Any Ferrocement builders out there?

Discussion in 'Boatbuilding' started by cdubb, Mar 3, 2016.

  1. cdubb
    Joined: May 2012
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    Location: michigan

    cdubb Junior Member

    Hi all,

    I know FC boats bring about strong opinions but I want to know if anyone is aware of one under construction or knows anyine who is known to build them? I have been doing my homework on them and I am interested to the point I would like to observe and assist in ones construction so I can be better educated on my plans moving forward. Reading books and webpages can only get you so far I feel, so I'd like to get into the thick of it. So if you or someone you know is doing a FC build or is known to do them please contact or give me some contact info, I'd love to help if time allows. You can PM me on here or email me at cwalker79w@yahoo.com.

    Best Regards
     
  2. DennisRB
    Joined: Sep 2004
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    DennisRB Senior Member

    Gday, the hull is fairly fast and cheap to build when considering a completed yacht. So why build in a material which will result in the finished product being worth almost nothing and being almost uninsurable? Note, I did not say it will necessarily be a bad boat, but the value and insurance thing is pretty much indisputable, which is why you will struggle to find anyone building in it these days.
     
  3. cdubb
    Joined: May 2012
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    cdubb Junior Member

    Thanks for the reply Dennis many good points here. My thought process is that with FC it seems you can build more boat for less money. From seeing what others have said that you can have a completed boat for far less cost than any other material. What also draws me to FC is their longevity and the little maintenance they require. The value thing is a unfortunate reality of it all. Now the insurance I've seen some owners on other boards claim they haven't had any trouble getting insured in the US but others say, what you have said, that its a major problem. That's something I must research further before I build anything. I have some study plans on the way to me as we speak for a 40 foot sailboat I really fell in love with aesthetically and feature wise. But yes I certainly did notice you didn't say they are bad boats, which I see is rare as to see on forums regarding FC construction and I appreciate your receptive attitude on the subject. To sum up what I've been seeing is folks saying "Well if they are poorly built they are junk." To me that seems a bit asinine, if something is poorly designed and/or built the material its built of doesn't matter and that isnt limited to boats of course. Another thing I've seen a lot of is that some people bashing FCs saw one 25 years ago that looked bad or that their sister's ex brother-in-law's cousin's father had one that was junk therefore they ALL are bad. Thank you Dennis for offering neutral advice and thoughts.
     
  4. Stumble
    Joined: Oct 2008
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    Stumble Senior Member

    Keep in mind that the hull itself is generally only a small faction of the cost of a completed boat. Popping fiberglass hulls out of a mold is pretty inexpensive, it is all the other things that cost a lot. I don't have hard numbers, but my recollection is that something like 10% of the cost of a new boat is the hull, the remaining cost is in the systems. So even a $500,000 new boat really only has a $50,000 hull with $450,000 worth of ancillaries added to it.

    So let's assume you save 90% of the hull cost by using ferrocement... That leaves you with a $455,000 boat that is almost un-sellable, difficult to insure, and overweight.

    keep in mind that a 60' mast costs the same no matter what boat its on, same for the engine, electrical, plumbing, electronics, lead in the keel, sails, etc.

    Possibly someone can chime in here and give some validity to that 10% number, but the result is the same. Ferrocement boats coast almost as much to build as a fg boat does, but at some major downsides. It would be far cheaper to buy a salvage hull and rebuild it than to build a ferro boat.

    I would still point out that a good condition used boat is still the cheapest option.
     
  5. Barry
    Joined: Mar 2002
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    Barry Senior Member

    It would appear that you are not concerned about weight and are perhaps prepared to go out into an extremely small niche method of building a boat.
    You want to be involved in a build to learn so you don't have current experience in FC building or even boat building.
    But expense is an issue and the reason that you would consider FC
    As other experienced contributors have expressed, the cost of the hull is a small part of a total build.

    So if you are thinking about FC construction, with all of the pitfalls, why not consider instead a steel hull. There are many steel plans on the market and building a hull with steel is cheap.
    The build is easy, stop and start as you want, probably $3,000 - 4000 in a welder, grinder etc, (which can be sold after the job is done). Welding is easy enough to learn
    (as compared to FC construction) or alternatively, do the tack up yourself and hire a qualified welder to do the finish welding

    As Stumble suggested, you should be able to find a FG hull and strip it out and be ahead of the game with cost and time spent. A total refit will keep you busy enough
     
  6. Barry
    Joined: Mar 2002
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    Barry Senior Member

    Forgot to mention

    There are quite a few suppliers of plans that can also supply a DXF file that would allow you to get the plate cut on a plasma table so you have all the parts precut. On a 40 foot boat, perhaps this cut cost might be 3-4000 more than the cost of the plate.
    The time savings would be enormous
     
  7. PAR
    Joined: Nov 2003
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    PAR Yacht Designer/Builder

    There are a few good books on ferro, but the market is generally unkind to them in the USA. This brings up the obvious question, why use a hull material with such a low perceived (justified or not) value. Some might argue, they'll never sell it, which has some validity, but most will eventually want to move on to a different boat, so this value is necessary. Insurance is another issue, which can be difficult at best on a ferro build. Lastly is the choice of hull material, in the big picture is a relatively small portion of the overall build, so savings are equivalently small, comparatively, making the decision, less than justifiable.
     
  8. pdwiley
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    pdwiley Senior Member

    This is undoubtedly crap. The hull is a small component of the total cost. Anyone who says this is either just repeating what someone else has said or has scavenged/got special deals on materials that simply aren't generally available. There's a well known BS artist with the same initials who claims the same thing about his steel boats. True only if you use driftwood and discarded packing crates to build your interior, ditto for rig & sails.

    This is true *if and only if* they are built well in the first place, but the small boats have thin shells so it's hard to get a really good cover over the steel armature therefore the expertise needed to build goes up. Epoxy coatings inside & out help a lot but some of the cost savings start to vanish.

    The other thing to consider is that they are brittle hulls and very, very difficult to repair well if damaged. An impact that a steel hull would shrug off or result in a dent will sink a ferro boat.

    What do you want in a boat? List out the requirements and see what fits.

    There are a ton of boats on the market for prices that are impossible to beat regardless of hull material. A friend of mine recently bought a Roberts Offshore 38 for $6000. It needs some plating work and a new interior but it has the full rig, sails and a functional engine/drive system. There is no way in the world that you can build anything like as cheaply as that price. I should know - I've got a 38' steel sailboat at the 95% complete stage in my shed that I built from a pile of plate.

    PDW
     
  9. rwatson
    Joined: Aug 2007
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    rwatson Senior Member

    My observations of FC hulls is that the cheapness of the rod and mesh is far outweighed by the hassle of laying it, with all the wire tying and plastering. I can still see the rust covered hull of a 50 footer, where the poor guy had spent 2 years laying and tying the layers of mesh over the frames.

    There are a couple of examples of builders who laid the concrete like they were plastering a brick wall, and watched the water pour in as the crane lowered the hull into the water. At least with fibreglass you can build up the layers one at a time, instead of having to get the 50mm all laid in the same 48 hours to correct thickness, and properly pressed into the wire.

    Of all the methods of hull building, FC is purely for the marooned sailor on an abandoned concrete manufacturing island, who has no other choice.
     
  10. JSL
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    JSL Senior Member

    Having been involved with FC for about 5 years (in the late 60's) I would 'second' all the preceding comments. Essentially, it's "good money after bad".

    One main problem with FC is secondary bonding: all other boat materials (wood, steel, aluminum, FRP) will allow you to retro-fit a mount, seat, bulkhead, add some length... etc.. without compromising the existing structure. With FC your only option is 'gluing', bolting, or both... often structurally unsound or aesthetically unpleasing.... or both.
     
  11. Maniek
    Joined: Dec 2007
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    Maniek Junior Member

    Hi everybody...I need help...Can anybody- tell me how to protect FC hull ''outside'' ? What materials are the best - probably-I think- some epoxy fillers and paints...I'm boat builder with looooong practice but first time will work with FC hull...Many thanks for help...
     
  12. PAR
    Joined: Nov 2003
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    PAR Yacht Designer/Builder

    What are you looking to protect the hull against?
     
  13. Maniek
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    Maniek Junior Member

    Hi.This is old boat,is not on the water approx.7-8y.All paint,antyfouling are in very bed condition.I need to remove old paint and filler and do it again - we are talking about underwater part-especially..
     
  14. JSL
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    JSL Senior Member

    This raises another 'problem' with FC. Moisture loves to travel through concrete and when it meets the surface the osmotic pressure will blow off any epoxy coating, filler, or barrier sealer. One excellent example was a boat dried out in a heated shop for 4 months (not cheap), coated with epoxy, which blistered off within a year.... (Not cheap.... grumpy owner)
    From my experience based on 6 blistered hulls it is best to seal the concrete using an expanding sealer like Xypex, which works by capillary action & best on moist concrete. Follow the directions and let it cure & dry out, then use epoxy finish.
     

  15. Maniek
    Joined: Dec 2007
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    Maniek Junior Member

    Thanks,yes,I can understand all this problems.I've been thinking-theoretically -to use as a ''first'' coat something what is called ''glass water'' - was used yeeeeeears ago to cover bricks outside used to build fire places...is hard,strong and glossy...than antifouling - coppercoat...what are you think?
     
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