Refastening a Wooden Hull
There’s really no accurate way to predict how long screws will last before refastening is needed. Screw life varies with many factors: the type of wood surrounding the screws; the temperature and salinity of the water the boat spends its time in; screw composition; workmanship; and fastening location. Refastening is needed when the planks and frames are sound but the screws have lost their holding power, or if they’re corroded to the point where it will be impossible to back them out in a few years. Actual inspection of the screws is the only sure way to determine their condition.
In this episode, host Rich Hilsinger pays a visit to Eric Dow’s boat shop where the refastening of a 31’ lobster-style boat built in the early ‘70s is underway. We’ll discuss what to look for when one is considering whether or not refastening is necessary or installing additional screws between the existing ones would make more sense. Eric and his crew will describe an overview of how and where on the hull to begin a refastening project, the right tools to have on hand for the job, and the advantage of working on a dry hull versus refastening a boat that’s just come out of the water. Next, we’ll show the proper steps in successfully removing the old fasteners and how to extract any broken screws or ones that simply want to spin in the hole. Once the fasteners have been removed, it’s time to clean out the holes, calculate which new screw size is appropriate, and then bore and install the new fastenings. The size of screws used in refastening will depend on the thickness of planking, depth of frames, and the size of the original screws. After the refastening is complete, it’s time for filling the screw holes with wooden plugs or “bungs”. This will lead to an explanation and demonstration of choosing the right size bung, which adhesive one may want to use, how to correctly set the plug, and after the glue sets, how to shave it off with a sharp pairing chisel.
Refastening is a big job, even in a small boat. The entire process is time consuming but definitely something that the do-it-yourself boat owner can take on. If you are going to do the work yourself this episode will prove to be invaluable. Just remember to be patient and do each step properly.