Wednesday, June 05, 2019

Keel Strip Progress

click on any photo for better view

Hi! Not much blogging lately because my home computer is doing some bothersome things, including one blue-screen-of-death episode, which I haven't seen since my last computer died. The current one is about 9 years old so I'm thinking it might be time to spring for a new one, but June is a bit on the busy side, so I'm just trying to stay off of the old one until I can do that.

But speaking of old gear, I'm so pleased with how my repair on my 20 year old kayak is going that I brought an SD card with pictures to work so I could share!

I know a person is entitled to a new kayak every now and then, too, but replacing a Romany is a tad more expensive than replacing a computer. Plus I love my boat, and we've had a lot of adventures together.

Enough adventures to just wear a hole right through the keel, as shown above. There were a couple of other worn spots, too, so finally time for a keel strip!

A keel strip is just a strip of fiberglass tape run down a boat's centerline, where the boat gets the most wear and tear. This is a really simple way to extend your boat's life and a lot of people put one on much much earlier on than I did. There was, in fact, a keel strip party at Sebago a couple of years back where several people got together, bought supplies to share, and then got together at the club to apply the strips.

The only reason I held off then is because my Romany is already a pretty heavy boat and I didn't want to add any weight until I had to. My hatches were bone dry until last year, when the rear hatch started to be a little damp after a paddle - then this year in February, when Ilene and I paddled to Gerritson Creek and saw a seal and crunched around in the ice, I got back to the dock to find a good half-gallon of water sloshing around back there. OOPS. At that point it was too cold for epoxy to set, so I patched things up with duct tape and kept paddling. Spring kept being cold for ages, so I just kept going with the tape, replacing it as necessary. We finally started getting reliably warm enough weather for fiberglassing in May, so I started rounded up materials (that's where a group effort would've been nice, repair supplies aren't cheap) and found that excellent keel strip video from Sea Kayaking Anglesey that I'd shared before Memorial Day weekend.

I didn't actually do the work that weekend because West Marine only had 10' lengths of the 2" fiberglass tape I needed, and my boat is 16' long and I didn't want to patch pieces together, but that ended up FINE because that was peak cottonwood snow day at the club, it would've been absolutely impossible to work with epoxy without it getting all stuck full of fluff!

I ordered a roll of the tape online from Jamestown Distributors. I went back to West Marine for the epoxy because I wanted a little guidance on what to get and the staff at the Manhattan West Marine is usually pretty helpful. That was a good move, I came home with a resin/catalyst combination that would give me a good amount of working time before it set - since I hadn't done this before and I wasn't in a rush to use the boat (nice thing about a club is there are other boats) that was really good to have. 

This was Memorial Day. I went out for two paddles over the holiday weekend, one on Saturday, one on Monday. I've been tracking my mileage this year and wanted to break the 100 mile mark, two medium-length paddles did it, yay! After Monday's paddle, I took off the duct tape and gave the boat the best scrubbing it's probably ever had, then sat it on sawhorses in the sun to dry while I went and did some gardening. 
Saturday the 1st - boat now thoroughly dry after a week put away. 

Supplies - sandpaper, acetone, fiberglass tape, masking tape, gloves (multiple pairs), scissors, tub for epoxy, epoxy, catalyst, and a paper cup (pre-marked for measuring out the epoxy and resin in the 5 to 1 ratio required), 

I followed the video exactly - the only thing I did differently was wear a respirator that I borrowed from TQ (he volunteered it the minute I started talking about doing fiberglass work on my boat). Oh, and I left my gloves on the whole time. 

And it worked just the way Phil Clegg said it would. 
:D />

Three strips of masking tape - first one straight down the middle, taking some time to line it up well, then one more on either side using the center one as a guide.

Center strip pulled up, bow and stern ends marked out in tape - there's your work area. Sanded next - I had to laugh a little when Phil said on the video "just take that shine off the gel" - I may have been able to omit this step 'cause after 20 years of pretty heavy use I don't think there's a square inch of shiny on the underside of this boat, but I did it anyways.  

Next steps - I'd measured and cut my fiberglass tape to the right length and re-rolled it (that was an EXCELLENT hint in the video, I'm not sure I would've thought of that but it makes it so much easier to put it in place on the boat). With that ready, I carefully measured out 5 measures of resin and one of catalyst, mixed 'em in my tub, grabbed a brush and started applying it to the boat. Clubmate Derek O. took this photo - a few people had stopped by to see what I was doing and he'd stuck around, which was great - the video made this look like something you could definitely do by yourself, but there was at least one point where I could see an extra pair of hands coming in handy. And Derek's done a lot of boat repairs himself, but isn't somebody who feels like he has to give advice unless you ask him for it. Perfect person to have hanging out while you do a repair that you're pretty confident you can do but are still doing for the first time.

After I had a nice layer of goop on the boat, I carefully centered the end of the tape on the bow. Derek held that for me (Phil says in the video that it should stay stuck just from the epoxy but that had been the one thing where I thought having somebody to hold it there might be helpful) as I unrolled it down the centerline.

Then I wetted down the tape with more epoxy, making sure all the cloth was wet -  

 then I went down the boat looking for anything that needed to be ooched a little bit this way or that - and then all that was left to do was a quick mop-up of drips that had gotten outside of the working area, and that was it for Part 1. Ta daaa! 

Masking tape off and it all looks good! 
I came back for weeding and another paddle (in a club boat) on Sunday and was absolutely delighted to find that the epoxy had set completely overnight and everything looked just the way it should. Next step - gel coat, and some work on the seat, and then hopefully Trusty Romany will be ready for a few more adventures! 

1 comment:

Geoff Bowers said...

Good stuff! Thanks for sharing.
Geoff. (Nottingham, England, UK.)