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Old 13-10-2005, 22:57   #1
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Exclamation Building Standards?

Dear forum,

I know I've posted somethings in the past about hom building a boat. But, I do he one more. And last question pertaining to that subject?

Now, if I were to go and say build a boat out of steel. And I adhere to USCG, ABS & Lloyd's Register. And hire a surveyor to inspect and gain insite at variuos stages of building. Then, how would the insurance companies back out of that one?

Being built on some private property. And being built to professional standards. And surveying it during the build. I say that's better than just going out there. And just build it!

I'd just thought I'd post this. But, this is an idea for much much later down the road. After me and my partner has gained sailboat handling experience.

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Kevin
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Old 14-10-2005, 00:14   #2
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Food for thought

1) First are you a certified welder? You don't have to be, but it helps!

2) Do you have metal cutting equipment at your disposal?

3) Do you have lifting equipment at your disposal?

4) Do you have someone to hold stuff in place to tack together.

5) For a 40' boat it takes around 8000 hours to build (by the professional industry)

6) 5 years ago when I did the research the material cost around $60,000.

7) And search the web, you'll find a lot of half built boats already out there...................._/)
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Old 14-10-2005, 00:24   #3
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Thanks

Thanks delmarrey,

Yeah. I keep hearing that same old tune. Buy a used. Or half built boat. I'll look further into half built boats.

Thanks.


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Kevin
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Old 14-10-2005, 02:23   #4
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Also remember that when you have completed the plating , you are not even half-way through the build.

If you do go for a half built job, make sure that the welds are good. There was an article in one of the UK sail mags about a family that bought a 3/4 completed plating boat, and discovered that all the welds had to be re-done.
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Old 14-10-2005, 06:04   #5
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A couple quick thoughts here:

1. In order to achieve a a Lloyds certification,

- The drawings and engineering need to be reviewed and approved by Lloyds prior to starting construction.

- All of the welds need to be performed by certified welders.

- Rigging specifications are very specific and elminates many of the options that can be cost savings on a steel boat.

The above means that while buying a partially compeleted hull would be the cheapest way to get going, given the above it is unlikely that it will be able to obtain a Lloyds Certificate of conformance.

2. In steel construction, the hull and deck are generally considered to be roughly 20-25% of the cost of the boat. Generally material costs slightly more than than the labor costs.

3. 65 feet is a very big boat and very few people, and in particular very few amatuers, build boats this big, so the likelihood of finding a quality built, partially completed 65 foor steel boat is pretty slim.

What follows is a write up on metal boats that I had written for another venue that I think would apply to your project.

"As I have said before, I am not a fan of metal boats. Compared to wood or glass I think they are way too heavy for the strength achieved and steel is too difficult to maintain. They are noisy and prone to have problems that are not easy to get to and repair. For the distance cruiser any bonehead can carry and use glass or wood to repair wood or glass boats anywhere in the world. Welding a metal boat in some atoll on the backside of no-where is another story.

There is a relatively small market in this country for metal boats; a bit in ignorance and a bit because metal boats really do not make sense for the venues that most of us sail in. While cruising people are a bit more open minded toward metal boats, I think metal boats will be a hard sell in this country for a long time making resale a bit difficult. Many of the metal boats that we see over here are crudely built hardchine affairs. The chines are often laid out without care for their visual impact. Cabin and deck structures are often rather primitive. Hardware is often painted galvanized steel. As they age they develop areas that have been dented in between ribs and other framing. It is not to say that there are not well built metal boats, but the perception of metal boats comes from the poor examples.

When viewed on a strength to weight basis, steel is the weakest material per pound of all of the options with the exception of ferrocement. In otherwords, steel's reputation for strength comes from comparing comparatively heavy steel boats to boats that are significatly lighter that have been built in other materials. If you build an equal weight boat in almost any other material of it will be stronger than the steel boat. Anyone with an engineering background that has sat down and run the numbers knows that this is quite dramatically true.

And before you dismiss the weight issue, I want to point out that weight in and of itself does nothing good for a boat. When that weight is in the hull, it does not increase stability, seaworthiness or motion comfort. It does not increase strength or ease of handling. It does not allow a greater carrying capacity. It does not make a boat easier or cheaper to build or maintain. It just makes the boat heavier and the loads on every working part of the boat greater.

Amongst the proponents of Metal boats, much has been made of the ability of metal boats to bend rather than puncture. I think this is a little bit bogus. That may be true of the extremely heavy boats designed to workboat standards, but not really true of boats built to meet yacht standards which tend to be much lighter. These lighter weight metal boats use lighter weight skins spanning between a more closely spaced frame and stringer system. If the impact is on a frame you are more likely to bend the boat than puncture the skin but an impact next to a frame or between a frame is more likely to sheer the skin than bend it in any impact that would be hard enough to puncture the average fiberglass boat.

The one advantage of steel is a higher abrasion resistance. In the unlikely event that you end up rubbing against a rock for hours on end without puncturing the skin, a steel skin can withstand abrasion better than glass. If you sail in an area where abrading against rocks is a serious problem then steel may make sense. I doesn't for me.

Metal boats are seen as being very durable, but again in the weights of materials used in yachts I seriously question that idea. All boats flex; it is only a mater of degrees. Over time this flexing work hardens and fatigues the steel especially the skins at frames and other hard spots. Rust, mostly from the interior near bulkhead attachments and frames makes the skin thinner. Like any other material each boat has a real lifespan. It may exceed our own but it may not. It is true that fiberglass will also fatigue and weaken over time especially non-cored hulls which tend to flex more. It is true that cored f.g. hulls may eventually delaminate from the core or the core itself may sheer but in well-built boats this is an extremely long-term process.

In a number of studies that I have seen over the years, steel is generally seen as being the most maintenance prone material out there, both long and short term. This is slightly offset by some of the exotic steels being used in the last couple years but for the most part, just like wood you need to keep the actual hull and framing protected from water and air. Unlike wood this means both inside and out. There are areas on a steel hull that are inaccessible but just because you can’t see them that does not mean that they aren’t deteriorating. Rust never sleeps and metal boats actually deterioate mostly from the interior out.

Then there is electrolysis. This used to be the kind of problem that was a compelling reason not to own a steel boat. In the early 1970’s I worked in a boat yard that had to do an emergency hauling of a steel power boat to prevent it from sinking. This boat which had been launched weeks earlier in perfect shape had changed slips and was tied up next to a boat with an improperly grounded 110 electrical system and in a matter of days the bottom of the power boat in question had lost sufficient thickness and was covered with small pin holes that the boat needed relacment of the entire bottom plating. This kind of loss was not covered by insurance. Today, there are ways to generally combat the electrolysis problem but, in my mind, they are bandaides treating symptoms rather than real cures to the problem.

My biggest gripe comes down to sailing ability and how this affects deck and cabin materials. A little of this goes away as the boat gets to be 45 feet or bigger. In boats under 45 feet, steel hulls are just plain heavier for a given strength than any other material except perhaps ferrocement. Weight in and of itself has no advantage at all. More weight means that you need to have more sail area for a given speed and a given sailing ability. More sail area means that a boat needs more stability to be able to stand to this bigger rig which means more ballast which means more weight which means still more sail area. The problem gets worse because steel boats often have steel topsides, steel decks and steel deckhouses. This is weight high above the center of buoyancy and as such reduces stability further making it hard to carry a decent sail area to weight ratio. In the ultimate bad sailing day, it also means that once inverted you are more likely to remain inverted longer. This problem is often addressed by the use of wooden deck and cabin structures. Deck and cabin structures are the area of greatest maintenance in a wooden boat and so you are just upping the amount of manitenance even further.

To answer your question fairly I need to explain my own tastes and preferences. These are my opinions on subjects that frankly do not have one universal always-right answer. To begin with, I am fan of truly traditional boats and also, although seemingly contradictory, fast lightweight modern boats. By traditional boats I mean boats that authentically draw off of the principles of actual historic craft with a high degree of integrity. I do not like quasi- traditional boats that wear their sense of tradition like tail fins on a 58 Caddy. I also like fast/ modern designs that have their own sense of integrity. I find both types of boats fun to sail and ideal for distance cruising but for very different reasons. I have owned both types. For my current life style I cannot imagine owning a traditional boat again but I truly do love them. It is hard and expensive to do a truly accurate traditional boat in metal and it is impossible to do the kind of small high performance boat that I love in Steel.

No matter what material you use, workmanship and quality materials will be critical. I do not believe that steel tolerates poor quality any better than any other material and since so much depends on the welds the welding needs to be top notch. Steel is not just one material but a family of iron based materials. How the metal is made, purified and alloyed affects initial strength, fatigue qualities and its resistance to corrosion.

You often hear that steel can be built cheaply or quickly. Quality metal construction never was cheap. You could build a quality boat in almost any other as cheaply or for less. With advent of computer driven cutters and the more common availability of some of the newer (last 15 years) welding techniques steel has come down in price to the point that custom steel boats maybe less expensive than custom boats in many other materials. The problem in saying steel is cheap is that simple hard chine steel boats with workboat levels of finish are often compared to yacht quality boats of other finishes. Of comparable labor and less expensive construction is glass over sheet plywood. Properly done this can actually be a far stronger and similarly puncture resistant material as compared to steel. Glassed inside and out with quality laminates and epoxy resins, the plywood boat would have far and away less maintenance costs and would have a much lighter hull weight than steel, thereby having considerably better sailing characteristics in all ways.

I also think much of the answer in picking a metal boat comes from picking the right designer. If I had to list designers of metal boats that I like, I think that Van de Stadt from Holland does a nice job. Some of their designs still seem to be IOR based, and as such, do not appeal to me as much as Van de Stadt's more straightforward cruising designs. Their design 46A is very appealing to me. Van de Stadt has a very strong reputation for quality engineering and has designed some very fast boats in their day. I think they offer some of their designs on disk so that they can be computer cut saving a lot of time and perhaps money. From what I gather they are a class act.

Yves Tanton in Newport Rhode Island does some very nice work. I think he is a very creative designer with a very nice eye for visual proportions. He is a sometimes participant on this board and I have seen his catalog and it is really an impressive body of work. He has a light steel design called Steel Star that in many ways would make an excellent offshore cruiser.

Dudley Dix from South Africa is a very interesting designer to me. I have never seen any of his metal boats in real life (that I know of) but he is terribly creative and seems to understand what it takes to design a nice performing boat that is also a comfortable cruiser. I like his Black Cat 38, which is a wooden boat. In metal I think the Dix 43 looks like a pretty nice piece of work.

I have been drawing a blank on the name of the guy who has designed the Deerfoot series. I don't especially like his earlier designs but I think the aluminum designs have been evolving into more powerful hull forms closer in shape to my own thinking.

How could I forget Charlie Wittholz? I actually worked for Charlie Wittholz in the early 1980's. Charlie did some very nice, very interesting traditional designs in steel. Charlie was a neat guy. He actually worked for Alden and Rhodes before opening his own shop. I liked his work. His boats had a certain simplicity that was very elegant. He had a nice eye for proportion and a sweet line. Hard chine boats are actually very hard to design so that they look right. The chine forms a strong accent line that has to work with the desired hull shape, the physical properties of the plating and the other visual lines of the boat. Charlie was able to keep these sometimes-contradictory lines under control to produce attractive traditional craft. While I liked most of Charlie's work, one of my least favorite boats of his was a bilge keel cruising boat. (I drew many of the drawings for her) This was a purpose built boat for the European canals and as such was a good boat for its purpose but was not my kind of boat. Charlie and I would have lively lunch time discussions on our divergent points of view on modern lightweight boats. We both loved wood as a building material. I loved his stories of Alden and Rhodes. Rhodes was very much a patrician gentleman but Alden was a very colorful character.

Charlie made the final passage to Fiddler's Green a few years back. His family still sells his designs by mail order. I don't know if they have study plans but he used to have simple list of designs that listed the basics of each design. I believe that their phone number is 301 593 7711. Also WoodenBoat still markets some of his designs.

Bruce Roberts is popular but I am not a fan of his work. It is not so much that I do not like his work per se. I think that for the most part Roberts designs conservative simple boats, but to me they are dated. His Spray series have less than no appeal to me. Having read about the original Spray and the sailing ability of some of the so- called copies of her, I have come to believe that Josh Slocum made it around the world despite the short comings of Spray rather than because of her sterling virtues. Josh Slocum was the consummate seaman. Spray was a coastal oyster boat. Why anyone in this day and age would want to use her as a model for a whole line of boats is completely beyond me. But I emphasize this is only my opinion and Roberts has sold a bunch of these things so my opinion is not shared by everyone on this.

Roberts more modern designs were probably good designs in the 1970's but a lot has happened since then. To me his design ideas have not advanced as well. That said, Roberts has a boat he calls a 434 that someone built as a long range single-hander that looks like a nice boat but slightly dated to my eye. Still in all these are very heavy boats and I strongly believe that weight, in and of itself, has no inherent virtue and is a very serious liability.

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, much of the questions in sailing have no one right answer. That does not keep people like me from having strong preferences and opinions. My opinion suits me, and the way that I choose to sail, very well. It may not suit you at all. It is easy for someone to refute my opinion on some other criteria than my own. As I have said before on this BB, ultimately that debate can have no more substance than a trying to prove that Vanilla ice cream is inherently superior tasting than strawberry ice cream, (which is why these are called 'opinions'). "

Good luck
Jeff
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Old 14-10-2005, 07:54   #6
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A Lloyd’s Certification should certainly satisfy any insurance company.
Further to Jeff’s note on Lloyd’s Certification - they don’t do the engineering reviews and construction inspections for free. These might actually exceed the cost of actually building the boat.
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Old 14-10-2005, 19:45   #7
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Half built boat%#*#@

Sorry for the misunderstanding here. I was not suggesting to buy an already started project.

Mentioning a half built boat was to imply that so many people start these projects and give up before they are finished (half through), especially steel boats.

I have seen so many of these rusty relics lying around here. One up north here, someone has filled with dirt and is using it as a garden planter.
..............................................._/)
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Old 14-10-2005, 22:23   #8
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Unhappy Well...How About Fiberglass?

Well, what about fiberglass?

Let's say I use fiberglass. And just use that. And use wood panel method. Fiberglass inside and outside of wood? Seal it up really good. So that no moisture gets in? And some wood framing for the ribs and stringers, and such? I just thought about that idea today.

Just let me know what any of you members think? And post your thoughts?


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Kevin
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Old 14-10-2005, 22:38   #9
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Rather than fiberglass, you might consider cold molded. If you were to build it to the standards that you specify, you should not have a problem, but the investment in research, and aquiring the skills needed to accomplish this may be more than is practicle for your project. If you are going to take on such a project, you might consult with some insurance brokers, and find out what is out there, and what their requirements are. If you get a commitment on paper to insure a specific design, you can feel fairly secure that it will stick. I would also have a long talk with a surveyor. Most have extensive experience with insurance companies, and can tell you what you need to know.
I applaude your ambition to build a boat, and hope you can pull it off, but as you get to be our age, the delay in going sailing can outweigh the benefits of building a boat. If I was 20 again, I would be right there with you shaving the deadwood, but, I would rather have that extra have that extra year or two or three to sail.
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Old 14-10-2005, 23:31   #10
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Insuring a non existant boat...

As part of the costing process that I've gone through I rang up the largest(?) marine insurer in Australia.
Their reply was that provided a recognised surveyor passed the boat then they would insure it for Australian waters.
The price for third party insurance was quite reasonable.
The same may apply elsewhere.
The insurance companies are probably worried that some of the massivly overpriced boats that one sees might turn up on their claims list and so are looking for a little reassurance.
Lets face it, a cruising yacht in a foreign country is going to be a big unknown to an insurance company, and they are not famous for throwing away their money.
If it is just an insurance certificate that is needed then I am sure there are companies in some part of the world that would write out a policy. I just would not expect a claim to be paid!
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Old 15-10-2005, 00:16   #11
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CaptianK

From some of the questions that you have been asking here gives me the impression that you don't really know a whole lot about boats and their construction.

My advice would be to find an ole fixer-up, not to big & real cheap, to work on for a while, so that you can learn what it really takes to put one of these together.
Or start out small with a kit, build it, sell it, then move up to a size larger kit, and so on until your ready for the big one.

If you jump into building a boat without the in's & out's of boat construction your going to make a lot of mistakes and that'll cost you a bunch more then just going out and buying a good quality boat that can be insured and probably already is.

It's good you stopped in here for advice! There are a lot of "Old Salts" here whose advice would do you well.

When I was a young fart in San Diego I had your same dreams. But found it real difficult to even find a piece of property that I was allowed to build. Plus I still had to make a living and that seem to take all my time. I ended up buying a fixer and have been learning ever since, 30 years later, still learning.

In boat yards it's a group of experts or close to experts that get together with a plan, a place to work, all the materials/supplies and then start a project watching each others progress. If one sees a problem, it's caught. By yourself, you don't have those benefits or options. If you screw up, you'll have to go back and fix it or let it go depending how bad it is (sub-quality work).

And then there's the age factor as Kai Nui mentioned. I don't know how old you are but if you’re over 40 the building thing is going to expire before you get it done. Remember 8000 hours, that's 8 hours a day, 5 days a week for more then 4 years plus all the running around for materials and supplies.

Home built boats are about as rare as chicken’s teeth (egg tooth) and I have yet see one that I would like to have.

Not to discourage you but if you really want to build boats go to work for a yard and see if it is really worth it. You’ll make it or break it (the dream).

My $.02………………………………._/)
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Old 15-10-2005, 06:04   #12
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Generally speaking you are describing some form of epoxy saturated wood construction, sometimes referred to as cold molded plywood. Coldmolding typically consists of laying up a hull in comparatively thin layers of wood that cross each other at an angle to each other so that in effect the boat is a single sheet of plywood that is saturated in epoxy so that rot and movement is arrested. The boat is often laid up in light weight and easy to work with woods like fir and western red cedar. Cold Molded plywood hulls are generally sheathed in epoxy saturated fiberglass although Kevlar is sometimes used for sheathing to increase impact resistance and abrasion resistance.

Generally cold molding is considered to produce one of the lowest maintenance and strongest construction techniques for the weight. Professionally constructed it is also considered the least expensive way to build a one off boat. It is a technique where the hull requires proportionately more labor to material costs which makes it a good choice if you are going to be building the boat yourself. The nice thing about cold molded hulls is that the interior of the boat is used as part of the structure and part of the building form.

I would suggest that you visit the WEST System site to see how cold molding works. http://www.westsystem.com/

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Old 15-10-2005, 11:14   #13
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Gudgeon Bros "From A Bare Hull" is another good book for this. As the tri I just purchased is cold molded ply, I have some very recent experience with this, and I have to say, it is the easiest medium to work with.
Along with Delmarrey's advice, I would say get plans for a dinghy in cold molded, and build it. You will get a feel for what it takes, have a dinghy for cruising, and a chance to play with understanding boat design. Then consider that building a boat of the size you are describing will take approx 500 times the time, effort and money as the dinghy. If you still want to build the boat of your dreams, you at least have a clear understanding of what it takes to work with the materials. If not, you will have a dinghy for the boat you purchase.
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Old 15-10-2005, 22:47   #14
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Hey Kai,

Don't you mean, "The Gougeon Brothers?"
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Old 15-10-2005, 23:01   #15
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Yep!
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