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Encapsulated lead keel

jimcleary

James M. Cleary
I have a question. A couple of weeks ago we hit a rock near our Club. The strike was high up on the front of the keel. No damage was detected, no water coming into the boat. A diver went down to inspect the hull and found a softball size area of crushed fiberglass on the leading edge of the keel. I won't know until we haul the boat out if that damaged area has penetrated the glass into the lead of the keel. My question is: can I expect to find water now in-between the lead and the outer layer of glass? Is there space between the glass and the lead where water can accumulate?

Jim
 
Ouch. I hit a coral head at 5+ knots, but low in the leading edge, about 6" from the bottom. Low enough that the boat pitched and went over it. There is a decent sized ding there, but not as big a a grapefruit. I think there is a dime sized spot with what might be lead showing, but I can't tell just diving on it. That was a year and a half ago, and I've not hauled out since then.

I don't think any water will likely get in there, but the area to be repaired might be larger than the grapefruit sized mark that is visible. I believe that the keel was filled with lead ingots and then resin poured over it-but not really sure. I also expect that it is largely cosmetic. I can't say for sure though, since I haven't had the opportunity to repair my ding yet. I've sailed about 15k ocean miles since then, however, without any apparent issues.
 

jimcleary

James M. Cleary
Warren
You think the lead of the keel is made up of separate ingots instead of a solid moulded unit? I had an old Bristol 27 a long time ago that the encapsulated keel was filled with thousands of steel punchings from steel foundary. Resin was then poured in over the punchings to make it all solid. One spring I drilled holes in the bottom of the keel to see if there was any water intrusion. It took three days with the boat up in the slings for the water to stop draining out. What I'm afraid of, with the Morgan, is any water that gets in between the lead and the glass of the hull can freeze over the winter while the boat is on the hard. That can cause damage to the hull and be an issue down the line.

My thoughts, if I was going to build over 500 identical hulls, are that it would be more economical to do a solid moulded lead plug that would be dropped into the bare hull. At least I'm hoping the builders also felt that way.

We were only going between 2 & 3 kts when we hit. but it stopped the 20,000 pound boat dead. My wife, Bonnie, was thrown into the wheel and was badly bruised and I was thrown onto the foredeck bruising a couple of ribs. I think we took the worst of the damage. I'll know for sure next week when she comes out of the water.

Jim
 
The ballast in the bow is definitely ingots with resin poured in. The keel I don't know, just a guess that it would be similar. If it were a solid keel that was dropped in, I would think that could cause an issue in that it wouldn't be bonded to the hull. If filled with resin, the end result would be a solid mass, and if done well there would be no place for water to seep into.

Let me know what you find. I'm still many months away from being able to haul out.
 

jimcleary

James M. Cleary
The ballast in the bow was 300lb of 5lb plumbers ingots. The keel must be a solid block, if only for economic reasons. The extra weight in the bow was there for one of two reasons. One: the weight of the engine turned out greater then expected and needed to be compensated for to keep the boat on an even keel. Two: Ted Brewer designed a cruising boat that required an anchor handling system the the builders didn't want to install. The weight of all chain and windlass was offset by the ingots.

When the boat comes out of the water, There might be a view through the fiberglass into what the lead looks like. I'll be drilling a couple of holes at the bottom of the keel to see if any water leaks out. I'll let you know what I find. I've a feeling this is going to be a hard lesson to learn.

Jim
 

royaltern

Bert Willett
Jim, a 6800 lb chunck of lead would be a some what difficult piece of metal to move around and position. In addition it would not be bonded to the hull, and would not fit perfectly. With no direct knowledge, I think Warren's idea is probably correct and would be a better method. You might want to querry Ted Brewer or a boat builder to see how balast was usually but in encapsulated keel.
 

terry_thatcher

Terence Thatcher
I have always assumed the lead was one piece shaped to fit the hull, then glassed over. Inguts and resin would take too much space to get the same weight. Original sales brochures should answer the question. But I have no way of knowing. Recall the boat was built in halves and then the two sides of the hull were bonded together. I too did some fiberglass damage down low on the fin. Too small to determine the nature of the lead. But I considered the hull thickness pretty minimal, so when I had the gelcoat taken off for a barrier coat job, I added 4 layers of cloth down the centerline of the fin face and up to the waterline on the canoe body. The hull halfs were glassed together on the inside and a gap left between the two halves on the canoe body was filled just with some sort of putty. Would have added kevlar, but the yard said that got complicated. Jim, let us all know what you find.
 

terry_thatcher

Terence Thatcher
I went back to my files. Morgan literature says the lead is "cast molded" and then glassed over. That means to me that it was one piece cast to fit down in the fin before the interior of the boat was built up. With the cranes they used to move the boats around the shop, it would be easy to drop the lead into the keel cavity. I am also quite sure they would have dropped it in the fin so it sat in a bunch of resin mishmash (as they built the rudders). I say this because they would not want any gaps between the lead and the glass of the fin. And I know there are not gaps because when my boat was surveyed in 2016, the surveyor took a moisture meter all over the boat and also tapped nearly every inch of the boat--hull, keel, deck and topsides. If there were gaps between the lead and the glass, she would have found them. (She found some rotten deck core with the moisture meter and tapping technique.) I also would add that Jim's accident (assuming there is no internal damage, such as broken tabbing on the bulkheads) proves the strength of the boats. (An old review I have notes that Morgan was one of the first boat builders to work hard to have a high glass to resin ratio.) A club mate of mine had a similar accident in a 1990s Hunter. It damaged keel bolts and dislodged the Hunter's internal liner (a building technique I do not like and which Morgan, luckily, used only to hold furniture and the fuel tank. The Hunter repairs were over thirty thousand dollars, I believe.
 

struell

Stephen Ruell
Interesting question - how was the lead installed?
I looked at the Owner's plans and there is some info on sheet 382-308, -312 and -505 that show cross sections but not a clear statement of how the lead was manufactured installed. I scaled the drawings and calculated the volume as just under 10 cubic feet, but not deducting for the rounded forward edge. At 710 lbs/cubic ft for solid elemental lead that would be about 7000 lbs of lead which agrees pretty close to the 6,800 lbs of lead listed for the boat. Though the drawing implies it is a solid piece of lead, it doesn't actually say that, but I don't see how it would have been ingots and resin and still had enough weight to meet the total weight in that volume. The density would have been lower and the volume larger. I removed my bow ingots and resin and there was a significant percentage of resin so I doubt it is the same kind of afterthought ballast and they would have used a solid lead casting. Even Hunter was using those at the same vintage.
The hull of course was made in two halves split at the centerline, and then put together, apparently with the lead in between but who knows in what order? Did they fill the space between the lead and fiberglass afterward? They then definitely installed fiberglass tabbing over the lead in the bilge area to cover it on the inside of the hull. but there are only a few layers.
I think you have may have breached your outer primary "keep the water out of the boat" barrier which is the hull. If you are relying on the secondary bilge tabbing I would think that you would want to seal any hole immediately, even if only with a temporary patch, until you can haul out.
Steve
 

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dave_a

Dave Ahlers
Jim, I hit the bottom & leading edge of the keel and removed a good sized divot. It was one piece of lead down there. No place for water to get into (other than the "customized" crushed roving) that I could see.
Some West epoxy, roving, cloth, and fairing filler after a thorough grind out...and Bob's your uncle. You did save some bottom paint this spring?
I hit that shoal HARD. Tough ass boat the Morgan is! Glad I didn't have a bolt-on keel that day!
 
If the keel were cast and installed later, it wouldn't be bonded or a perfect fit. Unless it were placed before the resin set? I supposed there is a reasonable chance it was done that way.
 

jimcleary

James M. Cleary
Thank everyone for their answers. I believe Dave has the correct answer by virtue of having actually looked past the glass at the lead itself. I am hoping that his solution will also be mine. There's no better way to spend a Saturday afternoon elbow deep in resin, cloth, matt and filler. Love the smell of fiberglass in the morning!

I wrote to Ted Brewer to ask if he remembers anything about the methods of the keel construction. He kindly sent a reply, see below:

Mr Brewer
I am the owner of a Morgan 382, hull #53, built in 1978. We are having a discussion on the Morgan38.org board as to whether the encapsulated lead keel is a solid one piece block or multiple ingots encased in resin. The question was brought up by me because this summer we hit a rock and damaged the leading edge of the keel. The damage appears to be superficial and no water has entered the boat. What I am concerned about is the possibility that water may have entered the space between the lead and the hull. And if so, can it be drained out by drilling holes in the bottom of the keel when the boat is up on the hard.

I am hoping that you might have some insight into this question. Thank you for your help.

Jim Cleary
_________________________
Jim

I'm sorry but I cannot help you with your question.

Although I designed the hull lines, sail plan, deck plan and layout of the 382, all the construction drawings were done by Morgan to suit their normal standards. And, as I recall, these were high standards.

But, since Morgan has closed, you might be better to contact a Morgan owner's group for an answer to your question.

Fair Winds
Ted Brewer
_________________________
I think it was very nice of him to take to time to respond. So tomorrow, or Wednesday, when she is on the hard, I am going to drill a hole at the bottom of the keel to see if any water leaks out. If none appears I'll just patch the ding. If there is water, I'll let it weep until it stops, then go ahead with the patch. Stay tuned for further adventures.

Jim
 

dave_a

Dave Ahlers
Weren't M382+ hulls formed in halves vertically, then glassed together? An unusual method by modern standards but it would explain the crack down the transom many seem to have. Add the molded lead with glass slurry and glass/roving the halves up. Might also explain the bilge cap poor sealing to the holding tank.
I thought I saw a picture of production many years ago
 

terry_thatcher

Terence Thatcher
I had that transom crack. I did not believe it was a dangerous structural issue, but it was unsightly. We added some glass over it and it has not reappeared.
 

jimcleary

James M. Cleary
Dana came out of the water yesterday. There's bad news and there's good news. The bad news is that there is a large ugly area of damage, (see photo) on the leading edge of the keel about a foot up from the bottom of the keel. The good news is that it will be repairable. Also in the good news area is the fact that the boat absorbed such a horrendously hard impact without additional damage. To give an idea of how hard the blow was, the safety pins on two fire extinguishers were ejected from their units and found on the cabin sole.

Probing into the damaged area I can feel the lead. I can now solve the riddle of the solid block vs ingots question. It is definitely a solid block! Tomorrow I will drill holes in the very bottom of the keel to see if water has been trapped. My guess is that when the block was lowered into the hull, there was resin poured in with it to fill any voids or gaps.

Dave: The failure of the bilge floor/ tank top cap can be explained by the improper blocking of the hull when on the hard. When a block is placed under the tank area of the keel, the pressure from the weight of the boat deforms the sides of the keel and causes the tabbing of the floor/top to fail. If you could find one of the boats that had never had a support block under the tank, you will most likely find a holding tank with no damage.

I am going to begin the repair work once the winterizing is done. I'll take photos as it progresses.

Jim
 

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dave_a

Dave Ahlers
Gees Jim, you really were where you shouldn't have been! If Dana was a Hunter she would be in Cooper Salvage listings!

What I meant about the bilge cap - was that it was a later lay up as opposed to the major keel to hull lay up. Put the fuel tank & holding tank in place then do a quick/sloppy/ halfast tabbing of the cover. Kind of an afterthought. Making it less strong than it could have been, and very susceptible to blocking errors. I spent a fair bit of time with my nose in the bilge. There wasn't a lot of cloth holding the cap to the sides. Its a bitch of a repair given the lack of access as we all know.
PS - I'd paint my bottom and take a big magic marker and write "block - NO BLOCK" on the keel. (fresh water). But the damage to the cap had already been done by the time I bought the boat. Good luck with the grinder, buddy.
 

jimcleary

James M. Cleary
Dave

You are so right. Most other boats would have ended up down next to the rock. The Morgans certainly are well built. With the damage that was done to the keel, not a drop of water entered the boat.

I took great care in teaching the guys in the boat yard how to block the boat. Unfortunately the damage was already done and we ended up abandoning the keel tank for a bigger system.

Any suggestions on which kind of grinder or grinding disk will do the job?

Jim
 

dave_a

Dave Ahlers
Dave

You are so right. Most other boats would have ended up down next to the rock. The Morgans certainly are well built. With the damage that was done to the keel, not a drop of water entered the boat.

I took great care in teaching the guys in the boat yard how to block the boat. Unfortunately the damage was already done and we ended up abandoning the keel tank for a bigger system.

Any suggestions on which kind of grinder or grinding disk will do the job?

Jim
Jim, I have 2 angle grinders. A 4 inch Makita (great tool) and a Harbor Freight 9 or 10 inch variable speed heavy monster. I used the HF to buff the top sides with the cleaner/wax spring ritual. Something like that is what you want to start with for quick material removal.
But it's also its downfall, as it's too quick and big to touch up a particular small area. So I'd say get a smaller grinder. It will just take more time. I use the small grinder to cut metal, stone, concrete, sand all materials. So very versatile. One of my best tool purchases.

West Marine usually has the West Systems epoxy hand book for free. It has tutorials about how to repair different fiberglass issues. I'd suggest you repair it with a hole repair strategy, where you feather out a very large area. BUT I don't do this for a living. I just fix my own stuff (and crashes). So hit up your local boat yard glass expert. He'll make it sound easy, which is confidence building.
 
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