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  #1  
Old 05-15-2009
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Question forming or adding lead ballast

Hello all:

I have a fairly tender Cape George 36 which sails well in light airs, but was not factory finished and is a bit underballasted. The previous owner reported 3000 lbs of lead was put in the boat, the rest finished with concrete.

I've spoken to the builder/designer... Cecil Lange and he told me the boat probably needs 2000-3000 lbs of lead to sink her down to her proper waterline.

The plan is to go offshore in about 26 months, and with that will come quite a bit of extra gear... mostly where I won't want it (on the ends of the boat and on deck).

Has anyone added ballast to their boat, or have any knowledge?

I had two plans concerning this... the first was to try more ballast in the bilge where possible... maybe with up to 1000 lbs.

the second plan was to form a lead shoe of 1500-2500 lbs (whatever we decide was necessary with all the additional cruising gear we'll be taking) and mold a shoe that would get attached with polysulphide or epoxy and then glassed over and laminated to the bottom of the keel.

A lot of questions come up:

Forming and molding the shape...

I was thinking about buying lead from tire stores around... and getting their used tire weights... anyone know other good sources for lead?

What's the best way to form lead? A tiger torch? Has anyone used something as a cast... if so, what? How could I build my own cast... for pigs or for forming a shoe?

Concerning the second plan--the one about the shoe:

I didn't want to pierce the encapsulated keel with bolts (that would be my reason for laminating), so does epoxy bond to lead as well as it bonds to wood or glass, if I prepped the surface adequately? My ship right friend was suggesting 5200 or polysulphide, and jacking the lead to the bottom of the keel in a few or several pieces, which would hold the lead in place until I could get fiberglass around it and to the keel. I really like the shape of the keel and the boat sails so well for a full keeled vessel... i just wanted to increase the draft by 4-6 inches or so (whatever was needed for the job), because the formed shoe would be about 5 inches wide.

Any words of wisdom, accounts or stories, or resources to point me in the right direction?

Thanks folks,

Tom
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Old 05-15-2009
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Umm... I would add the lead internally. 2800 lbs. of lead ballast only takes up about FOUR CUBIC FEET of space—so, you're looking at two-to-three cubic feet of lead to add, maybe 3.5 cubic feet at the most.

Why not remove the concrete from the encapsulated keel and replace some of it with lead.

You won't be able to laminate a lead shoe to the bottom of your boat with any degree of success IMHO. Lead is a relatively "slippery" material to work with and not much sticks to it with any degree of strength. By putting the ballast inside the boat, you'll eliminate the risk of the new ballast detaching suddenly.
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Old 05-15-2009
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I once read that lead shot used for shotgun shells mixed with resin worked well. I just don't know about adding more ballast though. Could you be running more sail surface then needed?
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Old 05-15-2009
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I once built a lead shoe for the bottom of a fin keel 26 footer but it only weighed 200 lbs. I used 5 lag screws and Marinetex to hold it to the bottom of the exisitng keel. When I was done you could not tell it was not original.

However you are talking about a lot more weight and even distributed along a full keel would be difficult if not impossble to attach properly. I agree you would be much better off adding it internaly.

I purchased my lead from a scrap yard. Do you have any idea how many tire weights it would take for your boat.

I melted mine over a wood fire in a heavy steel pail but with the amount of lead you are talking about this would not be adequate. Another option if you really want to go outside would be to contact Marsmetal and they will cast whatever you want but it will be expensive.

Good Luck

Gary
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MarsMetal isn't really a good option, since the OP isn't replacing a keel bulb, but needs to add to the internal encapsulated keel. Where Mars Metals excels is when you need to have an external keel built to replace an existing keel.

Be aware, if you're melting your own lead, the fumes are toxic, and you'll want a proper respirator.
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Old 05-15-2009
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Yikes!

I agree with SailingDog, keep it internal. That's how Atkin designed the boat, and Cecil Lange did not lay-up that hull expecting the ballast would be attached with adhesives to the exterior of the keel! Not to mention the change to the foil shape, as well as draft.

As for how to create the lead casting, you might contact somebody like Mars Metals and see if they could create a drop-in piece of lead ballast that would replace the concrete.

Oops, cross-post with Sailing Dog. I disagree about MArs MEtals -- they do a lot of different lead castings. Mars Keels, on the other hand, specializes in external lead keel foils.
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is the boat like this one? 10,500 lbs ballast!

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I confuse the two all the time... But have little need for either, being a multihull sailor.

The one major problem with doing a large casting to put in the bilge of your boat is weight... they're tough to handle in one large piece.

The lead shot encased in resin drops the density, but is relatively easy to handle.

Quote:
Originally Posted by JohnRPollard View Post
Oops, cross-post with Sailing Dog. I disagree about MArs MEtals -- they do a lot of different lead castings. Mars Keels, on the other hand, specializes in external lead keel foils.
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Old 05-15-2009
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Thanks for the quick responses.

The issue with removing some of the original concrete is that there were railroad rails embedded (the previous owner says welded to other framework in the concrete) in the concrete ballast, and they are supporting the engine mounts. I'd like to find an alternative to jackhammering out the concrete under the engine and under the 90 gallon stainless fuel tank.

I'm taking a stability class for the new Canadian 150 ton master's ticket and took one a few years ago--but am trying to remember the terms, so please bear with me:

1) wouldn't putting more ballast up higher be less effective than less ballast down lower? The righting arm is the difference between the metacentric height and the centre of gravity, is that sounding about accurate? The longer the righting arm (gm?), the stiffer the boat, the snappier the motion (and also... more uncomfortable at sea!).

So maybe more ballast in the bilge will help me carry a bit more sail, and yet enjoy a slower roll period and more comfy ride. We're just over on our ear... with reefed main and jib in 15 knots (like burying the caprail 1/2 the time--and Cecil Lange told me they should never bury their rail in conditions like that).

2) 4.8 cubic feet of lead doesn't sound like a lot... but how much is that spread over a width of 4 inches and a length of say... 120 inches? Would that make my shoe only 2 inches deep, and spread the weight that is hanging in the fiberglass out effectively? 4 cubic feet--when I think about a cubic yard of way, way, way less dense gravel or even concrete... isn't that almost the size of a dump truck load?

3) sail choice has a lot to do with it, but still--having to go from a high cut yankee to stays'l and 2ble reefed main in 15 knots and only getting 5 knots for being over... 15 degrees or more... that's unreasonable. That really says "more ballast" to me. When we're offshore and shorthanded and in a larger steeper swell on a murky night with a surprise squall... that degree of tenderness has "knock down" written all over it. The boat doesn't loose control or round up horribly, but it's still asking for trouble.

4) thanks for the reminder on the fumes. molding lead into steel buckets with a tiger torch? I heard it took hours. Anyone had experience with sand molds? A friend of mine molded some lead in a pig trough. so I guess the steel has a much higher melting point than the lead

5) thoughts on piercing the hull with bolts, then sealing and glassing over? Just doesn't sound like a good thing if we ever grounded and had to loose the shoe, but could come through otherwise intact... it may not be so clean with bolts tearing holes in the keel

6) absolutely a priority to retain keel foil shape... such as it is. Cecil Lange told me his keels were beautiful and did provide some lift, so it's true I don't want to mess with the beauty.

Anyway, appreciate the thoughts. This is a fun, old school project and I hope to keep enough brain cells intact from the melting process to enjoy some safe and fun offshore cruising!
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Old 05-15-2009
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excuse me, SD... 3.5 cubic feet at most (not 4.8 like I had quoted earlier).
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