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Old 11-01-2012, 14:09   #1
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Retrofit insulation or buy hull already insulated ?

I want my future boat to be insulated (mostly) for cold weather use. My question for you folks today is how best to make that happen. As insulation routinely exists in a metal boat (does it?) and routinely does not in fibreglass, am I best to focus on finding a metal boat that is already insulated, or planning on stripping down a (likely) fibreglass boat interior and insulating it myself? If insulating a fibreglass boat myself, is it such a horrendous job that it should only be done on a project boat, that is one in which everything is coming out anyhow? Does it mean that the interior has to be entirely rebuilt to work around the newly added insulation?

Plus I am still looking for headroom at 6'4" or (preferably) better. If I want to insulate a fibreglass hull I would be losing 2 inches of precious headroom that I already am having great difficulty finding. Given these facts, I am starting to think I am looking for a needle in a haystack. Add in budget of $150,000 and I think I donít even know where is the haystack that contains the needle. Looks to me a question of: budget, headroom, or insulation, pick any two. I think I have to abandon the headroom requirement as not being feasible.

If I go with a fibreglass boat, ones I find most interesting are Whitby 43, CSY 44, and similar. These boats will or almost will have headroom, and I can probably afford to buy one. Anyone ever retrofit insulate a boat like these?

Maybe I could to hack in a 2x2 feet spot over the galley that is raised 4 or 6 inches above the rest of the boat so that I can at least stand in the galley and assume that any other business in the boat leads me to being seated or lying down in under 30 seconds. Kind of like the time I was passenger in a MGA (I think it was, maybe Midget). If I sat up really straight, I could see forward above the windshield.

You short sailors get out a stepladder and kiss your headliner and thank your lucky stars you are not trying to fit your 6'4" frame into a sailboat. Plus I have 6'9" brothers and nieces and nephews that will likely get up there too.

Regards,

Boulter
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Old 11-01-2012, 15:25   #2
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Re: Retrofit insulation or buy hull already insulated?

Instead of spending a fortune gutting and retrofitting a glass boat or buying an already insulated boat that isn't quite right for you, why don't you take a small fraction of what the gutting, insulation, and rebuilding would cost and install a good hydronic heating system?
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Old 12-01-2012, 10:13   #3
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Re: Retrofit insulation or buy hull already insulated?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Boulter View Post
As insulation routinely exists in a metal boat (does it?) and routinely does not in fibreglass, am I best to focus on finding a metal boat that is already insulated ...
Yes, every metal boat I have seen is insulated.

Classic fiberglass boats tend to have a thick wood headliner. This is pretty good insulation by itself. There is often a ~1/4 to 1/2" air space between the headliner and the fiberglass, since the headliner is screwed into battens that are in turn screwed into the fiberglass. I have heard of people removing the headliner to add insulation in this space.

To give you an idea of how big a project this is, it took me about a day to remove the headliner in the saloon of my previous 40' boat, and about two days to put it back. I didn't add insulation-- I did this to add backing for pad eyes on the deck. The biggest problem was that I am no carpenter, and could not get it to go back together as well as it was. There were gaps between the trim pieces, I didn't know how to replace the teak bungs that hid the screws, and etc. Years later, in a different country with inexpensive labor, I paid a carpenter to do it right.

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Originally Posted by Boulter View Post
Plus I am still looking for headroom at 6'4" or (preferably) better. If I want to insulate a fibreglass hull I would be losing 2 inches of precious headroom that I already am having great difficulty finding.
I am as tall as you are, and could only stand up straight on the centerline of the boat in the galley. With the curvature of the roof, and it's slight slope towards the bow, I had to cock my head slightly, lean against something, or drop my weight onto one leg to curve my spine just enough so that my head wouldn't hit the ceiling. I wondered if I would develop bad posture, but I didn't. Over time this became second nature and I did not even notice. The headroom at the sink was probably 6'2", and at the stove more like 6'0", so it wasn't like I had to stoop too much.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Boulter View Post
If I go with a fibreglass boat, ones I find most interesting are Whitby 43, CSY 44, and similar. These boats will or almost will have headroom, and I can probably afford to buy one. Anyone ever retrofit insulate a boat like these?
If no one with one of those boats responds here, maybe write to their owners group. Someone there has certainly removed the headliner and can tell you how much space there is to add insulation.

I am not sure that you'd need an additional 2 inches of insulation. That sounds like quite a lot, especially if the fiberglass deck is thick and there's already a wood headliner. Where are you planning to go? You may find that it works well enough to have a sturdy diesel heater.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Boulter View Post
Maybe I could to hack in a 2x2 feet spot over the galley that is raised 4 or 6 inches above the rest of the boat so that I can at least stand in the galley
As I said, I could not stand up straight in most of the galley. But it was not a problem since, under way, you tend to have to lean against something or spread your feet wide so that you can be stable while doing the dishes or cooking.
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Old 12-01-2012, 10:28   #4
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Re: Retrofit insulation or buy hull already insulated?

I believe that you are not aware of what sort of work you are inviting if you want to strip a steel hull and put in your own concept of insulation.
Insulation may come in a variety of materials and/or combinations and it is totally dependent of the R-value of the used type of material.
There is a type of aircraft insulation that is costly but rotproof and is less than an inch, there is the old rockwool, there is epoxyfoam and other closed cell material - the choice is all yours.
If you are not an excellent carpenter, I do not believe that you get the interior back in place.
I would refrain from this sort of adventure and buy a quality boat.
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Old 12-01-2012, 11:04   #5
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Re: Retrofit insulation or buy hull already insulated?

Metal boats have to be insulated because metal conducts heat much more efficiently than does fiberglass. This means that an uninsulated metal boat would end up with condensation ruining the interior. To insulate a metal boat, foam is sprayed onto the hull before the interior wood framework and trim is started. To insulate a metal boat after the interior is completed simply would not work. One would not be able to access all the little sections under the interior trim that needs to be insulated nor would one know just how much foam to spray in...which would be critical.

Fiberglass insulation would not work because it still allows moisture laden air to touch the inside of the hull. This is why sprayed on foam does work.
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Old 12-01-2012, 11:19   #6
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Re: Retrofit insulation or buy hull already insulated?

1978 Spencer 1330 Sail Boat For Sale - www.yachtworld.com
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Old 13-01-2012, 07:01   #7
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Re: Retrofit insulation or buy hull already insulated ?

Hi people:

Thanks for the comments and clarifications, especially msponer for his very detailed reply.

msponer has given me some perspective on the headroom issue and I believe that I can be happy with a boat I cannot stand up in. As long as I can stand under the dodger/bimini under way, I believe that the interior headroom can be sacrificed.

I should not consider insulating a boat myself, but rather buy one this way if this criterium holds. As all metal boats are insulated, all metal boats are potentially of interest.

The Spencer 1330 pointed out by Ishmael is very interesting.

I am about 6 months into running thought experiments on what I want in a boat, and likely have another 6 months ahead of me yet. However I feel that a Churchill quote is appropriate "Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning".

Thanks all again,

Regards

Boulter
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