Unsticking an Etap 26 Keel

Early in the season my keel decided it had had enough. It wan’t going to move no matter how hard I pushed the handle or how much grease I packed around the gears. Frantic research on the internet revealed that there was a set of bearings lurking within the crown wheel that eased the motion of the crown wheel on the supporting steel plate. My mission is to get access to the bearings and replace them if necessary.

Removal of the mast steps cover plate revealed the crown wheel and the supporting plate bolted to the lifting assembly.


Before the crown wheel and its bolt can be withdrawn the winding gear has to be withdrawn through the side of the mast step.



The supporting plate and its four bolts supports the boat when the boat is sitting on its keel ashore. Before removing the bolts its important to make sure the boat is well supported on props or on a trailer.

Once happy start undoing the bolts.


I found the first stage really hard and I had to use a hammer and long screwdriver to tap the wheel around until it cleared the top of the studs. Once the plate was released from the studs it was simple to turn the crown wheel by hand and withdraw the crown wheel plate and bolt.


The wheel was taken off the rod by unscrewing a small grub screw and then simply unwinding it.

Cleaning it off and inspecting its underside revealed the source of my problems. The bearing had fallen apart.


A bit more cleaning and the part number was revealed and ordered for £18.


Now for the reason it had failed. The mast step had evidently tipped forward a bit which apparently is a problem with this sort of boat when they get on in years. In tipping forward it had put all the weight onto the forward part of the bearing and the bottom of the wheel was also grinding against the steel supporting plate.

The solution.

Take off the mast step and build it up again with some filler till its nice and level. The thicker mast step will be stronger and further movement shouldn’t be a problem.

Taking off the mast step proved easy enough.


Next week its time to start on cleaning it all down and leveling it.

A few weeks later….


and here we are the finished article just waiting for the mast to go back up and be launched back into the river.