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Old 29-03-2013, 10:31   #1
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Water Saturated Keel

I have a 1964 Pearson Vanguard - full keel, encapsulated lead ballast. The fiberglass is saturated with water. On haulout water drains, drips and, after a couple of weeks, seeps from the keel. Pour a gallon of water into the bilge and the process begins all over again. I have tried various products inside and out to stop the water incursion, all to no avail. I understand the ballast was surrounded by balsa end grain coring to cushion it from the fiberglass. The correct repair is apparrently to dry out the fiberglass, remove the saturated balsa, and fill the resulting void with fiberglass resin.
If anyone has experience with this problem I would appreciate suggestions on how to proceed.
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Old 29-03-2013, 10:41   #2
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Re: Water Saturated Keel

"The correct repair is apparrently to dry out the fiberglass, remove the saturated balsa, and fill the resulting void with fiberglass resin. "
The catch there would be trying to remove the balsa and get clean surfaces, without removing the lead. Removing the lead by lifting, as a piece, may not be possible. cutting it up, a nasty job. Opening the keel shell and dropping it, nasty and expensive.

Which leaves you to consider a kludge job and gamble on how well it might work. Draining it out, covering it and adding a hot air dryer to push out more moisture, adding alcohol and letting that pull the water out...you might try something like that and then pouring in epoxy penetrant or thinned epoxy to solidify whatever is in there, might be a good enough compromise.

I hate to say "might" and "kludge" with a keel but considering the options, I don't see any other really good ones. Given the large amounts of surface area involved, I think "dry it out and glue it down" might be fairly reliable although I wouldn't want to roll the boat over to confirm it.
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Old 29-03-2013, 18:10   #3
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Re: Water Saturated Keel

If it was anything but balsa you could dry it out at a yard with a Hotvac. As it is its probably just oatmeal in there. No easy fix. I'd just live with it, a proper repair will be more than the value of the boat.
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