Cast Iron Keel – an update

Some time ago we wrote about the renovation of the composite cast iron keel on G-whizz (Cast Iron Keel). In that post we mentioned that while we were initially happy with the work the proof would be when G-whizz came out of the water in a year’s time.

Well due to a number of circumstances that year turned out to be closer to 20 months but our disappointment with the work done started a lot earlier than that. We have the bottom of G-whizz cleaned regularly (in general about once a month) by an experienced diver, on the first clean after he treatment the diver rang to ask if he should be seeing rust, this was not the response we were expecting to hear just 4 weeks after going back in the water, we asked him to take some photos the next time he was diving in the vicinity.

These are a couple of those photos that show a number of pin sized rust spots, the diver commented that before cleaning they were about 25 to 35mm on diameter but after wiping reduced to the pin size in the pictures, my initial thought was – and still remains –  that these were in fact the remnants if wires from the a wire brushing process used to strip the keel.

A substantial amount of money changed hands to have the keel renovated, a process that was supposed to be one of those once in a life time of ownership jobs, even if we went with the lower of two quotes the yard that did the work is one of Sydney’s best known and regarded yards to have it last little more than 12 months is, to say the least a major disappointment.

Coming out of the water at Woolwich dock.

Without going into a long story the yard that did the work were not at all helpful in rectifying the work, while we started communication with them as soon as the diver’s photos were received, they did say that they would get the boat out of the water as soon a possible to inspect the situation. Well after a number of enquiries that “As soon as possible” is translatable to “We don’t give a stuff” as they were always too busy to lift G-whizz out of the water but they would get back to us when they had time, after some 12 months of enquiries all they could offer was that we would get a free lift for the next hull service.

After pressure blasting

We made a decision to do what was the best for the boat, get the hull soda blasted at the same time as a complete keel rectification, we took some knowledgeable advice, Michael Bartley who has done most of the maintenance on G-whizz advised that not only is she borderline deep for his new yard but he lacks road access that makes getting soda blasting equipment onto site quite difficult. Michael pointed us toward Mitch Buckingham at Woolwich Dock.

Halfway through (time to check messages).

The accompanying photographs show some of the story, the keel after the initial pressure blast displayed little of the original antifoul paint left, and as the shipwright commented “Undercoat over antifoul is not a good start”. We are not too sure if the process used by the first yard was the correct one or if the workmanship involved in it’s execution was of the required quality or both.

After Treatment.

The new work involved having the hull soda blasted, filled and epoxy primed before antifouling while the keel received extra blasting epoxy coating encapsulating in fiberglass, filling, fairing and antifouling. The antifoul used is Altex Pettit Vivid – ironically available in a number of bright colours but we chose to stay with black.

On the lift ready for splashing.

Early days but G-whizz is now performing at levels not experienced since we first came into contact with her, one complaint is that she will not stop, the first time I put her on her mooring after splashing I completely misjudged her speed and overshot the mooring on two occasions, we often get excited about motoring speeds after a hull service but what really stands out this time is her low speed slipperiness, take her off the throttle and she just keeps on going!