Saturday, June 2, 2012

Installing KeelEazy

Their slogan is, "KeelEazy, Protecting Beautiful Bottoms."
Credit: KeelEazy
Use with permission.

The introductory piece, on why I decided to apply KeelEazy to Ibi, was done on 16 May, if you wish to refer back to that. As for the installation, there is a sheet of instructions that come with the PVC tape when you order it, and there are instructions and You Tube videos on the site as well so you can watch it being done.

This is what I'm protecting against.  The dark line at the top is where the
gelcoat was worn.  The two tan areas, one just below the gelcoat abrasion
and one at the bottom of the picture, is where the softer material of the
gelcoat has met rocks and lost.  Repaired with epoxy putty.

I liked the idea of the canoe patch kit, but as I mentioned, the dimensions of the kit pieces simply wouldn’t work on Ibi’s dissimilar ends. If you are not installing KeelEazy on a new boat, the wear areas that you already have will tell you where and how much coverage you need. After inspecting Ibi’s wear, I decided I wanted three feet of the 2” tape forward, covered by two feet of the 3” tape in the area of maximum wear. Aft, I needed two feet of the 2” tape, covered by a foot of the 3” material. That gave me an order of 5 ft. of 2” white tape, to match the hull color, and 3 ft. of the 3” white tape.

They say the hardest part of the job is getting the blue adhesive covering strip separated from the adhesive. When they mailed the order, they had rolled the tape with the blue cover inside. That produced lateral creases in the covering, separating it from the adhesive, and I found that simply inserting a knife point into the crease nearest the end of the tape made lifting and separating the cover from the adhesive very easy.

I did three things in preparation. One, the hull needs to be wiped down with liberal amounts of rubbing alcohol for best adhesion. Acetone can’t be used on some hull materials, thus the alcohol, but since it can be used on fiberglass, I also cleaned it with acetone. Two, they recommend all corners be rounded, so once the tape was cut to the lengths I needed, a radius was cut on each corner. And three, I made pencil marks on the hull where the tape needed to go, to help get the tape in the correct place with the first try. I also marked the centerline of the tape every 6-inches to help keep it centered on the keel line of the boat.

I used a hair dryer on high setting for the heat source. They recommend a 500-degree heat source, but since my heat gun has only an on and off switch, with no intermediate settings, I didn’t want to risk burning the hull.
After a foot of the blue cover was pulled away from the adhesive, I was able to get one end of the 2” tape set in place. Once the end is anchored, the tape can be stretched a bit to help with the radius of the stem. The tape is applied full length as the adhesive cover is removed.
With the 2" tape installed.

Going back to the radius of the stem, start from the middle of the arc, warm the tape and press it into place. The puckers that unavoidably result from applying a flat material to a rounded surface are warmed and worked away from the center of the radius toward either end. Wearing leather gloves, just keep warming and smoothing until all the puckers are gone. The rest of the tape can then be warmed and secured into place.

The 3” tape goes over the 2” tape in the area of maximum wear. Working the puckers out of the 2” tape wasn’t hard, but I feared the extra material of the 3” tape would make the effort more difficult, so I cut a dart into either side at the point of maximum radius, anchored them down first, and then continued working toward the ends.

The 3" tape over the 2", with the dart at the center of the radius.

The stern had a much shorter and shallower curve to it, so installation on the stern next to the rudder, was that much simpler. If you encounter any problems, the tape can be removed by heating the tape and adhesive to get it to release, and then setting back into place.

The next issue is how well it wears and does its job of protecting the boat. I’ll update you a few hundred miles down the coast.

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