Wow, that’s a mouthful. Holy moly!
The boom on our sailboat is attached to the mast by a gooseneck fitting, which is basically just a big, bulky hinge (so that the boom can pivot and swing freely). The gooseneck fitting is mounted on the mast by eight stainless steel screws. Three of the heads of those screws had sheared off (long before we even owned the boat).
Unfortunately, there is no “easy” way to simply remove the affected screws and replace them. Awesome.
The solution we found was to somehow perfectly drill each one out… because, if you mess up, you will in effect be drilling out the threads and will not be able to screw in another screw. Which would be a a massive bummer. And a major headache!
Jereme had mentioned this little project to our diesel mechanic, who confirmed how difficult it is… so we hired him to help!
To do this little project perfectly, we had to make sure the drill bit went right down the center of each old screw that we were trying to remove because, again, if we were off by just a hair, we would ruin the threads. We also made sure to drill very very slowly so we didn’t risk breaking off the drill bit in the old screw.
Once we drilled through the screw, we hammered in a left-handed drill bit and then twisted it counter-clockwise to remove the old screw. This required moving very slowly and carefully so we didn’t screw up. If it were to bind up while unscrewing, we would’ve had to stop. ….And if that drill bit were to break within the screw, we’d be screwed (pun intended!). 😉
Let’s just say the whole process to remove three measly screws took about three hours!
Jereme also sprayed PB Blaster (kinda like WD40 but stronger) all over the broken bolts to help loosen them up. He applied PB Blaster three or four times during the week leading up to the actual screw removal.
We successfully removed the 3 broken screws, along with the 5 other unbroken, yet old screws, and replaced all 8 with brand new screws, using loctite — so that they won’t unscrew on their own or get loose over time.
Project complete! Yay!
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