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Old 14-05-2015, 17:26   #1
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I see there are fiberglass hulls that are 30 or 40 years old that are still sailing. Are there any negative consequences of these older hulls? How can I feel comfortable buying an older boat and how can I be sure of its performance and seaworthiness?

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Old 14-05-2015, 18:44   #2
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Re: Fiberglass

Originally Posted by galiot View Post
I see there are fiberglass hulls that are 30 or 40 years old that are still sailing. Are there any negative consequences of these older hulls? How can I feel comfortable buying an older boat and how can I be sure of its performance and seaworthiness?
HI, What I have done is bought Don Casey`s book on inspecting the aging boat, There is a lot more to check then the fiberglass and it tells lots,
I am the same as you, I have not bought the sail boat yet, still on the hard, But its getting closer for me every day.
I got the book from Practical Sailor 14.00 cnd and shipping, I had it in two weeks.

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Old 14-05-2015, 18:54   #3
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Re: Fiberglass

the negative part is that the manufactures had no Idea that these fiberglass boats last so sales dropped and jobs lost
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Old 14-05-2015, 19:00   #4
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Re: Fiberglass

First, hire a Marine Surveyor. Second, have deep pockets or be a fair hand with tools and willing to learn.

If a particular older boat had a fair sized production, there are probably online forums with information about common problems, modifications and upgrades. If there are at least two, you might even find someone here on the forums that has the other one, or has owned one in the past. One of the advantages of older boats is that years of experience can speak to their performance (or performance issues, if that be the case).

Maintenance and refitting are going to be big factors in seaworthiness. Of two boats of the same make and age, one could be up for anything and the other could be about to fall apart under your feet, depending on the previous owners. Even of two boats in the same condition, one may have sensible maintenance while the other has 30-40 years of cut wires leading no where to sort through when trying to trouble shoot an electrical issue...

Across the board, one of the most common problems tends to be deck integrity, not because of the fiberglass, but because at some point or other there has been water intrusion and the cored decks may be rotting.
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Old 14-05-2015, 19:22   #5
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Re: Fiberglass

Actually there are FRP boats that are older than 50 years still out there sailing. The first boats were built in the '40s with cotton cloth, not fiberglass as the matrix. I'm sailing one of the younger boats at only 46 years old. Most of the early boats were built with thicker hulls than currently is the fashion so are actually better and stronger than the new stuff.

As Greenhand said, the biggest problem with FRP boats older than a few years, not just decades, old is core material in the decks. If the hardware was properly bedded, any leaks hunted down and stopped, and the ultimate fix, core routed out and filled with thickened epoxy and holes redrilled for all fasteners through the core, the deck won't be a problem. Get your rubber mallet out and pound on the deck listening for hollow sounds or flexing of the deck to reveal problem areas.
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Old 14-05-2015, 20:54   #6
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Re: Fiberglass

The lifespan of FRP is not known but likely centuries, and older boats generally were overbuilt because the engineering properties were not yet well known. FRP Does absorb water over time similarly to wood, but that's not problematic.

The hull will generally not be a problem. Deck core rot is problematic but generally not difficult to repair.

Check the keel for damage due to groundings, and check all thru-hull fittings for water right integrity. Be prepared to rebed them. If the keel is of an unusual type, such as a centerboard, lee boards, or a dagger board, you may need to inspect its mechanism of operation as well.

Deck-hull joints are another area to inspect, especially if there's a rub rail. These joints can become unsealed due to a bump, and then water sheeting off the deck will pool at the rub rail and leak in through the unsealed deck joint. This usually results in a wet boat with a watery bilge and mould problems. The joint can be re-sealed but that's a big job.

Chain plates are another commonly unsealed point that results in leaks. Be prepared to re-bed them.

Run a hose over the deck and cockpit for a few minutes, and then inspect the interior for drips or leaks. Windows and portholes may need to be re-bedded as well.

Check for a wet bilge and get an explanation for any water found. Boats of all ages should be dry, wetness means there are leaks somewhere.

Good luck!

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Old 14-05-2015, 22:00   #7
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Re: Fiberglass

Our Spencer was built in 1966 so its only 49 years old and still just as sound as the day she was built and solid deck not cored except in the cockpit cored with marine plywood
Same thing with my young I
1968 islander solid deck no issues
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Old 15-05-2015, 03:56   #8
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Re: Fiberglass

Greetings and welcome aboard the CF, galiot.
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Old 15-05-2015, 11:40   #9
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Re: Fiberglass

Makes me wish my knees were made of hand laid fiberglass.

S/V B'Shert
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Old 14-06-2015, 21:45   #10
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Re: Fiberglass

Yep, agree with the other posters. It's nice to see the "Old Boats are trouble" crowd hasn't shown up yet. My Alberg 30 was built in 1968 and shows no sign of fiberglass degradation. I had some deck core problems where water got into the balsa core from lack of bedding between the deck and fittings. But these problems are readily fixed with foam core and new glass in the affected areas.

If you are interested in refitting an older boat, look for a classic that has a good reputation as a sea boat, then find one near you that you feel comfortable working on. You might look at Alberg 30's. They are a fantastic sea boat and easy on the pocket book to buy. Four have circumnavigated, all by singlehanded sailors, and the Alberg 30 association is very active with an on line list serve to help new owners refit their boats.

I am sure there are other classics around if you search for them.

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Old 14-06-2015, 22:55   #11
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Re: Fiberglass

Any old fiberglass boat that used wood in the sandwich below the waterline has the potential to be a horse egg. Most of those are. Decks can be fixed, I fixed mine. Be ready to replace loads of parts on old boats. As well as bringing them up to current specs, by replacing wires, adding pumps, new mast wiring, lights, electronics. Still less money then a new boat.

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