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Boat builder / manufacturer buying advice please.

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Hello All, I am new to this forum and hoping to glean some useful buying advice / information please. I have wanted to own, and live aboard, a narrowboat for some years now (having enjoyed many holidays / long weekends afloat in the past), and have now decided (I think!) to take the plunge and buy my own vessel. I was just wondering if you could give me any advice, positive or negative, about particular manufacturers; specifically , I want to know if it is worth spending more money on what might possibly be an older boat but one that is apparently made by a better / more reputable constructor.

I came across two similar boats that I was interested in on a recent internet search; one was a 2004 Liverpool Boats 57 ft with an advertised price of around £50k, and the other was a 1999 Warble 57ft with an advertised price of nearer £80k. Both boats were similarly fitted-out with good quality interiors, and both looked to be in good tidy condition. I understand that a 1999 Ferrari or Rolls-Royce will be worth more than a 2004 Fiat or Toyota, but what I don't quite understand is this - are they not effectively the same thing (i.e. 57ft of steel), but with a different interior? My simplistic approach would say that if I took my Toyota and got the interior done by the same people who do Ferrari interiors would it be worth Ferrari money? I guess not! ;-)

I have been told that the quality of the steelwork (i.e. the preparation and the general fabrication skills) would be of a much better standard on the more expensive vessel, but I would assume that fundamentally they are probably both made from the same steel that might well have come from the same mill, so am I basically paying another £30k for some neater welding?!

Please pardon my ignorance, as I am wholly new to the idea of boat ownership, but I would welcome any useful information or opinions on this subject before I either end-up wishing I had spent the extra money on a 'better' boat, or end-up wondering why I wasted all that extra money! ;-)

Thanks in advance.

 

Andrew.

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its not that simple i am afraid. you would have to go and look at both boats to understand some boats are thrown together some are built with great thought and care and then looked after accoringly if they are close view them both

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Another big thing to consider is how well it has been looked after.

A boat with poor electrics giving rise to accelerated corrosion could have a lot less hull left than the other, does not matter who built it. Likewise a 'loved' engine will have more hours left on it than one that was never serviced for years.

For a 10 year old boat, I would be more concerned with how it looks, hull thickness and service history than who made it.

 

Added - Peterboat, you beat me to it clapping.gifcaptain.gifboat.gif

Edited by Chewbacka

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. I understand that a 1999 Ferrari or Rolls-Royce will be worth more than a 2004 Fiat or Toyota, but what I don't quite understand is this - are they not effectively the same thing (i.e. 57ft of steel), but with a different interior? ......

I have been told that the quality of the steelwork (i.e. the preparation and the general fabrication skills) would be of a much better standard on the more expensive vessel, but I would assume that fundamentally they are probably both made from the same steel that might well have come from the same mill, so am I basically paying another £30k for some neater welding?!

 

Andrew.

 

Others may well focus on different points, but to my mind there's much more in favour of a boat from a low volume producer than fancy welding.

Taking the Royce in your list, yes, they do have a cachet - but certainly the pre- and early postwar cars had a lot of good solid engineering in their design and builds. Since BMW bought the marque the quality of build and design has returned to the earlier quality (don't like the bodies, though).

It's the same with boats - much of the quality lies in - to quote your comment - is not so much in 'neater welding' but more so in the design and form of the hull. Unobtrusive and generous framing, avoidance of ripples in the steel and weldmarks and much more differentiates the quality hull from the volume producers.

You get better value from the Royce or Bentley type of hull than you do from the Fiat style. The difference is in what's under the covers....

 

Folks come on here with problems in certain hulls and a number of those are due to bad design and execution; for example:-

wet bilges (as a design feature)

bad engine mounts

minimum stiffening

Bad shape - not enough roof curve, poor tumblehome and so on - some of these make it difficult to navigate through bridge holes and the like.

 

Enough - let's see what others say.

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Others may well focus on different points, but to my mind there's much more in favour of a boat from a low volume producer than fancy welding.

Taking the Royce in your list, yes, they do have a cachet - but certainly the pre- and early postwar cars had a lot of good solid engineering in their design and builds. Since BMW bought the marque the quality of build and design has returned to the earlier quality (don't like the bodies, though).

It's the same with boats - much of the quality lies in - to quote your comment - is not so much in 'neater welding' but more so in the design and form of the hull. Unobtrusive and generous framing, avoidance of ripples in the steel and weldmarks and much more differentiates the quality hull from the volume producers.

You get better value from the Royce or Bentley type of hull than you do from the Fiat style. The difference is in what's under the covers....

 

Folks come on here with problems in certain hulls and a number of those are due to bad design and execution; for example:-

wet bilges (as a design feature)

bad engine mounts

minimum stiffening

Bad shape - not enough roof curve, poor tumblehome and so on - some of these make it difficult to navigate through bridge holes and the like.

 

Enough - let's see what others say.

 

I was always led to believe that more roof curvature was the sign of a weaker structure. Also that a nice sharp 90degree edge to the gunwales was a sign of quality, rather than the curved edge of simple folded steel.

 

Dunno how true it is.

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Its a very odd and conservative world this one with plenty of misconceptions attached to it. A boat is, as you say, just a steel structure, the bit we worry about, below the water, is likely to be much the same no matter who built it, with the proviso that it has a good shape, reasonable thickness and was welded by someone better than me. That is not really difficult to achieve although there are some truly awful boats around. The bit above water is where the expensive stuff happens, proper shapes made by people who really do understand boats and have an experienced eye for boatbuilding and not just fabrication. This is where pride of ownership and kudos comes into play and where costs rise. A Liverpool boat or similar will give good service and you will get good fun out of it but adding gold plated taps and extras all over the place will not make it a Rolls Royce, its still an Astra. A boat by a proper boatbuilder will always be a Rolls Royce even if it gets a bit tired. Do you want a boat you can take immense pride in or just a good serviceable boat? Others will disagree with some / all of this. edit, Square edged gunnels are much better and safer.

Edited by Bee

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I was always led to believe that more roof curvature was the sign of a weaker structure. Also that a nice sharp 90degree edge to the gunwales was a sign of quality, rather than the curved edge of simple folded steel.

 

Dunno how true it is.

 

It's partly a matter of degree - too flat and water pools, eventually causing corrosion - there was an example of that on here last year - made me think! Too much - probably to give better headroom inside - looks ugly and may hid the fact that there's no (?) support inside, that's possibly what you're implying.

Similarly with the gunnels - we (used to) 'work' the side decks and rolled shape is very easy for one to fall off - as I discovered.

 

 

Again - to answer the post following yours, underwater shape is important, short stubby swims give poor water flow and probably require more power to push the boat through the water.

 

It all depends on what you want. If you're not going to cruise (much) then my comments are most likely irrelevant.

OTOH if you're going to use the boat then the 'driveability' of it becomes more important.

It's not until you do a bit of cruising that you begin to understand the finer points.

 

I went to my boatbuilder with several requirements -

Long swims for fast river cruising - OK

longer stern deck (trad) but more eliptical - OK more work required

Mud box for indirect engine cooling - sniff; OK

Very wide rear hatch - NO won't look right

Side doors with hatch - No to hatch will leak

 

I bowed to his experience, he wouldn't compromise his standards for boaters' whims. Been very pleased with his decision.

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It's partly a matter of degree - too flat and water pools, eventually causing corrosion - there was an example of that on here last year - made me think! Too much - probably to give better headroom inside - looks ugly and may hid the fact that there's no (?) support inside, that's possibly what you're implying.

Similarly with the gunnels - we (used to) 'work' the side decks and rolled shape is very easy for one to fall off - as I discovered.

 

 

Again - to answer the post following yours, underwater shape is important, short stubby swims give poor water flow and probably require more power to push the boat through the water.

 

It all depends on what you want. If you're not going to cruise (much) then my comments are most likely irrelevant.

OTOH if you're going to use the boat then the 'driveability' of it becomes more important.

It's not until you do a bit of cruising that you begin to understand the finer points.

 

I went to my boatbuilder with several requirements -

Long swims for fast river cruising - OK

longer stern deck (trad) but more eliptical - OK more work required

Mud box for indirect engine cooling - sniff; OK

Very wide rear hatch - NO won't look right

Side doors with hatch - No to hatch will leak

 

I bowed to his experience, he wouldn't compromise his standards for boaters' whims. Been very pleased with his decision.

Sounds similar to my conversation with Steve Hudson many years ago when his reply was "well that's how I do it"

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It is not only the hull that effects the price, it is whoever did the fit-out as well, it is not always the same company

 

Many builders (those that do the fit-out) will favour one shell builder or perhaps two.

 

It is then down to quality of the fit-out, materials used, MDF, solid timber or a mixture of both and the specification of the equipment fitted,. for instance the hob/oven the fridge, the freezer etc.

 

Going back to cars, a Ford, Vauxhall etc. are built on a conveyor belt by robots and a Rolls Royce is hand built with pride.

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I am not sure that we are comparing like with like here, as Warble, to the best of my recollection, were boatfitters who used other makers' shells. If I am wrong, someone will be along soon to say so!

 

Andrew, there are dozens of "boatbuilders" out there, but in fact only a minority of them build the whole thing themselves from the ground up. Cole Craft are one. Steve Hudson (the late) was another. Many of the others are in reality boatfitters. So you could get several boats ostensibly from different "builders" but they might all have Liverpool, or Jonathan Wilson, shells.

 

Without having seen them, both of these sound overpriced to me - but many sellers do price optimistically and can be flexible in negociation.

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I helped a boat to wind the other day. Good grief! That boat was awful to handle. It would barely turn at all, and the rudder easily stalled when the tiller was pushed too far over, which drew blank looks when I showed them how not to stall it. It felt like there was a 6" prop with a 6" rudder. I could NEVER have lived with that!

 

It was SUCH a delight to wind our own boat in the same place the next day. (Yeah OK, it's a Hudson...)

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You're not looking at the budget end of the market, so you can expect quite a lot for your money. Look at the equipment fit as well as length and age. A reputable builder will want his boat to be 'right' so he'll be fitting things he knows give good service and work work well together. You might reasonably expect: the engine and gearbox choice to be reliable and well matched to the hull; the electrical system will be well thought out with a battery bank matched to the equipment fit, a quality inverter and a shoreline and engine-powered charging system that copes with the demand; the heating and hot water systems will be appropriate and probably include a 3 methods of heating water (immersion, engine calorifier and diesel/solid fuel); if there's a stove fitted (you should make sure there is if you intend to winter cruise) it'll be a good 'un; the fuel and fresh water tanks will be a sensible capacity. The kit won't look like it's only there by accident and the plumbing and wiring won't look like a snake's wedding in a well built boat.

 

There's a few of what I think are key I considerations and indicators for you to add to the good advice above. Style preference is up to you, but there are advantages and disadvantages to consider with each. Someone else can start the argument about loos, and if you can't tell good quality joinery and interior design from bad, you've got no hope of recognising what bodges it might be covering: run away now! :)

  • Greenie 1

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the plumbing and wiring won't look like a snake's wedding.

 

A greeno to our maritime canine friend for that wonderfully vivid expression.

Edited by Athy

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I am not sure that we are comparing like with like here, as Warble, to the best of my recollection, were boatfitters who used other makers' shells. If I am wrong, someone will be along soon to say so!

 

I think they did, I heard they built a very short boat with bow and stern, then lengthen it to what was required.

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But regardless of its origin, a 1999 narrowboat is very unlikely to be worth £80k.

 

Particularly as itis possible to find not much older boats by the same builder on sale at well under half that price!

 

OK doesn't prove a lot, but itwould need to be something highly exceptional - and it would still be very unlikely to be worth £80K!

 

EDIT:

 

If it is this one, then it is hardly conventional, having a cocooned engine, driving a hydraulic system with a trolling valve, and with the boat designed as gas-less.

 

However at the end of the day it is still a fairly typical loking Tyler/Wilson shell, and I'm really struggling with the asking price on this one, (actually OVER £80K)

Edited by alan_fincher

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My thanks to everyone for their prompt and informative replies. I am very much a person who appreciates good quality design and manufacturing skills (I am an engineer by trade), and I am a real stickler for detail; I believe the little things can make a big difference, and if this boat is to be my home then I want it to be as comfortable, complete, and trouble-free as possible. Likewise, I do not want to end-up having to spend a fortune maintaining something that was badly thought-out or poorly assembled in the first place. Therefore, I do not mind spending a little more to get a good quality product (rather than going for the cheaper option), but I too feel that £80k is an awful lot of money for a 1999 boat, no matter how good it is. I think what I need to do is to definitely look at some others, in various price brackets, to see exactly what you get for your money, and at the same time to maybe enter into some sort of negotiation on the price of this one. Thanks again to everyone, and if you have any further thoughts then please get back to me. smile.png

 

Andrew.

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it is a good looking boat but expensive however jonny and tim make good boats so if you like it haggle you might get what you want for the right money

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However at the end of the day it is still a fairly typical loking Tyler/Wilson shell, and I'm really struggling with the asking price on this one, (actually OVER £80K)

I wonder to what extent its location in prosperous Berkshire affects the asking price?

 

Looking at the sales brochure, I see a boat with a finely detailed shell, apparent good standard of fit-out and plenty of features. But, oddly enough, I don't like it at all.

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I wonder to what extent its location in prosperous Berkshire affects the asking price?

 

Looking at the sales brochure, I see a boat with a finely detailed shell, apparent good standard of fit-out and plenty of features. But, oddly enough, I don't like it at all.

Here, here - anyfin' on the Thames is 'spensive.

After all if you can afford the mooring fees (at last twice what you'd pay on the canals and likely to have less facilities..

Even folks in their large white thingies look elsewhere when replacing their boats....

 

Nothing wrong with a Beta prop gen setup if installed well and if you really need all electric.

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Particularly as itis possible to find not much older boats by the same builder on sale at well under half that price!

 

OK doesn't prove a lot, but itwould need to be something highly exceptional - and it would still be very unlikely to be worth £80K!

 

EDIT:

 

If it is this one, then it is hardly conventional, having a cocooned engine, driving a hydraulic system with a trolling valve, and with the boat designed as gas-less.

 

However at the end of the day it is still a fairly typical loking Tyler/Wilson shell, and I'm really struggling with the asking price on this one, (actually OVER £80K)

 

 

More about Whisper here:

 

http://www.nb-whisper.com/

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Thanks again to everyone. Having come to the conclusion that this boat is most probably quite expensive for its age I am having another look around today and have come across a Price Fallows that is 6 years old for nearer £60k (still quite expensive I know, but still 25% cheaper than the Warble). Can anyone please offer any friendly advice on this brand, god or bad? Thankyou once more. Andrew.

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Thanks again to everyone. Having come to the conclusion that this boat is most probably quite expensive for its age I am having another look around today and have come across a Price Fallows that is 6 years old for nearer £60k (still quite expensive I know, but still 25% cheaper than the Warble). Can anyone please offer any friendly advice on this brand, god or bad? Thankyou once more. Andrew.

If you can post its details on here or of (like me) you're not clever enough to do such advanced internet manoeuvres, tell us its name and where it is for sale, that would be helpful.

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Here you go: http://narrowboats.apolloduck.co.uk/feature.phtml?id=452879


Not read it all buy this I noticed:

 

Semi traditional deck has lockers for storage and houses gas bottles. Under the deck is a beautifully restored 1949 Gardner 2LW, which was restored by Walshes of Manchester. The engine is hydraulically driven.

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Here you go: http://narrowboats.apolloduck.co.uk/feature.phtml?id=452879

Not read it all buy this I noticed:

 

Semi traditional deck has lockers for storage and houses gas bottles. Under the deck is a beautifully restored 1949 Gardner 2LW, which was restored by Walshes of Manchester. The engine is hydraulically driven.

at first glance that looked a lot of boat and engine for the money IMO , then I noticed owner fit out which will inevitably lower the price but some are quite good , from the pics this one it seems is not .. at least its not to my taste and I think it has a lot to do with the price being pretty low for a 2009 boat with a Gardener . might be worth having a look if you can live with the clunky fit out .

 

Being Hydraulically driven seems odd what exactly is that ? good or bad ? and why ? ( curious as never seen one before )

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