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Able Bodied Seaman

Posts: 43


Apr 1 09 5:26 PM

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I am looking at a 1968 bristol and am wonder what i should be looking for in terms of areas of concern.

is bulk head delamination common?
what about chain plate sholders?

I am planning to have the boat surveyed, should i give the surveyor any heads up in terms of areas to look for weaknesses on this design?  (This would be my first boat)


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#1 [url]

Apr 1 09 6:40 PM

Areas of concern with B29's:

The hull to deck joint on all Bristols is an area of consideration. It is a strong joint, and properly engineered. However it does have a tendency to leak. You should probably see this evidence most likely at the locations of the toerail scuppers. Bristols have their scuppers cut into the bottom of the toerails, which weaken the toerail and it tends to crack in this area. You may also see leaks under where the genoa car tracks bolt to the toerail.  Instead of thru bolting the hull to deck joint, Bristol chose to screw it down with #14 flat-head self-tapping maching screws. These are located under the toerail. The toerails are also screwed down thru the hull to deck joint as well with #10 pan-head self-tapping screws. It is therefore more difficult to tighted the screws under the toerail.

Bulkhead delamination is not common. However, the lower rear port shroud chainplatebolts thru the main bulkhead and should be checked. The other shrould chainplates bolt to either knees or bulkheads as well. All of the interior construction on the B29 is made with 3/4 inch marine plywood glued and screwed with bronze flathead woodscrews. All solid wood in the boat is mahogany except for the toerails. I pulled the chainplates off my boat and found some surface rust, but no stuctural damage from crevice crossion. I decided to replace them either way. 

The B29 is a proper built New England sailboat. I have found the glasswork to have very few voids, and very few instances of dry or unstaturated cloth. Remember that it sold for only about 15K in the 1960's so it is not a custom yacht by any stretch. But I think it is the best of breed of boats that it competes with in that era, for performance, size and cost.

The biggest concern I have with the boat are the cast aluminum spreader sockets. Cast aluminum weathers poorly and has little inherent strenth. Older cast aluminum sockets are famous for shattering under pressure and dumping the windward shroud--loosing the rig--and should be replaced without fail. 

The exhaust muffler on these boats was built of solid copper, is a dry exhaust with a water jacket. It will almost certainly leak carbon monoxide into the cabin. If it hasn't been replaced with a modern waterlift muffler, it should be.

On the subject of surveyors, there are surveyors and there are surveyors. Be aware that generally they will not survey the engine, other than to say it turned over. They will not survey the electrical system or plumbing other than to tell you perhaps that the seacocks work or are seized, etc. They will not survey the standing rigging other than to tell you there is one and it "appears" ok. I would base a decision more on any water saturation of the deck or cabintop core than the surveyor might find. Bristols are not prone to this issue, but it is possible in any older boat. Also look for cracks in the gelcoat around the base of the maststep on the cabintop.

Good luck. You have excellent taste in sailboats...


Restoring a Bristol 29 in my backyard.

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