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The Bracket Racket, Part 2

On Friday, the Resourceful Sailor found that his outboard-motor bracket on his 1985 Pacific Seacraft Flicka 20 Sampaguita was making an unsual noise. He discovered that the previous installation had been a bit rough, and decided to replace the bracket and strengthen the mount.  

I decided the right approach for me was to thoroughly clean out the holes and seal them up with thickened epoxy. Since the new outboard bracket I was installing was the same as the previous one, the holes would be in the same places. I re-drilled the holes through the epoxy, offering higher strength and better protection against potential water intrusion.

When considering a proper backing plate, there were some challenges. There was a small plate from a previous installation solidly epoxied in place. In 1985, when lighter two-stroke outboards were the norm, this might have been a satisfactory footprint. A more modern, 105 pound, four-stroke Yamaha would need more substantial support. The small backing plate could accommodate one of four bolts for the Garelick offshore bracket. Since removing it would be epic and likely destructive, I decided to work around it. I consulted a dock mate and metalworking master, Tom Kughler. He offered to cut four 1/4-inch thick, aluminum discs, four-inches in diameter with holes drilled in each center. As independent discs, they would mate better to an uneven surface, and exact measurements of the bracket holes were unnecessary for them to fit. By trimming one, it would nestle with the existing plate. I epoxied the discs into place, aligned with the holes in the transom using temporary bolts. When I made the final install, I would add four 1/4-inch thick aluminum discs, two-inch in diameter, acting as large washers progressively spreading the forces for each bolt.

The peace of mind of a solidly installed bracket cannot be beat.
© 2019 Joshua Wheeler

On the outside, I used a pair of 1-1/2-inch thick, four-inch X 12-inch King StarBoard blocks for mounting the bracket. Two holes per block would be easier to match than four on one. These would give sufficient area to spread the forces. I discovered the thickness was necessary to stand the bracket off of the transom. Otherwise, the handle would make contact with the transom when being raised and lowered. I chose King StarBoard because of its weather resistance and “no maintenance” characteristics. The bracket thru-bolts would mechanically fasten the blocks in place, so its low-adhesion quality was not a factor.

I carefully measured and drilled the holes to match those of the transom and bracket. I then beveled the edges, sides, and corners with a sander. With a liberal amount of 3M 4000UV-Resistant Adhesive/Sealant on the King StarBoard surface, bolts, and in the holes, I mounted the bracket. I used four stainless-steel, six-inch carriage bolts. The bracket was designed to receive the self-locking, square sections of carriage bolts. Thus, it was easy to climb inside and add the final washers and nuts and tighten them down without extra hands. I used the halyard again, similar to in dismantling, to hold the bracket in place while I did this. I then cleaned up the excess sealant that was squeezed out around the installation. I let it cure for a few days, tightened up the nuts a bit more and lastly, remounted the motor.

Note the liberal amounts of Adhesive/Sealant on the washers.
© 2019 Joshua Wheeler

I was able to sell the old bracket, bringing the overall cost of materials under $300. It took me much longer to do the job than if I hired a tradesperson. However, if I had hired the labor, I wouldn’t have the satisfaction of accomplishment and the intimate understanding of the installation and materials. After three years of Pacific Northwest sailing, including a circumnavigation of Vancouver Island, I still feel good about it. It is still strong. The conditions were right for me to take this project on and I’m glad I did. I like the challenge of looking at a problem and creating a solution that fits within the means, to learn new skills and increase knowledge. For people who want to have big adventures on small budgets, The Resourceful Sailor hopes to give ideas on how to make this happen. Remember, keep your solutions prudent, safe, and have a blast.

The Resourceful Sailor is not an authority, but rather, a conversation starter. The Series provides examples about fixes that worked best for the sailor in question, given their boat, resources available, and budget. The intent is to promote problem-solving through sharing so sailors can find the approach that best suits them and their needs.

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