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Discussion Starter #1
I personally own a newer model bay boat, but my parents are looking to buy a servicable fishing boat. They don't really want to spend to much (less that $5,000) so they're not expecting a lot, and I have tried to advise them as much as possilble. They have recently come across 2 different 21 ft Promaster bay boats (mid '90's models.) Besides pulling out the carpet and having them re-sprayed what else should we be looking for. There is some exposed wood on the decks etc. that needs to be covered, but I'm not sure if the damage has already been done. Also, I've heard checking the stringers is most important but I don't know how or what to look for. Are there people who provide these services (boat inspection)? As explained, the aren't expecting much and I know Promaster isn't the top of the line, but I'm trying to get an idea if it's possible with a little bit of elbow grease and a small amount of money to get one of these boats prettied up. Just don't want to get into any major problems. Any thoughts and input would be appreciated.

Thanks.
 

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You want to mainly look at the motor and condition of that, that is the majority of what you are purchasing and it can cost you the most to repair/replace,,,I cant tell you exactly what to look at as far as possible problems with it or the hull but someone on here should be able to,,,just concentrate most of your effort at evaluating the motor. I was lucky that I bought mine from a good friend so I all ready pretty well knew the history of the boat...
 

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When buying used, you can't be positive you have quality or not. I'd say that you just need to be very comfortable with your purchase. I agree with Big Daddy, the mototr would be my biggest worry. I wouldn't buy anything that looked mistreated, or that didn't look the be cared for in the best way. I just bought a 10 year old scooter that was garage kept. The motor runs very good, and the hull is in GREAT shape.

Regarding the stringers in a boat:
I'd be more interested in the condition of the transome. I think paying attention to whether or not the transom is rotten would a priority. If a boat has stringer problems, it should be kinda obvious....cracked hull, floor, etc.

You could also ask for a test run in the boat. That will answer alot of questions. We bought a boat once from a guy that promised everything was in great shape. He even fired the motor up hooked to the water hose......needless to say, the Dog Gear was worn and it had a problem when running at speed.

There are alot of used boats out there, get the one YOU want and don't be talked into something you are not comfy with. After all, when it breaks you are the one that will have to pay to fix it!
 

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Discussion Starter #4
good point about the motor

That's the primary reason I ended up buying my first boat new. I didn't want to get into someone else problem engine. Having said that my step dad is pretty mechanically inclined and has already decided he's going to have to get to know how to work on the motor. At least he can do some of those repairs. To me fiberglass, stringers, etc. are bit of a bigger problem, because they are not always apparent from the time of purchase, and it's not really something a "do-it yourselfer" can fix. I figured someone would have some input on here as what to look for. Thanks for you thoughts.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
driving factors

Because they (my parents) are looking to spend very little money I'm trying to impress upon them that they are probably going to have to settle on something old or something abused (to an extent.) I think they are going to have to decide what level of maintanance they are willing to deal with. They are looking at me for guidance and I just don't know it all. Good point about the transom though. The biggest thing to me in the one I looked at for them was that there was quite a bit of wood on the decks (etc.) that had been exposed and needed to have something done. Also they both had carpet which I told them need to be pulled and resprayed. Just trying to make them aware of added costs on top o the purchase.
 

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Ask your insurance company about surveyors or an adjuster that may check the boats for you. I read somewhere of credit unions/banks that would look it over and give you an appraisal. Where are you located?

 

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Discussion Starter #8
One of the boats happens to be at a credit union (I'm guessing a repo.) I would assume the CU would check the price pretty closely, but it seems like everytime I've seen stuff their before it has been priced to high. I think they price things based on "good" condition, but most of the stuff they sell is pretty beat up. The CU boat is a 21 ft with a 130 Johnson (may be a little under powered.) Carpet on decks and sides is already pulling up and needs to come out. Also the back deck appears to have a lot of wood exposed on the underneath side, so it probably needs to come out, but that shouldn't be a problem. I think it could be cleaned up nice, just not sure how bad the things I can't see might be.

The other boat is also a 21 with a 150, but I have not seen it. My parents found it parked somewhere in Clear Lake and asked me to go take a look, but it was gone. Not sure if it sold or was just moved, I think they have the guys number. It is completely carpeted but I don't think it is pulling out yet! They did say the trailer was a little beat up though.

I live in the LaPorte area, parents are in Clear Lake. One of these boats was in Clear Lake the other Pasadena.

Both are probably more boat than they need, but the thought is if they can get a serviceable 21 ft boat for $3,000 (or so), why not. There a Kenner skiff on the classifieds that would probably suit them better size wise (17 ft) but it's closer to $5,000 and not sure if they want to spend that.

It kills me because they don't want to spend five, and I'm sitting here wanting to upgrade from the one I paid $20k for to something that's probably closer to $30k.

Thanks again for all the input.
 

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A guy in the shed next to mine has a promaster and when I asked him about it he said it's a non stop project. Every thing from from the rub rail to the console needs re ightening after every trip. He may of just gotten a bum one but you may want to ask around. See if the owner will let you pull the heads off. It's only about 8 bolts and it's not like a car where you have to worry about valves and the such falling all over the place.
 

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I'll have to respectfully disagree with the notion that the motor is the most important thing to look at. It is no doubt important, but it is far cheaper to repair a motor than it is to do any major structural repair to a hull. That's especially true being that your step-dad is mechanically inclined. I'm a car guy myself, & I haven't found it very difficult to learn my way around an outboard.

I spent most of last year looking for an older used boat in decent shape. I was looking for something bigger on a bigger budget, but basically, I was after the same thing that they're after. I saw a lot of very nice running motors hanging off of rotting transoms, & I could have an outboard completely refurbished for about 1/2 the cost of a transom replacement.

I think they can find what they want in their price range. They may end up with an 18' instead of a 21', but they can certainly get something mechanically sound & structurally solid. I ended up with a 22' instead of the 25' I had set out after, but I'm much happier with it than I would've been with the clapped out 25 footers that were in my price range. In fact, a buddy of mine just recently sold a 19' Red-fin with a Yam 150 on it that would've been just right for them, & I believe he got somewhere around 4K for it.

For me, the key was patience. I started shopping around April & didn't buy anything until Sept. Don't rush into any boat; have the patience to seek out the right boat. That's what I did, & when I think back through all the boats I passed on, none of them would have worked out as well as the one I ended up buying.

Personally, I wouldn't own another boat with carpet. That's a matter of personal preference, but if they regard carpet as a negative, they shouldn't buy one that has it. They should be able to find a boat in their price range that doesn't have it, & they'll be money ahead for doing so because they won't feel compelled to pay someone to rip it out & paint the deck.

It's a buyer's market for used boats. There's way more out there for sale than there are buyers. There were boats on the market when I first started shopping around that were still on the market around the time I did the deal on my boat. In fact, the boat I used to own, the one with carpet, took me 8 months to sell.

As far as inspecting the hull, what you're looking for is a marine surveyor. They are paid professionals that make their living inspecting boats for buyers, insurance co's, etc. Typically, their work is focused on larger boats, & some of them will not survey a small boat. That's simply because there's not much of a market or much of a profit in surveying small boats. That said, I found someone that does, & he did a fine job. It was Dixieland Marine Surveyors, & the surveyor I worked with was Frank Hawthorne. The service may seem expensive relative to the cost of the boat, but it's cheap relative to the cost of a major structural problem.

Two good web sites to check out are The Hull Truth & Yacht Survey. Yacht Survey is geared toward larger boats, but it has a lot of excellent info on boat design & construction rather than a lot of fluff.

Good luck!
 

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Discussion Starter #11
m-keith

Thanks for the input on the marine surveryor, I'll pass that along. They definately not in a hurry, and not set on something as big as 21ft.

I also told them if they found something they were comfy with but has carpet to go ahead and add about $500 to the cost to have the bottom resprayed (not sure how accurate that cost is though.) Ideally I said if it has carpet see if you can get it for about $500 or so less to cover that cost.

I agree with you that a lot of boats are out there and patience will pay. While they're not in a huge hurry, summertime is definately a more attractive time for them to own one. I told them they may find a better deal in the fall/winter, but they wouldn't be in as big a hurry to use it.

What did you end up getting?
 

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They could probably get a decent aluminium boat for $3,000.-$5,000. and not worry about rot or carpet.
Something fiberglas and 18' or better for $3000. is probably a POS.
If they shop and find a boat, pull a bolt on a fitting in the transom and see what's inside. You can also look for stress cracks on the corners, or tap on it with a mallet. If there is bilge access or other hatches look under the deck with a light and mirror. Check the deck around fittings for spongee spots. Check the cables and wiring. By all means have the compression check and look for burned wires. Last but not least check the trailer general condition, springs, axle, and jack up a wheel and spin a hub to check the wheel bearings.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Kenny,

I would normally agree about something less that $3000 being a POS, however I have seen a few things that look promising though they've been just upward of 3 but less than 5. There is (or was) a '97 Kenner skiff in the classifieds that I thought would be perfect for what they are wanting (still trying to convice them on that.)

As for aluminum boats, I did mention that to them, but I don't know a lot about those type of boats (or manufacturers.) I thought there we some that were built more for northern freshwater fishing and didn't hold up around the salt, but I don't know which ones to look for and which ones to stear clear of!

Also, as for the trailer, even as a boat owner I'm still somewhat ignorant as what to check on the trailer (other than the bearings.) What are you looking for on the springs and axle (just corrosion?)

What exactly does a compression test check for?

Thanks again for all the input!
 

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I ended up with a 1990 Grady 225 Tournament with an '89 Johnson 225. It's a 22' dual console with a full transom & a bracket. Here's a pic from when it was surveyed. It's a great dual purpose (fishing/family cruising) boat, & it's great for fishing the open bay, the jetties, & some offshore. Obviously, not so great for running shallow, but everything's a trade-off.


Summertime is a more attractive time to buy a boat. I started looking in April, & I was certain that I would have something by the begining of the summer. Not only did I not get a boat until Sept (the date on the camara is wrong), but with the work it needed, I missed the flounder run as well.....not this year.:cool:

The cost of replacing carpet will depend on what's under it. Hopefully, there's fiberglass under it; so all that has to be done is to pull up the carpet & apply gel coat or paint. However, it the manufacturer just stapled some carpet over wood (& yes, there are some like that), then it is probably cost prohibitive, especially since the deck's probably rotted anyway. Speaking of which, if any deck rot is found in the course of removing carpet, a good fiberglass guy will repair it at that time, & the cost of the job will increase accordingly.

Kenny had some good tips in regard to checking for rot; I found a plastic mallet to be best. Another good way to check for trasom rot (when the owner's not looking:D ) is to stand on the cavitation plate & sorta bounce on it. If the trasom is weak, it will flex a little when you do this. To check for deck rot, walk on the deck in bare feet. I found this out quite by accident. Don't know much about aluminum boats, but they have a decent following over at THT. The archives there have a good bit of info on that topic.

A compression test is used to determine the overall condition of an engine. Your step-father may already be familiar with this test. If not, I'll be happy to give you a step-by-step explanation; it's not very hard to do.

By the way, a boat in the price range we're talking about will probably need some work on the trailer. Mine didn't even make it home before needing a new set of tires, & I've done a good bit of work on it beyond that. Trailers aren't very hard to work on, & the parts are relatively inexpensive. As long as the frame of the trailer is in good shape, the rest can be replaced for a reasonable cost. Just stay away from painted steel trailers. Be sure to get aluminum or galvanized.
 

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From houstonchronicle.com & presumably in today's paper:

85 Wellcraft CC 20ft 150HP SSPrp, FF, wdwn, 2axle, bmni $4500 281-831-1543

94 Capehorn 19'10" 150 HP Mercury $5000, 713-805-4626

'78 McKee '17, '83 Johnson 175 wakthru $2200. 713-828-5895 281-341-1095

If I was in their shoes, I'd be all over that Cape Horn. CH was at the top of my short list when I was shopping for a boat. Only reason I didn't buy one was that I couldn't find a used one in this area. I was willing to travel for one if I'd had the time, & I was gonna go to FL to pay around 11K for a '97 model. Banging your fist on the hull sides of a CH is like banging your fist on your driveway. It's probably one of the most solid boats built right now, albeit not the prettiest.
 
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