Adding a keel to a Bell Magic

I am in the process of moving into my late Father’s house, and in the basement among other junk I found what appears to be a fiberglass “T” extrusion about 14 feet long.

I am planning on attaching it to the bottom of my Bell Magic to act as a keel with the goal of making it more stable.

My question is, should I use epoxy resin, Gorilla glue, contact cement or some other substance to do this? And should I use the whole piece or would a shorter section be enough to increase the stability?



“Stability” in the normal sense?

– Last Updated: Dec-24-12 12:57 AM EST –

Do you expect a keel to make the canoe more stable, as in being resistant to tipping? If that's your intention, I don't believe you'll perceive any benefit. It could even make it worse in the one situation where a sudden rolling action is most likely to occur and where it's also the most difficult to counteract, which is when suddenly encountering a swift cross-current for which you haven't properly prepared yourself by leaning the opposite way as the current wishes to roll you. In other situations, I don't believe a keel will supply enough surface area to resist a normal rolling action, and for simply "tipping over", as would be the action in normal lake paddling (getting cockeyed on the face of a steep wave, for example), a keel won't even "move sideways" enough in the water to help even if it had lots of surface area. The keel would have to stick very far down below the boat for the tipping action of the boat to generate enough "swinging" motion of the keel to provide resistance to that motion. That's just geometry. You can see this for yourself if you lay the boat on the floor and sight down along the proposed keel line while an assistant tips the boat, and watch how that line moves sideways relative to the floor during that tipping process. No lateral movement of the keel line relative to the floor illustrates no lateral movement of the keel line relative to the water that supports the boat. Of course, this demonstration isn't perfect because the rolling action on the floor won't be quite the same as when in water, because yes, when in water the keel line will move a very tiny amount to the left when the boat tips to the right, but the floor exercise will make it clear that this motion will be miniscule. After all, how much extra "swinging" motion from the keel can be generated when it's only embedded three inches below the water's surface?

Also, a boat with a keel can be pivoted, turned sharply and side-slipped pretty well, demonstrating that the keel isn't "grabbing" the water particularly well. I think a brace is your best tool for the job if you need to prevent tipping.

I second what guideboatguy said
Additionally, without knowing more about the “fiberglass extrusion” I’d be concerned about creating localized stresses in the hull, which could result in cracking. Will this extrusion expand and contract with temperature changes at the same rate as the composite hull? If you strike a rock with the new keel, how will that effect the hull?

The Magic is a wonderful hull for it’s intended purposes.If lack of stability is an issue for you, perhaps some instruction would be helpful. Learn how to get the maximum out of the hull, as it is, rather than try to make it into something that it isn’t.

Another possibility is that the seat is mounted overly high. I’ve seen folks raise seats considerably, often for greater comfort, but at the expense of stability.

Marc Ornstein

Dogpaddle Canoe Works

Custom Canoe Paddles and Woodstrip Canoes

Can’t tell if your joking or not (no offense if you’re not joking).

Don’t do it.

Creative thinking, but a really bad idea ultimately…I really would not recommend doing this.

If you want more stabilility in your Magic then lower the seat or add ballast weight when you paddle.

Or just paddle with it more and become comfortable with the level of stability it has. It is a pretty stable boat.


Jim, I will buy the Magic from you whenever you are ready to sell.

Please do not alter this boat.


I agree with the others

– Last Updated: Dec-24-12 9:48 AM EST –

and suspect you do too. However I have to venture: Do you have any rum left?

A keel on a sailboat is a useful thing. But ballasted with lead (or equivalent) it is a sizeably deep thing.

I suspect that you and Magic may be mismatched. The optimal load is 160-280. Its not a load carrying canoe. Go too high and you could lose stability.

Tape it on first

If I were you I would forget all about adding a keel. It may make the boat track straigher but will never make it more stable. Learn to paddle better. That is your key. Not having a keel makes moving the boat sideways in a river much easier.

The creative possibilities are endless
You don’t say how deep the T extrusion is. If it’s six inches deep, you will overcome GBG’s objections about insufficient depth to affect stability. However, with a 6" deep keel, you will no longer be able to sail in Assateague with Mike McCrea because the whole dang place is only 5" deep.

Contrary to Marc Ornstein’s fears, the T extrusion may strengthen the bottom of your canoe. The only way to test this will be to bash down a 60’ per mile descending shallow creek.

Of course you should attach it first temporarily with tape or velcro so you can remove it. This will also allow you to position the extrusion on top of your off-side gunwale vertically to present greater freeboard to an imminent tip. Alternatively, you could tape it on the side of your off-side gunwale to act as an anti-tipping shield.

Finally, you could just lay the enter 14’ section horizontally across the gunwales in front of you, with empty 5 gallon plastic jugs hanging off each end. This would act as a Polynesian double pontoon and allow any Magic to surf across the Molokai Channel.

Merry Xmas to all.

The last idea has real merit…

But stay out of the Pine Barrens with it. Otherwise we will mistake your screams for the Joisey Devil.

Use a glue stick
and stick three surf-board fins on it also |/

Ahhh, the ideas that come to mind
late at night when one is bored and is unable to sleep.

No, not the idea of adding a keel to a perfectly designed hull, but rather asking a question that is outlandish and then sitting back to see how thoroughly I am flamed.

Jim :wink:

"What’s the Frequency?"
Jim, my comment was going to be something about a radio antenna…

Well, it’s easy to fool people when…
… you don’t have a reputation for being someone who thinks like a troll. In fact, it’s an unfair advantage!

I guess I yearn for the old days
when Pyker and I could team up to stir the pot.



You could install a dagger board in the center-give you all the “stability” that an unstable paddler could desire.


Ahh James
I saw the post and thought things were proceeding smoothly without any prodding from myself! Very nicely laid plot!

Don’t forget the rudder.

You would think the boat alteration
firm of Saults and McCrea could make a rudder that could do double duty as a rudder and a centerboard. That hole in the bottom of the Magic would take some clever engineering, no?