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post #11 of 18 Old 01-17-2019
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Re: can you tell if keel is iron or lead

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Originally Posted by Minnewaska View Post
One advantage of a bolt on iron keel is being able to fairly easily replace the keel bolts, without even dropping the keel. If the stainless steal j bolts holding a bolt on lead keel ever suffer crevice corrosion, it could cost more than the boat is worth to repair.
Sorry but I don't understand this. How does one replace the keel bolts in a steel keel?

In a lead keel I would think it would be a reasonably simple process since lead is soft enough to drill and has a low melting point.
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post #12 of 18 Old 01-17-2019
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Re: can you tell if keel is iron or lead

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Originally Posted by capt jgwinks View Post
Also in a hard grounding a bolt on lead keel will dent or deform absorbing much of the impact. The dents can then be beaten out with a hammer on the next haulout. An iron keel won't give, transmitting all of the force to the hull which can cause severe virtually unrepairable damage, possibly sinking the boat.
A lot of this depends on what type of keel this is. I've seen plenty of lead fin keels driven right up into the hull, cracking it like a big egg. Of course an iron keel would do the same thing in similar circumstances. The force exerted on the hull from a grounding is a lot more a function of the shape of the keel and the boats speed and the hardness of the material that's hit than a function of what the keel is made of. Cruising type keels that are a foot or more in width spread the loads out over a larger area so that damage to the hull is less likely in a grounding, but long, thin, racing type keels have both a long moment arm and a small area of contact with the hull with which to distribute the force of a collision, making damage much more likely.

My boat has an encapsulated iron keel and it's 27 years old with no sign of water having gotten to the iron inside. It was something I had reservations about and carefully considered before buying this boat. The fact that it was already over 2 decades old with no problems weighed in its favor. I also checked with several boatyards here in Maine and asked them about their experience with encapsulated iron keels but couldn't find anyone who had ever had to deal with one that had corroded and damaged the surrounding fiberglass though I'm sure it must occasionally happen. I also like the idea that it can't fall off due to crevice corrosion of keel bolts and it seems nice that the fiberglass is much easier to get bottom paint to stick to than lead is and I will never have to drop the keel to check for crevice corrosion of the keel bolts. While lead is denser, the stability of my boat isn't negatively impacted because the boat was designed to have an encapsulated keel from the beginning. With lead I could have slightly less draft or carry a slightly larger rig, but I'm content with my 6.5' draft on a 47' boat and my current rig seems to do just fine. Since I live in a cold climate. and can't afford indoor heated $torage, in order to avoid subjecting my encapsulated iron keel to the expansion/contraction associated with freeze/thaw cycles during the winter I store the boat in the water so the keel is kept at slightly above freezing temps all winter, no matter what the air temperature is and I pour some antifreeze in the bilge each winter so the small amount of water there doesn't freeze. For me, after having both encapsulated iron and bolted on lead keels , I think my ideal keel would be encapsulated lead. but there are valid pros and cons to each type and certain considerations must be dealt with over time no matter what sort of keel you have.
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post #13 of 18 Old 01-17-2019
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Re: can you tell if keel is iron or lead

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Originally Posted by skipmac View Post
Sorry but I don't understand this. How does one replace the keel bolts in a steel keel?

In a lead keel I would think it would be a reasonably simple process since lead is soft enough to drill and has a low melting point.
An iron keel has threaded holes in the keel, for the straight bolts. You pull them up through the bilge and replace them one at a time, with the keel in situ. You can either double nut them, buy a stud grabber or, in my case, the old nuts were so corroded on, they pulled the stud out by just putting a socket on the nut.

For a lead keel, you must separate the keel from the boat and melt out the J shaped bolts that are formed inside. Lead is too soft to thread. Then, recast in new bolts to a perfect alignment and reattach the keel. Big bucks.

If there is any water penetration through the keel joint on an iron keel, it would be wise to drop the keel and re-bed it, but short of that, it's substantially easier to replace bolts on an iron keel.


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post #14 of 18 Old 01-18-2019
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Re: can you tell if keel is iron or lead

The original question was regarding an encapsulated keel. There is a third option that seems to have been overlooked. Many encapsulated keels were ballasted with concrete and various scrap metals which would give erratic compass or magnetic reaction. I've seen rusty rebar and auto parts embedded in concrete in one well regarded brand name.
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post #15 of 18 Old 01-22-2019
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Re: can you tell if keel is iron or lead

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Originally Posted by Minnewaska View Post
An iron keel has threaded holes in the keel, for the straight bolts. You pull them up through the bilge and replace them one at a time, with the keel in situ. You can either double nut them, buy a stud grabber or, in my case, the old nuts were so corroded on, they pulled the stud out by just putting a socket on the nut.

For a lead keel, you must separate the keel from the boat and melt out the J shaped bolts that are formed inside. Lead is too soft to thread. Then, recast in new bolts to a perfect alignment and reattach the keel. Big bucks.

If there is any water penetration through the keel joint on an iron keel, it would be wise to drop the keel and re-bed it, but short of that, it's substantially easier to replace bolts on an iron keel.
Fortunately never had an iron keel to deal with but I have read a number of posts on boating forums over the years asking for help with keel bolts, in lead and iron keels. In the case of iron it seems like some may be threaded in but either some were cast in place or had been there so long that they were corroded in place and may as well have been cast in.

My experience especially with mild steel but also SS in Al and other metal bits on older boats, that after a few years bolts are difficult or even impossible to remove.

I think in theory bolts in steel keels might be easily replaced but in practice I think not always the case.
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post #16 of 18 Old 01-22-2019
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Re: can you tell if keel is iron or lead

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Originally Posted by skipmac View Post
...I think in theory bolts in steel keels might be easily replaced but in practice I think not always the case.
Iíve done my iron keel. I definitely wouldnít say it was easy. But in almost any equivalent scenario, itís easier than lead. Even in the extreme scenario, where they are so corroded in iron, you have to saw them off and drop the keel, they should still be easier to retract than melting out of lead and recasting.

Iíve never heard of bolt cast into iron, as they would be essentially irreplaceable. I have known bilges that were glassed over on the inside to presumably protect the studs and nuts. Itís not a great idea, IMO, but Iíve known it to be done and that would increase the complication factor.

If I didnít say it above, galvanized studs in iron are almost certain to need replacing long before stainless steel in lead, which could last a lifetime. However, if ss/lead suffers corossion due to a a leaking keel joint, itís always major surgery. Iron, as in my case, was a DIY job.


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post #17 of 18 Old 01-22-2019
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Re: can you tell if keel is iron or lead

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Originally Posted by jenweberfuller View Post
Is there any way to tell if it's iron or lead?
easy way:


Test for lead: smack your head against it really hard. If it hurts its lead.

Test for iron: smack your head against it really hard. If it hurts its iron.



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post #18 of 18 Old 01-24-2019
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Re: can you tell if keel is iron or lead

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Originally Posted by MarkofSeaLife View Post
easy way:


Test for lead: smack your head against it really hard. If it hurts its lead.

Test for iron: smack your head against it really hard. If it hurts its iron.



.
Great idea. How much do you charge for keel testing?
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