View Full Version : woodenboat maintainance primer
Ray Frechette Jr
11-09-2002, 09:17 PM
Looking for a brief overview as to what sort of maintainance a wooden boat requires over GRP boats.
On say a 35 foot new construction plank on frame boat, How long before planks need replcing assuming yearly haulouts, repainting as necessary, ensuring deck leaks fixed promptly.
How long before needing refastening. How expensive is a refastening. How often does decks need attention to prevent leakage?
Lots of questions, little knowledge as to what wooden boat maintanance entails.
I love the looks over the clorox bottles, but have heard horror stories about the maintainance.
What about recaulking seams? How often is that needed?
Larry Pardey writes rather disparagingly in "The Cost Concious Cruiser" about epoxy properties in Cold Molded Wood boats as epoxy has proven to be less waterproof than previously thought, and also starts to degrade at temperature starting at 120 degrees.
Looking for a wooden boat maintainance primer.
Thanks in advance.
11-09-2002, 09:44 PM
Let's see. This topic is way too big for a Forum post, but I can answer your specific queeries.
Planking. New construction, well built of good, durable materials could last 80 to 100 years.
Refastening. A copper riveted hull could last indefinitely, depending on how hard you use her. Bronze screws at the stem and rabate should last at least 30 to 40 years. You should check the screws after 20 years. If they show any signs of wear, start a program of replacing them, a few each year. That keeps the cost and time of labor down.
Decks. There are a number of construction methods for decks. A traditional laid deck can last 40, 50 years or more, with recaulking required every 10 to 20 years. A canvas deck can last that long, but you will need to repaint occassionally and replace the canvas once in a while. Fiberlass in epoxy over plywood can last indefinitely with good maintenance.
Hull recaulking. Every 20 years.
Check out some the of the book sold by WoodenBoat. Also check out some used book dealers for boat maintenance books written before 1950.
Ray Frechette Jr
11-09-2002, 09:51 PM
Scott, Thanks for the reply.
Am I to understand then that if I have a Wooden boat well built from a quality craftsman that I could well expect it to need relatively little in the way of maintainance "save obvious paint varnish work, and normal maintainance due any boat wood or grp" for the remaining 40 years the actuarial tables give me to walk and sail the face of this Home we call Earth?
Ray, I can't help you much, but on the other hand I'm still awake with nothing else to do on a Saturday night cuz the first mate is in San Francisco, but...
1)Fasten with silicon bronze and let your great great grand children worry about refastening.
2)Which horror stories do you prefer? Traditional, predictable ones or the brave new horror of epoxy?
That's about as far as my lack of expertise takes me, but I'm sure when the dawn breaks you'll hear from many with sound advise to offer.
11-10-2002, 08:08 AM
Yes, Ray, that's correct.
Some people say the grp boats and wooden boats require the same amount of maintenance, just on different scedules. Wooden surfaces need to be protected from the elements, so you'll need to do regular painting and varnishing. If you ignore or defer that work, you may develop problems that become the kind of maintenance nightmare that you sometimes hear about.
You can ignore maintenance on a grp boats for a few years with no immediately visible results. But, if you've ever seen a grp boat with a waterlogged deck core or blisters in the hull or a chalky, faded gelcoat, you'll understand that grp boats can be very, very expensive to maintain.
I have a 32 year-old wooden boat that is as good or better than new. You would have a hard time finding a 32 year old grp boat that was as good as new.
11-10-2002, 09:29 AM
Just a comment relating to Stott's last sentence. Depends on where you look. Here on Mount Desert Island, ME there are lots of 30+ year old fiberglass boats that are better than new. Mine at 30 years in in the good as new catagory. The only thing that needs work is the wooden interior smile.gif
11-10-2002, 09:54 AM
My experience is pretty ditto on what Scott said. My boat is 42 and always been in the water. All original plank except two from a serious grounding.Do that with any fiberglass boat and you have a large unmanageable hole. end of story. I have and still own a fiberglass boat or two also. I have seen a few same as new 25 year old fiberglass boats, but NEVER better than new. That said, they both require maintanence to stay nice. I find wooden boat maintanence more mental and less physical, a brush beats a buffer anytime overhead unless you are well under thirty.
11-10-2002, 09:58 AM
Ray, If owners of glass boats cared for their boats as carefully as wooden boat owners, Todd's statement would apply to most glass boats, as well. That is, however all it takes to live with and love a wooden boat. A little care at the first evidence of a problem and Larry Pardeys disparaging attitude becomes meaningless. If wooden boat owners treated their boats the way the majority of GRP owners do-masts left up at haulout, uncovered over the winter or sealed in shrink wrap- a wooden boat wouldn't last very long.
New wooden boats, built in the classic methods will last longer than you and I will.
You asked about caulking. Caulking lasts a very long time and should not need any attention unless the boat is damaged or allowed to get too dry.
11-10-2002, 02:48 PM
Another point worth remembering. Water is the enemy of grp. The polyester resins are not waterproof and will degrade with constant exposure. Some of the experts say that a grp boat should be out of the water six months out of twelve to give it sufficient dry time. That may explain why the grp boats in Maine last so well. The season is short and they are on the hard for the better part of the year. In other words, you can't leave a grp boat in the water indefinitely.
The opposite is true of a plank on frame wooden boat.
11-10-2002, 10:03 PM
There's less difference that is commonly thought in the maintenance requirements of GRP vs. wooden boats.
Systems, spars, sails, bottom paint, and brightwork take the same maintenance regardless of the material of the hull and deck under them.
GRP boats develop structural problems over time and need repair, too. Assuming good quality construction, this isn't a big cost when averaged over years.
The place where there can be a big difference is in the maintenance of coatings on topsides and decks. With GRP, the first few years are free, then periodic painting is required. Here's the difference. Most GRP parts, and fewer wooden parts are sufficiently stable that LPU paints can last for many years. Barring scuffs from docks, etc., topside paint jobs can last over ten years and deck jobs seven or more. On wood structures, unless well sheathed with synthetics, shorter re-paint intervals are needed.
Peter Malcolm Jardine
11-10-2002, 10:21 PM
Ditto Scott as well. I just bought a 40 year old 36 foot wooden Chris Craft, and altho it had an excellent survey, I went looking for rot when it was pulled a month ago, and I know where to look. O. Notta. zilch. a couple of little pockets the size of my thumbnail. Extra work? some. Therapy for me, and I mean that. A wooden boat is a RENEWABLE resource, certainly much more than a plastic boat. I also like the smell of em.
11-12-2002, 09:58 AM
Epoxy is helping NEW wood boats compete with the plastic ones. Epoxy does have a problem with high temps, that's why it doesn't have a mil spec. But unless you are anchored over a submerged volcano, I wouldn't worry about it!
Ray Frechette Jr
11-12-2002, 12:22 PM
The temp problem with epoxy was new to me. I reckon water temp isn't a problem other than over submerged volanoes, but what about engine compartments. Do temps here get high enough to cause problems? Is there any real world problems with epoxy or does it exist mainly on the chalkboard?
I realize epoxy needs to be applied properly in the first place, ie:wash off blush between coats if iti forms, assure proper ambient air temps when bonding, precoat wood first to allow absorption and prevent glue starved joints. etc.
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