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Old 07-27-2015, 05:16 AM   #1
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Default Identifying boat manufacturer

I am looking at a 46 foot ferrocement yawl that has no identification on it I have not purchased it yet. The US CoastGuard documentation says it was built by Elmer L Olsen. The owner says it was built by Armstrong. I cannot find the design on the site offering plans to build your own boat, but I suspect this may have been a home build. Any help on how I might identify the manufacturer of this boat?
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Old 07-27-2015, 01:30 PM   #2
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The fact it is a yawl would suggest it is probably an older construction. In the late 60s and 70s, ferro boats being built at home or in people's back yards were everywhere. If you cannot verify the name of the builder I would not be too worried.
Ferro cement is a good medium for boat building and really the only thing you need to be concerned about is the quality of the plastering and the depth of the armature beneath the surface.
Because of the number of ferro boats built by people with more enthusiasm than talent, there are some absolute terrors out there. There are also an equal number of very fine, strong boats. My advice would be to have the vessel surveyed by a professional with a history of assessing ferro cement craft.
Many areas are crucial for example: Is the deck hull join ferro and does the ferro extend across the deck, or is there a mere butt joint between the hull and plywood (are they marine ply or wholly unsuitable structural or exterior ply) decks? Are there any twitchings showing through the hull either inside or out, and how are the bulkheads attached to the hull. It is vital to have the boat surveyed on the hard and preferable to have it looked at before any nasty bits can be covered by a fresh and lovely coat of anti fouling paint.
The final test can be performed by specialists with a mobile x-ray. They can determine the thickness of the hull, whether that thickness is uniform and crucially, whether the hull was plastered up in one 'pour' or not.
If you perform an in-depth search of Cruiser Log's archives, you will find much on ferro boats.
There is no substitute for a top class out-of-the-water-survey.
Finally, I would ask you to consider the general appearance of the boat as she sits. Good boats will look like good boats. S**theaps will look liks s**theaps.
Best of luck and please, keep us posted.
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Old 07-27-2015, 01:46 PM   #3
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Thanks for the quick reply. You summed up the last six months of my research on ferrocement boats quite nicely. Perhaps I should have been more specific on my question. Has anyone ever heard of a boat builder named Olsen or Armstrong? According to the USCG documents, this boat was built in 1974, it floats high in the water, flat and other than neglect it does not look like a derelict. The interior is finished.
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Old 07-27-2015, 06:14 PM   #4
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I wish I could be of more assistance. Can't find any mention of either Olsen or Armstrong as either a builder or designer on my usual goto spot (Sailboatdata.com). The only other thing I can think of is to get hold of the original drawings. Most bigger boats will have the drawings in a tube under the nav station desk, or tucked away in a forgotten locker. Knowing who drew the vessel may be a link if the USCG can't help any further.
Perhaps a photo would help the ferro owners on CL to identify the design for you. Anyway, good luck with the hunting.
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