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Old 01-16-2020, 01:14 PM   #1
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Water in Encapsulated Keel

Kept finding a small puddle of water in the bilge area and just found it's been seeping out from the encapsulated keel. I cut a hole in the bilge floor and it's filled solid with lead chucks and pellets, with fresh water mixed in right up to the top. So I drilled a 1/4" hole in the bottom of the keel and gallons of water drained out. Really glad I found this and was able to drain the water, but need some suggestions on how to dry it out. I was thinking to pour some acetone in there and let it drain a few times. Anyone else have another solution? Heat, a vacuum, etc? Or just let it dry by itself? I wont be launching the boat for another year so it can bake over the summer.
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Old 01-16-2020, 01:45 PM   #2
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Why would it be "fresh water"?
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Old 01-16-2020, 01:46 PM   #3
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I would be careful with acetone due to its volatility. Instead I think that I would drill a series of holes in the bottom of the keel. Tap the holes so you can hook up a manifold of hoses and then put suction on it with a shop vac. Of course you will need a source for air to get into the hollow keel. The hole that you have drilled already will be one source but you may have to drill a couple more and vary opening the holes over time to let the air into different areas of the keel. There is a company that uses this process in cored hulls to dry the coring out. Buy Ridgid shop vacs since they have a lifetime warranty and you may burn out a couple of shop vacs depending on how long it takes to dry it out. Then you need to find out how the water got into the keel and fix that. I had a hollow keel on a previous boat that had water in it, boy did that water stink. And the smell would go through the fiberglass into the cabin. I finally cut the top out to open up the keel so I could clean it out and the smell went away.
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Old 01-16-2020, 01:56 PM   #4
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Greetings,
Mr. B. I agree with Mr. C. As well as being volatile, acetone may damage the FRP of the keel. IF you're set on flushing with any liquid, alcohol may be a somewhat better choice. More holes, tapped for a manifold and future plugs, then ventilation. Find that leak.
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Old 01-16-2020, 02:19 PM   #5
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While I have no direct experience, I find it hard to believe that you can effectively flush out water from a keel with ethanol (definitely better than acetone). Surely, whatever you try to flush with will simply drop to the lowest point of the keel and run out the drain holes, unless you intend to completely fill the keel with ethanol to absorb residual water?
Still not clear about the "fresh water" or was this simply a misstatement?
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Old 01-16-2020, 02:24 PM   #6
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I would make a small hole in the keel and suck air through it. I would put a closed bucket between the vacuum pump and the keel, and in that bucket I would put a battery powered humidity meter. I would suck air through there until the humidity dropped to normal.
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Old 01-16-2020, 02:27 PM   #7
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Greetings,
Mr. C. Yup. A complete fill up and drain with alcohol would be the only viable way of flushing IF Mr. B is set on doing so. It would still mean ventilating for a goodly period of time to dry further THEN a complete sealing.



I thought Huntington NY was on one of the Great Lakes but nope-Long Island so the freshwater comment is a question for me as well. Seepage from rain perhaps?


Edit: Mr. MY. That might take years IMO. Water has a fairly low vapor pressure.
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Old 01-16-2020, 02:28 PM   #8
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You might also consider using a compressor and blowing the water out under pressure?

Plus, another question is this. Once you drain the water (thoroughly) do you even really need to dry the lead shot etc? Presumably the keel is normally in water on the outside, so why should it matter if it is damp on the inside?
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Old 01-16-2020, 03:15 PM   #9
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It was definitely fresh water. Although I said the keel is encapsulated, I believe water can get into the keel area from the bow inside the forward cabin. Itís an old boat and new to me. My guess is at some point in its life, water leaked into the cabin and drained aft into the keel. Will avoid acetone...just thought it would help dry things out.
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Old 01-16-2020, 03:24 PM   #10
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Perhaps a stupid question (??) but is it possible that since the water is really fresh, it was actually intentionally used to increase keel ballast by filling all voids around shot etc?. Per previous comments, if water is fresh and does not stink, then it presumably has not been doing any harm to interior of keel.
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Old 01-16-2020, 03:26 PM   #11
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Greetings,
Mr. C. That's an excellent point (post #8). What difference does it make if the shot is still damp although any water in there may cause problems if it freezes...
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Old 01-16-2020, 03:38 PM   #12
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Good point about the freezing but then why no problem to date?
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Old 01-16-2020, 03:41 PM   #13
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Greetings,
Mr. C. Maybe it has frozen but caused no damage yet. One option may be to just leave it as is and thread the existing drain hole, put in a plug and drain every fall.
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Old 01-16-2020, 04:20 PM   #14
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...Buy Ridgid shop vacs since they have a lifetime warranty and you may burn out a couple of shop vacs depending on how long it takes to dry it out..
We dried a 2'x6' section of cored hull using a shop vac. We made a manifold out of plastic tubing and duct taped it to the hull where we drilled some holes. It look about 2 weeks but the core area passed a surveys moisture meter after and this was in Seattle.
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Old 01-16-2020, 04:22 PM   #15
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If you can seal it up well enough, an A/C system vacuum pump (of reasonable size) and a water trap will do a better job of causing water to evaporate than a shop vac could ever dream of, as you'll be able to build enough vacuum to boil water at room temperature or a little above (given good enough sealing). A shop vac could be useful to pull enough vacuum to pull some warm, dry air through the space, however.
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Old 01-16-2020, 05:32 PM   #16
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The reason you want to get the water out is smell. Our Trojan had a hollow keel that over the years got filled with fresh water. It stunk worse than a black water tank. The smell would go through the fiberglass and was noticeable before I drilled the hole in the top of the hollow keel. Once I drilled a hole the smell was horrible. A shop vac will move enough air to get it to dry out. What you want is air flow, not necessary a lot of inches of vacuum.
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Old 01-16-2020, 05:58 PM   #17
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If you can seal it up well enough, an A/C system vacuum pump (of reasonable size) and a water trap will do a better job of causing water to evaporate than a shop vac could ever dream of, as you'll be able to build enough vacuum to boil water at room temperature or a little above (given good enough sealing). A shop vac could be useful to pull enough vacuum to pull some warm, dry air through the space, however.
You'll never get enough vacuum do do any good. The vapor pressure of water at reasonably temperatures is low, and the evaporation rate will not get very high until you approach very high vacuums - more than you are likely to get in something that has had water leak in somewhere. The key is air circulation, however you can get it - suck out or blow in. The same is true of an alcohol mix - it does not increase the evaporation rate much unless the added liquid has a very low boiling point. Ether would be ideal but it highly flammable.

I think if you have some time you could dry that out with two small holes in the bottom of the keel, one at the extreme forward end, one at the extreme aft. Blow a small volume of air in each (or one at a time) and let it escape through the bilge hole. It would help to have an air dryer on the compressor. Alternatively suck through the bilge hole, here it would help to tent the keel and run a dehumidifier in the tented space so dry air is sucked in.

If you are using a shop vac, make sure there are enough leaks to allow some airflow through the motor. Most shop vacs depend on air flow to cool the motor, if you plug or nearly plug the hose they will overheat fairly quickly (no air to the motor).
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Old 01-16-2020, 06:10 PM   #18
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(Some) Grand Banks have hollow keels. There is a hose that sticks out of the floor of the bilge. I just hooked my drill pump up to the hose and pumped it out. It doesn't matter if its wet in there, or at least it didn't on my boat. I discovered there was a screw or two missing (steady RT) for the stainless strip on the stem and underway, water would be pushed up and into the holes and the keel would fill. I fixed the holes and checked the keel each year. Just let it drain and figure out where the leak is and then relax. Drying it is a waste of time. Besides, burning out shop vacs and pouring ethanol in there? Then it leaks again? I can think of a much better use for ethanol, suitable for boaters too.
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Old 01-16-2020, 09:20 PM   #19
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I still do not understand how "fresh water " gets into the keel. I kind of get how on a sail boat this might happen with rain water leaking down the mast nito the bilge and beyond, but on a power boat??
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Old 01-16-2020, 09:27 PM   #20
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Many boats like that have a drain plug either in the side or end of the keel, for just the issue you are dealing with. Usually a brass plug in a fitting. I have seen them with so many layers of paint that if you did not know where it was, you would never find them. You might want to check before drilling any more hole. If not then I would suggest inserting a drain plug before you finish and splash the boat. Will make next time so much easier.
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