Can anyone fill me in on Centaur Keels
1/How easy is it to spot as problem
2/how do I know if the keels have been re-inforced
3/is re-enforcing a final solution
4/ I had heard that the real problem comes if the Centaur is allowed to settle into deep mud
is this true?
just the one immersion or repeated immersions?
How deep to create the problem
and while we are on the subject.....
most have now had an engine replacement - are there any installations I should steer clear of.
Are there any other faults I should look out for
I understand that some of them have been hit by the pox
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Thread: Centaur Keels
22-03-12, 10:20 #1
22-03-12, 10:36 #2
my father had a late Centaur, no.2187.
Some say the earlier ones were more strongly built; don't know if that's true as I've seen the keel problem on early boats too.
Reinforcing will be obvious if it's sufficient; the 'problem' is only a slight weep from the joints internally, Dad's was on soft mud and I think it would take some time to appear, not a one-off.
Dad glassed in thick ply webs across the keel top voids, very strong stuff, and tightened the bolts with a very long tommy bar; the weep never completely disappeared but was more of an irritation to an engineer than an actual problem.
A chap at my club with an early Centaur did a similar reinforcement, but still whenever the boat was lifted a tiny gap, say 1mm by 6" long, would appear at the keel join leading edge.
Didn't cause any issues, just frustrated the hell out of him !
I reckon the Centaur a very good package, the only thing I ( and Dad ) really disliked was the completely neutral, lilfeless helm; Dad tried all sorts of aircraft inspired tabs, vortex generators etc but never got much of an improvement, definitely a case for an autopilot.
22-03-12, 10:49 #3
so a visible crack and gentle weeping is no problem
22-03-12, 11:10 #4Registered User
Location : UK, North Wales
- Join Date
- May 2001
Its not just the ply webs across the keel stub, its the weakness of the stub itself. The whole GRB stub flexes when taking to the ground. The signs of this can be seen as longitudinal cracks above the stubs themselves. Obviously the a/f must be removed for them to be seen. A quick rub down with wet/dry paper will confirm that they are cracks and not just scratches.
The solution is too boost up the laminate inside with glass/epoxy and then add extra thick ply /grp webs across inside. I've seen the GRP of the stub so waterlogged that the keel fell off on a swinging mooring.
Don't be put off by what I've said. They just need some TLC. They are great cruising boats. I kept mine for 9 years and covered many miles in her.
PM me if you want any more comments/info
22-03-12, 11:32 #5
22-03-12, 12:13 #6
22-03-12, 12:23 #7
My Centaur is one of the later ones (2391 of 2444) and has some extra bracing across the keel stubs. I don't have any pics, I'll try to remember to get some @ the W/E.
There seemed to be some water ingress round the keel bolts but since it's stopped I'm thinking the water came from elsewhere. That's entirely possible as the boat had loads of water in when we got her and it's taken some effort to cure leaks (mainy from the fresh water system) and dry her out.
The new Westerly Wiki is getting more usefull as more info is added too:
There is also a thread in SB thats recently been exhumed!Bob.
Any bull in this post may be composted.
22-03-12, 12:41 #8Registered User
Location : Bristol
- Join Date
- Nov 2010
There are two aspects to consider regarding Centeur bilge keels.
Firstly that he hull has been strengthened as previously stated.
Secondly that the keel bolts are tight. The trick we used years ago was to stand between the keels when the boat is up in slings with the keels hanging, grab a keel with each hand. By pushing apart and pulling the keels together you can tell if there is any movement. If there is (the keels will 'rattle') then corrective action is required.
The ideal solution is to drop the keels, rebed in the correct material and refit.
22-03-12, 14:19 #9
I have an earlier one that sits in mud twice a day six months of they year & has done for the last 7 years that I've owned it. The other six, it's on the hard on its keels. Mine's got extra webs glassed in above the keels.
The problem occurs because the keels are splayed out. So when it sits down in mud, they are pushed out. As it rises, they are pulled in. Some other bilge keelers have more parallel keels.
After you've seen a few, you will easily spot the ones that have been beefed up as mine have. Westerly built them heavy anyway but some have extra webs across the keel stubs. When I fitted a new depth sounder, I saw the layup on the bottom is 30mm+
You're right to be careful but if beefed up & looked after, it's not a problem.
A few other things to look for:
1. The older versions suffered from a lower chain plate design flaw as they were placed above the front set of windws. This is a weak spot that over time causes the couch roof to deform up & the windows to leak. The easy fix is to add tie bars inside the boat to tie the chain plates to a point under the windows. The load is then shared between the coachroof & the deck & any movement is limited. Later versions had shorter front windows. I have seen some boats where the lowers have been extended down to deck level instead but this causes an obstruction to walking foreward. I added tie bars a couple of years ago before the windows started to leak. Some people add a nice teak grab handle to the tie bars. Mine are not exactly the same & I made wooden patterns to make sure they fitted exactly.
2. The upper chain plates can over time cause the deck to deform upwards. You can check this easily with a steel rule. I replaced mine a few years ago & fitted a lump of wood under the deck that helps spread the load.
3. Mast step compression is the other thing to look for. The centaur has a compression post inside taking the load from the coachroof to the keel. lay a steel rule on the deack next to the mast step & unless it's been fixed which few have, you will see the coach roof compressed. I haven't done mine yet but may take a look next winter. It certainly shows signs of compression so I'm just keeing an eye on it.
4. The original place for the gas bottle was in the stern locker. Any leakage would go to the bilge which is of course a real fire hazzard. You can get a modification kit to put a locker under one of the cockpit seats. But this takes height form the quarter berth. When I got mine the gas install was a mess. The simple fix for me was a spirit burner. The Origo 3000 is a perfect fit. There may be some who have sealed the stern locker from the bilge & added a drain. IMO, that's better than losing height in the quarter berth.
There are certainly lots of things that can be done to improve the boat. The biggest performance improvement I made was new sails & slab reefing rather than the original boom roller. I just added a track on the boom to take the reefing lines & cleats at the tack end.
Last edited by wooslehunter; 22-03-12 at 14:51.I always wanted to learn to spell "engineer". Now I are wun.
22-03-12, 17:52 #10Registered User
Location : Benfleet Essex
- Join Date
- Jun 2007
Centaur bilge keels, many were recalled by Westerly's to be reinforced but more than a few slipped through the net. look for cracks where web floors are coming away from the hull & bonding coming away from bulkheads, Also leaks.
Im three quarters of the way through a repair on both sides of an early one, she was "professionally" reinforced by a boatyard some years ago & im surprised her keels didnt fall off subsequently. Keel bolts were only done up hand tight and the new grp had been applied straight over the filthy bilge with little to no attempt to grind it clean. No wonder it didnt stick! (danboline, diesel & dirt makes quite a good release agent)
Its worth remembering that to gain proper access with some layouts to get at everything & grind the hull back properly will entail cutting parts of the interior moulding away.
As for mud berths, when a keel sinks into deep mud the wringing strain as the boat comes afloat is huge, in our club two centaurs have come to grief over the years this way, one the hull split vertically at the frd end of the keel & the other pulled its entire keel out by the roots.