Hey Barry, and others,
I've had my O'day for over 5 seasons, and rebuilt/refit just about every system on the boat, so I thought I would add to your initial post.
First off, while this may look like Denise's O'day 30, it is very much a scaled up version of that boat. I found it VERY comparable to a mid-80s Pearson 34.
The cockpit of the O'day 35 is long (over 7 feet) and uncluttered (the traveler is mounted on the cabin top), but narrow compared to many newer boats. Here is a view of the cockpit from the helm;
I agree that the construction is typical of '80s era production boats. The hull is solid FRP, with a bolted on LEAD keel (not iron - as sailboatdata states). The deck construction is the typical laminate with end grain balsa core, and marine grade plywood core in high stress areas (winch bases, chain plates, etc.). Through hulls are bronze, and backing plates are plywood. The headliner is gel coated molded FRP with an access panel made from luan wrapped in naugahide.
The O'day 35 is an up-level O'day 34. Many of the parts from a 34 are interchangeable with the 35 (appendages, hatches, rudder, engine and driveline components, interior cabinetry). Some of the "up-leveling" consists of adding a teak and holly soule, lockers with sliding doors over the setees, a two burner propane stove with oven, a hot water heater, and the swim platform. The benefit of the swim platform cannot be overstated.
Unlike you, I have a "deep" keel version; 5.7', and find that it points very well. Also, in contrast to your review, I find that the engine access is terrific. I can easily access the top, front, starboard side, and rear of the engine. The biggest challenge is to access the port side (where the starter motor is located), and the underside (oil pan). If you want to see poor engine access, look at a Pearson 36-2.
Overall I find that the boat sails very well, and that there is plenty of room for two or three crew. I do not have refrigeration, and find that the iceboxes are roomy enough and very well insulated. She turns on a dime thanks to the fin keel, and is very responsive.
Despite the fact that production ceased in 1989/1990, D&R Marine still has many of the OEM components and molds to make them if needed. What can't be sourced from D&R can be found (at a ridiculous price) from Rig-Rite.
The things that I would have loved to see improved (if I could travel back in time to the mid-80s) are the deadlights and the lockers in the cockpit. The deadlights (non opening windows) were more of a fashion statement, and were made from 3/8" acrylic. They were held on with Dow 795 Silicone. It would have been great if these could open, had a real frame, and if they were made from beefier material.
The cockpit lockers, and in particular the propane lockers, are set into the cockpit seating surface. The problem is that the way that the seating surface is angled, they tend to trap rainwater in the sill of the locker hatch. Dirt collects here, and very quickly water will get inside of the boat through these hatches. I believe that this is especially a problem if you keep the boat in a slip, as I do.
Another issue, but one that I have addressed, is that the AC/DC distribution panel is screwed in, not accessible, and did not use ANY buss bars (I found that all of the negative leads were simply twisted together and wrapped in electrical tape).
I addressed this by adding a piano hinge, a key lock, and several buss bars.
I have since brought this up to current ABYC electrical standards.
A final issue with most of these boats that I have seen, is the routing of the hoses to the holding tank. For some reason the builder allowed for many dips in the hose routing, which allowed for effluent to be trapped in the dip, and leads to BO (Boat Odor). I addressed this on my boat by re-routing the hoses to eliminate any low spots, and to ensure that the hoses drain back into the holding tank.
I agree with Barry about the location of the through hulls and seacocks. They could have easily been put in one or two common locations, and been made far more accessible. My pet peeve is the galley drain seacock, which could have been placed under the galley sink. Instead it is below the setee immediately forward of the sink. To access it, I have to leave the galley and go to the setee, remove the cushions, pull the berth out (this setee converts to a double), and remove the access cover. The seacock for the engine is behind the engine on the port (least accessible) side.
Overall, I think that these are great boats, and represent a great value. I know of a stock 1985 example with older electronics that recently sold - to the first person that viewed the boat - in one day - for $30K.
I too hope that someone finds this useful!