Re-furbishing 73' 1944 Stevens Bros. wooden hull

Discussion in 'Wooden Boat Building and Restoration' started by GJF237, Dec 10, 2007.

  1. GJF237
    Joined: Dec 2006
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    Location: Kalamazoo, MI

    GJF237 New Member

    My brother has an opportunity to purchase a beautiful 73' 1944 Steven's Brothers wooden hull vessel. It is used primarily for nature viewing tours in Alaska. I was talking to him about the maintenance of the exterior hull and a question came up. What is the plausibility of having the hull glassed. What would be the advantages and disadvantages in it. If anyone has any opinions that could shed some light on these questions it would be greatly appreciated.
  2. hansp77
    Joined: Mar 2006
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    Location: Melbourne Australia


    just a bump really, with a few thoughts, until some of the experts step in.

    This is a (inevitably controversial) topic that has had much discussion and many many threads about it. It will be worth trying the search function on the forum (and if that doesn't bring up enough, try an advanced google search of the same searching within the domain

    beyond that, for any real advice (which will most probably come to you anyway) you will no doubt have to provide a lot more information. Type of construction, type of wood, condition, etc, etc... the more details and photos you can provide the better.

    As a pure amateur I can myself only offer the general understanding I have gained from reading many of these threads...
    worst case- for a sick dying hull, the 'advantage' of the considerable cost in glassing a hull so big, might be to buy a few more (maybe closer to a decade if lucky) years of use. The disadvantage being that once done, the evils are sealed in, and its fate also... once glassed, proper repairs will be very hard/impossible/expensive to do.
    Best case scenario, if the boat is in great condition (or more likely once repaired to such) and IF the type of construction and timber are suitable for glassing, then it could buy you a reasonable amount of time... with the same problem for repairs in the end.
    Glassing such a boat will never be a silver bullet for maintenence... most likely just a bullet (for the boat).
    I am hazarding the guess that being an old traditionally constructed wooden boat, the only real way to keep the boat going is to continue traditional maintenance.

    But like I said, I only speak from what I have absorbed from discussions, not from actual knowledge or experience. I originally thought about glassing my 45 yr old ply boat, but having learned about it, would not dare do it now.
    There is no easy answer to maintence- and that is a damn big boat.
    I have read about big old boats that have been successfully glassed, so it can be done, but then even here, it is no cheap easy quick process. To do it properly (when the conditions suit it) you have to get that boat in a as-new condition before you seal it away.

    good luck, and again, for the real advice, provide more, more and more information. I am just passing through.

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

    PAR Yacht Designer/Builder

    Hans, has it in a nut shell. It boils down to how much life you want from the old girl, really.

    If you just need a few seasons of continued enjoyment, then a quick, down and dirty 'glassing will provide you this time.

    If you desire more then this, a thicker 'glass sheathing will be required, which costs more in materials and labor. It will buy you, possibly a decade, maybe more.

    An extra thick skin of 'glass, in as much as a new outer hull shell, will give you even more life span, but the wooden parts will likely rot away or need serious repair long before the 'glass shell has served it's useful life.

    In the long run, it's actually cheaper to keep up with the traditional repairs on a wooden hull, then play catch up with the hidden illnesses that haunt 'glassed over wooden boats. This is because rot hides and spreads out of sight, making an entry when sufficient enough damage occurs that you can't ignore it any longer.

    Frankly, a 63 year old yacht of any construction material will have issues, unless it's been living in a climate controlled museum. At 77' she's a substantial gal and any 'glassing job will be costly, even a quick thin skinning.

    Before you buy, have her surveyed (don't take the current owners word for it, or his survey) by a qualified wooden boat specialist. This will tell you what is really what. With this information you can find out what repair costs will be, general maintence and up keep, etc. Owning a well aged 77' boat isn't cheap. Just berthing her will make you cry as you sign the check. Annual haul outs and bottom painting will also cause back spasms from time to time.

    There's no free ride on a 77 foot, 63 year old yacht. Even if you get it for free, you have to keep it some place, which will likely be charged by the over all length of the boat.

    In short, do your homework and have the sweet thing gone over by a real pro. When you by an old house you do the same thing, an old car gets a once over by your trusted mechanic, right . . . Good Luck
  4. Kay9
    Joined: Oct 2006
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    Location: Central Coast Oregon US.

    Kay9 1600T Master

    She lasted 63 years as wood. Why would you want to even consider putting glass over that? It will likely make the boat rot faster. If you cant afford to keep a wood classic wood then dont get one.
  5. Ike
    Joined: Apr 2006
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    Location: Washington

    Ike Senior Member

    I agree 100 percent with Hans and Par. and what Kay9 says is really to the point. If you want to keep it a classic why glass it? If you are just trying to extend it's life a little then follow Par's advice. Par knows my feelings on glass over wood. But he's right.
  6. Roly
    Joined: Jul 2005
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    Location: NZ

    Roly Senior Member

    And be realistic on your demands of the old gal in terms of seaway. Sailed sedately, you may get years of service from her.
    I have learned the hard way of "pushing" and old vessel.

  7. jesse3474
    Joined: Jan 2008
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    Location: mt. rainer wa.

    jesse3474 New Member

    not insurable

    glass over a wood boat is still a wood boat, and being built in 44 it is not insurable, only wood boats built after 74 are insurable for hull and engine total replacement, alaska can get nasty, so glass over a wood boat mainly just stops the leaks, making the problem a lot worse, glass over wood = 20 years and the wood is now rotten, how ever use westsystem expoxy for 100 year then rotting starts, wood with glass draws moisture to the wood as soon as it kicks, jesse commerical fisherman and wood boat guru
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