No, really, it was unbelievable. When you have the right tools, the job isn't all that hard. Until you understand the tools, the job is impossible.
Yesterday was a day of gloom and despair. I had been defeated by two through-hull fittings. I spent hours fiddling around with things that simply could not work to free up these fittings. It was depressing. Wake up in the middle of the night depressing.
The first problem was that one of the fittings was nearly inaccessible inside a hanging locker.
More fundamentally, both fittings are effectively glued into the boat.
This piece of hose was attached to a through-hull with (a) no seacock and (b) a single hose clamp. Also, (c) it was almost inaccessible. (The clamp had been removed before I remembered to take this picture.)
Theoretically, this was acceptable because it was "above" the waterline. It's above the waterline only when the boat is sitting at the dock. Under sail, when the boat heels, it's below the waterline. Failure in the hose or the single clamp is a flood.
You can see that there's some white goo around the business end of the fitting. That's polysulfide adhesive. Very clingy. Very.
Most importantly, there's no getting a wrench around that stupid locknut. It's down inside a hole, inside a hanging locker ("closet"). It was impossible to get a tool anywhere near the nut. And the fitting outside the boat is smooth, to let water slide by without turbulence.
A neighbor in the boatyard suggested drilling the fitting from the outside. That means using a 1" spade bit, or a Forstner bit, or maybe a hole saw. One web page suggested using a reciprocating saw to cut the fitting into little pieces and extract each piece. All messy things. And there's no easy access to electricity in the boatyard.
Standing in Lowe's, looking at drill bits, the Lowe's sales person clued me in to a Basin Wrench. A much, much better idea.
The basin wrench (also known as a Sink Wrench) was a great suggestion. The really ingenious idea, however, was published by Don Casey. This was an amazing idea of putting a long bolt through the fitting and tightening the bolt against a stand-off to pull the fitting out.
So, we bought some 2x4, a 10" carriage bolt, nut and washers.
CA had some questions about the fact that the fitting is glued into a plastic boat. When we grind up the force on this extractor, what damage will it cause? How much of the fiberglass will pull out? Will the gelcoat crack? What will go wrong?
From the descriptions -- with no warnings or cautions -- it sounded like nothing much would go wrong. What did I have to lose? It had to be replaced.
It was easy to set up. Toss the bolt through the fitting. Push the cross-piece on. Thread on a nut. Mash the two feet up under the cross piece and tighten until you can take a picture.
Then... put a wrench on it and turn. How much force? Turns out, the answer is "not much".
It worked. It really worked: elegantly and smoothly. It was unbelievable. Shocking. Wonderful. The fitting pulled neatly out of the hole along with a wad of polysulfide glue.
It totally worked: basin wrench, the Don Casey extractor. Smoothly and elegantly.
Take the nut off, go inside the boat to pull the bolt out, and the stupid through-hull fitting drops into the boatyard gravel.
Wisdom is available. It's fairly easy to find. Search, learn, understand.
Half a tube of Polysulfide and we're back in business with some through-hulls onto which I can attach a proper seacock and double hose clamps.