Thursday, 29 November 2012

My new keel

Dawn rose...well 10:00am and rushed out to Bren's farm to check how the keel had fared overnight   We loaded it onto a trailor - took it to a weighbridge which suggested that it weighted 360kg - about 95kg more than specified.  But it was still in the mold and the weighbridge was only calibrated to weigh in increments of 20kg.

So we took it back to my house and unwrapped it from its mold.  The mold had charred somewhat, especially the centre board slot, but nonetheless it retained its shape extremely well.  The 150 plus dry wall screws did their job and no lead leaked from any part of the mold - so that was quite satisfying.

Brendan managed to source a professional scales from a friendly neighbour who runs a weighing and calibration business - thanks Kevin - and we weighed it out of the mold - 326kg in total.  So by deduction it seems my bathroom scales were reasonably accurate.  When we measured the keel against the FSP drawings, it seems we did add the extras lead unnecessarily  so now I have the challenge of cutting off a slice off the top of the keel...shouldn't be too difficult!

Bottom line - the keel looks to be fine with a few pock marks on top where the molten lead continued to bubble, but this will probably be removed when I slice off the top of the keel.

The lesson learned were
1) refine the tap so that the lead is directed down into the mold - the pressure at the tap is quite high, presumably due to the weight of molten lead and tended to splash around, so we had to reduce to the flow to a slower rate.

2) Mark the level on the mold to where the lead needs to be poured - we poured extra since the mold didn't look full enough and I couldn't be sure if some lead had just escaped or leaked underneath.  3) The lead looked to be somewhat discoloured - as if heated higher than necessary - not sure if that made any significant difference, but may have reduced the bubbling and gurgling of the lead when it was in the mold and possible lead to increased charring of the mold.

The mold could have possible managed one more pour, but since the first was deemed a success  I consigned the mold to the role of fire kindling.

Finally, I now have the task to cut the top inch or so off the keel,  please feel free to comment on  the best tools for the job.


  1. Brilliant! Well done.

    Borrow someone else's power planer to shave the keel.

  2. Thanks for the feedback and suggestion - it seems I have to remove about an inch of lead, so I am not sure if "someone else's" planer would be up to the job! I was thinking about using a reciprocating saw(which I would have to hire), a skill saw or maybe setting up a router jig, 'though I am concerned about whether this will kill my power tools...

  3. Hi "Embla", I've enjoyed reading your blog; have read every entry....
    I'm also building a Somes Sound here in Hong Kong and would love to be in touch with you direct, as I'm also a first time boat builder and find that we've faced similar problems/issues along the way.
    My email is
    and my blog is
    I've added your blog to my list... maybe you could do the same for mine, so that those of us building this little boat can be in touch?
    cheers and wishing you Happy New Year and happy building!
    Peter Forsythe
    Hong Kong

    PS: I note you've already build your lead keel. That's one of the issues I'm facing. Not sure my wife would be happy for me to try to do that in our backyard, so I'm looking for a foundry here in Hong Kong. Come the time, I'd really appreciate talking to you a bit more about that process...