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  #1  
Old 01-29-2005
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repairing keel - fiberglass cut

I just picked up a boat with which a previous owner had a fortunately unfinished project. He had started to cut the bottom half of the fin keel off. He seems to have only cut about halfway around just the fiberglass. Water has worked it''s way in though so I''m trying to figure out a good way to dry it out before repairing the fiberglass cut. Any ideas would be appreciated. Thanks, Joe
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Old 01-29-2005
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repairing keel - fiberglass cut

Hopefully the boat wasn''t launched that way, if so, water has saturated the keel''s core. At the very least, rain water had entered the cut through capillary action. My greatest concern would be, was the lead ballast/fiberglass connection compromised by the water intrusion?

Hire a pro to sound out the entire keel with steel/plastic hammers . . . dull, flat signals suggest water or air voids, indicating delamination. Surveyors are trained to detect failure by listening carefully to hull resonances. Testing the keel with a digital moisture meter would also be essential in measuring the extent of water absorbsion.

The next step requires drilling several holes into the keel at the areas with hollow soundings and high moisture readings. If done in a cold climate, tent the keel with poly taped to the hull and secured to the ground. The water will evaporate within 2-4 months.

If you can''t wait that long, place a heater within the tented area and check moisture with the meter until you get an acceptable level. I have heard that applied heat may just introduce more moisture, so monitor carefully. Plug and epoxy the holes with mahogany dowels, fill, fair and bottom paint.

If you detect a separation between the lead and fiberglass . . . you have deeper rooted problems.

Just my 2 centavos.

Best of luck, Steve
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Old 01-31-2005
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repairing keel - fiberglass cut

Steve, Thank you for your help. It definately was not put in the water since the cut was made. I was origanally told that a previous owner tried to cut it to get a more shallow draft! Now I found out from the property owner it was because the boat was being ejected from the inside storage and the overhead door was to low to get the boat out on the cradle it was on. Anyway, I don''t fully understand the direness of the situation. I''m really hoping you will stick with me here for a bit. The bottom portion of the keel directly under the cut line is filled with the lead ballast. Above that, inside of the keel is the open bilge area. So basically, the majority of the keel is normally wetted area. To tell you the truth, it seems to me that the cut may have saved the hull itself by allowing all the water leaking into the boat over 4 years to automatically drain right out the bottom instead of filling, freezing an cracking everything up. Please understand that my intent is not to argue, but rather a very sincere attempt at making sure I do understand the circumstances and to find a solution.
Again, I really thank you, I know this boat might not deserve it, but I''d really like to try and save it.
Joe
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Old 02-01-2005
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repairing keel - fiberglass cut

Joe, Glad to be able to offer suggestions to help with your problem, but I''m afraid what you really need is a local surveyor. To me, it sounds like there is no cheap fix to this problem . . . either do it right or walk away.

Points to consider:

If the prior owner attempted to cut the keel to remove the boat from inside storage, how did it orginally get in the shed? You need to do more research.

Didn''t you suspect foul play with your earlier belief that the keel was cut to create a shallower draft vessel? Please tell me that you don''t believe that by reducing ballast, the stability and safety of the boat is not compromised.

What are the boat specs, mfr., size/weight? This will give us a clue to how the lead ballast is attached . . . bolted, strapped or glassed.

Will you need to structurally reinforce the area that was cut? My keel has 6,000 lbs. of lead and if the glassed portion above the ballast was cut 50% around the keel perimeter, I would know that repairing the cut would take more than fiberglass fabric and resin.

Most of this is common sense . . . we cannot offer solid opinions without a full appraisal of the situation.

Steve
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Old 02-03-2005
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repairing keel - fiberglass cut

TrueBlue,

Sorry, I''d forgotten about this thread.

The building was actually one of those sheet metal warehouse deals that was added onto twice in the 6 years that the boat sat inside.

And believe it or not, I''ve actually met people that have modified their keels for shallower draft (they say they added more ballast at the bottom of the new higher keel to compensate).

This boat is is a 74 Irwin, 38'' LOA, 10''6" beam, 7500 lb ballast, 15,500 lb dry weight.

Again, none of the fiberlass surrounding the poured in lead ballast was cut, nor were the 4 keel bolts in the central portion of the keel (in the uncut area).

I do expect the keel to require some type of reinforcement. The method or type is something that I am trying to figure out. I tried to imagine some kind of stainless steel backing plates inside of the keel/bilge area at the cuts but can''t figure out how these could adhere to the areas above and below the cuts without bolting it on. Someone advised that if I grind out a foot or so (in height above and below the cut) of about half the thickness of the fiberglass to feather in a new fiberglass patch. Then fill a foot or two of the bottom of the keel/bilge area with some type of spray in hardening foam. This would be to give that area of the keel more reinforcement from the inside as compared to a hollow area behind a patch.

I have to say that I do find the "excessive" opinions elswhere regarding these issues surprising. Especially with the amount of storm boats down in Florida that were incredibly ripped up and are selling for ridiculously large amounts of money to be repaired.

I''m a realtor with some building experience. As an architect, doesn''t this lack of experienced methodology for something like this baffle you? I mean, this isn''t brain surgery, or rocket science. It''s fiberglass, and sometimes a little wood and maybe a little metal.

Is this the first keel that''s ever been damaged on a sailboat?

Again, I do appreciate your input and acknowledge that if I can''t find a way to do it right I won''t do it at all.

Joe
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Old 02-03-2005
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repairing keel - fiberglass cut

Joe, this is a big project. Maybe you should state your intentions more clearly. Are you looking to rebuild the vessel to reclaim its original designed strengths, and sail out in the oceans of the world, or are you looking for something to keep at a dock and make occasional forrays out into protected waters?

Either way, it''s time to get serious. As an archetect, you may or may not know the abilities of the materials you are planning on dealing with. You said that you may use SS backing plates in the bilge. Did you know that if SS is kept submersed in water it will corrode? Better off using steel and encapsulating it. But the list goes on and on.

I am sure you are a capable handyman with tools. But remember, you will be staking your life, and the lives of your crew on your handiwork.

How great is your structural engineering knowledge in a marine environment? The dynamic cyclical forces are something that are truly eye opening to those who take a casual view, and "Just a bit of fiberglass and some paint, she''ll be good as new!" is a recipe for disaster.

Your keel not only has to hang on, but be able to take the force of a grounding, and stay attached. Plus handle all of the working loads, which are tens of thousands of pounds in dynamics. Jeff H. had some good suggestions and guidelines.

Your port side interior needs to have it''s bulkheads and stringers re attached. They need to be continuous lengths of structural marine ply. Okume works nicely and is Lloyds registered for marine use (at about $250 per 4X8X3/4 sheet!) Then they have to be properly tabbed in place, and I don''t mean a couple of small peices of glass and epoxy. They need to be carefully layered with oriented cloth, extending out 6 or so inches with maybe 7 - 10 layers for glass. Did you know that you cant just match the curve of the hull and glass directly to it? You have to make a cushion of some sort at the point of contact between the hull and the bulkhead/stringer. Otherwise you will end up with fatigued areas in the hull at the point of contact with the rigid wood and the flexible fiberglass of the hull. Delamination will then occur. And ultimately failure of the structure.

You also need to take a look at the chainplates for the port side, and all the reinforcements they require.

I began this with "This is a big project" and Joe, it really is. In my comments in the "Moving a boat thread" I have expressed my concerns. Like yourself, I took on a project boat of 37'' as well. I had to do major interior work and fabricating new bulkheads and stringers as well. All new wiring, electronics, plumbing, all deck hardware gone over, new running rigging, replacing any suspect standing rigging. The cost has been tremendous, but I am enjoying the results. I looked at a lot of projects, and also non-projects, but chose my boat and entered into it with my eyes wide open.

Please don''t take our comments lightly. This is a huge ammount of work, and the payoff will be a vessel that will be worth much less than the direct dollars invested, not to mention your man hours.
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Old 02-03-2005
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repairing keel - fiberglass cut

Joe, As I had advised earlier, and as Simaril so eloquently stated, if you are truely serious about this project, obtain the assistance of a local professional. You obviously have not the qualifications to make these decisions on your own and you certainly should not take any recommendations from this board too seriously.

Regarding your question . . ."As an architect, doesn''t this lack of experienced methodology for something like this baffle you?" No, I am not baffled . . . again, do not take most comments here too seriously.

My architectural practice requires me to confront many issues regarding structure, material strengths and their appropriate applications. Solutions to these problems are specifically created by the use of complicated formulas while maintaining compliance to strictly enforced regulations . . . all driven by the client''s program. I am not qualified to make professional decisions for you, nor would I expect you to act upon them. Hopefully the good people here have given you enough to work with.

Best, Steve
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Old 02-03-2005
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repairing keel - fiberglass cut

Silmaril and all,
I won''t comment on the vessel in question (simply beyond comment!) but think the discussion thread quite interesting.

Remember last year''s tread about the $1000 Sanatana 30? The poster wanted to share what a great deal he got on a salvage. Even though he was new to the boat game, he couldn''t understand posted comments about the probable financial disaster he faced - hey what could go wrong, he had only spent $1,000? Over a few months he posted questions about electrical replacement, engine replacement, and then eventually silence.

The problem with these threads is, when a hard-of-hearing newbie insists on learning their lessions the hard way, he/she is too embrassed to share them with the rest of us.
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Old 02-03-2005
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repairing keel - fiberglass cut

SailingFool,
What''s the deal with the "them and the rest of us"? These boards are a place for anyone to come to get help or to give help. I happen to not be a newbie. I''ve happily enjoyed motor and sailboat ownership throughout my life. I have also been signed on this board for a long period of time and have offered my advice to others on topics that I''ve had personal experience with as well as recieved it. As far as this boat, I''ve explained that I haven''t made my mind up as to which way to go. I''ve asked here for help and some have offered that help. I sold my Paceship Northwind 29'' sloop last fall and wish I could get it back, but can''t. So I''ve been working on alternatives. I would bet the Santana 30 buyer last year didn''t start a thread asking everyone to second guess a decision he had made. I''d bet he asked for help and I''m sure some gave it to him because there are some good people here. Maybe he''s been peacefully sailing his Santana around the world since someone helped him overcome his (possibly)last rehab challenge. Is the problem with these boards that people ask for and get help or is it that there are some that like to feel important and beat up on other peoples boats and not do everything we can to make "newbies" feel at home?
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Old 02-06-2005
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repairing keel - fiberglass cut

hi joe jeff here and i think i have seen the boat that you picked up on the net.my first comment to you is good for you follow that dream.I am a steel fabricator and build my own houses so i say nay to the naysayers i believe that with some reasearch and time that yours can be done the road may be long but the rewards are great. i have experiance in glasswork as well and will suffice to say that some of what iv''e read on this board is sound with your skills you should be ok to go remembering that structure is the most impotant issue. if you can keep the structure dry from new moisture, time would dry it if not depending on your weather a simple fan/heater combo works for me. as was advised earlier moisture is the killer so get it dry, read up get some local advise from glass shops and go go go you can do it.............jeff
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