Hi Boat Doctor. We left our swim ladder down after taking a dip at a local beach. When we took off, we heard a bang and looked back to see our ladder hanging on by one bracket. Several screws pulled out of the fiberglass swim platform. There is no way to get inside the swim platform, so through-bolting is out. A friend recommended inserting dowels into the holes in order for the screws to bite. Would you agree with this?
Kate and Bobby Winslow Islamorada, Florida
I’ve never been a fan of the dowel method. It’s quick, cheap and effective in the short term. It’s a good field repair. But dowels are all end grain and don’t last long once they get wet.
Instead, I’ll suggest a product and a technique. The product is called Toggler by Garelick/ EEz-In (garelick.com), and they are special bolts for blind fastening. Intended for securing seats onto cockpit soles, they are very secure and work well. I would recommend these for your ladder repair. These are sized for ¼-20-size bolts, so you may have to drill out the holes on your ladder bracket. A half-inch hole must be drilled to use them.
Alternatively, drill the holes out to four times their diameter. Fill the holes with thickened epoxy resin or a pre-made epoxy patch such as the Pettit EZ Tex reviewed on this page. Once cured, drill a hole and tap threads for the appropriate-size machine screw.