Time to get the cleats reinstalled on the boat. Earlier this year when we tore up the teak decking I had to make up some new wood blocks to replace the old ones that go between the cleats and the fiberglass. Those blocks were epoxied to the deck, and I finally got them primed and painted.
Jeni polished up all the cleats and they turned out pretty nice considering what we had to work with. Amazing what a bit of Flitz metal polish and a little elbow grease can do to make old rusty “stainless steel” shine like new again. All the bolts and nuts were replaced with new, but the holes in the original backing plates no longer lined up after we drilled and epoxy filled the existing deck penetrations. I ordered a 12″ x 24″ sheet of 14 gauge (0.075″) 316L stainless from Online Metals and began cutting & drilling to make new backing plates.
Stainless plate is pretty hard, and I used cobalt drill bits and a little cutting oil on low speed to make it through without smoking the bits. Even then it was pretty slow going compared to drilling mild steel, but I managed to bust out the 6 new backing plates in a couple hours and still have a little metal left over for the winches and other hardware we still need to mount. A quick spin on the bench grinder to round off the corners and sharp edges and they were ready to install. I didn’t bother to polish each one to a mirror shine due to the fact that in theory they should never see a drop of water. As with the rest of our deck hardware, the bolt heads and cleats were bedded with butyl tape procured from Compass Marine. We can now rest assured that wherever we tie off, tied off we shall remain.