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Discussion Starter #1
I was talking to a yard mechanic about service on a steering system. I thought maintenance would include squirting a little oil and some inspection. He told me that what they do is completely disassemble the whole thing. Clean it, coat all screws, nuts and bolts with the proper goop replace any worn parts then reassemble. This takes a few hours. He said if you don't do the full service what happens is that you can't see the parts that are wearing. And fasteners will seize over time and when you need to fix them they will break.

I don't keep my cars for 20+ years and they are not on salt water but wow this is a whole nurther world. If you are supposed to do that every 5 to 15 years on every system on the boat and their are 20 systems then you have to plan on a major system overhaul or two every year.

It sounds true. I've looked at several 20+ year old Catalina 30's in the under 20,000 range and I suspect that the steering, roller furling, standing rigging, electrical, freshwater, through hulls etc have not be touched since day one.
I guess you get what you pay for. If this is true then I can see that a 20+ year old boat that had every system completely serviced properly every few years would be worth a lot more.

I guess what I'm asking is that the level of service you put in your boat or do you just sail it and if something breaks fix it?
IOW when was the last time you completely disassembled your steering system, Roller furling, electrical etc.
 

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I am in the process of gathering parts and such to remove and repair the majority of my 12volt system this spring. Thankfully, my systems are arranged such that I can do it piece by piece once I have the new DC panel in place. ie forward runs one day, next day wiring to the pedestal etc. It should take me about 20 hours total and cost about $6-700. Careful shopping.

I did the AC systems last season - removed and resealed shorepower connector, new 10/3 cable to the new AC breaker panel, new 14/3 to a new GFCI and box for the new battery charger and then new 14/3 to the new GFCI and new box in the galley. I think it may have cost me $400 and 8 hours of my own labour.

This is all over and above the usual little items like stripping all the old paint off and putting on a new barrier coat and antifouling (VC17). New lifelines. Installing the new Cookmate 4200 stove. Install new BBQ (Force 10 Stow and Go). Installing lots of new running rigging. Inspect standing rigging, prop, deck fittings and so on.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
It does seem like even in perfectly maintained boats the electric systems have to be replaced. If for no other reason than there are so many more fun electic things to put on a boat now.
 

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I guess what I'm asking is that the level of service you put in your boat or do you just sail it and if something breaks fix it?
IOW when was the last time you completely disassembled your steering system, Roller furling, electrical etc.
Yes I do ALL preventative maintenance. In the last 20 years my only failure has been a circuit breaker on a Universal diesel engine and a couple of manufacturer defects.

I prefer to sail when my wife and family are aboard rather than hold up in some remote anchorage rebuilding something that should have been done as routine. Something breaking at sea is a hazard to safety so I am not of the ilk to not fix anything and just let it break. I've been on a boat where we lost the rig during a delivery and it damn near killed a friend of mine. The owners response was "jeez the rigging is only 21 years old?" then tried to blame us for the rig failure..

This winter..

new damper plate
rebuit the starter
rebuilt the alternator
rebuilt the sea strainer
all new hoses and non-perforated hose clamps on engine
re-packed rudder log
new battery cable from starter to batt
new cable from alt to house bank
new impeller
changed anti-freeze
replaced thermostat
changed tranny fluid
replaced valve cover gasket
replaced rear main engine seal
replaced head - Raritan PHII
trued prop shaft
fit and faced shaft coupling
replaced prop
replaced halyards
R&R steering chain/cable, align rudder, lube sheaves, lube bearings


Every thing in the list above was working just fine...

Last year:
replaced portlights (not working so fine but working)
replaced majority of battery cable
replaced all head plumbing and hose clamps
replaced interior cushions
replaced impeller
replaced radar/plotter
replaced depth
replaced autopilot
replaced running lights
replaced mast wiring

Again all working...


etc. etc....... on and on you get the picture..

It's a boat!! B.O.A.T. - Break Out Another Thousand


]
 

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Once you do all those things you listed, how many years before you preventively do them again? 2,5,10 years?
Thx



Yes I do ALL preventative maintenance. In the last 20 years my only failure has been a circuit breaker on a Universal diesel engine and a couple of manufacturer defects.

I prefer to sail when my wife and family are aboard rather than hold up in some remote anchorage rebuilding something that should have been done as routine. Something breaking at sea is a hazard to safety so I am not of the ilk to not fix anything and just let it break. I've been on a boat where we lost the rig during a delivery and it damn near killed a friend of mine. The owners response was "jeez the rigging is only 21 years old?" then tried to blame us for the rig failure..

This winter..

new damper plate
rebuit the starter
rebuilt the alternator
rebuilt the sea strainer
all new hoses and non-perforated hose clamps on engine
re-packed rudder log
new battery cable from starter to batt
new cable from alt to house bank
new impeller
changed anti-freeze
replaced thermostat
changed tranny fluid
replaced valve cover gasket
replaced rear main engine seal
replaced head - Raritan PHII
trued prop shaft
fit and faced shaft coupling
replaced prop
replaced halyards
R&R steering chain/cable, align rudder, lube sheaves, lube bearings


Every thing ins the list above was working just fine...

Last year:
replaced portlights (not working so fine but working)
replaced majority of battery cable
replaced all head plumbing and hose clamps
replaced interior cushions
replaced impeller
replaced radar/plotter
replaced depth
replaced autopilot
replaced running lights
replaced mast wiring

Again all working...


etc. etc....... on and on you get the picture..

It's a boat!! B.O.A.T. - Break Out Another Thousand


]
 

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Once you do all those things you listed, how many years before you preventively do them again? 2,5,10 years?
Thx
I suspect that a lot of that determination depends on use as well as time gone by. Ancillary projects also tend to promote maintenance and repair/replacement.

Some things like rigging will "age" more quickly under use than sitting idle. Most items will age whether used or not. Your boats hoses are aging just as much sitting on the hard as they are at sea. Things like hoses are just the type of thing you should replace "just because". If you can't remember when they were last done, you're due for replacement.

Many of these things get addressed when you tie into another project. The simple installation of new navigation instruments can end up with a complete re-wiring of the boat. Why? Because you discover deteriorated or substandard wiring and, if you're re-wiring the nav panel, why should you stop there when safety is at stake? this is the time at which you decide whether led lights are an upgrade you want to make, or if you want to run your new wire in conduit, in short, can you make the boat better than original? Every effor made to do the job properly and thoroughly will be one that goes a long way towards not having to revisit the area prematurely.

Generally, if you're in doubt about a system it warrants some poking around and examining. More often that not, you'll break something taking it apart, and we justify that by saying it needed replacing anyway. Things like seacock rebuilds will help you sleep much better whether on board or on shore.
 

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Hello,

I like to sail WAY more than I like to work on the boat. However, I don't like to have failures either. I have not owned a single boat for very long (boat 1 for 1 year, boat 2 for 3 years, boat 3 coming up 3 years), but I follow the directions of the surveyor regarding maintenance.

I haven't had to rebuild anything yet, but I do carefully examine things. For example, on my second boat there were signs of leaks around the chainplates. so I was sure to remove, rebed, and reseal the chainplates. Engine maintenance for me means I change all fluids when I buy the boat, then follow the manufacturer maintenance schedule. I check the rig in the spring before the boat is launched (the stick gets removed for winter storage) and midway through the season. Same with steering. When the rig is down I clean, service, and examine the furling unit.

I plan on one major service a year. Last year it was the bottom job. This year it will be an overhaul of the stuffing box. Next year will be something else.

My boat gets used often (2-3 times a week) but for relatively short trips. I don't do any long distance cruising, and will maybe spend a week or so aboard.

Barry
 

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David, who started this thread, helped me set up a list for the maintenance on our boat. It's now in an Excel spreadsheet with priority, area of the boat, specifics and estimated schedule. By doing a simple sort on both prority and area, I get a prioirtized list of what needs to be worked on next. And things like buying supplies are a high priority (above priority 1) so I review what is need ahead of time, and then everything is there to do the work when I need it.

Each row also shows rough estimates for dollars and my hours. The total for those columns is - how shall I say it - noticable.
 

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Bene,
I for one would love to see the spreadsheet if you and David don't mind sharing it. I have been working on mine, but so far it is more of a list as items come to mind than an organized schedule.

Michael
 

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I was talking to a yard mechanic about service on a steering system. I thought maintenance would include squirting a little oil and some inspection. He told me that what they do is completely disassemble the whole thing. Clean it, coat all screws, nuts and bolts with the proper goop replace any worn parts then reassemble. This takes a few hours. He said if you don't do the full service what happens is that you can't see the parts that are wearing. And fasteners will seize over time and when you need to fix them they will break.

I don't keep my cars for 20+ years and they are not on salt water but wow this is a whole nurther world. If you are supposed to do that every 5 to 15 years on every system on the boat and their are 20 systems then you have to plan on a major system overhaul or two every year.

It sounds true. I've looked at several 20+ year old Catalina 30's in the under 20,000 range and I suspect that the steering, roller furling, standing rigging, electrical, freshwater, through hulls etc have not be touched since day one.
I guess you get what you pay for. If this is true then I can see that a 20+ year old boat that had every system completely serviced properly every few years would be worth a lot more.

I guess what I'm asking is that the level of service you put in your boat or do you just sail it and if something breaks fix it?
IOW when was the last time you completely disassembled your steering system, Roller furling, electrical etc.

Give him a case of his favorite and ask him his price if you WATCH.....:D

Difference in price is you have a good mech and will he share his mind and how much...

My thoughts
Mark
 

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I was on a flight-ready B17 the other day (yes, there are still a few flying) and I could spot missing screws and rivets and a split in the skin, but it still is allegedly FAA certified to fly. I doubt it would pass your mechanic's muster.

I'm all in favor of a-compulsive maintenance, if you can afford it. Was his name Schultz, and did he have a funny mustache by any chance? Drove a Porsche maybe?

Generally you lube things, inspect things, you don't do a complete rebuild on something like a steering system as routine maintenance. And if you did that kind of work on an old boat--it still wouldn't come back to the resale value. IF you keep a complete maintenance log (and I know someone who bought a bought from a retired aviation engineer who kept such a log) it would be worht a bit more than the average paper-free boat, but nowhere near the price of the intensive maintenance. Most of that would be a sunk cost.
 

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DIY or Not

So there is lots of stuff you can do yourself and its always a trade off between your time and your money (well sometimes you can do it better yourself for any amount of money). But are there some things BETTER left to a professional? I am not talking about repairs after damage, I mean just for the regular annual maintenance. And I am not asking about when you are starting to go cruising where you better d*** well know how everything works. What normal maintenance items should I consider doing and what things should I really leave up to someone who knows the ins and outs and what can go wrong? And lets say you are pretty capable, can read and follow directions/advice. Is there anything?

Engine maintenance (Oil fuel filters belts impeller) sure DIY
hoses - DIY
steering gear, including rudder pins, etc - ?
winches - ?
standing rigging (inspection, the trouble here is that if you ask a professional about rigging that is over 5 years old he will say replace it) - ?
roller furling - ?
thru hull replacement - ?

I am sure the consensus here would be do it all yourself. But are there some items that are just not worth the time to learn to do it right, or there is too much that can go wrong that it would be better to get a pro? (Assuming you can find a pro that you trust, etc, etc).
 

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Discussion Starter #13 (Edited)
Generally you lube things, inspect things, you don't do a complete rebuild on something like a steering system as routine maintenance. And if you did that kind of work on an old boat--it still wouldn't come back to the resale value.
Hello, you have just captured in a couple of sentence's a significant part of the issue.
1. It is obvious to all that lube, inspection etc are a regular part of maintenance.
2. What is not so obvious is that complete disassembly and reassembly while not routine maintenance is also part of a complete maintenance schedule.
3. If you do the disassembly and reassembly you will not recover that value in resale.
4. If you do the full job you will:
  1. Know exactly how everything goes together and be able to fix real problems with more confidence.
  2. Should loose fewer days to unscheduled maintenance.
  3. Should be able to fix real problems with less drama as the parts will disassemble easily.
This same mechanic did help me as a favor replace the idler wheels on a Catalina 27 steering system that had completely rusted off. These wheels were missed by the surveyor and apparently all prior inspections.

In order to get to the cable and chain and sprocket the binnacle compass had to be removed. The Edison binnacle had some 4" screws that threaded into some cast aluminum. They were impossible to remove with normal techniques. It took about 8 hours to remove 3 screws the forth I gave up on. I would have really appreciated it if a former owner had disassembled the binnacle once or twice in the last 20 years and properly coated the screws.

This brings up what I have been calling the Catalina 30 syndrome. It's not jut the C30 of course but I've looked at about 20 Catalina 30's about 20 years old for about $20,000.
In all cases the problem is that you are afraid to touch anything on the boat because the screw holding it in can not be removed. If you do remove it the thing it is connected to is rotted or rusted or warn out. Then I've been on a few boats usually not CataHutaBene where everything though old has been maintained with the disassemble process and you can fix anything with confidence that you will not have cascade of interlocking disasters.

So my recommendation to those looking to buy a boat is to look for those few boats where the PO knew that inspection and oil was not enough. Either that or expect to have some serious repair problems that you hope will not hit during your vacation week when you wanted to go sailing.
Either that or buy a boat less than 10 years old because I think that the really bad problems caused by skipping the disassembly step don't kick in till later.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
So now the next step is to itemize the systems that need disassembling for inspection.
I would like some suggestions as to how often this process should be done?
  1. Steering
  2. Rudder
  3. Shivs on mast for running rigging.
  4. Fresh water (Just replace hoses every x years)
  5. Through hulls: Depending on type disassemble and lube and replace hoses and clamps every x years.
  6. Engine: This may be the exception as normal maintenance should be enough for the life of the engine. I like the idea of the white engine and white engine room mention in a past post though I've never seen it myself.
  7. Winches
  8. Roller Furling
  9. Head
What else should be disassembled and inspected and how often.
 

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The popular thing that is always promoted on forums like this is to do all kinds of things in the name of preventative maintenance...take everything apart, inspect, lubricate, reassemble. I would suggest to consider carefully what actually needs major maintenance, what needs just superficial maintenance (greasing, oil changes, etc.) and what is better left alone. Where I've seen people always tinkering, disassembling things that aren't broken, I can generally show you a boat that has lots of problems..... Again, be careful of fixing things that don't need fixing. When you take things apart, that you are not sure how they fit or should be adjusted, use general tools in place of special tools or templates, quite frequently you do more damage than you prevent.

As for the mechanic telling you all the things you should do, keep in mind that if he can convince you to do all these things, he's creating lots of business and profit. I haven't disassembled it on my boat, but in reading Edson's instructions, I don't recall all the steeering disassembly...inspections yes, and when lubricating and adjusting within the steering housing, yes, you have to take the compass off to get to it. But that is far short of what is recommended by the mechanic.

It's kind of like rushing out to grind off the top fiberglass on a boat hull because it has blisters, when just opening, drying, filling with epoxy would be sufficient and probably better for the boat structurally.

But if you've got money to burn, rebuild everthing, whether it needs it or not, and hope it's done right. Now, if I were getting ready to circumnavigate, then the inspections and preventative maintenance would probably lean to the extreme, because getting help, parts, or mechanics is going to be more difficult. If I'm just coastal sailing, then I don't need to be that extensive (and run the risk of screwing up something that would have worked fine). Older boats with unknown history will need more attention than one that's newer or that you personally know the history. If you are coastal and nervious, get a Sea Tow membership, but on a sailboat with sails and engine, you should be able to deal with almost any event on your own, if you have time.

Just a different take on things.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
The popular thing that is always promoted on forums like this is to do all kinds of things in the name of preventative maintenance...take everything apart, inspect, lubricate, reassemble.
You bring up a lot of good points.

>>>I would suggest to consider carefully what actually needs major maintenance, what needs just superficial maintenance (greasing, oil changes, etc.) and what is better left alone.<<<
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That is the point of this thread. Which is which. I'm saying wheel steering, Roller Furling, windless, and winches for example should be disassembled.
The reason is that in all of these cases there are parts that wear and superficial greasing will not do the trick. When you are forced to disassemble the job will be much harder because the fasteners will have seized. There is a recent thread where a guy spend 6 hours and had to buy a $40 tool just to get his steering wheel off. This extra frustration, cost and labor was a direct result of insufficient maintenance. About 120 seconds once a year would have eliminated the problem.
Hull Deck joint you leave alone it lasts the life of the boat unless it leaks. Then you fix it.
Engine you tear down the engine only if necessary usually due to loss of compression after far more hours than you are likely to put on a sailboat in 20 years.

>>>>Where I've seen people always tinkering, disassembling things that aren't broken, I can generally show you a boat that has lots of problems..... <<<
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If someone disassembles something and can't put it back together right or just leave it corrode into a scrap, the end result is the same. A boat with a lot of problems as you say. The choice is learn, pay or suffer. The advise to do proper maintains is good advise even if some individual executes poorly. The point of this thread is to generate ideas as to what is good maintains.

>>>>If you are coastal and nervous, get a Sea Tow membership, but on a sailboat with sails and engine, you should be able to deal with almost any event on your own, if you have time.<<<<
Again, personal choice. In coastal sailing if a winch seizes up, a sheet parts, a roller furling jams, a windless fails or the steering fall off you will probably just call someone and get towed back. The downside of course is a surprise bill, lost of sailing days/weeks, frustration etc.
The intent of this thread is to identify just what should reasonably be done to drastically eliminate the tow and what the predictable cost should be.
>>>
___________________________________________________________
It's kind of like rushing out to grind off the top fiberglass on a boat hull because it has blisters, when just opening, drying, filling with epoxy would be sufficient and probably better for the boat structurally. <<<
I agree this is something I would just leave alone.

>>>
but in reading Edson's instructions, I don't recall all the steering disassembly...inspections yes, and when lubricating and adjusting within the steering housing, yes, you have to take the compass off to get to it. But that is far short of what is recommended by the mechanic.<<<
______________________________________

OK lets use the steering as an example. The mechanic I've been talking to charges an average of two hours at about $100 an hour to tear down the whole thing and lube it and put everything back together. So the question is captain. Is it worth $100 per year of cash or your time if you do it yourself to do a through maintenance job on your steering? The alternative is to squirt some oil where you can reach, get away with it for a few years and when it fails just when you need it the most you have a great story about how your steering when out and laid up your boat for a week starting the first day of your vacation.

None of this matters however if you plan on selling your boat after 2 to 4 years and just want to use her up and start over with another boat.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
So lets wrap this thing up.
The following is a list of boat systems and recommendations for maintenance schedule. The code FULL stands for disassemble, repair, replace parts as needed and reassemble using the appropriate goop on the fasteners.
The code LI stands for lube (if required) and inspect, tighten etc.

Steering: LI yearly FULL every two years
Rudder: LI yearly FULL every 5 year
Standing Rigging: LI yearly (This is an exception as it will never be dissembled unless it is to be replaced.
Head: LI yearly, FULL (hose replacement 5 years)
Windless; LI yearly, FULL every two years.
Hull Deck Joint: Don't touch it.
Sea-cocks: LI yearly, FULL every 5 years replace hoses
Roller Furling: LI yearly, FULL every 2 years
Running Rigging: LI yearly, Full every 3 years
Winches: FULL every year

I left out tons of stuff please continue the list. What maintenance schedule you recommend instead.
 

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Yes I do ALL preventative maintenance. In the last 20 years my only failure has been a circuit breaker on a Universal diesel engine and a couple of manufacturer defects.
It must be nice living in an area where you can only sail 5 months in a year. Gives you a huge amount of time for maintenance.

Yeah, right.

In my humble view, this type of maintenance means you have too much time on your hands and too much money burning a hole in your pocket.

Not starting an argument, just my opinion. I do 10% of your maintenance, have very few failures and probably do 180% of your sailing (we sail 12 months out of every 12).

I prefer my formula.:)
 

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If manitainence is a narcotic for you, then get well into (MaineSail)...

rebuit the starter (try taking one apart... it isn't easy).
rebuilt the alternator (a bit fiddly at best)
rebuilt the sea strainer
all new hoses and non-perforated hose clamps on engine (carry a bit of hose with you?)
re-packed rudder log
new battery cable from starter to batt
new cable from alt to house bank
new impeller
changed anti-freeze
replaced thermostat
changed tranny fluid
replaced valve cover gasket
replaced rear main engine seal (2 or 3 days for me, disturbing a fair bit of stuff)
replaced head - Raritan PHII
trued prop shaft
fit and faced shaft coupling
replaced prop
replaced halyards
R&R steering chain/cable, align rudder, lube sheaves, lube bearings (this one I would give emphasis to... last summer my olde worm gear steering had some play in it).


But, why on earth would anyone rebuild a starter motor that is working, an alternator that is working, all the engine hoses that are not leaking, and impeller that is pumping, a valve cover gasket that is not leaking, a final drive seal that is not leaking, replace a prop that did not need it, and change a thermostat that was working?

Not I.

To each their own, I suppose. It will probably be more reliable for it, but a final drive seal would take me two full week-ends, and I have to take the gearbox off to do it. Last time I did, a big spacer shim fell in the bilge. Is it worth it, for a seal that is holding? The first seal on my motor lasted 20 years. The second is still there at 11. When motoring I have the olde ear defenders on, and I am for ever sticking my head in there to check. A final drive oil seal that fails paints a big oil line up the side of the engine room... you will see it.


Check your own steering. Look at the clamps and lines (I presume it is a cable steering system), replace what looks tired, if it is tired. Steering is a vital one. Watch it closely.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
Just to add a little fuel to the fire. I met up with my "yard " friend a couple days ago. Asked him what he was working on. Said he had spend the last few days servicing windlasses. Asked him how it was going.
He said that the ones that were serviced every year or two he could disassemble grease and reassemble in less than two hours.
The ones that had been let go for just six years had frozen parts that took hours longer to free-up and often broke.
It's looking like every system has its own vulnerabilities and life-expectancy.
 
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