How To: Bedding Your Stanchion Posts

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We’re finally to the part where we’re putting hardware back on our boat! Woop-Woop!! Talk about #Progress. Since we spent so much time and energy faring in all the previous holes from all the deck hardware to minimize any future leaking, we wanted to make sure we bedded everything properly to create a watertight seal. (Un)Luckily we’re in the midst of rainy season in Florida so we’re scheduled to get a string of nasty storms starting tonight to test them out. Yeah!

To properly bed, we used a sharpie, drill, a 1/4″ drill bit, a countersink, acetone, wiping rag, butyl tape, four 1-1/2″ 1/4-20 stainless bolts, four 1″ stainless fender washers, four stainless lock washers, four 1/4″ stainless hex nuts, a backing plate for each base, anti-seize lubricant, a screwdriver and a socket wrench for each base. (TIP, Check Amazon for stainless nuts, bolts, screws, etc. We found they had much better bulk prices than local hardware stores.

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Our deck is still taped for us to paint our nonskids. We did a round but literally maybe 5 pieces of the nonskid stuck so we have to paint again. You don’t need to tape anything off for this project. Our stanchions each have their own raised bed on our deck. The first thing we did was line them up centered on the bed and mark where we need to drill the holes with the sharpie.

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You can see here how off center the holes were originally. Seriously the story of this entire boat. Not a centered installation or a right angle ANYWHERE. stanchion-bedding-3

Next up is to drill the holes. Be very careful to line up the tip of the drill in the center of the mark so your bolts will fit properly. Start the drill off slowly to make sure the bit doesn’t move at all. I found that if I drilled the first two holes and put the base with two bolts on the bed it helped ensure all my holes were lined up perfectly. I learned this little trick after having to drill a few hole bigger to make everything fit. stanchion-bedding-4

See, perfectly drilled holes. Luckily most of the fiberglass was pulled out of the boat so the mess inside was manageable.
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Next up we have to countersink the holes. This step didn’t make sense to me at first as well since the bolts won’t actually be sitting directly on the holes, but rest assured, Jason assured me this was the way to do it. The reason you have to do this is to create a strong seal with the butyl tape from the bolt to the deck as any holes are where the leaking could potentially happen. (Not that it will with this expert bedding though!)stanchion-bedding-7 stanchion-bedding-8

Next take a rag and some acetone and wipe the surface clean. We don’t want any of the dirt and dust to cause breaks in our seal. stanchion-bedding-9

Now is the fun part. Unroll the butyl tape and start wrapping it around the edge of the underside of the stanchion base. I wanted a pretty hefty seal so I tried not to stretch out the tape too much when I pulled it off the roll. Cover every square inch with an even layer of the stuff. You want it as flat as possible so one spot isn’t getting any more pressure than another and we have an even seal. Now, when we tighten the bolts down we will be spreading it out even further but we still have to be conscious of this now. stanchion-bedding-10

See, pretty even. The butyl tape is pretty putty-like so you can mold it easily.

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Not only is this a prime example of how you wrap the base of each bolt head with butyl tape before you push the into the stanchion base creating a tight base to bolt seal, it is also a cry for help. I used to have well manicured hands. Or at least clean finger nails. Living in a yard full of dirt doing manual labor has destroyed any girliness I once had and replaced it with calluses. I don’t even have time to take the polish off, I just hope that all the acetone wiping will take it off as I go. Woe is me. stanchion-bedding-12

Push the bolts through the stanchion base so that the butyl tape is coming out just slightly on the outside edge of the bolt. The best way to get just enough tape on the bolt is to pull off a section of the tape and stretch it out, then twist it. Then wrap a small amount around each bolt. If you don’t get enough tape showing through on the top, now is the time to go back and add more. You don’t want to leave any opportunity for sneaky water to get in.

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Once all bolts are in you want to add another bit of butyl tape around the base of the bolt on the underside. This is the part that will sit down into the countersunk portion on the stanchion bed.

Next, flip this beast over and place it into the drilled holes. Be careful not to turn the bolts at all. We don’t wan’t to twist up any of the butyl tape. At this point you should have a pretty watertight seal around those holes. But, we don’t want to leave anything to chance in this respect so we’ll be securing it with nuts and washers and even a backing plate!

For the next part you’ll need one person on deck and one person inside the boat. Since we can’t turn the bolts to secure (or we risk breaking the seal) the person on deck has to hold the bolt in place with a screwdriver while the person inside secures. Our stanchions have 4 bolts and each have their own raised bed. Each bolt gets a fender washer, lock washer and a hex nut. Due to the design of the fiberglass along the outside edge of our boat, we can only fit a backing plate under the two inside bolts. Since we’re using an aluminum backing plate and stainless bolts, we coated the bolts in an anti-seize lubricant before securing. Be careful not to touch any unfinished wood if you have the lubricant on your hands or you’ll have blue handprints everywhere. Not that I know from experience or anything. I also hear that mineral spirits removes them pretty well.

And there you have it. Easy, right? While it was a simple process it did take me the better part of a day to complete so keep that in mind. Next up, winches!

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