Learning How to Repair My Iron Keel - SailNet Community
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post #1 of 10 Old 05-13-2016 Thread Starter
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Learning How to Repair My Iron Keel

Good afternoon everyone! I am a relatively new boat owner and looking for some help with repairing my keel.

I am very open to attempting repairs myself, but just not sure exactly what I need to do.

I have a 31 foot Niagara Sailboat which I dearly love. I have had it for 2 years and will soon be launching again for the season.

A problem I have though, is that my keel looks like this (Photos Attached)

I am trying to determine what I need to do. So far, I have figured out that I either need to sandblast (Probably not probable or feasible) or manually scrape the keel down to the bare iron. I just don't seem to be clear on what I need to resurface the iron with.

The simplest method that I can determine is 2-4 coats of epoxy and then repaint the bottom. And I have seen some posts that are far more complex....

Judging by the thickness of the material that seems to be flaking off of the keel (with a little help from the pressure washer last time I took it out of the water) I feel that there is more material needed.

Like I said, I am very new and ignorant of the world of boat repair, but willing to take advice!

So please.....how do I get from the bare iron to the water! ha ha

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post #2 of 10 Old 05-13-2016
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Re: Learning How to Repair My Iron Keel

Sandblasting is by far the preferred method, but if you have ruled that out, I'd suggest you remove all old paint. Personally, I'd do it with a chemical paint stripper, applying it only to the iron, avoiding any fiberglass or gelcoat. Then I'd wire brush the keel with a wire wheel on an electric drill. Then I'd paint it immediately with a rust reformer, just to prevent oxidation while you continue to work on the keel. Then I'd fill the pitting and smooth the keel with something like Marine-Tex. Then I'd apply several coats of barrier paint, and then apply antifouling paint. Finally, I'd attach a zinc anode to the keel.
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post #3 of 10 Old 05-13-2016 Thread Starter
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Re: Learning How to Repair My Iron Keel

Thanks for the advice Sailormon6....I think I'm finally getting my head around what needs to be done...

Do you have any favorite specific brands/products that you would recommend for the following:

Chemical Stripper =
Rust Reformer =
Barrier Paint =

Is the Marine-Tex just like a filling compound for smoothing out the surface, similar to doing plaster on a drywall?

Thanks for all of your help! I can't wait to get started on the repair!
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post #4 of 10 Old 05-13-2016
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Re: Learning How to Repair My Iron Keel

Here' s what I'm doing to the iron swing keel on my Catalina 22. Please note that this is a small, cheap boat and I'm not racing it, so it only needs to be good enough.

I used a grinding wheel on my drill to grind off as much of the rust and previous paint as possible. It didn't go down to bare metal everywhere, but my thought is that any paint that can hold on through the grinding is not likely to be flaking off anytime soon.

I used a hammer and chisel to knock out the loose filler from a previous fill job. Again, any fill that resisted being knocked out I left in, the thought being that if it's that tough it won't cause a problem.

I put on two coats of Pettit Rustlok primer (nasty stuff, but it seems really good). That's where I'm at now.

Next I'm going to fill the most egregious of the divots, but the little pocks and grooves I'm not going to worry about. Again, not racing.

Then I'm going to put on two or three coats of Pettit Neptune 5.

Then I'm going to go sailing.

I'll let you know in 2-5 years if it holds up.
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Catalina 22
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post #5 of 10 Old 05-13-2016
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Re: Learning How to Repair My Iron Keel

GREETINGS EARTHLINGS : try to borrow a needle gun (air or electric) for the thickest of the rust (do not bother worth a wire brush on a drill (waste of your time) to do a good job use a wire cup brush on a angle grinder ( use glasses and gloves and dust mask) this will shift the rust and get a good key for paint. Paint you can use YELLOW CHROMITE AS THE PRIMER then a filler and undercoats of your anti-fouling. HOPE THIS HELPS AS ALWAYS GO SAFE
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post #6 of 10 Old 05-13-2016
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Re: Learning How to Repair My Iron Keel

The safest is to clean the metal to white, that is no rust should be visible and the metal will be like a mirror. After cleaning apply 2-5 coats of epoxy without any additons, then apply 1-2 coats of epoxy barrier coat. You can use epoxy filler between the bare epoxy and epoxy barrier coat to smooth the surface.
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post #7 of 10 Old 05-13-2016
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Re: Learning How to Repair My Iron Keel

I'm surprised that this boat would have an iron keel.. have you confirmed that? I don't see a lot of evidence of rust in your (tiny) pictures. Looks like failed fairing to me, but first see if it passes the magnet test...


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post #8 of 10 Old 05-13-2016
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Re: Learning How to Repair My Iron Keel

Sure looks like lead to me. Consult the West epoxy user guide. WEST SYSTEM | Use Guides Make a putty from epoxy and 410 light filler.
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post #9 of 10 Old 05-13-2016
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Re: Learning How to Repair My Iron Keel

The Niagara 31 keel is lead and the only time I have seen lead in that condition was a boat that had serious stray current issues and had been hit by lightning. Get a pro to look at this before you do anything else.
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Re: Learning How to Repair My Iron Keel

What boatpoker said.
And rashly assuming it can then just be refaired, the West System folks will give you free technical advice including a list of what materials and quantities you'll need--and you don't even have to buy from them. Although, their stuff certainly is good, and competitive.

If it is lead and you are working on it, you may have a hazmat issue with the yard, requiring it to be tented and handled as such. If you are allowed to work on it, remember lead dust is toxic, you'll need at least a good respirator if not SCBA.

And in any case, you can probably rent a sandblaster for the day, or rent the compressor and buy a cheap sandblaster for the job, or the needlegun. Wire brushing THAT much material from that much keel will be an exercise in self abuse.

Just one man's opinion.
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iron , keel , niagara , repair , sailboat

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