Lead versus Iron Keel - SailNet Community
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post #1 of 15 Old 09-14-2013 Thread Starter
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Lead versus Iron Keel

HI Folk,

What are the maintenance issues and differences for lead versus iron keels?

Is one keel more maintenance intensive than the other?

For exampe, the Catalina's are built with lead keels and the Jeanneau and Beneteau boats are made with iron keels. Clearly iron is a less costly material. Are there more problems with iron keels?


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post #2 of 15 Old 09-14-2013
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Re: Lead versus Iron Keel

obviously an iron keel is going to need more prep for paint and possibly some scraping/sanding/wirebrushing before going back in to the water.

Both still use steel bolts for securing to the hull, so that is the weakspot

Art Haberland
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Re: Lead versus Iron Keel

Here's a similar thread.
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post #4 of 15 Old 09-14-2013
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Re: Lead versus Iron Keel

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Originally Posted by Yamsailor View Post
HI Folk,

What are the maintenance issues and differences for lead versus iron keels?

Is one keel more maintenance intensive than the other?

For exampe, the Catalina's are built with lead keels and the Jeanneau and Beneteau boats are made with iron keels. Clearly iron is a less costly material. Are there more problems with iron keels?


Thoughts?
I have a Catalina 22 with a cast iron swing keel that I sail in San Francisco Bay. The boat gets rinsed after each sail and stays on the trailer. I was really surprised with how little rust forms on the keel. I wire brushed it and sprayed it with some rust converting spraypaint and that seems to have been enough. I'm certain that the rusting would be different if I kept her in the water the whole time. Overall I'm very happy with the cast iron swing keel. Being able to beach the boat is very nice for picnics and such. ~LL
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post #5 of 15 Old 09-14-2013
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Re: Lead versus Iron Keel

Yam - I agree with Mad. Maintenance is the issue. The lead keel requires less, while an iron keel requires more. I am not a fan of spending hours grinding the keel, to get to bare metal, then prepping it, then painting with antifouling. I have a Hunter with a lead keel. I just apply new anti-fouling (if needed). The lead holds the paint, I generally don't have to scrape.

Chris
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post #6 of 15 Old 09-14-2013
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Re: Lead versus Iron Keel

I have iron and its fine. was a small rust spot once when I firt hauled and I rubbed back, ospho, pained and its been fine since.
With the cost savings in iron it would be a wealthy man to want lead.


Mark

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post #7 of 15 Old 09-14-2013
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Re: Lead versus Iron Keel

I have iron and it is very durable and easy to maintain. It's iron! It's so thick that if i left it for 20 years the rust would just slow the boat down (then fall off). The paint has held up well. Sandblast, prep, and epoxy barrier coat before bottom paint. It will last a long time. No issues with lead FRP separation like on some boats. I've seen some very extensive damage to lead that would never occur to iron. Chunks torn off and gouging.
Lead is more performance oriented nowadays. Iron is cheap and durable.
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post #8 of 15 Old 09-14-2013
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Re: Lead versus Iron Keel

Both have positives, both have negatives.....choose your poison!

I have a Jeanneau with iron. The literal same size shape etc, would weigh some 500 lbs more. OR, I could make the keel a bit thinner, maby make the boat a few seconds a mile faster!

As noted, depending upon your maintenance issues, every decade or so you may need to completely remove everything from the iron keel, reepoxy and start with bottom paint again. Every haulout you may have a spot or two to do. Otherwise, really not much different than lead, paint it!

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post #9 of 15 Old 09-14-2013
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Re: Lead versus Iron Keel

both have their benefits if you are into the habit of running aground. The Iron will hold up better without damage.. the lead will take damage, but might soften the blow to the hull itself as it is much more malliable

Art Haberland
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post #10 of 15 Old 09-14-2013
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Re: Lead versus Iron Keel

Yam - I would not base the decision to buy a boat based upon the keel composition. As the thread has established, lead is easy to maintain, but iron isn't difficult. It's a keel - a huge hunk of metal hanging off the bottom of your boat- grind it, blast it, sand it -- you can't hurt it. If its iron, you just need to prep it before you paint it.

Love the boat you buy, you will spend more time and money on other aspects of her.

Chris
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