Sunday, July 27, 2014

Keel Grounding Shoe

 In the olden days, ships had sacrificial wooden "shoes" on the bottom of the keels for the worms to eat instead of the keel and to bounce off of rocks and other immovable objects and protect the keel (worm shoes).  Buehler calls for a metal grounding shoe for the bottom of the keel that is 3/8" steel flat bar.

I made one futile attempt at drilling the steel free hand then went out and bought an inexpensive drill press.  Typically I try and buy good quality tools, but this was going to be a limited use tool so I bought a cheapo and honestly it has served me well for what I needed.

The aft part of the shoe also serves as the attachment point for the rudder.  This is thicker stock- 1/2" with sides to create a stronger attachment to the keel where the rudder will attach.  This required welding.  I don't weld, but my friend Brad is a renaissance man and does many things including welding.  Being the good friend that he is, he dropped what he was doing to help me get this keel piece welded up.

This also required putting the keel on its side (then putting it back up) one of the many times I went through this little dance.  I hit the mild steel with cold galvanizing spray (hence the gray tint).

Sunday, July 20, 2014

The Keel

At this point the backbone of the Duck is largely complete.  The "dead wood" is  comprised of two stacked timbers of Angelique- the bottom most was a whole timber and the 2nd piece was laminated from Angelique boards I had milled from the whole timber into which I "sprang" a 3" curve by misjudging the grain when I was trimming it up.  It was a tremendous amount of work to cut the "sprung" timber into boards then laminate back into a straight whole timber but the Yankee in me couldn't see just tossing this hugely expensive timber aside even though I reinvested a week's work and $600 in epoxy for lamination.  I did end up with a straight timber however- which I didn't have before I sawed and laminated.

There are 10 individual keel pieces that comprise what you see here.  The keel components above the dead wood were built up with laminated Doug Fir and then each piece stacked and bedded in Sanitred LRB (more on this in a minute) and then tied together with 3/4" galvanized keel bolts at each station (2' spacing).  Then an  8" wide grounding shoe of mild steel flat bar was lagged onto the bottom of the keel.

Finally the whole assembly was coated with a combination of Sanitred Permaflex and LRB.  Building out doors, I needed to seal and protect the keel from the elements and this is how I chose to do it.  I later found it beneficial to add covering tarps over the whole assembly, especially over the winter.  I will discuss the strategy of Sanitred coatings for this project in upcoming posts.

* Sanitred products are single component polyurethane coatings.  Permaflex is a primer/sealer and LRB (Liquid Rubber Base) creates a water proof, gap filling membrane.  Typically the two products are used together to create a water proof barrier system used for many applications such as waterproofing basements, swimming pools liners and now, marine applications too-

Tuesday, July 1, 2014


Honestly, when it comes down to it I don't know squat about building boats.  I do have friends that know poop loads about all of sorts of stuff that needs to get done- welding for instance.  Whether its neighbors with a wood mizer, friends with welding stuff, friends with boat building experience and yes, even hired help it all comes into play.

Lest anyone mistake this as a self contained effort, let me correct the record.  My real strength is in finding and enlisting people who know what I do not in order to move this project forward in a productive way.

I suspect there is a small hand full of folk who are blessed with all the skills and perspective to throw a 30 ton trawler together on their own.  Honestly, I am not one of those.

I have been fortunate to tap into other boat builders, circumnavigators, forums (important if true) and a really responsive boat designer ready to chime in with an answer to my latest crisis.

Pile of wood will ultimately reflect the input and perspective of lots of smart and generous folk.  So to my support network, and you know who you are (or will soon).  Thank you.