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Matilda 20 Keel Ballast Bulb Replacement

A couple of Matilda 20 owners have suffered a problem where the lead ballast "bulb" from the keel has detached and fallen to the bottom of whatever body of water they are sailing.  

The only solution seems to be to mould a new one and a couple of members have provided some advice relating to this:

  • Brooks Northern advises that Issue #27 of "Small Craft Advisor" magazine (which M20 owner Paul Esterle writes for as "Capt'n Pauley") contains an article describing replacement of the whole daggerboard and bulb of a Potter 19 with an airfoil shape. A wooden form for the bulb was shaped in two halves, split down the centerline. A concrete mold was made in two halves, and the resulting halves of the lead bulb were then drilled and bolted to the steel centerboard. There are some good ideas in the 4 page article and you can buy Issue #27 (May/June 2004) as a "back issue" for US$7.95 including postage - more details on the SCA Website

  • Brooks suggests that rather than bolt the ballast to the keel, since the Matilda has a steel blade it would be preferable to create a number of holes through the blade and mould the ballast in a single pouring so that it is attached by encasing and passing through the blade.

  • Chris Holderness points out that lead is nasty stuff! If you plan on moulding it yourself then be sure to read up on working with lead before you do anything. You can absorb a toxic level just by handling the material, let alone melting it and breathing the fumes. Once in the body, it is difficult to reduce the level below toxic - and the bulk of it stays with you for life. This may be enough reason on it's own to have find a foundry to do the moulding, even if you prepare the moulds yourself.

Last updated  26 February, 2007 - Matilda Owners Association.