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Old 10-05-2016, 21:38   #1
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To buy or not to buy? Hunter Compression Post

Hi everyone, I'm hoping I might be able to get some opinions from the knowledgable group here! My wife and I are looking to buy our first sailboat, we've got a good bit of sailing experience under our belts, but this will be the first boat that we've bought. We're limited on price because we're both starving (but happy!) marine biologists living in Miami, but we finally found a boat that satisfies our needs for sailing and living aboard. We're looking at a Hunter 34, 1984, and it has most of the qualities and amenities we've been looking for. There are issues of course, but anytime your price range desn't break $15K I imagine that's the norm. The issues are mostly aesthetic and we're handy enough to fix those. The one we want advice on is the compression post. We finally got it open today, the fiberglass on the top and the bottom of the post are compressed slightly so the cover for the post was trapped in that tight space making removing it more difficult. The wood inside appears dry and sturdy, except near the base where there are 2-3 inches of moist and soft wood. Now having read lots of the forum postings about replacing the compression post I know it's a decent size job. Does anyone here with knowledge of Hunter 34's or compression posts think this is a deal breaker? The teak cover looks good, there is what looks like a compression fold/crack on the bulkead between the salon and head and some water damage below that. It is unlikely we'll fix the post right away outside of maybe using resin to help solidify the interior post base and of course making sure we seal the heck out of the mast base and wire conduit so more water doesn't get in from outside (not certain some of this isn't getting in from the head shower too). If anyone has any input I'd really appreciate it (but please stick to compression post thoughts, I'm not trying to instigate a Hunter bashing session !
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Old 10-05-2016, 23:07   #2
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Re: To buy or not to buy? Hunter Compression Post

if I understand you correctly; the compression post is compromised...I would want to cut it out and replace entirely....it is a major structural component that must be 100%. It cannot be sailed safely until completely fixed properly. not with a bit of epoxy...sorry
have to say....spend your hard earned money on something better..
I remember being shocked in '84 ish in Ft Lauderdale when inspecting a brand new one at a dealer.....POS
How ever I know of,....1....that had extra layup schedule and custom fastenings that was built to and in fact sailed back across the Atlantic to the Med., they paid extra $ for much needed factory strengthening...everywhere...
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Old 11-05-2016, 04:37   #3
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Re: To buy or not to buy? Hunter Compression Post

Thanks for the response Jthaw, and yes it does seem compromised. Since the majority of the post seems sound, and there is compression in the fiberglass above and below the post, do you think that is something that some old boats have, or just more signs of the problem? Or maybe an indicator that there is more issues above and below the post? The wood above the post seems solid, not certain about below the post since I can't get in there w/o removing a large section of the sole and setee.
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Old 11-05-2016, 04:43   #4
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Re: To buy or not to buy? Hunter Compression Post

I've got an old boat that is know for compression post problems.

Ours was bad when we bought the boat, but no biggie. I ha the mast off for a few months anyway rewiring and generally going over things, so just popped a new post in.

In your case, if I'm understanding your problem correctly, why not just replace with a stainless pipe with flanges welded on the ends, maybe add some g10 board top and bottom to distribute te load to the fiberglass and be done with it?


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Old 11-05-2016, 05:18   #5
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Re: To buy or not to buy? Hunter Compression Post

Nate,

Welcome to CF!

Yea... You gotta fix this 100% right before you start monkeying around in the boat... (no offense SM... ) You lack the experience to notice the subtle signs of something about to go terribly wrong and it definitely could... A $15k boat all the sudden becomes a $30k boat if you have a rig come down... And that's if nobody gets hurt...

It should be a fairly inexpensive fix if you do the heavy lifting... well under $1k, maybe only a couple hundred... Take some pics and post them... That will help...

As far as an offer... I'd take your pics to a yard, or have somebody come out to the boat... Write out a full repair estimate, and present that with your reduced offer... Yes... I would definitely consider still buying...
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Old 11-05-2016, 05:31   #6
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Re: To buy or not to buy? Hunter Compression Post

Hi Nate,

A couple of things concern me. In general I have to agree with the recommendation for fixing the post asap. There is a reason it's called compression post. When you're sailing there is a LOT of compression on the mast structure which is transferred to the hull via the compression post. If that post fails you could lose the mast or cause other serious damage.

You mention the fiberglass is compressed slightly. Could you clarify? Is the deck still the same thickness around the base of the mast and just pushed lower (which would likely mean the compression post is being compressed and starting to fail) or is the deck itself compressed a little by the force of the mast pushing on it?

Do you see a low spot or any small cracks on the deck around the base of the mast? If so then you might also have a deck core problem. Most boat decks are made in a sandwich construction with fiberglass outer layers and an inner core, usually of plywood, balsa mat or similar. That core should be removed or reinforced under the mast to take the load. If not, over time that core can also compress.

Something to check to see how much the post is compressing, what is the state of the turnbuckles that tighten the standing rigging? If they are tightened all the way and the rigging still not tight enough then that is probably another sign of problems with the compression post.

Photos will help.
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Old 11-05-2016, 12:44   #7
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Re: To buy or not to buy? Hunter Compression Post

You probably can do better in SoFla with 15K$ than a 32 year old Hunter 34.
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Old 11-05-2016, 13:40   #8
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Re: To buy or not to buy? Hunter Compression Post

It depends on how you plan to use the boat. The Hunter 31/34 series boats are fantastic in my opinion in terms of sailing characteristics, layout, strength of the hull and so on. I support your choice of boat wholeheartedly and the price is decent.

You could possibly put off the compression post repair by a few months if you do not stress the boat in heavy seas during this time. Also, it is unlikely that the compression post will fail catastrophically - again it depends on the weather/seas. That being said, if you look at the how-to fix it, it is not that difficult and you may not even have to remove the mast, just loosen the rigging, use jacks to lift the bulkhead, then put a new beam or a stainless steel pipe. It is a well known problem, well documented and fixable for less than $1K. I would worry more about other big ticket items, rigging, quality of the sails, engine hours. Each of these can set you back $4-5K if it needs to be replaced.

Good luck and enjoy the boat.

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Old 11-05-2016, 18:33   #9
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Re: To buy or not to buy? Hunter Compression Post

We owned a 1980 Hunter 36 with a similar problem. Another thing to check out is what transfers the compression post "load" from the cabin sole down to the keel. In our boat it was a common steel piece that showed lots of corrosion. To solve the whole problem, we replaced both the wood compression post and steel in the bilge with a 3" diameter heavy wall stainless post with a stainless "shoe" on the bottom and plate at the top under the mast step. It was a bit of work, but we handled it ourselves and it turned out great! We replaced the original teak covering around the post and it looks like nothing was done except that the collapsing stopped. It even provided better access for the wiring going up the mast above. Total cost was under $1K.
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Old 11-05-2016, 18:45   #10
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Re: To buy or not to buy? Hunter Compression Post

You can't really sail it with any confidence until you fix it and it would seem to require more time and/or money than you have available, it seems a hard way to start. Did you decide you want to live on and sail a boat or did you set out to spend a lot of time and money fixing a boat so you can maybe sail it later sometime ?
Instead of wasting time fixing one you can't use anyway, spend the time saving and looking for one somebody else already fixed. Once you get a boat you will not accumulate any more savings, it will absorb every extra penny you get.
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Old 11-05-2016, 20:10   #11
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Thanks everyone for all the input, it's super helpful. Skipmac you pretty much nailed everything the surveyor we had take a peek told me today! There is some nonslip matting adhered to the deck around the mast, but you can still see some stress cracks around it's base. The turnbuckles are almost all the way tight. The compression seems to show that the area between the mast and compression post, and between compression post and keel are compressing. Either way it seems clear the option is to buy and fix or move on. We're going to get a quote on the repairs and go from there to see if the seller is interested in lowering the price significantly and if we should bother surveying and moving on with the sale. We are trying to find a boat that we can get to sailing and living on as soon as can, so any major repairs will have to get done right away. Thanks again for all the thoughts and advice, great resource here!
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Old 11-05-2016, 20:28   #12
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Re: To buy or not to buy? Hunter Compression Post

Do I understand correctly that there is some minor issues with support below the compression post?

If I understand correctly older boats do tend to have some issues, that's why a boat that size new might cost several hundred thousand and this one costs less than $20k.

If you plan to haul the boat in the fall, it might be a fairly easy fix.

If you are confident there aren't other major issues, ID consider moving forward.

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Old 11-05-2016, 20:48   #13
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Re: To buy or not to buy? Hunter Compression Post

Quote:
Originally Posted by Natedogg View Post
Thanks everyone for all the input, it's super helpful. Skipmac you pretty much nailed everything the surveyor we had take a peek told me today! There is some nonslip matting adhered to the deck around the mast, but you can still see some stress cracks around it's base. The turnbuckles are almost all the way tight. The compression seems to show that the area between the mast and compression post, and between compression post and keel are compressing. Either way it seems clear the option is to buy and fix or move on. We're going to get a quote on the repairs and go from there to see if the seller is interested in lowering the price significantly and if we should bother surveying and moving on with the sale. We are trying to find a boat that we can get to sailing and living on as soon as can, so any major repairs will have to get done right away. Thanks again for all the thoughts and advice, great resource here!
This is one time that I'm sorry to be right. Fortunately this kind of problem is usually very repairable to as good as new condition, depending on all the details involved. Will just depend on whether or not it's worth it to you and the seller.

Unfortunately it could be expensive to pay the boatyard to do but could be very cheap if you had the time and skills to do it yourself.
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