Stainless Steel?

Stainless has been a critical component of boat building for many years. However, this material is not as indestructible as you might think. As in almost every man made product ever produced; stainless steel has a life expectancy. It does deteriorate. Corrosion, fatigue, stress, and several other factors can come together and cause stainless to become as brittle as burnt toast.

The samples below, show what happens to stainless when subjected to the corrosive effects of galvanic corrosion, salt, and/or brackish water.

The stainless steel bracket above and the three below show just how important an inspection and/or replacement of fasteners can be. These swim platform brackets and fasteners were removed from a boat soon after one bracket failed. 
Note the condition of each bracket weld and fastener. You will note the different fazes of deterioration each bracket and fastener had reached.

This stainless trim ram was leaking fluid, only when fully tilted up, for almost no apparent reason, until the ram was disassembled. For some reason this ram shaft had started to corrode yet the other shaft was almost perfect. 

This welded stainless rail stanchion fitting is starting to fail at the weld. Some of the corrosion pin holes are all the way through the pipe.

These stainless hose clamps are a good example of what to look for when checking your thru-hull fittings and hose connections. Although these clamps were on the same hose, right next to each other; the top clamp had failed and could not be tightened. Corrosion had eaten the screw threads and the clamp just popped off by itself. 

Reducing the rate of corrosion of metal parts on a boat  is often achieved by installing sacrificial anodes and  bonding  metal parts together with earth ground wires and/or bonding buss straps. Testing and maintaining these protective systems is an important on-going required chore.

For more info about corrosion damage try this. [or try this about galvanic corrosion.]

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