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Author Topic:   Can a damaged keel be reparied?
BobNH posted 06-09-2002 10:00 PM ET (US)   Profile for BobNH  
I did a real number on my 2001 Montauk this afternoon. Hopefully the damage can be repaired and I will save someone else from making the same mistake that I did.

The damage occurred when I was loading the boat onto an EZ Loader trailer. Because of wind and a slight current, I managed to run the keel of my boat over the metal bracket that supports the 8" black rubber keel roller at the stern, rather than over the roller itself. I've always wondered if that was possible, and the unfortunate answer is that it IS possible.

The damage is lot worse than I ever would have imagined, or I would have replaced the roller with a 12" poly roller. My keel now has a jagged section about 6" long, with exposed fiberglass in the middle. Needless to say, I'm really bummed out that I did this to my boat.

Can a damaged keel be durably repaired, and if so, how should the repair be done? I'm going to have my BW dealer fix it (if it can be fixed), but I want to know how it should be repaired so that I know the job has been done right.

Thanks for any advice or sympathy!

OutrageMan posted 06-09-2002 10:33 PM ET (US)     Profile for OutrageMan  Send Email to OutrageMan     
Don't worry, this is an easy fix for your dealer.

They will probably start by grinding away a large area around the defect. They will then build the area back up with various weights and layers of fiberglass and epoxy. They will finish by fairing out the area and reapplying gelcoat.

Almost as easy as writing that last paragraph.


Hobie1981 posted 06-09-2002 10:55 PM ET (US)     Profile for Hobie1981  Send Email to Hobie1981     
If I'm reading your post correctly, it sounds like pretty minor damage. When you say fiberglass is exposed, how deep is the damage. I'm going to guess that the damage is maybe 2-4 mm deep at the max. Is this a correct assumption on my part? Nevertheless, this is FIXABLE. That's the beauty of owning a fiberglass boat. Add the fact that it's a BW..which are built to take life's little (and occasionally big) hickups. Most likely you could do the repair yourself. And of course your dealer could do it too. You might want to check out any auto body shops that specialize in Corvette repairs.

The first ding always hurts, boat.. car ..whatever. But most of the time they are fixable. We have all been there at one time or another.. could be worse.. Some poor chap last Friday morning in Boston wrecked his SUV and his boat. Tied up I93 for a few hours..what a way to start the weekend..


BobNH posted 06-09-2002 10:59 PM ET (US)     Profile for BobNH    
I just went to the West Marine web site looking for 12" poly rollers. Something I saw there makes me think that the keel roller brackets were installed backwards on my trailer, thus making the accident that I had much more likely.

The keel rollers are mounted on two-piece galvanized brackets. In the West Marine catalog, the mounting slots for the roller brackets shown as facing towards the center of the keel rollers. The brackets were installed on my trailer with the mounting slots facing towards the outside of the roller. By mounting the brackets in this manner, a 1" piece of galvanized steel is exposed on either side of the roller in such a way that the hull can very easily hit it. Hindsight is always 20-20, but it sure looks like the trailer was assembled incorrectly!


BobNH posted 06-09-2002 11:07 PM ET (US)     Profile for BobNH    
Thanks fo rthe reassuring replies. I was afraid that the damage might not be fixable, so it's a real relief to know that this is a minor repair in the grand scheme of things.

The maximum depth of the damage doesn't look much deeper than 4 mm or so.

I live in NH, and remember seeing the picture in the local paper of the boat by the side of the highway. Ouch! I also saw the aftermath of a boat fire up at Portsmouth this afternoon, so I guess I don't have too much to complain about! :-)


Ed Z posted 06-09-2002 11:38 PM ET (US)     Profile for Ed Z  Send Email to Ed Z     
I had the same thing happen to me...I put on a 12 inch roller and asyet have not repeated the mistake (possibly because I'm far more cautious than I used to be)... Its very much repairable and most probably will be undetectable (if done right) even by yourself...
prj posted 06-10-2002 12:31 AM ET (US)     Profile for prj  Send Email to prj     
bob, check threads under the rep/modif. forum. several good ones on keelguards that may apply regardless of whether a keelguard is your route.

i purched a 15' striper a bit over a year ago which the previous owner has power loaded recklessly on the trailer (not to imply you were reckless). gouged the hell out of the keel until mostly glass exposed over large area to substantial depth. reckless as he obviously paid no attention to the roller flanges and their impact on fiberglass.

as my damage was substantial, i remolded with a 2 part marine epoxy and applied the keelguard over the entire unseemly mess. now it protects me from both the roller flanges and overnights pulled up on shore.

good luck

JWK posted 06-10-2002 07:54 AM ET (US)     Profile for JWK  Send Email to JWK     
I've noticed that Stoltz, the manufacturer of the yellow poly rollers, offers poly end caps that fit on an extended shaft outside the roller brackets. Has anyone tried these? They look like they might eliminate this problem altogether.


JDog posted 06-10-2002 10:48 AM ET (US)     Profile for JDog  Send Email to JDog     
I had a similar problem on my '86 Montauk. I simply sanded down the area (about 4" long 2mm deep). I cleaned it really well, then I applied Marine-Tex. I didn't put gel-coat on over that and I didn't color it but it seems to be holding up. Hopefully this is the right way to repair it! I still may go back and sand it down some and add some colored gel-coat to make it cosmetically more appealing. If I can do it, you can! Save your cash and try to do it yourself. It was not difficult, and much more rewarding!
SeaHag posted 06-10-2002 11:04 AM ET (US)     Profile for SeaHag  Send Email to SeaHag     
Jdog, thats the same repair technique I'm getting ready to do. I have a "gash" (for lack of a better word) almost identical to yours. As a temp repair I slapped some 5200 in there, right over the bottom paint. Well now its peeling off (the 5200). I think what I'll do is remove the bottom paint around the area, clean it the surface area, then apply Marine-Tex.

I don't feel that its so large that I need to kill it with layers of fiberglass. I'd be curious to see if others have done this.

Bigshot posted 06-10-2002 11:46 AM ET (US)     Profile for Bigshot  Send Email to Bigshot     
reason #410 on why you should not powerload your boat onto the trailer. If you were walking the boat on by hand you would have heard it hit and at the most scratched the gelcoat.

easy fix though:)

SeaHag posted 06-10-2002 12:34 PM ET (US)     Profile for SeaHag  Send Email to SeaHag     
mine was aquired with the hull that I recently purchased. I'll still power her up though.@$)!
Salmon Tub posted 06-10-2002 12:36 PM ET (US)     Profile for Salmon Tub  Send Email to Salmon Tub     
Bobnh, where exactly did you scratch your hull - front (under bow), middle, aft? How far do you back your trailer into the water? I have had close calls with the front roller that is on the rear portion of the tongue of the trailer, but the rear roller is ussually way to deep in the water to even come close. Do you have side guides?
Hobie1981 posted 06-10-2002 12:46 PM ET (US)     Profile for Hobie1981  Send Email to Hobie1981     
Bob: Sounds as if this can be fixed with a little Marine-Tex topped off with a some gel-coat. Total out of pocket expense would be maybe $25 buck-a-roos..and then your time. :-). Spectrum Color make a nice patch kit, you'll need Boston Whaler White for 1998-2002 models. You can pick it up at West Marine etc, or order it from their website: You may also want to pick up a patch kit that matches the interior also. It's my understanding that marine-tex will break down over time if it's not protected from UV light. Although your damage is not exposed to direct sunlight, you should finish the repair with the gel-coat. Besides it's a new boat anyway.

Hey: Now your boat has CHARACTA..

Hobie in the Granite State

JimU posted 06-10-2002 03:18 PM ET (US)     Profile for JimU  Send Email to JimU     
This is a mere scratch. After rstoring three whalers, one of which was hell hacked by a fish and wild life department I would not hesitate to fix it myself. JIM
prj posted 06-10-2002 03:47 PM ET (US)     Profile for prj  Send Email to prj     
bob, go to marketplace, "whaler wanted" and check out the posted site therein. photo of what i expect is similar damage and ONE method of repair.

must confess, mine looked similar 'til i cloaked it all in a keelguard.

BobNH posted 06-10-2002 07:45 PM ET (US)     Profile for BobNH    
Thanks for all the good advice!

I took the boat to the dealer I bought it from, and they said that they could make it look brand new for about $250. That's 10x what it would cost to fix it myself (by one estimate), but I agreed since they said they could have the boat ready by this weekend, with 12" Stoltz rollers and end caps. That works for me!

To answer a few of your questions about the damage, it extends over about 12" of the keel, about 1/3 of the way from the bow. This isn't a simple gouge, if it was, I would have been tempted to fix it. It's a jagged scar that looks a bit like the edge of a saw blade, with large teeth. The reason that the damage is so bad is that the keel went over the edge of the brack that extends about an inch from the side of the roller.

Here's how the accident happened: I slowly brought the boat up to the end of the trailer and applied a little reverse to slow down. The wind, current, and "paddle-wheel" effect of putting the engine in reverse caused the stern to swing out slightly from straight on. My son was manning the trailer winch, so he pulled the winch strap out to where I was floating just off the end of the trailer. He couldn't quite reach, so I gunned the engine to get a little closer. That was a BIG mistake, but not my first for the day. The noise of the boat scraping across that bracket sounded REALLY bad, and I assumed that I had touched bottom with my OB skeg. I killed the engine and tilted the motor up, but I didn't see any damage. At this point I wasn't sure what had happened, but my boat was now diagonally across the trailer, so I was ready for my next big mistake. Can you guess what I did next? I started the motor, and I backed away. The noise this time was even worse than the first, because the bent edge of the roller bracket was now digging into the hull like a chisel and chipping out little chunks of the hull, and making a truely sickening sound as it went.

Several factors contributed to this fine mess: I didn't back the trailer in as deeply as I usually do, because I didn't want the boat to float across the trailer due to the current, and I assumed that having more of the bunks exposed would straighten the boat out as I loaded it. The second factor was that the roller brackets were reversed, causing a 1" metal edge to extend off the end of the roller. This never bit me in past, because I usually back the trailer further in the water and that gave me enough clearance to avoid that bracket when the boat was crooked. The third factor was simple pilot error. Not only did I try to power load the boat when it wasn't perfectly aligned, but I then backed the boat off the trailer once I got into this mess. Of course I thought it was the skeg that had hit bottom, but I should have taken more time to figure out what was wrong.

My fixes are as follows:

Install 12" rollers with end caps and reverse the brackets so that the edge that is now exposed will be behind the roller and end cap.

Back the trailer further into the water.

Get some trailer guides.

Any one of these fixes would probably suffice, but doing all three will give me an added margin for error.


NEVER SCARED posted 06-11-2002 03:24 PM ET (US)     Profile for NEVER SCARED    
I would be carefull about what the dealer plans to do. Before I bought my 18', I put a down payment to hold a 17'Outrage at a dealer. I noticed the hull had the same damage as you have. I showed the guy the damage hoping to lower the $14,500 price, and he said they would gelcoat the spot and would be ready by the weekend. The damage extended through the fiberglass and there was a thick syrupy liquid dripping out. These guys were gonna apply gelcoat over damaged wet glass. Id ask what they plan to do and even better, supervise the process!
jimh posted 06-11-2002 06:43 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
In the Reference section, Trailering area, there are several photographs which show keel rollers and their proper installation. I append a couple of hyperlinks below.
FISHNFF posted 06-13-2002 07:15 PM ET (US)     Profile for FISHNFF  Send Email to FISHNFF     

Right after I got my 1998 Alert, I modified my trailer with all new poly rollers and adjusted them so that took all of the weight, with the bunks as stabilizers. I was sitting in the boat while my partner backed it down. I heard the rollers turning as the boat rolled off the trailer and slid 30 feet down a concrete ramp into the water. Insurance paid around $2k for gelcoat repairs to the entire center keel, right sponson, and broken bait pump and S/T sensor. Groung right to the glass, but not into it (much). Good news was we caught over 30 stripers. Keep it hitched until you are ready to splash!


BobNH posted 06-17-2002 09:59 PM ET (US)     Profile for BobNH    
I picked up my newly repaired boat yesterday and it looks great. :-) Only time will tell if the repair was done right and it keeps looking great.

Total cost of the repair was $270, which included the replacement of the existing 8" black rubber keel roller with a 12" Stotz roller on a SS shaft with end caps.

Before picking up my boat, I did a survey of every boat on a trailer that I could find. Most were Boston Whalers, but a handful were not.

Most of the boats were on bunk only trailers, or were on bunk trailers that had one or two keel rollers that were adjusted so as not to even touch the keel.

This leads me to ask this question: Do I even need the keel rollers, if I'm willing and able to really sink the trailer when launching and retrieving?

I know that BW's position is that the bulk of the weight must be carried on keel rollers, but most of the trailers at my dealer either have no keel rollers or ones that aren't carrying any weight. What gives? Are all these boats at risk of delaminating?

I just sent a note to a forum member who owns a new Montauk, because I'm curious as to whether the the EZ Loader trailer that it came with has keel rollers. I realize that this is an entirely different boat, but it's a data point.

I read trailer set up articles in the reference section (very well written!) which featured an old-style Montauk being carried on a bunk only trailer. That's another data point. What sort of trailer is every one else using?

Thanks for all the good advice so far!

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