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Old 06-02-2022, 11:04 AM   #1
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Moisture readings on 1982 34 ft Californian LRC

I am looking at purchasing a 34 ft Californian LRC. Located on the Mississippi River. I hired a boat surveyor to inspect the vessel. His hull moisture readings look good. However as he inspected the deck and stringers on the engine compartment etc, he was getting readings of 30%. At that point he stopped and conferred with me on how I wanted to proceed. He mentioned boring small inspection holes to confirm if the wood is rotten at all.
Anyone have experience on how the ascertain the condition of the stringers etc? Any advice/experience is welcome. This is my first trawler purchase and Iím new on here, so thank you in advance!
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Old 06-02-2022, 11:41 AM   #2
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Seriously doubt any owner is going to allow you to turn their stringers into swiss cheese.
Tapping with a small hammer is an alternative method for checking condition. The dull thud of tap on a wet stringer is very apparent. The surveyor issues a report with his best estimates regarding condition. You adjust your offer price accordingly. There are no guarantees. Welcome to TF.
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Old 06-02-2022, 12:13 PM   #3
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Welcome aboard. Agree, they wonít let you drill holes. And I wouldnít expect them to either. If you really want the boat, adjust the price down accordingly and learn how to use epoxy and fiberglass. It isnít rocket science but can be hard physical work. Good luck.
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Old 06-02-2022, 12:31 PM   #4
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Thanks for the feedback. Appreciate it. It looks s s pretty solid boat overall and a fair price. Iíll get aboard again and tap some areas and explore a little deeper
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Old 06-02-2022, 03:32 PM   #5
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I use a phenolic hammer. It is small and doesnít hurt the finish. Also it fits in a pocket. I always take it when we look at a boat. A little practice with the hammer and you will be able to tell if the core is good or not. Maybe not as accurate as a moisture meter but it is very quick and easy to use. A sharp tone is good and a dull thud is generally bad.
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Old 06-02-2022, 04:44 PM   #6
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Thank you for that. Iíll get one of those hammers and give that a go. Are they pretty easy to find in a store?Öor more likely order online?
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Old 06-02-2022, 04:58 PM   #7
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I have had mine for probably 40 years. Amazon has some similar to it.
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Old 06-02-2022, 06:15 PM   #8
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How do you want to proceed? Your surveyor and his moisture meter has already told you that the stringers are wet. I'm not sure what is to be gained by tapping them with a hammer. I've helped a friend replace the stringers in 2 TTs and it's a ton of unpleasant work and the excavation will likely reveal more problems. On both boats that I helped with we found that the bulkheads at the front and back of the engine space were also wet. Water just ran along the inside of the stringers and got sucked by the bottom of the bulkheads. So both boats got big pieces of the bulkheads replaced. It's really a lot of work and too expensive to be practical, the boats are just not that valuable.
IMO, you either decide that you can live with it or find another boat. But if it's another TT you're likely to find the same problem or something else that's too big to fix.
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Old 06-02-2022, 07:03 PM   #9
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I'm generally with sean9c.

Wasn't the Californian built in the US? It's probably not as much of a horror story as the TTs to remediate, but still a lot of work.
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Old 06-02-2022, 07:19 PM   #10
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Yes, the Californians were built in the US. The reason to use a hammer again is to go back when he has a bit more time and check out all of the questionable areas and get a good feel as to how big the scope of work there is. The surveyor is usually in a hurry. He doesnít have to be. He can look at areas that tap bad and visualize how he may be able or not able to do the repair work. And then make a decision as to proceed or not. I usually spend a day by myself alone on a prospective boat and just peek around. When I do that before the survey the surveyor is surprised how much I know about the boat. I always find things the surveyor misses because I spend the time to look closely. Anyway, good luck and I hope it works out for you whichever way you proceed.
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Old 06-02-2022, 09:43 PM   #11
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Thank you for not only the gracious replies, but great info! It helps me a lot to know what to look for, what can I learn, how can I mitigate the risk…..so thank you all for your input. I really appreciate it.
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Old 06-02-2022, 10:59 PM   #12
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Do you know whether you are looking at hollow fibreglass stringers, on a plywood form, or solid, wooden stringers, hidden by fibreglass?
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Old 06-02-2022, 11:30 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by koliver View Post
Do you know whether you are looking at hollow fibreglass stringers, on a plywood form, or solid, wooden stringers, hidden by fibreglass?
On a Californian of that vintage they will be solid wood. Painted. No fiberglass.
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Old 06-02-2022, 11:40 PM   #14
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Thank you for that sir!
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Old 06-02-2022, 11:43 PM   #15
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Curious.
You say painted no fiberglass…
What can I expect as to moisture?
I see this boat as a fiberglass hull.
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Old 06-03-2022, 01:53 AM   #16
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Wen your surveyor "stopped and conferred with me on how I wanted to proceed" he may have been asking if you wanted to proceed further with the survey and the purchase. It`s that serious, as others have opined above.
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Old 06-03-2022, 03:45 AM   #17
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IMHO if the boat is rare or highly desirable (eg; The only one made OR Hull number 1 of a really good model) then buy it, and be prepared to fix it up because you really wanted that boat, otherwise walk away.
1. The problems will be much greater than you think they are.
2. There is always another one to look at.
3. Do you want to use a boat or fix one up??
4. In my experience moisture meters are very very unreliable. Tapping may be OK IF the original layup was done well ie; no spaces between the timber framework and the original layup.
I bought my boat knowing there were some problematic areas to look at, many months and $ later all fixed. "Talking around the traps", everyone knows that the problem is always bigger than originally thought and will cost will more than estimated!!
Don't say you weren't warned.
That said, what do you want to do with your time, working on your boat is therapeutic, and the reward is creating something that you like and want to use also knowing it has been properly fixed up just saying.....
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Old 06-03-2022, 07:48 AM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Comodave View Post
I have had mine for probably 40 years. Amazon has some similar to it.
I use a golf ball glued on the end of a dowel. Gives that perfect sharp tone youíre looking for and wonít mar the finish.
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Old 06-03-2022, 08:04 AM   #19
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I’m meeting the surveyor today to go through it again. I will also be spending the bulk of the day further tapping and exploring the boat on my own. I guess I’ll see how it goes and make a decision from there. If it looks like scary amounts of work, I’m gonna walk away. Will be disappointing as you don’t see many trawlers in our Midwest Mississippi River area…pretty rare.
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Old 06-03-2022, 08:18 AM   #20
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Originally Posted by Portage_Bay View Post
On a Californian of that vintage they will be solid wood. Painted. No fiberglass.
Painted, no glass. Really? How are they fastened?
I use moisture meters all the time in my work. 30% is fairly high, but not a death sentence. That number can change according to the setting used on the meter and the species of wood being measured. Meter usage can be such a variable thing, and I think it should be used along with soundings to determine the condition of the wood.
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