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Old 20-09-2019, 13:12   #1
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Asbestos in 80s boats??

Hi!

I am wondering if anyone is familiar with the frequency asbestos was used on boats throughout the 80s. We are currently looking at a 1986 caliber 28, and I'm in love. However, my husband is worried about possible asbestos as he will be the one working on it. Was it a common practice to use asbestos on boats before it was banned in 1989 or were glass fibers used? Any insights would be great. Thanks!!

Julianna
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Old 20-09-2019, 13:19   #2
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Re: Asbestos in 80s boats??

Asbestos was very common in the shipping industry, but I don't believe it was common in the pleasure crafts. Primary uses were insulation, friction linings, etc. I know asbestos was removed from the automotive industry by the 80's. Hopefully someone with more specific knowledge will chime in.
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Old 20-09-2019, 13:31   #3
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Re: Asbestos in 80s boats??

Mostly in spray on fire retardants used in commercial vessels but possible someone has done it to a recreational boat. Other culprit is in attenuation panels in the engine bay, those will be in almost any older boat you look at.
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Old 20-09-2019, 13:37   #4
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Re: Asbestos in 80s boats??

During WWII steel ships were fireproofed by spraying asbestos throughout the interior. The guys doing this wore no masks while standing in clouds of the stuff. Many died.

Any use of asbestos in fiberglass boats would have been limited to exhaust insulation wraps or insulation behind stoves. This form of asbestos has never been particularly dangerous except in the minds of plaintiff’s lawyers in search of a payday. Take it out or leave it — as you like.

That said, there are plenty of hazardous materials in working on boats. Be especially careful sanding bottom paint, grinding fiberglass, working with resins, spraying paint, using aluminum etching chemicals, and using bleach (I know someone who got permanent bronchitis from bleach fumes when he cleaned a bilge without enough ventilation)
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Old 20-09-2019, 15:53   #5
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Re: Asbestos in 80s boats??

Our boat had real lead sound proofing all over. The foam covering was totally rotten, so I tore it out and trashed it. I regret that, lead is the best. I could have reused it somehow.
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Old 21-09-2019, 08:59   #6
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Re: Asbestos in 80s boats??

My 1969 Cal 2-30 had an Atomic 4 with a galvanized water lift muffler and the entire ďhotĒ portion on the exhaust system was wrapped in asbestos webbing or tape. Good insulation; bad for the guy who had to repair or remove it.

I donít believe asbestos was used like fiberglass as a reinforcing fabric.

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Old 21-09-2019, 09:00   #7
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Re: Asbestos in 80s boats??

If you are really concerned and really interested in the boat, get an asbestos abatement consultant to have a look around, and test it.
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Old 21-09-2019, 09:10   #8
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Re: Asbestos in 80s boats??

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Originally Posted by Curtinjulianna View Post
Hi!

I am wondering if anyone is familiar with the frequency asbestos was used on boats throughout the 80s. We are currently looking at a 1986 caliber 28, and I'm in love. However, my husband is worried about possible asbestos as he will be the one working on it. Was it a common practice to use asbestos on boats before it was banned in 1989 or were glass fibers used? Any insights would be great. Thanks!!

Julianna
It's possible that it's in the boat, but as pointed out it's not the end of the world.
If you leave it alone, it's usually not an issue, at least in a 'fixed' environment like ashore. I guess that on a moving boat that could change if rubbing/abrasion occurs. Make sure nothing rubs against it. A lot of folks confuse fiberglass with asbestos, as in the wrap for an exhaust system. Spray-on asbestos was outlawed long before 1986 but the fibrous stuff was still in use. I've 'abated' a lot of asbestos wearing a paper suit, a 3-M 6000/7000 respirator, (NO paper dust masks!) and a spray bottle with water to keep the fibers wet and from becoming airborne. If you have space to work you can also isolate the area using poly sheeting and duct tape - not usually the case on a smaller yacht. Of course 'proper' elimination of asbestos is more complicated and usually has to be done professionally. And it must be disposed of it properly, difficult for non-professionals.
If I loved the boat I would buy it. If the suspected asbestos were intact I'd leave it alone. If it were damaged/exposed I would probably try to secure it again using high-temp fiberglass wraps, similar to the stuff that wraps exhaust pipes.
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Old 21-09-2019, 09:15   #9
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Re: Asbestos in 80s boats??

In 1974 Asbestos was commonly used as a filler for thickening resin. Westsail had a barrel of asbestos powder standing open on the factory floor. I scooped out some and put it in a paper sack to use. Once the asbestos was mixed with resin it was harmless. It was also commonly used as an insulator around exhaust pipes.

Think the hysteria over asbestos is largely blown out of proportion. It is dangerous when ground to a fine powder and inhaled. The simple fix of painting it removes most of the danger. Most of the people who have gotten mesothelioma had fairly long and heavy exposure to asbestos dust and smoked. Cigarettes are known to greatly increase the chance of developing asbestos related disease.
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Old 21-09-2019, 09:25   #10
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Re: Asbestos in 80s boats??

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In 1974 Asbestos was commonly used as a filler for thickening resin. Westsail had a barrel of asbestos powder standing open on the factory floor. I scooped out some and put it in a paper sack to use. Once the asbestos was mixed with resin it was harmless. It was also commonly used as an insulator around exhaust pipes.

Think the hysteria over asbestos is largely blown out of proportion. It is dangerous when ground to a fine powder and inhaled. The simple fix of painting it removes most of the danger. Most of the people who have gotten mesothelioma had fairly long and heavy exposure to asbestos dust and smoked. Cigarettes are known to greatly increase the chance of developing asbestos related disease.
Exactly. We used it as a filler in polyester resin in Florida boatbuilding.
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Old 21-09-2019, 09:33   #11
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Re: Asbestos in 80s boats??

After over twenty years of researching and testifying in court about asbestos use in ships, aircraft & etc. from the 1930-1980's I can say with some authority that some of the information above is correct and some is not. Asbestos containing thermal insulation was no longer available in the U.S. roughly ten years before your boat was built.



Without going into details, the answer to the OP's question is that is is unlikely that there is any friable asbestos (fibers easily released into the air). However, if there is anything that looks like original (something that is not obviously fiberglass) insulation on your exhaust piping it would be a good idea to have it checked out by a licensed asbestos remediation firm.


If there is any asbestos aboard at all it would only be found in any adhesive type sealants that were used in the ORIGINAL CONSTRUCTION 30+ years ago and have not been removed/replaced over the life of the boat. The good news is that the asbestos used in these products (chrysotile) is the least toxic type of asbestos. Unless the adhesive / sealant (or any other material remaining from the original construction) has crumbled to a chalk-like consistency that gives off dust easily (the basic definition of friability) the best thing you can do is leave it in place. If you feel that you have to remove it, DO NOT USE A GRINDER, SANDER OR SIMILAR ABRASIVE POWER TOOL. Use any appropriate manual method which produces the least amount of dust, keep the material damp/wet during removal, ventilate the area well and wear a respirator just in case.


Two other things to keep in mind. First, it takes years of fairly high levels of exposure to create the conditions for asbestos related diseases to occur. Second, the air that you are breathing right now has trace amounts of asbestos in it.


The "take away" here is that if you are concerned about the presence of asbestos on the boat, take a hard look for anything that looks like it may have been used in the original construction of the boat, but you don't need to worry about materials that were used in the 1990's onward.
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Old 21-09-2019, 13:38   #12
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Re: Asbestos in 80s boats??

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Exactly. We used it as a filler in polyester resin in Florida boatbuilding.
Hi all, CaptVR here. Built 6 boats, 2 airplanes, marine surveyor for close to 20 years.
You never used asbestos for thickening resins. EVER!!!! I've been in the marine business for 55 years of my 73 years.
What you used was a white light weight filler material for thickening all types and grades of resins, paints and many other liquids.
You used Cab-O-Sil, trade name, the product was fumed silica, which is totally different than asbestos.
The bags were about 4 foot long, 2 foot wide and 16 inces deep, about the size of a bail of cotton. Weight for that huge bag was maybe 10 lb's...
I still have about a half bag in the shop from the early 80's when I was fairing out the last airplane I built.
It does amaze me the misnomers that people get into there heads that have no relevant's what so ever, and they continually spread the bad information.
As far as the asbestos wrapped exhausts on the small boats, by the time the 80's rolled around, all manufacturers of pleasure craft had gone to glass wool fabric, for wrapping exhaust risers. Easiest way to tell, glass wool relatively strong and needed no other supporting. Most asbestos, had to have external wire wrapped around the material because it would break down eventually. If you have exhaust that is wrapped, and you want to insure that particles stay bonded and do not float around freely, make up some waterglass (sodium silicate) and put a couple coats over the suspect materials. You can make it yourself or buy it on line....
Hope this gives some folks on insight on this subject. Take care all, Capt. Vince Rakstis, Ret. St.Pete, Fl.
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Old 21-09-2019, 13:38   #13
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Re: Asbestos in 80s boats??

Agree with post above. More risk of exposure waiting for a bus on a city street.
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Old 22-09-2019, 06:51   #14
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Re: Asbestos in 80s boats??

A lot of what people assume is asbestos is actually ceramic fiber insulation. It's usually wrapped in fiberglass tape but doesn't have to be. It's frequently used to wrap hot exhaust pipes, dry stack mufflers, insulate behind stoves, and other areas where high temperature insulation is needed. Google ceramic fiber insulation and you'll find a ton of sources. If you boat was built in the 80's it's doubtful, as others have said, that asbestos was used.
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Old 22-09-2019, 07:39   #15
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Re: Asbestos in 80s boats??

About the only time I've seen anything that might be asbestos on an older FG sailboat is the wrapping on the hot exhaust part of an Atomic 4 engine.

Anyway, whether there was asbestos or not in the fiberglass, you simply do not want to breathe in any dust from sanding/cutting/grinding it. Avoid that, and wear a good mask, and you'll be fine.
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