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Old 20-06-2014, 07:08   #1
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Boat "Flipping," Fiberglass Repair

Someone asked me to see this 1985 Catalina. They bought it at auction after it fell onto its side from boat jacks during a wind storm. The 5x2' area of filler is where they had hired someone to repair the damaged hull, they paid in full and the repair guy got this far and then quit the job. There is a lot of damage to the inside of the hull and woodwork covering this area which hasn't been touched. The fiberglass wasn't ground down on the inside and fractured laminate lines the repair. The inside aspect of the repair shows fiberglass laminate that was not wetted out properly. The rest of the boat looks pretty decent cosmetically, no obvious deck soft spots etc. I didn't look at it thoroughly. Additionally, it hit so hard it jarred the Universal diesel (which looks great) and the owner said he had "put it back in place."

I asked him if he planned to keep the boat, and he replied that he didn't really like Catalinas, he just thought it was so cheap he wanted to fix it up a little and resell it. It is sitting in a bone yard type of place with no water supply close by or electricity.

He wanted to pay me $30 per hour (half what a yard charges) to work on the fiberglass and repaint the waterline stripe. Then maybe do some work on the inside (to hide the damage,) and not bother to do things like have the motor (shaft alignment etc.) checked out.

I told him I thought anyone spending over 5K on a sailboat would probably have a marine surveyor check it out and that the survey would note the damage even with a good repair. My opinion was that he should sell the diesel, keel lead and whatever rigging etc to keep from losing money on this "project boat."

Someone looking for a cheap boat might benefit from opinions as to the worthiness of this boat as a project. Things to consider:

-is it worth it to pay someone to fix up a salvage boat like this vs paying more for a C30 that is in good condition?
-is it worth buying a boat like this for the price of the used diesel to fix it up and use it personally?
-what is the resale value of a boat that has been damaged this extensively?
-how many man hours would it take to fix the hull from this point?
-would you trust the structural repair of the fiberglass if the innermost fiberglass shows signs of not being wetted out properly?
-is a 1985 C30 a good boat for a project like this to keep or resell?
-what kind of filler to use to complete the repair as it extends below the waterline?
-use matched gelcoat to cover the filler over the repair or paint the hull? (The rest of the gelcoat looks better than this picture reveals, almost shiny.)
-value of a 1985 C30 in present condition, after hull repair, after repair of the obvious damage, after checking and fixing all of the systems?
-would you want to get involved as an independent contractor fixing a boat like this? What would you charge for the grunt work (hand sanding etc,) semi-skilled labor (power tools, buffing) and skilled labor (gelcoat matching) without having any overhead?

If people are interested I might go back and get some better pictures.
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Old 20-06-2014, 07:38   #2
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Re: Boat "Flipping," Fiberglass Repair

You don't say the size but my guess is a 30yr old production boat isn't worth a whole lot to begin with, in good condition. Even at 30/hr, you could easily eat up the value of the boat in repair work.

Your use of the term "filler" scares me. What type of filler are we talking about (not clear from the picture). If you punched a large hole in the hull and displaced bulkheads, you need a structural fix. While you can certainly repair fiberglass to like new condition, this doesn't look anything like that. As you mentioned, a bad repair job could be worse than leaving the damage as the buyer will be wondering what else he tried to just cover up and a surveyor is likely to find the issue.

If he's paying you what you think is a fair rate, have at but make sure he doesn't get too far behind on his payments. As far as buying it, knowing what you told me and his desire for the cheapest fix, I would avoid it.
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Old 20-06-2014, 08:32   #3
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Re: Boat "Flipping," Fiberglass Repair

I would not want to:

a) work on this POS

b) have my name associated with it in any way

c) work for a "flipper", particularly one with such poor common sense.
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Old 20-06-2014, 08:36   #4
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Re: Boat "Flipping," Fiberglass Repair

I would run not walk away from this deal, altogether. There is always more damage than is readily visible. The guy is looking to do this on the cheap, and when he finds out, there is a lot more expense to this than he had planned, he will start making cuts to his expenses, translation, not paying you in a timely fashion or at all. He will start complaining about how long the repairs are taking and you will argue that you have to make a good repair, and then he will accuse you of stretching the job to make more money and then stiff you for your wages and bad mouth you at the same time. There now don't you feel better? Get it out of your system and move on.
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Old 20-06-2014, 08:45   #5
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Re: Boat "Flipping," Fiberglass Repair

If I was going to keep it, and I liked working on boats, didn't care about resale and I got it super cheap I might take it on.

It would start with gutting the inside and removing that horrible repair.

I would be confident that the more years pass that prove my fix the better chance to sell it on - albeit still way cheaper than market.

If I was getting paid to do it by a flipper and have my name on it the agreement with the flipper is that the repair standard and method be no different.

I would point out what this might cost making the project nonviable as a flipper and adivise, like you have, to part it out and forget it as a money maker for him.
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Old 20-06-2014, 09:43   #6
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Re: Boat "Flipping," Fiberglass Repair

Hmmm... well ... it's not a "sail around the world" boat. So basically it needs to float, not leak and be strong enough for the rig forces.
I guess the question is, is the glass layup under that filler substantial? and was the filler just a way to begin smoothing it out? Does the inside look rough because the glass was layed up on the outside and filled, but the inside has not been glassed yet?
I guess the filler doesn't bother me if the rest is good. You should see the filler in some expensive Aluminum boats!
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Old 20-06-2014, 10:08   #7
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Re: Boat "Flipping," Fiberglass Repair

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cheechako View Post
...You should see the filler in some expensive Aluminum boats!
Yes, but they don't use that filler to hold a badly damaged boat together.
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Old 20-06-2014, 10:19   #8
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Re: Boat "Flipping," Fiberglass Repair

With used boats so cheap now it sounds like it would be cheaper to buy something in fair shape, unless you just enjoy the challenge.
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Old 20-06-2014, 10:33   #9
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Re: Boat "Flipping," Fiberglass Repair

a 1985 C30 in decent shape is likely worth around $20K-$25K. The keel is worth $2K or so as scrap. Engine is worth something... Probabally $2K or so in winches.

IMHO better to scrap it. (And I have a soft spot for C30's... )
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Old 20-06-2014, 11:13   #10
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Re: Boat "Flipping," Fiberglass Repair

I guess it depends on the boat in question, etc. But as soon as you start paying someone ELSE to do the work, then you're losing the, pardon the pun, flipping advantage. It'd be one thing if you found an exceptional deal on something you can fix yourself, and still possibly profit from. But when you're paying out of those potential profits to someone else, it loses appeal to me. And obviously it depends on the boat and it's potential value on the market after repairs. To me, even as a hobby I'd still like to at least break even at the end of the day.
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Old 20-06-2014, 12:37   #11
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Re: Boat "Flipping," Fiberglass Repair

Boats have high carrying costs, so the accounting would have to be done carefully and accurately in order to profit.

You might be able to make a case for restoring it personally if you can do all the work and have an economical place to keep it, but you have to compare it to available boats in better condition.
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Old 20-06-2014, 14:54   #12
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Re: Boat "Flipping," Fiberglass Repair

I should have made it more clear that I was presenting this as a mental exercise for others, and especially for people thinking about buying a boat on the cheap without a survey. One is not likely to get work after suggesting it would be better to scrap the boat and not try to deceive people!

More information, supposedly the guy that slathered the 1/4 inch of who knows what filler onto the outside of the repair to begin to fair it (looks like he trowled it on with a popsickle stick instead of a filler board) was a West Epoxy certified person and used West Epoxy and fiberglass cloth for the structural repair. The owner feels the repair is strong under the filler. He says he thought the guy was going to grind down the inner hull fiberglass next and put some more cloth over where the fractured laminate is.

I agree completely with captain58Sailin's assessment of what would happen to someone that agrees to work on this boat. It was exactly what I imagined happening.

Cheechako makes a good point that if you were to DIY to keep the costs down there may be some value in the boat to make it a worthwhile project. I just try to stay away from money pits like this. Besides, I already have to upkeep a total of 68 feet spread over three boats.
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Old 22-06-2014, 13:49   #13
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Re: Boat "Flipping," Fiberglass Repair

IMO boat flipping is only really feasible as a labor of love. You're not going to get rich (or likely make any profit at all) doing it unless you do like the OP's person in question and hide problems (just add filler) rather than addressing them. Or... y'know, find someone madly in love with a boat who is willing to throw money at you to do it. Mom did a beautiful restoration on a fire-damaged Contessa. Cost a fortune but the owner was happy.
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Old 16-07-2014, 02:48   #14
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Re: Boat "Flipping," Fiberglass Repair

Update:

The story has improved. After turning down the job, the owner called me back a few days ago. It turns out he doesn't have a ton of money and bought the boat to help his brother get some work cleaning it up to resell it (the brother's idea as the owner lives out of state.) The brother's description of the boat before purchase and damage to the owner wasn't accurate and when the owner came to look at the boat from out of state he was a little shocked to say the least. Now, he is $7000 into the boat with purchase, moving it, storing it and paying the fiberglass guy and the bondo guy (yes there were two "professionals" involved in this job.)

The owner agreed to pay upfront for materials and stay ahead with labor costs, which he is having to pay out of his current earnings. There isn't a firm deadline. He still thinks he can put another $3000 into the boat and sell it for $10 to $12K. There are a lot of nice aspects to the boat otherwise, it has many of the preferred C30 upgrades such as the 25 HP diesel, propane stove and locker, upgraded rigging etc.

Since he has a changed attitude and is now being very reasonable and needs help out of this jam, I am going to work on this 'POS' as someone above described it. I'm not proud ha. Even better, the boat is located near a good walleye fishing area so that I can fish in the morning and work on the boat in the afternoon.

Anyway, the interesting part of this is just how bad the repair was when I took a good look at it. Keep in mind, the owner was originally just looking for someone to put matched gelcoat over the bondo (there were several huge empty bondo cans inside the boat.)

This is what it looked like after using 60 grit to remove the heavy layer of bondo. For a repair to be structurally sound, the laminate must be fair- I taped a "long board" over the repair to show just how "low" the laminate was in some places. Even though the owner was led to believe (by his brother) the fiberglass work was good and that the bondo guy was just inept I was able to persuade him to demo and start over by showing him the hull was badly out of fair and by definition not structurally sound.

That big gap under the board, that should have been filled fair with fiberglass roving. As it is, it means the laminate is too thin. Probably also it weakens a hull just to be so badly mis-shapened.
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Old 16-07-2014, 03:20   #15
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Re: Boat "Flipping," Fiberglass Repair

Next, let's look at the inside of the hull. The pictures show poorly wet out fiberglass (which is about as strong as wax paper,) the inside of the repair is also low and not fair, with test holes in an obviously thin portion of the repair and adjacent normal hull.
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