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Old 20-09-2008, 08:52   #1
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Join Date: Jun 2008
Location: Cyprus
Boat: steel 30' sloop
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looking for advice...

Hi to all,

I’ve bought a 30’ 1983 steel sloop (constructed in Cyprus) but needs serious work. The boat seems very well built (made from 5mm mild steel plates, Yanmar 3cyl 23HP,furling genoa, extra genoa and spinnaker sailhandling from cockpit) and behaves relatively well but it needs serious work. I.e, every bolted stanchion on deck has rust underneath, either on surface or deep rust. Should I replace these parts, epoxy them and bolt the stanchions them back or weld them? Should I remove all paint from the deck and start epoxy treatment from bare metal? Second, I discovered that the bilge bottom plates are totally destroyed from rust. If I weld new plates on the bilge would it be ok or these destroyed plates mean that I have bigger problems? Third, the interior is insulated with foam which protected very well the inside steel (looks like brand new) but that is a problem with putting new panels…

I’ve bought the boat quite cheap (for Cyprus standards, approximately 7.000 US dollars) but is it worth it? I feel discouraged and would appreciate some advice…
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Old 20-09-2008, 09:10   #2
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Gregoris - Hi and welcome to the Cruisers Forum - remember the two happiest days of boat ownership are the day you buy and the day you sell - LOL...

I am no expert on steel hulls but I would not be afraid to own one. There are many members here with steel hulls and they are quite "proud" and happy with their hull material.

It is hard to diagnose exactly what you have going on but it does not sound great. First a question - If this 30 foot boat were in "great" shape how much would she be worth?

Also, I would recommend that you get a marine surveyor experienced with steel to have a look. So here is my "amateur" opinion.

Any where there is rust at a bolted joint (the stancions for example) you should unbolt and grind away all the rust. If grinding away all the rust means you grind through the deck you need to think about fabricating replacement "plugs" that will need to be welded in place. If the grinding just went partially around the holes etc. I would consider building up with welding and filler wire and grinding to the original contour.

The bilge bottom plates sounds more severe - Are you talking about hull plates? Or are you talking about bulkheads? In either case if you have "severe" rust in the bottom of the boat - you may have serious problems.

Foam insulation is very common but I think you are guessing, like I am, that the owner put the insulation on to cover up some problems.

The only good news I have is that steel is very easy to work on. It is time consuming but basically anything that rusts can be cut out, fabricated and replaced.

Once again I would recommend getting a survey.
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Old 20-09-2008, 09:25   #3
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I have worked aboard quite a number of steel hulls. Rust never sleeps. If you can tolerate constantly chasing down rust bleeds, then a steel boat would work for you. For a work boat, steel boats are excellent. For a yacht, I think you would get frustrated constantly having to make your boat look pretty. You can paint over places where steel is butted together, but the rust eventually bleeds through no matter how good of a job you do.

I find that sand blasting to remove all the rust scale and then painting the bare metal with an epoxy primer works long as you don't ding the paint. But as I already said, any are where metal is butted together will eventually start rusting again.

With steel you cannot lap one hull plate over the other to create a patch. I know the coast guard prohibits this on inspected vessels. When steel rusts it expands, which could bust the new welds. The old thin plates must be removed and replaced with new plates.

Get your hull plates sonoguaged before you put any work into it. The hull plates may already be too thin to bother.

Aluminum is not much different, except with aluminum you will constantly be fighting blistering.

Yachts are supposed to be for pleasure. I would look at a hull material else that is less labor intensive.

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