1972 Burns Craft 45
We are considering a 1972 Burns Craft 45'.
The seller has completely rebuilt both motors, gen-set, new wiring/fixtures/appliances/plumbing/tanks, replaced wood in roof, re-glassed, gel coated, entire outside of boat was sanded and exterior painted,(2-coats) & hull paint. All the rails were redone too plus much more. (all done by an experienced boat re-builder)
It looks very impressive and well done.(fit and finish) Dare I say it looks like new?
I understand that Burns Craft was one of the better builders back then, that is why I am considering this one.
My question is,
Should I consider buying a fiberglass boat that is this old?
What problems other than insurance wanting a survey or inspection should/could I expect?
We do intend to keep it for at least the next 7-10 years.
Burns Craft was the "go to" builder of quality boats in its era. Both in Houseboats and Cruisers. The boats were heavier and better designed than most of their contemporaries. They were also more expensive than most other builders. Charlie Burns was a friend of mine and his passion for the boat building process was legendary.
With all that being said the boat is over 40 years old. The boat may be cosmetically appealing and just what you want. However: the non visual stuff needs to be evaluated by a surveyor FIMILIAR with houseboats of THIS era. Hull and cabin needs to be checked for integrity of framing, freedom from delamination and soft spots.
Machinery needs to be evaluated for mechanical condition, especially manifolds and electrical. If it has 440 Chryslers service parts are becoming an issue. The Small blocks don't have parts issues at the present time.
Cabin wiring and plumbing should have been upgraded to reflect today's life style. 1970's boat were built with 1 or 2, 30 amp service, anaemic electric stove and 110 volt water heater. Today's norm is 50 amp 240/208 volt service. 1970's house electrical systems didn't include such nicety as "ground fault" outlets etc. Look for an upgrade.
In the 70s waste was discharged overboard. Holding tanks are now required. In some areas Gray water must also be contained.
I have only hit on the basics. The competency of the surveyor you pick will be the most critical aspect of your future happiness.
Please check out the "Inexperienced Newbies warning" posted in the Sticky's at the head of this section.
In the above I have given you the best advice that I am capable of. Burns Craft and Harbor Master were head and shoulders above the others in sturdiness, build quality, and longevity.
Since your intention is to keep the boat for a long period I would also suggest you consider looking for an upgraded aluminum craft such as a KingsCraft or best of all a Pluckebaum.
Thanks for the reply.
Unfortunately we find ourselves having to get the best buy for the dollar.(we have no intention of borrowing money to buy) Even though all structural/mechanical/electrical/plumbing issues you mention on the boat have been addressed, I fear we would lose too much at resale of this boat in another 7 - 10 years, merely because of it's age.
The search shall continue...
Good Luck. I would strongly suggest you go Aluminum.
You will always lose on a boat, some more than others. If resale is a big concern to you, make an offer based on this. The worse that could happen is your offer gets rejected and then move on. I'm sure the owner is aware of this age thing also. I am not familiar with house boats but an early 1970's anything is not worth much regardless of condition. Make a low offer you can live with and expect to not even be able to sell it at all in 7 to 10 years.
Originally Posted by Knot Normal
Best of luck in whatever you decide,
Doesn't fiberglass become brittle over time?
As OHB suggested - go aluminum. The resale is going to be better and as well as the upkeep.
"Doesn't fiberglass become brittle over time?"
Fiberglass as related to boats is a composite material consisting of an outer layer of "Gel coat" that provides color and a smooth visual appearance. Under that are layers of the fiberglass cloth, mat, sometimes chopped fiberglass ,all impregnated with resins and chemical hardeners that create a single homogeneous hull. In many cases wood framing is encapsulated to provide structural strength and mounting points for mechanical components. In some higher end boats the wood only provides a form and layers of fiber glass cloth and mat are built up and they end up being the actual structural member. Some manufacturers even use foam as the form.
Depending on the quality of design and the materials used, the strength of the finished product depends more on freedom from flexing, beyond certain limits, than from time.
A Burns Craft, due to its design, heavy construction, use of quality materials, etc. should be good for 100+ years.
On the other hand a once popular 57 footer didn't last 30. It disintegrated due primarily to a weak design that allowed flexing beyond the elastic limit of the material.
To recap: Design, quality of materials, amount and type of cloth mat and roving, and construction lay up, have a much greater affect on life than time caused "brittleness".
Thanks for all the comments. We are looking exclusively at aluminum hulls now...
If you are going aluminun be sure and check for electrolysis, I know some people who have glassed over holes that looked like a shotgun had been fired on them. Aluminum is not saltwater friendly, it will eat it alive. The Coast guard is still having problems withe Aluminum boats they have. You are in Ohio so you should be OK. A 44 or 55 ft. King would work well without outdrives, get V-Drives The Burns has depreciated all it is going to as long as it is maintained. If the price is right you would not lose anything.