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ivan&alice

Considering an upgrade!! What do you think?

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I assume like most of us on here we browse "boat porn" on the Duck and Gumtree - just window shopping usually, but we've gone and accidentally fallen a little bit in love with this Malcolm Braine 70' Trad on Apollo Duck. But shh, don't tell our current boat!

 

Can you fine fellows and fellowettes help me think of reasons to not start smashing piggy banks?

 

 * She was built in 1976 but has had a new superstructure and baseplate in 2011 so she's a bit of a Theseus' narrowboat, with just the hull sides original. That said, the waterline is where the hull suffers so would of course get a survey. 

 

* Would going from our Beta 38 to her more traditional Russell Newbery DM2 prove to be underwhelming? According to the ad it's 20 horsepower. I've spoken to classic engine owners and I am wondering if she might be a bit underpowered, especially in reverse? But I'm given to understand that they still make this model so I imagine that parts will be easy and cheap to find.

 

* No mention of a calorifier which I think I would miss a lot. I guess that the DM2 can't take one? She has a Morco gas heater for hot water, which is probably very nice, but can imagine gets a bit expensive.

 

* She has piddly electrics - but I would bring my Lithiums and solar over from my current boat. Her alternators (60amp & 120amp) are actually bigger than what I currently have so I guess in that respect the engine is powerful.

 

* No eberspaecher/webasto would feel like a bit of a downgrade. But 2x stoves so I guess that heat would not be a problem.

 

* I like our cruiser stern and I figured I would get another cruiser in the future. Even though I do like the look of a trad much more, and the extra interior space seems like a good trade.

 

* 55 grand is a lot of money. But she seems like a lot of boat and is beautiful inside.

What do you think?

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Russell Newbery DM2s and the equivalent  version built under licence by The National Gas and Oil Engine Company powered most of the Grand Union Canal Carrying Co's motor boats, and were more than capable of powering a loaded motor and butty.

RN is still going, but I think it is years since they produced an engine from scratch. They can apparently still supply parts, but cheap they won't be.

Steel superstructure but original internal wooden beams and planking. So I guess this is the wooden cabin equivalent of over plating.

5 year old survey is of little value to a buyer.

No way through from main cabin to back deck, so you will have to be happy to walk round the gunwale from one of the side doors (in all weathers etc.) But it does give you a spacious bedroom without the need to accommodate a passage through.

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14 minutes ago, David Mack said:

RN is still going, but I think it is years since they produced an engine from scratch. They can apparently still supply parts, but cheap they won't be.

Steel superstructure but original internal wooden beams and planking. So I guess this is the wooden cabin equivalent of over plating.

5 year old survey is of little value to a buyer.

No way through from main cabin to back deck, so you will have to be happy to walk round the gunwale from one of the side doors (in all weathers etc.)

Thank you. I think it might be sensible to price a service of the RN engine to get an idea of the running costs.

 

I believe it is possible to power the boat with the engine at the proper canal speed, I just wonder if it might be a lot harder to drive. No hard reverse to avoid hitting things, for example. Perhaps less steer. Perhaps on rivers I'll struggle. I don't know, I have only experience of my Beta which is a really lovely engine in my experience: quiet, reliable and very easy and cheap to maintain.

 

As I understand it the wooden superstructures of Malcolm Braine boats are one of their weakest qualities. So I see this "overplating" as a huge plus, if it hasn't affected the draft or stability badly (something I would have to see in real life, I would guess).

 

Good point about the bulkhead, but if I was going to the stern deck I'd be outside anyway so the weather isn't much of a concern :) in fact the engine room means I'd probably spend more time inside than I do currently with my cruiser.

 

Thanks for your thoughts - spending this kind of money naturally warrants a survey so I certainly wouldn't rush in.

Edited by ivan&alice

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A RN DM2 Although only delivering 18HP at 1,000rpm it produces a lot of “grunt” or torque - 95ft/lb

 

A Beta 38 will only deliver 70ft/lb torque @ 2800 rpm 35HP.  

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GO FOR IT - you will love it and compared to your current boat (which is fine but was a safe choice) you will be entering the world of proper boating - plenty of grunt and the sound is to die for 

 

Over built wooden cabins means you get the benefits of steel and the character of wooden internals and beams which we had on out first boat - again a taste of real character MB boats have a real following for this reason.

 

Possibly a bit pricey but if the steel is fine then the age becomes a bit irrelevant - the "failings" you list are an adjustment, no more, you need to decide if you want to make that adjustment to embrace the romance of a 2 cylinder engine and a more traditional way of life.

 

Dave at RN will need to become your new best friend parts aren't cheap but available - if she runs clean with good oil pressure then you are probably going to be OK anyway.

 

If you are out of your depth on this it might be worth getting an RN guy to review it for you.

 

If we were looking it would be on my list 

 

  • Greenie 1

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As others have said, don't get hung up over horsepower. It is a poor comparison between a modern high reving engine and an old design low rev diesel like a RN. Horsepower is torque x rpm. RN's have lots of torque, but spin at low rpm. The gearbox that your Beta has is likely to reduce the RPM of the prop by more than the one on the RN, so the difference in prop speed isn't so great. The RN has much more torque and also is likely to spin a much bigger prop than the relative egg whisk the Beta has. The result is lots of going and stopping power. Plenty for the boat and shouldn't embarrass you on rivers.

Heating water with gas is done on a lot of boats. Not got it myself, but I don't believe it is hugely expensive to run. The expensive way to use gas is for heating a boat. The RN is water cooled, so a cauliflower could be possible, depending on how the cooling is done. Lovely looking boat with lots of character. The only problem you'll find with owning a boat with a Russell Newbery is that you'll both have to grow beards and start smoking pipes before you will be allowed to join the Russell Newbery Register. I believe women are allowed to use hook on fake beards now.

Jen

Edited by Jen-in-Wellies
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2 minutes ago, Jen-in-Wellies said:

I believe women are allowed to use hook on fake beards now.

And sandals?  Not when operating the boat of course. 

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1 minute ago, WotEver said:

And sandals?  Not when operating the boat of course. 

I wear sandals boating (in summer). Proper outdoorsy sandals have plenty of grip, even on lock ladders and slime covered lock steps.

Jen (retro hippy look)😀

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I have a DM2 in my boat it's over thirty years old and runs perfectly and starts first turn in all weathers. The newer ones, as in post 1960s have a standard screw on oil filter and a modern air filter and fuel filter fitted so are easy to service. Power wise you won't have any problem, as has been said they produce lots of torque and with a decent prop on will handle the boat well.

 

We have a calorifier on ours and it produces a full tank of hot water in about 45 minutes so if it doesn't already have one it can easily be fitted, ours sits in a cupboard in the corner of the engine room giving me a handy shelf to put the oil can and bits and bobs on.

 

I have only required one replacement item, a water pump in the last seven years and as I was passing Hillmorton I popped in and asked Dave Bixter for a new one and he went down to the works picked one up and dropped it off at the boat later that day at the place we had stopped for the night, that is the only experience of spares we have had and I couldn't fault the service.

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35 minutes ago, captain birdseye said:

I have a DM2 in my boat it's over thirty years old and runs perfectly and starts first turn in all weathers. The newer ones, as in post 1960s have a standard screw on oil filter and a modern air filter and fuel filter fitted so are easy to service. Power wise you won't have any problem, as has been said they produce lots of torque and with a decent prop on will handle the boat well.

 

We have a calorifier on ours and it produces a full tank of hot water in about 45 minutes so if it doesn't already have one it can easily be fitted, ours sits in a cupboard in the corner of the engine room giving me a handy shelf to put the oil can and bits and bobs on.

 

I have only required one replacement item, a water pump in the last seven years and as I was passing Hillmorton I popped in and asked Dave Bixter for a new one and he went down to the works picked one up and dropped it off at the boat later that day at the place we had stopped for the night, that is the only experience of spares we have had and I couldn't fault the service.

 

Small world. - I know that boat from MANY years ago when it moored on the driveway to a very posh house on the Birmingham and Worcester canal somewhere near Droitwich.

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18 minutes ago, Halsey said:

 

Small world. - I know that boat from MANY years ago when it moored on the driveway to a very posh house on the Birmingham and Worcester canal somewhere near Droitwich.

Yes, we bought it from the people there, they had it built but due to the fact that they were getting on a bit and couldn't carry on boating they decided they had to give up boating and so reluctantly put it up for sale. 

  • Greenie 1

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I would love a boat like that.The sound of a big lazy engine is wonderful.I heard the sound of Capn' Birdseye's engine on the Peak Forest once and loved it.(He lent me a pair of pliers)

However,a couple of points about the advertised boat I would be concerned about.

It is old,a hull survey as you point out is essential.With a overplated base and a steel top,it may be rather deep in the water.70ft is rather long,and may limit the canals you can cruise.

It is rather expensive,certainly beyond my pocket,but love is blind.

Best of luck.

  • Greenie 1

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There are similar issues here to those I have encountered with my own boat so some points to note:

 

It appears that the original structural timber cabin was removed in favour of a full steel cabin rather than it being skimmed in steel with the timber remaining in situ. It states the supporting mahogany beams for the original cabin have been retained for aesthetic rather than structural purposes.

 

It’s unclear as to whether the new baseplate is a replacement for the original or whether it is overplated. The former would be very unusual on a pleasure boat since it would need the cabin fit out to be gutted but looking at the photos it’s possible this was the case. If it was overplated then it’s almost certain the lower hull sides are also overplated. I won’t advocate not buying an overplated boat since I’ve got one but do get your surveyor to thoroughly inspect it and confirm the overplating has been done properly (or if indeed it was a new baseplate to which some of the same issues probably still apply).
 

I think it’s debatable that the instantaneous water heater will deliver enough hot water at sufficient pressure to that shower to the satisfaction of the whole family. A calorifier would be a good addition.
 

JP

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11 hours ago, nbfiresprite said:

A RN DM2 Although only delivering 18HP at 1,000rpm it produces a lot of “grunt” or torque - 95ft/lb

 

A Beta 38 will only deliver 70ft/lb torque @ 2800 rpm 35HP.  

 

3 hours ago, Jen-in-Wellies said:

don't get hung up over horsepower. It is a poor comparison between a modern high reving engine and an old design low rev diesel like a RN. Horsepower is torque x rpm. RN's have lots of torque, but spin at low rpm. The gearbox that your Beta has is likely to reduce the RPM of the prop by more than the one on the RN, so the difference in prop speed isn't so great. The RN has much more torque and also is likely to spin a much bigger prop than the relative egg whisk the Beta has. The result is lots of going and stopping power. Plenty for the boat and shouldn't embarrass you on rivers.

Lots of reassurance that the engine is powerful enough. Thank you. What does this difference in torque and horsepower mean for boat handling? Is it like a car - more torque/less horses means faster accelleration (deceleration) but lower top speed?

How much harder is it to drive a boat with a traditional 2 cylinder engine? (I expect not bumping things will become more important than with my current boat, an ex-hire tank)

 

3 hours ago, Halsey said:

Over built wooden cabins means you get the benefits of steel and the character of wooden internals and beams which we had on out first boat - again a taste of real character MB boats have a real following for this reason.

Yes, it really seems like the best of both worlds! I would not consider a wooden topped boat (because of leaks and maintenance) but I love the look of them. 

 

3 hours ago, Halsey said:

Possibly a bit pricey but if the steel is fine then the age becomes a bit irrelevant - the "failings" you list are an adjustment, no more, you need to decide if you want to make that adjustment to embrace the romance of a 2 cylinder engine and a more traditional way of life.

Yes, I don't really know whether the romance is for me or not, so I'm soliciting advice. How much more effort is this traditional way of life? I do already have a beard, I'm happy to take up pipe smoking and I do a mean Brasso polish. But I have a anxious feeling that there is more to it than this 😂

 

3 hours ago, Jen-in-Wellies said:

Heating water with gas is done on a lot of boats. Not got it myself, but I don't believe it is hugely expensive to run. The expensive way to use gas is for heating a boat. The RN is water cooled, so a cauliflower could be possible, depending on how the cooling is done.

 

3 hours ago, captain birdseye said:

We have a calorifier on ours and it produces a full tank of hot water in about 45 minutes so if it doesn't already have one it can easily be fitted, ours sits in a cupboard in the corner of the engine room giving me a handy shelf to put the oil can and bits and bobs on.

 

29 minutes ago, Captain Pegg said:

I think it’s debatable that the instantaneous water heater will deliver enough hot water at sufficient pressure to that shower to the satisfaction of the whole family. A calorifier would be a good addition.

Good to know that a cauliflower is possible. We also rely on this for our washing machine (because we don't want to use the lithiums for heating water) so I would be less than happy to give up the endless hot water that cruising provides. First prize would be if a new cauliflower could "pre-heat" the water and the Morco only "tops up" the heat if the water isn't hot enough yet. 45 mins is around twice as long as our calorifier takes to heat up but that could be a result of a smaller tank as much as a cooler engine.

 

3 hours ago, system 4-50 said:

"A sound to die for"?  The best sound is as little as possible.

 

1 hour ago, Mad Harold said:

I would love a boat like that.The sound of a big lazy engine is wonderful.I heard the sound of Capn' Birdseye's engine on the Peak Forest once and loved it.(He lent me a pair of pliers)

I want to love the sound, but I'm not sure it's going to be for me. I installed a hospital silencer to quiet down my Beta 38 and it was not a noisy engine to begin with. I like cruising along quietly so I wonder if this is the reason it's not the boat for us :( 

But perhaps I should go and experience it. What is the vibration like on those 2 cylinder engines - bad, I should think? Is the sound mainly impacting the steerer or is it going to be noisy for us in the saloon if we are running the engine for some leccy on a winter evening?

 

3 hours ago, captain birdseye said:

The newer ones, as in post 1960s have a standard screw on oil filter and a modern air filter and fuel filter fitted so are easy to service.

...

I have only required one replacement item, a water pump in the last seven years and as I was passing Hillmorton I popped in and asked Dave Bixter for a new one and he went down to the works picked one up and dropped it off at the boat later that day at the place we had stopped for the night, that is the only experience of spares we have had and I couldn't fault the service.

So when people say that parts are expensive, they're referring to repairs rather than servicing? i.e. It's cheap as long as nothing breaks?

 

1 hour ago, Mad Harold said:

It is old,a hull survey as you point out is essential.With a overplated base and a steel top,it may be rather deep in the water.70ft is rather long,and may limit the canals you can cruise.

It is rather expensive

 

29 minutes ago, Captain Pegg said:

t appears that the original structural timber cabin was removed in favour of a full steel cabin rather than it being skimmed in steel with the timber remaining in situ. It states the supporting mahogany beams for the original cabin have been retained for aesthetic rather than structural purposes.

 

It’s unclear as to whether the new baseplate is a replacement for the original or whether it is overplated. The former would be very unusual on a pleasure boat since it would need the cabin fit out to be gutted but looking at the photos it’s possible this was the case. If it was overplated then it’s almost certain the lower hull sides are also overplated.

 

My impression was definitely that it's a new baseplate rather than an overplate. Overplating the entire base would make the boat extremely heavy, surely. Along with the sides and top I should think the boat would drag in the mud most of the time. The new baseplate was a big pro in my mind. If it is an overplate it's a dealbreaker for me I think. 

 

I have a 65' boat so as far as I know my cruising range will be the same. While I lament not being able to do the northern canals, we have enough range to keep us going. If you're going to have a 65' boat you may as well have a 70' boat I think! 

 

It is expensive and it would definitely involve smashing all my piggy banks and some future piggy banks. As such I do need to be level headed here. I could make a lower offer. I know it's hard to tell from the ad but if we assume that the hull is in good condition and not overplated, what do you think is a fair offer for this boat? 40 - 45K?

I'm going to give them a call after work and ask a few questions, and if it sounds good set up a time to hire a car and go visit her. 

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If its got question marks then, at that age, don't buy it - IF its good then IMHO 40-45 is unrealistic 45-50 is probably more like it 

 

Is there more work yes but not a lot unless you just want a floating flat and that is your base line 

 

There's NO vibration if the engine is right but you do have to like the sound and see that as a positive

 

Using trad (twin) controls is again a joy or a curse depending on your viewpoint - to me it completes the package 

 

This boat isn't for everyone but it looks a beauty to me esp with its pedigree - research, try it, then survey/survey and survey again! 

 

Have fun

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How old is your present boat and what is its condition?? You state " Upgrade " is it an upgrade to a repaired 1976 boat or possibly not?

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Present boat is much newer - 1999. There is a lot of work still to be done on our boat, which I'm getting through slowly but especially as we really need a new paint job I am questioning whether it makes sense to repaint or if I should just buy one that is ready-painted and from the looks of things doesn't have as much work needing doing. 

 

You're right, it's an "upgrade" in the sense that it's a more "boaty boat", and the interior just looks wonderful, and it's a bit longer. It's certainly an upgrade in the sense that it costs twice as much. But perhaps not an upgrade considering the age.

 

I don't know anything about using trad controls, I can't see that being a particularly difficult thing. I am perhaps harping too much on the difference in driving her, I just wonder if it makes sense to go from the simplicity of our current boat.

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26 minutes ago, ivan&alice said:

Lots of reassurance that the engine is powerful enough. Thank you. What does this difference in torque and horsepower mean for boat handling? Is it like a car - more torque/less horses means faster accelleration (deceleration) but lower top speed?

How much harder is it to drive a boat with a traditional 2 cylinder engine? (I expect not bumping things will become more important than with my current boat, an ex-hire tank)

It is different. Doesn't relate to cars really. I've steered a lister 2cyl powered boat with a deep draft and trad controls for days on end as well as my own Beta 43 powered shallow draft boat with Morse control and they are very different. Going from forward to reverse and back is more time consuming, but the big prop and lots of torque slows the boat quickly. The deep draft keeps it on track and is less affected by wind, so not bumping things is easier, provided you have thought ahead about the line you need to take. I like both, but they are very different experiences. I'm happy with my current boat, but would be happy with a more trad big slow engine like an RN too. I found trad speed wheel and gear handle easy to learn.

Jen

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2 minutes ago, ivan&alice said:

 

 

I don't know anything about using trad controls, I can't see that being a particularly difficult thing. I am perhaps harping too much on the difference in driving her, I just wonder if it makes sense to go from the simplicity of our current boat.

It's got a PRM gearbox on it so gear change will be easy, and if you wish to you could always put a morse control on it.

 

Yes servicing is cheap I always but my filters on line as they have a standard number on them. easy to change especially as they are right in front of you in the engine room. I put Morris 30s in mine as that is what it always had in it with the previous owners and it hasn't done it any harm. Spares may be a bit more expensive but the engine will outlast most modern ones, so you will have less outlay in the long term. As I said mine was a second hand boat and it had been well looked after, and has given me no trouble since I bought it. If you buy it, joining the RN Register is worth the fee for the amount of advice and help other owners can give you.

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1 hour ago, ivan&alice said:

 

I don't know anything about using trad controls, I can't see that being a particularly difficult thing. I am perhaps harping too much on the difference in driving her, I just wonder if it makes sense to go from the simplicity of our current boat.

Its a bit like the difference between driving an automatic car and a manual. There are more things to do, and you have to do them in the right order. But it isn't difficult and you will soon learn.

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A splendid boat in many ways.

 

I wouldn't go for it myself, for two reasons:

 

- the lack of a walkway through the boat would leave the steerer rather lonely.  Even getting a cup of tea would be an exercise.  I'm often popping down into the cabin to put the kettle on/find something/use the loo whilst waiting for a lock or whatever.

 

- Vintage engines sound fantastic from a distance.  Not so great when right under your feet.

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16 hours ago, ivan&alice said:

Can you fine fellows and fellowettes help me think of reasons to not start smashing piggy banks?

 

How does the original infamous spreadsheet of Ivan stack up for this one?

 

Now you are boaters and not wannabees, does the original shopping list still make sense?

 

 

  • Haha 1

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18 minutes ago, fatmanblue said:

 

 

- Vintage engines sound fantastic from a distance.  Not so great when right under your feet.

But they rarely are: they are most likely to be twelve feet in front of you, on the other side of at least one door. We can hear our [Gardner] engine from the steering position but it certainly isn't intrusive, in fact its steady beat is rather reassuring.

 

Another feature of older engines which (as far as I noticed) hasn't yet been mentioned is that they inhabit an engine room which provides   storage space for oil and diesel cans etc and, because the engine produces dry heat, is an ideal drying room for towels, clothes, and shoes (which you put on top of the engine, that's why the top is flat), 

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1 minute ago, Athy said:

But they rarely are: they are most likely to be twelve feet in front of you, on the other side of at least one door. We can hear our [Gardner] engine from the steering position but it certainly isn't intrusive, in fact its steady beat is rather reassuring.

 

Another feature of older engines which (as far as I noticed) hasn't yet been mentioned is that they inhabit an engine room which provides   storage space for oil and diesel cans etc and, because the engine produces dry heat, is an ideal drying room for towels, clothes, and shoes (which you put on top of the engine, that's why the top is flat), 

Yes, absolutely agree - but on the boat being discussed the engine is right under your feet (not literally, but very close to).  

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