings and two modifications to the chainplate fixings. 1. To replace the main chainplate round head stainless steel screws with bolts and to put a stainless steel backing plate on the lower shrouds fitting to spread the load. WHAT A RELIEF! The bulkheads were not only intact but in his view very well engineered. His recommendation will be followed by TLC and he will inspect the finished product before commissioning. As an aside he was also incredibly helpful in giving further advice on fitting out for a circumnavigation. He will be back and I will be happy to pay for more of his wisdom.

The Solution.
The chain plates have been taken off and the bulkhead under the forward plates has had the teak veneer removed and then back filled with epoxy. This will make them stronger than original. The surveyor recommended that they are refitted with hex head bolts instead of the original machine screws. This has been done and finished off with castle nuts. The aft plates have also been removed and new bolts and a stainless steel bar used to replace the washers on the other side of the mini bulkhead. This will make them stronger. The deck area around the plates has been fabricated to allow 6mm around the thru deck part. This is due to be filled with sikaflex and stainless steel deck plates have been fabricated to make the whole thing look neater.

March 2012. The chain plates have been sealed with Sika 292i and pre cleaned with Sika Primer 210. It is very important to make sure there is a minimum 5mm gap between the metal and the deck so the Sikia 292i can bond to both surfaces. It will stretch up to 3 times its width so will absorb the movement of the loading and unloading of the chainplates. The drying curve suggested it would take 10 days to cure so they were given time before the custom fabricated stainless steel covers were fitted. The covers were sealed using arbomast so that they could be user serviceable. Only time will tell if this works but it has everything going for it!

May 2012. Job finished. Surveyed and give a clean bill of health. Surveyor said they are better than the originals. Water pressure tested and no leaks.

May 2013. Re-pressure tested again and after a seasons sailing and overwintering still no leaks.