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Routine Keel Lifting Hardware Maintenance

Routine Keel Lifting Hardware Maintenance

For a complete understanding of the Catalina 22 and Catalina 25 keel raising system, start with the first article in this series: How the System Works.

Make an annual inspection of the condition of the keel hose (C-22 part #Z1801, and C-25 part #E1840) which leads the keel cable through the hull. Verify that the hose is in good condition and the wire reinforcement isn’t sticking out of the top of the hose. One owner reported his boat sank out from under him on his way into his marina. Apparently while raising the keel to enter the shallow water marina, his keel cable snagged the wire in the hose. With the mechanical advantage of the keel winch, he didn’t notice the extra resistance. The winch pulled the hose off the through hull and the boat sank.

We highly recommend replacing the original hose clamps with our Swedish made upgrade (#Z1871). Since these clamps literally keep your boat afloat, failure is not an option. The smooth inner diameter of the Swedish clamps provide much greater clamping force than the slotted variety we are all familiar with. Since there are no slots to engage the rubber as the clamp begins to tighten, the clamp can slide around the hose as it tightens and develop a tighter grip. Hose clamps labeled simply “All Stainless Steel” are a hazard. The screw is a stainless alloy that will rust prematurely and may fail.

A special sheave, the keel turning ball, (C-22 part # D2216, C-25 part # E9024) is mounted inside of the through hull. Unlike a standard flat sheave with a groove in the edge for wire or line, the keel turning ball is a sphere with a groove. Its purpose is to change the angle of the keel cable as it exits the hull. When your boat is on the trailer, the keel eyebolt which attaches the cable to the keel is directly below the winch. But as the keel pivots through an arc as it is lowered, the keel eyebolt moves forward relative to the winch. Without the keel turning ball, the cable would begin to saw the boat in half each time the keel is raised or lowered. The sphere eliminates excess space between the sheave and the through hull and keeps the cable in the groove. Keep a spare turning ball in your tool kit. Inspect it every year when you inspect the keel cable. Replace it whenever it has stopped rotating or if you see a "flat" worn at the bottom of its groove.

To remove the turning ball, simply slide the pin out after removing the keel hose. Don’t remove the keel hose or clamps with the boat in the water...The boat will sink! When replacing the ball, be certain to route the cable aft of the turning ball. 

Inspect the keel cable and turning ball yearly. We replace ours every two years, long before it fails. Fiberglass repair to the keel trunk can be expensive. A free falling keel whose cable has broken when the keel is almost all the way up will cause serious damage to the inside of the keel trunk. Failure of the keel cable at the top of the fork fitting (just inside where you can’t inspect it) is the most common. Failure can be accelerated if the keel eyebolt is in the wrong position. Rotate it so the clevis pin is athwartships and acts as a hinge. This keeps the wire from bending at the top of the fitting as the keel is raised and lowered.


Trailering a Retractable Keel Boat
Special procedures that should be observed.