50' Trimaran Sail Boat

Discussion in 'Multihulls' started by iWill, Sep 13, 2009.

  1. iWill
    Joined: Sep 2009
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    Location: Ontario, Canada

    iWill Junior Member

    I have started to help out a guy I know in fixing up a 50' Trimaran he owns, I have lurked here off and on and wonder what you guys think. I could end up buying part of it but I don't know if it's what I want yet. If I don't buy it I'll continue helping the guy finish it.

    It was originally made to be a charter in the great lakes area. That didn't work out so it was modified and used as a liveabord for a few years (bluewarter areas mainly it I've been told). It was made in the early 80's by a builder in the region that did a lot of good work I've been told. I didn't catch the name but I plan to ask again. Also, it had some fiberglass work done on it a couple years ago. Along with having it's daggerboard holes filled in for transport, it had the "wings" connecting the hulls reinforced because they had a little more flex than what the guy wanted. It seems solid and I like the layout of the boat.

    Anyway I'm wondering if you have any comments on its condition and any other thoughts you may have on it.

    I've taken quite a few pictures so I just put them up one some web space I have. http://www.will-blog.com/?page_id=3
     
  2. catsketcher
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    catsketcher Senior Member

    Horstman tri

    The boat you are looking at is an Ed Hortsman Tristar. Good solid cruising boat with very full hulls. One of them sailed around Cape Horn and pioneered the use of the parachute sea anchor. Hortsman wrote two books that could be good reading.

    I don't like the idea of flex in this type of boat - I hope the owner found a few hairline cracks and fixed them with glass. If he could see or feel flex in the boat underway then this is very serious. A Horstman type tri should not flex noticeably but could develop stress concentrations that cause glass to crack.

    It seems that there is a lot of work to do. An interior job will take lots of time and effort but will not be terribly expensive. If the rig, sails and deck gear need renewing as well the job will become a very big and expensive one.

    cheers

    Phil
     
  3. iWill
    Joined: Sep 2009
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    iWill Junior Member

    Hi Phil, and thanks for the reply.

    Ed Hortsman sounds right. I looked it up and found a lot of quite similar boats. I'm not sure which one it is exactly though, but it's a start.

    That's good to know about the flex issue. Well, not good but good to be aware of before too much of an investment is made. Most of the fiberglass that is in the wings (is that the right term?) is exposed. Do you think I could tell anything by looking closer at that? I'm heading there tomorrow and I'm going to take a closer look. He says he had the hull inspected before he bought it and it got a clean bill of health. It also seems and sounds like a lot of care was taken of it. Is that a type of problem an inspector could pick up? Is there anything I could be on the look for?

    I'm curious how is the load distributed in a boat like this? Would it rely on long spars or the strength of the skin or other?

    There's also a lot of gear in storage including electronics such as radar and radio and a sail and rigging. I haven't seen it yet though. I'm looking forward to doing the inside as I know I could do something really nice with it.

    Thanks again for the help.
     
  4. catsketcher
    Joined: Mar 2006
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    Location: Australia

    catsketcher Senior Member

    Not that clever

    The glass work that I can see in the photos looks like polyester with chopped strand mat reinforcing the top flange. This is a pretty dumb way to reinforce a boat (at least it has been in the last 15 years or so) that has a stress orientated in mostly one direction. Then the glass has been left unpainted which is not good either. Although it looks like polyester has been used rather than epoxy which has serious UV issues the job looks slapdash.

    I can't tell whether the hulls are good or not in a photo but bare in mind that a heavy displacement (for a tri) boat is going to cost serious money to refit. Electronics on a boat this age will probably be useless - but if you go simple modern electronics are cheap. It is the cost of the deck gear, rigging, winches, sails etc that will set you back.

    Certainly the boat seems capable of fixing. My guess is that it would take me about 1500 - 2000 hours to get her sailing and anywhere between $40 000 to $100 000 in cash depending on the rigging, motor, deck gear.

    cheers

    Phil
     
  5. catsketcher
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    catsketcher Senior Member

    Didn't answer any questions

    Re your questions

    The deck and hull skin take lots of load in these type of boats. Modern boats would avoid the sharp corners at the underwing/float or underwing/hull join to reduce stress concentrations. The rear beam is probably a box beam which is why it was a bit silly to use choppy on the top of it - it should have unidirectional glass with a covering laminate of double bias to bind it. If there are any areas of concern these may be due to the boat not being built to plan, or just a few cosmetic cracks. I have never heard of a Horstman cracking up.

    It looks to me as thought he boat was built in the 70s or 80s. She uses (I think) foam hulls and ply decks. The glass on the rear beam is woven rovings which was widely used at this time. It is not used today in multis. If the beams were built in foam but designed to be made in ply there may be issues. You can always fix these things up but it will cost more.

    It should be pretty easy to check the hull condition. A foam boat like this should have a pretty heavy laminate and so the chances of core failure or water ingress should be low. Check any deck or through hull fittings that may allow water into the core.

    It looks like she may have wooden stringers. Carefully prod these with a small screwdriver.

    A surveyor will be able to check the boat. Some may use a moisture meter to check the core although a test in Professional boatbuilder mag questions their validity. They will do a lot of tapping to listen for changes in tone that may indicate core or laminate failure but this will be more common in lighter ex race boats. A solid cruiser usually has far higher margins of safety.

    You could always take some better quality shots and let us have a better look

    cheers

    Phil
     
  6. iWill
    Joined: Sep 2009
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    Location: Ontario, Canada

    iWill Junior Member

    Phil, I appreciate your honest opinion on this vessel, it has been a big help so far.

    You're right on the points you mentioned. The hulls have foam cores and the deck is plywood with an aluminum structure (this was added later). The wood stringers and bulkheads all appear fine and it good shape.

    After getting to the boat again I walked around it a couple times looking for potential problems. There are a few minor fixes in the outside fiberglass for the most part. However I have a couple major areas of concern I want to bring up before I go further. One is the central hull is bucking under the blocks it's sitting on. It is resting on 5 groups of wooden blocks and the hull so far looks to have sunk maybe 4” in dents that are maybe a foot and a half across. The central hull has a fairly flat bottom compared to the outside hulls and I suspect that this along with time is the cause. I gather this is a fairly serious problem? Also, I got more information on the flex issue. Apparently the outer hulls would flex inward to a noticeable degree. If the deck was intended to bear this load it might be an issue with the new deck. However this vessel cruised like this for at least 15-20 years.

    I will be getting some new pictures soon in case those will help.

    Thanks again,

    Will
     
  7. catsketcher
    Joined: Mar 2006
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    catsketcher Senior Member

    Not normal

    Gday Will

    I am half a world away and am not a professional boatbuilder so this is only my opinion - I have built 4 multis so the opinion has some relevance in my eyes.

    As to the hull flex - this sounds strange - I have only ever been on Horstmans twice as they are rare in Australia. That being said the flex should not occur on a cruising boat. I am starting to wonder if the boat was made to the correct scantlings.

    Both the Hortsmans I saw were wood. If you are silly you can cut too far when you convert wooden scantlings to foam. I had to convert scantlings when building a 38ft tri. On your boat I would get right down into the keel area on the inside of the boat and look for crazing of the glass and resin around the deflections - to be honest any easily visible deflection means the boat has already had some damage done. The resin and glass has been pushed beyond its elastic limit and has been compromised. It is just a question of how much and why.

    A serious cruiser should have a keel designed to take the boat with only two broad areas of support. If this boat has 5 supports and still sags it strikes me that the keel is weak. Many foam boats have little in the way of a keel. A timber one would be more likely to. Horstman designs were often built in double diagonal wood and would have had substantial internal reinforcing at the keel. This can be omitted in the case of foam and glass substituted. This can be silly as the keel spends a lot of its time distributing loads along the keel line. My 38ft cat has a 5 mm keel web that stiffens it up dramatically.

    At the very least the boat should have been rested on the bulkheads. If it has then the structure seems awfully weak. If it hasn't then someone was dumb.

    As to a visible deflection of the float - I would again be worried. This should not happen in such a design. There was much the same issue with a Newick tri in the states. When I started building a sistership I called the owner of the foam Newick as we wanted to convert from timber to foam too. He said that they had deflections so great that he could put his finger in the crack that developed if he winched the float bow into the main hull. The boat was fast but far less stiff than a sistership timber boat of the early 80s era. Newicks are race boats but yours is a cruiser and should be stiff and solid.

    Nowadays foam is easy to make stiff but I am starting to suspect that your boat was inadequately engineered for the conversion to foam. Again my point about the type of glass used to stiffen the aft beam is brought to the front. If the beam is too flexible then chopped strand mat should not have been used to stiffen it.

    Then there is the aluminium. Why would anyone use alloy in the structure of a wooden deck when you could increase the scantlings of the deck beams or epoxy stiffeners in? This seems again to be stiffening after the fact and to me shows a misunderstanding of the loads involved.

    Get some more photos but I smell something fishy.

    cheers

    Phil
     
  8. iWill
    Joined: Sep 2009
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    Location: Ontario, Canada

    iWill Junior Member

    Hey Phil,

    I finally got some more pictures for you including ones of the indents and inside of the hull. There is a little water sitting down there and the bulkheads do not go all the way down.

    You can view them here: http://www.will-blog.com/?page_id=85

    Between the flex and the overall condition of the hull, I am wondering if it's worth it to me to fix up as it stands now. After giving it some thought I'm thinking that maybe building my own hull isn't entirely out of the question. Could I flip it over and use the current hull as a mold for a new one than lift everything else out of the old one, into the new one? Their's a crane business right next door, literally.

    Thanks again for your input,

    Will

    Edit: I found out the manufacturer and model of the mast and boom laying under it. It's made by LeFiell and its 55' long, pretty close to the last model on this page: http://www.lefiell.com/cruisemast.html
     
  9. catsketcher
    Joined: Mar 2006
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    catsketcher Senior Member

    Be careful

    Gday Will

    Those photos are pretty worrying. The idea of having a bulkhead that does not reach all the way down to the keel is really out there - I call it dumb. The keel area cries out for reinforcing to cope with loads such as the hull being chocked. A proper bulkhead does this.

    I have never seen a boat like this before. It is somewhat common for composite boats not to have a keel - lots of light displacement boats don't - but to then not have full bulkheads either has never been done in any boat I have seen.

    The fix on this job would be pretty extensive. You would have to cut out the compromised areas, recore and reglass, and fair. Then you would need to install proper bulkheads in. I would want to put a keelson down the length of the hull as well. I am guessing but I think it would take me about 3 weeks to do this in the main hull and I know what I am doing. One obvious problem is "How do you jack the boat off the deformed parts without wrecking others" It can be done but will not be quick.

    You cannot quick fix this problem. Do not let the owner tell you that it can be glassed over. The whole composite has been severely compromised and must be replaced.

    The more I see of this boat the more worried I get. It was obviously built by someone who took shortcuts and who did not know much about composites and boat loads. If I jumped on the boat I am pretty sure I would find more suspect areas.

    Before you commit any money or time I would urge you to get an experienced and impartial multihull surveyor to go over the thing. Get two - maybe a bloke who has built large multis wouldn't mind having a peek.

    If you want to go cruising yourself then you would probably be better off getting well built Searunner 40 or Cross or somesuch. They are pretty cheap in the US and are well designed and most builders followed the plans pretty closely. A tri is a great cruiser and much cheaper than a cat.

    I have gotten two free boats in my life. Both ended up at the tip. A little trailer sailer I got had some rot and I dug and dug and dug until there was no side left. I got a nice trailer out of it though.

    If I got offered this boat free I would probably not take it. It has heaps of work that could cost about $60 000 in materials and more than a year full time to do and then you have a 35 year old design boat with a bad reputation. Better to put far less effort into a well founded tri and go sailing.

    cheers

    Phil
     

  10. iWill
    Joined: Sep 2009
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    iWill Junior Member

    Hey Phil,

    My feelings concur with you in regard to its condition. I'm going to talk about it with the owner, he's a nice guy, though not acquainted with the internet. I think I'll try to lend him a hand if I can, and maybe work together in some way. I'd have to say when I seen that there was no bulkheads I was in a bit of a shock, but than again, what do I know about building boats?

    I'll let you know how that goes. I actually like the design of the boat and seen a lot of potential in it, at least from my perspective. Thanks very much for your help, I really appreciate it.

    Take care,

    Will
     
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