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New Springer - Sale Agreed - Need to organize a survey, etc...


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Hi All.  I hope this is the proper place for this post.

 

After casually looking for two years, watching hundreds of videos, and lurking away with the occasional post on the forums, I have agreed sale on a little Springer. I've read a fair bit about them and have an idea of what I'm getting into. 

 

The boat is in a leisure mooring that has possible access to a drydock or crane (not dead sure) . I have about a month before the owner is back in town so need to organize a survey and hopefully we'll beable to take it out, with surveyors availability, on the dates the seller is in town, if not where it's located than at another yard down the canal. 

 

Seller has been superb and up front about all known issues. We have an agreement and I've put 10% down in deposit with an escrow company. The seller wrote the agreement based on I think a somewhat standard script, and it all sounded fine to me. 

 

So I think the main concern I have now is from this old post:

Someone had agreed sale, had it surveyed, and when the boat went back into the water, it sunk!  My concern is if my boat "passes" survey or we agree on whatever repairs needed are reflected in the price, then that means we agree to the sale.  But I don't think I can get it insured until fixes are done?   So is there any "in between" coverage?    What if the boat sinks after sale but before insured? 

 

I know it's a slim chance but this is an old springer, so I'm asking! 

 

Below is the boat. I actually only saw it for about 15min and was not able to see it running, (though seller did get a short video). It needs lots of TLC and no doubt will need some more serious work. But on the whole it looked really fab to me!

 

https://photos.app.goo.gl/VhDPAbWYWCVbxQVD7 

 

I'm no welder or mechanic, but I've remodelled a few kitchens and bathrooms over the years, and have woodwork experience. I'm pretty good with all the standard DIY. I feel the Springer will be a good starter boat for me, (as they have been for many before me!)

 

Here's a few details. Appreciate your thoughts?

 

A 28ft Springer (1981). BSS until Feb 2024. Last blacked with new anodes fitted July 2018 (so due for blacking this year, ideally). Currently moored in London though does not come with transferable mooring.

Headroom is approximately 5'11.

Good starter boat that has been loved.

If I were keeping her, the following jobs would be recommended

New domestic batteries x2 (she's currently on a mooring with mains power) - estimated cost £150-£200.
Fit new wooden panelling above the kitchen area (rain water got in two winters ago when I didn't seal the chimney properly, some of the tongue and groove is rotten in that area). Estimated costs £100 - £1000 (the job is mostly labour, materials are cheap).
Fit new bilge pump (new bilge pump is packaged up in the boat, just needs fitting).
Replace lights with LED lights... (price variable...)
Treat and spruce up the Kinver canopies
Blacking and anodes due as was last blacked in 2018. Estimated cost £700-£900.

She could do with a repaint too, price is variable from a few hundred to a few thousand depending on if you DIY or have it professionally done.

I also have a walk through video of the boat that I can send on request - it's too large to upload to the ad!


Specifications
Vessel type:Narrowboat
Designer:Springer
Builder:Springer
Make:Springer
Model:28 Cruiser Stern
Fit Out:Tongue and Groove
Constructed:1981
Registration:78203
Berths:3
No. of engines:1
Engine model:Bukh
Fuel type:Diesel
Length over all:28'
Maximum draft:1' 6"
Hull material:Steel
Hull type:Deep-V

 

 

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So your main concern is about the boat sinking as soon as it goes back in the water after the survey based on one case you read about from 2013?

 

I didn't read the whole thread so didn't see what the cause was (surveyors hammer, flex cracking of a weld, etc?) but I'd say it's fairly unlikely to happen to you. It's not something that happens on a regular basis even on old springers. 

 

There was a case a few years ago of an extensively overplated springer that sunk on the tidal Thames because someone hadn't considered how the extra weight of the new steel would affect the height of the engine vents above the waterline and the the boat shouldn't have been out in tidal waters with wave heights, but these cases are fairly rare.

Edited by blackrose
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You are right to be concerned. I have had old boats crushed by the lifting strops so that they sink.  You can get instant insurance on line from Craftinsure but without them having a current hull survey it will only be 3rd party on a boat 30+ years old.

 

If it has been on a shore line for power for a long time, does it have an isolation transformer or galvanic isolator in the power lead? If not it is likely to have extensive galvanic corrosion.

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Reading between the lines I assume the current owner has 3rd party only insurance, as a boat this age needs a hull survey every 5 years to have comprehensive insurance (hull must be 4mm minimum).

 

So you are a bit stuck until you get it surveyed. I'd probably try to get it lifted out somewhere that has hardstanding so if it is a wreck you and the owner have the option of not putting it back in the water. I see it was blacked in 2018 so at least the current owner has looked after it and it didn't collapse when out of the water back then........it doesn't guarantee it's not a wreck now but fingers crossed.

 

 

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1 hour ago, Tracy D'arth said:

You are right to be concerned. I have had old boats crushed by the lifting strops so that they sink.  You can get instant insurance on line from Craftinsure but without them having a current hull survey it will only be 3rd party on a boat 30+ years old.

 

If it has been on a shore line for power for a long time, does it have an isolation transformer or galvanic isolator in the power lead? If not it is likely to have extensive galvanic corrosion.

Surly the vendor still owns the boat until after survey and you actually pay up and take ownership so would be on their insurance.   A boat called Harry, caught fire during the sales process

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The dry dock or crane operator will also have insurance, and should refuse to dock or lift a boat that appears too fragile in their experience.  The surveyor should advise if they have viability concerns.  Then the dock or crane operator will also watch when the boat is put back in the water to ensure it still floats.

 

If a boat is damaged during survey, then the potential purchaser can walk away.  Deposit refund may depend on the contract terms.

 

The OP's main concern can probably be addressed by not confirming her purchase until after the boat goes back in the water following  the survey.

 

To minimise future delay, she could investigate potential docking sites in the area in case the possible one is not available.  

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Excuse the butting in but on the subject of Springers, when I enquired about narrowboat insurance the first question they asked was 'is it a Springer'? why is this?  Is it because they were made for the rental industry and the metal was thinner?  thanks

Edited by paul68
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30 minutes ago, paul68 said:

Excuse the butting in but on the subject of Springers, when I enquired about narrowboat insurance the first question they asked was 'is it a Springer'? why is this?  Is it because they were made for the rental industry and the metal was thinner?  thanks

There's no reason for boats built as hire craft to have thinner steel - quite the contrary in fact, as hire boats are a) out cruising for longer each year than private boats and b) are often in the hands of inexperienced crews who are more likely to prang them.

   Springers were typically built 5/5/3, though customers could specify heavier-gauge steel at extra cost. Basic Water Bugs were built 3/3/3, but this isn't one.

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40 minutes ago, paul68 said:

Excuse the butting in but on the subject of Springers, when I enquired about narrowboat insurance the first question they asked was 'is it a Springer'? why is this?  Is it because they were made for the rental industry and the metal was thinner?  thanks

Springers were built in large numbers for the lowest economy market. Many owners spent nothing on essential hull maintenance.

The youngest are now 30 years old, the early ones are approaching 50 years old.

They were made by Sam Springer who was an oil tank fabricator using some secondhand steel when he could get it. They were "v" bottomed which makes hull repairs more tricky.

There will be very few, that have not been over plated, still afloat and in an insurable condition.

Insurance companies are now demanding 4mm of steel all over the hull below waterline with no pits leaving any less thickness.

As they were thin to start with, this means that by now all the original hulls will be below the insurance acceptable level.

 

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5 minutes ago, Tracy D'arth said:

Springers were built in large numbers for the lowest economy market. Many owners spent nothing on essential hull maintenance.

The youngest are now 30 years old, the early ones are approaching 50 years old.

They were made by Sam Springer who was an oil tank fabricator using some secondhand steel when he could get it. They were "v" bottomed which makes hull repairs more tricky.

There will be very few, that have not been over plated, still afloat and in an insurable condition.

Insurance companies are now demanding 4mm of steel all over the hull below waterline with no pits leaving any less thickness.

As they were thin to start with, this means that by now all the original hulls will be below the insurance acceptable level.

 

That makes perfect sense, thanks

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2 hours ago, paul68 said:

That makes perfect sense, thanks

 

A brief history :

 

 

Even in the seemingly egalitarian world of boaters, there’s a social pecking order and this is rarely more pronounced than where Springer boats are concerned. Springer was a company based in the Midlands that began mass-producing cheap and cheerful live-aboard narrowboats in the 1960s. While their affordability allowed countless people to join the boating lifestyle, the standard of their construction is sometimes, perhaps unfairly, questioned by the sniffier residents of converted working boats or higher-spec residential craft. But there’s still something hugely endearing about the Springer. These are boats made solidly and entirely without pretension, and as a consequence Springer boats have provided a friendly and affordable introduction to the canal network for thousands of boaters.

 

Sam Springer spotted the growing market for purpose-built live-aboard boats in the late 1960s when he was working as a steel fabricator making water tanks in Market Harborough, close to the Grand Union and River Welland. He decided to move into boat-building later claiming “I used to build water tanks, building boats is the same thing but in reverse”. Although his boats were well constructed, Springer had a reputation for using whatever steel was available, meaning that his hulls weren’t always as thick as they could have been. His approach can be summarised by the popular yarn that early in his career, Springer acquired some scrap steel that had once formed an old gasometer and drove back and forwards over it with a truck to remove the bend so it was flat enough to use. Because of such shortcuts, his boats were recognised as providing great value for money and his yard was soon knocking out 400 a year, accounting for almost 50 per cent of the market and at a much lower price than any competition.

 

Springer boats were built to all sizes but most have two distinguishing features: a raised splash board at the bow and, less visibly, a v-shaped hull rather than the usual flat bottom. They were also among the first boats to be built entirely out of steel rather than with a wooden cabin. Springers do have a tendency to look a little boxy, which does nothing for their reputation among waterways connoisseurs, but they are still lovable boats with a colourful history that, as the years have passed, has lent them a certain rakish charm. Belying their reputation, Springer boats also appear to be impressively hard-wearing with thousands still in use despite the fact the company closed down in the mid-1990s. And Springer boats aren’t just confined to the English waterways – in 1990, the boatyard built the Typhoo Atlantic Challenger, a 37-foot craft shaped like a bottle that crossed the Atlantic from New York to Falmouth. Not bad for a company whose first boats were made from a scrapped gasometer.

  • Greenie 2
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15 minutes ago, Alan de Enfield said:

 

A brief history :

 

 

Even in the seemingly egalitarian world of boaters, there’s a social pecking order and this is rarely more pronounced than where Springer boats are concerned. Springer was a company based in the Midlands that began mass-producing cheap and cheerful live-aboard narrowboats in the 1960s. While their affordability allowed countless people to join the boating lifestyle, the standard of their construction is sometimes, perhaps unfairly, questioned by the sniffier residents of converted working boats or higher-spec residential craft. But there’s still something hugely endearing about the Springer. These are boats made solidly and entirely without pretension, and as a consequence Springer boats have provided a friendly and affordable introduction to the canal network for thousands of boaters.

 

Sam Springer spotted the growing market for purpose-built live-aboard boats in the late 1960s when he was working as a steel fabricator making water tanks in Market Harborough, close to the Grand Union and River Welland. He decided to move into boat-building later claiming “I used to build water tanks, building boats is the same thing but in reverse”. Although his boats were well constructed, Springer had a reputation for using whatever steel was available, meaning that his hulls weren’t always as thick as they could have been. His approach can be summarised by the popular yarn that early in his career, Springer acquired some scrap steel that had once formed an old gasometer and drove back and forwards over it with a truck to remove the bend so it was flat enough to use. Because of such shortcuts, his boats were recognised as providing great value for money and his yard was soon knocking out 400 a year, accounting for almost 50 per cent of the market and at a much lower price than any competition.

 

Springer boats were built to all sizes but most have two distinguishing features: a raised splash board at the bow and, less visibly, a v-shaped hull rather than the usual flat bottom. They were also among the first boats to be built entirely out of steel rather than with a wooden cabin. Springers do have a tendency to look a little boxy, which does nothing for their reputation among waterways connoisseurs, but they are still lovable boats with a colourful history that, as the years have passed, has lent them a certain rakish charm. Belying their reputation, Springer boats also appear to be impressively hard-wearing with thousands still in use despite the fact the company closed down in the mid-1990s. And Springer boats aren’t just confined to the English waterways – in 1990, the boatyard built the Typhoo Atlantic Challenger, a 37-foot craft shaped like a bottle that crossed the Atlantic from New York to Falmouth. Not bad for a company whose first boats were made from a scrapped gasometer.

Interesting!

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26 minutes ago, 1agos said:

This guy is having trouble with the hull of his Springer. Will give you an insight to whats needed to repair a hull on a V bottom boat.

 

I see he has managed to raise £11.5k through crowdfunding to save the boat. My honest advice to him now would be to sell that boat as is for whatever he can get for it and use the proceeds of that and the crowdfund to buy a cruiser!

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Thanks All. I have yet to suss anything out. I need to find the surveyor,  insurance company, and talk to boat yard about availability. My concern is it may be a long while before needed repairs can be done. There may just be a slim chance of a catastrophic issue, nonetheless, I have to take it into consideration.

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If the boat is one of the ones with an escape window at the front rather than a door, it was originaly built of 3mm plate. After 40 years it isnt worth a light!

My best advice is to get your deposit back and run away, you cant "remodel" rubbish into anything usefull. 

I visited the yard in 1974 and looked at the products, met Sam, (who was entertaining but foul mouthed to say the least) and wrote them off as rubbish but very cheap.

This must be the worst possible time to buy a boat, the local brokers are all sold out and the prices have gone up to srupid levels. when normal times return I think values will plunge when 

some of the current batch of new owners find that boating is not for everyone.

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After all the time that has passed since they were built, as cheap as possible, I would not go near a Springer.

With current inflated prices they will be extremely poor value, an almost certain money pit, and in need of huge expenditure that you will never get even close to recouping.

 

Buy a better boat, they were always junk compared to most other boats. 

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I appreciate the concerns and I know this is a risk. But I also feel this is a lot less of a risk than a £25K+ boat that will likely also have problems.  The thing is, like it or not, hundreds if not thousands of springers are still going after 40+ years. Everyone loves to say how crap they are and yet they probably come out middle-of-the-road compared other boat companies. (pure guess). And certainly they have been a great way of introducing newbies, like me,  to the boating world with less of an outlay than the norm.   The seller in my deal only appears to be selling because they have started a family and have moved out of the country. They definitely spend a lot of time and love on this boat.  

 

I hope the survey comes back and says it's just fab!  Really though I'm sure a lot will need tending too, but I'm hopeful the boat will have some good life yet. 


Where I live now rent in a room share for one year will run more than what I'm paying for the boat!  It may be a tiny space, but that's all I'd get with a room somewhere. It it doesn't work out, I lose out, but I'm not wiped out. If it does work out, then great! 


At least this one appears to have a full length double door up the front  🤣 

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8 hours ago, kellyjllek said:

I appreciate the concerns and I know this is a risk. But I also feel this is a lot less of a risk than a £25K+ boat that will likely also have problems.  The thing is, like it or not, hundreds if not thousands of springers are still going after 40+ years. Everyone loves to say how crap they are and yet they probably come out middle-of-the-road compared other boat companies. (pure guess). And certainly they have been a great way of introducing newbies, like me,  to the boating world with less of an outlay than the norm.   The seller in my deal only appears to be selling because they have started a family and have moved out of the country. They definitely spend a lot of time and love on this boat.  

 

I hope the survey comes back and says it's just fab!  Really though I'm sure a lot will need tending too, but I'm hopeful the boat will have some good life yet. 


Where I live now rent in a room share for one year will run more than what I'm paying for the boat!  It may be a tiny space, but that's all I'd get with a room somewhere. It it doesn't work out, I lose out, but I'm not wiped out. If it does work out, then great! 


At least this one appears to have a full length double door up the front  🤣 

which ever way it goes good luck mate.

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23 hours ago, Mike Jordan said:

If the boat is one of the ones with an escape window at the front rather than a door, it was originaly built of 3mm plate.

Where did you get that information from? Mine, a 1987 model, had the escape window but the hull was made of 5mm plate.

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I apologise, I failed to qualify the claim by adding "in my experience" The 36 foot standard boat advertised in WW at the time was described as being made from 3/16" plate (4.5mm) but I think much of the steel used was from left over steel from large fabricators and various other places. When I met Sam he told me that he had set out making petrol tanks for the 1960s filling station construction boom, and that he had built a boat for his own use which had bought a lot of requests for more of the same. I saw a lorry load of slightly rusted plate dropped in the factory gate and a man with a "gas axe" and a set of templates was busy cutting it up. There was also a machine rotating a large disc of plate in the yard to dish and turn the ends of what he told me was the only petrol tank he had made in years.

The shells under construction were being laid on their sides by the overhead crane to make all the welds easy to do in the downhand position, none of the welds were cleaned of weld slag but simply spray painted over. 

The shells have lasted a remarkable length of time and enabled many boaters to get on the water at modest cost. I wish the prospective owner all the luck in the world with his project and complement his wisdom in having a surveyor look the boat over rather than trusting a brokers survey from years ago.

Above all its a good idea to bear in mind that "much loved" it may be, but this  has no effect on quality.

I have met a few owners who seem to be convinced that their shell was made from thick gas holder plate and will last forever, I have seen two boat shells made from plate of this sort ( not  by springer) and they were incredibly ugly and easily spotted. They made Springers look pretty.

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27 minutes ago, Mike Jordan said:

P1000039.JPG.026c3df9c6664c54db9d8ff8c4085d85.JPGThey made Springers look pretty.

Some of them ARE pretty! Here's mine, just prior to being put back into the water in 2013. Somehow the photo has got into Mike Jordan's quote box. Technology, eh?

Edited by Athy
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