by Morgan
(Nova Scotia, Canada)

Hi, I'm refastening a wooden thirty foot sailboat.

The boat has three quarter pine planks on inch and a half square oak frames fastened with nail sick, rusted galvanized clinch nails.

My question is, after the old nail is extracted the wood is ringed with rust, is it advisable to replace the iron fasteners with bronze or stainless screws or would the iron salts in the wood cause early galvanic corrosion on the new fastening.

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Feb 19, 2012
Refastening a Wooden 30 foot Sailboat.
by: Mike

First, I would not consider using stainless below the waterline, especially on oak frames as the stainless and the tannic acid in the wood don’t get along.

Secondly, as the clinch nails are through fasteners, most probably holding steamed frames they should be replaced with some form of through fastening rather than screws.

They could be replaced with new galvanised nails, however, finding good quality, hot dipped, galvanised nails could be a problem.

And even if you do find some the galvanising is easily knocked off when hammering them and they will eventually start to bleed red streaks down the hull.

Even the rust ringing the holes will start to bleed through unless you seal it with paint or epoxy.

Just my gut feeling but I don’t think that copper clinch nails are quite strong enough for a 30 footer.

I would suggest either using silicon bronze nuts and bolts or copper nails/rivets and roves.

The choice of metal for a fattener can be a matter of compromise, what is available, the cost and the ease of fitting.

Add to that the problem of corrosion due to electrolysis, how many other metals are in your hull, how effective are your anodes, what stray current is being leaked into the water from other boats or faulty marina electrics etc.

In view of all the possibilities the safest solution is to use the most noble metal that is available to you.

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