Join Date: May 2012
Location: Sacremento delta
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Re: considering a ferro cement boat
I know this design. They are a wide beamed double ender with plenty of room, good stability. They tend to pitch a bit more and chafe at the dock but are great on the hook. This one has not followed the design which is basically modified from an Atkins for production for Samson and likely built by them or a contractor that spun off.
It was modified more with that pilot house which is likely for the inside passage or Northern colder climates.
These are not entirely cement. They are steel in the primary structure of the hull, roughed in cement and faired with epoxy. Her deck is wood bolted through the clamp by 3/8 galvanized but sometimes up graded to stainless. If galvanized check for replacement it's due.
The prop angle was placed too shallow and often cavitates, her hull speed under engine might reach 5 knots without playing with her trim. The rig was designed to be a gaff cutter. Her water tanks are likely glassed into the hull but an inspection of the diesel is due for replacement.
I have seen the deck soft near the chain plates from fresh water rot.
Most people are afraid of a ferro cement hull but like anything prone to problems (like steel, wood or plastic hulls) it takes research. One person mentioned the rust factor but that was half cocked. If imbeded steel has been exposed to galvanic corrosion from not changing out zincs or salt and moisture intrusion it will be revealed by the need for steel to expand times it's size. It will exhibit serious cracks long before failure of the hull is reached.
The greater concern is whether or not the builder was up to the task of founding her. Unless the paint is in horrible condition it is advisable to leave it be. To remove it is very touchy and might expose metal and involve too much time to fair out again.
A 60 to 80 grit surface must be achieved in order for the new paint to adhere.
Disadvantages: Finding insurance. Some real crazy people in the 60s and 70's built these hulls. The insurance companies are further made nervous by the fact boat wrights have no qualification. Them and the dog trainer are the last hold outs to need certification. When it comes to inspecting a ferro cement boat it's far too easy to happen on an idiot who out of professional courtesy would OK another idiot's work.
Re sale value though that is not a factor if the price in question is already cheap. Striking a reef or rock hard enough to breach the hull.
Advantages: Not paying for insurance, Not spending a bunch on her because it will never increase in value. Great live aboard if not planning to travel. The hull material makes for a quiet passage and rarely if ever leaks in any salt water. They are heavy and seaworthy in heavy weather but can pitch. If you find one that is for sale you can get it cheap and sell it where you end up for the same before flying home.
No sane person thinks nothing can happen to them on the ocean because they have a sound boat. Steel is hot and sweats like an SOB, in the tropics it can burn your feet if not painted bright white. Wood always leaks or has ambient moisture. It stretches and contracts and has rot and galvanic issues.
Many plastic hulls have wood in them to stiffen it and without brine. There is hull blisters, delamination and bad product choices because GRP in it's self is highly technical.
So you can't find a care free hull but a new one in most cases better advised. They all have a different set of problems before considering the design or what it's intended purpose.
A ferro cement can be a good choice just don't hit a solid object because they sink faster than other materials so you need to consider that but most who have them have bragging rights to a bargain. My favorite is wood and bronze but while cold mold is not mentioned, I wouldn't scoff at it either.
Last edited by Woodvet; 08-20-2012 at 10:22 PM.
Reason: duplicate word