new guy with many questions

Discussion in 'Fiberglass and Composite Boat Building' started by Mike G, May 31, 2021.

  1. Mike G
    Joined: May 2021
    Posts: 2
    Likes: 0, Points: 1
    Location: Seattle

    Mike G New Member

    Hello. I brought home a "project" boat some 5 years ago now. I will spare most of the gory details, but it was cheap (relatively speaking), and only 10 min from my house.
    The reasons for the long delay; first house, truck project in between, job, calkins trailer that came with boat was un-serviceable.
    fast forward to last week, and I'm into the nitty gritty now. My first question falls into a wide realm of opinions, but when do you decide to throw in the towel? we're into boating season here again, and the boat in my driveway (however sad), is cheaper than the one in someone else's driveway. The boat in my driveway however is rotten.
    it is a 1978 Fiberform 1880 runabout. 18 foot, Fiberglass hull, closed bow, outboard powered, max hp rating of 175. the engines are a whole separate saga. The "finish" on the floor was that "nautilex" textured vinyl stuff glued down onto a resin coated plywood. Over the years it seams that water has lived between the layers and compromised the resin, and crept into the floor.
    On to my questions:
    1. There was no hull drainage in what I view to be the normal sense (a drain plug that gets removed/installed before/after a boating session). I don't know how many years it took for things to degrade and water to permeate everything, but is a "fully sealed" floor system common?
    2. My main stringers immediately port and starboard of keel are dimensional 2x lumber that when new were glassed in. since they are dimensional, can I "rip" the rot away and sister new material to them rather than completely cutting the stringers out? Is this an acceptable method of work?
    3. on a "capped" hull, is there any way to properly replace the transom without drilling all of my rivets and popping the "cap" off of the hull?
    4. I have to replace 90% of the floor/deck anyway, what is the prevailing wisdom regarding modifications? in-floor storage, cooler, lowering the floor by and inch or 2. Are all of these things just asking for trouble?
    5. buoyancy foam; is there a definitive method of work for this stuff? Let it expand out of the pour holes, or force it to remain below deck while it expands? There seem to be 2 schools of thought on this, and it may come down to the chemical properties or the density of the foam?
    6. I've torn up some of the saturated plywood already, and it looks like the decking was stapled to the stringers. has anyone else seen this method in a boat? I have pretty big areas of black iron staining where fasteners are/were. I keep hearing from people the Fiberform are "good" boats, but staples?
    I've attached some images. The "deck" is stepped twice. The bow section is raised by about 5" and is raw resin/glass and is where the fuel tank sits.
    The "bilge" tray is about 4" lower than the main deck, and is where the previous owner had the battery, tilt/trim pump, a Rule bilge pump, and a separate "drain" was drilled through the transom at about a 15 degree down angle. There is a plastic transom fitting on the exterior, (last picture, worst staining) but it is not a true through hull fitting and IMG_6667.JPG IMG_6674.JPG IMG_6677.JPG IMG_6679.JPG IMG_6683.JPG RSFW2350.JPG
  2. Mr Efficiency
    Joined: Oct 2010
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    Location: Australia

    Mr Efficiency Senior Member

    The trouble with many old glass boats, that have had a lengthy lifespan already, is that a thorough audit of the situation is difficult, much is hidden and difficult to get at, as it was never intended that people would go delving into the innards. Certainly I would not start ripping out internal structure without the boat being properly supported in a cradle of reasonably closely spaced supports, what you have there is quite unsuitable, removal of stringers or bulkheads will lead to a loss of the original shape. Is the hull showing much or any signs of stress cracks ? If it isn't and the hull is regarded as a good one, it might be a worthwhile endeavour, but the first job I see is to cradle it properly, and with it in mid-air, that job is easier.
    DogCavalry and bajansailor like this.
  3. ondarvr
    Joined: Dec 2005
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    Location: Monroe WA

    ondarvr Senior Member

    Everyone hopes the old rotten boat in their own driveway is cheaper than the usable boat in someone else's, it rarely is.

    If you don't want a multi year project that will be stinky and itchy, plus be a money sink, stop now.

    Yes boats are expensive now, but they won't stay that way, boat values will probably drop before you'd finish rebuilding this one, if you ever do.
    DogCavalry and bajansailor like this.
  4. Ike
    Joined: Apr 2006
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    Location: Washington

    Ike Senior Member

    What you are taking on is a huge project. Having done this myself I know how long and costly it can be. If you just want to go boating, get rid of it and buy a serviceable boat. If you enjoy working with your hands and restoring stuff, well then have at it, but it will take far longer and cost far more than you might estimate. Look at my boat restore: Boat Building Projects | 1972 Sea Ray 190 Rebuild It took all summer and into the fall to make it usable, and I'm retired so I could work on it as much (or as little) as I wanted. And I am still working on it. The sterndrive destroyed itself last year and I need to replace it, but for now I am just using the 9.9 HP outboard to go fishing.

    Anyway my web site should answer some of your questions. The most important thing is to have a plan, and stick to it.
    BTW, Fiberform boats were really good boats, that's why there are so many of them still around. The current engine in mine came out of a 1978 Fiberform, that the owner was converting to outboard.
    Q 1. No it is not usual practice to not have a drain. I find that surprising.
    Q2. No, you should completely replace any wood that has rot.
    Q3. I'm sure it has been done, but I am not aware of a way to replace the transom without removing the cap. Maybe some more experience boat builders/repairers on this site can offer better advice.
    Q4. People modify old boats all the time. Go for it. However, lowering the floor is not a good idea. There is probably flotation foam under it and lowering the floor will reduce the space ender the floor.
    Q5. I spent a good portion of my career advising boat manufacturers on how to put flotation in their boats so I may have some insight. There are two ways to install foam flotation. (and there are ways other than foam to install flotation) One is the way most builders do it. They use two part blown (or pour) foam. They know how many cubic feet of foam they need to install and they know how long they have to blow foam to fill the space when it expands. However the y also leave holes (usually about 2 inch in diameter) in the top of the compartment for the foam to expand out of to fill the compartment. Then when its done the cut off any that has expanded out of the hole and plug the hole. Some don't even plug the hole they just carpet over it.

    The other way. Use premade block foam. Cut it to size to fit the compartment before you put the floor down (see my web site)

    Which is better? Pour foam is convenient, and you don't have to worry much about how much to put in the compartment. It is usually polyurethane which is not affected by most solvents such as gasoline, oils, cleaners etc. When installed properly it is 2 lb per cubic foot. However, it is notorious for absorbing water over time (many years, not short periods) and you can find many stories on boating forums about water logged foam. This also adds a lot of weight to the boat over time.

    Block foam doesn't absorb water. It's cheap because its polystyrene (not styrofoam) and is readily available in 2 foot by 8 foot by 2 inch sheets, from any home improvement store because it is used as insulation. It is 2 lb per cubic foot, perfect weight for flotation. However, it is dissolved by gas, oils, and other solvents, so you have to bag in plastic (preferably polyvinyl) or put it places where it won't be exposed to those things. This is the method I prefer. It involves a little more work but will last the life of the boat.
    Q6. Stapling was a common method back then. Unfortunately they didn't use stainless, or monel, or other staples that don't corrode, which are available now. Not used much anymore. There are now better ways to do that.
    baeckmo and bajansailor like this.
  5. Mr Efficiency
    Joined: Oct 2010
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    Location: Australia

    Mr Efficiency Senior Member

    The sort of glass trailer boat that is worth restoring, is the one with an outstanding hull design, and the glasswork was sound but for the timber inserts rotting, and it is fair to say they haven't really improved on, subsequently, but went out of production because the styling became dated. I see some say this is a good hull, which is encouraging, but I'm more for sticking to "outstanding" as the standard required.
  6. Mike G
    Joined: May 2021
    Posts: 2
    Likes: 0, Points: 1
    Location: Seattle

    Mike G New Member

    Thank you for the replies so far. I am a residential carpenter, so tools and such and the use of them are no mystery to me. That picture of the transom is null and void now as the boat is sitting on its "new" rebuilt trailer. I realize that it is probably not best practice to tear into stringer replacement while on a trailer, but I've seen it done. I also understand that if I have to separate the "cap" a whole bunch of support will be lost. The very bottom of the keel has some damage that I would estimate came from beaching the boat a few times, other than that, i didn't see hardly any signs on the exterior of worse damage being sustained. Call me overly optimistic, but I see demo taking a long(crappy) weekend. It took me about 2 hours last Friday night to cut out that strip of plywood, and then the 18"x18" piece and dig that foam out by hand I was on the phone with my Dad during part of that too.
    The main reason I asked about only a partial stringer removal is due to the steps in the hull, and that I'm pretty sure the deck is dry aft of that step. The only worrisome spot in the forward area is where someone repeatedly missed or sent multiple screws into the deck near the front seat. I could certainly be setting myself up to eat crow with that viewpoint, but the raised section that holds the fuel tank is good for sure (I checked).
    As to what makes an outstanding hull design, in my opinion it would be something rare and visually unique which then may or may not perform well. Searching for a rare boat introduces a whole other wrinkle to this saga. I also feel that the truly outstanding boats don't get ignored for 20 plus years.
    as to money. I am still under 3k in this whole mess. that includes initial purchase, a 2nd 150hp parts motor, a 7.5 kicker motor, a different (and fully refurbished by me) trailer, new seats, new fuel tank, engine parts, and some misc (as I typed this out, it sounds silly, but it's 5 years worth of costs). To do this properly, I will see another $1k in plywood and 2 part foam. I haven't priced out all of the resins and glass stuff yet.
    To add insult to injury; my Dad clued me in to a '69 Hydroswift landau 17 going to auction back in Minnesota.
    I realize that on any vehicle forum there is the trend to try and advise people to not throw good money after bad, and I appreciate that sentiment. I've seen people go through this mess for a Bayliner Capri for poops sake. I do feel like this boat is more worthy than that.
    Ike, nice work on the Searay. I like the lines of that hull.
    as to the reverse path questions;
    1. have anyone disposed of a hull lately?
    1a if yes, is it simply weight, or do they ack extra fees on? (I can call tomorrow I guess)
    2. not every hull is rated for the same horse power, so if I abandon this hull, I'll have to look for something fairly stout to replace it, or get the 1 engine refreshed and running and sell it and the remainder of parts(which is the plan anyway), or potentially end up with a new boat and 4 non running engines.
    Many things to consider that's for sure.
  7. wet feet
    Joined: Nov 2004
    Posts: 1,238
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    Location: East Anglia,England

    wet feet Senior Member

    Its certainly a project and my guess is that you would need several weekends work to return it to a serviceable condition.It can certainly be done and if you discount the cost of your own time,it wouldn't cost a vast amount of money.As has been said,good support is essential to preserve the shape of the hull and that may mean that you have to deal with one area at a time while hoping that the degraded structure in adjacent areas will help with retaining the shape.It looks like a tidy approach has been used so far and I have no doubt that the photographic record will be valuable if restoration rather than disposal is the target.A carpentry background will be very helpful with replacing the wood and I would advise caution when foaming as foam expanding in a close area can generate a lot of force on the panels,which can cause distortion.Judging from the comments regarding other hulls,it seems there is an amount of knowledge of boats and boating and it won't be necessary to state that water will come aboard and arrangements will have to be made to get it out.

  8. missinginaction
    Joined: Aug 2007
    Posts: 1,102
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    Location: New York

    missinginaction Senior Member

    Hi Mike,

    First welcome to the forums. You are wise to ask your question before you've made any real investment in this.

    I'll post a link to a thread that we discussed here some time ago. As for bringing that old girl back from the dead I'll say this:

    It certainly can be done. The bigger question is how much time, money and effort you want to put into this. Do you want to restore this boat because you really like the design and enjoying the challenge? Or do you want to go boating? If it's the latter buy a better/newer and yes more expensive rig.

    IMO, you can't approach boat restoration with the idea that you want to go boating, at least anytime soon. Restoration, done properly, is a long, drawn out process requiring a lot of time, money and determination. You can't approach it with the idea that you want to "get out there". You have to have the attitude that you'll get out there when the boat is done, done right, no matter how long that takes.

    For me, restoration is a hobby. I enjoy the challenge, the work. Over the years I've come to realize that I enjoy working on my boat somewhat more than I enjoy actually using my boat. I enjoy using her a lot.

    You won't spend nearly the money that I did, nor take as much time but you WILL spend far more than you think and take much more time than you imagine.

    Want to know how much a restoration might cost you? Read on.....

    Good luck with whatever you decide,

    Last edited: Jun 1, 2021
    DogCavalry likes this.
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