Beetle cat repair

Discussion in 'Wooden Boat Building and Restoration' started by Triocd, Dec 1, 2013.

  1. Triocd
    Joined: Dec 2013
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    Location: Arlington, MA

    Triocd New Member

    My in-laws have a Beetle Cat in their family which was purchased new in 1965. It has been dry the past 10 years or so in the garage and this past summer we tried to get it sailing again. It looks like it's in great shape, but after swelling for 2 weeks we took it for a sail. After sailing it started taking in water to the point where if it wasn't bailed out daily it would've sank. We brought it to Beetle Inc for a review and the diagnosis was that it needed a new stem and possibly the wood under that may be rotten leading to very pricey repairs. Their recommendation was to simply spend 4-5k on a new to us used hull in good condition.

    This particular hull is meaningful to the family (my wife's grandfather bought it) and I'm hoping to throw a hail mary here and see if anyone has done a stem replacement and what the cost would be. There is a local boat building school that trains people to restore Beetles, could there be a chance I can connect with a former student from that school to have repairs done on the cheap? Is there any temporary fix I could do myself like caulk the seams near the stem which might get a season or two out of it? I'd really like to get a season out of it before shelling out a few thousand for repairs or a newer hull because I want to see if it will be actually sailed consistently...I think there's a reason it's been dry the past 10 years (needs work each year to keep it in decent shape).

    Here are a couple pictures of the boat swelling before it was taking on water. Unfortunately no closeup pics of the stem right now...

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  2. royt
    Joined: Dec 2013
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    Location: harwich.ma

    royt New Member

    I would first try to find out exactly where it is leaking. Did Beetle do this, or did they just look at the boat? After that, try to caulk where you find the leaks. There are some good caulking sealants that are very adhesive and even can be applied to wet surfaces, although the drier the better. I can see gaps between the stem and the planking in one of the pictures so I would start there although there frequently are leaks between the back of the stem and the front of the keel where there is supposed to be a "stopwater" to stop them.

    royt
     
  3. PAR
    Joined: Nov 2003
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    Location: Eustis, FL

    PAR Yacht Designer/Builder

    If Beetle said you need a new stem, you very probably do. The usual problem with this construction method is, folks have probably used about every imaginable magic goo in a tube to "repair" her. This is mostly because they don't understand the way the structure works nor how to properly repair it, so they turn to magic concoctions in a can and hope for the best.

    BTW, these goo's in a tube (or can) don't work. What happens as these puppies get old is, the wood has shrunk and swollen up through so many cycles, the fasteners and the holes they live in have wallered out and she's leaking. This is a mechanical issue and some goo's can slow the leaking, but eventually, usually in few wet/dry cycles, they just start leaking again, often worse. The only real cure is to disassemble the offending areas, dress the faying surfaces, repairing any that might need it, restore the fastener holes and replace the fasteners during reassembly. The stem on these is a common place for issues as are the garboards, case and transom framing. They can be repaired, though this often exceeds their value, except to people like you, where the value isn't market driven.

    Your idea of finding a student at that school is a good one and there may be other opportunities as a result, so make the contacts. As to a "proper" cost for the repairs, well without an on site inspection, this is difficult. I haven't worked on a beetle in many years and wouldn't mind another one, but I'm a long way off. In your area there will likely be a number of small shops, looking for a project or maybe a retired Beetle softie that can be convinced to nurse you through the process.
     
  4. LCrosby
    Joined: Dec 2013
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    Location: Plymouth, MA

    LCrosby Junior Member

    Where are you located? I overhauled my grandmothers beetle and have been repairing them for a while now. Could be a great winter project.
     
  5. Triocd
    Joined: Dec 2013
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    Location: Arlington, MA

    Triocd New Member

    LCrosby, the boat is in Mattapoisett, MA. I'm in Arlington. I'm starting to think about restoring it myself, but it would be a massive undertaking for me as I have no garage and little woodworking skill. I do have a lot of time in the summer and access to a bunch of woodworking tools. Maybe we can chat sometime?
     
  6. LCrosby
    Joined: Dec 2013
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    Location: Plymouth, MA

    LCrosby Junior Member

    I'm in Plymouth. It's only about 1/2 hr maybe a little more away. Let me know when you'll be coming this way again and I can meet you over there to see what's going on with it. I'm a 4th generation boat builder so its kind of in my blood.
     
  7. Triocd
    Joined: Dec 2013
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    Location: Arlington, MA

    Triocd New Member


    Are you around at all over the next 2 weeks? If so I'd love your advice. Let me know, pretty much any time until jan 6th I could visit the boat with you.

    Let me know, thanks.
     
  8. LCrosby
    Joined: Dec 2013
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    Location: Plymouth, MA

    LCrosby Junior Member

    Sure, I'm flexible. Why don't you email me via my email & I can send you my phone number.
    Luke
    llclcrosby@yahoo.com
     

  9. LCrosby
    Joined: Dec 2013
    Posts: 13
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    Location: Plymouth, MA

    LCrosby Junior Member

    Not sure if I was supposed to put my email on here. Anyway, let me know I am around. I'm only about 25-30 min from there.
    Luke
     
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