How Old is too Old? - SailNet Community
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post #1 of 4 Old 03-07-2005 Thread Starter
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How Old is too Old?

While shopping for used boats in the 36-42 foot range for weekend coastal cruising, we wonder about the useful life of the major components:

Diesel Engines - Typically, when does one have to replace an engine? After 2000 hrs? 3000 hrs? More? Does a major rebuild usually double the life of an engine?

Sails - We see many 15-20 year old boats sporting original sails. That seems old to us. Any thoughts on the recommended life of sails assuming you''d like reasonable upwind performance out of a boat?

Galley Equipment - How long can refrigeration units and stoves be expected to last?

Of course, everything depends on how hard things are used and how well things are maintained. But what are your thoughts on when you should really take a hard look at these items due to their age? We are trying to avaoid (or at least understand) if we will be looking at major expenditures soon after a used boat purchase.
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post #2 of 4 Old 03-07-2005
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How Old is too Old?

As you had said, old is realitive to use.

You can burn out a diesel in under 1,000 hours if it is run for very sort periods at low rpm, without regular maintenance. But one that has had constant upkeep, regular fluid changes, and run properly can last for tens of thousands of hours. But in buying a used boat, caveat emptor, and think that 3,000 hours and up should be gone over very carefully.

Sails can last for years, but only with proper care. Sunlight takes it''s toll, along with wind above a sails intended range. You will find that as look at a former racer/cruiser. It will come with TONS of sails, most blown out or mishapen beyond use. Racers are notorious for keeping a sail up a little longer than practical, and they are constantly getting them blown out.

The standing rigging will become suspect at that age as well. Wire more so than rod. You can check rod for cracks at the heads, and even have them re-headed. Wire will be suspect at the terminals, especially the lower terminals at the turnbuckles. And even more so for a boat sailed in salt water, and even MORE so for a boat sailed in the tropics of any length of time. You may also find that your insurance company will require new standing rigging on an older boat before they will issue a policy.

Older boat wiring is suspect as well. The use of tinned wire was not the requirement that it is today, and much of the wiring on older boats will be corroded.

Your tankage will probably have settlement that needs to be purged. Especially in diesel, where sediment pick-up causes starvation and clogged filters.

Hoses are starting to show their age as well. They become brittle and subject to leaking. I would also want to look at the through hulls, replacing the mushrooms and seacocks without question.

This is also assuming the hull, deck, and topsides have passed sounding and moisture testing with flying colors! When was the boat last barrier coated? It should be renewed every 10 years or so.

If a boat has had a documented history of regular maintenance and upgrades, you can just pick up where the previous owner left off. If no documentation is available, assume the worst, and start your own regimen of replacement and upgrades.
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post #3 of 4 Old 03-07-2005
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How Old is too Old?

My boat is a ''73. I have had my rigging checked and am told it is still OK - it is a fresh water boat.

Sails on an old boat will need to be replaced within a year or two to get the most out of a boat. Sails are, of course, a major expense.

If you are mechanically handy, an engine rebuild is not a disaster financially.
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post #4 of 4 Old 03-08-2005
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How Old is too Old?

I think too old is a tought criteria. I think there are SO many factors that age alone won''t mean much.

Certainly anything more than 20 should be suspect, but any boat you spend a lot of money needs a complete survey.

Too old means it won''t pass a survey.

Personally my boat is a 1979, I''m 50 and my friend Otto mis over 70. He quit flying last year so you tell me what is too old?

Just some off the cuff estimate:

Sails over 10 years are probably too old.

Engines at 2000 hours if maintained are not even close to too old (key part is IF MAINTAINED). You can never really know that.

A good fridge not abused and built well can be still good at 15 years old. After 20 it may be suspect.

I would take a hard look at everything. Most things can be judged by a good surveyor.

Don''t buy a boat you don''t like and don''t buy a boat you can''t afford. Those two items I think matter the most. Sailing is best when done on a boat you really like without the burden of figuring out if you can afford to be doing it. Hire a good surveyor to dewal with the technical parts and be ready to walk away from a boat you really like.
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