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Old 21-05-2019, 07:27   #1
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Iron keel to fiberglass transition repairs

Hi everyone!

I'm in need of some good advice from you guys regarding the transition between an iron keel and a fiberglass hull.

I've been getting old paint and a considerable layer of rust off of my iron keel in order to cover it with some new layers of epoxy primer and a fresh coat of paint.

Now after I removed the old paint and rust up until the point where the keel ends and the fiberglass hull begins (see pictures #1 and #2) I noticed there are two additional substances. The first one is white and almost feels like some type of silicone (in parts it was even still sticky and fluid-ish) and it sits in the little crevice right between the keel and the fiberglass. The second layer is right on top of the white one - it is a somewhat broader but thinner black band that also feels rubbery and on top of that were the old layers of epoxy and paint.

Someone told me the thin black band is probably there because the keel can move a bit and it prevents paint from cracking and flaking off at those points and the white stuff is to protect the crevice from seawater.

Unfortunately, my partner was a bit overzealous and already put five coats of epoxy primer on top of the keel without replacing either the white nor the black substance (see picture #3). So basically imagine picture #1 and #2 and there is nothing apart from black epoxy primer where the transition is.


My questions are:

1) Do you think I should remove the epoxy primer from the crevice again to replace those two substances?

2) What would be consequences be if I just left it the way it is now (after put paint on top, obviously)? I plan to pay someone to sandblast the whole keel in 2-3 years again anyway since using an angle grinder with a steel brush to get the rust off wasn't enough to remove it completely.

3) What do you think those two substances are and what products would you buy in order to replace them?

4) How careful do I need to be around that fiberglass? Removing the rubbery substances is quite difficult - can I go to town with a spatula/chisel or could smaller scratches on the surface of the fiberglass result in water damages?
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Old 21-05-2019, 07:45   #2
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Re: Iron keel to fiberglass transition repairs

Both the white and black are likely sealer. The white was likely original and someone attempted to do more with the black. My guess is the proper repair is to drop the keel far enough to clean the entire mating surface, recaulk it and snug it back up.
SHort of that, if it's not leaking it's aesthetic. I would remove the loose stuff though.
If you will re do it in 2 years then as long as it's not leaking into the bilge just drop the keel and do the right job then.
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Old 21-05-2019, 22:08   #3
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Re: Iron keel to fiberglass transition repairs

As has been already said they are likely just two different types of sealer. Water intrusion may be an issue in the future depending on the age of the sealant but with several coats of epoxy over top there likely isn't much risk (depending on the quality of the epoxy job). If the keel support stump contains any wood structure than any water intrusion at all could be catastrophic. I've never really worked with partial keels as my boat just has one huge lead fin bolted straight through three inches of solid fibreglass/Kevlar and backed with a metal plate. If the boat has an open keel bilge try to check the condition from the inside, even if all you can do is feel around with your hands. I suggest you check the keel bolts as well while you are at it. For peace of mind, I would personally scrap that little bit of epoxy on the joint and drop the keel (this is a fairly large commitment). This will not only give you a chance to redo the sealant and put that worry out of your mind but it will also give you a chance to check on the structure beneath it, check for corrosion on the fittings, etc. Best of luck.
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Old 21-05-2019, 22:22   #4
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Re: Iron keel to fiberglass transition repairs

Quote:
Originally Posted by Reddragon View Post
I plan to pay someone to sandblast the whole keel in 2-3 years again anyway since using an angle grinder with a steel brush to get the rust off wasn't enough to remove it completely.
Putting any finish on over rusty cast iron immersed in salt water is a total waste of time and money. It will be flaking off in months, if not weeks.

Shortcuts like this is how cast iron keels get a bad name.

If you don't have time to do it right, how can you have the time to do it over?
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Old 21-05-2019, 22:41   #5
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Re: Iron keel to fiberglass transition repairs

Rust means water intrusion. Water intrusion means that there is the possibility of crevice corrosion on the keel bolts if they are stainless. There is only one way to go here. Drop the keel, check the bolts. Clean the mating surfaces (sand blasting on the keel, nothing else works long run). Then seal and reassemble.
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Old 22-05-2019, 09:39   #6
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Re: Iron keel to fiberglass transition repairs

As per Catalina when I spoke to them about my boat, they just simply said "sail it" don't worry about it. Not My idea of fun when the keel lets loose and over you go. I used a lot of sanding and grinding on the joint being careful not to damage the fiberglass areas. Next I used West Systems epoxy to coat the iron keel followed by glassing in the keel. Next was a three coat system of epoxy paint to cover the entire bottom. First in gray, then in white and then back to gray. This was followed by three coats of bottom ablative paint to complete the job.
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Old 22-05-2019, 10:38   #7
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Re: Iron keel to fiberglass transition repairs

Aside from the keel joint goop issue, the ballast keel being Cast Iron, it is porous, and it is impossible to remove all the moisture, so coating with say Epoxy, just seals the moisture in, and in time it will just seep thru, i feel it is a waste of time and money to do this, i just coat the keel with bottom paint, while doing the bottom, this experience is based on many year's of owning boats with Cast Iron keel's.
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Old 22-05-2019, 12:59   #8
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Re: Iron keel to fiberglass transition repairs

Cast iron keel will get surface rust no matter what you do.
My boat is 1972 I’ve had it for 19 years. I cleAn and repaint at every haul out.
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Old 22-05-2019, 13:18   #9
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Re: Iron keel to fiberglass transition repairs

Yes it's possible to have a rust free keel though people think is not .
On my boat the keel was covered with simple polyester filler from the factory . Has no rust since 1984.
If I had to paint it I would add rust stabilizer before the primer, but I still believe the best option is putty .
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Old 22-05-2019, 13:19   #10
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Re: Iron keel to fiberglass transition repairs

The coatings that I have done on my boat have survived a seven year span and show NO SIGNS of popping loose nor having any issue with corrosion so far. This system of containing a barrier around the keel will at least slow down the process of oxidation. I don't feel that it will ever stop it!
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Old 22-05-2019, 16:07   #11
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Re: Iron keel to fiberglass transition repairs

I found this article useful in deciding what to do about my keel to hull joint:

https://www.epoxyworks.com/index.php/smiles-all-around/

Certainly dropping the keel and creating a well made mating surface is the way to go, but if your hull flexes, even that may not be the End All after a considerable expense. Re-sealing in-situ will be temporary at best, so I think the method explained in the article is a good compromise. West Systems tells me that G-Flex is compatible with pretty much any sealer you will find in that joint. I think this repair method would depend on your seal not being compromised more than an inch.

I haven't completed this repair yet so I can't speak to its effectiveness.
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