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Keel Instalation

Discussion in 'Wood and Canvas' started by slk, Oct 3, 2019.

  1. slk

    slk Enthusiastic about Wooden Canoes

    What do you guys use for the keel installation for the bedding compound? Do you actually use the marine bedding compound or can some other compound be used that is more reasonable in cost. There must be other chalking compounds that will work.

  2. Just1moredave

    Just1moredave Enthusiastic about Wooden Canoes

    The keel screws go through everything waterproof, lots of holes. I made a new keel with a hollow in the center for extra bedding compound (old one was flat). I used Dolfinite, lots of it, in the hollow, on each screw, at both ends, on the stem band, everywhere. It worked (so far). It would probably take me an hour to get the keel off again to fix a leak - I think 25 screws.
    MGC likes this.
  3. Dave Osborn

    Dave Osborn LIFE MEMBER

    Dolfinite works great, but I’ve been using SikaFlex 201. I like using the caulking gun to apply it vs a putty knife with traditional bedding.
    I use the Sika on the stems as well when canvassing.
    Been working great for me.

    Is said that traditional bedding stays flexible, which is true for several years. That may be good enough. We’ve all seen hardened bedding under old keels that are no longer sealed. If there is a leak, it’s the first place we look.
    I think the SikaFlex will last forever.
    Dave Wermuth likes this.
  4. OP

    slk Enthusiastic about Wooden Canoes

    I like using a caulking gun also. I was hoping there was something out there. Is the sikaflex 201 a white color? Not that is matters all that much. Anything that would squeeze out can be removed with a putty knife. My thing was I just do not have a need for a quart of bedding compound.

  5. Dave Osborn

    Dave Osborn LIFE MEMBER

    White, grey, tan, and black, I think.
    It’s paintable, so color shouldn’t matter if you install the keel before painting.
    I always install the keel after the first coat of paint. It gets 3-4 coats of paint while on the hull.
  6. Ron Bedard

    Ron Bedard Enthusiastic about Wooden Canoes

    I've used the windshield sealant available at auto parts dealers to bed some sailboat hardware and coamings in the past. It's used as the bead between the windshield and the metal it is applied to. Much less expensive than stuff from the boat supply places. I was thinking about that stuff when I canvased my canoe this summer. I ended up using some high quality (50 yr) paintable caulking from a gun, and wiped off the squeeze-out. 3 coats of primer and 2 finish coats means there's lots of paint over the sealant no matter what I used. I'm working on another one now, and I think I'll go get a tube of the windshield stuff this time. It's paintable so I'll also use it under the stem bands.
    Good luck,
  7. OP

    slk Enthusiastic about Wooden Canoes

    On another question on the keel. Do they really add much stability as far as roll over and such or are they mainly for tracking better in open water? I am at the point where I have not drilled any holes in the bottom yet. I want to put the brass stem bands on no matter what.

  8. MGC

    MGC Scrapmaker

    Arguably a keel does a nothing to improve how a boat handles or paddles. The shape of the hull, the tumblehome, the entry affect how the boat handles and paddles. A keel will fight your paddle. The Canadian boats have the right idea..they use shoe keels.
    Punching holes in a new canvas to install it...make sure before you do. If you are uncertain, paddle the boat for a while without it. You can always go back later and install it.
    If I am putting on a new keel I varnish it. If it's an old one that's been painted I'll repaint it. New keel.
    Dan Lindberg likes this.
  9. Greg Nolan

    Greg Nolan enthusiast

    Keels can provide protection for the hull bottom in some situations such as rocky beaches or awkward docks:
    ss IMG_0210.JPG ss IMG_0214.JPG
    They provide some minimal tracking assistance in open water, and essentially no assistance to control or prevent in a roll-over.

    In my opinion, when restoring/repairing a canoe, if your canoe has a keel, keep it (you have to deal with those screw holes somehow) ; if it does not, there is usually no reason to add one. If your canoe has outside stems, it will usually have a keel, which should be kept.

    Keels are mostly a matter of taste, and there ain't no accounting for taste.
  10. pklonowski

    pklonowski Unrepentant Canoeist

    Every design feature is a trade-off... keels help the canoe go straighter, but they impede turning. So if you can't keep a canoe going straight enough without one, okay, add the keel. When running in quartering waves, they assist the waves in turning the boat dramatically from side to side, as the waves pass the boat, making it very difficult to maintain your heading. In a river , if you get turned somewhat sideways to the current, the current will push on the keel, and again turn your boat in ways you don't want it to, or push the entire canoe sideways, where you may not want it to go.

    As MGC said, you can complete the work and leave the keel off, paddle it for a while, and then decide whether you want one. In the long run, you're better off learning to paddle without one, IMHO. Instruction is a good thing.

    Except when you have outside stems, as Greg points out; outside stems, as applied to these older canoes, need keels, by design.
    Andy Hutyera and MGC like this.
  11. Howie

    Howie Wooden Canoe Maniac

    As for a bedding compound make sure whatever you use has no silicon in it as you won't be able to paint over it. I use Ace Hardware's Acrylic Latex Calk. It's paint-able, and seems to remain pliable for quite a while. And cheap!
  12. David Satter

    David Satter LOVES Wooden Canoes

    Howie, there's some great videos out there on how to reuse your caulking tubes over again. Not saying your cheap:) but they work. I buy empty caulk tubes so you can put anything you want in them like Dolfinite or even color your caulk before you put it in the tube.
  13. ppine

    ppine Enthusiastic about Wooden Canoes

    I have lived with a keel on my OT Guide 18 for 25 years, but finally took it off.
    It does provide some protection, but is not good in rivers.
  14. NickD

    NickD Recreational Sander

    I like Dolfinite and lots of it.

    As for the keel vs no keel, since I work on older canoes, I like to maintain the original condition of the canoe. If it had a keel it gets a keel, if not, then it doesn’t have one.
  15. ppine

    ppine Enthusiastic about Wooden Canoes

    People that know how to paddle don't need a keel. On big rivers with strong currents a keel can get you in trouble. No problem on lakes.

    If I were to put a keel back on it would be the wide shoe keel.
    Last edited: Apr 6, 2020
  16. pklonowski

    pklonowski Unrepentant Canoeist

    If you took the keel of the canoe, you can store it in the rafters, and let it go with the canoe when you unload it. That way if some owner down the line wants a keel, they can put it back on.
  17. Rollin Thurlow

    Rollin Thurlow member since 1980

    The SikaFlex 201 does work great and has lots of advantages but I find its disadvantage is that it bonds the keel or outside stem to the canvas so good that future repairs that require removal of those parts jut about impossible. Don't count on ever being able to recanvas the boat and being able to save the keel or outside stem. The disadvantage of the bedding compound is that unless the wood is sealed with something like paint,varnish or shellac the wood will absorb the oil in the bedding compound and dry it out. But if its properly applied, the wood pieces will be able to be removed and reused at some future date.
    JimT likes this.
  18. Pook

    Pook Chestnut Canoe fan

    "People that know how to paddle don't need a keel." Ouch!

    I have 5 wood canvas canoes and everyone came from the factory with a keel installed, albeit a shoe keel. And all but one still have the keels- I removed the keel on my Pal, when I re-canvassed it... The others I have kept on largely to preserve the originality but also because they serve a purpose.

    As others have noted, the purpose of the keel is more often than not to protect the hull of the canoe or in the case of my Bobs Special, to add some structural rigidity to the thin planking and ribs.

    Are they useful? In July 2018 my daughter and I dis a quick circuit in southern Algonquin Park in the hottest, driest summer that Ontario had seen in years. Tiring of battling deerflies and plus 30 degree days, I convinced her to take a shortcut up the mighty Madawaska river from Head Creek to Cache Lake instead of the 1600m portage from Head Lake. Big mistake!
    There was so little water in the Madawaska that I missed the junction twice, and then when we finally started paddling were confronted with the first of 13 beaver dams in about 2 and a half km of paddling. With a shoe keel we were able to drag the Langford over each and every one of those until we finally made the portage into Cache. I can't imagine doing that without a keel. IMG_2976.JPG
    Don't discount the importance of a shoe keel on a wood canvas canoe!
    My 2cents.

  19. MGC

    MGC Scrapmaker

    Typically hauling a keel-less canoe over beaver dams has never presented a problem...we do it all the time and except for some occasional scratches in the shellac or paint the real annoyance is post holing or stepping into a deep water on the other side.
    We don't slide canoes in or out of the water from a dock by sliding them on their bottoms.
    Putting it in from a dock you may put one end in the water perpendicular to the dock and holding the rails, float it out until the boat is completely in, never touching the bottom. Alternatively when you take it off your shoulders don't lower it completely down. Hang onto the inside rails and lower it down over your knees parallel to the dock without it ever touching the bottom on the dock. The first method is a real piece of cake if there are two people to guide the boat in. The second method does not work as well if the dock is high above the water. You need to toss it out and away to launch it that way from a taller dock.
    Most folks who have used shoe keels them don't have a problem with them. See the earlier related comments. They serve a purpose without detracting from the way the canoe handles/paddles. Shoe keels are most commonly found on Canadian canoes. There is one on my Fox and it's not at all annoying. I can't say that I enjoy the keel on my cedar would get far more use if it didn't have one.
    ppine likes this.
  20. shelldrake

    shelldrake LOVES Wooden Canoes

    Polysulfide bedding materials were often used to bed cleats, keels etc. Theoretically it can be painted. I have used Life-Caulk a few time to bed keels with no problem. However, on my last one, the Kirby's Paint wouldn't cure over the damn stuff. I ended up wiping the paint off the bedding seam and waiting a week or so, but it still wouldn't dry. The green canoe now has a little white stripe at the interface of the keel edge and the canvas. I told the owner "don't worry, only the fish will see it".

    Sika 201 from now on.


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