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Want to buy a narrowboat but concerned about hulls.


BobHoliday

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Totally new here. Hello :)

 

I used to live off grid on an anchored yacht so have a good idea about most things 'liveaboard' but know nothing about hulls. Some questions if that's OK:

 

I see adverts saying hull thickness 10:6:4 but don't definitely know what this means.

 

Does hull 'blacking' mean some sort of paint and not an epoxy coating (which would be the ideal)?

 

How often should a boat be 'blacked'?

 

If epoxied, how often should this be re-done?

 

What's the approximate total cost to have someone professionally re-black a (say) 55 foot narrowboat, including all lift costs?

 

What's the approximate total cost to have someone professionally epoxy a (say) 55 foot narrowboat, including all lift costs?

 

Is it best to avoid ALL boats older than a certain year because their hull will be getting to the point of needing major intervention? Or can older boats represent good value if they've been well maintained?

 

How much at the moment should I be budgeting for to get myself a decent boat ready to live aboard with at least 4 berths (2 resident, 2 guest) - I'm thinking I'll need probably 55 foot minimum?

 

Is there anything else I need to watch out for that I won't already have come across with seagoing yachts?

 

Thank you!!!

 

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28 minutes ago, BobHoliday said:

Totally new here. Hello :)

 

I used to live off grid on an anchored yacht so have a good idea about most things 'liveaboard' but know nothing about hulls. Some questions if that's OK:

 

I see adverts saying hull thickness 10:6:4 but don't definitely know what this means.

10mm base, 6mm hull sides, 4mm superstructure (above gunwales)

Does hull 'blacking' mean some sort of paint and not an epoxy coating (which would be the ideal)?

Yes, bituminous paint

How often should a boat be 'blacked'?

Every 2 to 3 years

If epoxied, how often should this be re-done?

Unsure, may depend on type of epoxy and use conditions, often more than 5, other will be able to advise better then me

What's the approximate total cost to have someone professionally re-black a (say) 55 foot narrowboat, including all lift costs?

??

What's the approximate total cost to have someone professionally epoxy a (say) 55 foot narrowboat, including all lift costs?

??

Is it best to avoid ALL boats older than a certain year because their hull will be getting to the point of needing major intervention? Or can older boats represent good value if they've been well maintained?

No a well maintained older boat can be good value imo

How much at the moment should I be budgeting for to get myself a decent boat ready to live aboard with at least 4 berths (2 resident, 2 guest) - I'm thinking I'll need probably 55 foot minimum?

??

Is there anything else I need to watch out for that I won't already have come across with seagoing yachts?

 

Thank you!!!

 

I've answered what I can I'm sure other more knowledgeable folk will be along to offer their advice.

Edited by PCSB
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8 hours ago, BobHoliday said:

What's the approximate total cost to have someone professionally re-black a (say) 55 foot narrowboat, including all lift costs?

 

What's the approximate total cost to have someone professionally epoxy a (say) 55 foot narrowboat, including all lift costs?

Can't say, as I DIY blacking, so only pay for lift out and hard standing. It depends on where about you get it done. As with most things, cost increases from reasonably in the north, to eye watering the closer you get to that London. 😀

 

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First off, if you are thinking of buying a narrowboat around 55 foot you probably couldn't have chosen a worse time to do it.  the market is white hot at the moment, with folk even buying boats unseen.  No-one knows if this is the start of a trend, or a blip, but IMHO it is not sustainable and at some point sanity will return.  Have a search through the pages of Apollo Duck and you will get an idea of what you get for your money.  Around 55 foot is the most popular length as once you go beyond 57 foot you cannot navigate certain canals owing to the size of the locks.  By the same token if you don't mind that handicap and are prepared to go above 60 foot then demand falls off and you should in theory get more for your money.

 

I was saying to someone the other day that not so long ago you could get a very nice boat for around £40-50k, in good order with no work needed.  I doubt that applies now.  

 

You buy narrowboats on condition and spec, not age.  Folk will tell you that hull condition is paramount but most boats on the market in 2021 will have the 10-6-4 arrangement and with steel that thick it takes serious neglect to cause any real problems and in any case steel can be repaired in most cases at reasonable cost.  So though it sounds odd I would be less concerned about the underwater bit.  I can't advise on the cost of hull blacking as I don't believe in it.  Having the boat grit blasted and epoxied or zinc coated is far better value in the long term, cost very roughly around £50 per sq m I would say depending who does it. 

 

The above water bit is more of a concern.  A boat that needs a cabin repaint is going to cost a lot of time and/or money to put right.  I suspect it doesn't dissuade a lot of buyers at the moment but a boat that displays neglect of the cabin paint would put me right off.  Yes you think you can deal with it but you only have to observe the number of tatty rusty boats on the network to see how hard it is to keep on top of the paintwork.  And, a boat that has well maintained paintwork generally suggests that everything else has been well maintained - usually.

 

The internals of a narrowboat are far more crucial than they used to be with higher and higher specs.  Boats without spray foam insulation for example are worth less these days, as are boats without some form of central heating.  On the face of it it sounds like there's an opportunity for the canny buyer but retro fitting anything on a narrowboat is potentially very expensive as it's all labour intensive.   Whether it's your own time or someone else's.  Plus, the problem at the moment is that a lot of buyers have little experience so will be paying over the odds without realising it. 

 

In the end there is no such thing as a cheap boat, that applies more then ever these days.

 

 

 

 

 

  • Greenie 1
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9 hours ago, BobHoliday said:

Snip

 

What's the approximate total cost to have someone professionally re-black a (say) 55 foot narrowboat, including all lift costs?

 

What's the approximate total cost to have someone professionally epoxy a (say) 55 foot narrowboat, including all lift costs?

 

Is it best to avoid ALL boats older than a certain year because their hull will be getting to the point of needing major intervention? Or can older boats represent good value if they've been well maintained?

 

snip

 

 

1. I paid about £600 for bitumen based blacking in the South Midlands three years ago. That was for the slipway, pressure wash and black.

 

2. The initial cost of getting a boat epoxied could be up to £10,000 or more depending upon the process. It will probably need some form of abrasive blasting, and then you may be advised to start with hot zinc spraying or a zinc rich first coat.

 

3. It's badly pitted bots you need to avoid and they could be anything from a very few years old if electrical or microbial corrosion is concerned to a few 10s of year old.

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10 hours ago, BobHoliday said:

Totally new here. Hello :)

 

I used to live off grid on an anchored yacht so have a good idea about most things 'liveaboard' but know nothing about hulls. Some questions if that's OK:

 

I see adverts saying hull thickness 10:6:4 but don't definitely know what this means.

SOMETHING LIKE:

10MM BASE PLATE

6MM SIDES

4MM TOP

 

Does hull 'blacking' mean some sort of paint and not an epoxy coating (which would be the ideal)?

BLACKING = BITUMIN

2 PACK = EPOXY

BUT ALSO USED AS A GENERIC TERM FOR STUFF ON THE BOTTOM 

 

How often should a boat be 'blacked'?

BITUMIN = 1 - 2 YEARS (? MY GUESS)

EPOXY = MUCH LONGER BUT HOW LONG I DON'T KNOW

 

If epoxied, how often should this be re-done?

TOUCH-UP = EVERY 3 - 5YEARS ???  & REPLACE ANODES ?

COMPLETE REMOVE & REPLACE = ????

 

What's the approximate total cost to have someone professionally re-black a (say) 55 foot narrowboat, including all lift costs?

DON'T KNOW

 

What's the approximate total cost to have someone professionally epoxy a (say) 55 foot narrowboat, including all lift costs?

DON'T KNOW

 

Is it best to avoid ALL boats older than a certain year because their hull will POSSIBLY be getting to the point of needing major intervention?

YES (MY OPINION) I'D AVOID > 12 YEARS BUT I'M BIASED, MY BOAT IS 11 YEARS OLD!

Or can older boats represent good value if they've been well maintained?

YES, BUT HOW CAN YOU BE SURE THEY'VE BEEN WELL MAINTAINED?

 

How much at the moment should I be budgeting for to get myself a decent boat ready to live aboard with at least 4 berths (2 resident, 2 guest) - I'm thinking I'll need probably 55 foot minimum?

YES, AND MORE IS BETTER UNLESS YOU WANT TO TRAVEL TO THE "SHORTER" CANALS OR ARE LIMITED AS TO RUNNING COSTS.

 

Is there anything else I need to watch out for that I won't already have come across with seagoing yachts?

YES PROBABLY

CHOOSE A TOILET SYSTEM THAT YOU WILL BE HAPPY WITH.  FOR ME IT HAS TO BE PO.

 

Thank you!!!

 

My totally unscientific and unsubstantiated comments are above.

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Lots of good advice above, however just to throw in a curved ball re hull condition, you must see the hull rather than go by how much, how often its been blacked etc. I bought a 6mm bottomed colecraft boat in 2000. The boat was a 1981 and the bloke I bought it from had owned it from nearly new for 18 years. He was an honest bloke who said it had never been blacked in his ownership of 18 years, he had only bimbled up and down from his mooring for many years so I offered and he accepted a very low price. I dont have surveys so was happy again to take the risk and it was in the water so couldnt see much apart from the usual waterline. I bought and took it to Johny Pinder for a hull survey and the worst part of the 6 mil base plate and sides was 5.7 mm. It was vrtualy like new. There was a tiny amount of wear on the chines at the arse end which was nowt. The boat is still going strong in others ownership. Just sayin like.

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28 minutes ago, mrsmelly said:

Lots of good advice above, however just to throw in a curved ball re hull condition, you must see the hull rather than go by how much, how often its been blacked etc. I bought a 6mm bottomed colecraft boat in 2000. The boat was a 1981 and the bloke I bought it from had owned it from nearly new for 18 years. He was an honest bloke who said it had never been blacked in his ownership of 18 years, he had only bimbled up and down from his mooring for many years so I offered and he accepted a very low price. I dont have surveys so was happy again to take the risk and it was in the water so couldnt see much apart from the usual waterline. I bought and took it to Johny Pinder for a hull survey and the worst part of the 6 mil base plate and sides was 5.7 mm. It was vrtualy like new. There was a tiny amount of wear on the chines at the arse end which was nowt. The boat is still going strong in others ownership. Just sayin like.

 

With most narrowboats it's impossible to know what the true state of the hull is without having it blasted back to bare metal.  The thickness measurements are useless, what you need to know is how much pitting there is and all you or a surveyor can do is scrape away a bit here and there and see what you can find.  But even so who is going to spend a lot of time on their back under a nb studiously examining every inch of the baseplate.  

 

I think there is some merit in engaging a surveyor if you have good reason to suspect the hull is shot, because if the surveyor finds a few pits down to less than 4mm steel he will recommend the boat is overplated and the owner will be desperate to get rid of the thing.  That's the only way to get a cheap boat these days.

 

But with 10mm baseplates being the norm now I really can't see the point.  There's so much steel in modern narrowboats even if there was something wrong it's almost certainly repairable.  As I say, I'd be much more concerned about the internals and the state of the paintwork.  

Edited by Neil2
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My thoughts......

 

 

I see adverts saying hull thickness 10:6:4 but don't definitely know what this means.

10mm baseplate, 6mm hull sides, 4mm cabin.  You will also see ones like 10:6:5:4, which is 10mm baseplate, 6mm hull side, 5mm cabin sides 4mm cabin roof

 

Does hull 'blacking' mean some sort of paint and not an epoxy coating (which would be the ideal)?

Standard blacking is usually bitumen based paint.  Two pack coating is an epoxy type. Blacking is used as a general term for "painting" the hull.

 

How often should a boat be 'blacked'?

With standard bitumen type coating, say every 2 to 3 years.

 

If epoxied, how often should this be re-done?

Its longer but no experience,.

 

What's the approximate total cost to have someone professionally re-black a (say) 55 foot narrowboat, including all lift costs?

Depends to an extent where in the country, but in the midlands say £600 to £1000.

 

What's the approximate total cost to have someone professionally epoxy a (say) 55 foot narrowboat, including all lift costs?

Don't know, but a lot I would think!

 

Is it best to avoid ALL boats older than a certain year because their hull will be getting to the point of needing major intervention? Or can older boats represent good value if they've been well maintained?

Older well maintained boats can be fine.

 

How much at the moment should I be budgeting for to get myself a decent boat ready to live aboard with at least 4 berths (2 resident, 2 guest) - I'm thinking I'll need probably 55 foot minimum?

It's a premium market at the moment of course, and it hard to judge what decent means to anyone, but say £60k.

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14 hours ago, BobHoliday said:

Is it best to avoid ALL boats older than a certain year because their hull will be getting to the point of needing major intervention? Or can older boats represent good value if they've been well maintained?

Our 50ft Peter Nichols was built in 1985. When out of the water for blacking this year (£600), I had a hull survey for peace of mind. Original base plate is 6mm. Worst pitting was measured at 0.4mm depth. I think there's a lot to be said for the better quality steel used 30+ years ago.

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My hull was gritblasted and epoxied 6 years ago. I did the painting myself. The only bit of epoxy that's come off is a thin 4" gash on a rubbing strake. There are no signs of any rust on the waterline. I reckon it will easily be good for another 4 years before I have to think about giving it another few coats.

 

Having done the epoxying myself I've no idea about the costs of getting it done, probably several £housands, but I do know that I did it properly, applying 4 coats. Most yards are more likely to do 2 coats so it wouldn't last as long 

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Epoxy life is reputed to be 20+ years but as boaters we tend to knock it off in places. It should not peel off if the original surface was properly prepared. Which usually means grit blasting.

It does weather to a grey colour over time. This is not detrimental.

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Have a look at the Debdale Wharf website - that's where I got my ball park figure of £50 per m2 from.  (You have to add on lifting costs).  

 

Debdale are not the cheapest BTW but they are the only yard AFAIK that do hot zinc spraying and I reckon that's the ultimate in hull protection, if not the cheapest.  

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This may help

Had my 58 Foot boat hull shot blasted and 2 pack epoxy painted, full cost was £3429 this was done July 2015.

In May 2021 I had to have the hull recoated with 2 coats of 2pack epoxy full cost was £1064

Good luck

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13 minutes ago, JonesBoy said:

This may help

Had my 58 Foot boat hull shot blasted and 2 pack epoxy painted, full cost was £3429 this was done July 2015.

In May 2021 I had to have the hull recoated with 2 coats of 2pack epoxy full cost was £1064

Good luck

 

So it's only good for six years?!! 

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Epoxy will last 20 years if applied correctly but as boaters we knock it off, scrape walls, bang into one another so it needs to be checked every 7 or 8 years maybe. Mine was first done 23 years ago, it has been touched up 3 times but the original is still sound.

 

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