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Old 03-08-2019, 12:30 PM   #1
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Ballast

I did the thread search for concrete ballast. Some say run away and others make the point of how well it was encapsulated to prevent moisture intrusion. Another issue is no matter how well encapsulated it may be, there is shrinkage of the concrete when it sets up that can create a void between the fiberglass hull and the concrete which would almost guarantee that moisture would find it's way to the concrete.
There are a few Willards out there with concrete ballast. Do they all have moisture and rust issues?
I really like a boat I'm seriously looking at that has concrete and steel ballast. It ticks off most of the boxes I want, but I don't need a project boat either.
What say ye?
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Old 03-08-2019, 01:15 PM   #2
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I've found that when I have considered something that I'm interested in buying, if there have been major questions about it needing work, I run.


I am not the type who likes to do major renovations on their boat. I'm the type who likes to spend time using their boat.
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Old 03-08-2019, 01:35 PM   #3
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Commercial fishing boats commonly use concrete ballast. Even when boats were wood. Wood boats lasted more than 50 years and there are some halibut schooners still fishing over a hundred years old. Steel boats last as long as they're cared for. There's not many fiberglass boats big enough for ballast in fishing because of the wear of gear and pots. But they still use concrete ballast.
Just make sure whatever ballast you use stays put, no matter what sea conditions the boat might face.
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Old 03-08-2019, 03:24 PM   #4
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I think the key to this, as in many aspects of boat construction, is in materials and methods during the construction process.
For long term trouble free benefit of concrete ballast, essentially encapsulating the concrete in a high quality coating is best to prevent moisture intrusion from becoming a nightmare issue.
The higher quality European boat builders, especially for steel where the stakes are high, will use a coating such as Boliscreed that adheres very well to both steel and concrete, to assure that moisture cannot penetrate the interface between the concrete and the hull material.


If I could not ascertain that this kind of care had been part of the process, I would worry a little, though it might not be a deal breaker.
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Old 03-09-2019, 11:25 PM   #5
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I think the key word in the original post is steel. I have had a 40 year old wooden boat with concrete ballast that was just fine, and two different 36 ft Willards with lead ingots embedded in concrete. At age 50+ they were both just fine.
I have no direct experience with them but at some point Willard changed to steel boiler punching embedded in concrete and the punching apparently rust, swell, and break up the concrete.
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Old 03-10-2019, 06:31 AM   #6
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Can you get the seller to allow a surveyor inspection of the ballast as a step prior to making an offer or entering into an agreement to buy? That way you will know whether the boat is worth pursuing, without contract, deposit,or the cost of full survey.
The inspection may, based on the detailed contributions above, be positive or negative. But fairly quickly, you should have a relatively inexpensive expert advice to guide you. You could use the surveyor you may already have in mind for the pre-purchase survey, if you proceed his job will be partly done already.
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Old 03-10-2019, 09:33 AM   #7
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I owned a fiberglass 38' fishing trawler that had about 1.5 tons of concrete in it since it was new ('86) and it's still fishing in good shape today.
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Old 03-10-2019, 11:03 AM   #8
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In 1976 I had a sailboat built. The builder used lead ingots, set down in the keel molding, with steel punchings in concrete above. In its first 11 years, while I owner her, there was no hint of any problem in the bilge. I have recently been aboard, and found that boat to have cruised as far as the Galapagos, and returned to Vancouver with a happy crew. Its present owners feel they have a great boat with a lot more life left in her.
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Old 03-10-2019, 12:00 PM   #9
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If it is in good condition and not swelling from moisture absorption, then definitely seal it tightly after you purchase. If you add more ballast in the future then consider embedding epoxy coated rebar instead of punchings.
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