Gel Coat - Keel Strip?

I was thinking of taping-off a strip 3 to 4" area either side of my kayak keel to apply a new layer of Finish Gel Coat. The idea is that I will be covering up superficial scratches on the keel and adding an extra layer of protection against future damage.

Is this a crazy idea?

it might be crazy
it might be crazy but you are not the only one that applies a keel strip to their kayaks.

You can even order a kayak that already has a protective gel coat strip from factory.

Most British manufacturers offer that.

They usually include a layer of fiberglass to thicken the layer and offer more abrasion resistance.

I prefer to do mine in epoxy with black pigment: it gives me more time to work with (compared to gel/flow coat) and is more abrasion resistant than gel coat.

I favor waiting until the gelcoat wears
through along the keel line. But otherwise, I would use either e-glass or polyester seam tape, 2" to 3" in width, and applied with epoxy. Graphite powder can be added to later batches of the epoxy to make the keel strip a bit more slippery.

But it is just as easy to repair scrape damage later as it is to put on a keel strip. And the strip isn’t going to intercept all scratches.

There’s a feller
around Greensboro NC who used some sort of truck liner/paint as a keel protector. I don’t know how it worked out for him. Maybe Ward will see this and chime in.

P&H site
I don’t know if it’s still up but P&H had a recommendation of a particular truck bed liner application as a keel strip.

leading edge tape
Might I suggest using 3M’s #8672 leading edge tape. Its clear, and comes in widths from 1" to 6", 12yd rolls. This tape was designed for the leading edges of aircraft wings, and prop spinners, etc, to prevent stone chips and such, but also works great in marine applications. Its like the clear keel tape they sell in lot of kayak shops, but better and easier to work with. As per the directions, using a solution of water and alcohol, the stuff goes on like a giant decal, thus no wrinkles, or bubbles. I’ve applied it to the keels of my Seda Ikkuma, and QCC 700. Takes about a half-hour. Put it to the test with my Qcc, inadvertently running some shallow rapids, with lots of rocks. Gelcoat was pretty messed up except where the tape was. Oh yeah, you can peel it off whenever you want to. It can be bought at a lot of places, I got mine at, They also make a tape thats more UV resistant #8674, which works well on the upper surfaces of a kayak.

Been there, done that and it sucks

– Last Updated: Sep-24-10 10:32 AM EST –

I have used leading edge tape and other than the fact that it has the most tenacious adhesive I've ever seen, I'm not impressed with its durability when used as a keel strip. Leading edge tape is designed primarily to provide resistance to airborne sand. It's a relatively soft material that resists sand abrasion by absorbing the minute impacts. While perhaps it works to some degree on smooth, slippery river rocks, it does not stand up to coastal rocks, barnacles, boat ramps and other hard/abrasive surfaces. In other words, it's a lot less durable than gelcoat. It shreds quickly and you're left with mess on the hull that adds drag and is difficult to remove. I've pulled a bunch of chunks off of the boats I tested it on, but eventually I'm going to have to try to get the rest of it and the adhesive off, a chore I'm not looking forward to.

The bottom line is that there are much better solutions.

Keel Tape
I’ll agree with Bnystrom, I doubt it would hold up to costal rocks, which so far I’ve managed to avoid while paddling, and barnicles, which are pretty abrasive little critters. However, the tape on my boats has held up to ramps and piers, be they concrete, metal, polymer, or wood. The rocks I inadvertently tested it on will probably be smooth someday, but were added by the DNR a few years ago to control flow. Did I mention the were covered by zebra mussels. As for removal, at room temp, and above, provided its applied to a clean surface, it peels right off. Its not a permanent solution, and over the course of the season I do pick up some small abrasions, and tears, none I would notice paddling. Thats why over the winter I usually replace it. Takes about 40min per boat. There are better solutions, few as quick and economical.

What I was thinking of was just applying an extra coating of gel-coat along the keel. This would fill in the existing cracks and add one more “masking tape” thick layer of gel coat between sand/rocks and the fiberglass.

Would this be worth the effort?

Gel coat keel strip
I did a gel coat strip w/o glass as the op mentioned on one of my boats when the original gel coat wore through. The boat did not have a factory keel strip. It’s worked ok, but not as durable as when reinforced with a glass strip.

What I was thinking of was just applying an extra coating of gel-coat along the keel. This would fill in the existing cracks and add one more “masking tape” thick layer of gel coat between sand/rocks and the fiberglass.

Would this be worth the effort?

I just want a clean up the bottom of my boat and add a little protection. I do not want to deal with fiberglassing.

The fiberglassing is not that hard, and
the glass matrix tends to control the resin so that you may have less sanding to do in the final steps.

I admit, though, I have not applied gelcoat. I have rolled epoxy onto the bottoms of two decked boats, but that’s a different process altogether.

If you are going to bother, why not take the extra hour to do it right? The process of installing a keel strip is really not any more complicated than what you are thinking of doing.

The process is explained nicely here-

If you do it right, you won’t regret it later.

Thanks, Rusty. They use gelcoat,
but the same thing can be done with West epoxy and some graphite powder mixed in.

G2d, I don’t see anything wrong with gel or epoxy.

My post was intended for the OP. It would be of little use to lay gel (or epoxy) without a strip of fiberglass or diolen to provide the desired protection.

Sure, but…
…I agree with the person who stated that adding fiberglass tape was a better way to go than just adding gelcoat.

Yeah, I meant to use the cloth with
epoxy as an alternative to gel.

There are various materials you can use
For the keel strip that will give you varying results. Gel coat or epoxy will wear quickly due to their lack of abrasion resistance. Sand mixed with these two will give you very good wear protection. Give it a try, you’ll be amazed at the results.

Seems like glass tape in epoxy would
wear better, slide better, and strengthen the hull more.

Glass tape will give structural support
If that’s what you need but it does absolutely nothing for wear protection. Everyone I know that has mixed sand with their epoxy or gel coat has been amazed at the wear. A friend of mine is a quadrapaligic and he has to get in his kayak and scoot it along the ground to get to the water. He has tried every type of keelstrip you can think of and can’t believe how well the sand mixture works. If your skeptical just do a little test. Take a file to a chunk of epoxy saturated cloth, then take the file to a chunk of epoxy or gelcoat mixed with sand. The file will quickly become dull and useless from the sand.