What do I look out for with steel boats?

Discussion in 'Boat Design' started by irishwaters, Jul 27, 2010.

  1. irishwaters
    Joined: Jul 2010
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    irishwaters New Member

    I am interested in buying a steel boat, and was wondering if anyone here experienced in surveying or building these vessels could give me some tips of what to look for so I know if it's worth hiring a surveyor to give the vessel a full check.

    Thanks All
     
  2. Wynand N
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    Wynand N Retired Steelboatbuilder

    Always best to get a surveyor before sinking you money into ANY boat, regardless....
     
  3. irishwaters
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    irishwaters New Member

    Thanks for that,
    I was wondering what things I should be looking for when I go to survey a steel boat to deem it worth paying for a surveyor to come and look at it.
    Thanks
    Irishwaters
     
  4. Landlubber
    Joined: Jun 2007
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    Landlubber Senior Member

    irishwaters.

    ....good luck mate, finding a well built boat is NOT easy, in any material. There have been so many crap boats built over the last few decades it is near impossible to get a well built boat that is actually for sale.

    Firstly....good design.....no crappy backyard designers, go for one of the well recognised and actually sailing designs that suit your requirements. Now, without knowing that, because you are asking about steel, it usually means a cruising boat. A good cruising boat is in the water not on the water. Deep draught is certainly restrictive in some cruising areas, but hey, get over it, anchour off a bit more.....the carrying capacity and seakindly qualities more than make up for it.

    Steel boat construction has been discussed to death here, so have a gander at the search engine section and readabout good sound construction techniques, little fellas can be of so called framless design, like the Van deStadt 34, lovely little boat. Bigger boats need full structural framing...hey you buy a steel boat for its strength, don't compromise that great advantage by playing cards with crap construction ideas.

    Sandblasted to bare white metal and then epoxy coated using quality epoxies is vital for longevity and also great appearance. A minimum of 600 microns is required to be left there after sanding and fairing...just borrow a magnetic thickness gauge to read the paint thickness, I am sure there will be a friendly surveyor locally that will lend you one so you can decide if you want to go further with him, I certainly do.

    Make sure that the interior of the actual hull is visible or accessible for inspection. Hull ceilings (liners) are often built in and hide the real world, they are not practical for inspection purposes.

    The sections above waterline certainly need to be insulated all over, often below the waterline also if the boat is used in exceptionally cold areas. In tropical areas, the water is always warmer than the topsides in cold days so no condensation.

    Drip tray under the engine must be accessible and removable preferrably. Bilge pumps must be in wells at the lowest places of the bilge. Avoid shallow bilge designs for long life cruising, water in the boat goes everywhere, deep bilges work well. All framing sections where they join to have limberholes to allow water to pass on, these should have been made before installation and ground smooth with radiused corners.

    Steel boats generally rust out from the inside. If you have not seen the whole of the inside, at least see that the construction where it can be seen has met the basic standards required and limber holes are present and well painted.

    No carpet crap liners, they hide a multitude of sins most likely.

    NO holes in the boat anywhere on deck.....totally unnecessary, all deck fitting must be secured externally. One of the best features of a well built steely is the fact that they DO NOT LEAK....no water at all in the bilges is acceptable. No water stains anywhere are acceptable. Packing glands or PSS seals can have a drip bottle under them to stop any water at all in the bilges...they should be cleaned with a vacuum cleaner, any water there shows that the owner does not know or care or both.

    Engines to be readily removable and accessible 100%. Good access means good maintenance. NO rust should be anywhere on the boat.

    I can go on for thousands of words, but go back and learn about construction details yourself BEFORE purchasing, certainly start looking, seeing what you will do is learning.

    I missed out on a beautiful steel boat from NZ some years ago, she was called Mintaka, she was over 20 years old and I was very cautious about her, spent the day one weekend to go over her in detail, and called back the broker first thing monday to be told she was sold....such is life. They are out there mate, but you MUST understand what you are buying if you intend to get the best for your money.

    My last boat Tara II is a Halvorsen Freya, she is steel and an exceptional boat, sea kindly, fast and very comfortable, the lucky buyers still have her after more than 15 years.


    ....all the best, JOhn.
     
  5. hoytedow
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    hoytedow Carbon Based Life Form

    Make sure the hull has transverse frames.
     
  6. Landlubber
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    Landlubber Senior Member

    ....now now hoytehow, that was just plain naughty....did you not see how PC I was in what I wrote......
     
  7. hoytedow
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    hoytedow Carbon Based Life Form

    Is that better?
     
  8. irishwaters
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    irishwaters New Member

    Really helpful guys, and I'm not that PC myself!
    All suggestions welcome. Reading Small Steel Craft by Ian Nicholson, some heavy stuff. Have spent time welding and have a fairly practical nature. Any suggestions for books on the subject other than the one I have?
     

  9. rugludallur
    Joined: Jan 2006
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    rugludallur Rugludallur

    Books

    There are some books on steel boats that I highly recommend and others that are a waste of paper.

    Steel Away is probably the best all around steel boat building book I have come across, highly recommended.

    Metal Boats by Bruce Roberts-Goodson is a waste of paper, it's a glorified ad pamphlet for his own designs and has no real information.

    Metal Corrosion in Boats by Nigel Warren is an excellent book on corrosion, a must for anyone sailing or building metal boats.

    Steel Boatbuilding by Thomas E. Colvin is a thorough but a bit dated, it's more oriented for the professional builder but does have a good lofting section.

    Boatowners Mechanical and Electrical Manual is another book I highly recommend, it's an excellent book on just about everything mechanical and electrical.

    Jarl
    http://dallur.com
     
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