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Advise 47ft Narrow Boat Extensive over-plating needed


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Hello,

I recently bought a boat for my sister. We knew it would cost money to repair the hull even though the boat itself wasn't expensive, but people are making us to panic now, saying it's a lost case and it doesn't worth the effort or money. Really?

I had cruiser boats before and I'm already pretty confident around them, but it's our first narrowboat and I'm at the place where I'm clueless and need to start learning from zero and learn who to trust. Could anyone help me with some thoughts?

I attached the boat survey did last November. And will paste some parts where the mechanic said it must be done urgently.

 Repair/reinforce the base plate sacrificial edge. This will be achieved with the overplating work recommended further in the report.
Must:  Extend the weed hatch trunk vertically by about 100mm or reballast the boat after the overplating to ensure at least 150mm free board is available at all loading conditions.

Must:  Grit blast the base plate to bare metal to assess its overall condition and decide on a repair plan. Such repair plan will require minimum overplating of the base plate along the chines with 6mm plate welded all round and painting the entire base plate with two-pack, high-build epoxy paint. Note that this is only an indication of what might be required, while the exact repair plan should be decided after new measurements are taken after grit blasting. An alternative approach would be to pressure wash the base plate and overplate completely with 6mm plate welded all round and slot welded to the original base plate along the centre line in 1m intervals. In all cases, the base plate doubler should protrude about 15-20mm outboard, thus providing a new sacrificial edge.  Overplate the sides between the bow stem and 100mm past the engine bulkhead aft. Vertically, the overplating should start at the base plate and extend about 100mm above the projected waterline (600mm doubler height). Use 5mm mild steel plate, continuously welded all round.  Overplate the counter footings overlapping into the fuel tanks. Vertically, start at the counter plate and extend 100-150mm. Use 5mm mild steel plate, continuously welded all round.  Paint the hull (base plate and sides) with one-component bitumen paint before launch and in 2-3 year intervals subsequently or preferably grit blast and apply two-pack epoxy blacking.
Timing: These repairs must be undertaken immediately. The use of the boat beforehand will be entirely on the owner’s risk.

1178---Ramble-On---Hull-Survey.pdf

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How much have you been quoted for the overplating and how much did the boat cost? You don't need to answer this but do need to consider it.

 

Paying £20,000 to repair a boat that's only worth £5,000 seems excessive.

 

If the insulation is polystyrene slab, the boat will need to be completely stripped inside below the gunwales, so all you will end up with is an empty metal box that needs turning into a boat again.  At that point you need to consider if you'd be better off with a brand new shell and salvage as much as you can from the other boat ...

 

If the engine is old and tired it's probably not even worth doing this.

 

Whereabouts in the country are you?  Someone here will be able to suggest who to talk to about the work if you haven't already found somewhere.

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Hindsight is a wonderful thing, if buying a boat dont buy one that needs £7,000 - £10,000 - £20,000 ? of welding work doing.

 

It does sound pretty severe and you obviously will not be able to get comprehensive insurance cover until the work is done.

 

You will not be able fully assess the work needed until it is out of the water and the hull thoroughly cleaned back and re-measured.

 

Whereabouts in the country are you ? (London ?) as that will affect how and where you need to go to get an estimate - you could always phone around a few yards local to wherever you are giving them a copy of the surveyors report and ask for an estimate of costs - you will not get a quote as these things tend to escalate when work starts and more and more problems are uncovered.

 

Basically it sounds as if it will need a new base plate and new sides almost up to the gunwales.

 

A 1970's boat in that condition is pretty much just worth scrap value and you need to decide if spending £x,000 on it is a wise investment as it will still be a 50 year old boat. Once you get your estimates decide if it is better to cut your losses and buy another boat, or have the work done and have a boat worth less than you have spent on it.

 

Unfortunately this is not an uncommon dilemma for newbies to narrowboats / steel boats, who think 'needs a bit of work' sounds quite easy. 

Edited by Alan de Enfield
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I am afraid you are facing the classic problems with old boats which is why they are essentially worthless. It doesn't matter if they are steel, wood or grp. Any boat can be repaired or restored and if it is of high quality and with only one or two problems it may be worth it but generally it isn't. I don't know this boat but looking at the work needed and remembering that the repairs suggested are only temporary fixes on and old hull. Remember anything else on the boat is likely to be worn out too. I think you are looking at 20k plus for all the work so you need to look at its value afterwards. People buying these old boats generally are short of cash which makes them in a even weaker position. Unless you are a enthusiast buying a historic craft I would do the sums very carefully before undertaking work it might be better to just cut your losses now. I have looked at a couple of boats I have owned facing repairs and have made the difficult to scrap them.

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As mentioned by others it needs complete re-plating from the base plate right up to past the waterline. I've read the survey and the other faults are going to cost more than they sound....replacing the gas locker bulkhead/floor will be labour intensive, the rudderstock tube is on the verge of sinking the boat and rebuilding the weedhatch to achieve the required freeboard along with replacing the prop will all add quite a bit to the over plating bill.

Few would buy this boat with a pre sale survey like this. Obviously you already own it and only you can do the maths. I think @TheBiscuits point about the engine is important....if it is knackered too, you're going to have to think seriously if it is worth it. 

Edited by booke23
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Oh thanks for your support! Feeling less lonely on this challenge. 

I knew it would be challenging. But somehow I thought it would be a way to start learning more about it.

We live in London and the boat is in Tamworth. We bought it for £12k. 
I'm not in a hurry to use it, but I won't  have more than 10k to invest it right now. So I'm considering the options.
The engine is working really well. The problem is the hull.

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A completely different approach is to se the boat as a lost cause and living on borrowed time. Do nothing to fix it and just use it until it springs a leak. 

 

This could end up taking many years or it might happen tomorrow. Whenever it happens, it is unlikely to sink suddenly with all souls lost. More likely you'll just notice the bilge pump running occasionally.

 

There are loads of boats out and about on the system operated on this exact basis. Most have their roofs covered in junk. 

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Thanks!
I don't want to lose the boat, and open to fix it for good. But spending more than £10k now it would a bit difficult for me. But could do the rest in 1 year maximum. 
 

30 minutes ago, TheBiscuits said:

How much have you been quoted for the overplating and how much did the boat cost? You don't need to answer this but do need to consider it.

 

Paying £20,000 to repair a boat that's only worth £5,000 seems excessive.

 

If the insulation is polystyrene slab, the boat will need to be completely stripped inside below the gunwales, so all you will end up with is an empty metal box that needs turning into a boat again.  At that point you need to consider if you'd be better off with a brand new shell and salvage as much as you can from the other boat ...

 

If the engine is old and tired it's probably not even worth doing this.

 

Whereabouts in the country are you?  Someone here will be able to suggest who to talk to about the work if you haven't already found somewhere.

It was 12K. So do you think to repair all this problem would be around 20K?

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But this was all known about when you purchased the boat at Norton Canes (Who I believe are of very sound repute and clearly indicated the issues) 

 

What did they advise I wonder?

 

It sounds like this may need grit blasting then shoeing (Replace the edge plus some as stated as its rubbed close to the edge of the join between the base and sides)

 

Then it needs  assessing once grit blasted? Im not so sure its as terminal as others are suggesting TBH. It may last some while.  

 

 

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19 minutes ago, HarrisonMelecchi said:

Thanks!
I don't want to lose the boat, and open to fix it for good. But spending more than £10k now it would a bit difficult for me. But could do the rest in 1 year maximum. 
 

It was 12K. So do you think to repair all this problem would be around 20K?

 

I'd suggest that paying £12k was double what it was worth.

If you spend £20k* on it you are 'into it' for £32k and will end up with a boat valued at ~£15k.

 

* I estimate that the baseplate and sides alone will be approaching around £15k + area, then you have all the other work to do (increasing weed hatch height, etc etc)

 

I think MTB may have come up with the best solution.

Insure it 3rd part only which is sufficient to get a licence.

Get the necessary work done to pass the Boat Safety Scheme and get a certificate.

 

Stay on the shallow canals (suggest not going on any rivers) and enjoy it whilst you save up and add to your £10k and buy a better boat in a couple of years time.

 

Were your plans to use it as a liveaboard in London ?

Edited by Alan de Enfield
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I agree with the others. Get a BSSC and bring it down to London and sell it for what you can get and it can join all the other boats there in a similar condition. Someone will buy it and you may even get more than you paid if you stick some paint on it.

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Surely if grit blasted and epoxied with the sides and gas locker Plus cratch drainage sorted (If thats actually needed) it is unlikely to deteriorate too rapidly if at all? 

 

The weed hatch looks like its been unchanged since 1979. 

 

It sounds and looks like some fun for a few years to come and if grit blasted & epoxied a good few years more? 

 

 

 

 

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Just looking back at some old posts on the subject :

 

In 2014 Jim batty was quoted £12k to overplate the base and to 6" above the water line on a 57 foot boat.

 

Steel prices have increased by 200% in the last 2 years alone, labour will be around the same cost so the actual price of overplating in 2022 could be 'anything'.

 

Steel Plate Prices :

 

Steel prices 2021 chart: Price of steel up 200%. When will the bubble pop?  | Fortune

 

 

 

Edited by Alan de Enfield
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26 minutes ago, HarrisonMelecchi said:

So do you think to repair all this problem would be around 20K?

 

Might be more, might be less!  A friend has recently been quoted £11,000 for a full overplate of a 60 foot boat but that's up North, not in the Midlands.  His doesn't need gas locker work or rudder tube work though, and that's just the steelwork price.

 

Are you capable of doing some work yourself - careful stripping out internally and making good after the welding has been done?  If you don't need to pay someone to do it for you that will help keep costs down a bit but travelling London-Tamworth will mean that popping down to the boat to do a couple of hours of work becomes all day of a job.

 

Have you asked Glascote for a quote to do the work?  They know the boat and have a copy of the survey.

 

I'd also recommend talking to Kedian Engineering for a second opinion.  Other members may be able to suggest other local yards/people to ask about the work.

 

Points in your favour:

It's a steel top, not a wood or fibreglass top.

You say the engine is OK.

The boat isn't in London, it's in the Midlands.

You're not living on the boat.

You aren't in a great hurry to start using the boat.

 

All of these are good things!

 

Is the boat currently afloat or on hardstanding?

 

You definitely need the gas locker fixing for safety but you could choose to disconnect the gas bottle until it's done.  You'd need mains power and an electric kettle though until it's been done or you can't have a brew!

 

 

 

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Just a note, Sarah is as honest as the day is long. I know, as I trust Norton Canes with my boat when I need work doing.

I have never been dissatisfied with the work there, In fact my boat is off there next month.

 

(No, I am not related, just a satisfied customer.)

Edited by Ray T
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2 minutes ago, Ray T said:

Just a note Sarah is as honest as the day is long. I know,

as I trust Norton Canes with my boat when I need work doing.

I have never been dissatisfied with the work there, I fact my boat is off there next month.

 

(No I am not related, just a satisfied customer.)

Yes, they have been amazing. Can't complain about them.
They people that started to scare us were from outside.

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4 minutes ago, Feeby100 said:

But the price of a old average boat is more that 15 grand so what you spend on it should get back for sure 

 

 

I very much doubt it.

Spend £20k + £12k purchase price, irrespective of what you are smoking, no one could imagine getting that back on that boat.

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31 minutes ago, Alan de Enfield said:

 

I'd suggest that paying £12k was double what it was worth.

If you spend £20k* on it you are 'into it' for £32k and will end up with a boat valued at ~£15k.

 

* I estimate that the baseplate and sides alone will be approaching around £15k + area, then you have all the other work to do (increasing weed hatch height, etc etc)

 

I think MTB may have come up with the best solution.

Insure it 3rd part only which is sufficient to get a licence.

Get the necessary work done to pass the Boat Safety Scheme and get a certificate.

 

Stay on the shallow canals (suggest not going on any rivers) and enjoy it whilst you save up and add to your £10k and buy a better boat in a couple of years time.

 

Were your plans to use it as a liveaboard in London ?


We bought it for my sister. She has autism and lives on a smaller boat in London. Now she got a dog and that's why we planned to help her have a better place and a bit bigger.

We are not in a rush to fix it, but the plan is to bring the boat to London where she can stay near us.

Considering all the suggestions, I think the best approach is to bring the boat to London in this condition and try to sell it here. At least we won't lose money invested. 
And I learned the lesson. 

But also think it's an opportunity to learn and maybe even try to fix it for good. The interior is amazing and my sister loved it. But terrified of put my sister at risk of sinking the boat.

4 minutes ago, TheBiscuits said:

 

Get actual quotes for the work or you are just guessing.

 

 

I took the survey to 3 marinas asking for advice.

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2 minutes ago, TheBiscuits said:

 

What prices did they quote for the work?

Only one of them gave me a price. Something around £14k

The other two somehow said they wouldn't be taking a boat now and it seemed a difficult case. That's why I started to worry.

Tomorrow I'm going to the marina where the boat is and will talk to Sarah.

If I decide to sell it this way it's better to bring it to London first. But if the marina has a better solution, I'll fix it there somewhere.

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In the thread @David Mack linked to above, Sarah said

 

  

On 06/12/2021 at 15:36, sarahavfc said:

The works needed are extensive and I advised the owner that the cost would be in the region of £12-15k.

 

So if the works can be done for these sort of prices you should end up with a safe, working boat for just over £25k which doesn't seem unreasonable in the current market.  Once the steelwork has been done the internal refit can be spread out a bit as time and money allows.

 

If you're going to fix it, it makes a lot more sense to do so in the Midlands than in London, especially before your sister starts living on it.  That will save you thousands in the future.

 

You won't make money selling it on eventually, but if your sister really likes the boat and you know it's sorted then losing a few grand spread over the next few years isn't the end of the world. 

 

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9 minutes ago, HarrisonMelecchi said:

If I decide to sell it this way it's better to bring it to London first. But if the marina has a better solution, I'll fix it there somewhere.

 

Unless you use a truck and find a hard-standing in London you are going to have to insure it, have a Boat Safety Check and licence it before you can take it on the water, you will then need to find some moorings in London.

 

It'll probably cost around £1000 to get it on the water (assuming that the BSS grant a certificate in view of the gas locker, etc etc which is unlikely)

 

I would really suggest that you try and sell it "as is / where is', take a hit on purchase price and put it down to experience.

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