Westsail Owners Alliance - Post: "Weeping Steel Shot Keel"
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Post: "Weeping Steel Shot Keel"

12,268 posts on 2,444 threads   •   From Mar 07, 2004 - Jan 08, 2012

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- Archived Message from Inactive Forum -

Rob and Janet Sutton

My opinion: if the holes have been open for a long time, you are probably not going to get it much drier. Yes, having it as dry as possible is desireable before the glass work.

One thing you might try is cut a hole in the plywood top of the bilge to fit a large shop vac hose and turn the shop vac on for a few days (longer the better).
That will at least help draw air through the keel and maybe dry things out some more. We did this to dry some of small areas of balsa core on our 28 Skookum and had limited success.

Another possibility is trying to "rinse" the keel with alcohol (isopropyl). Water dissolves in alcohol and it will help carry the water away when it drains. Left will be an alcohol residue that will evaporate quickly, especially if you can draw air through the keel. The trick is getting the alcohol through the keel, and you need large quantities (keep away from open flame!). So I dont know if that is practical in your situation.

Even after our keel repair two years ago, a couple monts ago I discovered trapped water in the lower skeg when I drilled holes for bolting the rudder gudgeon. It was only a trickle, but I was surprised.

I suspect expansion of the steel ballast due to rust would only become a problem if it went through repeated wet/dry cycles. Stale, standing water can only oxidize so much.

Even then, as Bud said, I cant see it ever compromising structure and strength given how much roving they used down there in the keel.

You probably have a greater risk of hitting a rock, puching a hole in your keel and spilling the ballast on the ocean floor (which I have heard has happened before, not Westsails).

More importantly is finding out how it got wet in the first place, and fixing that. In my case it was standing water in the bilge which eventually found its way into the keel. If it came in from outside the hull, that should be addressed of course.

Looking back, our solution of filling the keel with resin was probably a bit extreme, but it was the only thing we could think of (and the yard recommended) so that the problem could never "come back."

Moisture readings on our hull are now pretty much zero.

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