Spotting rot

16/12/2009 11:40:08
David R
I'm off to look at a Merlin on Sunday. I don't have a lot of experience with wooden boats. Any tips on where to look for rot and how to test how serious it is? Oddly I can't find anything like that searching this forum, but if you know better a link would be great.

Many thanks

David

16/12/2009 11:51:21
Andrew M
Look for areas of blackened and soft wood.  The likely areas are on the inside of the transom (which is not generally too hard to sort out) or on the bottom of the centrecase where it meets the hog and garboard planks.  This is a much bigger problem and may need the replacement of hog and/or centreboard casing.  Look for structural problems/glue failure round the edges of the decks especially the carlins and frames near the shrouds, the state of the varnish and the cover for that matter will give you an idea of how well the boat has been maintained - I've learnt to my cost that the key to maintaining a wooden boat is not to leave a problem you have noticed, fix it or get it fixed.  Also if you are going with the owner to where the boat is kept you will be able to see how well the boat is stored, if out of doors has to be securely bows up with drain holes clear and a good waterproof breathable cover.

Which boat, how old?

16/12/2009 11:53:20
Andrew M
P.S. a useful link, has articles on fixing problems

http://www.cvrda.org/index.php
16/12/2009 12:07:55
David R
The boat is 2807, a phantom kipper. I am also tempted to go an look at 3297, but 2807 is a lot closer and a fair bit cheaper. Both are in the for sale section on this site.

Thanks

David

16/12/2009 12:12:38
Colin
Take a screwdriver with you. Any suspect areas can be poked (gently) to see if the wood is soft or just discoloured.

If the owner objects to a gentle prod it's possible you've found a soft area...
Check along the keel (inside & outside) - look for a "fair line" along the hull - no bulges or hollows (check by comparing both sides of the hull - should be symmetric).

Many Merlins have sycamore gunwhales - this does discolour quite easily - Mahogony in salt water is gerneally fine, but fresh water isn't good for it.
Colin

16/12/2009 13:53:06
Pat2121
Apart from the useful link to articles, the cvrda has a forum full of repair queries and replies and is frequented by many a vintage Merliner and wooden boat experts.

Battered gunwhales are quite common and easily fixed. Check the decks over for soft spots or
blackening and look out for yellowing, opaque varnish areas where varnish has lifted from layer below, often allowing water in. Those need peeling back, drying out and sanding and re-varnishing before they start blackening.

Pat
cvrda webmistress and Merlin 2121.

http://www.cvrda.org
16/12/2009 14:54:19
Andrew M
Phantom Kipper is still a pretty good 1st merlin, the Aln boats have a reputation for strength which is useful after 30 years have elapsed!  A good all-round boat, no particular handling vices though it's 15 years since I sailed one (Vic West's Phantom Spinner at Ranelagh which is still going)

16/12/2009 15:44:34
David R
Thanks Andrew for the specific reassurance and everyone else for the help in spotting the rot. It is nice to have a second option to back up the design guide.

David

16/12/2009 16:44:49
Peter Scott
DOn't discount New Potato - this is a very well built boat that was professionally deckstepped some years ago. Looking at the advert there is all the gear and it would, in my opinion, be a much better starting point - funds permiting of course!

16/12/2009 19:34:30
Andrew M
Agreed - you will get a much better boat for open water that will still be in the pack in an open meeting, but you get what you pay for and the Kipper has been on the for sale list for a while and you should be able to negotiate on price accordingly.  Any ex-Phil King boats are worth checking out - Savage, Gangsta Paradise, Ministry of Pleasure have all got excellent records.

16/12/2009 21:13:16
Andy Hay - 3626 Business as Usual
My best mate owned New Potato aka "Spud" a few years ago and turned heads at Salcombe in her. Still one of the fastest boats in the fleet downhill. Got revarnished by John Claridge in their ownership, but a lack of under cover stowage and a return to B14's got in the way!!!

17/12/2009 09:44:25
David R
New Potato does look very attractive. If I can knock the price down a little and sell the Harrier as a going concern then it will be close enough to in budget. I am trying to arrange to go and see it this weekend, before the Phantom Kipper.

Andrew, I am not exactly certainly which boat you are praising as ex Phil King, the New Potato or the Phantom Kipper!?

Thanks again everyone.

David

17/12/2009 09:46:04
David R
I may as well add, if anyone knows of anything else at the cheap end of the market and in the midlands, I will be there this weekend!

David

17/12/2009 10:34:42
Andrew M
New Potato was Phil King's boat to a new design, only 1 or 2 built, very flat and wide for the era quick downwind best for lightweights.

17/12/2009 10:59:29
David R
Thanks Andrew, the design guide notes that New Potato is good for light weights as well. While I am by no means light(!), I plan to sail the boat largely single handed or with one of the kids, so the total weight will be low for a Merlin. Perhaps this really is the one to go for. Do you know how wide it is? I thought the Phantom Kipper was doing well at 6'9".

Many thanks

David

17/12/2009 11:59:26
Jez3645
I would think that the New Potato is about 7ft in Beam just short of maximum beam. I would have thought it was the right boat to go for. 

If you have the right weight range it offers excellent value and having been deck stepped it will have a modern rig on it so you can hold your own at opens should that become the plan.

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