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Old 04-18-2011, 12:29 PM   #1
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34 LRC Hull Construction??

What is the risk level of getting a bad hull in a 1983 Wellcraft/Californian 34 LRC? I know i should get a survey, but other than the hull I am confortable with my own judgement on everything else. It will be my fifth boat in 6 years. We already have a boat with the 3208 NA cats in it and we have down much of our own maintenance over the years. I do intend to sea trial, have thermo gun, and other than the hull am willing to trust our judgement. Some boats have a history of bad hulls, like the Carver 370 or the Grady whites in their transoms. Does the Californian enjoy a good reputation as far as the hull is concerned? It has been in fresh water for the last 8 years. Thanks
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Old 04-18-2011, 09:58 PM   #2
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RE: 34 LRC Hull Construction??

When I bought mine back in January, I had it surveyed. *I didn't learn anything I didn't already know but I would have probably needed the survey anyway for insurance purposes. *My personal opinion about surveys is they are of marginal value if the buyer is aware of what they are looking at. *There seems to be a dance that goes on. *The surveyor is trying to prove his value. *To do that, he finds nickel and dime stuff that I fully expect to exist if I am buying a 25 year old boat. *Bad toggle switches on the flybridge controlling the spotlight, engine shutdown. *intermittent switch on the windless, etc. *I suppose there is a chance he might have spotted something I missed that was major but after running the boat I think I could probably find everything he did. *The only thing he did that I wouldn't have was tap the hull deck and house very thoroughly with a golf club shaft with a golf ball drilled and glued to the end of it looking for soft spots. *There were none. *He did discover that the hull number was wrong on the documentation paper work. *A '8' was listed as a '3'. *The number wasn't very clear in the mold when they made the hull. *I am still trying to get that resolved with the Coast Guard. * Survey cost: nearly $1000 with haulout. * Was it worth it? *I don't know. *Probably would have needed it to insure the boat though and where I live there are no surveyors within a couple hundred miles, so it was probably as cheap or cheaper than if I had put it off.

I don't think Californians are prone to hull problems. *The decks don't have teak and the associated leaks and soft spots. *They don't seem predisposed to blisters, and cabin leaks.

While I'm on a roll, your other question, flybridge removal. *It doesn't seem too hard. *There are panels on the inside of the flybridge that look to be removable, and I suspect there are bolts inside that attach the FB to the coach roof. *Steering is hydraulic so there are hydraulic lines to disconnect. *Throttles and shifters are easy enough. *Wiring should be pretty straightforward too. *Be real careful to mark the wires. *This is all based on very little real time on the boat, so I might be FOS. *I bought the boat it January. *I spent a day and a half aboard when I bought it. *It was in Nashville, *500+ miles from where I live. *I spent two days aboard running it from Nashville to Kentucky lake in February. *I haven't seen it since. *I plan to run it back home to Iowa beginning late next week if the Mississippi flood waters subside by then. *That will take me about two weeks. *After that I will be a bit more Californian experienced.

*

*
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Old 04-19-2011, 07:13 AM   #3
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RE: 34 LRC Hull Construction??

Your description of the survey situation is like my experience. I have had 3 boats surveyed in the past 5 years and the hull is the only area where information was available that was beyond my capability. I almost believe I could get a surveyors hammer and discern the differences in sound as well but may not be able to know what it means. Looking at this boat on ebay the owner wasn't too interested in me taking it out to a yard for a survey. Would have to be done while still for sale and I don't know how ebay would handle a buy it now bid and than after the fact want to reject the boat because of a bad survey.

Will have to have one for insurance but will do a quick haul and go through the drill to get the necessary paper work. It is my experience and understanding that most surveyors are not diesel engine experts so I am on my own there. I did hire a engine expert once and had oil samples down. Information on boatdiesel.com indicates even that can be misleading.

It appears from this forum that hull is pretty stable, but since insurance will demand it I will get a survey and that may give me bargining leverage as well. Thanks for all of your information. Finding a boat with the big engines with in reasonable "bring it home on the bottom" distance is going to be difficult, hence my query about bridge removal. Forgot to measure distance to the water line to get a rough estimate of height if one takes off the bimini, plexiglas windshield etc. but leaves the fiberglas bridge on, but suspect it would still be too tall. Assume would have to add the 3 foot draft number to that number to get boat dimension than add 6 inches to get it on a trailer.

After the women saw it and considering grand children safety, fish anyplace on it, creature comforts, etc., we will give up on the bayliners and the 34LRC becomes the boat of choice. Thanks for all of your information.
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Old 04-19-2011, 06:50 PM   #4
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RE: 34 LRC Hull Construction??

i have a 38' californian lrc. (1982 year)
when we bought it we had it pulled out of the water for a thorough survey.
some blisters were noted but nothing serious.
to me having a surveyor was really great, he helped me on so many levels.

btw, those reasons you are listing is exactly why we got the californian.. safety (rails and ample walk space all around), fishing anywhere, comfort (yes if you are 6'5 you can stand tall in the pilothouse).
we have only had it for a year now, but absolutely love it..
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Old 04-19-2011, 08:42 PM   #5
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RE: 34 LRC Hull Construction??

I believe the on-the-water bridge clearance to the top of the windshield is in the vicinity of 10'4" to 10'8". That's with no bimini, radar arch/mast, anchor light, etc. When I return home, I can look it up to be sure.

I was told by my surveyor that these Cals were stout hulls because the US was just learning fiberglass building techniques in teh 70s and they were 'overbuilt' just to be safe. When I spoke with Gil Marshall, son of the designer Jule Marshall a few weeks ago, he reiterated that sentiment. Since they were learning as they went, they consulted the experts, then added a bit for a buffer. My boat yard manager told me when realigning the running gear after being on the hard, that they never have problems with the Californian hulls flexing in the yard compared to some other brands.

That said, I'd never buy a boat without a survey. Good surveyors don't dismiss the bad for emotional reasons like a potential buyer might do. Some have greater expertise in some areas that the buyer may not. Boat yards want insurance, insurance companies want surveys, and banks want surveys. You're going to have to get one...might a well do it right from the start and possible avoid future grief.
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Old 04-20-2011, 05:55 AM   #6
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RE: 34 LRC Hull Construction??

FlyWright, you are right. I have a surveyor and a boat yard all lined up if I buy the boat. I know of what you speak about early fiberglass building. My first boat was a 1968 Chris Craft Sports Express. It was a tank. I see it every now an than today and it still shines like new.

As far as height the powerboat guide book quotes 10'8'' so will figure that is pretty close. I believe would still have to pull the bridge by the time we got it on a trailer. Guess we will have an adventure bringing it home this summer--if we buy it.

Curious about FlyWright name-were you in aviation sometime in your career? As you might have guessed I am an old Fighterpilot with 500 carrier landings behind me. All but one the usual way. But that is another story.
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Old 04-21-2011, 09:46 PM   #7
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RE: 34 LRC Hull Construction??

Quote:
Fighterpilot wrote:

Curious about FlyWright name-were you in aviation sometime in your career? As you might have guessed I am an old Fighterpilot with 500 carrier landings behind me. All but one the usual way. But that is another story.
*

*FP,* yes, I have worked in aviation all my life.* Learned to fly at 15 before I learned to drive. College taught me Aeronautical Engineering, I have worked as flight instructor, charter pilot, AM traffic reporter, pipeline patrol, air traffic controller and for the past 26 years as an FAA flight inspection pilot on a LJ-60 certifying civil and military navaids, comm, radar, etc.* I've even done quite a few shipboard tacans, but all my landings were on airports!*

I've got a lot of respect for anyone who can land and stop a jet on a rocking and rolling postage stamp.* And to do it 500 times...Very cool!!*
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Old 05-08-2011, 08:57 PM   #8
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RE: 34 LRC Hull Construction??

Scooter, our 1984 Californian 34 had some very small gelcoat bumps on the aft part of the hull. To be safe I sand blasted & sanded the bottom down & applied an Interlux barrier coat several years ago. Last time I checked it all looked good. My experience with the construction of the boat, gained thru modifying some of the interior, leads me to believe that they built one tough boat. I have heard that there have been some minor issues at the aft end of the cabin, where the itty-bitty little drains sit. I have not experienced any problems there; other than slow draining.
Many years ago, I made a pass by a carrier off Norfolk in an Aero Commander; that was impressive enough, let alone landing a screaming fighter on a pitching wet deck at night; Way to go! Wonder how many aviators we have on the forum?
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Old 05-08-2011, 09:14 PM   #9
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RE: 34 LRC Hull Construction??

chc,

What have you learned about the issues related to the aft end of the cabin?

My deck at the aft corners of the salon sags just enough to collect water. My drains are a bit outboard of the lowest point at the corners.

The PO of my 34 LRC replaced the fuel tanks and, to gain access, removed some of the flooring and understructure. I figure I need to jack it up and insert longer vertical supports.

Now I'm curious if what I see is a common issue with other 34's.
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Old 05-16-2011, 09:33 PM   #10
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RE: 34 LRC Hull Construction??

Fighterpilot

I have been very happy with my 1976 37'Californian, with the exception of the wood framed windows on the early boats. I am slowly replacing them with custom built aluminum frames and they are working out fine. Love the walk around decks and the 14' beam makes it a very stable and roomy vessel. I have the original 6-354 Perkins engines which are n/a and very reliable and fuel efficient. The exhaust manifolds had to be replaced and unfortunately are significantly different than the turbo'd version. $1200 each for custom built Stainless replacements.

Ten years after I bought the boat, I found that the boat was delivered by truck from the factory without the bridge on it naturally. The Californian dealership in Seattle had reinstalled my flybridge with four inch lag screws that they ran through the wood flybridge supports and into the cabin roof. They put a little silicon sealer around the bolts and called it good. Eventually became a source for water leaks. Took me a while to figure it out.

The hull is rock solid and never a blister. If Wellcraft built them like Marshal did, I think you will be more than happy with your new boat.
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Old 05-19-2011, 07:42 PM   #11
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34 LRC Hull Construction??

*

Flywright

I read about some possible problems with the deck in that area, but have not really looked into it all that much. My deck does seem to be lower in those corners, but it is the same degree of sag on both sides. I have not noticed an alrming amount of flex, nor have I seen any cracking. Accordingly, I've put that project on a different list. I'd be more interested in replacing the drains, as they don't really perform well. Sounds like another project leading to yet another project!


-- Edited by chc on Thursday 19th of May 2011 07:47:27 PM
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Old 11-09-2011, 05:53 PM   #12
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RE: 34 LRC Hull Construction??

I have the low spots in the deck at the aft corners of the cabin but I do not have the drains a few of you have mentioned (1981, 34LRC). When I bought the boat in the spring the salon floor was sagging somewhat to the point that you could see it on the counter tops (they sloped downward towards the center of the boat). I fixed this by installing custom aluminum and stainless jacks at each corner of the engine compartment with the bottoms landing on the engine stringers. I SLOWLY jacked the floor back into place (one turn on the jack a week) as to not break any structure and allow any members that had sagged to slowly go back to their original shape. I did not notice the low spots at the back of the cabin until the boat was in the water. I also did not notice the amount of flex that can be felt in the aft deck when someone comes of the flybridge ladder (support needed). This winter I plan to place two more jacks directly under the low spots. They will just land on the end of the 2 x 6 member that is located under the deck at the back end of the cabin and sit on the fuel tank stringers below. It is my feeling that with time the cabin structure has settled into the deck as the low spot is at exactly the spot where the structural 2x6 member ends. For this area I will jack even more slowly as to not crack the fiberglass decking. I am guessing that the drains that have been mentioned that are located on some boats in this area were not original equipment and were meant to be fixes for the water collecting in this area? I am hoping that the low spots were not built into the boat. If I find out differently I guess I may install some drains! Leon
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Old 11-09-2011, 08:04 PM   #13
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RE: 34 LRC Hull Construction??

Great info and very timely, Leon. I just finished discussing this issue with some mechanics. I plan to add 4 screw jacks and, like you, SLOWLY extend them. I plan to mount two at the fwd edge of the engine hatch (by the inboard, fwd corners of the engines) between the stringers and the floor joist and two along the aft salon edge above the stringers.

I have not searched for jacks yet. Do you have a good source? What material are they constructed of?
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Old 11-10-2011, 06:42 AM   #14
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RE: 34 LRC Hull Construction??

This seems to be the biggest issue with construction in the Californians.

*Looking up at the floor bracing from inside the engine room, The only cross support is at the bulkheads. Between the bulkheads the salon floor is supported by a series of boxes all interconnected. *No common beams or support crossing from one side to the other. *I don't understand how they expected this to not eventually sag? *In the 42' boats it even more pronounced, given the larger salon floor space.

It doesn't really hurt the boat in any way, but does require a little reverse engineering to correct something that should have been obvious when they were built.
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Old 11-10-2011, 05:13 PM   #15
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RE: 34 LRC Hull Construction??

Now that we have finally had some rain I note the aft corners of the cabin have a sag. Water collected there. I'll be interested in the results of the 4 screw jack project.
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Old 11-10-2011, 05:37 PM   #16
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RE: 34 LRC Hull Construction??

I used 1 inch aluminum rigid electrical conduit from the local electrical supply house. *Very reasonable. *About 20 bucks for a 10 foot stick. *I Lined this with 3/4 pvc just as a spacer and used one foot lenths of 3/4 ss rod with nuts for the jack section. *I just happened to have some 1 inch aluminum plates kicking around that I bored for the top and bottom of the jacks on. *I will try to supply a few pictures. *I recently found out that the aluminum rigid is cheaper than the steel but *you could probably use steel rod and save most of the expence for the jacks.
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Old 11-10-2011, 06:14 PM   #17
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RE: 34 LRC Hull Construction??

Think I got the right two pictures. *I slid the PVC out so you could see it.
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Old 11-14-2011, 09:03 PM   #18
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RE: 34 LRC Hull Construction??

I have a drain located on my starboard side that drains the water from the rear of the saloon but nothing on the port side. I am going to add a drain on that side as well to let the 1/4" to 1/2" of water that collects after a rain storm exit.

The fiberglass looks good in this area so am not sure if it is just drooping or it was a mistake in not adding the port side drain. Either way not a real big issue as I can tie the drain hose into the starboard side but appreciate the info above on this subject.
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Old 11-14-2011, 09:24 PM   #19
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RE: 34 LRC Hull Construction??

Leon, Thanks for posting those pics. They really helped me understand the setup. It looks simple, inexpensive and effective. I'll probably go with enamel painted black steel pipe for strength, rust protection and looks.

Can you estimate how far you raised the structure?
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Old 11-15-2011, 06:15 PM   #20
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RE: 34 LRC Hull Construction??

we have a very minimal collection of water in those areas.
how are the drains done? any pics
not that i would want to make drains, just curious.

the jacks look interesting, please keep us posted with progress and issues.
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