Is a Cold Molded hull Viable? Insurable? Safe?

Discussion in 'Boat Design' started by JunkRat, Aug 5, 2021.

  1. JunkRat
    Joined: Dec 2018
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    JunkRat Junior Member

    Greetings.

    My past boat was fiberglass, it was pretty maintenance free-- I just cleaned it, replaced zincs and bottom paint and that was about it.

    But I just saw a boat that is cold molded and in every other way it seems like a fantastic boat. But I'm concerned about it being a "wood boat". Of course there is carbon fiber in some locations and strictly speaking it is a composite, but it uses plywood instead of fiberglass.

    How hard is it going to be to maintain? Is it possible to insure? Is it as robust/safe against groundings?

    I'm really out of my element here. If it were fiberglass I would be comfortable because that I know.

    From the listing:
    "Modern, wood/epoxy contruction is utilized, to achieve superior stiffness,strength and impact resistance...Top quality Brunzeelplywood,and West System saturation is used in the hulls, with structural cedar used in the stringers. Greenheart is used in structural beams and cockpit sole- because of its superior hardness."

    Would love to hear from owners of boats built this way!
     
  2. fallguy
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    fallguy Senior Member

    Right now, insuring custom made boats has been hard. The market is saturated with production boats and the insurers have it made. I checked with one company and they insure self mades to about 26' iirc.

    stitch and glue composite boats are great, you need to be religious about overboring ply penetrations, refilling them with thixo, redrilling and sealing...and if you miss and hit ply, rebore and fill, etc...but they are light and stiff and fast to build

    any
     
  3. Old Stoker
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    Old Stoker Junior Member

    Ragtime,the great racing ,hard chine plywood epoxy sailboat and this girl has been around,and still going strong,Stormvogel 80 of feet,plywood,Bruznel plywood.
     
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  4. comfisherman
    Joined: Apr 2009
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    comfisherman Senior Member

    Call your insurance agent and start there. We have a wood boat fleet that has its own pool and it takes some doing to stay in it, but they seem to make it work.

    Cold molded has its fan base, clearly glass has dominated the market for a reason but cold molded has maintained a following despite all this.
     
  5. Howlandwoodworks
    Joined: Sep 2018
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    Howlandwoodworks Member

    I have a hot molded tiger striped mahogany 1954 Jet 14' class. The hot molding has never shown any rot. It seems to act almost like fiberglass.
    I was wondering if a vacuum press/infusion cold molded hull hold up as well? How far into the fibers does the epoxy penetrate?
    I just rebuilt the 4/4 Honduran mahogany centerboard trunk for my Jet this month. I would say it is 67 years old now and all of the hull material under the trunk is just fine.
    If I could get the durability out of a infusion cold molded hull that a hot molded hull offer I would be most interest in that process.
     
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  6. fallguy
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    fallguy Senior Member

    I have a 1960 Carver Commander 16' out back under plastic. It needs some repair, but was in service in '17 or 18'. Easy fix, needs two weeks in the shop.

    Pretty sure they cold molded them.
     
  7. JunkRat
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    JunkRat Junior Member

    Well, I know this is a common method for custom and home builders, but this one was built by professional wood builders, in a production setup, but that production run only lasted for four boats. So they aren't very common. I asked my insurance guy and he asked me about home port and hurricane plans. So I'm not sure what's up with that. I'll hit him up again on Monday.
     
  8. wet feet
    Joined: Nov 2004
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    wet feet Senior Member

    Over here we have a similar situation with the hot moulded hulls produced by Fairey Marine from the forties to the seventies.They are exceptionally durable and it makes me wonder whether the combination of heat and application of a vacuum has an effect akin to that of pasteurising in that it eliminates the chemicals or life forms that promote decay.

    A cold moulded hull will have it's durability determined by the quality of the initial build and the diligence with which a string of owners apply their maintenance regime. An experienced professional build crew with access to durable species of timber and using resorcinol or epoxy adhesives will inevitably produce a better boat than an amateur using whatever he/she can get and bonding it with Weldwood or Cascamite. Once put into use,the boat will be at the mercy of the owner and the wrong sort of stewardship will take it downhill quickly. Which is why insurance may be challenging.There is no sufficiently large database of similar hulls from which to determine the likely failure points of the one off and a good surveyor will probably need to give the boat a close look before making a report on his findings that will indicate the condition of the boat and the defects that need to be remedied before it goes into use. The intention is not to prevent the use of the boat,but to ensure the owner goes to sea in a boat that will withstand the conditions in the area of use and bring the crew home. This also means that the surveyor protects his reputation and the insurance company doesn't have to pay for a loss.The only downside is that the owner has to pay for the survey and the work to bring the boat to an acceptable standard. Which compares pretty favourably to having a shonky boat disintegrate in lively conditions.
     
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  9. JunkRat
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    JunkRat Junior Member

    So nobody has any suggestions about the care that is needed? I see a couple comments about proper maintenance but none about what the maintenance is and how it differs from fiberglass.
     
  10. fallguy
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    fallguy Senior Member

    standing water is hard on these boats as is uv and staying out in the sun

    if they develop a spot of rot or weakness; it must be addressed early and repaired

    my 1960 Carver had some rot on the keel and it still needs repair; hoping this winter

    the keel repair is not simple, the rot must be removed and then the new section must be laminated in and made like a plywood and then reshaped to match the old and then painted

    bottoms of these boats do need care as any boat..if you drag them onto rocks or the trailer is not a proper bunk type trailer; that results in bottom damage; such damage if not addressed also results in an open wound to plywood which can result in rot

    my Carver is also varnished...varnish is also a heavy maintenance requirement for boats; moreso in heavy sun climates, but boats sitting out in the weather need a minimum or every two years a scratch and new coat of varnish...some modern products help as does covering the boat when not in use
     
  11. Rumars
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    Rumars Senior Member

    Short answer : Keep it painted/varnished, keep it clean, don't screw anything to the boat unless you overbore and fill with epoxy.

    How long a paintjob lasts depends on how good it was done initially and the used paint. A good LPU job lasts like on any other fiberglass boat, 10-20+ years. Varnish can last long inside, outside is a function of location and brand.
    The boat must be kept clean, wipe the dust (don't let it bake to grime), keep the limberholes free, sponge the bilge, etc.
    Treat the entire boat like it's a balsa cored deck, use adhesive to attach things (superglue, double sided tape, 5 min epoxy), if you must use mechanical fasteners (like bolting something to the deck) overbore and fill.
    A cold molded boat is leak free by design, if anything leaks it must be taken care of.

    Hull survey is simple in theory, you have to find any and all soft spots, the problem if painted is that the current owner might not like it if you poke with an awl at his hull. The materials as advertised are top notch, but we don't know anything about the workmanship and previous care.
    Repairs consist of cutting the bad wood out, and scarfing in new wood.
    Insurance is a question for your local insurance broker.
    Groundings / abrasion depend on the original construction, we don't know how exactly how much and what type of materials are there. What we can say is that any abrasion must be repaired immediately so that water does not get into the ply. This can simply be a patch of fiberglass / some thickened epoxy, or a more involved thing, depends on the damage.

    Go see the boat, take a bunch of pictures, post them here.
     
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  12. fallguy
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    fallguy Senior Member

    I once drove to Wisconsin about 250 miles to see a cold molded Carver for sale. I got there and the hull had lost integrity from getting weather beaten. The way to check these hulls for integrity is to go up to the hullside on a trailer and pull on it. If the veneers have lost their ability to withstand some downwards and outwards force on the gunwhales (like a 100kg man pulling hard); they are done. The seller wanted $500 for the boat and I got there and told them the hull was shot and I'd give them 250 for the trailer and parts and cut the boat up. They accepted. I got some very nice hardware and broke even or came out ahead. I still have the trailer and use it in my yard weekly.
     
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  13. Skyak
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    Skyak Senior Member

    Cool! It sounds like my boat. What is the hull number and how did you find it's year?
    My boat was a derelict left in a yard in the Hamptons. The varnish was like potato chips so I didn't need any chemicals or heat to get to bare wood. It is safe to say that bare cold molded wood was exposed outdoors in salt air for no less than 5 years and the only loss to rot was an inch at the transom -to be expected because it was stored upright without a cover. Other than filling some gaps (less than 1mm) the hull is terrific in clear epoxy -like jewelry.
     
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  14. Howlandwoodworks
    Joined: Sep 2018
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    Howlandwoodworks Member

    Skyak
    I believe it is hull #286
    Good luck on finding the hull#. Maybe some help here, History https://www.jet14.com/the-jet-14/history
    They have a list but it is not listed on the website, you could ask and they might have help. Articles & Docs https://www.jet14.com/the-jet-14/articles-docs
    The Jet 14' were not a very fancy boat at a displacement of 285 lb. and just 113 s.f. sail area. With numbers like that we are a large part of the equation. It does seem to overcome its hull speed fairly easily.
    Designed by: Howard Siddons/Uffa Fox
    Uffa Fox also did the Atalinta 31' and 26' center cockpit wooden ('hot molded' laminate) as well as the Titania 26'. Builder: Fairey Marine UK
    upload_2021-8-13_0-48-33.png
    Hot molded' lamination was a pre-fiberglass construction methodology. Cold mold has stayed around because a small shop can make a nice boat with this construction methodology.
    The Spruce Goose, also known as the Hughes Flying Boat, is made entirely of wood and laminated wood, hot or cold I don't know.


    This is the only pages I have of the official registration records from the Jet 14 Class association.

    upload_2021-8-13_22-58-20.png

    The only things that are water prof are fish, seaweed, and other things of the same the likeness.
     

  15. rangebowdrie
    Joined: Nov 2009
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    rangebowdrie Senior Member

    It has been my experience that epoxy will generally not penetrate much beyond the first layer of un-broken cell structures.
    Treating the bare wood with Smiths CPES before using epoxy may give a better bond,, Smiths will penetrate somewhat further as it is quite low in viscosity and has a long pot-life.
     
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