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Old 30-10-2011, 10:36   #1
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Cape Dory Maintenance

Hello, new to sailing and this forum. My wife and I have been sailing for just 3 months, but are drawn to finding a place in the water to fill with money. By in large we gravitate toward the cruising end of the sailing spectrum, and have been researching the Cape Dory line up 25D, 27 or 28 boats. Can anyone out there address the issue of cracking of the balsa core deck, and how best it could be repaired if present? Also, if you have any thoughts on common points of neglect in these boats that would be good to check for in the survey it would be appreciated. It seems all the original equipment diesels in the line up are a little sketchy when it comes to current manufacturers support and parts. I love working on small simple diesels like this, but from the sound of it, when one of these comes out for overhaul, you are better off going with a new production fresh water cooled engine.
Thanks in advance.
Steve
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Old 30-10-2011, 13:43   #2
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Re: Cape Dory Maintenance

Avoid any boat with issues rather than worry about how to fix'em. I think CDs were built well into 80'ies so you should have no problem finding a sound one.

Some old diesels are fantastic and if clean and sound they are well worth keeping. We have VP MD7 here, very old, very good and fresh water (converted).

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Old 30-10-2011, 15:14   #3
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Re: Cape Dory Maintenance

In case you haven't already discovered it, check out the Cape Dory forum at Cape Dory Boats - Index.

Yes, many of the boats have gotten some water in the deck core and it is something to watch out for. Repairing this can be done in a few different ways depending on how bad it is. We actually just finished doing 2 small areas on our own boat. The best way to repair it is to actually remove the top layer of fiberglass, replace the core, replace the top layer, fix the gelcoat. This is a big process and you may well spend several hundred dollars for every square foot fixed if you decide to have someone else do it. If you catch it early, you may be able to get away with drilling a few holes and injecting epoxy into the deck but this is not considered good practice with truly rotten decks. Member CharlieCobra posted an interesting method using a grease gun which in my opinion would make sense for slightly rotten decks. If you can avoid buying a boat with wet decks, it will be best.

The engines is the next biggest thing to watch out for as you have said. There is someone who actually makes bolt-in replacement engine beds to repower with a Beta marine engine but it will still be ~$12k and it is unlikely that the price of the boat will ever reflect this.

Otherwise, the next thing to watch out for in my opinion would be the electrical system. Most of these boats have older electrical systems not up to the current standards. Whether it is safe usually comes down to the quality of previous owner modifications.

One other Cape Dory specific thing to check is the bowsprit which some models have. Most were originally either oak or teak and some of them will have rotted at this point. Replacement is very straightforward but it does take some time. Most of the ones that I have seen are still in very good shape but there are a few that are new (mine included).

Cape Dory's were not premium boats like Morris but they were very well built and generally have few problems for boats of their age. If the boat has been kept simple, it should present a manageable amount of maintenance. Having the brand specific forum is extremely helpful and one of the best parts of owning a Cape Dory. You certainly should not limit your search to only one brand but you will not go wrong if you buy one.

Good luck in your search.
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Old 30-10-2011, 15:34   #4
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Re: Cape Dory Maintenance

Quote:
Originally Posted by stevec195 View Post
Hello, new to sailing and this forum. My wife and I have been sailing for just 3 months, but are drawn to finding a place in the water to fill with money. By in large we gravitate toward the cruising end of the sailing spectrum, and have been researching the Cape Dory line up 25D, 27 or 28 boats. Can anyone out there address the issue of cracking of the balsa core deck, and how best it could be repaired if present? Also, if you have any thoughts on common points of neglect in these boats that would be good to check for in the survey it would be appreciated. It seems all the original equipment diesels in the line up are a little sketchy when it comes to current manufacturers support and parts. I love working on small simple diesels like this, but from the sound of it, when one of these comes out for overhaul, you are better off going with a new production fresh water cooled engine.
Thanks in advance.
Steve
CD's are well built boats but most ALL of them have some form of crazing issues, even some of the last ones built in MA. It is very likely due to how thick CD blew the gelcoat into the molds. They laid on a very thick coat, which can lead to crazing. I've yet to see one that did not exhibit some pretty bad crazing.

While it could have been from over catalyzing the gelcoat this seemingly went on for well over 20 years so I have kind of discounted that as new employees come and go and not all of them did not know how to catalyze the gelcoat.....
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Old 30-10-2011, 16:28   #5
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Re: Cape Dory Maintenance

Good comments all. Would the consensus be that crazing in the deck fiberglass with the ABSENCE of any deformation under load indicates the balsa inside is ok? And if that is the case, what would be best applied externally to re-bond and seal the crazed area? Good point on the bowsprit.
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Old 30-10-2011, 17:11   #6
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Re: Cape Dory Maintenance

Most builders control gelcoat thickness carefully by using a wet gauge. 20 Mils is the general rule of thumb. Gel formulas and the type of resin used are more likely causes of non stress spider cracking. Catalyst ratios are closely controlled by metered spray equipment problems do occurred but are rare and almost always caught at the factory. Builders do routine gel tests to verify meter ratios. Whatever the reason they can be a pain to repair as you cannot just cover them over they will echo through. There are several types of stress cracks caused by different things. Cracks in radius's are often from thick gel or more often local flexing. Other cracks are the result of local impacts. It has not been my experience that CD's have any more or less stress or spider cracking than any other boat of the age.
Core issues are another subject and require expert advice if problems are found or suspected. Very rarely do you see stress cracks from bad core. Impact cracks radiating from an impact might be a clue to problems but this is an exception. One could write a book on this subject. If you are looking at boat get expert advice or its a crap shoot.
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Old 30-10-2011, 19:36   #7
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Re: Cape Dory Maintenance

I like the 30 Mk II. Seen one and she looked very well designed, well built. She sailed OK too. Sort of stiffer than the earlier boats.

Are they good boats?

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Old 30-10-2011, 20:09   #8
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Re: Cape Dory Maintenance

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Originally Posted by barnakiel View Post
I like the 30 Mk II. Seen one and she looked very well designed, well built. She sailed OK too. Sort of stiffer than the earlier boats.

Are they good boats?

b.
Yes they are good boats I used to own a 27 and work on, have sailed on or been on about 70-80 of them from both the power and sail side. Other than the quite common crazing, which is mostly just cosmetic, they are great classic plastic boats with beautiful bronze hardware. One area of weakness, IMHO, is the electrical system, but what boats of that generation were not a little weak in that regard. Never really liked the electrical panel below the companionway stairs on many models.. In rough weather or wet weather they, well, tend to get wet...

Spartan Bronze, makers of the bronze hardware, was, and still is, owned by Andy Vavolitis. Andy & crew still build the CD-36 & CD-40's on a semi-custom basis under the Robinhood brand.

Like any Alberg designs, though the 30MKII was Dent designed & the 270 by Empacher, the access to things like the stuffing boxes and gear boxes can be tough. Finding things that have fallen into the deep bilge can also be a challenge. As mentioned Sprits can need rebuilding at some point and this is not inexpensive, as most I have seen from the factory are teak, which is quite pricey these days.. They do have a LOT of teak to keep up with, or not, if you don't care...

They have a good following, great owners association, sail well for their design, can be wet but are pretty solid boats. I too like the 30MKII, and have been on one of them, but never had a chance to sail it.. They did not build all that many of the 30MKII, perhaps 25 or so would be my guess. They remind me of the Able Whistler 32, which I also like a lot, and is another boat that not too many were built...
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