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Old 10-13-2015, 07:38 PM   #1
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Inspecting Teak Decks on an Old TT

Hopefully going to look at an Albin 36 and Marine Trader 40 this weekend. Albin has teak top to bottom, the MT only has main decks covered in teak. Anything to look out for? I know what a rotten core on a glass deck feels like. Does a teak covered deck bounce as well? Or should I just assume it is all bad and offer accordingly (assuming it goes that far)? Is there a "Inspecting a Teak Deck" website anywhere?

Thanks all!
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Old 10-13-2015, 08:16 PM   #2
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Look for seam sealant starting to pull loose from one side of the groove or the other. This can be hard to see so look closely. This is the number one cause of moisture getting down under the teak and then migrating down into the wood core past the deck screws.

Look for missing plugs over deck screws. These, too, can allow moisture to get down through the teak and subsequently into the wood core of the subdeck.

Both of these problems can be fixed but it takes time and the right tools and materials to do it.

Look for crevicing in the surface of the planks. This indicates the teak has been cleaned using the wrong materials or techniques and softer wood cells have been worn away. Further weathering has worn the crevices deeper. You can either live with it or sand the deck smooth again.

However sanding removes wood that will never come back. If the teak has been sanded a lot in the past or previous owners used teak cleaners/restorers to try to keep the teak "brown," the deck planks may be getting too thin to take another sanding unless you recut the grooves, assuming there is still enough wood to do this.
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Old 10-13-2015, 08:23 PM   #3
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Mr. cb. I checked the weather forecast for Norfolk and it's going to be sunny both Saturday and Sunday. Sooo.....IF possible, as soon as you arrive at the boat, wet down the teak deck with a hose. Over the course of a couple of hours it should be mostly dry. Any spots/areas still wet would indicate failure of the deck seaming and would warrant a closer visual examination as per Mr. Marin notes in post #2. This process will allow you to zero in on areas of concern.
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Old 10-13-2015, 09:09 PM   #4
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As well as all of the above, open the lazarette hatch or similar and see how thick the teak is. If there is a bung missing, see how far down the screw head is. If its very close to the surface, there is not enough wood left to remediate. $30,000 to remove, if you're paying someone and only if you don't have to do the sidewalls too.

Look under the side decks inside the boat, looking for wet/smelly/discoloured panelling; pay particular attention to the smell (instruct the broker to NOT open the boat until you get there!) trying to detect mould and look for any interior panelling that's discoloured. Windows can leak too...

If you find any leaks or worn out teak (leaking seams are just maintenance unless the subdeck is rotten) but rotten/leaking windows can mean the structure in the entire sidewall, made out of Taiwanese packing crates and pallets, will need to be removed and replaced.

Personally, my opinion only, is unless they give you the boat, any rot is not worth the time and money you will have to spend.
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Old 10-13-2015, 09:56 PM   #5
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If the decking was reasonably thick to start with, an exposed screw head does not automatically mean the teak is too thin to work with. Our 1973 GB still has its original decking and while it was over-sanded by previous owners and is pretty much down to its minimum service condition, it is still possible to reset deck screws deeper and glue new plugs over them. However, a point will be reached at which the wood is simply too thin to do much with as Xsbank points out above.
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Old 10-14-2015, 06:55 AM   #6
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Most of the TT "teak decking" is not a teak deck, just an overlay tacked on to usually a GRP covered ply deck.

Look inside at the entire overhead and if you see signs of water leaks , repair will be necessary.
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Old 10-14-2015, 07:17 AM   #7
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In places that are too thin to glue in a proper plug, we have sealed those with epoxy. Mixed with some teak sanding dust, those are visible, but then it's an old boat.
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Old 10-14-2015, 07:33 AM   #8
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Not sure how old the boat is but if I were you I would reverse my thinking process: assume it is leaking and needs repair/replacing. If the owner has gone down that path he will be more than happy to tell you and show you. Those old teak decks were fastened with dozens of screws. That says it all. 30 years down the road, they all leak unless they were maintained/repaired properly, and that is the exception.
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Old 10-14-2015, 08:27 AM   #9
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I've been taught that teak decks should be at least 3/8" of thickness or more to be considered "serviceable".
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Old 10-14-2015, 06:35 PM   #10
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The Albin is an '81 and the Marine Trader a '78. The Albin is out doors while the MT is under a roof. Both are asking just over $40k.

The Albin has 169 hrs on a rebuild, scrubbed original fuel tanks, bow thruster, new canvas, newer electronics, newer AC's (digital), 2 year old batteries (8D's?), twin anchors on rollers, windlass. . .

The MT looks mostly original. More curious as to amount of room vs the Albin since I'm going to live aboard.

Given the above, I'm not sure what exactly "giving it away" would mean? Free? Deep discount? I've come to terms with the fact that my budget, no matter what I get, is going to need some kind of work, lol. Any repairs would be DIY by me.

I told the broker to keep it closed up till we get there. I've got my pocket knife and a flashlight to poke around. I'll see if he'll let me soak the deck. Do the screws normally penetrate the underside of the deck?

Fotoman, I've thought about that. Do normal prices reflect the deck having to be replaced typically? Or is a ~$10k-$15k price reduction considered normal for something like this on offer?

Thanks for the advice!
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Old 10-14-2015, 06:47 PM   #11
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Do the screws normally penetrate the underside of the deck?
It's not uncommon for them to do so. It will all depend upon the thickness of the subdeck, which is usually a fiberglass-plywood-fiberglass sandwich, the thickness of the teak planking, the length of the deck screws, and depth to which they were countersunk in the planks.

If you find that the deck screws are coming through the underside of the deck when you inspect the inside of the boat it is not reason to think there is something wrong, it's just the way the boat was built.

The bad thing about this kind of deck construction is that the manufacturer builds a boat with a nice, totally waterproof deck and then drills 10,000 holes in it for the deck screws. The screws will invariably penetrate the wood subdeck core and therein lies the potential problem.

If moisture can get under the teak planks, depending on how well they were bedded to the subdeck it's very likely the moisture can then find its way down along the deck screws into the wood core. And we all know what moisture can do to wood over time.

This is why it is so important with a wood-decked boat to keep moisture from getting down under the planks. The two things that do this are the seam sealant and the plugs over the tops of the deck screws. Keep those in perfect shape along with other deck-penetrating hardware like handrail stanchion fasteners, cleat fasteners, etc. and you'll keep moisture from getting under the planks.

Starting in the late 1990s or thereabouts higher end boats like Grand Banks, Fleming, etc. began gluing their teak deck planking to the subdeck rather than screwing it down. This became possible with the advent of adhesives capable of doing this job and it solves the problem of moisture migrating into the wood subdeck core down past a myriad of deck screws.

Unfortunately the ability to do this effectively didn't exist back when so many of the kinds of boats we buy used today were made.
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Old 10-14-2015, 08:06 PM   #12
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The 3 Grand Banks that we chartered had deck leaks into the cabin. Directly above the leaks on top of the decks were small, very damp areas of teak that did not completely dry, even after a day in the sun. Stepping on the wet spot resulted in a squish. They were the last spots on the boat to dry. Its obvious if you know what to look for.
Also, look at the cabin headliner for brown stains.
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Old 10-14-2015, 08:33 PM   #13
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The price may or may not reflect the deck situation. Depends on many variables, including the owner's accurate evaluation of the value of his boat. Best thing to do if you are interested on one of them is to have a survey done by a reputable surveyor that knows about trawlers. That will give you great leverage for negociating a fair price that takes into account the work that has to be done.

A leaking teck deck doesn't have to be a deal breaker if you are willing to either live with the situation (but keep in mind the boat will deteriorate over time and lose value) or address the issue. If you are handy it's not rocket science and doesn't cost a ton of money. It is a big project but very doable if you have the time and energy.

Let us know how it turns out.
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Old 10-14-2015, 09:32 PM   #14
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Greetings,
Mr. cb. Be VERY wary of the vessel under cover. Not saying it will but it may leak like a sieve in a downpour. As part of a survey, soak it with a water hose outdoors for 4 or 5 hours and inspect for leaks.
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Old 10-15-2015, 01:06 AM   #15
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Screwing teak planking onto a fibreglass teak sandwich deck is much faster and therefore much cheaper than the current method of gluing them on without using screws.
If the decks leak, the fuel and water tanks tops are suspect too. Leaky bad decks are a threat to the boat generally IMO, they need to be fixed.
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Old 10-15-2015, 06:30 AM   #16
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"30 years down the road, they all leak unless they were maintained/repaired properly"

The hassle with maint is on many decks only 1 in 20 plugs hides a screw , the rest of the plugs are part of the teak overlay decoration .

Back in the day I made great bucks from the importers as the overlay screws frequently went into the wiring below.
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Old 10-16-2015, 07:39 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by RT Firefly View Post
Greetings,
Mr. cb. Be VERY wary of the vessel under cover. Not saying it will but it may leak like a sieve in a downpour. As part of a survey, soak it with a water hose outdoors for 4 or 5 hours and inspect for leaks.
Yeah, I've read shedding an old TT was a quick and easy fix to leaks

Can I ask for a hose down prior to purchase?
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Old 10-16-2015, 10:13 PM   #18
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Greetings,
Mr. cb. "Can I ask for a hose down prior to purchase?" I see no reason why you can't. I think any non-destructive testing would be allowed. After all, that's what a surveyor is doing with his/her little plastic hammer.
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Old 10-17-2015, 04:50 AM   #19
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Don't really want to rain on the parade, but my foredeck was mostly soft. Surveyor estimated $15k. I did some of the work and it cost $17k in a yard with very good rates. Materials were about 25% of the cost. Area was about 100 sq ft.

Money goes real fast when doing stuff like this. What else on the boat needs to be done - make a list, get some estimates. Very likely you will discover that cheap boats will need 1 or 2 times purchase price in repairs. And so they do not end up as cheap boats, you wont get your money back when you sell. So it needs to be the right boat, and you need to use it a lot and get a lot of enjoyment out of it. Then it all adds up OK.... Well, sort of....
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Old 10-17-2015, 01:24 PM   #20
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Insequent nailed it. Be very careful.

With teak decks in any condition on a Taiwanese trawler I would start at half. The problem with a surveyor is he will cost you and it takes most of a day.

If you open the door and it smells like mould, don't even bother with it. The only way you will get rid of it, unless you are very lucky, is to cut it out.
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