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To keel or not to keel???

Discussion in 'Wood and Canvas' started by Aoc230, Nov 19, 2014.

  1. Aoc230

    Aoc230 Curious about Wooden Canoes

    Hey guys :) id like to go without a keel and was wondering advantages and disadvantages of not replacing or replacing it during my recanvasing?

    So a keel will help protect the bottom and make it easier for novice paddlers to go straight. Will it be easier for me to damage to bottom of my canoe without one? Will she slide through the water better without one?

    Thanks much jacob
  2. mccloud

    mccloud "Tiger Rag" back on the tidal Potomac In Memoriam

    It's never made sense to me to poke a dozen holes thru a perfectly good restored and painted hull, so I left the keel off the 17' OT that I restored. A keel will not make up for poor paddle technique. I have no trouble keeping my canoe straight, paddling solo. Tom McCloud
  3. Rob Stevens

    Rob Stevens Wooden Canoes are in the Blood

    Consider the construction of the canoe. If it is lightly built, a keel can add stiffness. Also, those holes through the ribs can be an eyesore and possibly weaken the strength.
    I too was inclined to leave off the keels on the two Chestnuts I am restoring, but am now leaning back to replacing them.
  4. MGC

    MGC Scrapmaker

    I tend to put keels back if they were original and if the boat is not a "daily driver" that will be used for tripping. If the canoes have historic value, I would always replace the keel.
    I do not like keels and would never add one to a new construction unless it was a historic reproduction. The IG's off of my Rushton form received keels because all of the canvas IG's I have seen have keels. The keel was a necessary detail.

    That said, typical keels do make a canoe more difficult to paddle. They make turning, course correction and maneuvering much more difficult.
    To counter that, Chestnut has (at least on mine) produced the perfect compromise keel. They use a shoe keel. The shoe keel protects the bottom of the boat and gives it some stiffness but it does not hurt the boats handling. I would not shy away from putting a shoe keel on a Chestnut restoration.
  5. OP

    Aoc230 Curious about Wooden Canoes

    It's a Huron canoe, not sure of year but doesn't seem to be poorly built and seems fairly stiff?
  6. OP

    Aoc230 Curious about Wooden Canoes

    I have a cottage in quebec and wanted a cedar canvas canoe just to blend in with the quebec culture lol of things, that's why I drive a can am lol. The boat will see some tripping but primarily will be taken off the truck and put into the water and docked/paddled on the lake. I'm seariously leaning towards not putting one on as I've never paddled without one and would like to see the difference

    That said, typical keels do make a canoe more difficult to paddle. They make turning, course correction and maneuvering much more difficult.
    To counter that, Chestnut has (at least on mine) produced the perfect compromise keel. They use a shoe keel. The shoe keel protects the bottom of the boat and gives it some stiffness but it does not hurt the boats handling. I would not shy away from putting a shoe keel on a Chestnut restoration.[/QUOTE]
  7. Greg Nolan

    Greg Nolan enthusiast

    Aside from the question of whether you want an “authentic” restoration, whether to restore a keel or to leave it off depends in good part on how you intend to use the canoe, and very much on personal taste.

    A keel will provide some protection to the bottom, some stiffness to the hull, and some directional stability. It will add a little bit of weight, and may make a canoe a bit less maneuverable. So - - -

    If you will be free-style canoeing, or paddling a lot of white water where maximum maneuverability is needed, you don’t want a keel.

    If your canoe will be your lakeside summer camp utility boat, used by kids and visitors who may not always be attentive to the care a w/c canoe should get, you may want the protection of a keel.

    If you will be paddling or cruising on lakes and flat water rivers, especially if they are windy, you may like the directional stability given by a keel, and if you plan to sail the canoe, you will want a keel.

    The length of the canoe and the shape of its hull should be considered – cruising in a flat-bottomed short canoe (15’ or less) with a keel is easier because of the added directional stability, whereas a longer canoe (18’ and up), especially if it has a shallow-arched or rounded hull bottom, will tend to go straighter even without a keel.

    Virtually all of our paddling is done on flat water – streams, rivers, and lakes. Windy conditions are common. I find that our 15’ Old Town 50 pounder with a keel is at least as maneuverable as the 16’ Royalex Mohawk without a keel that I paddled for decades. I find that our 16’ Old town Ideal with a keel is a tiny bit less maneuverable than the 15’ canoe – but that is in part because it’s a bit longer and has a rounder bottom. I know that when we leave paint on the occasional invisible underwater rock, I am happy that it is paint from the ash keel rather than paint and filler from the canvas cover (though we may never have hit the rock if there were no keel). When the wind comes up, I welcome the directional stability the keel can give, because I am usually the stern paddler trying to keep the canoe on course.

    And as to personal taste, of course, each to his own. Some people just like keels, and others just don’t. Ain’t no accounting for taste.

    Here are some links to discussions of keels, their benefits and debits, and some matters concerning their installation or removal. The list was appeared a while ago in the Wooden Boat Magazine forums, and I have added a few.
  8. pklonowski

    pklonowski Unrepentant Canoeist

    You can always leave it off for a while, paddle it, and decide later whether you want to add a keel to it.
  9. MGC

    MGC Scrapmaker

    Seems like I recall Andre telling me that To Keel a Mockingbird is mandatory reading in Ontario schools...

    The keel will catch an occasional ding that might otherwise scar up the canvas... the keel on my Thompson Car Topper took one for the team last summer and I am grateful for that.
    If you ever look at one of Rollins canoes (the purty ones he actually uses) you will see a few dings and dings into the filler and lot's of contact points but no major damage. He shellacks over the filler and keeps the boat tuned up with replacement layers. His are working boats and subject to wear from the sharp Maine granite and they run the big Maine rivers and lakes, all without a keel. They track, turn and otherwise do everything a canoe should....
  10. Dan Miller

    Dan Miller cranky canoeist Staff Member

    In order for the keel to protect the bottom, you need to have good aim. There is 32+ inches in the water, and only 7/8" is protected by the keel. Better hit that rock straight on!

    Keels are best suited to livery situations, where the canoe is being dragged in an out of the water. The keel is perfect for taking this abuse.
  11. rpg51

    rpg51 Enthusiastic about Wooden Canoes

    I'm a charter member of the recently formed non-profit known as "Canoe paddlers against keels." We are in the process of getting our 501(c) status confirmed.
  12. OP

    Aoc230 Curious about Wooden Canoes

    Sorry guys I've been trying to respond back with quotes and have been getting this response


    You don't have permission to access /newreply.php on this server.
    Additionally, a 404 Not Found error was encountered while trying to use an ErrorDocument to handle the request.

    Or it's stating i need to have more than 10 words when I'm typing in full novels, gets pretty annoying trying to repeat this a few times with the same results. Thanks for all the information guys greatly appreciated
  13. Dave Wermuth

    Dave Wermuth Who hid my paddle?

    I tend to not use keels and get by ok. BUT, the biggest protection from a keel is when throwing the canoe in and out of the back of a truck, etc. Most folks are careful but some wood canoe lovers are also hard on them. Beaver dams, pick up trucks, keels help.
  14. Dan Lindberg

    Dan Lindberg Ex Wood Hoarder

    X2 - I've noticed on the canoe we use on rivers the most, that the contact with the rocks is primarily in the rear of the canoe and on either side of the keel. Our "aim" is rarely good enough to actually hit the rock "square on".

    So my thinking is like many others here, if the restoration is of something historically significant, then it gets put back the way it was, but if it is to be a user, no keel.


  15. Andre Cloutier

    Andre Cloutier Firestarter. Wicked Firestarter.

    I love a good keel almost as much as a large chrome deck eye or a bad pun.
    Shoe keels I like, and where I've not put them back on I cut down screws and put the heads in cup washers with a little dab of the West to fill the hole in the rib. shoes won't take over like a nice big 3/4 or 7/8 deep keel will and I don't notice them at all while getting blown around and trying to keep the boat straight while solo....;);)
  16. Woodpile

    Woodpile Enthusiastic about Wooden Canoes

    Just be careful of the IRS, traditional canoe enthusiasts may be on the watch list.
  17. MGC

    MGC Scrapmaker

    Bad puns??? Chrome deck one I know...

    Psycho Keeler
    Qu'est-ce que c'est
    fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa far better
    Run run run run run run run away
    oh oh oh oh oh oh oh oh.... :eek:
  18. Andre Cloutier

    Andre Cloutier Firestarter. Wicked Firestarter.

    a little talking heads is always a good thing..

    Hold tight wait till the party's over
    Hold tight we're in for nasty weather
    There has got to be a way
    Burning down the house
  19. dtdcanoes

    dtdcanoes LOVES Wooden Canoes

    So why not this ? The historical perspectives and appropriate approach are pretty well understood. But one could take this approach even with an important boat....replace the traditional keel with a shoe keel if one is so disposed.... But do not add additional screw holes that need to be offset to REALLY get a good grip on the shoe for retention and sealing, that will not be as thick and will be significantly wider in width. Rather, consider if someone here has an acceptable fastening scheme that adds no new holes, provides appropriate protection against leaks at the typical shoe edge ( correct bedding process and fit to the hull ), and allows for a historically correct keel some time in the future if that is the need. Seems to me that this is an easy path....every one is happy, especially those who would like to get on with the paddling.
    Just my half dollar.
  20. sam.p

    sam.p Enthusiastic about Wooden Canoes

    The only reason i'm putting one back on my 1944 St. Louis i'm restoring is that it had one originally.


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