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Old 04-06-2010, 10:15   #31
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SabreKai: Thanks for your pictures. Seems a bit small for my needs, but really nice lines on her. You also did a marvelous job on the interior. Need to play with the pics a while

Too many personal shopper variables for decisions right.

Really, although I have a lot of piks there, ideally I'm probably looking for something with inside steering station as well as external steering for trip from SF to Vancouver Island - solo...then PNW cruising. There was one Horizon that I liked that was sold out of Victoria. Not the one I shared. In the plastics I wanted a Fisher - any size I could afford - to live here and uppity there. Just not that many on market right now, but it gives you an idea of what I would grab and grabs my heartstrings.

Not finding this then - 32-36 canoe like stern w/ small cockpit; transom rudder with external tiller; sloop. The usual Westsail, Aires, Tayana, Southern Cross kind of thing...but with sloop rig.

Taking my time looking. Saving more cash while we are buyers off season. Becoming more educated on particular designs, and may increase my maintenance skills (welding, plastics - experiment)
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Old 04-06-2010, 11:04   #32
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IMHO each boat material has it's own challenges, and requires skills applicable to it's vagaries. We have owned fiberglass, steel and very small wooden boats. We currently sail aboard a steel Colvin designed ketch. Never had such a dry boat, getting ready in the spring is much easier than the other boats. Rust bleed is NOT the same as a serious rust problem. It is important you be able to check the inside of the hull for problems. Ours had no problems when we got her and remains that way. She has had a mix of salt and freshwater in her life. Total of 10 years in salt the rest has been in freshwater. She was commissioned in 1982.
Learning to weld is important, more importantly have the boat thoroughly checked by a marine surveyor who is KNOWLEDGABLE regarding steel construction and problems. They have the ability to check things your eyes cannot.
Good quality paint, and epoxy make a huge difference on a steel boat ( at least in our experience). It has been easier to clean and paint in the spring ( on the years that painting is required) than it was to clean and wax every year with the fiberglass.
Do your research as with any vessel one is thinking of purchasing. We are happy with our steel hull, very happy. We do the work ourselves except when other things in life interfere, and find it possible and often easy.
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Old 04-06-2010, 12:50   #33
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Thanks witchcraft That was helpful!
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Old 05-06-2010, 11:41   #34
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Well salty if you're really inthrald with all those steel pilot house sloops around the PNW I would suggest checking out Brent Swain boat designs there are dozens of them around the BC coast.
I only had some welding experience in high school before building, it's not really that hard to learn how to do it as that other guy said on the flat is easy uphill is a bit more tricky, and actually overhead is pretty much the same as on the flat, you just get showered in sparks at the same time. Anyway now I can lay down a nice weld without really thinking about it eventually your body just learns how to move the rod, it just takes a bit of practice. So far all the maintenance specific to steel (other than the engine or rig) I've had to do is touch a few spots on deck where rigging or something has chipped the paint off, very easy just sand paper and paint. The real key is to have a lot of stainless trim any place wear is going to happen, like corners, edges, rail, handholds, padeyes and places where the rigging is attached - something to look for if buying a steel boat.
I weld stuff up quite regularily, mostly cause I'm still in the process of getting everything setup "just right" - and I don't think anyone will deny that that job never really ends.
I agree with osirissail about being very cautious if buying a steel boat, there are a lot of nightmare steel boats out there. Mostly there are good reasons to why they are so nightmarish, sprayfoaming is a good example of this, there are a lot of older steel boats that have been foamed without painting underneath the foam, the builders would just sandblast and then spray in the foam, in time there was a whole lot of bad rust hidden underneath the foam which would be just hell to cut out and fix. With steel the idea is to insulate the interior so as to prevent condensation, water even if it's fresh is not your friend. If looking at a sprayfoamed boat to buy if it doesn't look like there was a good coating of paint underneath it just walk away. The sprayfoam if painted underneath does a really good job insulating cause not only does it have a nice R rating but it acts as the vapor barriers as well to prevent any moist air from contacting the hull. This is where it surpasses laid in panels as try as you might it's impossible to seal the hull as effectively as sprayfoam will. My bilges are dusty, (and not sprayed) due mostly to the foam, other steel boats I've been in aren't quite as dry feeling and normally have some water condensing in the bilge. The other thing said about polyurethane foam is that it's a fire hazard - this is true only for older foam, they've changed something in it now and it really doesn't burn, I was filling in small gaps the sprayfoamers missed with a can of foam and accidentally set it on fire via a static spark off the straw did it ever go up but only the fresh stuff, the stuff that was not yet cured, scary but I ended up with a burned up spot only about a foot wide and only the surface - this is after climbing out of the boat grabbing a pale of water climbing back in and dousing it, it's quite fire retardant nowadays.
Another big disaster can be when people attach wood trim to steel, such as wooden cap rails, handholds, companionway door jam, ect. you'll see rusty weepings coming out from between the wood and the steel, plus now you have to varnish the wood too.
And I would look at putting the money and time into making sure that everything is done right (overbuilt) yourself rather than relying on a "professional" who makes more money by cutting corners, it's better insurance than any policy and no worrying about whether Lloyds approves or not.
I would, if you're going to look at buying a steel boat take someone with you that has a steel boat and knows how to at least avoid the most dangerous pitfalls. But I am definitely a big fan of steel any other hull and I would have destroyed it by now, it's easy to attach things to the hull strongly enough to be able to lift the boat by, and you don't have water leaking through all the deck fittings, no bedding fittings in, your anchor winch isn't going to be torn off the deck in a gale, my biggest concern when anchoring my boat is dragging and beating up other peoples boats, not running a ground, that would just be an inconvenience, not other boats dragging into me, and not my through-hulls failing and the boat sinking. Crossing oceans, really the only thing that is going to hurt a steel boat is getting run down by a freighter, containers and whales probably won't sink you, so unless you have some other way of filling the boat with water you're good
Here's my favorite steel boat story, this boat Gringo got hit by a freighter in the south pacific and continued to sail all the way back to north america

http://www.boatdesign.net/forums/boa...ion-20860.html

And if you're going to be sailing around the PNW steel is nice as there's lot of rocks and vicious currents.

As far as price I think steel is the cheapest material for a hull as well, back in the days of cheap oil glass was the cheapest by far but those days are over, I guess ferrocement might still be cheap but steel is stronger and easier to work on and wood, well if you know what you're doing..... My 36 foot boat cost me about 30 grand to go sailing, I don't think you'll find many nice boats for under 1000 a foot, the design is simple and easier to build than other steel designs due to it being frameless.
Basically a steel boat can be totally awesome or a total disaster - which may be why someone is selling it, it's all really in how it's been put together, as a general rule I would avoid a steel boat that looks like it's trying to disguise itself as a fiberglass boat, boats are all subjected to the same problems as one another and steel boats go about solving them in a different way than fiberglass.
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Old 05-06-2010, 11:52   #35
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If you're interested have a look at
http://moonflowerofmoab.com/construction.html
these two put together a great site about building there boat, well detailed, same design/size as mine. And I'm 6'6" and have head room on boat. That was actually a major factoer in the decision to build rather than buy.
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Old 05-06-2010, 13:40   #36
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Great great information in there haidan. One of the boats I was thinking of looking at around here is a steel 33 ft homebrew ocean yacht at around 58k asking - 2006. I'm shaking my head wondering why its so cheap, so loaded, and being sold so young? On my first look, nice to have some advice on what to look for - especially in the foam which this has. I don't expect anything more than a peruse on a first date. second one I would take more expert and if i was serious. third would be a surveyor situation.

PS: Brent Swain - I know he used to pst here online a lot, but I don't know of a site for his work anywhere. I've been looking for a few months.
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Old 05-06-2010, 18:31   #37
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btw haiden...loved that site on building moonflower. Looks like a LOT of fun. great design and boat too.
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Old 05-06-2010, 19:21   #38
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I looked at quite a few steel boats on the used market and came to the conclussion that if I were going to go steel, building would be the way. The problems I encountered had to do with accessability to the interior of the hull. It is about finnish and upkeep. Paint. Paint needs to be redone from time to time. Even with limber holes propperly placed, dirt holds moisture, moisture causes rust. Building would mean I would know what I had and I could build with getting to the inside of the hull in mind for the future. All the boats I looked at were either spray foamed of built over. The best bets were the ones that were mostly gutted. I decided aluminum. (That's a whole different kettle of fish with it's particular issues.) I'm not saying there aren't good specimens out there, only that I didn't come across them in my particular search.

I welded for a living and taught welding for around 20 years. Welding steel is about as easy as it comes. A couple of lessons from someone who knows how to teach and a few hundred feet of burning and you can get quite proficient. Proficient enough so that at least you know when it's good (or more importantly, not good!).Those little 110V wire feed are cheap and ample for most of what you will encounter in "our size" boats. (Although duty cycle is ussually short) Flux core without gas is like stick welding and gas is beautiful. They're truly "the glue gun of welding". However, not the most realistic to use for building as carrying the darn thing with the gas (or without) around such a project isn't that practicle. With a stick all you have is one lead to drag and your chipping hammer on your belt.. (You have to move much because you are working thin stock and warpage is your main concern).

Great book if you are interested about steel boats and building, finnishing, things to consider..Steel Boatbuilding by Tom Colvin, naval architect, builder.

Another thing you might consider is an alternator welder. DC stick source from an alternator run off your engine (also charges your batteries of course). With it you can also run a wirefeed spoolgun with or without gas. I haven't tried one but am really tempted! (By the way, aluminum welds beautifully with wire feed but argon or helium is needed and best with frequency also. But even nicer to weld than steel once you get the hang of it it's like butter. Can be welded with torch and stick also but it is not practicle for much).
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Old 05-06-2010, 20:20   #39
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ConradG - lots here to digest. Great stuff. Thanks for the book recommendation and I'm gonna get it. The more I read, the more I am convinced its the only way to go. The "survival" from ship collision link above should be convincing enough! Would love to build a boat origami fashion, but unsure where I would have a place to do it?

Steel just makes sense to me as a material. Yes the watchful maintenance, but less worry than a deck leak getting into your balsa, or a stress fracture taking out a bulkhead or winch. No backing plates. Are we kidding ourselves by using anything else?

Today I looked at a Morgan 382 for sale out here in NoCal. I know this is a good proven design, but my mind kept running questions. The deck I knew was good and fine, but it still didn't feel secure to me - like it could take an earthquake. Two of the main winches had stress fractures on the port and starboard side of the winch bases - both bases. What's going on here? Why port and starboard cracks (I would think forward only) and why on both winches at the same place? Would a steel hull have been better support? Going inside there was a stress crack running port to starboard across the ice box countertop. I kept thinking maybe the whole hull twisted in some corkscrew motion - like winding up a rubber band on a balsa wood airplane. Would this have happened in a steel design - even if not perfect? A stantion support I thought needed rebedding. I would never need to consider this or look for this on a steel boat...and so on.

Aluminum - I see beautiful boats but I understand painting them is hell, and welding them isn't much different. I understand osmosis issues are key, and that its probably best to not paint them but to keep them bare to the metal.

Anyway...going off subject from the start. Yes, building home brew gives you full control of making your ship maintenance-friendly, and also gives you the knowledge-base of everything in there. i think the tradeoff is not so much expense as it is; finding and having the time to build the boat; having to wait for it to be done before you sail; and a free space to build it yourself. Not much room on the balcony to my apartment.

Leave you with a question: How do you make accurate cuts and fits if you don't have a plasma cutter? What's the best way to do it?
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Old 05-06-2010, 20:46   #40
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One of the best things you can do is find a local community college and take some welding courses. There you will learn all the different metals and techniques of shaping and joining them.
- - FRG (fiberglass) boats have "osmotic blisters" (osmosis). Aluminum boats have galvanic corrosion problems where dissimilar metals set up electric currents that dissolve away the metal. Steel boats have rust and galvanic corrosion problems where plates, stringers and bulkheads, etc., can be eaten away by rust if not kept dry and painted.
- - Pick your set of problems. You can build your own steel boat with a set of "Roberts" designs or buy a new steel built by somebody else. Hang around boat yards long enough and you will see all the joys and pains of boats made from the different materials.
- - There is no such thing as an "accurate fit" - you use a gas cutting torch to rough out the shape and then use angle grinders with carbide wheels to "dress" the edges to fit. Lots of macho fun with sparks flying everywhere.
- - It is highly unlikely to find a "good" used steel boat - but - it can be done especially if you look at confiscated boats, repossessions, "guy died, widow selling the boat" types of sales. There are also unfinished "back yard" boats where the guy died of old age before he got to finish the boat. Just examine them carefully to make sure they were kept dry.
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Old 05-06-2010, 20:56   #41
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Torch and grind has been the norm for steel until very recently when plasma has come about. Plasmas for 1/4 inch are cheap but then you have to have air... not bad either but it can start to add up. You'll probably want to have a set of torches along anyway, great for starting the bbq.

Aluminum has always been my choice for many reasons. Never thought I could afford to buy it so I satayed away. Steel is strong but aluminum quite often ends up stronger because it's as built design restrictions are different. It can be cut with carbide blades on the skill saw or grinder. It is funny to weld because aluminum oxide melt way above the aloy's melting point and starts to form on bare aluminum when exposed to air. Has to be freshly "cleaned". This is good stuff though. While it makes paint not want to stick it is creates a very corossion resistant material. Above the waterline and inside there's no need for paint. I don't worry about sprayfoam. I would never foam steel. The boat I purchased was built in 76 and the aluminum in the bildge and in any place I can get to looks like new...almost. A decade or so ago the boat was re rigged with stainles shrouds and some stainless fittings. Very far away from aluminum on the galvanic scale and everywhere stainless has been in contact with the aluminum the paint is lifting in little bubbles where corrossion has begun. Simple fix, nix the stainless, replace with galvy steel (both zinc and steel are close to aluminum). Note, stainless is also far from mild steel and should be kept isolated or away all together on a steel boat..IMHO. This is the thorn in the side of the metal boat owner, electrolysis. Steel will decay with just air (rust). Aluminum won't. They both are suseptable to electrolysis. Aluminum slightly more so. A big difference between the two is that there ussually isn't much of a "corrossion factor" built into steel because it is heavy and there isn't room for it. Some more good reading on steel (and aluminum- Michael Kasten's web site. A few articles that talk about this stuff in more depth and with quite a bit more creadibility! Do see Tom Colvin's site as well as Bruce Robert's site. (These should keep you occupied for a few days...)
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Old 05-06-2010, 21:02   #42
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Speaking of cutting aluminum - I was amazed one day in the boat yard when a friend with an aluminum boat laid down a large sheet of aluminum plate - picked up a 10" Skil-saw and proceeded to cut out pieces. I tried it myself and was flabergasted that a Skil-saw can cut aluminum quite fast and accurate.
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Old 05-06-2010, 21:09   #43
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Oh, I should mention that if I were going to buils in steel I'd use Coreten. Yah, Yah, the bridges are rusting..but it isn't for the non rusting qualities that I would use it (because we are talking about 1/8 inch stuff here) but becuase of it's far superior strength.

The good thing about China's industrial revolution is that the price of 5000 series aluminum is down. Way down. Still much more than steel and Coreten but when you factor in the price of prepping and painting the interior and above the waterline. All that sandblasting and paint and paint and more paint buys alot of aluminum.

But really, with todays used market you almost can't justify building unless you want the experience. There's alot out there even if you think of it as just a starting place a little further along that a pile of materials on a truck.
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Old 05-06-2010, 21:42   #44
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osirissail, not only does it cut fast without much waste, it welds extremely quickly in relation to steel for two reasons. First, it conducts heat so rapidly that you must use alot of heat which means you must move fast or you have a mess. Second, you are welding material that is ussually twice as thick so warpage isn't the same problem at all. Genneral rule of thumb-aluminum is half as strong as steel at a third the weight-which translates to a third weight savins if you use double the thickness. Which doesn't mean that your boat will net out less nescessarily because boats are designed to be a certain displacement, but that you will be able to put more where you want it, low in the keel and in stores and equiptment...Where it looses to steel in my opinion is in abraision resistance..although there is ussually more to abraid and abraision isn't really that big a threat to a boat. The other real advantage to steel is that there are yards or shops with steel capabilities just about anywhere.
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Old 05-06-2010, 21:45   #45
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well, this is news to me. I thought Roberts only sells plans. i can order a kit online and have it delivered to my apartment, and can do the welding in the garage downstairs.
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