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New Narrowboat shell in build. What do you think of this?


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8 hours ago, Jackofalltrades said:

 

Apart from the picture in my original post in this thread, what the builder has also done without our prior knowledge is fit full length engine/motor bearers from a few inches forward of the 'V' at the back of the swim all the way forward to the cabin bulkhead. This will compromise the usable space at floor level forward of the electric motor.

What the builder has done is normal practice (for a diesel engined boat). The engine beds need to extend well forward and back from the engine to distribute the static and dynamic loads from the engine to the rest of the hull. If you just mount a diesel engine on short beds attached to the bottom plate only, then the bottom is going to bounce up and down and you would be looking at early fatigue cracking of the chine welds.

An electric motor should produce less vibration than a diesel, so you may get away with shorter beds, but unless you made this clear and stated explicitly that you needed the floor space forward of the motor to be clear, then I can see why the builder has done it the way he has.

 

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Putting in a good sized keel cooling tank is good practice in my opinion. and how much space has that wasted anyway. Long engine bearers are good practice in most cases, maybe not for electric motors but nobody wants to discover that there has been unexpected flexing and cracking a couple of years down the line do they. they and what can you do with that space? you will have to put a raised floor in anyway. Without knowing the full story I find myself having sympathy with the builder. (crossed with David's post and agree with him)

Edited by Bee
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28 minutes ago, Alan de Enfield said:

 

3) Buy an existing boat, use it and convert it to Electric.

 

But it will almost certainly have engine beds that extend from the V to the cabin bulkhead, and a skin tank sized for a diesel engine.

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1 minute ago, Bee said:

Putting in a good sized keel cooling tank is good practice in my opinion. and how much space has that wasted anyway. Long engine bearers are good practice in most cases, maybe not for electric motors but nobody wants to discover that there has been unexpected flexing and cracking a couple of years down the line do they. they and what can you do with that space? you will have to put a raised floor in anyway. Without knowing the full story I find myself having sympathy with the builder.

 

That was my first thought when I read the bit about storage.

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How can anyone tell how deep the draught of a boat is from a picture taken from above? Don't be ridiculous, of course it looks shallow.

 

Personally I wouldn't worry about that notch cut out of the engine bearer. It makes no difference at all to its strength and the reason they left a gap and haven't welded it to the tank is probably to avoid transmitting vibration. It seems fine to me.

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Let us know the builder as this may not be the first time he has acted this way. He may be another Ben Harp incident waiting to happen to another customer. Or if you feel uneasy naming direct please just give specific location rather then East Midlands.

  You’ve lost your confidence with the builder and the faults will always niggle at you, get you money back and find a builder that you can work with and will be happy with the end result, also visit regular to check staged progress, good luck.

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10 hours ago, Jackofalltrades said:

Hello all.

 

We've had a reply to the email that we sent to the boatbuilder. In short, and to paraphrase heavily, they effectively said, F Off - the boat will be ready on Wednesday - but if we don't want it then "as a gesture of goodwill" they'll refund our deposit and "progress with the build" themselves. We are both shocked by their we-don't-give-a-toss response.

 

A bit more back story...

As I've said before our shell build was delayed from our original build slot in February. We accepted this (what else could we do?) and just went with it. When the build finally started at the end of March there were exchanges of emails and occasional phone conversations to clarify things and nothing was done as far as we know without our prior knowledge. So as far as the build itself was going we had no cause for concern, until reviewing the photos from our visit on Tuesday, which is where this discussion thread starts.

 

Apart from the picture in my original post in this thread, what the builder has also done without our prior knowledge is fit full length engine/motor bearers from a few inches forward of the 'V' at the back of the swim all the way forward to the cabin bulkhead. This will compromise the usable space at floor level forward of the electric motor.

 

Also, from reviewing our photos taken on Tuesday, although I can't be absolutely sure due to poor light in the workshop, it appears that the builder may have fitted a full length keel cooler - cutting into the port-side motor bearer (as per the pic in post 1) and going as far forward as we can see - possibly up to the bulkhead.  On Tuesday we were discouraged from going into the cabin as there was no ladder down and as the stern was greasy, wet and slippery we didn't try. But as the cruiser stern is slightly shorter than standard (7ft in length - to get slightly more cabin space) I have a feeling that the keel cooler *might* extend through the bulkhead into the cabin.

 

The builder knew from the outset the exact electric motor that would be fitted. Despite this, we've ended up with inappropriate full length motor bearers and almost certainly a way-oversized keel cooling tank that has been badly shoehorned in. It's almost as if the builder forgot about the electric motor and installed engine bearers and a keel cooling tank for a Beta 43 or something, and now expects us to pay for his mistakes.

 

We are livid. But what can we do? We are not prepared to pay the builder extra to rectify his mistakes. But it looks like they have dug their heels in. We are livid. Think I just said this. You get the picture.

 

How much would we have to pay a boatyard (typically) to grind out the keel cooling tank and motor bearers and install more appropriate replacements?  £1,000 ?

 

We are tempted to tell the builder to stick it where the sun doesn't shine, accept the offer of a refund of our deposit, and walk away, but then we'd be back to square one and be facing a delay of many months before we could start again. The builder of course will know this and thinks they have us over a barrel. I really do feel quite angry at the moment. Sorry about the length of this post.

 

What would you do?

 


I suspect you are correct that the shell has been built to a standard specification rather than specifically for your chosen means of propulsion.

 

However I possibly have some sympathy for the builder’s position as I’m not sure you really understand what you are buying and seemingly haven’t employed a surveyor to advise.

 

What you may see as a bespoke build in terms of detail and layout is actually likely an adaptation of a generic shell design for which the builder has standard scaleable steelwork schedules and patterns.

 

I suspect the reason for the clash of the keel cooling tank and the bearer is your requirement to shorten the length of the cruiser stern. As I have already suggested those bearers are probably not just there to support the engine/motor. The shell of a boat is a structure and it’s core strength comes not from the baseplate and side plates but from the ribs which support them. I can’t see what else is doing this other than those two bearers visible in your picture. That is presumably why they extend through to the cabin bulkhead and I am sure if you looked they - or something equivalent - go right through the hull. Those members cannot simply be cut and moved to suit the aesthetics of any given configuration, at least not without additional expense and possibly other collateral alterations. Hence if you chose the builder based upon being able to get a decent price for what you thought you wanted you are realising the consequences of that decision and also your (apparent) decision to split the build between the shell fabrication and the fitting of the motor. This means you have no buy-in from your fabricator in terms of the whole system. That was your choice not theirs and it puts an onus on you to provide and/or agree very specific details of what you want, particularly given your chosen propulsion isn’t yet the standard approach. We don’t know whether you did that or not. Again this would be the domain of a good surveyor.

 

I don’t think you fully understand what you’re buying so if you are not happy then the offer to walk away with all your money is a very generous one and I’d suggest you take it and be thankful. But I’d also suggest that unless you are willing to engage a surveyor you may be best just taking this shell and putting it down to experience. There is nothing that appears unfit for purpose and I suspect legally you would be on the back foot in the case of dispute. That’s possibly why the builder feels confident to be brusque with you (although it is arguably the industry default setting).

 

 

ETA - glad to see a couple of other people have similar views given that when I started that essay it was somewhat against the general views being expressed.

 

 

 

 

 

Edited by Captain Pegg
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17 hours ago, ditchcrawler said:

It might have been built as a lighter boat needing less energy to drive it along, 12 tones and not 18 tones, thats all I was thinking. As for motor cooling I guess it will be 15Kw max at only 80% efficient that would be 3Kw of heat to dissipate

Yes

weight and draft are only loosely linked in comparing between boats (Plimsoll Line shows it for an individual ship)

 

how does the weight of the total propulsion system compare between diesel and electric? (I know, for example, that diesel is a much more efficient - weight-wise - store than a battery)

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43 minutes ago, Captain Pegg said:


I suspect you are correct that the shell has been built to a standard specification rather than specifically for your chosen means of propulsion.

 

However I possibly have some sympathy for the builder’s position as I’m not sure you really understand what you are buying and seemingly haven’t employed a surveyor to advise.

 

What you may see as a bespoke build in terms of detail and layout is actually likely an adaptation of a generic shell design for which the builder has standard scaleable steelwork schedules and patterns.

 

I suspect the reason for the clash of the keel cooling tank and the bearer is your requirement to shorten the length of the cruiser stern. As I have already suggested those bearers are probably not just there to support the engine/motor. The shell of a boat is a structure and it’s core strength comes not from the baseplate and side plates but from the ribs which support them. I can’t see what else is doing this other than those two bearers visible in your picture. That is presumably why they extend through to the cabin bulkhead and I am sure if you looked they - or something equivalent - go right through the hull. Those members cannot simply be cut and moved to suit the aesthetics of any given configuration, at least not without the additional expense and possibly other collateral alterations. Hence if you chose the builder based upon being able to get a decent price for what you thought you wanted you are realising the consequences of that decision and also your (apparent) decision to split the build between the shell fabrication and the fitting of the motor. This means you have no buy-in from your fabricator in terms of the whole system. That was your choice not theirs and it puts an onus on you to provide and/or agree very specific details of what you want, particularly given your chosen propulsion isn’t yet the standard approach. We don’t know whether you did that or not. Again this would be the domain of a good surveyor.

 

I don’t think you fully understand what you’re buying so if you are not happy then the offer to walk away with all your money is a very generous one and I’d suggest you take it and be thankful. But I’d also suggest that unless you are willing to engage a surveyor you may be best just taking this shell and putting it down to experience. There is nothing that appears unfit for purpose and I suspect legally you would be on the back foot in the case of dispute. That’s possibly why the builder feels confident to be brusque with you (although it is arguably the industry default setting).

 

 

ETA - glad to see a couple of other people have similar views given that when I started that essay it was somewhat against the general views being expressed.

 

 

 

 

 

Dear builder I am fitting an electric motor that requires a 1 foot square skin cooling tank! So why did the builder make it to full diesel spec? Answer in case the order was cancelled and he had to sell the shell to someone else. Jack has chosen the wrong shell builders I am afraid they have edged their bets.

I would cancel and find the right shell builders one who does what the customer asks

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10 hours ago, peterboat said:

Yes indeed it was a customer who wanted one so he made it for them! How do I know that? I bought one of course and Jonny welded a new bit in and attached the stern back on. 

Apologies Peter, I didn't realise that one on the dock for weeks was yours.  No offence intended. 

It just goes to show though that even an experienced builder can make big mistakes when the £ signs are rolling by. 

I liked the one they built with a full height pvc door and frame between the living "pod" and the propulsion unit. Where the water would be 2 feet deep. 

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6 minutes ago, Mike Todd said:

weight and draft are only loosely linked in comparing between boats (Plimsoll Line shows it for an individual ship)

 

how does the weight of the total propulsion system compare between diesel and electric? (I know, for example, that diesel is a much more efficient - weight-wise - store than a battery)

Not sure that you are right? Diesel in a narrowboat maybe 20-30% efficient electric 95% efficient. Lithium batteries very light electric motor very light. Solar panels for drive and domestic full roof needed so no idea depends on what panels bought. Diesel kilo a litre so very heavy but gets lighter as you go. I t can tell you that the stern on my widebeam went up when I converted to electric including the diesel genny being fitted 

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7 minutes ago, noddyboater said:

Apologies Peter, I didn't realise that one on the dock for weeks was yours.  No offence intended. 

It just goes to show though that even an experienced builder can make big mistakes when the £ signs are rolling by. 

I liked the one they built with a full height pvc door and frame between the living "pod" and the propulsion unit. Where the water would be 2 feet deep. 

Its alright mate I bought it very cheap and for 20k stretched it fitted wheelhouse and put a new interior to the stern cabin 68k in total value for insurance 140k I got a bargain, customer made an expensive mistake.

It was big job which is why it took the time it did plus it was agreed as a fill in job rather than a real job

Edited by peterboat
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19 hours ago, peterboat said:

 

Ian has beat me to it 90 plus efficient and the reality is a calorifier will be enough to keep it cool, remember every lock it stops so no cooling required, my single again Cedrics own motor after 1.5 hours was only at 40 degrees on its body and 50 ish degrees in the rotor.  93 % efficient and correct gearing plus the big D135 motor works a treat. 

 

How long before your boat is delivered Ian? 

Sometime towards the back end of next year... ?

 

On the subject of the thread, most builders are reluctant to do things differently to normal for two reasons -- one is that it costs them more because it's non-standard, the second is that if the original buyer pulls out they might be left with something difficult to sell to another buyer who doesn't want the same things. This is especially true for structural features like skin tanks and engine bearers in this case, if they fit ones specifically suited to an electric motor they can't retrofit a diesel if the buyer pulls out and that's what the new customer wants.

 

I had a long talk with Ricky at Finesse (and indirectly, Jonathan Wilson) about this. They don't have a problem doing electric-specific things because the majority of their order book is for electric boats, so no problem selling on -- but this isn't the case for most boatbuilders for who electric boats are greatly outnumbered by diesels. But I also want some unusual hull features which they were initially not keen on -- as they said, the problem with complex one-offs is they can be a license to lose money (can't use standard jigs and shapes), and it's their living. I said that I completely understood this, so how about adding to the hull cost to cover this -- and funnily enough, the figure I suggested was exactly what they were thinking of already but trying not to ask for directly... ?

 

They also apologetically asked for a bigger deposit than normal (£5k) to cover the extra design work needed before starting construction, and again I said I expected this -- and yet again, it was the figure I expected to pay, and we agreed on how much of this was refundable as time went on to pay for the work done. Even the final cost of the boat was agreed to be in a budgetary range because it will depend on exactly what features are agreed on as the design progresses -- as Ricky said, he could give me a fixed cost now, but it would have to be padded out on the high side to allow for changes (including material costs) and I'd probably end up paying more in the end to cover this.

 

The simple fact is that building boats is the livelihood of the people who do it, and doing things differently costs them more and makes it more difficult to resell the boat/hull if the buyer pulls out, and so anybody wanting anything different should expect it to cost more -- and any design changes made after agreeing a price are likely to mean a cost adder, unless budgeted in at the start by padding. It's the way that all businesses who make custom products work, the manufacturer gets paid for what they end up doing and the buyer pays for what they actually get, including design changes -- I've worked in custom chip design for many years and this is exactly the same, except the numbers nowadays are ~100x bigger than for narrowboats ?

 

If you want to keep cost down, buy something standard. If you want something different or change your mind before/during build, expect to pay extra. If both sides are reasonable and see each others point of view there shouldn't be any problem. The whole process is made easier if the build and fitout are being done by the same boatyard, which cuts down the risk of miscommunication or something in the fitout not working with the hull as built -- if they're doing both they're responsible for making sure everything works together.

 

Unfortunately this doesn't seem to be the case with the OPs boatbuilder, though of course we've only heard one side of the story...

Edited by IanD
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4 hours ago, blackrose said:

How can anyone tell how deep the draught of a boat is from a picture taken from above? Don't be ridiculous, of course it looks shallow.

 

 

Sorry I spoke M'lord

Edited by ditchcrawler
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