Keel Concerns

Discussion in 'Wooden Boat Building and Restoration' started by Tangusso, Dec 7, 2008.

  1. Tangusso
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    Tangusso Junior Member

    I am considering the purchase of a 1930's Elco cruiser. She seems pretty solid in terms of framing (all ribs replaced with laminated oak), and planking (refastened bottom with bronze recently). The keel, however, has been "repaired" at some point. Obviously the person that replaced the ribs thought the repair was good enough to go ahead with the frame repairs, but it looks suspect to me. I cannot tell if the added material is replacement wood for some removed, or simply additional wood fro added strength.

    In any case, I am hoping that some more experienced eyes will be able to determine the soundness of this work, and possibly make some suggestions.
     

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  2. PAR
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    PAR Yacht Designer/Builder

    It looks as if the keel "shoe" has been replaced with a laminated version of the same. The rest of the deadwood assembly appears as if they used sizable chunks of timber, but the lower portions are stacked 1 by stock. This is an acceptable repair, but I don't like the looks of a few pieces in the forefoot, where the glue may be letting go in places.

    This shoe is intended to be sacrificial in nature. It gets banged, crunched, smashed, dragged over oyster beds, etc. and they get torn up. A replacement could be laminated as seen in the images, but the glue has to be waterproof, plus the lumber prepped properly for the adhesive used.

    Make a close inspection of the laminated areas, fix any damage and paint it up It'll work fine.
     
  3. Tangusso
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    Tangusso Junior Member

    Do you think the checking that is visible on the original wood is a concern? I can replace any piece I can remove, but I cannot replace a keel.
     
  4. Tangusso
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    Tangusso Junior Member

    The other thing I noticed is that the repair just below the stem seems to go well into the area that would have been original keel, right up to the first plank. If the keelson and keel show excessive checking, but no real rot, is this a concern?
     
  5. PAR
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    PAR Yacht Designer/Builder

    Large hardwood timbers like that will check, it's the nature of the beast. They can be bothersome if they cross the rabbit, but other wise aren't much of an issue.

    People have tried all sorts of things to fill them, though none that I've seen really work effectively. The only way of knowing for sure if your deadwood assembly needs repairs is to pull the garboard and have a good look see at the keel and deadwood, up close and personal. Some "stop waters" could solve leaks, which is an easy thing to do. Rebedding or replacing the garboard is often necessary and usually over do anyway. Garboards are expected to be replaced much sooner then the rest of the planking. It takes a lot of abuse and can leak from many different causes.

    Honestly, we can't really see what's going on from these photos. A boat carpenter or surveyor will be of much better value. I know if I was on site, I could give you an idea of what's going on with your deadwood, after just a few minutes of inspection. I could provide a fairly comprehensive list of things after an hour. Some times, with some things, you just need a hands on approach.
     
  6. ned L
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    ned L Junior Member

    I agree with PAR, I'd also look to see if things are hogged much, & factor that in.
     
  7. Tangusso
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    Tangusso Junior Member

    Thanks guys. All of the ribs in the boat have been replaced with laminated oak at some point, leading me to believe the keel must have been considered decent in the recent past. Without pulling things apart it is difficult to tell is everything is attached properly, and to solid wood. If the keel ever needed to be replaced, what would the steps be to do it properly for a partial and complete replacement?

    Have any photos of this sort of repair?
     
  8. Tangusso
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    Tangusso Junior Member

    P.S. Hogging does not seem to be an issue, though the boat feels sort of loose when climbing aboard as it is blocked....Perhaps a dried out hull reducing resistance to twisting?? Partial disassembly may contribute too I suppose. The entire hull has been refastened with bronze. How typical is this ??
     
  9. PAR
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    PAR Yacht Designer/Builder

    With the blocking and stands you have on the old gal, she shouldn't feel unsteady aboard. Is everything tight (stands, blocking, etc.)?

    Removing or replacing the keel, the stem and stern post on this type of yacht is major surgery and usually well past what a backyard builder can accomplish. The hull needs to be supported so it retains it's shape, without the keel in place. This isn't an easy task to visualize, let alone carry out. Imagine your own spine being removed (yes, the thing that hold up your head) and replaced, while you stand there. Do you think it would be difficlut to keep your ribs from caving into your chest? Same deal with a keel.

    It's possible you need a keel, but there's only one way to know and that's to pull the garboard and have a look. From the looks of her, you may need a new garboard anyway.

    An experienced surveyor or boat carpenter, could climb down into the ugly portions of your bilge, with a light and an inspection mirror, to get a fairly good idea of the keel's condition, though they still can't see the rabbit.

    Garboard replacement on this boat isn't that bad a deal and it's one you could do (with a little cussing and heavy drinking) yourself. Of course, while they're off, you can inspect the rabbit and deadwood.

    Bronze fastening is the only way this hull should be tackled and is typical.
     
  10. Tangusso
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    Tangusso Junior Member

    Given that I am well accomplished in both cussing and heavy drinking, I guess I am qualified to pull the gar boards. The interioir of the boat is easy to see since it is bare. Again, I would hope the keel is solid since someone elected to attach a whole bunch of new laminated ribs to it, but I guess that does not mean much, since I have seen rebuilt and varnished salons atop busted ribs and rotted planks. There is no visual evidence of rot down under (I have some interior pics), though I have not poked around yet with a pointy metal object.

    Unfortunately I can only pull stuff apart after I buy it. This makes it more difficult. I am traveling to see her after the first of the year, though I am getting tired of asking tons of questions, looking at boat loads of pictures, and spending money to go see piles of firewood! Hence my trying to learn all I can from photos and advice.
     
  11. PAR
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    PAR Yacht Designer/Builder

    Tangusso, it much less expensive to ask questions and look at pictures then it is to own a yacht you wish you didn't.

    Get in the bilge and poke around with a scratch awl. Owners can get pissy about this so hide the awl. Just tell him you're looking for rot in the bilge. The best option is a survey of course. The surveyor will have is own awl and will not be afraid to use it.
     

  12. Tangusso
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    Tangusso Junior Member

    Thanks again. Look up close I shall! I did speak with the seller again about the wobbly feel of the boat. He said it could be in part to his indifferent blocking methods. The floor is also removed from the boat, along with most of the interior. Could this contribute? What else should I take a look at that might cause this? Will a dry but healthy hull of this type exhibit some wobbliness or twisting if not blocked properly, or is this a sign of something else, perhaps?

    If you know the whereabouts of any boats of this description with a strong keel and stem, and servicable frame I would love to know of it. Seems I've looked at many of the hulls in existence so far, might as well see the rest! Besides, I've learned so much in wasting all of this time!!
     
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