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cs
12-03-2002, 11:59 AM
Just finished "The Last Voyage" and in it the author has built his own schoonar called the Third Sea and it is built out of Ferro-cement.

http://www.bangkokpost.net/travel/boat6.jpg

http://www.bangkokpost.net/travel/boat7.jpg

He used this boat to cruise the south seas. This is a fine looking boat and it almost seems to make sense to build out of cement when cruising these regions. Now don't get me wrong I still love wood, but whatcha think about a cement boat? Those areas of the world seem like they would be rough on a wooden hulled vessal, with worms and jagged corral reefs.

Chad

ishmael
12-03-2002, 12:09 PM
It is possible to build a very good boat of ferro-cement. It has a bad rap because of the fad of twenty five years ago, where a bunch of bad boats were built following a guru whose name escapes.

Seems to me Jay Benford has some ideas about it that would be worth a look, and more informative than what I have to offer. Someone will chime in with some books.

imported_Conrad
12-03-2002, 12:09 PM
Done properly, it could make sense. But I suspect steel would be faster to build, stronger, have higher resale value, and most importantly, be easier to modify and repair in the future. What I've read suggests ferro boats are hard to modify- how dow you attatch anything to the hull if you didn't put a tab, etc. in originally? Can't weld to it, glass to it, epoxy? How do you drill without fracturing the hull? A creative approach to boatbuilding, but not neccessarily a great solution? :rolleyes:

Dave Fleming
12-03-2002, 12:17 PM
Ferro-Cement:
Very labour intensive.
Care must be taken to get the 'armature' schedule right.
Cement mix is critical.
Noisy inside even at anchor.
Tons of insulation even in warm climate to keep condensation at bay and YOU warm in colder climes.
Hit a reef and you are gonna stay there and grind to pieces,not easy to refloat.

Me, if I had the 'druthers', I would have a competent builder make me an Aluminum hull and do the interior joiner work myself.
Repairs:
Battery powered drill and sawsall or if you have the bucks an air compressor with air tools and you then can work on the hull even underwater.
Al. sorta stretches when hit before penetration happens.
It too needs insulation but that can be sprayed on bye specialist outfits. Dunno if F-C can be done that way.

But again, ya pays ya money and ya takes what ya get, folla?

[ 12-03-2002, 08:41 PM: Message edited by: Dave Fleming ]

Dave Fleming
12-03-2002, 12:19 PM
Jack, Simpson Marine the name you were looking for? Out of British Columbia, if not mistaken.

[ 12-03-2002, 01:20 PM: Message edited by: Dave Fleming ]

cs
12-03-2002, 12:22 PM
Ask and ye shall recieve. Dave you are a wealth of information.

Let me ask if a woodend boat with a copper bottom does well in tropical enviroments or are still better with aluminium?

Chad

Dave Fleming
12-03-2002, 12:31 PM
IMOOP, a good clean wooden hull properly coppered would be alright.
BUT, if that copper is ever penetrated, particularly in tropical waters, things could go nasty in a hurry.
Coppering is tedious but not mind bending.
Hull is cleaned, corking checked and made good if necessary. Bottom paint applied then Irish Felt in the wet paint is attached with copper nails ( don't use ring shanked ones please), and the coppering starts. You have to be vigilant about checking the coppering whenever you hit something but no big deal at haul out time as not much clings to that copper bottom.

Again, I would still prefer an Al. hull but, that is me.

B_B
12-03-2002, 01:21 PM
Mr.Flemming was it not Samson or Sampson as opposed to Simpson?

Dave Fleming
12-03-2002, 01:24 PM
Mr.FLEMING replies, CRS is running rampant these days and you could be right.

John B
12-03-2002, 01:42 PM
Richard Hartley was responsible for a lot of them.
"they" say that a professionally built ferro boat is as good as any other but a lot of amateurs built them.
Then there's the argument.... the hull only makes 25% of the total cost of the boat...Why save on the hull. Some would argue that it's the most important part of the boat.

I've only ever been on one. I spent 6 hours measuring the nearest distance to shore.I did not like it. Its roll was wrong.( but that could be the specific boat)

Concordia..41
12-03-2002, 05:36 PM
Cement boats make good reefs. Florida had more than its share of ferro cement boats back in the 70's. I have seen and sailed on some very well built ones and have seen some very badly built ones. Most of them are long gone. Many of the professional built boats even cracked after a few years due to the expansion of the re-bar when it rusted. There is still one here locally and they have spent more money trying to repair and protect the hull than they would have spent to build a hull out of wood, steel or FRP. Can’t get them insured and while they are strong, as soon as the hull is damaged they break up easy. One drug anchor and got into the bridge here in a summer squall and it took the whole side out of it in no time.

If you want a wood boat in the tropics you just have to keep good bottom paint on it. Even copper cladding will not hold up down here if the boat is left in the water for long periods of time. The 34’ Hinckley that I looked at a couple of weeks ago had been copper clad and it lasted only 2 years before it ate through in a lot of places. Of course it was not hauled out for that long also.

Dave

Kermit
12-03-2002, 06:41 PM
Benford admits that given his druthers, he'd build in wood, first choice. Ferro built quick liberty ships in WWII, but I think they're all reefs and breakwaters now. I recall seeing a rowboat of about 12' in ferro about 25-30 years back, just to prove that it could be used in craft under 30'. I think I'd build in goodge first. :( :D tongue.gif

Dave Fleming
12-03-2002, 06:50 PM
Kermit, those concrete ships were built for WW I.
There is one near Santa Cruz, CA.. It is used in a state park as a breakwater. Half is unsafe as it broke it's back and almost split in two but the one, shoreside half is used bye fisherman.
WW II had those concrete artificial beach heads called Mulberrys made in England and towed across to the Normandy beach.

[ 12-03-2002, 08:43 PM: Message edited by: Dave Fleming ]

JimD
12-03-2002, 07:03 PM
there was a brief article in a recent boat mag, one of the UK publications, Practical Boat Owner perhaps, about someone who has been sailing a cement boat for many years and likes it so much he is now building another. The article echoes the earlier comments that cement boats got a bad rep because so many were poorly built, but suggests if done right they're as good as the rest
jimd

John B
12-03-2002, 07:36 PM
we're all really polite( apart from Dave LOL)
Alright. I admit it. I can't go past one without a "roading contract" comment. Can't help it.

Gary Bergman
12-03-2002, 07:38 PM
Some friends owned a very large barque , "Renegade", back in the cement days. Sheet steel,mesh reinforced concrete over. Gorgeous vessl, scourge of several seas, plowed thru reefs like steel, but eventually the moisture content wins. She is a reef now, but any vessel should aspire to a life as she had!

Noah
12-03-2002, 07:40 PM
What do you buggers think about this thing?

http://yachtworld.com/listing/yw_listing_full_detail.jsp?url=&boat_id=1012635&units=Feet&currency=USD&access=Public&listing_id=17504

"VIXEN II was originally named JESSICA. She won the N.Y. 40 1915 Series in Newport. She has won the Sweethearts of the Caribbean twice and Foxy's Wooden Boat Race. She took second place in both the 2001 Antigua Classic Regatta and 2001 Concourse de Elegance (the latter in the category of best privately maintained yacht in Antigua).
Her rebuild in 1978 consisted of using her worm-infested wooden hull as a mold, and she was ferro-cemented using 1/8" stainless-steel chicken wire.
"

Dale Genther
12-03-2002, 07:54 PM
Kiptopeke, a Virginia State Park on the Eastern Shore has a harbor made out of 10 to 12 sunken cement ships arranged in a semicircle. Its really something to see. You can anchor in the middle of them. I thought they were of WW II vintage. If I get a change I'll confirm this.

Gary Bergman
12-03-2002, 08:28 PM
Way Kewl!!!Vessel Valhalla!

John E Hardiman
12-03-2002, 08:47 PM
cs, with all respect to the other members of this forum, I don't think this is the right place to get an unbiased opinion on a boatbuilding material that is not wood.
I am sure I can say and not be proven wrong:
"I would never have a wooden boat, amatuer or professionally built, because the vast majority of them built in the last 100 years are either sunk, rotted, wrecked, or burned" ;)

That said, it should be remembered that all boat building materials; paper, wood, steel, ferrocement, FRP/GRP/composite, etc., all have their advantages and disadvantages. I have seen a 55 foot ferrocement ketch built by the Fibersteel Corp. (West Sacramento, CA) after it had an engine room fire so hot the mizzen mast MELTED, was rammed by the fireboat against the seawall to sink it (it wasn't holed, just cracked, but was rolled over and down flooded), sold as-is-where-is for the refloating cost, and was repaired for less than $10K, including new engine. Now Fibersteel (TM I think) is a patented process that uses a tension member/sprayed cement process (i.e. it is a composite) and the hull is built in a female mold a'la other composites. A hull with deck can be built in less than a week by two people if I recall correctly. I know this because I used to room with the Steve, who was Fibersteel's owers son and who owned the boat in question. Now I haven't seen Martin in about 8 years but you can go to this website and drop him an e-mail if you what the other side of the coin.

http://www.ferrocement-consultant.com/

"Martin E. Iorns, F.I.F.S. (Fellow of the International Ferrocement Society) is a consulting industrial engineer in West Sacramento, California. He has presented 54 papers and obtained four patents on ferrocement and concrete construction methods. He has a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Washington, Seattle, and studied Industrial Engineering at the University of Southern California. He is on the Editorial Board of the Journal of Ferrocement and is a member of the Marine Technology Society, Coastal Society, Society of Small Craft Designers and American Concrete Institute Committees on Shells, Offshore Structures, Repair, and Ferrocement."

Bradley
12-03-2002, 09:20 PM
Here is part of an old ferro-cement ship that went down in the 70's. It is on a submerged mountain top some 100 miles off the California coast. It is a favorite destination for the good skiff.

As the rebar deteriorates, it can be dangerous....

http://www.momentoffame.com/snapshot.html?id=21513

[ 12-03-2002, 10:22 PM: Message edited by: Bradley ]

martin schulz
12-04-2002, 03:23 AM
The 1886 built WILLOW WREN (oak ribs, teak planks) got her ferro-cement around 1910 (!) when the boat was going to the Caribbean.

The coating was renewed 1970 and still exists today, without any signs of wear.

I was surprised to hear that they put ferro-cement on boats as early as 1910.

http://www.willow-wren.de/Images/Rum%20R%202001.jpg

Dave Fleming
12-04-2002, 11:39 AM
John E. H., I take umbrage with your statements implying a one sided view of any material other than wood in this discussion.
I for one made statements and observations based on first hand experiences and personal knowledge. In fact I recommended Al. as my favoured hull material for this application vs. others.
I did give my views on wood only after that question was raised and yet I still recommended Al. as the more suitable material.
I have NO doubt that there are many well built 'Ferro Cement' structures including vessels but there can be no real argument that 'Ferro Cement' used bye many has led to some godawful failures. Just last week in our trip north to the San Francisco Bay Area, we passed at least (2) Ferro hulls sitting in the fields half or less done. One had just its armature frame work and the other had about 60% of the cement work done. They both had 'For Sale' signs on them and have, to the best of my recollection, been sitting in those fields for over 20 years. Now imagine some starry eyed pilgrim comes traipsing along and sees either one and all sorts of dreams float through his head. He strikes a deal with the owner, not necessarily the would be builder, most likely an heir. He has it carted away to his building site and resumes work on it. I don't think I have to go further with this scenario do I?
To further cover the bases, I have seen similar situations, many many times, in most all other hull materials too. But that Ferro Cement leaves me just a bit cold. Not at all 'warm and fuzzy' about setting off into the wide Pacific full of confidence that my 20+ years in the making hull is up to the task.
Extreme example yes, but accurate, most likely.
PAX
david

John B
12-04-2002, 02:16 PM
There were 2 ferro boats being repaired on the hardstand when we were out this year. I had a good look at what they were doing to them and the state of the steel. they both had quite big , multiple holes.
there was no way they were going to get all the rust but they look as good as new now.

[ 12-04-2002, 03:17 PM: Message edited by: John B ]

Nicholas Carey
12-04-2002, 04:50 PM
All I know about ferro boats is this: Several years ago, here in Seattle, one of the Center for Wooden Boats rentals (Blanchard Junior Knockabout, a small 10-1200 pound keelboat, 20 feet long) holed the big ferro schooner across the waterway. She punched a nice big 6 in. or so hole two feet above the water line. Not bad for a light boat going less less than 4 knots.

Another time, another small rental from the Center took out one of the ketch's dinghy davits. The davit ripped right out when it got snagged by a shroud. Another small (~20 footer) daysailor.

I don't believe either of the boats doing the damage sustained much themselves.

It doesn't give me a lot of faith in ferrocement.

I've heard it said, too, (although it perhaps is just a dockside legend), that ferro boats don't suffer lightning strikes well. Consider that a ferro hull is cement laid up on a wire armature. Cement has a high water content. Water turns to steam when heated (as when the wire armature is conducting the sudden flux from the lightning strike to ground.)

Presumably, the cement blows off the armature and you're left with a wire mesh basket full of rocks.

Just my 2 centimes' worth.

John E Hardiman
12-04-2002, 10:44 PM
Originally posted by Dave Fleming:
John E. H., I take umbrage with your statements implying a one sided view of any material other than wood in this discussion.
I for one made statements and observations based on first hand experiences and personal knowledge. I'm sorry if I offended, that was not my intent. I just wished to point out that this a wooden boat forum, at that other sources could be had that come at the topic from the other side of the hill. Sometimes it's a very different view from over there.

But IMHO the point still needs to be made that there no "Unobtaininum" that is the best overall boatbuilding material. As several people have shown by their responses, good and bad, to this thread; not everyone understands the limitations, advantages, and construction requirements imposed by the selection of a specific material (in this case ferrocement) for boatbuilding. As you would perfer aluminum, all my experience with aluminum tells me that steel is the way I would go. Why? For a crusing monohull of reasonable single-handing size, I feel the cost/weight/damage tolerance/repair/maintainence trade-off comes down on the side of steel for me and the boat I would build. If I was building an all-out racing sled then glued/riveted aluminum or a cored composite or cold molded wood depending on budget and intended racing series. Jet powered river skiff - welded aluminum. Pond skiff - plywood. Tugboat - welded steel. The vessel and its intended use tend in my opinion to dictate the hull material.

The other point you touched on, unfinished boats, I think has more to do with the precieved "ease" of construction. For ferrocement, anyone could think that it would be easy to just tie a bunch of chickenwire together and just slater the cement on. Just as people think that anyone with a saw and wood could build wooden boat. As we are people who have build boats/ships for a living, we know that the hull is just a small fraction of the entire project. But to most neophytes, the hull seems like this huge thing which keeps getting larger. I know, it took me 4 months to get a "weekend" 4 sheet skiff out of my garage this year after putting the hull together in 3 days. :(

John E Hardiman
12-04-2002, 11:21 PM
Originally posted by Nicholas Carey:
All I know about ferro boats is this: Several years ago, here in Seattle, one of the Center for Wooden Boats rentals (Blanchard Junior Knockabout, a small 10-1200 pound keelboat, 20 feet long) holed the big ferro schooner across the waterway. She punched a nice big 6 in. or so hole two feet above the water line. Not bad for a light boat going less less than 4 knots.

Another time, another small rental from the Center took out one of the ketch's dinghy davits. The davit ripped right out when it got snagged by a shroud. Another small (~20 footer) daysailor.

I don't believe either of the boats doing the damage sustained much themselves.

It doesn't give me a lot of faith in ferrocement.

I've heard it said, too, (although it perhaps is just a dockside legend), that ferro boats don't suffer lightning strikes well. Consider that a ferro hull is cement laid up on a wire armature. Cement has a high water content. Water turns to steam when heated (as when the wire armature is conducting the sudden flux from the lightning strike to ground.)

Presumably, the cement blows off the armature and you're left with a wire mesh basket full of rocks.

Just my 2 centimes' worth.Nicholas; just to give you a perspective on this, the two "little" boats you describe have about the same effective mass of a full size pickup (about 80 slugs) when sailing. So think of this, would you expect the schooner to be holed if you stuck a 2" stinger in the hitch reciever of the pickup and backed it into the side of the schooner at 6.75 ft/sec? (1/2*80*(6.75)^2= 1822 ft/lbs of energy, i.e. as if you dropped the entire weight of the knockabout 1.5 feet on to the stem fitting) Damn right it would! Most likely penetrate a 'glass, sheet aluminum, or light steel hull also. May not fully penetrate a 2" wood hull, but would sure as hell fracture plank and frame. In college I repaired our 470s when they got dinged up, you'd be surprized how big a hole you could put in the turn of bilge of one of those when rammed broadside by another. And consider that the stem is one of the structuraly strongest points of a hull, and useally fitted with a pointy metal thing. :eek:

No, not many hulls are not designed to survive a point impact (and those that are are called "battleships" for a reason) :D

As for the davit, I can rip most davits off at the base because a davit is not designed to be side loaded. Same with a lighting strike, an improperly grounded boat will most like loose a chunk of it's hull as the voltage finds the path of least resistance. I've seen large holes blown in lapstrake sailboats, and 'glass motor boats by lighting.

ion barnes
12-08-2002, 02:54 AM
Ferro-cement is for basements and wharfs. DF, the individual you were trying to recall is Samson Marine and he convinced the US Navy that combat boat for the Viet Nam river deltas. Later the man produced a how-to-do book for backyard builders and thats where it went all wrong. It was assumed that ANYBODY could build one at a low cost and no training ( have we heard this before?) What was missed was 1)The armature had to be of the best quality, rust free, and well designed. 2)The concrete must be applied in one long operation, no joints ever. 3)The concrete had to be slow cured, kept wet for as long as 14 days. All of which was too much work for most builders. There are some properly built FC hulls around with good documentation but had to find.

ken mcclure
12-08-2002, 07:56 AM
From what I've read for the last 10 years or so a boat destined for the tropics should be made of a wood that is less susceptible to tropical problems. Is it not correct that a tropical-wood hull that is inherently resistant to the warm-water beasties would be better than a copper-clad "tasty-morsel" wood from up north?

Of course, if you're not hooked on wood I'd recommend you look hard at the aluminum.

Gary Bergman
12-08-2002, 10:38 AM
I've stayed outta this one, but a rehash for Mr. Hardiman; many of us on this forum own and support vessels of many types of construction.It might be that we hang here due to a passion for our wooden boats.

HAT
12-09-2002, 12:06 PM
Around here,anumber of years ago,backyard FC boat building was credited with being the cause of a few divorces.

Ian G Wright
12-09-2002, 03:25 PM
A ferro hull can be a very inexpensive way to build a large hull. I know of several, built by Winboats, Hartley, Mic Wilkins and Colin Brooks that are pretty, nice and even pretty nice. But they're not for me.
I think of them as steel boats with thousands of leaks plugged with cement. Pure predudice,,,,,

IanW.

Ian McColgin
12-09-2002, 03:31 PM
Ferro can be done rightly but it was way oversold.

The material is indeed perhaps less than half any other material cost. However, labor is huge, even if not paid out in cash.

Even if you save as much as half the hull cost, the hull is only 1/4 the cost of the boat. So you've saved 1/8 total cost for a material that is difficult to survey or modify and has inferior impact resistance.

The place for ferro is fairly limited. It's there, but limited.

Ross Faneuf
12-09-2002, 10:32 PM
Interesting short article in the latest Smithsonian Magazine about a concrete canoe competition on Lake Mendota. Here's an org link which will tell you more than you want to know:

http://www.concretecanoe.org/

Beowolf
12-10-2002, 06:41 AM
I saw a large (45 foot) ketch at the state dock in Tawas last summer. Never seen a ferro-cement boat before, but I knew it right away. Hull simply looks like it's make from cement. The owner was a nice guy but he couldn't believe it when I guessed right as to its construction. I believe his was a Benford design. Wood decks, wood masts. I complimented him for giving us something to look at other than the mess of Hunters that littered the dock at the time. Personally, I wasn't a big fan of it, but some opinions should be kept to yourself at the time. I have to admit though, the next morning I saw it sail by the cabin that I was staying in and it did look good under a full press of sail. But I think that's true of nearly all ketch's and yawls.

Take care.

Jeff.

Hugh Paterson
12-10-2002, 07:11 AM
There was a nice wee ferro cement boat here on the Clyde a few years ago 18-20m long, used as a charter Sea fishing boat. En route from the fishing grounds to Greenock one night, 200 yards from the shore, bout a mile from the coastguard station, a spare chain in the bilge got caught in the propshaft :eek: Punched a big bloody hole through the hull as it flailed around the shaft, it went to the bottom in less than two minutes. If memory serves me well, I think there were only a couple of survivors made it ashore. The water is cold here most of the year. It was recovered for the Marine accident investigation board to survey, and thereafter was laid up in Bowling for many years. Not a pretty sight, I sailed past it up and down the river until quite recently, very sad and forlorn, But a good advert for how not to build a boat.
Shug.

Art Read
12-10-2002, 08:22 AM
When I first started working aboard HINDU as a kid, there was a "relief" skipper named Rick, (RIP) who was funding his own boat building project with the income from running HINDU. (He got lots of nice "hand-me-downs" from her as well... including the "good" part of her old, original main mast!) It was a Colin Archer type, double ended, gaff cutter. Perhaps an Atkins design? 'Bout 35' or so. Ferro-cement with epoxy and ply decks and superstructure. Beautifully done "wood" interior arrangements. He spent eight years building her, with his partner working full time as one of the more popular, local bar-tenders to help keep the wolves at bay during the "off seasons" from HINDU. If I remember correctly, at least five or six of those years were spent just on the hull! I suppose he got it to the point where she was turned over after three or four years, but even after the engine, bulkheads, decks, cockpit and cabin had been completed, he was STILL smearing googe on that hull, and paying various of the current crop of HINDU deckhands to grind away at it on their days off...

The results, when she was finally launched, were really quite spectacular. That cement hull looked perfect! (In fact, he was a bit dismayed that most observers just assumed she was 'glass...) I happened to get my license the same year he launched, and took over his old position aboard HINDU. We got to spend quite a few evenings that next season sailing in company with her on the daysailing charters he was running to "shake her down"... (His "clothing optional", sunset sails were infamous!) The following fall, he took her down to Key West to live aboard with his partner and "retire" to a tropical bar-tending/charter boat lifestyle.

I didn't hear much more about him, or the boat, 'cept that he was doing well and loving every minute of it. Then he got sick. He was dead within a year or so after that. His partner came back to the Cape to go back to work for his old bar. (He was sick too, and needed money.) The boat went on the market in Florida. And sat there. For the three remaining years his partner survived, that boat sat on the market and deterioriated. The broker kept lowering the asking price 'till I started to think I ought to buy it myself... (And I was flat broke at the time!) I don't know what ever did become of her. I assume the estate eventually managed to sell. But, for years afterwards, every time the subject of ferro-cement came up around the woodstove, or in the local watering holes, poor Rickie and his little gaff cutter would be "trotted out" as a cautionary tale. Shame really. It was a pretty boat, well made, well appointed, rigged authentically and a good sailor. (if somewhat "heavy") But nobody would touch it because it was a "home built" cement boat. Period. Her name was STARBUCK. Anybody down that way ever run across her?

[ 12-10-2002, 09:59 AM: Message edited by: Art Read ]