View Full Version : Classic/Antique Steel Sailboats

11-08-2005, 01:57 PM
Just curious about what it takes to keep these things in good shape, and what they need on an ongoing schedule.

Looking on Yachtworld there are some pretty beautiful Abeking and Rasmussen's, built out of steel in the 20's - 50's.

Perhaps for a big classic boat steel makes more sense than wood? Maybe not?

Lets here what you have to say.



Dave Fleming
11-08-2005, 02:50 PM
Having spent a considerable part of my last working years running an Aluminum new build yard, I would make the comment that for a one off vessel over say 55 feet in length I would use Aluminum.

More for a motor vessel than sail for a round bilged hull takes considerable skill and equipment to form correctly. Whereas flare and flam in a motor vessel is relatively simple to fabricate.

5xxx Series Plate
6xxx Series Structural

I see if I can dig up some photos of motor yacht construction and post them to my PictureTrail albums.

11-08-2005, 02:53 PM
Yes, I can imagine that building new, Alum makes more sense.

I was more interested in the classics that are now 50 or more years old.

I suppose it depends on the individual boat, but I wondered what is needed to keep them in good shape.

An example would be a boat like this:


Alan D. Hyde
11-08-2005, 02:55 PM
Dave, do you know from what various metals boats have successfully been built?

Steel & aluminum, obviously.

Stainless steel? Magnesium? Monel? Others?


Dave Fleming
11-08-2005, 03:40 PM
Sorry Alan, outside of Steel and Aluminum the only other metal vessels I am aware of are those couple of Shrimpers built of Monel way back in the 50's/60's.
I would imagine they are noted on the CDA web site.

[ 11-08-2005, 03:40 PM: Message edited by: Dave Fleming ]

11-08-2005, 04:07 PM
Full discussion on metal for boat-building here:


Search on www.boatdesign.net (http://www.boatdesign.net) for reviews of boats built with Copper Nickel.

Also http://boatdesign.net/forums/forumdisplay.php?f=21

Check out www.metalboatsociety.org (http://www.metalboatsociety.org) for all the issues. A number of forum members are restoring 'antique' steel yachts. Lots of info there - replating, sandblasting, painting etc.

[ 11-08-2005, 04:09 PM: Message edited by: MarkC ]

Thad Van Gilder
11-08-2005, 04:20 PM
Dave, I didn't know you worked in an aluminum yard? The last yard I worked at hanging planks had me loft and cut out most of the pieces for an 80 foot aluminum work boat. there were three welders working with me, and none of them knew which end of the boat went forward.

The guy that owned that yard once told me that wood boatbuilders were great, cause you can make them build a boat out of anything, but rarely can a metal or glass boatbuilder build a decent wood boat.


Dave Fleming
11-08-2005, 04:39 PM
Thad, I sorta backed into Al.work under simlar circumstances.

Lofting into layout into learning to weld both MIG and TIG, fitting, etc..

Pretty soon I was running a 89 person crew of welders, fitters, carpenters, cabinet makers, painters, outside machinists etc..

That was when I lost the last few remaining hairs on my head. :D

Gary E
11-08-2005, 04:55 PM
Originally posted by Noah:
Yes, I can imagine that building new, Alum makes more sense.

I was more interested in the classics that are now 50 or more years old.

I suppose it depends on the individual boat, but I wondered what is needed to keep them in good shape.

An example would be a boat like this:

http://yachtworld.com/core/li sting/pl_boat_full_detail.jsp?slim=quick&boat_id=1395617 (http://yachtworld.com/core/listing/pl_boat_full_detail.jsp?slim=quick&boat_id=1395617)From that boats description...

Both the galley, and forepeak have been disassembled to allow recent plating in accordance with the current owner's continual maintainence program. Sounds to me as the owner has kept it up over the years, but now the hull is in the re-plating stage and he wants out.

Any interest in any steel hull should be carefully looked at with ultrasonic inspection.
But on the good side, isn't the boat the US captured from the Germans and is now the Coast Guard's steel?.. the Eagle? not sure that's the right name.

11-08-2005, 05:02 PM
How about this one in steel (Mason 31), used in fresh water only.


11-08-2005, 06:01 PM
Cupro Nickel was the material of choice when I wuz stuck in Mississippi......didn't have to haul out or repaint the bottom....

11-08-2005, 06:05 PM
a couple steel Thomas Colvin schooners have been for sale,,they look pretty

Rick Tyler
11-08-2005, 09:02 PM
Originally posted by paladin:
Cupro Nickel was the material of choice when I wuz stuck in Mississippi......didn't have to haul out or repaint the bottom....Dave Gerr is a big fan of cupro-nickel. Unfortunately, as Dave writes, it costs a whole bunch. Huge amounts. Really expensive.

Interesting article (http://www.copper.org/applications/cuni/txt_copper_nickel_boat_hull.html) on a 30 year old copper-nickel boat.

[ 11-08-2005, 09:10 PM: Message edited by: Rick Tyler ]

Alan D. Hyde
11-09-2005, 09:05 AM
An interesting link.

Thanks, Rick.





[ 11-09-2005, 09:06 AM: Message edited by: Alan D. Hyde ]

11-09-2005, 09:08 AM
63' Copper-Nickel sailboat. http://www.tantonyachts.com/964p1.jpg

Gary E
11-09-2005, 10:17 AM
Before you guys with dreams wet or regular get hepped up about CuNi boats, I sugest you first look in your bank account... Is there a truck load there that you dont need?.. if Yes then call your local metal supply house and ask for a quote on some 3/16 or 8 Gage sheets of CuNi and Steel.

Dave Fleming
11-09-2005, 05:03 PM
As I mentioned I am starting to post some photos to my PictureTrail albums of Aluminum boat construction. The the first ones have been uploaded.

[ 11-10-2005, 12:37 PM: Message edited by: Dave Fleming ]

11-10-2005, 07:51 AM
My next metal boat will be aluminum. I like the radius chine designs from Dudley Dix. I am currently finishing up a 39 foot steel sailboat. Every square inch of the boat inside and out has been flame sprayed with pure zinc to a thickness of about 1 mm. There is a steel boat here in the area that was built 82 years ago and is perfect condition. It had been flame sprayed when built.

Dan McCosh
11-10-2005, 07:58 AM
Curious--if the flame-sprayed steel works so well, why aluminum?

11-10-2005, 08:14 AM
What and whre is that boat?!? She looks very interesting-would love ot hear more about her...

11-10-2005, 08:51 AM
Aluminum is lighter, no coating system is required, can be cut with wood working tools, much higher cost for materials and a different skill level required to successfully joint the material.
If zinc coated steel were to go unpainted, it would soon sacrifice and you would have wasted your time.

11-10-2005, 11:20 AM
I've got a steel boat http://home.att.net/~willmarsh3/al/under_sail2.jpg

Not really an antique - built in 1983.

She's made of steel coated with zinc paint, then epoxy and polyurethane. The masts are aluminum and the cabin top is wood/epoxy. The decks are teak strips on top of plywood on top of steel.
She's held up quite well - I've had very few problems with rusting. Any spots I sand and/or treat with "Evaporust", then Zinga, then prime and paint with Interlux. For quick fixes I spray rustoleum.
I spend most of my boat maintenance time doing brightwork and painting the cabin top.
I will be removing (and possibly replacing) the teak on the deck in the near future. This will be a big project.


11-10-2005, 02:43 PM
A very classy and classic 78 foot steel boat, Dove, just sold on ebay for a small percentage of its value. It went for 12,000 US$. The boat is located in Michigan just south of Detroit. I wanted the boat in the worst way. However, due to the way the rest of the world views the United States at this time, I thought it best not to try to remove the boat by going thru another country. A real shame because we would have produced a master piece.

Alan D. Hyde
11-10-2005, 02:57 PM
Gerald, I cannot believe that you would have had ANY trouble going out the St. Lawrence seaway, flying a Brazilian flag along with U.S. or Canadian courtsey flags, as appropriate.


P.S. Will, you've got a beautiful vessel... :D

[ 11-10-2005, 02:59 PM: Message edited by: Alan D. Hyde ]

11-10-2005, 03:08 PM
The vessel was built in 1906 and served during the two world wars as a mail boat. It is a registered vessel. If the boat were setting offshore in the Atlantic, I would pay far more than they received.

Paul Denison
11-11-2005, 09:49 AM
Originally posted by Rick Tyler:
</font><blockquote>quote:</font><hr />Originally posted by paladin:
Cupro Nickel was the material of choice when I wuz stuck in Mississippi......didn't have to haul out or repaint the bottom....Dave Gerr is a big fan of cupro-nickel. Unfortunately, as Dave writes, it costs a whole bunch. Huge amounts. Really expensive.

Interesting article (http://www.copper.org/applications/cuni/txt_copper_nickel_boat_hull.html) on a 30 year old copper-nickel boat.</font>[/QUOTE]That's a great link. I've had interest in these type hulls for years.

Andrew Craig-Bennett
11-11-2005, 09:57 AM
There's a North Sea 24 (Kim Holman design from the 60's) in the UK which is built of copper nickel. Owner (the head of a local sailing dynasty) wanted a 100% maintenance free boat.

A couple of unforeseen problems...

...corrosion of the mooring chain!

...the plating, after 30 years or so, wore thin at the bow in the splash zone, probably for the reason given by Hiscock for the erosion of copper sheathing on wooden hulls in the same region.

11-11-2005, 10:14 AM
63' built in PA. Stainless steel framing, topsides and deck. C-N bottom, keel and rudder. http://www.tantonyachts.com/fp_images/964.jpg http://www.tantonyachts.com/P4070086.jpg

Alan D. Hyde
11-11-2005, 10:38 AM
Courtesy of www.corrosion-doctors.org (http://www.corrosion-doctors.org) ---

Monel Corrosion

Monel or Alloy 4000, is a nickel alloy containing 65-70 percent nickel, 20-29 percent copper, and small amounts of iron, manganese, silicon and carbon discovered due to the efforts of Robert Crooks Stanley, who worked for the International Nickel Company (INCO) in 1901. The new alloy which was named in honor of the president of the company, Ambrose Monell, was said to be:

*Stronger than steel


*Resistant to corrosion

*Low coefficient of thermal expansion

*Highly resistant to alkalis

*Improved sanitation (??)

*Fairly inexpensive

*Can be welded, brazed and soldered

Monel strainer corroded at the seawater line

In the 1920s and 30s, Monel was available in both hot-rolled and cold-rolled sheets typical finishes included brightly polished, "hand-forged" black, and two-toned in outdoor applications, Monel develops a patina ranging from light gray-green to medium brown.

Typical Uses

*Popular between 1909 and the mid 1950s

*Available in sheet form for architectural applications

*Installed as a sheet roofing membrane in 1908

*In the late 1920s, Monel was began to be used for grocery coolers, countertops, sinks, laundry and food preparation appliances, roofing and flashing

*Other uses for sheet and plate Monel were ductwork, flashing, gutters and downspouts, mail chutes, laundry chutes, elevator fittings, lighting fixtures, and skylights

*Monel castings were also popular and included grilles, rosettes, plaques, handrail fittings, molding, pilasters, mullions, and door jambs

*Monel forgings were used for hardware

*Monel bar and rod stock were used for window screens, gates, public directory boards, railings, and divider strips in terrazzo floors

*Other common applications for Monel included tie wire for securing lath in plaster walls and suspended ceilings, fasteners for tile roofs and anchors for stone cladding

Monel began to be displaced by stainless steel in the 1950s, as stainless steel could produce the same forms at a lower cost (due to use of less nickel)

A modified, less expensive use of Monel included laminating a thin sheet of Monel to an inexpensive backing material; two examples include Monel-clad steel and Monel-laminated plywood

Monel is still manufactured by INCO, primarily in the form of sheet goods; cast and rolled forms are also available, but are extremely expensive

Natural or Inherent Problems

*Surface discoloration: Can occur from exposure to atmospheric condition

*Pitting: Can occur if exposed to stagnant salt water.

*Galvanic corrosion: Metals, such as aluminum, zinc and iron will corrode when in contact with Monel and exposed to severe weather conditions.

Therefore, use of these metals as fasteners for Monel should be avoided.

*Stress corrosion cracking: Exposure to aerated hydrofluoric acid in moist conditions can cause this to occur.

Corrosion resistance:

*Nitric oxides and sulfur dioxides, combined with water, are very corrosive to Monel.

*Nitric and nitrous acids can be very corrosive to Monel at room temperature

*Hypochlorites are severely corrosive to Monel if not diluted

*Acid and alkaline oxidizing salts, ferric chloride, ferric sulfate, cupric chloride, stannic chloride, mercuric chloride and silver nitrate are all corrosive to Monel.

*Resistance to sulfurous acid varies depending on climatic conditions

*Organic acids (acetic and fatty acids) have little to no effect on Monel



[ 11-11-2005, 10:41 AM: Message edited by: Alan D. Hyde ]