Stephens Bros. of Stockton CA

Discussion in 'Wooden Boat Building and Restoration' started by partgypsy, Jun 12, 2009.

  1. partgypsy
    Joined: Jan 2007
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    Location: 20744

    partgypsy Junior Member

    I am seriously considering purchasing a 66' Stephens Bros (NOT S&S) yacht c. 1966. It has a share of small repair issues, esp. due to improper deck drainage and crane mounting, but the deal might make or break as a result of the condition of the decks.

    They are the original teak over plywood and have been scrubbed, power-washed and otherwise abused to the point where the seams and screws stand proud and in a couple of small spots, she's down to plywood. I am trying to get a grip on a few things and appreciate any input.
    1- how expensive would a new teak deck be? The boat is 66' x 18' with a large foredeck as shown in the pics and approx. 2' w side decks. The aft deck is in good shape. I'm guessing about 500 sq ft of teak.
    2- is it advisable to reuse any of the teak that has over, say 3/8' thickness left? Perhaps turning these pieces over and setting them in thicker Sikaflex?
    3- could the new deck be done in sections as time and money permit? The foredeck is split by the Portugese bridge and re-doing that would take care of the bulk of the soft plywood issues.
    4- once soft spots are noticed, how much time before leaks will start to be apparent below decks.
    5- is there a way to repair/replace sections of plywood from below the deck... assuming the area is accessible.

    I know these are very hard questions to answer, but I'll take educated, non-educated and and wild-*** guesses.

    For photos of the vessel go to this link:
  2. BeauVrolyk
    Joined: Apr 2009
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    Location: San Francisco, CA

    BeauVrolyk Sailor

    A couple of thoughts. Looking at the other pictures of rotting wood that you're up against, I'd think hard before bothering to try and preserve the teak deck. Here's a suggestion. If you strip the teak off you'll be able to get to the rotting plywood below. You can then either replace it or soak it in penetrating epoxy and glass over it. Once the teak is gone, you can apply a couple of layers of glass to the plywood and perhaps cover that with a very thin, 3mm of plywood deck. Another layer of glass and you've got a nice looking painted deck that will be a fraction of the cost of maintaining or repairing the teak. Then, once you've worked your way through all the other rot aboard, if you've the time/money/energy left you can go back and lay down a teak deck atop the thin plywood to make it look nice.

    I love teak decks, but they are a luxury that I'd suggest getting rid of until you've got all the other stuff under control.

    Good luck, it looks like a lovely old girl, and I adore Stephen's boats.

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

    PAR Yacht Designer/Builder

    Once teak is worn down this much, there's usually no point in saving it. The replacement pieces laying next to the worn out pieces will have to have perfectly good material milled off, just so the deck is level, which is a waste of material to say the least.

    Plywood sub decks need to be encapsulated in epoxy, then sheathed fairly heavily for a teak deck overlay to be successful.

    Don't bother with CPES or other penetrating epoxy, it just another waste of materials and will not improve anything about the plywood or teak above.

    Who knows how long it'll be before a rotten deck leaks, but you can bet it will be relatively short if the boat is in use.

    Rip up the bad portions of sub deck (the plywood). Restore the fastener holes (in the beams and carlins) which will likely be damaged from moisture ingress. Then replace the sub deck. Typically the sub deck will be 2/3's to 3/4" the topside planking thickness (hull), with the total thickness of the completed deck (plywood and teak) the same as the hull thickness after it's worn down to 3/8". In other words, if your topside planks are 1" thick, then the plywood will be 5/8" or 3/4" with a teak deck screwed over it.

    Once the sub deck is replaced with new plywood and sealed with at least 3 coats of neat epoxy, sheath it with at least two layers of 8 ounce fabric. When this is good and cured, hard fasten the teak, then do the seams in polysulfide (preferred) or polyurethane.

    This is the only way I (and many others) recommend teak over a wooden sub deck. Insurance companies love to see it done this way as well.

    Short cuts and additions to the above described techniques, will usual y result in leaks.
  4. partgypsy
    Joined: Jan 2007
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    partgypsy Junior Member

    Thanks... this all looks do-able, but by someone with more skills and time than I.

    A local and well-respected yard told me that they would charge me between $50 & $100k and that I would be better off with a free-lance boat carpenter.
    I have a sizable repair budget, but a bit short of that!

    I don't mind hiring the right person to do the job, but before I do, I'd love to get some idea of how much time these different jobs would take a competent tradesman.

    If I strip off the old foredeck (roughly 250 sq ft), would the replacement job (plywood and epoxy) take 2 days or 2 weeks?

    What about replacing soft planks? It sounds simple but can a person replace a 10' section of planking in 6 hours or a 6 days?

    How does one get a rough idea of this?

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

    PAR Yacht Designer/Builder

    Offer time estimates and costs is very difficult in these situations. You may think all you need to do is yank a plank and hang a new one, so you hand over a price. Then you yank the plank and half of the frames it's fastened to are, cracked, have rotten fastener holes or other, unforeseen issues creep into the job. This is quite common and happens in all repairs, cars, boats, houses, etc.

    In the end, what usually happens is a disclaimer on the contract that disqualifies the quoted price if these sort of things occur. On your project, you can pretty much bet they will, so getting a price and time line will be difficult.

    In the end you pretty much have too choices, trust the person doing the work and hope they don't rob you, when things "crop up" or force them to make a quote that is "absorbent" and seemingly higher then most, which they (the repair person) are hoping is sufficient to cover the eventualities and realities of the repairs.
  6. partgypsy
    Joined: Jan 2007
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    partgypsy Junior Member

    I think we found a good boat carpenter. He didn't hesitate to tell us that he suggests removing all the teak and replace plywood as needed. Toe rails have to come off all the way around. He suggests epoxy and Dynel cloth and then to Awlgrip the decks. He found two broken frames at the turn of the bilge below one of the deck problem areas. He said not to be surprised if he finds the same on the other side. He's looking at pulling the planking from the last 10 feet or so of topsides on both sides as there is localized rot in 2 or 3 places each side and the plank ends are also soft at the transom. He says that in the long-run, it's cheaper to replace large sections at one time than making return visits to keep chasing the rot.
    He says the foredeck and bow is not as bad as I had thought and generally the boat is not as bad as he had expected. This, considering that when he visited the vessel a year ago, he noted many of these issues and thought the deterioration would have progressed more rapidly.
    Once done, he will paint the hull (not Awlgrip).
    He suggested that the chronic and slightly damp spots on the pilot house floor were from below in the engine room. There are blowers on each side that somehow were directing damp air up underneath the floor above. So... no leaks from the cabin top above. Why the forced air would be so damp is a mystery to be solved at another visit.
    He's working up a bill of materials and time estimate and will have it some time this week. IF it's within the realm of affordability, we will likely go ahead and take the leap.
    He was very matter-of-fact and didn't seem fazed by any of the issues that were freaking us out.
    He says he might need the boat from Aug '09 through March '10. We will have to construct some sort of shelter.

    Please tell me does any of this sound unreasonable or out of line with how an initial meeting w/ a boat carpenter might go?

    BTW: We paid him for his 2 hours of time. We felt he was acting as a consultant with no guarantee of any business with us and we valued his time.
  7. apex1

    apex1 Guest

    Sounds like a serious inspection and a frank and honest advice, from my (faaar away point of view).
  8. missinginaction
    Joined: Aug 2007
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    missinginaction Senior Member

    Wow, I looked at your photos and immediately realized that they looked exactly like ones I took of my 73 Silverton a few years ago, before I started restoration.

    The difference is that my boat is only 25 LOA with a 10 1/2 foot beam and a fiberglass hull. All decks and superstructure are wood or glass over wood.

    My experience is as follows:

    1. Project at first seemed fairly straight forward.
    2. As project progressed more and more issues kept cropping up. Things that I couldn't see became visible as I dug deeper into the boat. (see PAR's previous post).
    3. Project became considerably more time consuming and a lot more expensive. Although I've done all the work myself, just parts and supplies ran many thousands of dollars more than I had anticipated.
    4. I reached a moment of truth in 2007. I contemplated giving up the project, but decided to continue, even though the project was way over budget.
    5. WIth the exception of the engine, drivetrain (which were very well cared for) and the fiberglass hull the entire boat has been or is in the process of being rebuilt.
    6. I honestly don't think that I could have completed the project if the boat had a wooden hull. There would have been just too many issues.
    7. I'm fortunate to have enough money to put into this project and a wife who is at least patient and at best supportive.

    My advise is to think long and think hard about what you are doing and weather you have the patience and the financial resources to see the project through to it's completion. It's not going to be inexpensive, especially if you have to hire someone to do the work.

    If you have the resources though.......might make a real conversation piece.

    PM me if you'd like to see some of those photos I mentioned.

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

    PAR Yacht Designer/Builder

    You've found a keeper, if you can afford his rates. You'll find those that know what they're doing, instantly access things, double check then "mater of factly" state the news, like it or not. Some take issue with this, but it's often better to just get smacked in the face then have it sneak up on you.

    His Dynel choice is an obvious one and I recommend it as well if the yacht is expected to see lots of service. Dynel is quite abrasion resistant. If she's to have a teak over lay, I'd recommend a different approach, but the sheathed plywood will still be part of the mix.

    He's also correct about "chasing rot". It's just like lung cancer, you have to cut it out, all of it or you'll be chasing it, which is more costly in the long run.

    Watch and learn and you'll start to pick up clues, maybe being able to accommodate some of the repairs yourself. Good luck . . .
  10. partgypsy
    Joined: Jan 2007
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    partgypsy Junior Member

    I had tried to leave this seductress alone, but I confess... she got to me.
    Against wise advice and common sense, I did continue to pursue this particular boat. I figured... what's 2000 hours of labor? I get too much sleep as it is?
    I have been back and forth with the owner and thought we had a deal.
    Unfortunately, the deal is off. A serious misunderstanding. The seller was upset that I talked about her boat on the internet. She felt I was sabotaging her efforts to sell. A boat that has been for sale and neglected for two years sets her own price. I have a hunch that the owner just isn't ready to give her over to new owners. The shame is we had a verbal agreement and I had already put a lot of time, money and effort into this. The owner just would not sign back my offers. Now I am considered another scoundrel, just like all the other scoundrels who insult her boat by having offered her a fair price. It's a shame, cause the boat still has a chance. I hope she finds peace.
  11. mark775

    mark775 Guest

    I, for one, don't believe you to be a scoundrel. I doubt anybody else does either with the way you have conducted yourself. Good luck on another boat.

  12. partgypsy
    Joined: Jan 2007
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    partgypsy Junior Member

    I have never directly identified the boat or the seller. Some who follow wooden boats may have guessed. But I can't control that. She is welcome to sell to whoever she pleases, I would happily share my findings, contacts, etc. with the seller or new buyer... if asked. There may be something else in play here and it kinda creeps me out. My girlfriend and I spent a whole weekend cleaning, polishing and admiring "our new boat". The seller even asked us if it was ok if she took certain items. It was pretty explicit... and pretty mean.
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