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Fiberglass Hull Lifespan?

Old 05-09-2019, 07:32 AM
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Question Fiberglass Hull Lifespan?

I'm planning to buy a 28-30 foot fiberglass inboard diesel and see many I like that are 25 to 30 years old (mid-late 1980's models). And I've seen boats of this vintage being rebuilt. My concern is whether 30 year old hulls, if properly maintained, are safe and will last another 10-15 years. Any suggestions/comments?
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Old 05-09-2019, 07:35 AM
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All depends on the style of construction.

Solid glass hand laid up boats will last for just about forever.
Chop gun boats are essentially clorox bottles and will eventually delaminate and disintegrate.
Cored hulls are a crap shoot. Done right, sealed right, they could last a long time. Or in the case of most cored boats, only last a few seasons before needing to have core replaced.
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Old 05-09-2019, 07:45 AM
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Hello, totally depends on the hull, some are much more long lived than others, Bertram, Hatteras and Chris Craft seem very long lived, if a cored bottom, I would be wary, cored sides not always a problem, cored decks, can be done well of if not sealed properly, especially when other accessories fitted can be awful, transoms are a known issue on a lot of boats, especially with outdrives, look on this site at some of the amazing refits people have done on old hulls, including redoing transoms. The good thing is, it can all be fixed, a desirable boat will always be desirable, so pick something that was decent in the first place. Hope this helps.
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Old 05-09-2019, 08:53 AM
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Originally Posted by Microbe View Post
I'm planning to buy a 28-30 foot fiberglass inboard diesel and see many I like that are 25 to 30 years old (mid-late 1980's models). And I've seen boats of this vintage being rebuilt. My concern is whether 30 year old hulls, if properly maintained, are safe and will last another 10-15 years. Any suggestions/comments?
hire a surveyor that REALLY knows their stuff and have them give you an opinion of the hull

you will pay 2-3x the price of a normal surveyor but its worth it to get someone knowledgeable i think
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Old 05-09-2019, 10:33 AM
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Bertrams and Blackfins from the '70s and ''80s will last forever and are well worth your time and money spent refurbishing them. Simply stated, it was not understood at the time how strong fiberglass was and these two companies overbuilt everything as well as having superb hull designs.
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Old 05-09-2019, 10:45 AM
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1994 Aquasport, hull is mint and still going strong.
mid to lower tier boat built before all this lower, mid and top tier bullsh*t.
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Old 05-09-2019, 11:14 AM
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My 23' Seacraft is 45 yo and hull is totally sound.
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Old 05-09-2019, 11:17 AM
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My 25ft Bertram was 1967 and fine.

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Old 05-09-2019, 11:28 AM
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82 wellcraft the hull is fine its all the stuff attached that has issues.
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Old 05-09-2019, 11:47 AM
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Folks, thanks for all the feedback. It sounds like the construction method is key. Things are always more complicated than they seem at first glance!
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Old 05-10-2019, 08:51 PM
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Always. I think my boat was built around 60 years ago and still extremely solid.
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Old 05-11-2019, 02:06 AM
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1979 Chris Craft fibreglass lapstrake is as solid as if it were new
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Old 05-11-2019, 05:31 AM
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Personally I’d stay away from cored anything. You get one owner who doesn’t rebed the fittings for 15 years and moisture sets in.
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Old 05-11-2019, 05:33 AM
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1970 Hydrodyne Flattop 24, balsa core, on its 4th motor.
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Old 05-11-2019, 06:00 AM
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My 34 is 53 years old now. No problems. As others have said construction is key. If it had construction issues it had problems from day one.

Also so keep in mind a good boat built with issues may have had things corrected during a restoration.
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Old 05-11-2019, 07:28 AM
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Originally Posted by nhmetalguy View Post
All depends on the style of construction.

Solid glass hand laid up boats will last for just about forever.
Chop gun boats are essentially clorox bottles and will eventually delaminate and disintegrate.
Cored hulls are a crap shoot. Done right, sealed right, they could last a long time. Or in the case of most cored boats, only last a few seasons before needing to have core replaced.
"only last a few seasons" …… there are going to be some truly upset core manufacturers when they find out their product only lasts a few seasons.
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Old 05-11-2019, 07:46 AM
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Originally Posted by Fiberglass1 Inc View Post
"only last a few seasons" …… there are going to be some truly upset core manufacturers when they find out their product only lasts a few seasons.
Plus, the vast majority of hulls in that size range, even the ones with the “best” reputations, were build with chopper guns. This has little to do with the quality of the hull.


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Old 05-11-2019, 09:08 AM
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How the hull was used or abused is key. If holes in the laminate or its core get wet that's a problem and the older the hull, the more likely.

Fortunately just about anything can be fixed, but you have to have a moisture meter and access to all internals to evaluate what's needed in the stringer areas. Not many hulls for sale will not have decks so that you can actually see this, so you just have to do the best you can and take a little risk if you really want to take on an old project.

Look at the hard to reach fasteners for caulking. If you see that these were maintained, then your's probably ok after also running a moisture meter over the external hull skin, especially under the water line.

But to me disassembling a hull to reassemble it seems like more work than its worth. Buying a good used hull and just making sure that factory installed motors are in good running order is faster, cheaper to complete and easier to resell when your done, imo.
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Old 05-11-2019, 09:46 AM
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Hand laid fiberglass hulls from quality builders will last forever. But your decision should be around how much $ is required for mechanical, electrical and cosmetic repairs. If new tanks, engines, wiring, electronics, paint etc is required, you can easily spend far more than what a newer boat would cost. For some classic boats like Bertram, Hatteras, etc all that may be worth it to the owner. But don’t underestimate the cost of refurbishing an old boat.
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Old 05-11-2019, 01:14 PM
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Using a chopper gun in the process can still be referred to as hand laid. Virtually all methods of building hulls is considered “Hand Laid” I know of no hulls that are only chopped. There are some very cheap dingys and other junk small boats built in the past that used only chop, but you can use CSM and call it hand laid, it results in the same product though.
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