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.
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.
P.S. a useful link, has articles on fixing problems
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.
Take a screwdriver with you. Any suspect areas can be poked (gently) to see if the wood is soft or just discoloured.
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.
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)
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.
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!
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.
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!!!
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.
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!
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.
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".
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.