I have a standard Hamby beaching bumper on my larger Ranger bass boat that was installed at the factory. I have always enjoyed the protection and convenience that it provides. When I started my electric boat project in June of 2001, I knew that I wanted a Hamby on this boat. By a stroke of luck, Hamby Inc. recently came out with a line of user installed Hamby beaching bumpers called a Hamby's Light Duty. These protectors are made out of the same material as the original beaching bumper, but are not quite as thick. They are still thicker than any other self install protector that I have found. However, the hull on the Phelix in only about 500lb and was a perfect match to the Hamby Light. Unlike other self install keel protectors, the Hamby's Light is produced with the adhesive already molded into the keel protector. This significantly reduces the possibility of the adhesive separating from the material the protector is made from. Another thing that I like about the Hamby's Light is that the ends are tapered to give a more professional look to the installed product. This article is not intended to replace the instructions that come with the Hamby's Light duty, it is simply an explination of how I installed the one on my boat.
I called the Hamby company and ordered one of the units. Roger Sutterfield took my order and sent the kit out that day. It arrived a couple of days later. The Kit comes with a well written set of instructions, a keel protector, glue primer applicator, scotch brite pad, and a plastic paddle. I highly recommend that you purchase a wooden wall paper roller at a local home improvement or hardware store. Although the plastic paddle will work to smooth out and adhere the protector, the roller is much easier to use.
The instructions correctly stress the need for good surface preparation. This is the most critical part of the installation. You need to clean the hull area that the protector will cover with a strong solvent. The instructions recommend Acetone or Isopropyl Alcohol, but I used Denatured Alcohol. All of these solvents will remove any of the wax from the hull, but since Isopropyl Alcohol is 20% water, you need to allow extra time for the surface to dry. It should be noted that there is wax on all boat hulls even if you have not waxed it. A wax based mold release agent was most likely used in the manufacturing process of your hull.
Next, you must scuff up the surface with the scotch brite pad. I recomed that you dry fit the bumper to make sure of where you want it installed. Once my dry fit was complete, I held the bumper in place, with the protective film on the adheasive ,and traced around it with a grease pencil. This way, I would not remove the shine of the hull that the potector would not cover. I installed the protector, by myself, but an extra set of hands would have been most helpful. I sanded the area good with the pad and then used the alcohol and paper towel to remove the dust and grease pencil marks.
Once you get the area clean and dry, you are ready to prime the surface. The instructions do not completely explain how to get the primer to start flowing to the sponge pad on the applicator so I will tell you. You hold the plastic applicator in your hand and push your thumb against the top of the plastic ring while you are pulling the bottom of the ring with you index finger. This bends a glass tube in the primer applicator and breaks it to release the primer. It takes quite a lot of force to break the tube. Once you break the tube. Apply a thin coat to the entire hull surface that will be covered by the protector. The primer will dry clear, so make sure you cover the entire area. It wont hurt a thing to get a little primer outside the adhesion area.
Because the Phelix has such a tight radius and is a very sharp V at the bow, I decided to start the installation in the area of the hull where the bottom starts to curve up to the bow. I laid on my back under the boat. Once I was in position, I removed all of the protective film from the adhesive and laid the bumper on top of me. I then lifted the middle section up and made sure that it was centered with the V in the hull before it made contact. Once the adheasive touches the hull, it is stuck and cannot be moved. Using the roller, I attached the center line of the protector up toward the bow and then down toward the stern. I only allowed the bumper to make contact in the center and let the sides hanging down. I then started from the middle and folded the sides up toward the bow and stern. I did not use the plastic paddle much as the roller worked much better. Once I got the sides to adhere, I tapped on the protector lightly with a rubber hammer as the instructions suggested to work out any remaining air bubbles.
Everything went well, except for the very bottom toward the stern. The Phelix has a true keel about 2" wide that runs down the bottom of the boat and causes a sharp reverse curve in the hull. The Hamby came loose right on this transition point due to the extreme reverse radius. I should note that this would not happen on a normal bass boat hull and that I had discussed this possibility with Roger before I ordered the unit. We had decided that I would use a little two part clear epoxy if it pulled loose on the reverse curve. I got the epoxy at Home Depot. It comes in a dual hypodermic tube. I chose the 4-6 min epoxy, but the longer dry time would have worked as well.
The trick to correcting this little whoops was to hold the protector tight in place while the epoxy dried. I made a simple clamp by cutting the end of a 1x4" board to match the shape of the keel and allow room for the protector. I made it just long enough to fit between the ground and the keel. I then mixed up the epoxy following the instructions on the package. I applied a little epoxy to the protector and hull where it had pulled lose. Using the trailer jack I raised the boat a little and installed the clamp. I then lowered the trailer jack until it was tight. Once the epoxy dried, the installation was complete. For good measure, I also put a small bead of epoxy around the top of the bumper on the bow because the Phelix also has a very shape radius on the bow.
Even with the extra time involved in making the clamp, I finished the job in about an hour. Since then, I have enjoyed many trips to the lake with the boat. As I write this article, it is the fall of the year. Most of the lakes here in Georgia are drawn down for the winter and most docks are high and dry. I fish by myself some times in the after noon and it is so nice to beach the boat on the ramp while I park the truck. I have a good technique for using the bumper to launch. First, I made a rope with a clip hook at both ends. The rope is just long enough to allow the boat to float free of the end of the trailer. I clip one end of the rope in the eye hook on the boat and the other on the safety hook on the trailer. I release the winch hook and back the trailer into the water. A quick tap on the brakes at the right time floats the boat off. I put the truck in drive a pull the boat up the ramp and beach it behind the trailer on the ramp. I get out and disconnect the rope from the trailer and wrap it around a big rock. I park the trailer and I am ready to go. Using this technique, I can launch by myself almost as fast as I can with someone to help me. Without the Hamby, it would not be possible to do this without severely damaging the boat. Here are a few pictures of the finished installation.