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Old 01-20-2016, 11:03 PM   #1
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Mainship 1979 as a first boat?

Hello Mainshipers!
My wife and I are looking at getting our first boat.
We are looking at a 30 to 36 feet trawler to spent our weekend and vacation exploring our freshwater channels around the great lakes.
I an interesting 1979 Mainship 34 that seems very well maintained.
However my biggest concern is about the perkins HT6 165hp. While looking here and there I found some comments about the difficulty to find parts for maintenance and saying that maintenance of these old diesel can be costly.
As I do not expect to loose my retirement plan in maintenance bills, may you give me some advice?
What do you think about a 1979 34'?
Would it be so costly to keep this engine running?
Is it true that parts are hard to find?

Thank you very much to give me any advice you can have. This boat loks very nice but I do not want to have to leave it on the dock in 3 month cause it needs to be repowered and I do not have the budget for this.
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Old 01-21-2016, 09:14 AM   #2
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I believe that parts are available at a reasonable cost.


But realize that you are buying a 30-40 year old boat which will require a substantial maintenance budget to keep it up. Even though the initial purchase price will be low for a boat like that, maintenance will be high. Who can say how high, but budget $4-5,000 to get it up to a basic standard and several thousand dollars a year thereafter.


David
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Old 01-21-2016, 09:16 AM   #3
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Welcome aboard TF
We love our MS 34 - great boat for a cruising couple and should be great for the area you intend cruising.

I don't know much about the Perkins so can't help there - you may get some input from folks here at TF. Be sure to do a few searches to see what info already exists here. The usual caveat re: boat and engine survey certainly apply with something that age. Also lots of info here on DIY surveys - not to replace a professional but to narrow the options and avoid survey $ for one with some obvious defects you'd prefer to avoid.

Another good resource if you haven't found it yet is boatdiesel.com lots more engine specific info there. You should be able to search w/o joining but you are restricted in what you can download. The fee to join is nominal and well worth the price of admission.
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Old 01-21-2016, 09:58 AM   #4
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This is a good boat on which to learn how to handle a boat - a single screw boat. Many folks have anxiety around the docks for years because they never learned the basics.

If you buy the Mainship, find a good mentor to show you how it's done. Practice often as soon as (and if) you buy it. Learn the boat in as many different conditions as you can. You will build confidence and experience rapidly. You will always leave and arrive from a dock - this is a skill that is not optional. More skill means less anxiety and more enjoyment.

It's also a great layout for a first boat, ideal for a variety of boating activities as you narrow your boating focus.

Finally, there should be little depreciation on this model due to its age.

Good Luck
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Old 01-21-2016, 11:21 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bacchus View Post
We love our MS 34 - great boat for a cruising couple and should be great for the area you intend cruising.

Just a mention that Lou's target '79 MS 34 is different from yours...



Quote:
Originally Posted by IRENE View Post
This is a good boat on which to learn how to handle a boat - a single screw boat. Many folks have anxiety around the docks for years because they never learned the basics.

It's also a great layout for a first boat, ideal for a variety of boating activities as you narrow your boating focus.
Agree. I can't speak to the Perkins; ours was later an d DD 8.2T... but we always thought the basic boat was very good.

-Chris
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Old 01-21-2016, 04:10 PM   #6
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I shopped these boats extensively last year, and bought one a few months ago. Not my first boat, but the first of that type for me. The Mark 1 is generally well regarded, and I settled on it after looking at a lot of different boats in that general size/price range. Is the one you're looking at in Oka? I've seen ads and pictures for one there. Looks like a nice boat, and the asking price seems somewhat realistic, particularly if stated in US$ :-)

My boat has a newer Cummins, which was a significant feature for me. But I hadn't ruled out boats with the original Perkins. From what I read they are for the most part still providing good service and can be kept going for a long time with proper care and use.

I think if you're looking at any boat of that age you need to have a contingency for the worst case. You hedge your bets by carefully evaluating the boat and its history prior to purchase and making sure you are completely on top of preventative maintenance, but it seems to me that the reality is that you could find yourself at any time facing a major rebuild, and that could pretty easily cost > $10k, particularly if you hire it all out. So I think you have to have some tolerance for that risk before buying the boat. But that's not specific to any particular boat or motor. It just seems sensible to recognize the risk and be prepared for it.

I agree on the boat diesel recommendation, and there is an article there written a few years ago by someone who repowered their M34 not far from Montreal. He talks about his decision to repower vs repair the original motor and some of the issues and costs. It's worth the $25 IMO.

Jeff
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Old 01-21-2016, 05:49 PM   #7
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I just recently moved up from my 1979 34 Mainship. I owned it for about 8 years, I'm good friends with the guy who had it for about 10 years before me, and my father is the proud owner of it now. Beyond changing the oil and such, I had literally zero issues with the motor. It always cranked at the first turn. If you want a nice, inexpensive boat to run, I would have no issues recommending those. The only recent issue he had was on a 4 day run up the Mississippi River, a seal failed in the transmission causing it to get hot. They were able to make it to a marina where the transmission was rebuild for, I believe, about $1500 or so. That also included a few other maintenance items while they were in there.

In well cared for conditions, really nice little boats. Good luck!
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Old 01-21-2016, 07:33 PM   #8
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Our first big(er) boat was a Carver 3207, 1983, which we just sold last year. Needed lots of cosmetic work, tidying up messy wiring, new port lights, that kind of thing, but it was a great learning boat. Good bones though, so nothing was ever too outrageously expensive, nothing terminal. In fact, since it needed a million different but relatively small things, it was a much better learning boat than a brand new one would have been. Joker valves in the toilets, 12v lighting fixtures, getting the motor working in the searchlight, getting the windlass cleaned and re-mounted correctly and making sure the chain and rope rode fed through the windlass well, new spring on the chain finger. I removed a ton of previous audio system wiring spaghetti. Got that stupid safety switch working in the stove again. That old boat taught me a lot. Buying an older (but generally solid) boat was very worthwhile. In retrospect I wouldn't have done it any other way.
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Old 01-21-2016, 08:15 PM   #9
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My wife and I bought a 79 mk1 last April. It is our first boat. We have experience crewing and chartering 30-40ft. sailboats. I think that it is a great first boat. It has a 160hp perkins turbo with about 3500 hours. The engine surveyor said that the perkins is a solid engine that will last forever if maintained well. He also said that the stuff bolted to the engine is what needs care (heat exchanger, aftercooler, turbo etc...). The mechanic at my marina says that parts for this engine are not difficult to find. This winter I am rebuilding the injectors, replacing the exhaust elbow, and servicing the heat exchanger, aftercooler, and turbo.

The boat has a stern thruster that helps in docking. However, for most of the summer I did not use the thruster because I wanted to learn to dock the boat with only the single engine. It is tricky at first but practice, practice, practice.

We looked at lots of mainships from New England to Maryland before finding the right one. I think that the big ticket items that we looked for were strong engine, solid decks, and solid fuel tanks. It is an inexpensive boat that can be used while you upgrade the systems.

We got a great deal on the boat, $24,000. We also knew that we would put about $10,000-$12,000 into upgrades in the first year to get it to where we wanted it to be. We also expect about $3,000-$5,000 per year in maintenance and upgrades to keep it in top shape. We think that this is a reasonable cost of ownership.

Some of the reasons we chose the mk1 were;

The outside spaces are great for entertaining, the full flybridge and cockpit are spacious. The flybridge covers the cockpit to provide shade and protection from weather. We have a full enclosure for the flybridge.

The saloon is wide open. We have two recliners in the saloon for relaxing after a rough day of cruising. With no built in furniture you can configure the saloon anyway you want.

The V-berth is huge. I am 6'2" and fit very well in the bed. It feels like a king size bed. If you are taller than me it might be a tight fit.

The galley has plenty of room to prepare meals. I cook a lot on the boat and I am not restricted too much in what I can cook.

Overall the systems are relatively easy, the boat is solid, and it is economical to buy and maintain. I hope this helps.
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Old 01-21-2016, 10:05 PM   #10
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First of all many thanks to all of you for yor advices and for sharing your experience.

@djmarchand After talking to the owner I saw that he really cared about his boat and did a lot of maintenance/fix already. I just don't want to get into something I will not be able to afford. But general maintenance for a couple of thousands should not be an issue.

@Bacchus Thank you for your info. I will certainly get a intensive survey of the boat before letting go the monay I got by sweating

@Irene I will definitively need some practice even if I have some basic.

@ranger42c Thank you for sharing.

@Jeff Yeah the one I am looking at is the one at Oka, just few km from home so it will be easy to go and see it. But at this time in the year it is not the good moment as the boat is winterized. I will defiitively plan some contengency, I was just concern about the risk of failure and lack of parts for an old engine. At the same time I am pretty handy and know a bit about diesel engine and an old engine is in my sense easier to maintain than modern electronic stuffed engine.

@clynn Thank you for sharing this, it help to relief my fears

@KTHoennes You got the point, I would prefer to get an older boat to get experience on it and to be able to put my dirty hands in it and learn.

@jdud133 Thank you very much for sharing this, this convince me to go and see this boat as soon as possible. I think this is the right type of boat for me and perfectly sized for what I expect to do. I am smaller than 6.2 so the berth should not be an issue and the galley is one of the main reason I like this boat as I like to cook too!

I will keep you posted about my quest!

Best regards
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Old 01-21-2016, 10:32 PM   #11
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Greetings,
Welcome aboard.
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Old 01-22-2016, 12:25 PM   #12
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Lou_tribal,

If you end up with a single engine like the 34 Mainship, consider adding a stern thruster if it doesn't already have one. Also, I've added a link below to detailed pictures of my old Mainship. It shows the boat in detail in and out of the water, so you will have a good idea of what you will see if you visit this prospect.

1979 34 Mainship by chrislynn4 | Photobucket
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Old 01-22-2016, 12:56 PM   #13
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clynn,
Thank you very much for the picture, it was like a journey onboard
Actually the current owner installed an electric bow thruster on it 2 years ago so I guess it will do the trick.
I really like these boat, the layout is very nice and it will be plenty of space for two weekended/vacationer.

Regards,
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Old 01-22-2016, 04:38 PM   #14
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Welcome aboard. Just bought 1980 MS in Chicago several months ago and drove it to Stuart Fl. Fresh water with only 1400 hrs. Took 250 hrs to Stuart and used maybe a gallon of oil. Have the 160 hp perkins and engine run swell all the way. Had old perkins on other boat and never really had any problems. Just maintain all addons and you should be fine. Part are a little expensive but it is a boat. TA diesel and foley engines are a good source for parts. Enjoy new boat.
Afterthought--just watch for soft spots on decks.
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Old 01-22-2016, 05:36 PM   #15
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Is not the HT6 Perkins a "lay over" engine? If so that has some unique parts that may be hard to find. Also that may mean the deck is low over the engine, making it hard to repower with a stand up engine.
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Old 01-22-2016, 06:58 PM   #16
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Ski in NC you're right.
From Perkins engine manual, HT6 means Horizontal Turbocharged 6 cylinder engine.
Found out that it is less common than standard engine but common for Mainship boat. Much lower profile than the standard vertical engine.
Even if it is not the right forum for this, I also found a nice Gulfstar 43 with engine rebuilt recently and a brand new generator. This make me think... or confuse me more
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Old 01-22-2016, 07:06 PM   #17
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The motor in the Mainship 34 is vertical.
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Old 01-22-2016, 09:56 PM   #18
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Strange, the survey mentionned an engine type HT6.354M which is an Horizontal Turbocharged 6 cylinders engine build for Marine usage if I look at the Perkins registry. But Imay be wrong I am far from an expert, far like the moon is far or even more
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Old 01-22-2016, 11:58 PM   #19
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Get a photo of motor with hatch open and post here. From that it will be easy to identify.
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Old 01-23-2016, 11:05 AM   #20
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Here is a picture of the engine.
Do you know what is the white cloth ? Just a thermal protection?

Mainship engine

Regards
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