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Old 03-24-2002
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Build a Swing Keel from Scratch - ''''74 Helsen 20'''' Sloop

I''m in the process of restoring a 1974 Helsen 20-foot sloop (ok, don''t laugh out loud). I''m contemplating becoming a liveaboard eventually (on a much larger boat, of course), and I figured the project would remind me about how much work a sailboat can be - it seems to be working.

The original swing keel is said to have been a fiberglass shell with lead ingots. The previous owners apparently rebuilt the swing keel out of steel slats, lots of resin, some kind of lightweight cement material and fiberglass fabric. Unfortunately, they apparently cracked the fiberglass and the steel marinated in salt water for awhile - thus creating a swollen keel in the UP position, which wedged itself inside the keel trunk. I LITERALLY had to chip it out piece by piece - not fun, to say the least.

In any event, I now need to build a new one. According to other owners I''ve located, the original swing keel was only 100 pounds, but it is 56 inches long, approximately 10 inches deep, and 1.5 inches wide and looks like a simple daggerboard.

Obviously, I want to make sure that I rebuild it strong enough, but also less apt to get swollen and stuck again. I''m thinking of using that honeycomb polymer foam-core, and cross layered fiberglass fabric with lead toward the bottom of the leading edge for weight.

Has anyone had experience in this arena and am I off-base with in using these materials?

I also don''t suppose anyone has any specs from a Helsen swing keel? Of course, Jopie Helsen now owns a huge Hunter dealership in St Pete and apparently can''t be bothered with any of his old designs - so contacting the builder for ideas is pretty much useless.

Ideas??
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