Any knowledge re cedar/epoxy hulls on a DE?

rcwtristan

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Am looking at a 34' DE (1998) with hull made with red cedar and epoxy sheathed in fiberglass skin. This builder has made approx 30 - 35 over past 30 years. Only 1 has ever had a moisture problem and that was internal, when the ill owner allowed major build up of water in a bilge. None others with problems anywhere even at vulnerable thruhull fittings, prop shaft area, etc. His boats have ranged from 22' to 43', with about a dozen in the 32' to 43' range. All in a very traditional DE design but outfitted for cruising. Hull configuration with keel, single engine, very similar to Duffy shape but a bit narrower and a little less rise and sheer in bow.

Discussed at length with the most exper. surveyor in the area. Thought he'd tell me to "run away" but he didn't. Said if there is any moisture issue he can find it, and general reaction to the construction technique was not concerned at all.

The builder's description of technique is "cold molded to 1" thick with double planked western red cedar laid longitudinally over transverse fir frames. Four substantial longitudinal stringers laid down over the frames and are joined to the hull skin w/ blocks btwn the frames. Each piece of wood is coated w/ WEST system epoxy. Each piece is glued along the faying (joining) surfaces w/ epoxy reinforced w/ high strngth filler. The exterior is saturated w/ epoxy then sheathed w/ 2 coats of 10 oz. fiberglass cloth. All interior surfaces coated w/ epoxy barrier coat." His benefit is a lighter boat with (claimed) equal or more strngth, plus cost savings over buying a hull and deck from an Atl Boat Co or similar firm.

My knee jerk and uninformed reaction was stay away from anything not solid fiberglass below the waterline, but research to date has not supported my initial reaction. Any one have knowledge of this kind of construction, pros or cons?
 

steveinak

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Am looking at a 34' DE (1998) with hull made with red cedar and epoxy sheathed in fiberglass skin. This builder has made approx 30 - 35 over past 30 years. Only 1 has ever had a moisture problem and that was internal, when the ill owner allowed major build up of water in a bilge. None others with problems anywhere even at vulnerable thruhull fittings, prop shaft area, etc. His boats have ranged from 22' to 43', with about a dozen in the 32' to 43' range. All in a very traditional DE design but outfitted for cruising. Hull configuration with keel, single engine, very similar to Duffy shape but a bit narrower and a little less rise and sheer in bow.

Discussed at length with the most exper. surveyor in the area. Thought he'd tell me to "run away" but he didn't. Said if there is any moisture issue he can find it, and general reaction to the construction technique was not concerned at all.

The builder's description of technique is "cold molded to 1" thick with double planked western red cedar laid longitudinally over transverse fir frames. Four substantial longitudinal stringers laid down over the frames and are joined to the hull skin w/ blocks btwn the frames. Each piece of wood is coated w/ WEST system epoxy. Each piece is glued along the faying (joining) surfaces w/ epoxy reinforced w/ high strngth filler. The exterior is saturated w/ epoxy then sheathed w/ 2 coats of 10 oz. fiberglass cloth. All interior surfaces coated w/ epoxy barrier coat." His benefit is a lighter boat with (claimed) equal or more strngth, plus cost savings over buying a hull and deck from an Atl Boat Co or similar firm.

My knee jerk and uninformed reaction was stay away from anything not solid fiberglass below the waterline, but research to date has not supported my initial reaction. Any one have knowledge of this kind of construction, pros or cons?

Take your own advise, to many other nice boats out there to take a chance.
"My knee jerk and uninformed reaction was stay away from anything not solid fiberglass below the waterline,"
 

GLA

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I had a problem with a small planked boat once that was red cedar, there was a coat of glass on the outside that started to delaminate.

I stripped it a total of three times over 6 yrs and each time the glass delaminated.using west system epoxy and glass. finally gave up and threw it out.

the oils/chemicals in red cedar had an effect on the epoxy and it would delaminate after a couple of years.

I have since read where a coat of 5200 laid on the wood with a notched trowel , then the glass is rolled onto the 5200. after it cures epoxy can be used over the top of the glass. the 5200 really grabs onto the wood and allows for a good layer of glass to be applied to the outside.

this builder must do something different, my experience may be from my lack of.
he may make a quality build using these materials and I am sure knows a lot more than me about boatbuilding, which is next to nothing.
 
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cold molded hull

western red cedar is decay resistant and readily penetrated with epoxy. There are a lot of cold molded boats being built. Some are very large, as those built by Brooklin Boat Yard or the sport fishing boats in the Carolina's. I wouldn't shy away from this boat because of type of construction Unless you or a surveyor that is familiar with wooden boat construction has found something suspicious.
 

nickyp

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All the cold molded boats being built are done in layers of thin veneers, epoxied to each other of alternating layers on the 45. Station molds are set up, and faired with rib bands. The planking is plastic stapled to these, but not glued. The only gluing is done to chine logs, sheer clamps, keels, and bulkheads etc. planking layers are vacuum bagged to each other.
Maybe this guys construction qualifies as cold molded, but it sound more like a epoxy saturated and sheathed double planked boat.
A cold molded boat does away with all the traditional frames and clutter of a traditional wooden boat. It's pretty similar to a glass hull in the simplicity of the interior structure.

My advise would be to go with glass. No rot, easy to fix.
 

pugsley

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the boat i dog fished last year is carolina built, juniper with epoxy, it was build in the mid 80's and it's still in good condition i wouldn't worry too much about it, personally i like a glass over wood boat.
 

John Riddle

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rcwtristan:

I have been a wood boat builder and restorer for 30 years with a lot of wood-epoxy construction in that time. I can tell you that if the boat was truly built as you described it and it surveys well (by a knowledgeable competent surveyor), then you won't have to worry about its wood hull.

Although not everything nickyp stated is accurate, cold-molding does refer to multiple layers of thin laminates glued together, with or without internal framing. In its extreme, it's the lightest way to build an all-wood boat.

This boat's double planking over frames is not the lightest, but it is really strong and durable. If the inside and outside of the hull and all its structural components are thoroughly encapsulated in epoxy as the description suggests, it'll only require that you keep protective paint on it to protect the epoxy from UV degradation and repair any damage that causes a break in the epoxy layer. The boat is 16 years old now and unless it's been sitting in a barn all that time, you'd be able to see signs of poor attention to construction detail by now if they existed.

I hope you have the chance to get a ride on it. It should feel different underfoot than its glass counterpart.

You can call or email if I can help with specific questions about epoxy-wood construction or maintenance.

Good luck!
 

nickyp

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If you are interested in a de, why not go with a tried and true hull, one that countless people have enjoyed and made a living from.

I'm not banging anyone else's designs and efforts, but I'd play it safe.
Just my 2 cents.
 

rcwtristan

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Thanks for everyone's input so far to my question. Although the builder used the term, maybe "cold molded" isn't the most accurate description of what he does (he's doing no "layering of thin veneers on the 45 to each other"), but the construction details he gives are consistent with what nickyp's referred to as "double planked epoxy-saturated cedar" which he puts onto fir framing and then sheaths with 2 layers fiberglass cloth. 10 ounce.

I've tried to get some of his photos of hull carpentry onto this forum but haven't been able to make it work. Sorry. If anyone willing to keep exploring this with me he has an array of photos on his website Mast and Mallet Boatworks Go to the three page "Photo Album" and on the 3rd page are some hull-under-construction pictures.

To nickyp, Yes, agreed there is not the reputation and # of boats behind him of say a Duffy, Wesmac, Calvin Beal, etc, but he is not a novice just figuring things out. Has a good array of boats to his name, good rep, good attn to quality and layout and features important to someone who wants a DE for cruising. And this style/method of boat building has some history itself, is not a "new idea". Plus I haven't yet found the DE that fits everything I'm looking for after several months looking, a trip to Canada a month ago, two weeks ago in Boston, and now looking at this 34' DE in Maryland. It's not perfect either. Just exploring it, and wanted to have more comfort re. the wood component. Thanks again everyone, espec those with wooden boat construction familiarity.
 

rcwtristan

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Forgot to mention two things. One, all his designs are by an outside firm: Kaufman Design, Severna Park Maryland (Chesapeake Bay area). Kaufman is a naval architect (yes, I've read past threads on DE Forum re college-boy naval architects vs. family history/experience). Kaufman the designer is also a 30-year experienced marine surveyor, NAMS-CMS, has held several senior positions in that org., mentors younger surveyors seeking accreditation and provides "expert testimony/input" in litigation on occasion.

Second thing, although the boats in question by this builder have gone from Maine to Florida and Bahamas cruising, and the Great Loop, they are not ocean-crossers and are not offshore commercial fishing DE's. And my own intended use, with the exception of an occasional offshore jaunt when making way to New England or Florida, will be short term live aboard cruising in Bay waters (Albamarle Sound N.C., Chesapeake Bay, Long Island Sound) plus time on rivers and the ICW.
 

plyandglass

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epoxy over red cedar

I know the builder you are referring to and over the years have done some minor repairs to a couple of them. If its of concern , he has built a good number of boats using this method (strip plank , over a station mold with douglas fir laminated stem , keel etc. The whole structure is epoxy coated and glassed .
I know who supplies his red cedar (I use the same supplier,locally) and you don't have anything to be concerned with , he uses a naval architect and is a VERY accomplished shipwright. I believe the only reason he uses red cedar vs. Atlantic white cedar (JUNIPER is what we called it in the Carolina boat building industry) is that it is getting hard to find long length knot free material locally available.(MD.,VA.,N.C., etc,etc.......
Just my opinion for what it's worth, pm me if you want ,Im on the eastern shore near you!
 

rcwtristan

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Several forum members w/ wood core experience (solid cedar, not balsa) have expressed no concerns about this type of boat if it was done properly, has been properly maintained, and 'tests' out good now for moisture by a skilled surveyor. But you have noted need to maintain carefully. What are the aspects that need special attention by one who owns this type boat?

Keeping paint coat uncompromised to fully protect the epoxy from UV has been mentioned. What else? Presently, in my 40' Island Packet, if soft groundings occur (my sailing is sometimes in sand but more often in silt/mud bottoms) it does no signif damage. Just back off, cuss myself out for poor attention, and get on my way. But I notice in Fall haul out there are scrape/gouge marks, usually not too deep. Even soft mud has hard chunks like debris and oyster shells. With the described construction of this DE I would assume the 2 layers of 10 oz fibeglass cloth would not be very protective compared to gel coat layer on my production boat? (He did say there are 'generally' 4 layers, not 2 on bottom of keel). Is annual haul out for winter storage more than simply a good idea, but a necessity? Or would a haulout/inspection very shortly after a good bottom rubbing be more in order? i.e. how long does it take an exposed wood gouge to become a significant issue? And is the repair fairly simple, i.e. by any yard that is moderately skilled in glass/epoxy work?

Lastly, any concern re. a retro install of a bowthruster? (factory supplied plastic/pvc tunnel from Vetus or Sidepower, glassed and epoxied into place in the double-planked cedar hull). The builder now routinely puts them in from the beginning on all his larger builds, but he sees no problem doing it on a retro basis for this vessel. I would only consider it being done by the original builder since he would have best knowledge of anything that matters.
 

nickyp

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Traditional wood boats count on everything under the waterline to be saturated in (hopefully salt) water. This keeps seams tight, and wood can't rot when pickled in salt water.

When you introduce epoxy saturation, you now have a boat that really does not want any water intrusion. In my humble opinion this is an unrealistic hope. Don't get me wrong, as I said, salt water will not rot the wood, but epoxy sheathing will delaminates from soaking wet wood.
If you have a wood epoxy boat that lives on a trailer, then goes in the water for a cruise or two, then lives on the trailer again, you have no problem.
If you have a wood epoxy boat that you are using...and I mean using....you're bumping it and maybe touching the bottom a couple times, then maybe you have to haul more often and pay attention.

Let me be clear on my meaning in all of this. I am by no means anti wood or composite boat.
I just happen to live on the rot Capitol of the world, and will never ever own a wooden boat. I fix the rot on plenty of them. I don't even like the wood (and it's quite a bit) I have in my fiberglass hull.
 

nickyp

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This is not an epoxy boat, but a traditional one

Anyway let me show you what water can do

image.jpg
 

nickyp

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I'll post another

I've got some pictures of the finished project that ill post later

Ned , this is Second Time

image.jpg
 

jpwilliams2

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I'd trust one of Joe Reid's boats for any coastal use. A friend who has a classic 38' Mast and Mallet Boat had his autopilot malfunction on the Severn River above Annapolis, MD. Result: he hit a pilling on the Rt. 50 Bridge at at least 8 knots and holed the bow 6" above the waterline, but the collision would have sunk a lesser boat. He limped back downriver to Back Creek to have the boat hauled, and Joe repaired her. Ask him about it.
BTW, this 38 has one of the sweetest hulls I have ever tested, and my experience includes several DE classics, including Ira Gupthill's Mystery Machine Northern Bay 38 and a Holland 32. Nothing against those great hulls, but the Mast and Mallet 38 belongs in the same class.
 

rcwtristan

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Yup. Heard about that, jpwilliams2. Solid hit, and boat did fine. Looked the boat for sale over very closely today. Looks like solid work and decent craftsmanship. Unfortunately has had really bad (read: "negligible") maintenance over last 3 or 4 years, espec below the floorboards, so that was quite a bummer. And a shame with such a nice design and initial build. The big issue remains what is the wood condition below the waterline? Especially in this boat's case, since the boat lives in the water 12 months of the year except for short hauls. But on the plus side, if there is ANY water-into-wood problem, there won't be any hiding it.
 

Toolate

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RCW- you havent said but doesnt sound like this is your first boat to me.

IMO, for what its worth, a person who would decide to take on a wood hull can either do the work himself (maybe has a barn to store it in his yard out of the weather) or has the wallet to have it maintained professionally and understands the importance of it so pays close attention.

I have been on a few wooden boats and as someone said below (think it was Southshore?) they have a different feel/sound that is different from FG boats that some people fall in love with.

What else are you considering? Think a little more insight into your situation would help. If you dont mind of course.
 

OLD BAY

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rcwtristan

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In response to TooLate, No, the boat I'm exploring is not my first boat. Have had three, all sail, last one (current one, and for sale) is a 40' Island Packet. Wife and I have put 20,000 miles in 14 years on it, and am ready for something not limited to 7 kn top end, and waiting on bridges due to 54' of height. Am aware that wood boats take extra attention and on occasion extra work, or certainly different work. (And to be clear, I'm looking at a fiberglass and epoxy-jacketed wood cored vessel, and BTW that is solid wood, not balsa or similar).

I'm very meticulous, pay lots attention to detail and top-notch maintenance, and do much of my own work, although not in the wood/epoxy area. Can afford to have work done right when I can't do so. My boat use would be pure pleasure/cruising, not 'working' the vessel. Would be in very few occasions exposed to short-term ocean miles but only for an in-and-out day leg while maybe on a coastal trip up to NY or down to S.C., Fl, etc. And even then would pick a weather window allowing for it comfortably.

I hesitate to answer your question about what other options I've considered because so many forum members feel that the answer is obvious, but have looked closely at a 35' Duffy.
 

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