Tuesday, August 16, 2011

KeelEazy: a quicker, easier keel strip?

Applying a keel strip to a composite kayak is a good idea. It protects the keel from wear and tear, especially when launching and landing. It's also a good introduction to working with gel coat. But it requires some skill, materials and time, and it adds some weight to your boat.

Everything you need for a traditional keep strip, which costs about $40 per boat.
Josh Tatro laying out and marking where the keep strip will go.

Masking off the area.
Applying layers of gel coat over fiberglass tape. 
Sanding and cleaning up the edges between layers of gel coat.
 From start to finish, it takes about seven hours spread over a couple days. And that's if you're familiar with the process.

So when we heard about KeelEazy, a peel-and-stick PVC keel strip, we were intrigued. It costs $4 per foot (for the 2-inch width), is available in black and white (as well as other colors if you buy 100 feet of it), and sticks to fiberglass, plastic and metal. It's also supposed to be easy to remove and replace if necessary.

So we did a side-by-side test. We applied a traditional keep strip to one boat, and KeelEazy to the other. The materials were certainly minimalist.

Heat gun, alcohol, glove, scissors....action.
 It went on very easily, even over curved surfaces, and it was easy to cut around the skeg opening with a razor blade.

Clean the keel with alcohol. 
Round the ends of the KeelEazy strip.
Attach and start peeling off the backing.
Keep pulling and peeling.
Cut around the skeg opening. And you're done!
It took about half an hour from start to finish. The only hitch we encountered was difficulty getting the backing to separate. In the You Tube video, Chris Mitchell has no trouble, but we noticed he was wearing a coat. We were in our hot back yard. So we popped the KeelEazy in the freezer for a couple of minutes...

Just chillin'.
....after which it was easy to separate.

It's been about a month since we applied both keel strips. We also applied a strip to a plastic boat in the Geneva Kayak Center rental fleet to see how that fares. So far, the KeelEazy has stayed on. It's non-marking, slides easily across other boats during rescues, and seems to be durable.We'll report back toward the end of the season, but we're optimistic that for a little more money, kayakers have the option of saving time, effort and weight.

KeelEazy and traditional keel strips, side by side. 


Silbs said...

Just in the nick of time. I was about to touch up my two glass boats. Thanks for the freezer tip.

Mark said...

Brilliant! This may be just the thing for our rental fleet, which gets a lot of wear and tear launching from stone boat ramp.

j fleming said...

Tell that young guy to wear some eye protection!! (Sorry Alec, I was talking about Josh)

JohnB said...

I would add that when working with gel coat and cleaning solvents, one should not only wear eye protection, but also gloves and a respirator. Nice use for what appears to be a rather barren freezer--at minimum I'd expect some good ice cream ;-)

Bryan Hansel said...

How about an update?

jfaust97 said...

Sweet Point Bonita shirt too! I've been out to that lighthouse 3 times... the bridge is always under construction so I've never been able to go to the actual lighthouse... maybe someday!?!?