Chip Ford's 1974 Catalina 22 Restoration Project
Sail #3282  l  Marblehead, Massachusetts

How to Replace the Keel Cable
By Dick King
Melbourne, FL
“Twilight Zone” – #15546
A bad day sailing beats almost anything worth doing

1.  Lower the tongue of the trailer to the ground.

2.  Put a little slack in the keel cable.

3.  On a hard surface (driveway, half-sheet of 3/4" plywood) build a stack of cement blocks under the stern of the boat. Interlace the blocks for more stability) Fill the gap with boards or pieces of plywood. Use wedges to prevent any rolling of the boat on the stern support.

4.  Tie the axle of the trailer to the frame of the trailer near both wheels so the springs don't expand as boat weight is removed from them.

5.  Jack the tongue of the trailer up so that the trailer begins to rotate around the axle. As it does so, the transom will rest on the stack and the rear trailer bunks will separate from the bottom of the boat. The keel will lower away from the boat (if you remembered to slack the cable). Keep going until the keel eye bolt is exposed enough to get at the clevis pin.

6. Insert blocks of wood between the boat and the bunks above the rear bunk supports to steady any tendency for the boat to roll on the trailer.

7.  Insure the keel weight is fully supported by the trailer.

8.  Remove the cotter pin and clevis pin from the keel cable. (Fit check the new cable fork, to ensure it fits the keel eye bolt. Fit check the clevis pin as well.

9.  Remove the panel covering the winch (remove the keel winch handle first.)

10.  Remove the winch drum from the winch (a 3/8" bolt serves as the axle for the winch drum.) NOTE: The bolt goes thru a sleeve in the hub of the winch drum. If the sleeve is corroded to the bolt, you will have to remove the whole winch.

11.  With a helper pulling from below the boat, unwind the cable from the drum to the point where the cable is free of the drum except for the place where it is woven and bolted to the drum.

12.  Make a drawing or take some photos on how the end of the cable is attached to the drum. Also make note of which direction the cable wraps around the drum. (It looks simple, but you would be surprised how easy it is to get it wrong with the new cable.)

13.  Remove the end of the cable from the drum and tape a 5-foot piece of stout string to it act as a pull for the new cable.

14.  Pull the end of the cable out of the boat making sure to keep the other end of the string inside the boat. (Tie it to something.)

15.  If you are replacing or inspecting the turning ball, remove the hose from the top of the "volcano" by loosening the two hose clamps (if you don't have two, go get another one to add on -- you need to have two when you reassemble) and carefully twisting and pulling on the hose, until it separates from the boat.

16.  With the turning ball exposed, note which side (should be aft) the pull string passes the ball. If the ball is worn or shows evidence of not turning, replace it. It is held in place by a pin inserted thru the sides of the ring that the hose slides over. The pin may be corroded to the ball. Be careful not to damage the ring when removing it.

17.  After the ball has been inspected or replaced, make sure the pull string is on the correct side of the ball (aft side).

18.  Reinstall the hose over the ring. I recommend a good (but removable) sealer like 3M 4200 be used on the ring/hose joint.

19.  Reinstall the two hose clamps.

20.  Attach the end of the new cable to the stout string with just enough thin tape to allow a firm pull on the cable up into the boat. There is not much clearance thru the turning ball. DO NOT try to pull hard on the string if the connection meets resistance going thru the ball.

21.  Pull the end of the cable up into the boat and attach it to the winch drum, using the drawing or photos as a guide. Make sure the cable is wound onto the drum in the same direction as the old one.

22.  Remount the drum onto the winch body. (Or winch to the boat.)

23.  With a helper applying firm tension on the cable from below, wind the cable onto the winch as if you were raising the keel. (Note that it will not be as tight as if the full weight of the keel were pulling on it.)

24.  Attach the fork on the end of the cable to the eye bolt on the keel and make sure the cotter pin in the clevis pin is opened and spread so that it will not inadvertently come adrift. I wrap the ends around the pin to help prevent anything snagging on the cotter pin.

25.  Crank the keel up. The new cable is installed!

26.  Raise the tongue of the trailer slightly to remove the stabilizing blocks from the trailer.

27.  Lower the tongue of the trailer enough to remove the stern support and raise it to its connect-to-the-vehicle position.

28.  Untie the springs.

29.  When you launch the boat, raise and lower the keel a few times to reset the wraps and tension of the new cable.