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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I've got a Helms 25 with a fixed shoal keel and a steel plate swing keel.


Keel trunk immediately surrounding/supporting the swing keel pivot pin is delaminating and soft on both sides. Of course, since it's below the waterline, outside water is finding its way in - in copious amounts.


I'm sure I'll have to cut away all the delaminated glass and rebuild it form the inside out with glass and epoxy resin.


I plan to support the swing keel and leave it in place while I work, so that the new keel pin holes will be properly situated and aligned. Working on one side at a time I will cut/grind/sand away the damaged area back to sound material and leave it at 12:1. I expect this will take me all the way through to the steel plate of the swing keel.

Rebuilding, I plan to start with a double layer of heavy cardstock waxed on the side facing away from the swing keel. I'll put an appropriately sized bushing over the keel pin and begin building up layers of glass cloth and matting (cut out for the bushing) 4 layers at a time. After 8 layers I plan to epoxy in a piece of marine plywood drilled out for the bushing, and follow up with 8 more layers of cloth and matting, or enough to bring the level flush with the outside of the bushing.

The original design just sealed the whole thing with a stainless plate, rubber gasket, and 4 screws. If I can't come up with something more elegant and reliably water tight I'll probably use the same.


First - does this sound like it will work?

Second - will the marine grade plywood be OK in the spot I intend to put it, or should I get starboard, HDPE, or just many more layers of glass?

Third - this boat will only ever be in fresh water - can I use brass for the bushings or do I need to turn up a source for bronze or stainless? If I will need the specialty items give me a hint where I could get this type of thing.

Fourth - what am I not thinking of? I'm making this up as I go and I don't want to miss something and cause more harm than good.



980 Posts
Don't use wood below the waterline. It can easily wear and get damaged and you'll be right back where you are now. Epoxy will not adhere to Starboard at all. Try laying up a solid block of fibreglass roving laminated with epoxy and using that.

Stainless or Delrin would be better for your bushings - brass is soft and will not wear well.

Any metal working shop can make stainless pieces for you. Delrin is available through mail order from most plastic suppliers.

Good Luck.

Owner, Green Bay Packers
999 Posts
Also, there's nothing to prevent you from making the bushing out of an additive thickened epoxy itself. You need an appropriate additive and some type of mold to make up a hockey puck, and then drill it out to fit the pin.

Regarding Sailormann's suggestion...look up a metal stock supply house in your area, Alro is a national firm I believe, and you can get a "cut-off" of stainless that will be suitable for your bushings. Take it over to your local machine shop along with the dimensions you need it turned to, and they bang it out for little in the way of cost or time.

Instead of wax and cardboard, you might fine it easier and more effective to just glue some Saran wrap to that plywood and use it for your inside form. I also would avoid the use of wood, no matter how good the quality, below the water line.

I'd expect you'll want to reuse the plate for the durability it offers.
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