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Old 09-29-2016, 09:45 PM   #1
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What are the top 5 red flags in buying a used trawler?

Just curious, open ended question - again, a newbie here, but have owned quite a few smaller boats, and of course a few cars and houses - as I am going through the shopping process for a bigger boat, I think for fit and finish, applicability for my purposes, most of the mechanical systems - I have good radar on.. but what **are** the top "oh crap I should not have purchased this boat" risks?
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Old 09-29-2016, 09:51 PM   #2
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Bad, rotten, decks under old teak.
leaking fuel tanks.
Engine and transmission condition.
Major blisters in hull.
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Old 09-29-2016, 10:01 PM   #3
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Its all just money. Get a good idea of what it will cost to make the repairs and upgrades whether you do it yourself or pay to have it done. Set up a spreadsheet. Sometimes the cheaper boat is not! Set your budget and keep emotions out of the equation.

Motors can be replaced, decks can be replaced, electrical, plumbing, interiors can be replaced. Hell, you can replace a bottom if you want. Its all just money.

The biggest problem seems to arise from optimistic buyers under estimating the cost of the repairs.

Good luck
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Old 09-29-2016, 10:03 PM   #4
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Leaking wood window frames that have rotted walls.
Bare steel fuel tanks.
Aluminum water or waste tanks.
Any boat with a Volvo engine.

Ted
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Old 09-29-2016, 10:07 PM   #5
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Marine Survey 101 may be of some use.
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Old 09-29-2016, 10:08 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by O C Diver View Post
Leaking wood window frames that have rotted walls.
Bare steel fuel tanks.
Aluminum water or waste tanks.
Any boat with a Volvo engine.

Ted
Ditto
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Old 09-29-2016, 11:50 PM   #7
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I head almost immediately to the engine room. For me, its condition is a tell-tail indicator of how well overall a boat is cared for at that point in time, and a probable indicator of overall condition. In my mental scoring, an ER is WAY up there in points value.

JMHO
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Old 09-30-2016, 12:41 AM   #8
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If you are looking at 30-40 year old boat, you can expect to have a few issues. Especially if you are looking for a bargain.

Leaky teak decks with a bad core underneath was the one that I didn't want to tackle no matter how low the price was.

I did settle for an small old Volvo engine, knowing I'd have to replace it soon. It lasted a year (about what I expected) It was much cheaper than replacing big twins.

Unexpectedly, I had to replace the stainless fuel tanks as well, but that was fairly cheap & easy with the engine out.

Bad seacocks tend to put me off as well. Not overly expensive but a sign of poor maintenance overall.
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Old 09-30-2016, 02:17 AM   #9
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5 items before you step onboard?

Actually, I'm serious. Unless you want a project, assume you want a boat that's been taken care of? Look for rust, bad varnish, frayed mooring lines, cracks in windows, mould, cracks in Gelcoat, bottom condition, dinghy condition, rigging, too much bird sh*t...look for signs of neglect. If you can see some, guaranteed there is lots you can't see.
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Old 09-30-2016, 06:02 AM   #10
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Look for a log book and see what maint has been done.

Look for PM , engine oil (diesel) changed or ignored for years?

A decade of oil sample results is a good sign.

Look at the ground tackle , easy to tell if the boat is a cruiser or a cottage.

Boats that are used frequently have fewer hassles than stationary dock queens.
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Old 09-30-2016, 09:56 AM   #11
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Look what would need to be done if the fuel tank/s needed to be replaced and like others have said, look around winds for leaks/wood rot.

We had a tank leak shortly after taking ownership, that really got blood to rust to your head, specially if you stretched the finances to get it. In addition moved couch and I could put my hand through the interior wood wall.
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Old 09-30-2016, 10:52 AM   #12
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Thanks for all the replies, good stuff and makes total sense. I am wondering, perhaps this is slightly off the original topic, but it doesn't seem to me that boat sellers discount end-of-life engines enough. So yes I know some low hp : displacement diesels will go 6000+ hours but as I buyer I think past 4K (or less for forced induction) and I'm thinking I'll replace it/them in a year and I'm thinking $20-$30K for twins, and what the boat price discount appears to be is more like 10K. Don't know if that makes any sense, I guess my point is... Even well cared for I'm thinking high engine hours as a type of deferred maintenance and I'm seeing way more value in lower hour offerings.
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Old 09-30-2016, 11:00 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by O C Diver View Post
Leaking wood window frames that have rotted walls.
Bare steel fuel tanks.
Aluminum water or waste tanks.
Any boat with a Volvo engine.

Ted
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Originally Posted by Lepke View Post
Ditto
Glad I'm not the only one that doesn't like Volvo. Had three of them... never again. They are not a friendly company.
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Old 09-30-2016, 11:02 AM   #14
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If you are looking at 30-40 year old boat, you can expect to have a few issues. Especially if you are looking for a bargain.

Leaky teak decks with a bad core underneath was the one that I didn't want to tackle no matter how low the price was.

I did settle for an small old Volvo engine, knowing I'd have to replace it soon. It lasted a year (about what I expected) It was much cheaper than replacing big twins.

Unexpectedly, I had to replace the stainless fuel tanks as well, but that was fairly cheap & easy with the engine out.

Bad seacocks tend to put me off as well. Not overly expensive but a sign of poor maintenance overall.

AusCan,

Totally agree with this. General signs of poor maintenance, even the little thing, mean a lot. Also, doing you own boat survey for starters works pretty well. And if all is ok you can hire a real surgery if you wish, but more important is specific mechanics that KNOW the engines, systems, electronics.
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Old 09-30-2016, 11:07 AM   #15
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Glad I'm not the only one that doesn't like Volvo. Had three of them... never again. They are not a friendly company.
I'm actually already really picky about diesel brands..spent a lot of time around heavy equipment back in the day. I like Cats and Cummins. Have no idea on marine side but they are solid off the water for sure.
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Old 09-30-2016, 11:30 AM   #16
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I'm actually already really picky about diesel brands..spent a lot of time around heavy equipment back in the day. I like Cats and Cummins. Have no idea on marine side but they are solid off the water for sure.
I should make a correction and state that my Volvo experience was with gas engines. However, as a company, I've found parts hard to get, very expensive and difficult to get good tech support.

As for the diesels, I've never owned a diesel boat, but spend a fair amount of time on them. Cummins and Cats seem to have good reputations.
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Old 09-30-2016, 11:32 AM   #17
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Ditto on Volvo...if I had only known that 16 years ago.
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Old 09-30-2016, 11:47 AM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kev_rm View Post
Thanks for all the replies, good stuff and makes total sense. I am wondering, perhaps this is slightly off the original topic, but it doesn't seem to me that boat sellers discount end-of-life engines enough. So yes I know some low hp : displacement diesels will go 6000+ hours but as I buyer I think past 4K (or less for forced induction) and I'm thinking I'll replace it/them in a year and I'm thinking $20-$30K for twins, and what the boat price discount appears to be is more like 10K. Don't know if that makes any sense, I guess my point is... Even well cared for I'm thinking high engine hours as a type of deferred maintenance and I'm seeing way more value in lower hour offerings.
I can't speak for Volvo. CATS, Cummins, Lehman etc. will last a whole lot longer than that if properly maintained and run. 15 to 20 thousand hours and maybe more can be achieved with proper maintenance.
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Old 09-30-2016, 11:51 AM   #19
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Originally Posted by kev_rm View Post
Thanks for all the replies, good stuff and makes total sense. I am wondering, perhaps this is slightly off the original topic, but it doesn't seem to me that boat sellers discount end-of-life engines enough. So yes I know some low hp : displacement diesels will go 6000+ hours but as I buyer I think past 4K (or less for forced induction) and I'm thinking I'll replace it/them in a year and I'm thinking $20-$30K for twins, and what the boat price discount appears to be is more like 10K. Don't know if that makes any sense, I guess my point is... Even well cared for I'm thinking high engine hours as a type of deferred maintenance and I'm seeing way more value in lower hour offerings.
I think you are probably oversimplifying engine condition as a function of hours. Lack of use can be as damaging to engines just as heavy use. Piston rings start rusting to the cylinder wall, rubber seals dry rot, etc. The number of engine hours also fails to reveal how they were run, was the engine(s) run at WOT 90% of the time, were they run hot, were they under loaded. Most recreational boaters don't put enough hours on engines to wear them out, they are more likely to fail from neglect, failed cooling systems and/or abuse.

You really need an engine survey to figure out the condition and use this information at the bargaining table.
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Old 09-30-2016, 12:11 PM   #20
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Originally Posted by kev_rm View Post
Thanks for all the replies, good stuff and makes total sense. I am wondering, perhaps this is slightly off the original topic, but it doesn't seem to me that boat sellers discount end-of-life engines enough. So yes I know some low hp : displacement diesels will go 6000+ hours but as I buyer I think past 4K (or less for forced induction) and I'm thinking I'll replace it/them in a year and I'm thinking $20-$30K for twins, and what the boat price discount appears to be is more like 10K. Don't know if that makes any sense, I guess my point is... Even well cared for I'm thinking high engine hours as a type of deferred maintenance and I'm seeing way more value in lower hour offerings.
My 1971 Perkins 6-354, 165hp, turbo went 20,000hrs before I rebuilt it and even then it didn't absolutely need it .... it probably would have went another 2,000-4,000 but that miniscule little slap in #6 drove me nuts.
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