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1972 O'Day 22 shoal keel bilge aaargggh

Discussion in 'Ask An Oday Owner' started by Love and Luck, Nov 14, 2018. Add this thread to a FAQ

  1. Love and Luck

    Love and Luck

    Joined Sep 25, 2016
    86 posts, 37 likes
    Oday 22
    US Lake Arthur
    I have a 1972 22 with the shoal keel. That's as early as these boats get. I don't know if this changed in later years or not, but there's a "bilge" in the form of a narrow tall void in the keel. This is only accessible by a small round hole in the cabin sole.

    Below the small round hole in the sole is a hard metal plate of some sort, also with a hole. Below this is the bilge inside the shoal keel.

    I have not measured exactly, but the depth of the bilge is probably about a foot from the sole, maybe a little more. It is only a few inches wide. I have no real idea how long it is, because without dropping a small camera in there, I have no visual on the fore end of it.

    All it does is collect water.

    The source of the water it collects is another problem, and one that I am attempting to address. That's a discussion for another day.

    I want to do something with this bilge. It's useless. An original owners manual suggested one could add more ballast in there, but I have no real desire to do that.

    It's difficult to pump water out of it, due to its depth, narrow width, and lack of access. A standard bilge pump just doesn't fit. I have to resort to the shop vac to really clear it out.

    I've spent a great deal of time considering how to increase access to the space, but cutting the fiberglass sole doesn't appear to be an option due to (I assume) the continued existance of that sheet of metal just below the sole. Okay, I could possibly cut the metal, but I don't really know what's happening there structurally, and that scares me. (I'm assuming the metal has something to do with supporting the 600lb weight of the lead in the keel to keep it from tearing away from the hull.)

    If I can't increase access, that leaves 2 options:

    1) continue to ignore it and deal with it, which has worked for 46 years I guess, but it bothers me

    2) this just occurred to me: Fill it with something. O'Day suggested adding more lead, but why not something else? fill it at least partially with something cheap and then pour epoxy in to seal it?

    One thing I know is that whatever goes in there is probably not ever going to be able to come out again, so I'm looking for some advice. Is this a good idea?

    If yes, what should I use to fill the space?

    If no, what other solutions might work?

    I'm adding some photos so you can see what I'm talking about.


    The hole:

    the view into the hole, showing metal plate. the purple thing is a flashlight.

  2. skipper66


    Joined Mar 29, 2013
    34 posts, 0 likes
    Oday 22
    US East Jordan
    Had the same problem on my 1972 O'Day 22. I cut two rectangular holes in the floor and made teak covers for both with a 1-1/2" finger pull hole in each. The longer cut ran from just aft of the round hole you now for roughly 14 inches forward. The second shorter cut exposed a fiberglass area in front of the bilge sump that also hold some water but is only an inch or two deep.

    While it is a little bit of work, I was able to install a small Rule bilge pump and a float switch to make it an automatic bilge pump. Really helped with the water problem and a lot simpler than having to manually pump out that hard to access area.

    Incidentally, once we got access to the sump, I was able to remove all the additional lead ballast and pour some epoxy resin into the bottom of both areas. This made for a nice, smooth, easy to clean bilge sump.

    The covers for the newly cut areas were simply two pieces of teak plywood. The bottom piece was just a tad smaller than the hole, and the top piece about an inch larger than the hole to provide support.

  3. Love and Luck

    Love and Luck

    Joined Sep 25, 2016
    86 posts, 37 likes
    Oday 22
    US Lake Arthur
    Thanks for the reply, That's encouraging, at least.

    When you cut the floor, did you run into that metal piece under the floor? does it extend that far?

  4. Project_Mayhem


    Joined Sep 24, 2018
    96 posts, 22 likes
    O'Day 25
    US Waukegan
    For a better view you can buy usb "snake" cameras on ebay and amazon for as little as $15-20. They usually have a small light on the end and come in two varieties - normal cable and a "stiff" cable. The latter has a piece of solid wire inside the cabling.

    My Starwind 19 is very similar. It has a round access port from the factory so you can get to the centerboard bolts. The bilge is about 8" deep. I pulled about two gallons of water out at the end of the season and poured two gallons of antifreeze back in there. A standard bilge pump is useless since you cant get it down that deep. So far it hasn't caused any harm. Though I am curious why bilges don't need barrier paint but the outside of the hull does

  5. Sunbird22358


    Joined Jun 2, 2004
    1,722 posts, 54 likes
    Oday Day Sailer
    US Wareham, MA
    Though I am curious why bilges don't need barrier paint but the outside of the hull does[/QUOTE]

    Well, you have heard the saying, "Out of sight, out of mind"? Truth is, in many cases, blistering was actually caused by freshwater in the bilge getting into a pinhole in the laminate because the bilge wasn't painted. Yes, in reality.... bilges should be painted, they in fact sell special paints to do it (Interlux "Bilgekote" for one) it is easier to keep the bilges clean if they are painted and I find that I can see when water is present better since I painted what parts of the bilge on my DS II that I could reach with grey Rustoleam enamel. (cheaper than BilgeKote and comes In smaller can! My bilge looks better too! Like a high-end yacht (OK, maybe I'm a bit biased?). I've made some fiberglass repairs in the bilge of my boat and the shiny Epoxy surfaces make it harder to tell if they are wet or dry, but covered by grey paint, the water is easier to see.

  6. Project_Mayhem


    Joined Sep 24, 2018
    96 posts, 22 likes
    O'Day 25
    US Waukegan

  7. davidmhull


    Joined Oct 21, 2014
    181 posts, 4 likes
    Oday 22
    US Richmond
    I also own a 1972 22' Oday. I think what you are seeing is the actual ballast in the keel. I know it is difficult to get all the water out of that hole but I really don't think it is much of a concern. When I first got the boat I was curious what it looked like down in that hole so I used a barrel pump (used to dispense from a 55 gallon drum bunghole ) and pumped it dry. There's really nothing down there. I asked Rudy about it and he said don't worry about a little water in there. They all have a little water.

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