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thenortherner

First boat - considering buying an 1860s ice breaker...

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I've started a few threads over the past few months over a potential first-time purchase and have received some really good feedback and help, so thanks again.

 

I'd recently considered this:

 

http://narrowboats.apolloduck.co.uk/boat.phtml?id=560891

 

But with a refit cost of around £10K it wasn't something I wanted to progress with.  Looks like someone else has put a deposit on it since.

 

Today I found this in Apollo Duck:

 

http://narrowboats.apolloduck.co.uk/boat.phtml?id=566119

 

It looks fantastic and looks to be just what I'm after.

 

From what I've managed to research on the boat so far it appears to have taken 3 years to restore (a hobby I'm guessing).  I'd be grateful on some advice on the below points:

 

Firstly, does anyone know the boat or anything about it?

 

I do know that after it was put into the water 3 years after its restoration that it took on water.  I've had an email chat with the owner over this and he's been very honest and replied with "the hull is totally overplated bow to stern wih 4 m m overlap like the wrought iron original style there is 6mm on the base curved plate. The swim on the stern is redesigned with cavitation platesThe boat was on its maiden launch when you saw it and had 3 pinholes which were under the bearers and unspotted when inspected on its buiding position .the holes were immediatly welded and again the hull had a air compression test all is satisfactory and it has been floating since nov with no water inside at all"

 

I'm not engineer-minded so the above doesn't mean too much to me, so I'd be grateful on some feedback.

 

The advert mentions it's originally an iron hull but has been over-plated.  Presumably the over-plating is steel?  I'm guessing steel would be preferrable given it should rust less than iron?

 

Would I have trouble insuring / comparitively high insurance it given its age etc?  The value is pretty low but I don't know if it's seen as a greater risk?

 

Lastly, I've spoken to two surveyors over different boats in the past I've liked and they've refused to survey because they've been over-plated.  I'm guessing it'll be the same with this.  Am I right in thinking I'll eventually find a surveyor who'll do an inspection but perhaps there'll be an indemnity / no liability accepted if things go wrong?

 

The owner appears to be Alan Baillie who's a sign writer and looks to have done some stunning work.  He looks to have restored other historic boats too.

 

I'm viewing it first thing on Saturday AM and looking forward to it. 

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15 minutes ago, thenortherner said:

Would I have trouble insuring / comparitively high insurance it given its age etc?  The value is pretty low but I don't know if it's seen as a greater risk?

You only need to (legally) insure it 3rd party to be able to obtain the licence.

3rd party is very cheap (just £ss - not £££££££££ss)

You don't need a survey to insure it 3rd party only.

 

You are only having it surveyed for your own peace of mind.

If you are happy with it (buy the boat and not the story) then buy it without a survey, licence it and take to the water.

 

Good luck.

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Well I find it a contradiction of terms, if its fully overplated and a steel cabin complete with cavitation plated swims how can it be traditional iron hull for a start. Not sure how they pressure tested the hull with compressed air unless they sealed all the doors windows and other openings.

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I have no knowledge at all of this particular boat, but if it is genuinely 1860, it would make it one of the very oldest iron boats on the canals - few are anything like that old.

 

Not enough detail is given to understand what this boat is, or what has been done to it.  Most ice boats will not have flat sides meeting a flat base plate at a chine angle of around 90 degrees, like modern leisure boats are constructed.  In fact I would expect most ice boats to have a lot of curved plate in the bottom.  Overplating a round bottom iron boat in steel does not sound a typical overplating job at all, so if this boat has such arrangements, it would be very important to understand what has been done, by who, and how well.

One thing you presume wrongly is that steel is a better choice for longevity than wrought iron.  Quite the reverse is true - iron can last very well indeed.  A boat that we one owned built circa 1900 had original iron sides, but a 1960s steel bottom, (the original bottom would have been wood).  It was reported on here some years back by its then owner that that boat has had to be rebottomed again, but that the original wrought iron sides were still in remarkably good condition.

Unless you can easily afford to lose much of the purchase price of the boat, find yourself a surveyor, and one who specialises in old boats - one only used to the modern leisure market will not do.  If it is in Northamptonshire Trevor Whiltling would be an obvious choice, and I can recommend him.

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For the sake of maybe £1K I'd like to make sure I'm not buying something with either hull or mechanical defects for peace of mind, as you say.  If the boat needs thousands spending on it then it's not something I'd go ahead with.

 

Given the simplicity of the engine - a 1 cylinder air cooled unit - and essentially no other equipment to speak of, hopefully it should be fine.   All's good if the hull's good.

 

I'd want the insurance to cover total loss for whatever reason.  So long as sinking / fire / theft etc etc is covered then I'm happy.

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1 minute ago, ditchcrawler said:

Not sure how they pressure tested the hull with compressed air unless they sealed all the doors windows and other openings.

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
This.  I can't see how you can test an over-plated hull for water-tightness using compressed air.

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Steel rust quickly, iron hulls erode very slowly. Is it old enough to be iron? Iron boats are almost all riveted. Consider that as a first time buyer you have a steep boating learning curve, with an old boat it may be a cliff you have to climb.

What use is the boat for, as a live aboard it may not be suitable??

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1 minute ago, thenortherner said:

I'd want the insurance to cover total loss for whatever reason.  So long as sinking / fire / theft etc etc is covered then I'm happy.

Not many insurers will cover an 1860s iron narrow boat, if you want more than 3rd party.

I don't think any will without a full hull survey, and you tend to have to repeat these at intervals of around 6 years.  An insurer may still be prepared to give cover if you can provide a recent survey, not necessarily commissioned by you.

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3 minutes ago, alan_fincher said:

Not many insurers will cover an 1860s iron narrow boat, if you want more than 3rd party.

I don't think any will without a full hull survey, and you tend to have to repeat these at intervals of around 6 years.  An insurer may still be prepared to give cover if you can provide a recent survey, not necessarily commissioned by you.

Thanks.

 

Is the 6 year interval specific to older historic craft or something I'd have to do on say a 1990s boat?

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1 minute ago, Boater Sam said:

Is it old enough to be iron?

Can you explain the question, please?

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6 minutes ago, thenortherner said:

I'd want the insurance to cover total loss for whatever reason.  So long as sinking / fire / theft etc etc is covered then I'm happy.

Then you can only go for 'fully-comp'

 

Sinking / recovery will normally be covered on 3rd party, but as in reality the only things that can happen to a NB is that it will catch fire or be stolen then 3rd party (unlike a car with TPFT) will not cover what you want.

1 minute ago, thenortherner said:

Thanks.

 

Is the 6 year interval specific to older historic craft or something I'd have to do on say a 1990s boat?

Generally only on boats over 25 or 30 years old (depending on insurer)

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4 minutes ago, Boater Sam said:

Steel rust quickly, iron hulls erode very slowly. Is it old enough to be iron? Iron boats are almost all riveted. Consider that as a first time buyer you have a steep boating learning curve, with an old boat it may be a cliff you have to climb.

What use is the boat for, as a live aboard it may not be suitable??

Thanks

 

Just for weekends away, often solo.

 

It was originally iron but it's not clear if the plating or work done is iron or steel.

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Just now, thenortherner said:

Thanks.

 

Is the 6 year interval specific to older historic craft or something I'd have to do on say a 1990s boat?

Variable, I would say.

Some insurers seem to insist on regular surveys once boat is (typically) 25 yeras plus.  Others don't necessarily do so.

Once it is a genuine "historic", I think all will.  There are only a small number of insurers who will give comprehensive cover on historic narrow boats, and they seem to be tightening their requirments over time.

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1 minute ago, thenortherner said:

 

It was originally iron but it's not clear if the plating or work done is iron or steel.

It will be steel.

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1 minute ago, thenortherner said:

It was originally iron but it's not clear if the plating or work done is iron or steel.

Overplating will be steel.

Can we confirm it is definitely originally of rivetted iron construction?  What shape is it underwater?  How high above the water-line has it been overplated?

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You are bringing newbie attitudes to a basket case of an old boat, and a basket case of a seller too from the descriptions. Air pressure testing of the hull is complete, made-up twaddle in my personal opinion. Overplating is a bodge to squeeze another 20 years out of a colander at best, and pointless at worst.

 

Owners of boats that old need a far more laid back attitude or extremely deep pockets.

  • Greenie 1

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That 'Bosley' is a lovely little boat. It states 7' I'm wondering if it has spread, or was it built that size. Looks to belong in Ellesmere really. ;)

 

If you do go for it, YT your progress, would be very interesting, especially if you find out more history. Good luck.

Oh, would I buy it... No.. Far too old to get into that type of project.

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We saw this boat in September, as it was being craned out of the water at Rugby Boats at Stowe Hill, after the taking on water incident.  It's certainly a very cute little boat.  I have an idea the work might have been done at the Blisworth Tunnel boat yard; if I've got that right, it might be that Michael Clarke, the surveyor, saw some of the work going on, and might be willing to have a look for you.  His details are here:  http://www.northernstarmarine.co.uk/

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5 hours ago, alan_fincher said:

Overplating will be steel.

Can we confirm it is definitely originally of rivetted iron construction?  What shape is it underwater?  How high above the water-line has it been overplated?

Yes, it was originally rivetted iron. It is very round underneath, no flat bottom .

It came along about 4 years ago , a little boat called Fir Cone, I believe Paul from Bugbrooke Marina had rescued her. It was lifted out for survey and then on her first voyage to Bugbrooke,  started taking water on and returned to be lifted out again. 

The boat cabin and everything else was stripped off and then it sat for a while  until Alan took on the challenge.

A lot of work has gone into the boat, yes, I believe Micheal Clarke had had some input along with the guys from Blisworth. Air pressure testing was used following the taking on water , how, I am not sure.

Very little water came in anyway,  he probably had too many people on board for the maiden voyage and it was still afloat next day when he brought it back to be craned out again.

Its a lovely little boat, would fit in well at festivals and for weekends away. Of course it hasn't got all mod cons, of course you would be daft to buy it, but that's what comes with buying a historic boat. 

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I can certainly confirm she had a heap of people onboard for that brief trip late last September. But what a pretty wee boat and so nice to see such an obviously historically significant boat still floating as a live boat rather than beached as a mummified corpse of a boat.

Matty don,t you sleep? I think it is the wee small hours where you are.

Don

missing floating around on assorted ditches and having to face an oncoming Winter!

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7 hours ago, alan_fincher said:

I have no knowledge at all of this particular boat, but if it is genuinely 1860, it would make it one of the very oldest iron boats on the canals - few are anything like that old.

 

Not enough detail is given to understand what this boat is, or what has been done to it.  Most ice boats will not have flat sides meeting a flat base plate at a chine angle of around 90 degrees, like modern leisure boats are constructed.  In fact I would expect most ice boats to have a lot of curved plate in the bottom.  Overplating a round bottom iron boat in steel does not sound a typical overplating job at all, so if this boat has such arrangements, it would be very important to understand what has been done, by who, and how well.

One thing you presume wrongly is that steel is a better choice for longevity than wrought iron.  Quite the reverse is true - iron can last very well indeed.  A boat that we one owned built circa 1900 had original iron sides, but a 1960s steel bottom, (the original bottom would have been wood).  It was reported on here some years back by its then owner that that boat has had to be rebottomed again, but that the original wrought iron sides were still in remarkably good condition.

Unless you can easily afford to lose much of the purchase price of the boat, find yourself a surveyor, and one who specialises in old boats - one only used to the modern leisure market will not do.  If it is in Northamptonshire Trevor Whiltling would be an obvious choice, and I can recommend him.

It is entirely plausible the Gorton Loco works built an icebreaker in 1860, it's next to the canal (The Stockport Branch of the Ashton Canal), had a branch canal into it and the canal was owned by the railway - of course that doesn't necessarily mean that this is that boat. 

 

My own view is that the boat has been priced with reference to the amount of work someone has done on it (or has paid to have it done) rather than what it is worth to someone else, that, and a premium because it's a charming little boat. 

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8 hours ago, thenortherner said:

If the boat needs thousands spending on it then it's not something I'd go ahead with.

It's a gorgeous little thing - I can see the temptation. 

 

If you're buying with your heart: don't hesitate! (I'd recommend giving the bank manager a heads up).

 

If you're buying with your head: run away!  It's a one hundred and fifty plus year old boat - how can it not need thousands spending on it?

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2 hours ago, DandV said:

I can certainly confirm she had a heap of people onboard for that brief trip late last September. But what a pretty wee boat and so nice to see such an obviously historically significant boat still floating as a live boat rather than beached as a mummified corpse of a boat.

Matty don,t you sleep? I think it is the wee small hours where you are.

Don

missing floating around on assorted ditches and having to face an oncoming Winter!

Kathy was off to Aberdeen at 4am !! 

 

 

It doesn't need thousands spending on it, that's already happened. .....and the iron looked old, very old.

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