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RP1

Opinions on Wooden Superstructure

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This has been really insightful and interesting as I have the same sort of budget. Sitting out this season might be the most sensible approach

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1 hour ago, ivan&alice said:

I [...] make it clearer that I'm ignorant :)

 

Ignorant is teachable ... stupid is forever! :)

 

 

(Edit to add: For clarity, I don't think Ivan is stupid, I just think his boaty education is missing a bit!) 

Edited by TheBiscuits

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2 hours ago, ivan&alice said:

Have you considered a very small boat? A quick look on the Duck shows a number of narrowboats ~40' length in your price range. I haven't looked at any of the details, but that could be an option for you, particularly if you are living alone. If I was alone I'd certainly consider a short narrowboat - many costs are proportional to length, so you're likely to save a lot of money post-purchase as well. Not to mention that they will be a lot easier to handle in some ways, such as when finding moorings (particularly in urban areas).

 

Yes, definitely worth thinking about if you are going to be living alone. But maybe less practical for a couple, unless you really do get on all the time.

 

A few years back we had a lot of entertaing posts on here from a thirtysomething single lady who placed a drunken ebay bid on a 35 or 40 footer after a night out in the pub, and awoke next morning to find she had won it, at a far lower price than buying from a small ad. And so she ended up living on board. She made a lot of friends on the forum, asked lots of questions, got lots of sometimes conflicting answers, but learned a lot along the way. Sadly she hasn't posted now for quite a while.

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2 minutes ago, David Mack said:

A few years back we had a lot of entertaing posts on here from a thirtysomething single lady who placed a drunken ebay bid

 

Was that Starcoaster?  If so she made one of the best posts ever on the forum, and span it out into a career in journalism.  It's a shame she got driven out of bothering to post here by some of the grumpy old men.

 

I don't blame her, but I do miss her!

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The good point about wooden topped boats is that being a very slow conductor of temperature changes they're much cooler in the summer inside and warmer inside in the winter. Steel conducts temperature changes ra apidly and can get wickedly hot in the summer and colder in the winter no matter how well insulated they are.

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7 hours ago, ivan&alice said:

Fair enough, I did say I don't know what I'm talking about, and I did say "may be"!

The boats I've seen with a different material for the superstructure have invariably been in appalling condition, but that could be a coincidence. I've seen enough that for myself, I'm put off for life, though!

I retract my comment fully and made an edit to my original post to make it clearer that I'm ignorant :)

You are not ignorant - your are learning and we have been on the journey with you - you have an opinion but it isn't based on experience.

 

IMHO GRP is not for living on at this budget - if you have £40k plus then GRP is fine - with GRP its much more a case of what was it built for in the first place

 

Sadly the OP hasn't really got enough money to what he/she wants to do - where to compromise is the real question and can you then live with that.

Edited by Halsey

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7 hours ago, AJby3 said:

This has been really insightful and interesting as I have the same sort of budget. Sitting out this season might be the most sensible approach

I'm not sure its a case of sitting out the season per sey as it depends on what you want - if you want a 57 ftr cruiser stern reverse layout with washing machine fixed double etc etc for £55k then don't buy now BUT if you want a 35ftr with basic accommodation for £20k then keep looking and buy the right boat when you see it.

 

The market is hot for the everyday easy ready to move on live-aboards but not for something a bit off message like a good short boat which for some reason never seem that popular - a good well laid out 40ftr is a good single person live aboard prospect.

7 hours ago, Alan de Enfield said:

I don't think that London should be used as examples of either good or bad boat handling - it is a place to itself and unlike anywhere else - not typical of 90% of the inland waterways.

99%

is it still a waterway?

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Two main comments:

The OP at this stage has not handled or slept on a narrowboat. I think that their intention of hiring one for a holiday is a good idea. That is essential before deciding if this life is for them. 

 

Regarding woodentops; I think 'it depends on material'. I would not touch a plywood top with a barge pole. Getting plywood with truly water-resistant glues is like finding diamonds dropped on the street. Even certified stuff from specialised timber suppliers is prone to delaminating; and will be more expensive than an equivalent sheet of 4mm steel.

That said, I lived in a barge with a wooden roof for 4 years. The wood was scaffold planks, covered with vinyl and a canvas 'wear' layer. Looked period-correct for the barge, never leaked. 

 

A friend had a barge with a wooden wheelhouse, always leaking. Lent him an old book on boat maintenance; he canvassed and painted the roof, no leaks, looked good. Easy to maintain too, just repaint with ordinary household paint. No fancy stitching, just edges folded under, roofing clout nails, bob's your uncle. 

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9 hours ago, Iain_S said:

But make sure the aluminium doesn't come into contact with the steel. Ask any Landrover owner ;)

 

I've had lots of bits of aluminium (and brass) in contact with the steel on my boat for many years without a problem. Have a look around your boat and you might find some dissimilar metals too. How many boats have aluminium windows, brass portholes, mushroom vents, etc. Most of these bits are bedded in with a sealant but they still come into contact. I think people misunderstand avoidance of dissimilar metals in contact with each other. Galvanic corrosion can only take place in the presence of an electrolyte. That's why we put anodes under the waterline and not on the roof! 😏

Edited by blackrose

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11 hours ago, RP1 said:

Ideally it would be a full time liveaboard with the goal to live there and get a feel for the CC lifestyle as a starter boat.
 

I’ve booked a narrowboat holiday from July 5th to get a better feel for the lifestyle also, but at some point, I’d just like to go for it! Living on it, I would want some amenities to make it inhabitable - heating, shower/toilet, cooker, but I totally get it isn’t a flat.

 

If you're CCing in winter on a boat that needs work and doesn't have all the facilities you need life can be really miserable. It might put you off boats for life.

 

Better to start off with some sort of mooring and save a bit more money for a better boat if you can wait. Who knows, we might be in for a big recession and boats might not hold their value. You might pick up a bargain from someone who's desperate to sell. Anyway, my advice is to take your time and look at lots of boats before committing.

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I assume the ceiling mirror above the bed is to easily check whether bilge water has flooded the floor?

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10 hours ago, Iain_S said:

But make sure the aluminium doesn't come into contact with the steel. Ask any Landrover owner ;)

It wasn't a pure aluminium. They called it Birmabright. I owned three Land Rovers over many years and they never suffered that, only one with a bit of rear end chassis rot because its rear got dunked in sea water lauching boats. Farm Land Rovers could suffer this too because of fertilizers on the land.

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Looking at the blistering paint and marks on the walls, and the state of the exterior it must leak like the proverbial sieve.  And that is in the good half.  Very dodgy-looking wiring dangling everywhere.

OK so I have no real experience of woodentops, but to me it looks as though the whole superstructure needs replacing.

Looking at the blistering paint and marks on the walls, and the state of the interior it must leak like the proverbial sieve.  And that is in the good half.  Very dodgy-looking wiring dangling everywhere.

OK so I have no real experience of woodentops, but to me it looks as though the whole superstructure needs replacing.

Edited by dor

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2 hours ago, Alastair said:

Getting plywood with truly water-resistant glues is like finding diamonds dropped on the street.

but there are a lot of Mirror dinghies happily floating about, made of plywood?  Are they resin covered?

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1 hour ago, system 4-50 said:

but there are a lot of Mirror dinghies happily floating about, made of plywood?  Are they resin covered?

The joints are stitchch and resin/tape.

 

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1 hour ago, system 4-50 said:

but there are a lot of Mirror dinghies happily floating about, made of plywood?  Are they resin covered?

1) A lot of them were built some time ago, when decent ply was easier to get.

2) The hull was coated inside and out in resin.

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Many of them live out of the water and have covers to keep the inside dry...

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I actually like wooden topped narrowboats. (I also like wooden narrowboats boats but I wouldn't marry one) Its the edges that are difficult, the top edge is do able with thought, the bottom edge is not so easy, in fact I never really found a way that worked long term. Thing is with a steel top is that you still have to build the equivalent of a wooden top inside the thing and its not easy. I think that a wooden top with some sort of plastic sheet cladding would work and a painted canvas roof is still a pretty good solution. If I ever do another one I might use flattened tin cans laid like tiles.....

Edited by Bee

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1 minute ago, Bee said:

I think that a wooden top with some sort of plastic sheet cladding would work and a painted canvas roof is still a pretty good solution.

 

EPDM roofing material is excellent for this - it comes in large enough sizes that you can skin the entire superstructure with one piece covering the roof and cabinsides.

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17 hours ago, Alan de Enfield said:

Indeed - wooden-tops will never ne able to achieve non leaking status due to the differential expansion rates between wood and metal - the only way to mitigate this is to :

1) Remove completely, weld an upstand onto the gunwale and rebuild the wooden top, loosely attached to the upstand.

2) Over-cover the wooden-top with a steel 'skin, welded to the gunwale.

3) Remove the wooden-top and totally replace with a steel-top and then re-fit out internally.

 

GRP is surprisingly strong, we were on the River Trent with a couple of other boats, there was quite a flow going and as a Steel NB approached the lock landing he tried to turn, the flow 'got him' and he ploughed in (almost T-Boned) a GRP cruiser behind us as he had insufficient power or steerage to control the boat. The GRP made a few 'strange noises' but no cracks or breakage could be found. I'm not suggesting GRP is totally 'steel proof' but it is stronger than many think. If another boat hits you, then that is what insurance of for.

 

I don't think that London should be used as examples of either good or bad boat handling - it is a place to itself and unlike anywhere else - not typical of 90% of the inland waterways.

 

GRP tends not to show stress cracks until a while after the initial impact.

 

My youngest son has a Lotus Elise, which has a GRP body. Soon after he got it a car ran into the back of him. No apparent damage to his car so he didn't swap details with the other driver.

 

The next day the rear bodywork (clam is the correct term for this section) was covered in stress cracks. A trip to a specialist told him he needed a new clam. Cost then was £5k. If the same happened today it would write his car off because Series 1 Elise clams are no longer made.

 

I appreciate boat hulls are  likely to be made of thicker GRP, but I suspect the same will happen if the GRP flexes enough. 

 

 

Edited by cuthound
Phat phingers

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15 hours ago, TheBiscuits said:

 

Was that Starcoaster?  If so she made one of the best posts ever on the forum, and span it out into a career in journalism.  It's a shame she got driven out of bothering to post here by some of the grumpy old men.

 

I don't blame her, but I do miss her!

 

Her of the handbag of delight for dogs.

 

She, MtB, RLWP, Mrs Tawny Owl and Alan Fincher were the first CWDF members I met at the 2014 Alvecote Historic Boat Gathering.

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7 minutes ago, cuthound said:

I appreciate boat hulls are  likely to be made of thicker GRP, but I suspect the same will happen if the GRP flexes enough. 

I think that generally they are.

My Keel is around 3" thick with most of the hull in excess of 1" (2" in some stress areas, 'corners' etc) and the deck around 1" thick. The engine mounts are around 8" x 4".

 

It's 36 foot and weighed 10 tonnes when lifted onto the truck last year (it does have twin engines) - that is heavier than steel narrowboats of similar length, so it is quite robust.

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