Cruisers Forum
 


Join CruisersForum Today

Reply
 
Thread Tools Rate Thread Display Modes
Old 09-07-2007, 18:15   #1
cruiser

Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 4,525
Questions About Steel Boats

I am currently wracking my brain trying to come up with the answer to the following question:

Steel or Fiberglass Over Wood?

These are the two hull types I can afford for my next boat.

Here is my line of thinking - can anyone correct me where I'm wrong or point out some ideas about the two materials that I haven't touched on?

Steel Pros: strong, new plates can be welded in, very watertight, lightning safety, items easily cut and welded/bolted on

Steel Cons: sand blasting and painting hull and bilges every 2 or 3 years, zincs to change, ever present rust, may not last as long as fiberglass depending on plate thickness?, condensation in the bilge in the cold water due to conduction of water temp to inside of bilge

Fiberglass over Wood Pros: dirt cheap, strong if properly constructed (I know guys who break ice with them), seemingly long service life, little maintenance at all (just like regular fiberglass)

Fiberglass over Wood Cons: will fall apart if not done correctly, wood interior may carry mold/fungus which I'm sensitive to


Any more ideas on choosing between these two hull materials? I'm a little stumped here.
__________________

__________________
ssullivan is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-07-2007, 18:20   #2
Senior Cruiser
 
senormechanico's Avatar

Cruisers Forum Supporter

Join Date: Aug 2003
Boat: Dragonfly 1000 trimaran
Posts: 5,823
" Steel or Fiberglass Over Wood?"

I'd put fiberglass over wood. Steel over wood might negate any benefit of wood. Besides, the welding of the steel would catch the wood on fire!
<sarcasm>

Steve B.
__________________

__________________
senormechanico is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-07-2007, 18:23   #3
cruiser

Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 4,525
I'm sorry, Steve.

I may not have been clear in my original post:

My options are:

1) Buy a steel boat

2) Buy a wooden boat that has been glassed over

3) Buy a wooden boat that I will glass over properly


Looking to find pros and cons of each.

Quote:
Originally Posted by senormechanico
" Steel or Fiberglass Over Wood?"

I'd put fiberglass over wood. Steel over wood might negate any benefit of wood. Besides, the welding of the steel would catch the wood on fire!
<sarcasm>

Steve B.
__________________
ssullivan is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-07-2007, 18:35   #4
Senior Cruiser
 
DeepFrz's Avatar

Cruisers Forum Supporter

Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: Winnipeg
Boat: None at this time
Posts: 7,930
Sean, if the wood boat is epoxy/glass then it will probably have a maintenance edge over steel. If polyester resin is used, forget it. If you do it yourself use epoxy.

I had a boat on which the transom was ply/polyester and it completely separated. Epoxy fixed it up.

Check out the "Metal Boat Society" and ask questions about how often one has to refinish a steel boat. With new coating and proper preparation I would think that you would only need some small touch ups every few years. Of course it depends on preparation and coating techniques.

Welcome to the Metal Boat Society
__________________
The Blue Dot Campaign. This Changes Everything.
DeepFrz is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-07-2007, 20:50   #5
Registered User

Join Date: Dec 2006
Posts: 249
I think there are a couple of problems with glassing over a pre-existing wooden hull. Namely adhesion and depending on construction the wood is designed to move ie expand with water. If it is glued then it probably has glass over it with the wood already having been resin soaked.
__________________
chris_gee is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-07-2007, 20:58   #6
Senior Cruiser
 
44'cruisingcat's Avatar

Cruisers Forum Supporter

Join Date: Sep 2006
Posts: 7,452
Images: 69
I've never heard of anyone needing to sandblast and repaint the hull and bilges every 2 or 3 years. In most boats that would be a huge job - entirely stripping out the interior and then refitting it would probably be a bigger job than building the boat! With modern epoxies would'nt need to sandbast the even exterior of the hull anything like that often.

I sandblasted my old steel boat when it was about 20 years old, I think it was the first time it had been done, and it was certainly due, but not overdue - there was just a little pitting in a couple of spots - not even serious enough to need welding. The boat didn't eat it's zincs either.

That said, I'm not really a fan of steel - keeping on top of the rust is a never ending pain in the arse, and it conducts heat and noise a bit too well - even with nylon snubbers you could still hear the anchor chain dragging around the bottom loudly. On the positive side, you could hear the humpbacks singing clearly too.

I don't know that wood is any easier as far as maintenance goes
though.

P.S - if you do buy a steelie, and sandblast and epoxy the bottom, I have found International paints "Primacon" to be an excellent single-pack primer (use it after the epoxy layer) In fact if money were tight I would consider using Primacon instead of epoxy. It really is good stuff.
__________________
44'cruisingcat is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-07-2007, 21:13   #7
Registered User
 
Terra Nova's Avatar

Join Date: Apr 2007
Location: Marina del Rey, California
Boat: Freya 39 cutter- Terra Nova
Posts: 3,645
Quote:
Originally Posted by ssullivan
I'm sorry, Steve.

I may not have been clear in my original post:

My options are:

1) Buy a steel boat

2) Buy a wooden boat that has been glassed over

3) Buy a wooden boat that I will glass over properly


Looking to find pros and cons of each.
Yo Sean,

as written you don't have three good options.

#1 is OK.

#2 is only OK if the boat had been originally designed and built for fiberglass-over-wood construction.

#3 is not OK. At least not normally. Most planked hulls usually must remain un-'glassed. You would not 'glass over any wood hull where the joints had been payed and caulked. Unless the wood boat has glued seams I would not 'glass it.

Also you have grossly overated the ease with which one mounts equipment (windlass, door hinges, etc.) on a steel boat. It is HARD drilling compared to a wood or FG boat. Some non-serviceable hardware can often be welded on.

In your options, you have left out traditional planked construction (no 'glass). Here is where you might find an affordable boat. And because you are handy with your hands, you should be able to learn to do all the maintenance yourself.

best, andy
__________________
1st rule of yachting: When a collision is unavoidable, aim for something cheap.
"whatever spare parts you bring, you'll never need"--goboatingnow
"Id rather drown than have computers take over my life."--d design
Terra Nova is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-07-2007, 22:24   #8
Moderator
 
Boracay's Avatar

Cruisers Forum Supporter

Join Date: Feb 2004
Location: Pelican Bay, Great Sandy National Park
Boat: Steel Roberts Offshore 44
Posts: 5,175
Images: 18
Stellar attributes...

As I continue repainting the inside of my boat I am continually reminded that the key to a good steel boat is free drainage of all interior water to the bilge. If water pools inside it causes rust. An interior stainles steel bilge welded in as an insert would be heaven.

The other need is for "X" good thick coats of quality paint on the inside. All too often builders put their efforts on the outside and skimp the inside.

Steel is easy enough to drill. I do a 3mm pilot then most holes are 8mm. The problem is getting the drill in place in an odd corner. A domestic Black & Decker "Firestorm", brute force and a touch of cutting grease help. Dont forget protective goggles.

I have used a good quality holesaw to cut holes up to 40mm dia.

The other problem that you might encounter is that steel boats are built on a budget by amateur builders so many of the fittings can be second hand or of poor quality.

This particularly applies to the engine.
__________________
Rust never sleeps
Boracay Blog.
Boracay is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-07-2007, 23:33   #9
Senior Cruiser
 
Alan Wheeler's Avatar

Cruisers Forum Supporter

Join Date: Dec 2003
Location: Marlborough Sounds. New Zealand
Boat: Hartley Tahitian 45ft. Leisure Lady
Posts: 8,038
Images: 102
Your putting the cart before the Horse Sean. First question is, what type of boat as in size, design and what was the design intended to be built from in the first place. Then and only then do you worry about the material and if different form the original designers recomendations, you need their help in redesigning for the new material.
As to materials, ALL materials have good and bad points. I don't believe there is one perfect material. Hence we come back to the designer. He/she designs with a goal in mind of intended use and performance and chooses a material based on what that criteria is.
It has been discussed here before but here are a few of my thoughts.
Steel= Strongest material normal people can afford. Only materials stronger are Carbon fibre and Kevlar. Fast material to build with. You can easily hide mistakes like badly cut panel for instance.
The negatatives are, very noisy. Sound travels through it and along it. Transmits water temperature very quickly. This can result in condensation. Can be well protected from rust, but requires very good and thorough protection to do so. Often this results in expense that means what you have saved on material, gets spent on preperation and coatings.
Heavey and lends itself to larger vessels. Hard to work with and requires a lot of specialised equipment to weld, cut and bend.

Glass= easy to work with as you just lay up what and where you want. If made in a female mold, then the finished product is it. Strong for it's weight.
Negatives are, it requires molds. It is messy. The product is expensive. Care is required as you often have one chance only.
Glass over timber/ply = probably the easiest method, but also the most time consuming. IMO, it creates some of the most responsive hulls around. There is a "life" about them that any other material seems to miss having. The most insulative material and should not cause condensation. But in saying that, any hull will have condensation issues if not well ventilated.
Negatives. Requires a lot of messy work with glueing and glassing. Requires a reasonable skill level with wood. Requires a reasonable amount of woodworking gear.

Personaly, if I were to build, it would be glass over ply or timber. Even though I love FC, it is a difficult material to work with today as there are few around that know what and how to go about it today. I would not attempt it now. But Timber is a lovely material to work with and has a lot going for it.
I would not worry about strength issues. No matter what material you have, in the worst circumstances, anything will fail. And in the worst circumstances, you aren't worried about the boat. You are worrying about you. In ordinary circumstances of things going wrong, most all materials should survive just fine.
__________________
Wheels

For God so loved the world..........He didn't send a committee.
Alan Wheeler is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-07-2007, 01:38   #10
Registered User

Join Date: Nov 2006
Posts: 976
Images: 6
Well I guess I should put in my two bobs worth. Steel. If you are buying a boat second hand, it not that hard to see if it has a bad case of metal mice. You can often buy them cheaply because they scare people (bit like ferro). The preperation of rusty steel needs to be done carefully, but once done the newer generation of finishes are very good indeed.

Boracay is right about internal water, but there is no reason for a steel boat to have any quantity of water in it. However the finish on the inside of the boat should be the same as the outside. I have two bilges on my boat which have been coated with the same paint products used on the whole boat and then "faired" with epoxy to leave no sharp corners and easily drain.

The "keeping on top of rust" is to the most part cosmetic. Yes you do need to clean up and recoat chipped paint, but it is not somthing that has to demand your imediate attention. Rust bleed looks terrible, and this in itself makes people panic. "Rust" as opposed to electrolysis is a very slow moving beast. From my experience l would be far more worried about rot in wood.

IF you have the skills.... the equipment for the repair or modification of steel is now rediculously cheap. There are not to many places in the world that dont have a welder....Try and get epoxy resin and the likes in the same places. At a pinch a road sign could be used to patch a hole !! A well done repair is a return to original not a patch.

Andy says some non servicable bits can be welded on....why non servicable....I am not advicating the rediculous but it is far faster any easier to grind off something every couple of years and reweld it than it is to try and undo those seized nuts and bolts (that then shear off in your choice of material) Its just a differant way of thinking........
There is a heap more to it than that.....but just some thoughts......Check out "The Metal Boat Society" and after you buy yours join us......... : )
__________________
cooper is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-07-2007, 05:55   #11
cruiser

Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 4,525
Very helpful responses!!

So what *is* a standard hull maintenance schedule for a steel boat, anyway? I am not clear on this at all.

More clarification: I'm not building any hulls. The only hull construction I'll take on is the possible fiberglassing of an existing wood hull. A 40 footer takes about a month to glass over, fair and paint. Basically, I'm looking at two boats on the market. They are both commercial vessels, so no doubts as to the strength. Both were built in the early 70's. One is steel and the other(s) are fiberglass over wood or just wood I will glass over. They are 40' x 16' x 42" or so. So try and make sure when you picture this scenario, you are picturing rugged, ugly boats, not pleasure craft.

A few comments on fiberglass over wood (now that I've learned all there is to know abou it from some experts, and read a book by the inventor of the method to cover them WITHOUT delamination):

Fiberglassing wood properly involves MECHANICALLY fastening the glass layers to the underlying wooden boat. The boats that were done properly around here were done in the 70's, were built in the 40's and are STILL going strong with new engines. My favorite one around here is used to break ice in the winter. In the summer, it's a cargo boat I saw with approx (qty)6 - 5' diameter, 15ft long tree trunks on deck. Solid is an understatement.

The wood doesn't move at all under the glass, as it's mechanically fastened to the glass. It becomes, in essence, a fiberglass boat. The glass keeps the wood in place and shores up weak points, being stronger than the wood once it's applied.

Just wanted to add that bit so those not familiar with glassing over wooden boats can understand that it's not a delaminating mess that you probably picture. It's epoxy resin and mat (no woven stuff, because that doesn't work well, leaving "holes" of pure resin for this application).

So please do keep the comments coming. All input is appreciated. It's a very hard decision to decide between a steel hull and a fiberglass over wood hull. They both have advantages and disadvantages, but I am having some difficulty because I just don't understand steel boats well enough to make an educated decision. The maintenance is scaring the heck out of me, because I haven't done it before.
__________________
ssullivan is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-07-2007, 06:06   #12
cruiser

Join Date: Aug 2005
Location: No longer post here
Boat: Catalac Catamaran
Posts: 2,462
Sean

Adding to what's already been discussed..... With a metal boat hull there are two additional considerations. The first is electrolysis. Special precautions are necessary. The other item is where you intend on using the boat. If the tropics are an intended destination, there is nothing warmer than a metal boat. Going barefooted on deck might be unpleasant.

GRP has been the preferred hull material for boats for a reason. I'd stick with that.

Rick in Florida
__________________
Tropic Cat is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-07-2007, 08:07   #13
Registered User
 
Terra Nova's Avatar

Join Date: Apr 2007
Location: Marina del Rey, California
Boat: Freya 39 cutter- Terra Nova
Posts: 3,645
Quote:
Originally Posted by ssullivan

The wood doesn't move at all under the glass, as it's mechanically fastened to the glass. It becomes, in essence, a fiberglass boat. The glass keeps the wood in place and shores up weak points, being stronger than the wood once it's applied.
Yo Sean,

you have been seriously misinformed. The wood doesn't move? It "becomes" a fiberglass boat? The 'glass keeps the wood in place?
..................................HA!............. ...................................

best, andy
__________________
1st rule of yachting: When a collision is unavoidable, aim for something cheap.
"whatever spare parts you bring, you'll never need"--goboatingnow
"Id rather drown than have computers take over my life."--d design
Terra Nova is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-07-2007, 10:10   #14
cruiser

Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 4,525
Quote:
Originally Posted by Terra Nova
Yo Sean,

you have been seriously misinformed. The wood doesn't move? It "becomes" a fiberglass boat? The 'glass keeps the wood in place?
..................................HA!............. ...................................

best, andy
Um... please look up Alan Vaitses book and have a read... then tell me I'm misinformed.

The boats here that were done with his method over 30 years ago are still going strong with no delam and no work at all required on the encased wood. They work just like every other fiberglass boat.

YES, the wood is held in place by the mechanically fastened fiberglass and YES it esentially becomes a fiberglass boat with a heavy wooden frame inside. The wood stays dry and doesn't move around much since it's not expanding and contracting like it would if it were wet and unfastened to the fiberglass.

Refraining from saying I'm "misinformed", do you have anything intelligent to add about steel boats?

I'll admit I'm a little more than misinformed about steel, but I do undestand fiberglass over wood.

I'm looking for a productive conversation here... not a contest.

Any comments on the maintenance schedule for steel boats? Difficulty of it? How difficult to learn to weld?
__________________
ssullivan is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-07-2007, 13:02   #15
Registered User
 
Terra Nova's Avatar

Join Date: Apr 2007
Location: Marina del Rey, California
Boat: Freya 39 cutter- Terra Nova
Posts: 3,645
Quote:
Originally Posted by ssullivan
Um... please look up Alan Vaitses book and have a read... then tell me I'm misinformed.

The boats here that were done with his method over 30 years ago are still going strong with no delam and no work at all required on the encased wood. They work just like every other fiberglass boat.

YES, the wood is held in place by the mechanically fastened fiberglass and YES it esentially becomes a fiberglass boat with a heavy wooden frame inside. The wood stays dry and doesn't move around much since it's not expanding and contracting like it would if it were wet and unfastened to the fiberglass.

I'll admit I'm a little more than misinformed about steel, but I do undestand fiberglass over wood.

I'm looking for a productive conversation here... not a contest.
Yo Sean,

my post was not in any way an attack on you. And I took the time, in my previous two posts, to give you the benefit of my decades of experience as a boatbuilder. However you seem to already be an expert on wooden boats, particularly those with fiberglass on them. Has anyone ever heard of Alan Vaitse?

Perhaps you have heard of the Gougeon Brothers? They invented the W.E.S.T. System, and have built many boats themselves. Their manual on boatbuilding is my manual of arms, and has been for over thirty years. Now I feel as if I am wasting my time explaining anything to an expert, such as yourself, but let me point out a few things that should be obvious to someone with your expertise.

Wood in boats is NEVER dry. It ALWAYS has moisture in it. That moisture content changes over time, and the wood MOVES because of it.

I have to wonder why a person like yourself, an expert on wooden boats, would even consider a steel boat.

best, andy
__________________

__________________
1st rule of yachting: When a collision is unavoidable, aim for something cheap.
"whatever spare parts you bring, you'll never need"--goboatingnow
"Id rather drown than have computers take over my life."--d design
Terra Nova is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Thread Tools
Display Modes Rate This Thread
Rate This Thread:

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off


Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Opinions: Steel Boats ? Zach Monohull Sailboats 24 14-07-2010 15:36
Cats, Weight, Performance and Value Intentional Drifter Multihull Sailboats 23 18-01-2007 10:40
Boat Age and faith? Zach Monohull Sailboats 19 15-10-2006 18:11
Decisions, Decisions..... bajamas Monohull Sailboats 14 17-09-2004 20:24
is there a huge difference in price between... fujiwara takumi General Sailing Forum 10 26-08-2004 03:18



Copyright 2002- Social Knowledge, LLC All Rights Reserved.

All times are GMT -7. The time now is 18:33.


Google+
Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 1
Copyright ©2000 - 2017, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
Social Knowledge Networks
Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 1
Copyright ©2000 - 2017, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.

ShowCase vBulletin Plugins by Drive Thru Online, Inc.