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Old 08-03-2019, 09:14   #1
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Smile Rust in steel Schooner bilge? Some say "run"?

I'm a bit surprised I'm doing this but I'm considering steel hulled sailboats for my next boat. I won't bore with the details but some of them meet my criteria regarding draft, traditional schooner rig, deck space for day charters, etc. Only last night did I start in earnest looking into pros and cons. I'm hopeful I can get some specific input here regarding whether some rust in a bilge truly means "run Forrest run!"(couldn't resist that being from "Bama and all).

I have a copy of a survey done 6 months ago. I've confirmed that the thickness gauge used doesn't include the paint thickness in readings. The report shows a minimum of 3.3ML of thickness which seems well above most minimum stands I'm seeing. The builder is TD Vinette Co in Escanada MI who is still in business and again, research shows them to be a reputable, quality yard that used Cor-Ten steel and coated with coal-tar epoxy.

The survey says "the bilge has one minor corrosion are in main cabin. The UT meter shows no appreciable loss of thickness, and owner will address by scraping and applying a rust inhibiting coating". My BS meter says if it's that easy a fix why would the seller not have already done so, but JUST FOR NOW, let's assume this is correct, the entire bilge was assessed and not just easy access areas, and the attached pic(if I uploaded it correctly) shows all the rust she currently has. I can't imaging why this can't be properly and easily addressed, but I must have seen a dozen different people online say "any bilge rust run". Am I crazy to think this eventually happens to all steel boats so the key is how widespread far along the rust is?

Thanks in advance for your input!
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Old 09-03-2019, 03:10   #2
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Re: Rust in steel Schooner bilge? Some say "run"?

I look at the photo and I can't come to a conclusion but then my yacht is f/g.

I'm like you, if it is not serious and is easily fixed why haven't they done it?

At least you can see that rust and I'd expect it would easily clean up with a rattle gun. Is there any rust that is hiding?

Some say "run". I wonder if they really have first hand knowledge to make that statement?

I just did a google on "Rust in bilge" and there are a lot of threads in different forums on the subject. I think if you read the comments there you'd quickly work out whether it is a problem or not.
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Old 09-03-2019, 03:42   #3
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Re: Rust in steel Schooner bilge? Some say "run"?

Rust is insidious on a steel boat, especially areas like bilges. I'd be surprised if you could find a steelie without any rust, anywhere.
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Old 09-03-2019, 05:12   #4
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Re: Rust in steel Schooner bilge? Some say "run"?

I have done much crewing and captaining on an 80' steel schooner. Rust can be easily dealt with, but you must be always chasing it. If all the survey found was a little rust in the bilge, it sounds like a non-issue. It may not have been dealt with if it's a recent spot, and the owner's used to them cropping up all the time. And they are forever cropping up.

Remember that the majority of commercial fishing boats are steel, and endure for years, and that almost all Navy ships and workboats are steel as well.
If the boat checks all the other boxes, I'd say go for it.
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Old 09-03-2019, 05:40   #5
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Re: Rust in steel Schooner bilge? Some say "run"?

Did look at the boat on YW and overall it didn't look too bad. Besides the minor rust issue, would be concerned that it maybe a little under powered w/an 18 hp motor to drive a 42' steel vessel.

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Old 09-03-2019, 08:48   #6
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Re: Rust in steel Schooner bilge? Some say "run"?

Why would you run? If enough material remains, just sand blast and coat. Rust is unavoidable in steel boats.
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Old 09-03-2019, 09:11   #7
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Re: Rust in steel Schooner bilge? Some say "run"?

Needle scaling and rusty dust is no fun.
Epoxy fumes, tight spaces.
Not much different if you have any room than plastic.
The noise of the process of scaling is horrible.
But if you want it.
Go for it.
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Old 09-03-2019, 09:28   #8
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Re: Rust in steel Schooner bilge? Some say "run"?

3.3mm is only a bit over 1/8" . Doesn't sound very thick to me if you have any rust.
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Old 09-03-2019, 09:34   #9
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Re: Rust in steel Schooner bilge? Some say "run"?

I agree. If so easy then why not fixed? Have them fix it then new survey.
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Old 09-03-2019, 10:34   #10
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Re: Rust in steel Schooner bilge? Some say "run"?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Benz View Post
I have done much crewing and captaining on an 80' steel schooner. Rust can be easily dealt with, but you must be always chasing it. If all the survey found was a little rust in the bilge, it sounds like a non-issue. It may not have been dealt with if it's a recent spot, and the owner's used to them cropping up all the time. And they are forever cropping up.

Remember that the majority of commercial fishing boats are steel, and endure for years, and that almost all Navy ships and workboats are steel as well.
If the boat checks all the other boxes, I'd say go for it.
I would not compare a work boat to a pleasure boat unless you're pleasure is working on a steel boat. Also both of the boat types you have mentioned have crew that are there all day to see to those projects. I have had the pleasure to work around tugs and fishing boats for the last quarter century and it is a constant job of chasing rust best left to the professional. Our last tug carried two welding machines and a cook that was a certified welder and he was the hardest working man on the vessel.
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Old 09-03-2019, 10:48   #11
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Re: Rust in steel Schooner bilge? Some say "run"?

I've Owned a Steel 42 ' cutter since 2000 built USA 1985.
Yes you will always chase rust but rust in bilge a problem since you can't see it.

I found a tiny area of rust on the Outside of the hull that when I attacked it with a pick hammer left a hole into my chain locker up front near the tip of the bow. Ended up with a hole the size of my fist. Easy fix just weld in a patch.

Problem is what ya can't see. Hulls aren't that thick to start, we aren't building a battleship so 3.3 mm is not a big deal but the real question is what the original hull specs called for in plate thickness i.e. how much steel is left.
Just be ready for a lot of work! But the darn things are indestructible and don't leak or blister ever!!

Russ 42' Ted Brewer Kingsland
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Old 09-03-2019, 10:59   #12
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Re: Rust in steel Schooner bilge? Some say "run"?

Rust in steel boats depends on the barrier coat. As long as the barrier coat is maintained, they don't rust, the steel doesn't waste away. Many years ago I ran a navy tug that was zinc coated under the usual navy grey paint. It was extremely low maintenance. Later I built mostly commercial steel boats and coated them the same way - flame sprayed zinc using a Metco gun. When there is a break in the zinc, a little sanding, a torch, and a zinc stick fills the break. Look how long a zinc coated anchor lasts. Some epoxy barriers are nearly as good.
The advantage of steel is it is extremely strong compared to fiberglass and can take groundings, often with little damage. Rigging and mast attachment points are welded into the hull and never pull out or become loose. Major repairs are easier and stronger than fiberglass with the same damage (if the fiberglass boat even survived).
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Old 09-03-2019, 11:03   #13
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Re: Rust in steel Schooner bilge? Some say "run"?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cheechako View Post
3.3mm is only a bit over 1/8" . Doesn't sound very thick to me if you have any rust.
Well I think that is a mistake on someone’s part. On that size boat I would expect at least 6mm if not more.
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Old 09-03-2019, 12:42   #14
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Re: Rust in steel Schooner bilge? Some say "run"?

I love steel boat posts where people replying start with “I haven’t owned a steel boat but...”

The best thing you can do is actually talk to fellow steel boat owners (shame the metal boat building forum is shut down now). Not all steel boats have rust now but when it does eventually creep through, it’s very easy to deal with.

Check the stringer to hull weld joints on this boat. If they’re solid - and there’s no pitting in the hull - either a quick grit blast or needle scaler will take it off. Hell, a flap disc on an angle grinder will take it off, as long as you then hit it with some good quality epoxy and topcoat / barrier coat paint.

If you go with steel, just make sure the bilges have nowhere for water to pool and there are limber holes everywhere... that way water goes to the lowest possible spot, you can have a bilge pump take care of it and if that area does rust, it’s manageable.

Oh, and ignore any posts that start with “I’ve never owned a steel boat, but my mate says....”

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Old 09-03-2019, 13:44   #15
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Re: Rust in steel Schooner bilge? Some say "run"?

We built a steel yacht 30 + years ago and have maintained it since. I love needle guns, but nothing beats a small abrasive blaster. Problem is that inside, they create a huge mess.
I agree that areas of pooled water are a danger sign. We have two such areas on our lower chine tubes. What I have done, is to place lengths of towelling like wicks with one end permanently in the potential pool area, and the other end dangling down like a syphon. This will automatically dry those areas.
We found some rust recently in an area we have never checked (behind the stove).
The cause was a seep from a porthole that we were unaware of.
I needle gunned the area, sandblasted it, then put a wide weave of mig weld over the area and it is OK again. The paint outside had to be redone. Luckily this was part of a major refit.
To answer the OP's query, have them thoroughly needle gun the suspect areas, and then visually check for wastage prior to coating. Also, the fact there is one area like this, indicates there could be more. ALL plate areas need to be seen from the inside.



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