Things learned from boat rebuilding.

Discussion in 'All Things Boats & Boating' started by comfisherman, May 4, 2021.

  1. cthippo
    Joined: Sep 2010
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    Location: Bellingham WA

    cthippo Senior Member

    Being at the tail end of the process, I'm going to disagree with everyone here (as usual)

    I would say a rebuild can work in specific circumstances, namely..

    You have more time than money, and plan on doing all or nearly all the work yourself

    You are doing it for your own use, not for resale

    You have a weird use case that an off-the-shelf vessel cannot easily meet

    Your other option is not having a boat at all.

    I do agree that the correct mindset is necessary, that you are going to spend far far more time working on said boat then using it. Expect to re-do things several times before you figure out the right answer. Expect to throw away expensive materials because that idea just didn't work. You have to be in it for the journey, as well as the destination.

    I've spent the last year working on mine and am right at the cusp of launch. Need a full day of labor on affixing the cabin and she is ready to go. This started as a $500 speedboat in horrible shape and is ending up as a vessel well suited to my needs. Could I have taken the money I spent on parts and materials and bought something better in turn-key condition? No, because no one makes boats specifically designed for this purpose. The closest things i see on the market are well over $100k, and still aren't ideal, and I guarantee I have not spent that much. Finally this has been the only viable path for me as I am a poor human and being able to pay for things in small pieces when I can afford them is what makes the project viable. Yeah, it means I may have to wait months to afford a thing I need, but progress is still being made. I am in a position where I have very little money and lots of time and enjoy making things. The journey has been enough fun on it's own that while I am excited about the destination, it is not the element on which the experience hinges.

    And if you need further evidence, I am actively looking forward to my next restoration project.
  2. fallguy
    Joined: Dec 2016
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    Location: usa

    fallguy Senior Member

    I 'rebuilt' 4 boats thus far.

    2 went to the landfill before much work

    one needs work

    the other is happily sailing
  3. missinginaction
    Joined: Aug 2007
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    Location: New York

    missinginaction Senior Member

    I can't argue with any of this. I will say though that while you might have more time than money, in order to do a rebuild properly you need money.

    Something I don't see mentioned is the importance of having some kind of mentor. When I first started restoring my small cruiser I stumbled onto this website. I started out asking some questions and posting quite a few photos. I was cautioned but I also got some encouragement. So many people took the time to make suggestions. I kept asking questions and getting more input. One person who stood out was Paul Ricelli. He was and I think still is the most prolific poster on this site. At first he was skeptical, and looking back I understand why. Who wants to waste time with someone who may or may not be willing or capable of seeing a big project through? Over time PAR realized that I was serious about what I was doing. He became a cheerleader of sorts as things moved along slowly. I came to feel that since I passed muster with him and other much more experienced builders/restorers I really could complete this challenging project. I worked hard and earned the respect of people like Paul (there were others too numerous to mention) and this was a great help in staying motivated.

    I'm of a different mindset than you Cthippo. I'll never do another restoration. I really enjoyed the seven years (you read that right) I spent rebuilding my little Silverton but I was 50 when I started years ago. I'm 65 now. I'm getting too old for this kind of hobby. I pray I can stay healthy and get to use my boat for another 15 years or so. I'm still planning on taking her to Florida but somehow life keeps getting in the way of that trip. My wife is encouraging me to go even though she won't make the trip. I'm lucky in that regard I think.

  4. Howlandwoodworks
    Joined: Sep 2018
    Posts: 169
    Likes: 53, Points: 38
    Location: MO

    Howlandwoodworks Member

    I have been designing my own boat, a 26.5 wooden lead sled. I am at about 2000 to 3000 hr. in now. Naval Architecture is a very complex and timely field of study.
    I still don't have a full size boat. I will have about ((5'000 hr. of study for one sailboat design before I am finished and $30'000 to $40'000 in materials) *2.666)
    Then I will have the pleasure of paying taxes on a new boat. At least a Ship of Theseus has less taxes because it is a used boat.
  5. The Q
    Joined: Feb 2014
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    Location: Norfolk, UK

    The Q Senior Member

    I'd agree with it's only of use rebuilding your own boat, for your own use...or if someone else was paying for you to do it.

    Currently I'm nearing finishing rebuilding my small sailing boat which I designed and built 25years ago. I'm desperately trying to finish this by August, if I'm not successful it will not be launched till next March. Everything you do on a boat takes twice as as long as you expect, even if you know some idiot hasn't put in some surprises for you.

    Which takes me to the motorboat, this winter my motorboat nearly sank.. why ? Some previous owner replaced the sea toilet with a holding tank as required by our local laws. But they didn't remove the inlet and outlet fittings, they just shut them off, filled the inlets with something and covered that with antifouling.. one of the fittings failed and water started leaking in.

    Luckily it was in the boat yard for the 4yearly boat safety test, they went inside found a pool of water and rapidly got the boat on the boat hoist.

    I've had to get the boatyard to do the repairs which meant stripping the toilet out removing the inlet and outlet fitting, and fixing the hull properly.

    Then when the sailing boat rebuild is finished I can get back to the motorboat rebuild, the wiring was a mess, some things like bunk tops and the galley are made of chipboard..
  6. comfisherman
    Joined: Apr 2009
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    Location: Alaska

    comfisherman Senior Member

    2 weeks ago a fellow threw a pipe arrangement on my deck. Picked it up to get a closer look, it was a smorgasbord of fittings that had been installed to get hard plumbing around a stringer. We counted mild steel, galvanized, stainless, bronze, brass, and a pvc nipple..... dunno how long it was there but only the pvc was devoid of electrolysis.

    Another had so many dissimilar metals bonded on a submerged packing gland the stainless t clamps were corroded in less than 6 months. New owner remarked "guess that's why it came with the giant bag of extras ".

  7. Howlandwoodworks
    Joined: Sep 2018
    Posts: 169
    Likes: 53, Points: 38
    Location: MO

    Howlandwoodworks Member

    If all repairs were done to an appropriate specification, few poor folk's could own a boat.
    A quandary for sure.
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