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  #41  
Old 11-27-2012
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Re: Pros and cons of steel sailboats

Quote:
Originally Posted by BryceGTX View Post
I tend to view materials as useful for a particular application. Aluminum may be useful if you are particularly concerned about weight. It appears the application for this thread is a cruiser. Seems unlikely justification for aluminum.

Aluminum structures need careful testing to quantify their fatigue life. The Airline industry makes use of an incredible quantity of aluminum for wings, landing gear and body. And they characterize the fatigue strength and resulting life with sophisticated structual test systems than often contain 100s of actuators. Quite impressive test systems.

So do these aluminum boat manufacturers subject their hulls to similar fatigue tests? Probably not. These multi-channel test systems cost tens of millions of dollars. Well beyond the wallet of the boat builders.

We have all seen the fatigue cracks on masts and booms on sail boats. Many of us have small aluminum boats with numerous fatigue cracks in various load points. And some of us have seen aluminum hulls from older boats with numerous cracks.

Even with the incredibly careful testing the airline industry subjects their planes to, they have fatigue cracks in the structures. Careful inspections catch most problems before the plane falls out of the sky. The automotive manufacturers perform similar fatigue testing.

If weight is the major concern, yes you might like an aluminum hull.. but really.. a cruiser is hardly weight sensitive. On the contrary, the heavier boat will be invariably more comfortable which cruisers eventually learn.

Wood rots, steel rusts, aluminum cracks/corrodes, fiberglass coring fails. Each material comes out on top for some particular application.
Take your pick.. just understand the limitations..
Bryce
Bryce, aluminum are not very used in the US to build sailing boats but it is in France and Holland and the guys that use them are long range voyagers. Yes Aluminum is more difficult for an amateur but almost all those boats are professionally built. Normally amateurs buy the hulls and cabins and make the interior but there are many reputable brands making small production aluminum boats for 30 years and they are all there on the water.

A good way to access durability and the way a boat keep its good shape without a ton of needed expensive work is the value a boat has on the second hand market. Go there and look at the prices for a 15 or 20 year old steel boat and for the prices of aluminum boats of the same age. Compare their value: Sure, a aluminum boat is more expensive from the start but not that much.

Is also for that reason that there are many shipyards making small production aluminum boats and not one that I know of making relatively small steel boats, the size of the ones we sail.

Regards

Paulo
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Last edited by PCP; 11-27-2012 at 09:08 PM.
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Re: Pros and cons of steel sailboats

One should not confuse resale price with resale value. Resale price is what you can get for a used boat, but resale value is the difference between what you can get for her, and what she cost you in the first place.
Its not uncommon for people to spend an extra $40K on a boat, to increase the resale price by $20K, a net loss of $20K.
Many of my boats have sold for many times what they cost the original builder. The more you spend on her, the less the gap, until it becomes a money losing proposition.

I have pulled together 37 small steel boats.
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Re: Pros and cons of steel sailboats

Brent, you are unusually well qualified to provide a real world answer to the performance question of steel boats.

What is your typical miles per day average on your Pacific crossings in your own boat?
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  #44  
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Re: Pros and cons of steel sailboats

Brent, I am not saying bad things about steel boats. They are what they are: strong, heavy and slow if they are not really big.

You have a way of building solid boats in a way that is not expensive and that makes it simple for an amateur to build for not much money and I appreciate that and certainly you have a market for them. But if you go to a shipyard with a more complex design of a 40ft boat that can be built in aluminum or steel (some designs can) the difference in price should be about 25% less for steel. In 15 years the difference in value of the two boats will be much more than those 25% difference and besides that even much more cheaper the steel boat is going to be much more difficult to sell.

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Paulo
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Re: Pros and cons of steel sailboats

Quote:
Originally Posted by PCP View Post
Bryce, aluminum are not very used in the US to build sailing boats but it is in France and Holland and the guys that use them are long range voyagers.
The first aluminum boats were built in the US in the late 1950s. Almost any boat of any shape or size has been built since then. However, fiberglass became the material of choice due to its significant lower maintenance and higher durability.

Currently, millions upon millions of small aluminum fishing boats and high performance bass boats are produced where weight is the critical issue because they are transported by trailer.

You would find it difficult to convince the American market that aluminum would be preferably over fiberglass for boat construction. There are way too many boaters that are familiar with the fatigue issues involved with aluminum boats.

Quote:
Yes Aluminum is more difficult for an amateur but almost all those boats are professionally built. Normally amateurs buy the hulls and cabins and make the interior but there are many reputable brands making small production aluminum boats for 30 years and they are all there on the water.
There is no doubt in my mind that the US produces magnitudes more production quality aluminum boats than the European boat industry. These guys are not amateurs.. they are production boat companies.. Lund for example. Various companies since 1950s.. closing in on 60 years.

You cannot convince us that because a boat is 30 years old, it is a good construction material. There are 100 year old wood boats still afloat that would seem to indicate wood is better than aluminum.

Quote:
Is also for that reason that there are many shipyards making small production aluminum boats and not one that I know of making relatively small steel boats, the size of the ones we sail.
My discussion is not steel versus aluminum, rather it is should anyone use aluminum for large boats for any other reason than for the express requirement of light weight.

You have not addressed the durability question, possibly because the European industry is only 30 years old compared to the US industry of nearly 60 years experience.
Bryce

Last edited by BryceGTX; 11-27-2012 at 10:37 PM.
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Old 11-28-2012
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Re: Pros and cons of steel sailboats

Quote:
Originally Posted by BryceGTX View Post
The first aluminum boats were built in the US in the late 1950s. Almost any boat of any shape or size has been built since then. However, fiberglass became the material of choice due to its significant lower maintenance and higher durability.

Currently, millions upon millions of small aluminum fishing boats and high performance bass boats are produced where weight is the critical issue because they are transported by trailer.

You would find it difficult to convince the American market that aluminum would be preferably over fiberglass for boat construction. There are way too many boaters that are familiar with the fatigue issues involved with aluminum boats.



There is no doubt in my mind that the US produces magnitudes more production quality aluminum boats than the European boat industry. These guys are not amateurs.. they are production boat companies.. Lund for example. Various companies since 1950s.. closing in on 60 years.

You cannot convince us that because a boat is 30 years old, it is a good construction material. There are 100 year old wood boats still afloat that would seem to indicate wood is better than aluminum.



My discussion is not steel versus aluminum, rather it is should anyone use aluminum for large boats for any other reason than for the express requirement of light weight.

You have not addressed the durability question, possibly because the European industry is only 30 years old compared to the US industry of nearly 60 years experience.
Bryce
My Steel Ketch is 74 years old.

I just like saying that
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  #47  
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Re: Pros and cons of steel sailboats

Quote:
Originally Posted by BryceGTX View Post

You have not addressed the durability question, possibly because the European industry is only 30 years old compared to the US industry of nearly 60 years experience.
Bryce
Bryce,

I agree with you that there are tons of aluminum boats produced in the US and have been for years. In fact, in Alaska, they are hands down the most common build you see when it comes to offshore commercial sport fishing boats and jet boats. I can definitely see the benefits up here for one when it comes to durability. Steel as well, but the weight issue is real.

I guess I am confused by your post though, are you saying that aluminum is a only a viable choice when weight is the primary issue? I would say that lots of duel diesel fishing boats would disagree. In fact I love the idea of the French cruising aluminum sailboats and would love to be able to afford one. I guess I am not sure I get the point you are making above. Sounds like you are bragging up our aluminum boat industry (I agree) but then trashing the material at the same time (and the European boat industry to boot).

And on a side note, aren't you a snow mobile guy as well?
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Re: Pros and cons of steel sailboats

Lets be realistic here guys, the best material for a boat is an all titanium hull.

Size for size a steel boat is always going to be both heavier and cheaper. However this is just for the hull. Aluminium doesn't need to be painted, so this can be a pretty big cost savings, and because the systems can be smaller (rig, engines, transmission, ect) the difference in cost between aluminium and steel for the entire boat isn't really as high as the cost to just build the hull may imply.

I always find it interesting that people raise concerns about the fatigue life of aluminium, but no one ever raises the issue with fiberglass. Given that fiberglass has the same fatigue problems as aluminium it seems more of a theoretical problem than an actual one, so long as the boat is properly designed in the first place.
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Re: Pros and cons of steel sailboats

Europeans have been building aluminium boats as long as the US. But specifically in Sailboats the European market is the largest in the world( and significantly bigger then the US) and hence also accommodates aluminium sailboat construction. The US has little or no experience in metal based leisure sailboats. Its only when you get into super yacht territory do you see some experience.
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Re: Pros and cons of steel sailboats

Quote:
Originally Posted by BryceGTX View Post
...
You would find it difficult to convince the American market that aluminum would be preferably over fiberglass for boat construction.
..
Nobody is saying the opposite. In Europe fiberglass boats are much more common than aluminum boats and for a good reason: they are cheaper to build for a similar weight. The Aluminium boats are only common and even dominant on the French market in a very small market segment: grand range voyage boats, I mean the ones used to circumnavigate or to sail to faraway places and nobody do that with more frequency than French sailors.

The reason is obvious: the boats are as light as fiberglass boats (and sail as well) and are much more resistant to hull impacts to debris in the water. They can also be beached (much are centerboarders) with much more confidence than a fiberglass boat.

Regarding boatbuilding in aluminum I was referring to the pleasure market and particularly to cruising sailboats. There are in Europe many shipyards that have small production and medium serial production of sailboats. Do you have any on the US, I mean sailboats? There are even more shypiards that have not a serial production but are specialized on pleasure aluminium building.

Regarding the difference in performance, that is a huge one and one that makes a small steel boat really only appropriated to sail on the trade winds and even so a lot worse than an aluminum boat, that can have a similar performance regarding the one of a fast fiberglass boat.

I know what I am talking about. A big part of my sail learning was done (for years) on a 16m steel ketch. I remember how safe and even fast the boat was with a F9 wind but also remember that outside what most would call bad weather, the most we got was motorsailing or small speeds. In fact we only went out with the boat for sailing when all other sail boats were coming to port looking for shelter

An interesting post of a owner of a 43 year old aluminum boat:

quote:

"For some reason there seems to be many stories of disaster, particularly on this side of the Atlantic, around aluminum as a boat building material. These stories normally go like this: “I have a friend, who knows a guy, who has a cousin, that bought an aluminum boat, and after a week in the marina the bottom fell out of her".

The funny thing is that after 20 years of aluminum boat ownership and ten years of being a fairly high profile proponent of the material, I have yet to meet one of these mythical aluminum boat victims.

The fact is that as long as the boat is built out of the right aluminum alloys, and the right welding rod is used (all well documented), aluminum boats last longer and stay stronger and more stiff than boats built of any other material you can think of.

Which brings me to Carina, a McCurdy and Rhodes Custom 48—same designer as our own Morgan’s Cloud—that has just won the Newport Bermuda Race for the third time. Thing is, the first time Carina won, the leisure suit was in fashion…the year was 1970.

Carina won again in 2010, exactly forty years after her first win. And then again this year. And you know what Carina was doing between her second and third win? She sailed around the world clocking up 42,000 miles. And while she was at it, she did a few races…like The Trans-Atlantic, The Sydney Hobart and The Fastnet—not exactly known as walks in the park.

One tough old bird that aluminum boat…fast too.

I spoke with Rives Potts, who is not only Carina’s owner and skipper, but also runs Pilots Point Marine. Rives has been involved in building and repairing many aluminum boats over the years. He had this to say:

-If an aluminum boat is built of the right alloys and the right welding rod is used, she will last essentially forever.

-The great thing about aluminum is that what you see is what you get—if you have a problem, you can see it.

-He has not had to make any structural repairs to Carina. And she shows no significant corrosion.
She is still incredibly stiff and strong after 43 years of hard voyaging and racing.

-And because Carina is stiff, she is still fast and it is much easier to keep the deck fittings and hatches watertight than it would be on a boat that flexes more.

-When he has seen corrosion damage on aluminum boats—usually the result of a wiring problem or an inaccessible area where debris has lain for years—it is confined to a small area and is easy to repair as good as new by cutting out the plate with a skill saw and welding in new plate. Just make sure you use the right alloy plate and the right welding rod.

-Repairs and modifications to an aluminum boat are easier [that means cheaper too] than they are on boats built of most other materials.

-The only real drawback of aluminum is keeping paint on it. But if the paint job is done right even that issue can be overcome."


Why aluminum is the best building material for sailboats


Well, I would say that the biggest disadvantage is price, but that is another story

Also an interesting well know quote of Jimmy Cornell that after having tried all kindss of boats (and boat materials) to long distance voyage opted for aluminium.:

Can aluminum compete with fiberglass as a production hull material?

Jimmy Cornell's Ocean Cruising Survey, a valuable indicator of trends among world-voyaging cruisers, shows that metal boats are on the increase. A metal hull was the number-one wish of those with other hull materials. "My next boat will be metal..." was heard over and over, particularly by those who were already cruising aboard a metal boat.

It is said among dedicated blue water cruisers in the South Pacific, "50% of the boats are metal; the rest of them are from the United States...."


http://www.kastenmarine.com/aluminum.htm



and some more information about aluminum hulls, none of them regards the problems you mention (maybe you cab say what the marine credible source that sustain your negative opinion regarding aluminum boats):

http://www.berckemeyer-yacht.de/tex_construct.html

http://www.benford.us/articles/boatb...materials.html

http://www.kastenmarine.com/aluminum.htm

http://www.alumarine.fr/en/advantage...inum-boat.html

Regards

Paulo

Last edited by PCP; 11-28-2012 at 11:36 AM.
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