Thursday, November 3, 2011

KeelEazy revisited: How did it hold up?

Two and a half months ago, we wrote about applying the new KeelEazy strip to one of our boats as well as to the Delphin, a plastic boat in the Geneva Kayak fleet. We found it was quicker and easier to apply than a traditional fiberglass keel strip, and we promised to report back later in the season.

Alec, pulling his boat up on a break wall.

We don't primarily paddle in a rocky or barnacle-encrusted environment, but we don't baby our boats, either. We land on sand and gravel beaches, pull out boats up on rocky break walls, and travel to places where we do a little rock gardening. That's why we are interested in having keel strips on our boats; they offer needed protection.

We can't completely account for the abuse that the Delphin endured over the past couple of months, but it was definitely paddled on the Yorkville whitewater course.

How did they hold up? The strip on Alec's composite boat has done pretty well. It peeled a little bit in the area that had to be cut out to accommodate the skeg, and it buckled a little bit on the rocker in the stern. (As we wrote in the original post, the weather was very warm--above 90 degrees; the ideal temperature for applying it is 70 degrees.) The areas where it peeled or buckled attracts small pebbles. But it has protected the keel and hasn't peeled at either end. It's gotten a little scratched and gouged, but it has held up admirably.

The area where the KeelEazy had to be cut around the skeg peeled a bit and attracted sand and pebbles.

Although the KeelEazy buckled near the stern, the wear on the strip was comparable to the wear on Sharon's fiberglass keel strip.

The small strip we put on the Delphin didn't do so well. (We had only a few extra feet, so we couldn't apply a full keel strip.)

We applied the extra length to the keel of a Delphin in the GKC rental fleet.
Two months later, the KeelEazy had peeled off at the end and was gouged all the way through. (The impact of whatever happened was strong enough to gouge the boat as well.)

We ran our observations by Chris Mitchell at KeelEazy, who suggested the following:

  • If your boat has a tight radius on the stem (the portion of the keel where the boat curves up toward the deck), the strip may buckle. In that case, cut it and fold the flap over; you can use a drop of Super Glue if necessary to adhere it.
  • Plastic boats will generally accept the KeelEazy well, provided they don't endure serious abuse. He's put strips on the bow and stern of whitewater boats to protect them, too.
  • It's a good idea to use a solvent to clean any boat prior to installation; alcohol (which we used on our composite boat) or acetone (one plastic) work well. Mineral spirits will leave a residue.
  • Because KeelEazy is a thermal plastic, avoid stretching it too much in the heat because it will seek to return to its previous shape when it cools.
  • If you have trouble with a section -- as we did with the skeg area -- try cutting that section out and replacing it before you replace the entire strip.

So what do we think? If you aren't willing to spend the time to apply a fiberglass keel strip, which is a significantly messier process, the KeelEazy is a good option. It really takes only 15 minutes and no special tools. In the two-and-a-half months we tested it, it proved as durable as a traditional keel strip. Either can be damaged, of course. A traditional keel strip can then be repaired; the KeelEazy can be removed and replaced.


Silbs said...

Thanks for the follow up. I was just about to order the product for my Cetus MV. Several dealers now handle it online.

mikehenebry said...

I installed Keel Easy strips on my all-carbon Little Wing kayaks which also have no gelcoat - just paint. Now I can run my boats upon rocky beaches and concrete baot ramps with no damage to the hulls. The plastic strips will eventually wear through, but they are sacrificial and easily removed and replace. I cut slits and used seam seal glue around curve sections a the bow and stern.

I also cut 1-foot strips of Keel Easy and made heel pads under my footrests as my heels were beginning to wear holes in carbon floor. I did this before the company started marketing their Heel Easy pads. Keel and Heel Easy are both great products.

Des, Deep Blue said...

Very useful feedback. I'm about to start using on our school fleet.
Mike, what is 'seam seal glue'?