1947 Steel Sailboat on the hard

Discussion in 'Sailboats' started by underseahunter, Dec 2, 2012.

  1. underseahunter
    Joined: Dec 2012
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    underseahunter New Member

    Hello,

    I am a newbie to this forum, drawn here by reading some of the posts and knowledgeable responses, also because some of the cantankerous replies were very well argued. I would just ask for no "Flames" please.

    I just recently bought this boat, because I want her to sail again...

    He is the scope of it:

    This ~ 38 foot STEEL sailboat was built "ostensibly" by A.E. Watson in 1947 in either Beckenham, or Southhampton England. Designed by an American Naval Architect for an RAF Group Commander. After considerable time afloat, and ATW travel it ended up here in south Florida, where she was hauled out, partially re-hulled, and has been sitting on the hard since ~1989. During that time her decks were converted from wooden decks to an all steel design, also the mast from a keel stepped mast to a deck stepped arrangement. I have some names and correspondence associated with her and her original owners, but haven't dove that deep into the research end as yet.

    The previous owner (who did most of the refitting to date) is a cantankerous ancient guy who, in the bitter end of his retirement and apparently frustrated in his efforts to get her back in the water gave up completely... so he won't answer any of my questions, he is suffering from "schadenfreude." Hoarding his knowledge out of spite, seemingly. But who cares, I don't have time for negativism.

    So I bought this steel sailboat for scrap value. The diesel motor has been removed from the boat for safekeeping and rebuilding. It is a Westerbeke 4 cylinder of unknown year, but not frozen with attached transmission. The Aluminum mast is some 40 feet long/tall and of an oval shape. There are sails, but they have yet to be unfurled for inspection.

    I have the desire to see her float again. I have too many questions, but I figured a good place to start would be to post some current photos, and invite your opinions.

    I will fit the questions in along the way. She is a blank canvas with a storied history, and I would rather see her float, than cut her up for scrap.

    Sincerely,
    Cea Lager
     

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    Last edited: Dec 2, 2012
  2. underseahunter
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    underseahunter New Member

    Questions about my project boat...

    1) Phosphoric acid products:
    She is structurally sound, but has a patina of rust (inside and out) equitable with 120 grit sandpaper... I have wire brushed and applied OSPHO to the interior. I know there are differing opinions about this. Also I have found a product called CORROSEAL a gallic acid and latex product. What do y'all think about how to proceed on the INTERIOR.

    2) Flavor of foam to insulate:
    ASSUMING I make it past the step of installing PVC conduit for the interior wiring, etcetera... I plan on spraying in a 2-part high density polyurethane foam everywhere inside. I know to avoid condensation, and I believe HD polyurethane foam NOT to absorb water. I sprayed 5"inches of this stuff in my home, and BASF assures me it absorbs NO water, unlike single part foams. What are your thoughts?

    3) Soda blasting the exterior hull? I know there is no magic wand to prevent and control rust, but do I REALLY have to blast her down to "white metal" before putting on a base coat (of coal tar)? Might I just wirebrush or sand her, use OSPHO or some such, and begin the hull painting fun?

    4) She is NOT A RACE BOAT. Pending my success, she will live in the Intracoastal Waterway here in Florida ( close to an inlet ). So can I use a "HARD" bottom paint? Ablative coating seems frivolous for such a slow boat, as the water moves dramatically where she will be moored, and if I have my druthers she will be underway as a future cruiser in residence.

    5) DECK STEPPING reinforcement. The PO has added interior columns to bolster his redux to a tabernacle, and deck stepped mast. I want to "open up" the interior space. Can I remove some of the several angle iron posts he installed, and instead put in a LARGE DIAMETER column from the underside of the tabernacle, and welded down to the keel?
     

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    Last edited: Dec 2, 2012
  3. pdwiley
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    pdwiley Senior Member

    You probably already know that blasting the interior is the best approach. I know nothing about how effective the Ospho stuff is. I do know that Jotun 605 has good wicking & binding abilities and sticks very well to slightly rusty surfaces. I've used some on my rusty gantry crane with no prep at all and you can't get it to flake off.

    I'd fit foam sheets rather than spray foam. In fact that's exactly what I'll be doing soon. I can get fire retardant closed cell polystyrene locally, approved for house construction.

    Grit blast the exterior down to white metal and use epoxy paints over it, to the manufacturer specified paint film thickness. Keep in mind that if you don't have the time and money to do it properly in the first place, re-doing it is going to be even more frustrating & expensive. I had all my hull plate blasted & primed before I started building.

    Good luck with it all, I passed on a number of free hulls because IMO they had a negative value.....

    PDW
     
  4. underseahunter
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    underseahunter New Member

    Thanks PDWILEY from Hobart, AU

    Thank you Sir for jumping in first.

    I love OSPHO, but I read many posts only after I wantonly sprayed the stuff all over the inside. Oops. So maybe I should invest in soda blasting it all away? OR neutralize the interior surface by pressure washing, thus flushing away all the white (salty) powder, then use the latex sealed gallic acid based "Corroseal?" I know that a hemisphere away the products available are all different, but I will research the Jotun 605 product you mentioned.

    I thought the problem with "fitting in" EXTRUDED (never expanded) polystyrene would be that slightest gap would invite a river of condensation to form. I know the spray foam is a "one time proposal" it's a bugger to scrape away, but it insures complete coverage.

    The "Hard bottom paint" of epoxy fame should be okay then for a boat in moving water, that does not want to be a "yard queen?"

    Thanks and cheers, I want to sail into Hobart one day in the future !
     
    Last edited: Dec 2, 2012
  5. michael pierzga
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    michael pierzga Senior Member

    Ive never heard of any magic coating that can reliably protect brown steel. You have to sandblast if you expect the coating to give good service. Acid treatment or the various surface tolerant paints for brown steel are for small repairs when on the road.

    In my area a mobile pro sand blaster is not expensive. I recently had the bottom of an 80 footer blasted

    You should check around to see if a mobile blaster is available , if the cost is resonable , and do the job correctly. Once the interior and systems are installed in a metal boat future coating maintenance becomes impossible or very time consuming.

    Many different paint systems around. Ive always used International products because the local tech representative is hands on and coaches you thru a project.

    Make sure whomever supplies you with coatings also gives good support.

    Remember "Chockfast " type pourable products to displace standing bilge water when coating the interior. Standing water kills metal boats
     
  6. underseahunter
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    underseahunter New Member

    Thank you Michael Pierzga,

    This boat has not been back in the ocean since she was dragged onto the hard in ~1989.

    As I said, I wire brushed away the light, loose, surface rust particles, and sprayed OSPHO over the entire inside of the hull. Some of the pictures I posted were taken before the OSPHO was applied. Now there is a white chalky powder everywhere the OSPHO was applied to excess. I understand this has to be washed away before any further work.

    I want to keep the interior as spartan as possible, for now.

    I am a bit confused because my thought was to simply convert this surface rust, coat with some Zinc Cromate primer, then epoxy paint, then spray (hydrophobic) 2 part high density polyurethane foam over the entire interior, except the engine area, which I would use coal tar(?) epoxy. This (ostensibly) would seal the entire interior from further surface rusting, and especially rust from condensation.

    There was some 3"-6" of standing rain water in the boat when I got it last month, but I pumped it out, and the steel there was black and had some flaking. To put it in the simplest terms: from the entire interior wire brushing, scraping, and sweep... I got two (not quite full) 5 gallon buckets of rust powder from the 36 foot hull. I am concerned about the expense and mess of sand blasting, but have heard that soda blasting is less hassle and easier to wash away the mess. Soda blasting also heats the metal being blasted less, and is less likely to heat treat or alter the steel's flexibility.

    The area where the boat resides is an industrial park with some sketchy neighbors, so I cannot leave tools or anything of value onboard.

    My short term goal is to get her off the hard and back into the water asap, and towed or sailed closer to my home, so that I can do the interior outfitting without so much travel time.

    I know this is a huge project for a single person, but if I have to soda blast the exterior to bare metal before painting I will have to do that right where she is, before she is slung onto a trailer, and moved to the nearest marina with a travel lift.

    Given how much lead is in her keel, and how much steel plate there is, I have not abandoned the idea of cutting her up for scrap, but wish to avoid this if at all possible.

    Now I wish I had not sprayed all that OSPHO...

    Any thought about the interior bracing and returning her to a keel stepped mast of sorts by welding in that column? My goal is to open her interior design up to a more open floor plan.

    I have attached a photo of the underside of the tabernacle where the PO stopped his work. I would weld say an 8" diameter section of heavy walled pipe from the tabernacle down to the keel...

    Sincerely,
    Cea Lager
     

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Dec 2, 2012
  7. gonzo
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    gonzo Senior Member

    Soda blasting is only good for very delicate items. Sandblasting is faster and more effective. The only problem with blasting is dust control. After the job is finished you just vacuum clean it and coat it.
     
  8. goodwilltoall
    Joined: Jul 2010
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    goodwilltoall Senior Member

    Greetings,

    1. If mine would like to see at least 3/16" of steel still left at hull plate, maybe 1/8" is enough - dont know, steel can loose 1/16" per year and could have lost a considerable amount since 1947.
    2. Once hull is determinded to be sound, do any additional welding needed.
    3. Sand blast everything, the Ospho will come off. After this step is completed, dont use any acid products afterwards. figure about $3,000.
    4. Buy two 55 gal. drums of thin polyamide epoxy (part A and part B) this will provide plenty to put at least 3 wet on wet coats for both interior and exterior, safer health wise than coal tar epoxy. Maybe even reinforce weak areas with addition of glass. $2,500.
    4. Add wood furring at frames for interior paneling, this will also help gauge right amount of foam around frames. Wouldnt use metal brackets as these will cause condensation.
    5. 2" Spray foam including around frames , dont even think about rigid board insulation. Would think $3.00 per SF plus mobilization. $2,500.

    Peace.
     
  9. pdwiley
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    pdwiley Senior Member

    With rusty steel, anything other than a blast to white metal is second best. However sometimes you have to go with second best as circumstances dictate.

    I don't think soda blasting is going to be aggressive enough to do the job but as I've never done it I may well be wrong. Sand (garnet etc) blasting definitely will work. It's a filthy dusty job better framed out to professionals with the big blasters and the correct protective gear. It won't heat the plate enough to cause any problems.

    You'll never have a better chance to do the interior than right now.

    WRT sprayed foam, I personally don't like it. If you get water behind it, you'll not know about it. That hull is a single chine hull, lots of flat surfaces, no longitudinal stringers. Fitting flat sheet material is going to be simple. Cutting back sprayed foam is not going to be simple. Your choice.

    Can't see any problems converting back to a keel stepped mast as long as you think about the structural issues. Equally you could build a good strong tabernacle on deck with compression post under and pin the mast bottom that way. Ask an engineer if you can't figure out the loads and load paths.

    Big job. I hope you really like the hull shape because the amount of work required to restore it to sailing condition is going to exceed the cost of buying something already floating. So I really hope you're not doing this in the fond hope of saving money, because I guarantee that you won't. Mind you such logic didn't stop me from building my hull from scratch, just be aware of what you're getting into before you get in too deep.

    PDW
     
  10. goodwilltoall
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    goodwilltoall Senior Member

    PS, You probably know, but all lines should be in before foaming.
     
  11. messabout
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    messabout Senior Member

    Soda blasting will take the surface down to white metal unless there is a lot of scale. It is far cleaner than silica blasting albeit more expensive. Before you do that I would want to check the skin thickness in many many places. An ultrasonic micrometer will do that for you. In case you are not familiar with that tool, it is a device that measures plate thickness from one side only. A small handheld digital readout is attached to a wand that is pressed against the surface. You could beg borrow or steal one of them. A quality US made unit is about $800. Ebay has some chinese units for about $200. Valuable tool for many purposes including boats, engines, pipes, tanks, etc.

    The powdery residue from the Ospho can be washed away with a pressure washer but you can ignore it if the interior is to be soda or silica blasted.

    You will probably need to triangulate the mast jack to some extent. Its' load is mainly in column but it will also have some lateral thrust that should be accounted for.

    Sprayed foam???? I think that is a non starter. It will hide any damage problem, oxidation or physical, that might occur.

    (PM me if you are interested in a magic micrometer. I know where there is a high quality one for a favorable price.)
     
  12. Wynand N
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    Wynand N Retired Steelboatbuilder

    I am strongly opposed to the spraying of two part PU foam on the interior of hull. Firstly, it blocks all the drainage holes in the stringers etc hence no moist can drains to the bilge. No matter how good the operator is when applying the foam, he will miss many places and some places the foam will not properly adhere to plating and herein lies the problem with condensation that will form behind the foam, out of sight and usually with drastic results...

    Best prevention to moisture forming inside the hull is to prevent it from happening in the first place and can be prevented like having a stove heating up the insides in cold weather for instance and proper ventilation.
    I prefer and used the following method during my long tenure as a steel boatbuilder by using 50mm thick (or stringer thickness) pre-cut rigid close cell expanded polyurethane foam sheets cut into panels, shaped and sized to tightly fit between stringers and frames.
    This prevent moister forming being trapped behind the sheets and if formed, will drain through the lumber holes to the bilge. Also easy to remove foam sheets to inspect the hull if necessary for whatever reason. Also remember not to put any insulation below the waterline level in the boat.;)

    Finally, shotblast hull and forget about other "miracle" cures, converters and methods to get rid of rust - its useless. Use compatible epoxy paint systems and the boat will last another 60 years. Having said that, paint is only as good as its preparation, hence the need to shotblast first.:)
     
  13. goodwilltoall
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    goodwilltoall Senior Member

    Greetings,
    Disagree with Wynand. Offcourse ventilation and heating up will help with drying off condensation but, any exposed metal framing that is not insulated will constantly condensate when the interior begins to warm up especially up in the more Norther latitudes. Further, the spaces behind rigid insulation are prone to causing condensation because of ineffectively sealing and insulating this is not the case with properly applied sprayfoam.
    Sandblasting and three coats of epoxy will very well seal off the metal by any minor intrusion of water and if any water does once in a while permeate through, it will be dried off as you say with ventilation.
    Really wouldnt think it would cause problems as you say but if its a concern, i would take 1/4" natural straw, soak it, glue it every foot from top to bottom 12" O.C. and then spray foam. The straw would dry out and then act as a channel down to bilge, but really dont think condesnsation would occur as you say.

    The reason for sticking with sprayfoam is that its much more effective for whats its intended to do than rigid board. It fits around all the bends and protrusions much better. Do you really think a properly blasted and epoxied boat will begin to rust? If thats so, then dont use any insulation, just wood panel and allow the air to circulate between it and the hull.
     
  14. pdwiley
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    pdwiley Senior Member

    How many steel boats have you built? I think it's a nice round number....

    PDW
     

  15. Wynand N
    Joined: Oct 2004
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    Wynand N Retired Steelboatbuilder

    You are missing the point.:confused:

    Epoxy paint is the best protective coating available for steel currently and having shotblasted the steel and used a compatible epoxy system within over coated times and as to manufactures directives, will probably last a very long time providing it is not damaged. However, it has no insulating properties.

    Foam on the other hand is an insulation material and not a rust prohibitory. The misconception is that when you spray foam you cut off oxygen and rust will not form, well in theory anyhow. In practice it is not the case as I had repaired a few spray foamed boat in the past due to moister formed and trapped behind the foam - read my previous post again.
    Foam's purpose is to insulate the hull from heat and cold. Steel heat up quite considerably in the sun, moreso in the tropics and the hull becomes an oven so to speak. In fact, I once fried an egg my little Tom Thumb's steel deck in the African sun to demonstrate how hot a steel deck can become.... Exactly the same with extreme cold - the interior of the hull becomes a freezer.
    And basically, that is why foam is used in steel hulls and the loose panels I described in my previous post prevent moist built-up and entrapment behind the foam, and also does what it is supposed to do, insulate the hull. It is also much cheaper and less messy that the spray-on foam.
     
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