Looking for tips on installing tie downs

I purchased tie downs for my cooler and before I drilled holes in my front deck I would like to make sure I learn any tips to make sure I get the optimum result.

They are the Accon small size stainless steel flush mount tie downs like this:

When I received them I found that are a two piece item. There is a plate w/ the tie down bar and a round cup with a flared lip that fits underneath.

The instructions say to drill a 1 1/2 inch hole for the cup and four holes for #8 size bolts. I plan to drill the bolt holes through the deck and put a stainless steel washer and nut to hold it in place. (Instead of mounting with screws into the fiberglass deck)

Questions that come to mind:

Are there any issues with using a hole saw to cut the big hole into the fiberglass? Do I have to worry about it splitting, cracking or de-laminating over time?

Are the ss nuts and bolts from Lowes okay or should I get a marine grade?

I plan to use a sealer between the deck and cup and between the cup and tie down plate. A friend of mine says that 3M 4200 sealant is the way to go. Any advice on sealing or sealant to use?

The cooler is the 55 quart Igloo Sportsman. The most convenient looking location would be over the access to my front dry storage hatch meaning that I’d have to move the cooler to get in there. I don’t have a problem w/ that b/c I can make sure that I don’t need to get in there much if at all while on the water. Moving it aft a little would cover the gas tank which isn’t a problem but would be much more difficult to get the nuts & bolts installed. Any suggestions given the pic of my boat?

Any other tips or “look out for this” would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks for the help.

I’ve drilled many a hole(big & small) in fiberglass boats without any issues. I usually put down masking tape or blue painters tape and layout the holes with a pencil or a Sharpie. With the smaller holes, you should be able to drill easily. For the hole saw, I like to drill a 1/4" pilot hole, start the hole saw in reverse to burn thru the gel coat, then put it in forward and drill. It seems like the gel coat doesn’t chip as easily that way. I don’t know about delaminating over time. Maybe Cracker Larry will chime in. He’s probably forgot more about this kind of stuff than I’ll ever know.:smiley:

I think Lowes stainless hardware is as good as any. I use it all the time.

3M 4200 or 5200 is excellent sealant. I think the 4200 is a fast cure while the 5200 takes a few days to totally cure. For what you’re doing, the 4200 should work fine. Get some lacquer thinner for clean up.

(helpful hint: When you’re done, cap the tube, wipe off any excess and put it in your beer fridge in the garage/shop. It will last a loooong time. I’ve got a tube of 5200 that I’ve had for over 2 yrs. Just let it come to room temperature before you use it.)

Hope this helps.

PS: Measure twice, drill once.:wink:

Bob Van Gundy
Marine Designs,Inc.
Custom Aluminum Fabrication

Thanks a lot Bob. I’ve never worked w/ fiberglass & gel coat and would not know about the chipping.

I understand that the 5200 is an adhesive that won’t ever come apart once it’s installed. I wanted to go w/ the 4200 sealant so that if I ever had to replace the tie down I could remove them.

If it were me, I would not cover my dry storage. If you can access the area over your gas tank and make sure you don’t drill into anything critical I would do that. Also you have to think about screws rubbing through wiring or hoses, so be extra careful and double check the location of all your hardware. If it looks sketchy, then cover the dry storage and just move the cooler to access it.

It seems that you already have a good plan and some good advice, so take your time and it will turn out fine.

'06 Mckee Craft
184 Marathon
DF140 Suzuki

I would ditch the seat on the front of the console and put the cooler there. Front space on that front deck is at a premium once the dance begins… you don’t wanna be backing over that cooler when you are hauling in a fish or casting nets… speaking from experience. Consider a big custom 3" cushion for that area for bikini-clad crew.

I’m glad you were smart enough to ask:smiley: I’ve seen hundreds of boat ruined from improperly installed hardware, often done by people who call themselves riggers at marine dealerships.

I am an anal fanatic when it comes to sealing holes. Any bolt or screw that I put in a boat, I first make sure the core is forever sealed in epoxy. For small bolts like that I first drill the holes over size, cover the bottom of the holes with a piece of masking tape to act as a dam, then fill the hole completely with thickened epoxy. When that cures, re-drill the hole to final size. This makes a solid epoxy plug surrounding the bolt and it’s not possible for moisture to get in the core. Then seal the bolt with 5200 or 4200. Also, if the deck is foam cored it is easily crushed by tightening bolts and the epoxy plug will prevent the crushing

The exact method I’d use for the larger hole would depend on the deck thickness and the core material. Foam would get treated differently than plywood.

After you cut the hole with a hole saw, if you’ll post a picture of the cut out core I’ll tell you how I’d proceed. In any case, you need to seal that edge very good with epoxy or fiberglass.

As an example, this is a 1" transom drain I put through a plywood core. Hole drilled over sized, completely filled with thickened epoxy, then re-drilled to final size. Moisture will never get into the core, the fitting is surrounded by solid fiberglass. I do all bolts, screws and smaller fittings this way

Larger fittings I do differently. This is a 3" hole in plywood for a thru hull fitting.

Bevel the edge. Tack a scrap of plywood covered in plastic on the underside, tacked in with hot glue…

Dang Larry that is clever!

“Apathy is the Glove into Which Evil Slips It’s Hand”.

Thanks Larry & everyone. I plan to do it this weekend. The deck seems to be about 3/4 to 1 inch thick. I cant really measure it. I’m just judging it looking it over and pinching with my calibrated fingers. I don’t know what the core is but there’s no wood in the construction of the boat. I’ll post pictures after I cut the holes as you suggested. The screw holes are so close to the center hold that I’m not sure the oversize hole will fit without encroaching on the center hole. I guess that they don’t need to be over sized by much. I’ll check it out.

Larry - Another question came to mind when I re-read your post.

What kind of epoxy do you use? For a different (non-critical) application I used some JB Weld brand that I drilled a hole for a screw but I drilled it a little too small. When I put the screw in it broke the epoxy to pieces - it was very brittle.

Any good marine grade epoxy is fine. I mostly use a brand called MarinEpoxy, sometimes System3 Silvertip, occasionally West System. JB weld is for fixing mufflers, not boats:wink: It’s far to brittle. To thicken the epoxy I use wood flour and milled glass fibers. Wood flour is a pine sawdust but as fine as cooking flour.

That boat is too nice to mess it up. If you aren’t comfortable doing it, if you want to haul it down to Clyo, GA I’ll do it for you.

Capt. Larry Teuton
Cracker Built Custom Boats

“Ships are the nearest things to dreams that hands have ever made.” -Robert N. Rose

Hey, I don’t know 2% of what Larry does about boats but, it looks like the tie-down fitting is like a cup. Rather than drill a hole all the way through, could you rout a shallow hole deep enough to accommodate the fitting and not go all the way through and coat it with epoxy before you install it? Just a thought.

“Apathy is the Glove into Which Evil Slips It’s Hand”.

DF, that’s exactly what I would do if the cup is shallower than the thickness of the deck, although I would still make it slightly over sized, fill it with thickened epoxy, then router the cup into the epoxy.

I have been accused of wearing both belt and suspenders, but my boats and repair work have a lifetime guarantee, my lifetime anyway, and I’ve never got one back :smiley:

Capt. Larry Teuton
Cracker Built Custom Boats

“Ships are the nearest things to dreams that hands have ever made.” -Robert N. Rose

Very thoughtful DF. I’m out of town for a couple of days and will look at it more closely when I get home. I think the cup depth is very near the deck thickness but probably a little deeper. In any case I chose this particular tie down b/c I wanted it to be flush mount as much as possible when the cooler wasn’t there so that I wouldn’t have something to trip over.

Thanks for the offer Larry. I may take you up on it. I’d love to have your quality work on my boat. I’ll look up Clyo and see if I can get there any time soon.

Originally posted by Cracker Larry

That boat is too nice to mess it up. If you aren’t comfortable doing it, if you want to haul it down to Clyo, GA I’ll do it for you.

Capt. Larry Teuton
Cracker Built Custom Boats

“Ships are the nearest things to dreams that hands have ever made.” -Robert N. Rose

Now that is what this site is about. Good on you Captain.

Originally posted by Bolbie

…the harbor was slick as an eel pecker.


I picked up some nuts, bolts and sealant at West Marine on my way through Columbia today. They had some West System epoxy but I didn’t get any b/c I didn’t know if it was the best to go with. Also all they had was a huge amount compared to the task at hand. I also need to get some ss washers for the underside. The ones they had were really small. I’d like to come to your place and get your help if it’s still good for you. I’m about 2 hours away on the south side of Aiken.

How long do you think it would take? Could I help for a learning experience for me? What else do I need to get besides epoxy? When could I bring it?

Thanks a ton for the offer.

I'd like to come to your place and get your help if it's still good for you.

I don’t make idle offers, especially on the Internet with other people watching :smiley:

It would be expensive to buy 1 1/2 gallons of epoxy when you only need 6 ounces, and a pound of fillers when you only need one ounce, or even a tube of 5200 when you only need a small squirt. Not to worry, I’ve got gallons of epoxy, pounds of fillers, and I buy 4200 and 5200 by the case in caulking gun size tubes. You don’t need to bring anything except the boat and the fittings. I assume there are 2 of them?

I’ll need the boat at least 2 days, possibly 3, to give time for the epoxy layers to cure hard enough to machine. The actual work won’t take 3 hours. I spend a lot of time waiting on epoxy to cure anyway and can do that in between other stuff.

My shop is at my house, and if I’m not fishing I’m usually here building boats, or waiting on glue to dry. PM sent with phone and address.

Capt. Larry Teuton
Cracker Built Custom Boats

“Ships are the nearest things to dreams that hands have ever made.” -Robert N. Rose

Every now and then I get a little fed up with the sniping and some of the negative posts here on CF but, then I see people like Larry (and many others) that offer help, advice, etc. and I am reminded that you have to take the good with the bad. Here, the good far outweighs the bad. That is really nice Larry!

“Apathy is the Glove into Which Evil Slips It’s Hand”.

Good on you Larry! There still are good people out there.

I agree w/ you on some of these threads and don’t read them after they turn ugly.

Like you said the good stuff certainly outweighs those. I really learn a lot and learn where to get help when needed. It’s been a great for me as a relatively new boat owner.


I sent you a PM.