1950's Era Steel Tugs

Discussion in 'Metal Boat Building' started by Andrew T, Sep 23, 2019.

  1. Andrew T
    Joined: Sep 2019
    Posts: 1
    Likes: 0, Points: 1
    Location: USA

    Andrew T New Member

    Hi all,

    New to the forum, not new to boating, but new to boat building. I've been sailing off and on for probably 15 years at this point and owned a couple of small-ish to definitely small boats (J24s, Nacra cats, dinghy racers, etc). I've always been interested in old steel tugs, and I recently visited one for sale. She was built in 1952 in what I assume is typical fashion, I-beam frames running for and aft, above the keel, steel ribs, overlapping welded hull platting. Unfortunately, she's seen better days. Most of the scale is confined to the engine room. It's generally all over on the plates lots of flake), but in one area under a leaky raw water feed to the heat exchanger the platting underneath is "soft." Additionally, at some points of those I-beams, there is significant deterioration.

    My question is this - concerning the I-beam structures running fore and aft, one those generally long one continuous pieces of steel that were bent into place to form the frame, or can you cut and weld in new sections of I-beam in between the ribs? Basically, would welding in new sections of I-beam be the same way it was built?

    The soft spot on the hull has some sort of putty on the outside and an epoxy patch on the inside - I couldn't inspect either because a) the boat was afloat and b) there was a piece of wood wedged under a jack that covered the spot (this was done on purpose, but I'm not clear why).

    I fear this tug is done, and if no one buys her, she's destined for the torch, which I think would be a real shame.
  2. kapnD
    Joined: Jan 2003
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    Location: hawaii, usa

    kapnD Senior Member

    I doubt that this would be a good investment, sounds like really major repairs, and overlapping plates are hiding who knows what between them.
    The soft spot with the plywood and the jack tells me it’s very near sinking right now.
    It’s hard to see the old school giants dying off.
    In my area, it’s the Sampan style commercial fishing boats that are slowly disappearing.
  3. bajansailor
    Joined: Oct 2007
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    Location: Barbados

    bajansailor Marine Surveyor

    Andrew, please don't even think about taking this on as a project!
    Are the longitudinal frames actually 'I' beams, or are they perhaps 'T' section frames?
    Re that 'soft spot', it has probably been 'fixed' with a two part epoxy putty (eg 'Navicote' or similar).
    The jack and the timber are probably needed to stop the water pressure on the outside from pushing the plate in.
    It is very probable that a lot of the hull bottom (framing and shell plating) would need to be replaced - and the sad fact is that the cost of doing this would be extortionately expensive.

  4. KeithO
    Joined: Jul 2019
    Posts: 329
    Likes: 66, Points: 28
    Location: Michigan

    KeithO Senior Member

    Not to mention what any kind of repair on a main engine would cost.....
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