The lifting keel on my Seal 28 jammed at the weekend; it was wound up 30 turns and failed to lower when the handle was wound back. Winding it up and down several times seems to have eased the jamming, although the handle seems harder to operate for the first 30 or 40 turns suggesting that the jamming occurs at the bottom of the travel.

The keel has not been serviced - other than lubrication of the screw and cables - for the eight or nine years I have had the boat, and I am concerned that continued jamming could put strain on the cables with the danger of breakage.

Has anyone with a Seal 28 any experience of lifting or removing the keel for servicing? It would seem that the only way to do this would be to lift the boat out of the water and jack the keel up on blocks shaped to go up into the stub keel and keel box, a potentially hazardous operation. I have no idea of the condition of the slider blocks - nylon? teflon? - and would like to replace the cables and check the upper part of the keel for corrosion.

Any help and/or advice would be most welcome.

Peter Maggs, Analie, Bradwell Marina, Essex

Peter Maggs
Mike Edwards
Hi Peter

I replied to your email before I managed to log in here.

Your problem is likely to be caused by

a) mud or stone up the keel case, a problem I had with Aztec a few times, well with mud anyway. or

b) it could be corrosion with flakes of rust jambing in the slot.

The bottom of the keel can be worked on with the boat lifted high in the lifting slings and with the keel fully down.

To get the keel up high enough into the boat to replace the strops or to work on the top half of the keel I used the following method, the boat just needs to be chocked up or in a steady frame with the bottom of the stub keel about 6 to 8 inches above the ground.

Below is an email I sent to the guy who bought Aztec from me about removing the keel strops, I hope it makes sense.

You will need various short lengths of 2 x 4 timber, say about 8 inches long, and a few pieces of 2 x 6 inch timber long enough to sit across the top of the keel casing and to support the winding mechanism.

One piece of 2 x 4 is used to put "end up" into the hole in the fixed stub keel when the drop keel is lifted to support the drop keel when the cables are slackened.

The basic principle of lifting the keel up out of the casing is to slacken the cables as much as possible and lift and block up the winding mechanism as you go using the blocks of 6 x 2 timber to support the winding mech.

Wind up the keel as far as possible by hand and then push a suitable length of 4 x 2 upright into the bottom of the stub keel to support the weight. I found that just one piece in the centre was sufficient. Then slacken the cables more, lift and block up the winding mech. higher with more 2 x 4. Wind up the keel again and fit another piece of 4x2 "flat" under the first one in the recess to support it.

Keep going, wind up the keel, add chocks under it into the recess, block up the lifting mec. wind up the keel more, etc until you have access to the nuts on the ends of the 1 inch stainless stud through the keel, block up the bottom of the keel then slacken the strops.

The 1 inch stainless stud through the keel also goes through the 2 nylon guide blocks, there is a further 1 inch stud below the first one which you will have to get to if you want to check on the nylon guides.

The top of the keel and the recess where the strops attach in the top of the keel always fills with mud, I used a screwdriver and vacuum to remove most of this.

I have done most of this on my own in the past when I was feeling fitter, but I would strongly recommend having at least one other fit person to assist you.

there is a lot of up and down the ladder to get into the boat.

You will need plenty of large dust sheets to protect everything in the boat when you start to pull the winding shaft forward to get to the bronze nut, as everything will be covered in dirty grease, especially when you pull the cables out back through the forward end of the winding mechanism.

I need to stress this could be potentially dangerous work and I feel I must add some sort of disclaimer. You must assess risks and take responsibility for all your own safety precautions. You should make your own decisions as to the suitability of my notes. As I have said, I prepared it from memory and I cannot guarantee its correct or safe..

Good luck and please, if you are unsure, give the job to a professional..

P.S. Personally if you can not feel any rough splinters of wire on the cables I would not replace them. I believe most of the wear and stress on the cables happens as the cable runs around the pulleys, this causes flexing and stress in the wires..

Mike Edwards

Seal 28 "Aztec"

I used a similar method to Mike. But constructed a crude frame using four lengths of 1.5 x 3in timber standing on 2x4in timbers on the floor of the cabin. I then bolted 1metre length's horizontally the top of the uprights. Then with the keel jacked up inside the housing from beneath using a bottle jack and timbers. I hoisted the lifting mechanism as high as it would go undoing the strops as I went along. I then supported the mechanism with two more rails again bolted into the uprights. Then cut four lengths of 1.5x1.5in timbers to support this new rail resting on the original support points inside the casing. I g clamped the upright timbers together to the edge of the casing then added more screws for rigidity and added some diagonals either side to inrease stability. Then I was able to raise the keel about two foot or so out of the casing exposing the blocks nipping outside every so often to re-chock the keel. In case of collapse. I have not begun to scrape off the rust yet but can see where my keel has bee sticking. I agree this is a potentialy dangerous procedure due to the weight involved but have sought to mitigate risk by proceeding slowly and re-chocking regularly.