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Old 10-31-2015, 11:00 AM   #1
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Cement Ballast in keel?

Does anyone have experience with cement ballast being factory installed on Prairies???? If so, is there a 'water channel' or limber hole in the bottom to let the water out when on the hard to prevent freeze damage?
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Old 10-31-2015, 11:24 AM   #2
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Why do you think there is water in the keel ? If you think there is water might want have someone rap tap the hull to determine if there is avoid or separation. I have the hull surveyed every time we pull.
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Old 10-31-2015, 11:38 AM   #3
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This boat has cement ballast added from the front of the engine back to the location of the cutlass bearing. I suppose it was to try to dampen the roll. I guess the worry is while out for the winter if there is any residual water in the bilge I don't want it to crack the fiberglass keel.

To make sure nothing happens to the keel I am storing the boat bow down to make any water in the boat from decommissioning etc flows to the bow (where I can vacuum it out easy). But I hate the boat being down by the bow. And am wondering if any others have this installed from the factory. I cannot find any clear water channel from the. Fwd bulkhead aft under the concrete. I would love to put a drain in the aft end of the keel.
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Old 10-31-2015, 11:49 AM   #4
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Having owned a couple of Island Packet sailboats in my lifetime, I know a thing or two about cement or more accurately concrete ballast construction. IP molds the keel in fiberglass which is similar to the one on most displacement hull trawlers. The fiberglass is about an inch thick on the bottom and maybe 1/2-3/4" on the sides of the keel. Then they fill it with a mixture of concrete and steel punchings recycled from steel fabricators as scrap. After the concrete sets, they fiberglass the top.

The concrete/punching mixture bonds well to the sides of the fiberglass and with the top glassed in, no water can get in.

In other words- fuggitaboutit.

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Old 10-31-2015, 11:52 AM   #5
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Willard 30's have a "well" about 14" deep just ahead of the Lazerette bulkhead. Bilge pump sumps are of course located there. W30's have concrete ballast in the Laz too. All the bilge water flows to the well.
Also using AF in the bilge may be a shot in the foot as water w AF in it flows through cracks much better than just water.

As an aside I'd take a good look at what water on deck and on the cabin will do .. where it will go if you do the bow down thing. On our Willard water puddles in a bad place on deck so would'nt be inclined to go bow down.

But bow down could be fine.

I rarely do but I disagree w David on this one. Water should not sit on top of concrete ballast. Fiberglassed over will only keep the water out as long as it does. And then if there's a crack in the concrete water will find it's way to the steel punchings and rust/corrosion will commence and the ballast will then expand. As a result of that I had to jackhammer the ballast out of the Laz in Willy. Not a fun job.
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Old 10-31-2015, 01:31 PM   #6
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Bow down shrink wrapped. No worry about the decks now. Using a dehumidifier to completely dry out the boat. But I would LOVE to not have to deal with this stuff every fall.

Regarding the material. It is simply cement dumped in the bilge. There is no cap, no iron fillets and no sealant of any kind.

It would appear this is an experiment. I was hoping to find another prairie owner who has this..... Maybe to find out what factory did this. Or not.
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Old 10-31-2015, 02:07 PM   #7
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Our IG has cement ballast. Over the years water managed to get into it and freezing each year caused some cracking of the ply and fiberglass over it. A couple of years ago I drilled a hole from the outside through the glass at the lowest aft point in the keel until I hit cement and then installed a bronze garboard drain plug in the hole. After fall haulout I remove the plug and over the next few days there is always some weeping from it. Less and less each year. No more cracks appearing.

Oh, and I always have the boat blocked with the bow up to facilitate this draining, as well to ensure that any water that collects on the deck before the boat is covered runs aft to the scuppers.
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Old 10-31-2015, 03:34 PM   #8
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As Dave noted, cement and concrete are two different things
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Old 10-31-2015, 03:36 PM   #9
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Cement Ballast in keel?

I was contemplating puttin a garboard plug in the aft end of keel for draining. I was sort of looking for confirmation of a limberhole as it were if this was a factory installation. I see no evidence of one on the fore end. Just hoping. But without confirmation I hate to have pockets of water held between cement and hull causing freeze damage.
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Old 10-31-2015, 05:09 PM   #10
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@Phil. It is not that 'there is water in the keel' as much as the cement ballast is simply poured into the keel void. When this was done there were no visible means of channeling water along the bottom of the bilge.

Compared to other prairies I have seen their bilge pumps are located aft in the lazarette. This prairie has the bilge pumps forward! All the way forward. I have not seen water leaking in, or any delamination problem. I just want to ensure NO freeze damage from water between the cement and glass hull.

@DWhatty:

I had contemplated putting a bronze Garboard plug in. Maybe putting one in the aft corner of the keel is good idea


Have to ponder that.

Thanks for the thoughts.
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Old 10-31-2015, 05:18 PM   #11
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I like the shrink wrap move. We did that one year when we went back to Alaska w/o the boat. Boat was nice and dry when we came back. $1000 bucks though.
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Old 10-31-2015, 05:21 PM   #12
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Before you have the yard set her bow down, make sure exhaust is Completely emptied of water to avoid hydrolocking.
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Old 10-31-2015, 06:04 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sailor of Fortune View Post
Before you have the yard set her bow down, make sure exhaust is Completely emptied of water to avoid hydrolocking.

I had left antifreeze in the exhaust to prevent air ingestion backwards to engine. I don't think there is enough 'down' to worry about it getting back into engine. I am concerned if there was a collapse of the shrink wrap while I am gone. Because there definitely would be accumulation on the decks where it would matter. Luckily I'm in between 3 other large boats to help break the wind.
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Old 10-31-2015, 06:08 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by manyboats View Post
I like the shrink wrap move. We did that one year when we went back to Alaska w/o the boat. Boat was nice and dry when we came back. $1000 bucks though.

It was tough to decide between inside storage (2,800). And outside for 1200 plus 350 to wrap her. This second year of owning, we kept her outside. But wrapping is paramount. Old boat, spider cracks, and fading paint job needs all the help it can get to prolong life.
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Old 10-31-2015, 08:20 PM   #15
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No cement in my Prairie. Was not garboard drain either, there is now. Located where the Bilge Pump is, aft of the engine/transmission . Of course we don't winterize in Florida, but does facilitate drain and cleaning of bilge during haul outs.


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