F26 Bilge Plug

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F26 Bilge Plug

Post by Dave » Sun Dec 18, 2005 6:51 pm

Hi,, I was cleaning out the water and oil from the front bilge compartment (where the bilge pump is) an found that there seems to be water still seeping in from under the bilge compartment.. I assume that there is a gap under the compartment before you actually reach the hull structure. I also found what looks to be a metal threaded plug just left of the front bilge pump.

Since the boat is in the water, I wanted to make sure this plug was actually to the hollow area under the compartment, and is not going to allow outside water to come rushing in if I were to remove the plug.. I would really like to get any water under the compartment out of there before it can do any damage.

I have checked other posts where owners have drilled into their keel to get to this area, and set up pumps to remove this standing water.

Any help on this one would be appreciated!!!! :D

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Post by chucka » Fri Dec 23, 2005 8:44 pm


You didn't mention what year your boat is. That might be helpful info.

I have a 1975 F26. It does have a hollow keel, which was not originally accessible. I was originally alarmed when I figured out that water had seeped into this hollow space through screw holes used to mount various items, such as the forward bilge pump on what I call a "false floor" that caps off the "sealed" compartment which forms the hollow keel. When I originally opened this space it was filled with nasty smelly sludge. I call the floor "false", because it is a relatively thin laminate (about 3/16") and is separate and distinct from the outer hull.

The hollow space inside the keel is just over an inch wide at the bottom, and about 4 inches wide at the top. At the aft end of the keel, the height of the hollow space inside the keel is about 6 inches. The height tapers down with the height of the keel going from the aft end of the keel forward. Stagnant water trapped in this hollow space creates odor problems and freezing in this enclosed space can be damaging.

Below are two photos which show the hollow keel. These are from a project I did last season, when I added a 6" Mahogany keel extension to improve tracking stabilty. The first photo was taken while fiberglassing the keel extension to the hull. The original keel line is vissible in the first photo. A hole in the keel which I drilled to install a through hull fitting is also vissible in the first photo. The plug drains standing water from the bottom of the hollow keel during the off-season preventing accumulation and potential freezing of water in the hollow keel.

The second photo is I think what you are asking about. I included the first photo as a point of reference. The second photo looks more or less straight down at the "false floor" where the drain hole was drilled (after the second photo was taken.) In the second photo, fwd is to the right, port is on top, starboard is at the bottom.

In order to install and access the drain plug, I cut this rectangular hole about 3-1/2 inches wide and 7 inches front to back providing access into the hollow keel compartment. Since the compartment is no longer sealed, I installed a very small pump with a float switch inside this space to keep the keel compartment as dry as is practical. Since the compartment is only a little over an inch wide at the bottom, the pump won't fit all the way to the bottom, so there is usually a little water left in this area.


To be safe, you should avoid removing plugs below the waterline while the boat is in the water, unless you are absolutly sure you are not going to flood the hull. [If you arent' sure from looking inside the hull if the fitting goes through the hull, dive down and examine the outside hull to make sure removing the plug isn't going to flood the hull.]

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Post by gopher » Fri Jun 08, 2007 11:32 pm

The little square headed bolt on the port side of the fore
bilge pump will scuttle you pretty quick if you remove it
while the boat is in the water..
Its for winter storage

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Post by wvernie » Sat Jun 09, 2007 9:03 am

If you unscrew that plug you're talking about while you're in the water, you'll be checking out Davy Jones locker

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Post by randyp » Mon Jun 11, 2007 3:27 pm

Chucka has got the right idea! I messed around for over a year until I got the nerve to cut part of the "false floor" over the keel in the forward bilge. The boat (77 F26 Hardtop) came with a manual pump located in the port hanging locker at the back of the cabin. It was hooked up to a inlet hose that ran along the floor of the bilge. When I cut out the access hole I ran that hose down into the narrow "new" bilge and pumped out whatever accumulated water was in that area. Last weekend I installed the following: A new RuleMate 750 automatic bilge pump fastened to the floor of the bilge and hooked up to the bilge pump switch control at the helm. It's hooked to the battery also for auto. I mounted a Flojet electric bilge pump in the hanging locker to replace the manual pump and hooked this into a 15am on/off switch mounted on the switch panel at the helm. Now I can drain off the water that collects in the lowest point (from rain, packing leakage, etc) and have the peace of mind that the RuleMate will tackle any large amounts of water that raise into the bilge. When docked the boat is hooked into a 20 amp battery charger so if the auto pump starts there's no risk of running down the battery.



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Re: F26 Bilge Plug

Post by Dieselram94 » Tue Jul 03, 2018 5:21 pm

I realize this thread is quite old. I’m considering adding a drain plug to my keel as well. Did you just bed the plug with 5200 and use self drilling screws or did you use machine screws with nuts and washers inside the keel? Also is your keel just laminated on or did you use any mechanical fasteners too?

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Re: F26 Bilge Plug

Post by Boppy » Tue Jul 03, 2018 5:45 pm

Wow! 11 years just flew by. My post dealt with ONLY the bilge area that in the keel area that starts under the area of the v-berth and runs back past the engine compartment. If you have bilge access under the cabin floor boards you should see a fiberglass covering of this bilge. My area would accumulate water and there was no way to access that until I carefully cut away some of the fiberglass to expose the keel bilge. As it turned out the reason I was getting water in that area was because my raw water intake was leaking at the inlet hole on the bottom of the boat. Duh! I had my marina reglass and reseal that area and now my keel bilge is dry and my boat won’t sink....another positive benefit....

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Re: F26 Bilge Plug

Post by prowlersfish » Tue Jul 03, 2018 6:10 pm

Being a 13 y/o thread I doubt they will respond . FWIW when Trojan put in drain plug the were thu bolted and seal with a good quality sealer of the day . 5200 would be my choice
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Re: F26 Bilge Plug

Post by Dieselram94 » Tue Jul 24, 2018 11:36 pm

Thanks guys for responding, I’m definitely going to cut a access hole from the top of the keel. I’m hoping I can do this with the motor installed?

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