Irwin 34 Citation restoration Commentary - SailNet Community

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  #1  
Old 09-14-2013
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Irwin 34 Citation restoration Commentary

I'm not going to suggest I am an expert on boat construction. I am not. I am, however, reasonably competent. There are many folks out there with skills equal to mine who might be tempted to take on this kind of task. I am mostly finished with my restoration and I believe that my experience may be informative to others considering a similar task. My reflections on this restoration are somewhat generic, in that most elderly boats have similar issues. With that thought in mind, I am going to post a sequence of issues, as the 4 page article I just wrote got lost when my browser crashed. I don't want to do this a third time.
Generally speaking, when buying an Irwin or similar vessel 30 years or more of age, you must accept the fact that the boat is worn out. Almost every system on a boat this old is certainly beyond its service life. There are no corners that can be cut in the rebuild. Anything you brush off, ignore, or assume will be OK is suspect until you have gotten into it and examined it in detail to prove that it is robust and workable. My fuel tank and rudder are great examples of what I mean. I am a lousy photographer, believe me. The stuff I will post looks better in real life. So I'll get going in the next post.
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Re: Irwin 34 Citation restoration Commentary

The Hull and Deck:

Starting with the deck, it's wet. Really. I don't care what you've been told, it's wet. If the port lights are original, they've been leaking for years and the areas around them and where ever the water has gotten to, have dry rotted into junk. The chain plates are surrounded with wet core as well. As for the rest of the deck, if you are up north where the water in the core can freeze and swell, the deck probably has lumpy spots in it too. Every place where the fiberglass has been drilled into, including the stanchions, leaks. This sounds bad, but you can see the work and expected it anyway. All this is a given, in a 30 year old boat. There are dozens of threads on replacing wet core, I'm not going to discuss it here. Maine Sail has excellent commentary on the process as does Casy in his books on sailboat repair. Here is a picture on 1/2 of the rotted wood removed from my port Irwin settee.



What few people will tell you, but I will suggest, is that there are a great many boats sailing around with wet core. Its impossible for me to say the condition of the core in your boat, to say how bad it is, but unless the deck feels like walking across a soft mattress, I wouldn't go into catastrophic fits of despair. If the deck is reasonably solid and a local repair around the chain plate can be made solid and structurally sound, then why tear up the whole deck ? You are the only one who can evaluate your specific boat.

The ash blocks which are the bases for the Irwin stanchions, are most probably rotted out. These are glassed into the hull and you will have to figure out how to fix them. I dug mine out with screwdrivers bent into hooks and used compressed air to blow out the debris. Then filled the places where the ash used to be with fiberglass filled bondo. Everyone will figure out their own solution. I like mine well enough.
The toe rail will leak. This is a special repair. Easy to pull off and re-bed with butyl tape, you can wreck your boat on re-assembly. The screws that hold the toe rail on also are part of the hull/deck structure. Do not refasten them with power tools. Hand screw in the screws, so as not to destroy their fastening ability. These holes are easy to strip out, and the screws, if stripped, will quickly work loose and probably leak again. Just my opinion.
Tabbing: The Irwin was built when the use of the interior as part of the hull stiffening structure, was still new. It seems to me there was a confusing assortment of techniques used to attach the hull to the interior structures. It ended badly. The screws in the sole are useless. The tabbing through out the boat is probably torn away from the hull as well. Check in the forward compartments under the V birth, in the head cabinet, under the quarter birth, by the fuel tank under the star board settee, and the main bulkhead, of course. When you re-attach, remember not to make the repair too robust so to create hard spots which will crack gelcoat on the hull exterior.

here's completed repairs to the above photo:



next, Powertrain...
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Last edited by TomandKarens34; 09-15-2013 at 01:19 AM. Reason: wrong settee
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Re: Irwin 34 Citation restoration Commentary

The power train is ancient. It may still work but... I am not a diesel mechanic though I have overhauled a number of motorcycle engines. I have not had reason to mess with my Yanmar yet, but I am told that if it can't start without starter fluid, you may be reaching the end of service ( and compression ) in the old girl. Plan on failure if you intend to keep the boat for more than a few years. I have a Beta Diesel in mind for my future, even though the Yanmar is still banging away. Fuel lines ? Replace them. The fuel tank is one of the bright spots of the Irwin Citation. Under the star board settee, it is both easy to get to and easy to remove. The drain hole in the forward end of the tank compartment frequently gets plugged and the tank will sit in water. It corrodes. Pull it and after sand blasting the corrosion out of the pits, it is an easy task to glass it and it will keep on going for a great long time. Good time to clean it and install a fuel level sending unit. It is full of crud. Cleaning is seldom totally effective in removing said crud, with the new fuel lines, probably this is a good time to give a modest fuel filtration system some thought.

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Re: Irwin 34 Citation restoration Commentary

When I look at Irwins, one of the things I notice often, is rust around the rudder. Mine had rust around the rudder post. Inspection revealed the rudder itself was cracked. This is what the rust means: The interior of the rudder has been compromised and damaged. Here you can see that the plate has broken away from the rudder post.



It was a mess. It took me a month to rebuild.

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Re: Irwin 34 Citation restoration Commentary

The electrical system: Its time to do it. There is no better time to replace the wiring than when the interior is mostly dismantled. Do some creative things like install small sub panels around the boat, so the next time you want to add something, you don't have to figure out how to get a wire through and behind stuff. It can be quite difficult once all the walls are back in. Drill a few holes in the back of the Nav station for wire runs. You'll need them if you run extra stuff. As far as I'm concerned, the 120 volt system is about worthless on the ocean, but it is useful during the rebuild because you can plug in fans and run power tools without a nest of wires all over the sole to trip over. I recommend a couple of 12 volt power sockets to recharge ipods and run low power items as well.
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Re: Irwin 34 Citation restoration Commentary

Sails, standing rigging and running rigging are generic and not specific to Irwins. To comment on these things isn't relevant to Irwin Citation overhauls. I just wanted to focus on Irwin specific issues. However the original 30 year old CDI furler is worth mentioning. I was advised it was frail and in need of replacement. I bought a Harken unit and then set about dismantling the CDI. That thing was built like a concrete mailbox. It probably would have lasted ten more years. These points I've covered specific to Irwins should help someone thinking about rebuilding one of them. Most are in just wretched condition now and can be had for reasonable money, if not for free. I paid $8000 for mine and I paid too much. I've got just shy of $19,000 into it total and with a Beta Marine diesel I'm sure to have about $26,000 invested. I should get about 10 years of enjoyment from it. Not too bad. Now I just have to keep it off the rocks.
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Re: Irwin 34 Citation restoration Commentary

Sorry !!! One more note specific to Irwin Citations. I mentioned this in the post that was lost in the browser crash and missed including it in this post.
The Main bulkheads. This area is the "Make or Break" point on purchasing your project.
The main bulkhead is buried deep in the structure of the boat. I've been through my Irwin pretty completely and I'm not sure how I'd fix a rotted one. If the main bulkheads are water soaked and discolored, inspect the plywood carefully. Just being slightly stained is not bad but check it with a ice pick or some similar tool. If it is soft or breaks up when pushed, skip this boat. I don't know how to fix it because it seems the boat was built around the thing. The star board one might be easier to fix than the port bulkhead, and that might be OK, but the main bulkhead being rotten is a real deal breaker. It is just buried and a monster job to take out. It is also worth noting that the smaller star board bulkhead has been reported to be torn out of some boats and a bit of re-enforcement in its attachment to the hull would be a good idea.
Well, I hope this helps folks who might like to fix up an Irwin Citation. If someone gives you grief about the work, remind them they'll do the same thing, just at a different pace and the work will be no different. Point out you'll be launching May 1st while they work on their boat every year till July 1st getting it ready for the summer. My best to you all.
Tom
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Last edited by TomandKarens34; 09-15-2013 at 01:00 AM. Reason: spelling
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