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Metal Keel Strips

Don Silsbe

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I’m beginning to see the value in adding a metal strip to the keel of my Two Paw and my Bay River Skiff.  Here are my questions: 


1) Where is a good source for buying it?

2) Should I use hollowback or half round metal, or something else?

3) Is brass OK, or should I stick with stainless?  

4) What is the best way to attach it?

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For a 22’ boat I used hollowback (half oval) stainless steel pre drilled. I bedded it in 3M 5200. Twenty years and it is in great condition, no bending or deflection even where it rides on the front keel roller. TACO marine product. I purchased through Jamestown, but you might get it locally through West Marine or other. Shipping costs will affect your length/source choices.


I have used narrow brass stem bands, solid and oval back, on canoe stems. They look nice but don’t have the strength of the stainless steel I used on the bigger boat.


On a tangent, I just completed a wood strip kayak. I used 1” kevlar band for the stems and for the outside hull-deck joint. Too soon to give an assessment, but it is definitely tough.

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I used solid bronze, drilled the holes myself.  I bedded it in BoatLife LifeCaulk as I wanted to be able to remove it easily, which I have done once.  The fasteners have plenty of purchase to hold it in place. UHMW plastic would work well. So would a thin strip of hardwood, it can be sacrificial. Some just do nothing and add a strip of hardwood when the wear dictates this is a good idea. I used brass on my kayaks, I see no reason not to use this on your 2 Paw. If you can build it, you can repair or modify it.

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On my Spindrift I'm using some PVC extrusion which I found in the hardware store- the channel section happened to bea perfect fit on the keel. It's just epoxied in place, with one screw at the forward end where it wanted to lift.

It was very very cheap and adds almost no weight, but it won't take much abuse. But even if it does fail, there's now a layer of thickened epoxy underneath so I'm not too worried. I try not to drag the boat about anyway.

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Here are a couple shots of an end that was flattened (I didn’t do it)… perhaps by making a sharp bend… and ground down to a shape as a rail end.  The last is what is on Avocet. 
Note… nice pre drilled holes and countersunk… B&B stainless rub rails. 

Don, I think it could work for your keel by making the sharp bend first (which will “flatten” the hollowback at that point) right where needed to fit the sharp corner.  Then finish the ends as needed. Your boat is 16’ so a butt joint would be needed, maybe near the back.  .. or let it just end somewhere along the keel.
In no time at all Alan did a perfect weld for me between two short pieces to make a sixteen foot piece, which is what I wanted. 








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This is one of those "well, I did this other thing" posts.


I decided on 1/4" HDPE plastic for a keel strip, because its cheap and I knew I would cringe over grinding away a metal strip on ramp pavement or whatever.  I used G-flex epoxy and flame-treated the plastic to help the epoxy stick.  I figured the plastic would be a little slipperier for launching and retrieving off the trailer, but I don't know whether that's actually the case.  Three seasons- so far so good.




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@Hirilonde— You jogged my memory.  I  now remember that I glued a strip of Ash to the poplar keel of my Two Paw.  Duh!4088AE6C-ABCE-475F-8EED-65B0086065C6.thumb.jpeg.fa70907b710d4ab861b40d6d2a7d421f.jpeg


But while laying on my back, making adjustments to the new trailer for my Bay River Skiff, I noticed some bare wood on the keel.  0A34383B-C681-485A-B953-A933A38F8D50.thumb.jpeg.c115108e887e04c199e50d8432ee2dfe.jpegIt is White Oak, so I’m not too worried for the immediate future.  (She is usually stored dry, on a trailer.) But I may complete my wear test.  Some time ago, I epoxied some fiberglass, nylon wenbing and Dynel to strips of wood.  I always intended to test them, and compare the results.  I still have the strips.  I just need to find the time to set up and do the testing.  No rush, since I won’t repaint the boat until the registration sticker expires in 2024.

@mattp— I have a feeling that the webbing and Dynel are going to do well in this test.

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