Newbie Houseboat Warning - Money Saving Tips on Buying House Boats!
by Old Houseboater
(Gulf Shores, Al.)
NEWBIE WARNING about Buying Houseboats!
When it comes to Newbie Houseboat Warnings, here's some money saving tips on buying house boats. This comes from 50+ years of boating experience, and is solely written to help beginners or newcomers interested in houseboating. Reply - Answer
As time goes by and the economy gets worse, there are more derelict houseboats advertised as "once in a lifetime bargains", "fixer uppers" or "distress sales". In truth many of these crafts are beyond economical repair, and are really junkers that need disposal.
In many cases unscrupulous owners are trying to shed themselves of dockage and/or storage costs and avoid disposal charges. Boat yard and Marina owners go along with this because their business is rental and sales commissions. In some cases the owner is unaware of the poor condition of the craft.
Here are a few hints of what to look out for.
* When it comes to buying a boat, doing a general inspection can save you lots of time & money. This is where a DIY Preliminary Inspection can help you eliminate boats that are NOT worthy of future investigation. By expanding your knowledge on how to do a DIY Houseboat Pre-Inspection, you greatly increase your chances of getting a solid & worthy houseboat.
* Steel boats are where wood boats were 40 years ago. They are succumbing to the ravages of time. Most are over 30 years old. They are a hard sell and are rejected by many marinas. INSURANCE IS A REAL PROBLEM TO OBTAIN.
* Steel boats usually rust out from the inside and the areas of the hull that go bad first are the keels and engine compartment. SeaGoing boats have roofs that rot out extensively and are a chore to repair. RiverQueen's have better roofs.
* On the flip side steel boats are the easiest to repair, of any, if you have metal working and welding skills.
* IMHO I would not touch a steel boat due to the resale and insurance problems. However if you have to do it I would look for a Lazy Days or RiverQueen as they were far and away the best built steel houseboats, they could take a hit, and are more seaworthy than most.
* Fiberglass boats are the costliest and most time consuming to repair.
* Fiberglass boats are glass on the outside but most have significant amounts of wood on the inside in the form of roofs, decks, framing, transom reinforcement, hatch covers, etc. This is the Achilles heel of fiberglass houseboats. The rotting of the wood eventually will weaken the boat enough to make it worthless. Many of these boats will still look good but investigation will reveal damage beyond economical repair.
* Where to look - Soft roofs and decks indicate the supporting plywood is rotted and in need of replacement. This is within the capabilities of the average handyman with wood working and fiber glassing skills. Yard price $500 for a spot, $4000 up for extensive work. Stringer and transom rot requires removal of the machinery and advanced wood working and fiber glassing skills. This work is best left to a yard experienced in this kind of work. Vee drive boats $6,000 up. Out drive boats $7000 up.
* Aluminum boats are far and away the best value in rebuilding boats. It is possible that they may have electrolysis or stray current corrosion on the bottom but this is repairable almost as easily as a steel boat. (In 50+ years of boating I have only seen 2 aluminum boats requiring bottom repair.)
* No boat holds value better than an Aluminum boat. Kings Craft and Marinette are the predominant available brands. Pluckebaum is the best you can buy.
* Pre 1969 RiverQueen's, early Chris Crafts and a few other makes of houseboats had vinyl covered plywood cabins. I would strongly urge you not to consider these for rebuilding due to horrible deterioration.
* Many Nautalines, early Chris Crafts and some orphan brands exhibit a humping of the floor in the galley area. This is due to rotting and failure of the stringers and is usually not economically repairable. This is especially true if the condition is long term and the bottom of the hull is hogged.
* 57' Carl Craft hulls should be checked for deterioration carefully in the area directly aft of the cabin.
* Burns Craft, Blue Water, Boatel, and Harbor Master are premium boats and should get extra consideration.
* Boats kept in covered slips age at 1/5th the rate of boats stored outside.
* Check Holiday Mansion and Three Buoys upper rear cabin corners for extensive deterioration
* Wiring on many early houseboats was deficient by today's standards, especially the 120VAC, consider this when rebuilding.
* Vee drive boats are much more desirable than outdrive boats and usually are in better condition.
* MerCruiser (with the exception of Merctrans units which are problematic) and Volvo Penta using American V8s are the preferred power trains due to the availability of repair parts and service.
*Parts availability, especially manifolds, is a problem with the small Volvo built 4 cylinder engines.
* DANA outdrive units are some of the best ever made but repair expertice is scarce. (see forum post on DANA)
* OMC outdrive units were a minority player and service and parts are scarce.
* Plan on 1 to 3 years spare time for an extensive rebuild
* During the rebuild period you will have to pay yard or storage fees.
* You WILL have to have a survey to get insurance. If you are a newbie, Get a survey BEFORE you buy.
* On steel boats and boats OVER 30 years old - MAKE SURE YOU HAVE AN INSURANCE SOURCE BEFORE YOU BUY THE BOAT. (Read some of the other posts).
* On steel boats make sure the marina you plan to use allows steel boats.
* Coal Tar Epoxy is the best bottom protection available for a metal boat.
* Many RV parts are applicable to houseboats. Get a catalog.
These thoughts are not meant as a discouragement to anyone looking to rebuild a houseboat. They are rather thoughts and cautions acquired during a 50+ year love affair working on, rebuilding, and living on boats.
Best of luck, Old Houseboater.
Well Old Houseboater, I personally wish I had read this information years ago early on in my boating career. It would have saved me some serious time, money and headaches :(
I really appreciate all the time and knowledge that you have put here, and personally, I don't think it could have been said any better.
Now for a first-time boat buyer or newcomer to boating, this is considered the ultimate ebook and "How to Buy a Houseboat
" bible to the truths and facts about the different materials, equipment, and boat models. It is filled with 135 pages of pictures, details, and a blueprint on how to choose and buy the perfect houseboat for you.
If a first time houseboat buyer would follow some of the valuable information here, there would be less disappointments and financial surprises. Better to have the knowledge before, than after a houseboat purchase. Lastly
, hopefully some of our readers will share and post comments about their other houseboat newbie warnings or experiences. Feel free to use the "Click here to post comments." link found near the bottom of this page.
Thanks again for sharing, IAN from all-about-houseboats
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