Video of the Week: Acorn to Arabella Moves Their 4.5 ton Keel

Of course, the Acorn to Arabella boatbuilders, Alix and Steve, had a plan when they poured their nearly 9000-pound lead keel into plywood molds in the ground. The plan was: figure out a way to move it. These ingenious men had no doubt they could move the lead to the crib built in their boathouse. But of course, plans have a way of going sideways – which was what they hoped the keep would NOT do. Check out today’s video of the week to see how the resourceful duo got the keel moved. Their audience certainly seems to have some post-move advice on mechanical advantage, beard grooming and rope snapping prevention, so be sure to read the comments and leave your own. 



And since some of you are asking: Here is a statement from Tips from A Shipwright and Lou:

Dear Tips Fans,
We appreciate your concern about Lou and the TotalBoat Sport Dory Series. Unlike the skiff build, Lou is taking more time building this intricate Dory. We are not producing weekly videos at this time and appreciate your patience as we continue to build, film and edit a boat into a video.
It’s a lot of work and we like to do it right. We will continue to post Lou’s Friday Dory building videos as soon as they are ready. Thank you for your patience and continued support.


9 responses to “Video of the Week: Acorn to Arabella Moves Their 4.5 ton Keel

  1. Was the lead source in that large barrel shaped tank? Is that how lead is conveyed for smelting? So if you need 9000 lbs of lead, you just order a “tank” of lead from a source and have it delivered by a truck and off loaded by a large crane? Would have been nice to cover that topic in the video. Unless of course I missed that part. Great job, guys!

  2. For those of us who have been there, done that, and still have functioning backs; I have a few words of wisdom since you won’t be able to do the “heavy labor thing” forever.

    1. Heavy Equipment… Tow trucks equipped with booms and winches can be rented. Find friends with loaders and forklifts. Heavy equipment can be rented as well. Telehandlers are used by builders everywhere.
    2. Electric winches – the $299 Harbor Freight 12,000 lb winch is your friend.
    3. Trucks .. one of you guys has a truck, right? How did you move all of that wood!

  3. Instead of pouring the lead below ground level, how about pouring above grade in a reinforced mold that is sitting on a reinforced level system of rails with rollers already in place. It sure looked like getting the mold out of the ground was a very dangerous operation.

    1. To get the molten lead to flow into a mold above the surface would have meant raising the melting tank. Having that much molten metal up on stilts seems a bit crazy even for these guys. I think their choice of underground pouring was a stroke of genius. Also the ground added thermal as well as mechanical stability.

      1. >>I think their choice of underground pouring was a stroke of genius.

        Most of this stuff has been done before many times. That is an established method of casting a keel.

  4. A friend of mine poured a keel some years back, also in the ground. Part of the reasoning for this is that the earth helps support the wooden mold. Unfortunately, the mold opened up a bit and a lot of lead leaked out. Once the keel was out of the ground, he had to dig quite deeply to retrieve the lost lead, which had followed every crevice in the earth. He then poured the recovered lead on top of the keel casting. Not an ideal way to have a truly one piece casting, as the new lead wasn’t hot enough to fuse with the old lead.
    By the way, he melted the lead in an old iron bathtub.

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