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Old 27-03-2011, 16:29   #466
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Re: repairing a hole in my ferro cement hull, pictures & details

Originally Posted by wolfaroo View Post
Over a year ago I said I would post details of my ferro cement hull repair, the first part of which I completed in October 2010, so here it finally is. The attached PDF attempts to show the stages of my repair to a hole through the hull.
Thanks for the super post and graphics Wolfaroo. I've posted previously about how logical and cheap ferro repairs are (haven't had the need to do it but have closely watched it done) but your post covers it perfectly.

Glad to see we're all ignoring the troller...they pop up with the usual misinformation every time the word ferro appears. Too bad for them...

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Old 28-03-2011, 01:29   #467
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Re: repairing a hole in my ferro cement hull, pictures & details

Wolfaroo, your repair looks good mate. I replaced an entire bow section once. The boat had a wet chain locker and rotted from the inside out. Did pretty much what you did. I can't see if you interlocked the new layers with the old, but I doubt it would matter in your case, its not in a high stress area and ferro is amazingly strong, unless you hit something solid like a rock or reef. The boat's done another 15000 miles since in some big seas and looking perfect.

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Old 30-03-2011, 05:51   #468
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Re: Ferro Cement Hulls ?

Nice photos of the repair job! I had a friend hole his boat in Alaska 21 years ago and did a similar repair on a railway and had to launch the boat 36 hours after plastering (yes, really) to make room for the fishing boats... When I saw the boat 19 years later I found no signs of leaking or deterioration.. I have a FC boat because it wins the battle of anchored unattended boats...
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Old 30-03-2011, 05:59   #469
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Re: Ferro Cement Hulls ?

Originally Posted by waterworldrob View Post
I have a FC boat because it wins the battle of anchored unattended boats...
I hear they are contenders in the "Unanchored, unattended" division as well!

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Old 30-03-2011, 21:40   #470
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Re: Ferro Cement Hulls ?

mine came loose once upon a time, luckily a friend grabbed her before she destroyed the 'glass boat nearby...
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Old 30-03-2011, 22:26   #471
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Re: Ferro Cement Hulls ?

My Hans went to ground once in a 2day 55kt blow, no damage after I chased away the lookylous, except my pride. I go to my marina almost every day, and see a beautiful old Benford across the cove. Ferro can be beautiful, and somewhat undetectable.
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Old 01-04-2011, 09:12   #472
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Re: Ferro Cement Hulls ?

Originally Posted by Feral Cement View Post
I hear they are contenders in the "Unanchored, unattended" division as well!

I'd put steel up against FC
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Old 07-04-2011, 01:04   #473
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Re: Ferro Cement Hulls ?

Sticking my 2 cents in: The single biggest reason they aren't thought of well in the States is that a nasty rumor has been running around for decades that FC has a half-life, but you don't know what it is, and that (supposedly) they can just kinda split and fall apart on you while at sea. That's the rumor. Not sure what boat salesman thought it up, but ... have ANY of you got FIRSTHAND knowledge of that actually happening?

ANY vessel is only as good as the manufacturer at a given time. I recall visiting Catalina's factory in Canoga Park one time and the guys standing in the mold with the chop gun were too busy talking about last night's drunk to pay attention to the thickness of the FG. Some spots got it light, others got it uber-thick, randomly. Same can be said of FG over ply, or most anything else, really.

The other part probably has to do with economics. It's true, those who aren't born with a platinum spoon in their mouths often wanted a world-capable vessel to cruise with, so they built one in the back yard. Some were shyte, some were just ugly. The material, like steel, tends to have condensation from the temperature difference. That, combined with the whole "Oh, it's a hippy boat," tends to equate to nobody actually KNOWING about them, or taking them out offshore.

The one I'm considering now was built in 76. She's been out in the ocean and in the S.Fran. Bay area and is still intact. The quality of build is evident in the lines of the boat when hauled as well as her finishing. As someone else said, some can't be discerned from a FG boat without inspection. But I'll betcha that concrete is a lot less uncomfortable in moderately rough weather.

I'm not saying FC is perfect. Nothing is, and only a fool would just assume a material of this kind is inherently sound. But that doesn't mean it's inherently UNsound either. There are too many of them still around a century later.

What's the significance of some rust bleeding through the cement? Does that mean the frame that holds it all together has become red powder encased in concrete, that the integrity is permanently compromised? Sailing vessels are isometric. I'm guessing that if that link were truly weak, she'd be crumbling there, not just leaching a bit of red through. Depends on how thick the iron is, but I'm guessing it'd take some time and a lot of oxygen to make the iron lose its integrity that thoroughly.

If we get a FC vessel, I'll post pictures and such, and you guys can keep track of the voyages. Then if it DOES split in two and we all drop into the ocean, you guys will be able to document that they have a half-life. Meanwhile, I think I'll just take to using epoxy for fittings and repairs.

Got another perspective? Glad to consider it. After all, it's my life on the line. None of us here is likely to be controlled by irrational fears... so I'm not convinced that FC is inherently dangerous, but I'm willing to hear words of caution.
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Old 07-04-2011, 01:52   #474
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This story is from quite a while ago, so some of the details are a bit hazy but basically it went as follows.

I had a friend with a ferro boat. Sailed it from Oz to France, and into the French canals.

Then one day he "lightly" touched a piling, and a "large" part of one side "gave". He repaired and then sold the boat.

I suspect that the cause was electrolysis. That is, electrical action of some kind caused the erosion of enough reinforcement to weaken the hull, though the same result could happen if insufficient reinforcement wass used or there were large voids in the plaster..

This is a problem that is going to be very difficult to detect. There could be some evidence from cracks or maybe not.

So my sugestion is that anyone thinking of buying a ferro boat keep in mind that major repairs may be needed, and that it may not show up in a survey.

My current thinking is that ferro boats are particularly suited as live aboards, and after owning for a while and gentle sea trials, possibly for short voyages. Longer voyages only after that.

Same as for any old or amateur built boat, really.

I would not recommend one as a purchase/go cruising now option.
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Old 07-04-2011, 03:08   #475
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Re: Ferro Cement Hulls ?

First, thanks for sharing anecdote rather than rumor.

Here's the thing: If a vessel has been being used, sailed regularly, for decades and is still in good shape, why would one presume/expect it to suddenly stop being okay? In my mind, its kinda like a car. The people drive it to and from every day in stop & go circumstances, put 3000 miles on it a quarter, but then they say they're afraid to take it on a 1000 mile vacation, on highways that are less hard on the vehicle than the to-and-from was. Granted, the analogy fails in that open ocean can be a lot more harsh at its worst than the San Fran Bay, (and it's a lot longer a way til someone comes to fish you out from the middle of the Pacific). Point is, when do you say "okay, this vessel has proven sound"? After 30 days of daily sailing a few hours a day in the bay? After a week of coastal cruising? Or just make sure you've got good safety gear and stick to the coast a while, give her a shake-down and head out? When CAN you know?
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Old 07-04-2011, 04:24   #476
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Re: Ferro Cement Hulls ?

There are numerous Non destructive testing methods for inspecting rebar in concrete which are very effective, and numerous tests for concrete, if you have any doubts about a boat then get someone in who knows the inspection methods and how to interpret them.
There is no reason for guessing the state of the hull at all, in fact you could probably get a better survey than you could for a wood hull.
Just a quick search on google reveals that the steel is protected by the alkaline environment provided by the concrete, this can degrade over time, or may not be there at all if the wrong grade of concrete is used.
All very easily tested for though.
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Old 07-04-2011, 05:05   #477
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Re: Ferro Cement Hulls ?

FC or FRG (cement or fiberglass) I have seen construction techniques that were grossly under-spec and downright frightening when considering these vessels are going out to sea.
- - As others have said, for a local boat or static liveaboard almost anything that float will work fine. But take the boat out into the oceans with 3 to 5 meter "square" waves and hull construction becomes the key to survival. When a boat falls off the top of a wave and free-falls into the trough the impact is terrifying. I know, I have done it. Not very often, once was enough to learn never to go out in those conditions. But occasionally you get trapped out and will experience them.
- - Specifically for Ferro-cement, there must be a serious underlying reason that they are un-insurable. Reputable Insurance companies are in the business to take in money, not to pay it out, so statistically FC boats must have a huge loss ratio to premiums paid. So much so that the companies don't want to have anything to do with FC boats.
- - Spending huge amounts of money on hull testing and finding a surveyor who is an expert on FC probably would span the cost gap between buying FC or FRG.
- - Here are two photos of a FC boat in Trinidad that the hull gave way luckily after the boat was hauled. Notice the rusted armature and apparent lack of any in the tightly curved section.
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Old 07-04-2011, 05:34   #478
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Re: Ferro Cement Hulls ?

The reason for not insuring FC boats is probably down to the non documented builds.
I'm pretty sure if you used certificated steel and concrete and the build was overseen by a naval architect and built by competent people, there would be no problem with insurance.
As for expensive surveys, well you would need one for any boat.
There will be far more certified surveyors for reinforced concrete than there are yacht surveyors, and the costs are probably cheaper. Get the results of the concrete survey and give them to the yacht surveyor who can do the rest of the boat.

Your example in the pictures could easily be surveyed and rejected because of the poor build.

You have all the same issues raised with any home build boats of any material.
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Old 07-04-2011, 05:46   #479
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Re: Ferro Cement Hulls ?

Hog Wash!

Every major yacht insurer, both onshore and offshore I have talked to is willing to insure a FC boat, if it is surveyed and passed by an experienced surveyor. Just like a FRP, wood or steel boat.

Only the little guys like Progressive, Allstate, Boat US etc. turn their nose up with or without a survey.

There is an issue with finding qualified FC surveyors, I think the guys out of Texas and Louisiana are the best.

The other thing to consider is the constant statements that there are all of these old FC hulls laying around, you don't see old FRP hulls just laying around, you don't see old wood hulls laying around, you don't see old steel hulls laying around.

Old FRP hulls get cut up and put in the dumpster
Old wood hulls get cut up and burned
Old steel hulls get cut and melted

Old FC hulls, well if you want to break out the sledge hammer, torch and other equipment needed. ...

which is why they seem to stick around for ever.

Talk to a yard owner to see how many FRP, wood and steel hulls they have scrapped over the years, (because it was cheaper to scrap them) as compared to FC hulls.
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Old 12-04-2011, 17:54   #480
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Re: Ferro Cement Hulls ?

Quote from 2009 in another thread titled "Cement Boats" on this forum.

"Need Help!

I’m new to this forum and somewhat new to owning a boat. I had a 50’s vintage 42’ Owens cruiser in the mid 70’s on a lake that rarely left the dock, which is close to the last time I was even on a boat, but I’ve got the fever again!

Like the Owens cruiser, I’m looking for something that won’t spend much time away from the dock, but instead be a getaway for the weekends where my wife and I can relax and spend time with our children and grandchildren.

I’m an avid tinkerer and have the mechanical skills, aptitude and money to build pretty much anything I put my mind to and the boats we’re looking at are in much need of restoration and TLC, which is also part of my motivation for buying one.

I’ve attached pictures of one of the boats that are high on my list and I need advice. This is a cement hulled boat 64' - 9" LOA with a 19.7' beam and draft of 6' empty that was built in built 1976 by John Buchanan of Fletcher Christian Marine.

It has twin screw propellers @ 38" X 24" on 304 SS 2 1/2" shafts driven by two GM8V 71n diesel engines with 318H.P. @ 2250 RPM. The transmissions are twin Disc TD-509 ratio of reduction 2:1 with internal hydraulic shifting.

The boat is in terrible disrepair and from what I can gather without a survey is really nothing more than a hull, deck and two engines. Topside is plywood with fiberglass overlay that is all rotten, leaking and needs total replacement.

There is nothing above deck or below that is worth salvaging other than the engines and my plan would be to keep the basic above deck design using 1/8” aluminum and revamp below deck living quarters to something more suited to our lifestyle.

You can see by the pictures from when it was last dry docked in the early 80’s that is was a beautiful yacht, but is a far cry from that today and I have no idea where to even begin to negotiate from on price. Can someone please give me a clue?""
__________________________________________________ ___________________

Since posting this I have had a chance to do much more research and have decided to buy this boat ( see pictures below). The continuation of this thread, which I've read multiple times from the beginning to end, along with other resources has help me thoroughly understand what I'm getting myself into.

Having been in no hurry and knowing the $200K the owner originally quoted was insane, I’ve hammered him down to being able to purchase the boat for the value of the drive train as suggested in this forum, which the owner has agreed to. I am in process of getting the drive train valued by several different marine yards that sell, repair and install new and used engines and drive trains of the same size and configuration.

I have not had the boat surveyed yet but plan to. I have been through the boat from top to bottom a couple dozen times and find it very sound. The dry rot in the upper wheel house is reparable and I’ve decided to leave everything above deck alone versus tearing it all off and just repair what is needed for now.

After reading some of the posts I believe tearing it all down to the deck and replacing it would be too overwhelming and I want to enjoy the project over time. Ninety percent of the upper wheel house and lower cabin just need sanding and paint. However; the interior does need a complete retrofit as it still has its 70’s decorating and fixtures

If you knowledgeable folks could help on one issue that would give me one more answer before spending the money to haul it out, pressure wash the hull and have it surveyed prior to the purchase. The rust that is bleeding down the sides appears superficial and I don’t find peeling plaster, voids, or cracks and I’m thinking this is coming through from the final outer wire screen. Is this a danger sign or typical on a FC boat that is in dire need of care and paint?


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