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Old 08-22-2012, 09:29 AM   #1
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Looked at a 1981 Mainship 34 II...thoughts?

Hey guys...I'm a newbie here, I've been lurking for a couple weeks, and I've got a few questions.

Last weekend, I went and looked at an older Mainship 34 at the coast here in NC. I spent the night on it, it was reasonably comfortable. Here's the good and bad:

Good:
1) In 2009, it was repowered with a new Perkins 165hp diesel, and it only has about 20 hours or so on it. I don't know if this model even has glow plugs, I don't think it spins more than 1 revolution before it starts. Big plus here. New main battery too (that's a big battery!)

2) The hull appears to be in good shape, bottom was recently painted. I could only find one minor leak (the hatch on bow).

3) The water pumps and plumbing appear to all work, running water, shower, electric marine head...I didn't check the hot water heater, but it looks fairly new. There's AC/heat, and that works (or at least the AC does).

4) There's very little rotten wood (a couple of small spots of the trim on the back). No rotten wood around the sliding door. Overall, it structurally and functionally appears to be very good. (A survey would confirm that.)

Bad:
1) There's a diesel generator that is locked up and won't turn-over (even jumped to the huge main battery). This is quite an expensive replacement (although I'm not sure I'd truly need it for the way I'd use the boat).

2) The carpet is old and musty, the couch is old and a little ragged. (This can be replaced though...this is probably the easiest fix out of anything.) The top side could really use a paint job.

3) Biggest concern, the whole cabin smelled strongly like diesel fuel. I don't know if there's a diesel leak, or there were some spills while replacing the engine, or what. I'd think it would be pretty dangerous to having diesel fuel leaking into the engine compartment...right?

4) There are no electronics on the boat at all...not even a depth guage. Crucial stuff could be added of course, with a little time and money. I could live with the basic depth guage and a good easy-to-use marine GPS. That would suffice for now.

5) There are the typical soft spots on the lower rear deck...it's soft across the back, and there's a really soft spot opposite side from the ladder to the bridge. I think the easiest fix would be to simply cut those sections out, and replace them with sturdy hatches (can't hurt to improve the accessibility to the stuff under the deck, right?).

My plan would be to use the boat mainly as a floating condo, plus cruise around the intra-coastal waterway, probably take it onto the ocean a few times (I love boating so maybe it's time I took up fishing, eh?), find some nice abandoned beaches and anchor for the afternoon (or maybe the night), take it to some of the coastal downtown docks accessible by water (like downtown Wilmington, maybe Morehead City, Beaufort, Southport, etc)...essentially, keep it reasonably close to "home". I don't mind that it's kinda slow, and really like that at a slow speed it'll get about 2gph (my old trailerable Bayliner cabin cruiser uses about 20gph while running!).

Anyway, they are asking $19K, which I gather is essentially what the prior owner paid to replace the engine. What do you guys think? What monthly and yearly maintenance should I include in that price?

Cheers,
Dave
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Old 08-22-2012, 09:53 AM   #2
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19K is a great deal if you get a good survey. I had looked at these last year but not enough room for me. There are a couple of good mainship websits that cover all the problems you mentioned. You probably don't need the generator from your description of how you want to use the boat. It would be worth paying a diesel mechanic for an hour to look at the generator. It could be something as simple as a dead or locked up starter. If it is shot, just toss it then you can use the space for batteries. How does the flybridge look? They are also prone to deck rot. Most used boats are going to need the electronics upgraded anyway so factor that in. You need to be sure that the tanks aren't leaking which is a problem with these older boats. That may be why the price is so low, especially with a new engine.

If this is the 34-II, its design is more of a sport fish than a trawler.
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Old 08-22-2012, 10:28 AM   #3
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No electronics is a plus w that price. You get to choose all your favorite stuff. That's the way I bought my boat.

The Main 34 cruises effortlessly for a trawler and slides through head seas very well but because of it's warped bottom they do'nt like stern seas. Can't be too bad as an old fisherman bought one here in Alaska as his retirement yacht.

The soft spots are probably a lot more work than you think and there are probably more or many more damaged spots. Get it surveyed by a recommended surveyor. Recommended by professionals.

The worst evil that awaits you is the strong probability of leaking fuel tanks. Tanks aren't that expensive but most tanks require that you remove the engine to re-install. And you'd be stupid to not replace the other tank. So it went w me on my 38 yr old Willard.

good luck
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Old 08-22-2012, 01:23 PM   #4
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Smells of diesel.
Sounds like a leaking tank to me. Could be fuel lines. Check all the connections both supply and return.

Diesel has a pretty high flash point. between 100 and 160 deg.

Not as big a concern as gas but nevertheless.

Is there diesel in the bilge?

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Old 08-22-2012, 01:53 PM   #5
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We owned a 1981 Mainship and loved it. I believe the 165 hp Perkins was standard for that year. Our water tank was small at 45 gallons. We knew a few that had replaced fuel tanks but not as many as some of the same era boats that had teak decks. Check the fuels line. Ours leaked when we bought the boat. We had an old Onan generator and never used. They make a good mooring block. We did double the house battery bank. We also re-enforced the floor by the helm. We went to an RV superstore and had a custom hide-a-bed/couch made and added new carpet. Worth the money.

As has already been said, get a good surveyor. Rob Eberle is in New Bern and is probably one of the best surveyors I have ever met.

If you can get yours arms around the fuel smell and identify all the soft spots and you could have a heck of deal.
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Old 08-22-2012, 06:10 PM   #6
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Actually, it's a 1982, but I think it's a 34 I, not a 34 II. It has the extended top over the lower deck.

Thanks for all the posts and advice!

On the diesel smell, is it possible to replace the tanks with smaller tanks or (different shaped tanks) that DON'T require the engine to be pulled out? The current owner (an older guy who's 82...his son is helping him sell it) said he recently had the tanks pumped out and new diesel fuel put in. I wonder if there was some work on finding a leak that he didn't mention? Hmmm.

There was a little bit of what I figured was water in the bilge area around the generator...I didn't check it, it might very well be diesel fuel instead of water. Again, that's something a surveyor should find, right?

The bridge deck seemed solid...there was a very small amount of rot where the ladder attaches, but that's the only indication of any rot that I could find. So, you think replacing the soft spots in the lower deck with hatches would be more work than I anticipated? What should I expect here?

So, sounds like you guys think $19K is a fair price. I definitely like that the engine's new...my old Bayliner periodically decides it doesn't want to start (always when I'm on the water, never on dry land of course...LOL). It would sure be nice to have something that I know is always going to start!

Another question: The 120V stuff runs off shore power, and would run off the generator if it were working. I'd assume the main engine only gives you 12V power, right? Would it maybe be feasible to add an 12V to 120V inverter to handle some of the 120V needs from the battery + main engine if we needed 120V power away from the dock? Or is this not feasible? (I'm assume the AC/heat only works off 120V...obviously the stove as well...I know there are some 12V fridges, but I'm assuming this one is 120V only).


Thanks guys!
Dave
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Old 08-22-2012, 07:46 PM   #7
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On the diesel smell, is it possible to replace the tanks with smaller tanks or (different shaped tanks) that DON'T require the engine to be pulled out?
Sure. The previous owner of our boat had this done. The three original iron fuel tanks were cut up in place and removed and replaced with five custom-made tanks that were small enough to get into the engine room and installed without moving or removing the engines.

So where there had been one 150 gallon fuel tank on each side of the engine room and a third one across the back there are now two 85 gallon "cubes" on each side of the engine room and a 60 gallon day tank in the bilge. Total fuel capacity is 400 gallons instead of 450 gallons but that's good because fuel doesn't sit on the boat as long and we still have more than enough range for whatever we do with the boat now or in the future.
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Old 08-22-2012, 08:09 PM   #8
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3) Biggest concern, the whole cabin smelled strongly like diesel fuel. I don't know if there's a diesel leak, or there were some spills while replacing the engine, or what. I'd think it would be pretty dangerous to having diesel fuel leaking into the engine compartment...right?
Not so much dangerous with diesel but expensive should free product be pumped overboard with your bilge pump. The Coast Guard would personally hand you the bill for the containment and remediation. Potentially way more than replacing the fuel tanks and associated plumbing.
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Old 08-23-2012, 10:38 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by davesisk View Post
Hey guys...I'm a newbie here, I've been lurking for a couple weeks, and I've got a few questions.

Last weekend, I went and looked at an older Mainship 34 at the coast here in NC. I spent the night on it, it was reasonably comfortable. Here's the good and bad:

Good:
1) In 2009, it was repowered with a new Perkins 165hp diesel, and it only has about 20 hours or so on it. I don't know if this model even has glow plugs, I don't think it spins more than 1 revolution before it starts. Big plus here. New main battery too (that's a big battery!)

2) The hull appears to be in good shape, bottom was recently painted. I could only find one minor leak (the hatch on bow).

3) The water pumps and plumbing appear to all work, running water, shower, electric marine head...I didn't check the hot water heater, but it looks fairly new. There's AC/heat, and that works (or at least the AC does).

4) There's very little rotten wood (a couple of small spots of the trim on the back). No rotten wood around the sliding door. Overall, it structurally and functionally appears to be very good. (A survey would confirm that.)

Bad:
1) There's a diesel generator that is locked up and won't turn-over (even jumped to the huge main battery). This is quite an expensive replacement (although I'm not sure I'd truly need it for the way I'd use the boat).

2) The carpet is old and musty, the couch is old and a little ragged. (This can be replaced though...this is probably the easiest fix out of anything.) The top side could really use a paint job.

3) Biggest concern, the whole cabin smelled strongly like diesel fuel. I don't know if there's a diesel leak, or there were some spills while replacing the engine, or what. I'd think it would be pretty dangerous to having diesel fuel leaking into the engine compartment...right?

4) There are no electronics on the boat at all...not even a depth guage. Crucial stuff could be added of course, with a little time and money. I could live with the basic depth guage and a good easy-to-use marine GPS. That would suffice for now.

5) There are the typical soft spots on the lower rear deck...it's soft across the back, and there's a really soft spot opposite side from the ladder to the bridge. I think the easiest fix would be to simply cut those sections out, and replace them with sturdy hatches (can't hurt to improve the accessibility to the stuff under the deck, right?).

My plan would be to use the boat mainly as a floating condo, plus cruise around the intra-coastal waterway, probably take it onto the ocean a few times (I love boating so maybe it's time I took up fishing, eh?), find some nice abandoned beaches and anchor for the afternoon (or maybe the night), take it to some of the coastal downtown docks accessible by water (like downtown Wilmington, maybe Morehead City, Beaufort, Southport, etc)...essentially, keep it reasonably close to "home". I don't mind that it's kinda slow, and really like that at a slow speed it'll get about 2gph (my old trailerable Bayliner cabin cruiser uses about 20gph while running!).

Anyway, they are asking $19K, which I gather is essentially what the prior owner paid to replace the engine. What do you guys think? What monthly and yearly maintenance should I include in that price?

Cheers,
Dave
Based on this statement, I would forget the mainship, buy a houseboat in really good shape and have a small skiff for fishing. WAYYYYYY more room and liveability...if you do move her...just move her slow to conserve fuel. many older houseboats where the I/Os are done for are repowered with small 4 stroke outboards that push then at trawler speeds and don't use all that much fuel. Just for the liveability differences and posssibly the purchase price...the difference in fuel burn will take years to make up.
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Old 08-23-2012, 02:39 PM   #10
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I agree with Eric. Don't take the soft spots in the deck lightly. They may be "typical" for this brand of boat but that does not diminish the seriousness of the problem, the expense and effort to fix it, and the very real probability there are other similar spots well on their way to becoming noticeable.

For us, unless we REALLY liked the boat otherwise and were willing to have the deck properly repaired--- which is a big job no matter who does it---- this would be a show-stopper and we would continue looking. Soft spots are a structural problem, not a cosmetic one, and if unrepaired they only get worse, usually at an accelerating rate. And the bad wood is almost far more widespread than the actual soft spots on the deck would imply.
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Old 08-23-2012, 05:25 PM   #11
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Dave:

First spend an hour or so looking at the listings on Yachtworld. They vary from $18,000 to $60,000 for the Mainship 34. Your boat sounds pretty good, but I saw one for $25K with modern electronics (chartplotter, radar and autopilot, probably worth $7-8K installed new), a working generator and A/C.

Virtually all boats in your price range are going to have soft decks and many will have rotten tanks.

It isn't worth repairing the decks but I have never heard of a boat being structurally impaired due to soft decks. Think of a boat like this as a throw away item. Use it until it breaks, which it won't.

The tanks undoubtably need to be replaced. Figure this into your first year expenses. As others have suggested, I would cut them up in place and replace with smaller ones, particularly as you have a pretty new engine and doesn't need to come out for any work.

The refrigerator probably is a 12V/120V unit, but if not they can be replaced for under $1,000.

Yes it is common for boats to have an inverter which powers small A/C appliances. An inverter/charger can be added for about $1,000 for a basic unit. The engine alternator will recharge the batteries. There are two typical solutions for quicker or additional charging: a high output alternator and regulator- about $1,000, or solar panels. I just helped a friend install 400 watts of panels on his CHB 45 and it cost about $1,200 and covers all of his DC needs, so he can anchor out indefinitely without running any engine.

Having said that, if you want A/C in the summer at anchor, then you have to have a generator.

My guess is that $19K boat will be $25-30 by the time the dust settles. But the almost new engine that starts up within one rev would be a real plus for me. Replacing an engine is going to cost about $20K.

David
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Old 08-28-2012, 09:43 AM   #12
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So, question: Assuming one or both of the tanks are leaking, is it possible to spray some sort of sealant in them to seal the leak? The fuel would have to be pumped out while this is done, of course. Or is it possible to repair the leak some way other than replacing the tanks?

Btw...if the leak is fixed, how long will that cabin still smell like diesel?

Thanks!
Dave
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Old 08-28-2012, 11:29 AM   #13
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The only way I know you coulduse a sealer is to cut them open so you can get inside, probably not cost effective.
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Old 08-28-2012, 01:10 PM   #14
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Hmmm...good point. No way to seal it from the outside I guess?

Dave
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Old 08-28-2012, 05:35 PM   #15
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Did you actually see diesel fuel anywhere? Our Gulfstar had a diesel smell, but I can't find any leakage. I think it is just a "boat smell" that happens due to lack of use and being kept closed up. We bought some of that Canberra Gel, and it really cleared the air. Happy Admiral now.
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Old 08-29-2012, 12:38 PM   #16
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When I bought my old 1978 Mainship in 1991 it also smelled like diesel. The tanks did NOT leak, it was just the old Perkins and it's many minor leaks and seeps. It took a while to solve all those, but the smell disapperaed.
IF your tanks leak they are easy to replce in that boat. Remove the floor one side at a time and replace the tanks.
I don't care for the model II because you lose salon space but that's personal.
The boats are extremely versatile and are cheap and easy to work on.
I owned mine for 15 years and only sold it for something significantly larger. I'd but another old Nantucket in a heartbeat when I 'm done with extended cruising.
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Old 10-04-2012, 02:31 PM   #17
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Hey Dave,

I know I'm late in the thread here, but if you wanted to check out another Mainship 34 for comparison sake, I've got a 1980 model myself. I'd be glad to share my direct insight.
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Old 10-04-2012, 03:42 PM   #18
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Hey, thanks for the post. I decided to pass on it...it's probably more than I need to be trying to tackle at the moment. I'm going to hang on to the Bayliner 2755 for another year or two (getting the engine replaced over the next couple weeks so it'll be ready to go for next year, and I'll hopefully get some more water time this year before it gets too cold). I will definitely keep the Mainships on my list for the future though.

Dave
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Old 11-11-2013, 08:34 PM   #19
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Wow Dave, I'm about to buy a 1980 Mainship and currently have a 1993 Bayliner 2855. After reading all these suggestions and possible problems, I'm going to go through the survey very carefully.
I may end up with my Bayliner as well.

Alex
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Old 11-11-2013, 11:04 PM   #20
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Hey! Even old threads still have good info.

I actually ended up selling the Bayliner last fall (after all the engine problems, the amount of fuel it used, other work that I needed), I was just sick of it.

I picked up a Macgregor 26X in the spring, used it in the local lake several times during the 1st half of the summer, but got tired of the rigging/unrigging time involved in using it on a lake. So, I towed it down to the beach and put it in the slip for the 2nd half of the summer, spent quite a few weekends cruising, sailing, and beaching it. In the process of that, I really had a fabulous time...but realized the boat is just too small to get the number of people on it that I'd like (AND allow them to actually be comfortable ).

So, I sold the Mac 26X and (just recently) bought an Endeavourcat 30 sailing catamaran. It's a 1990 model that's in pretty good shape (these boats are seriously built like a tank), but needs a little work and sprucing up. It has an outboard motor, but surprisingly it's a diesel... ...it's a Yanmar D27 diesel outboard that fires right up and runs like a champ...it'll push the boat to around 7 knots or so. I think the hull speed is around 10 knots with a good stiff wind (or so the video's say). It's on it's way to the closest coastal area to me at the moment (I hired a licensed captain to bring it down from Deltaville VA to Wilmington NC for me).

If you want more info on the Endeavourcats (they make both sailing cats and power cats...very nice boats...built like tanks, unsinkable hulls, inboard diesels, etc.) go here, click on "Brochures" -> "Discontinued Models" -> "EC 30" (the model I bought).

EndeavourCats Home Page

I think this will probably be a boat that I will actually keep for a while! I guess we'll see.

Cheers,
Dave
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