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Prospective 27 owner with many stupid questions

Oct 21, 2017
12
Catalina 27 Michigan
Please be patient with my stupid questions.

Years ago, I sailed our club's Catalina 27 many times. Now I have moved to a home near a marina and am in the market for a cheap old sailboat of my own. I have come across a 1976 Catalina 27 and have some questions.

1) The boat has a gasoline sail drive engine. I have no experience with these The owner claims there is no way for it to charge the batteries; they simply drain. You always have to charge your batteries with a battery charger of some sort. He said this is true for all Catalinas with saildrive engines. Seems odd to me. Is this true?

2) The outside teakwood is weathered a grayish silver color. I've seen this on other boats too. But it all has long cracks. Is there a way to treat the teakwood that will perhaps cause the wood to swell and eliminate these cracks? Or, is the wood trashed? I imagine replacing all the wood would cost a fortune.

3) The boat is on a cradle for which it was designed . I'm scared of heights and walking around on the boat gave me the willies! There's no chance of tipping the boat from walking around the outside shrouds etc is there? Is that safe or should one stay toward the center?

4) The cradle is metal. I would have to move it 70 miles. I know someone with a flatbed trailer. Any idea how much these weigh? Would I have to pay the marina to hoist it up or could two people lift and slide it on?

5) There is some cosmetic fiberglass work that needs to be done on the starboard cockpit area. There are holes where several instruments had once been. The owner jury rigged a white sheet of something (forgot to ask what) to cover the entire area rather than filling in the holes. How DO you fill in holes where instruments had been? I imagine fiberglass work costs a fortune too.

6) The rudder has lots of largish spiderweb cracks. Owner said they were there when he bought boat 8 years ago and he never worried about it. Is this cosmetic or a problem?

The hull looks good, the deck seemed solid everywhere I walked, the interior looks very nice with recent upgrades and the saildrive had a complete overhaul 4 years ago. The boat is dirt cheap. I do plan on getting a marine survey.

I'd appreciate any helpful advice.
 
Jun 8, 2004
2,318
Catalina 320 Dana Point
1) it's a 15 hp 2 stroke, probably correct that it does not have charging capabilities
http://impliedconsent.us/Zephyr_Saildrive.html
2) Nothing will make it swell back up and fill the cracks, you can sand, and oil or varnish so you don't get impaled, fill cracks if you want.
3) I don't know
4) You gonna need a crane or travel lift even if the cradle is made of feathers 2 people can't lift a 27' boat.
5) " I imagine fiberglass work costs a fortune too." yes if you hire someone to do it.
6) Can't tell from description
"saildrive had a complete overhaul 4 years ago" is meaningless
 
Jan 18, 2016
517
Catalina 30 Dana Point
1) The boat has a gasoline sail drive engine.
"Saildrive" doesn't make sense in the context to me - that's a system normally used in large catamarans and some newer monos. Never a C-27. So I'm guessing outboard... but:
Inboard? If so, it's an Atomic 4 and they definitely should charge the batteries. The alternator is small, but it'll charge the batteries if it's all working correctly.

Outboard? Most small outboards do not have any significant charging capability.

3) The boat is on a cradle for which it was designed . I'm scared of heights and walking around on the boat gave me the willies! There's no chance of tipping the boat from walking around the outside shrouds etc is there? Is that safe or should one stay toward the center?
Most cradles, particularly metal, are extremely stable. Remember there's a ballasted keel on the boat - your weight should make no difference at all.

4) The cradle is metal. I would have to move it 70 miles. I know someone with a flatbed trailer. Any idea how much these weigh? Would I have to pay the marina to hoist it up or could two people lift and slide it on?
Just the cradle or the cradle with the boat? With the boat: there's 2700 lbs of just ballast on the boat - it likely is around 6K lbs total. That's not 2 guys territory. The cradle? Dunno, depends on the cradle. I'd guess more than 2 guys... more like 4.

5) There is some cosmetic fiberglass work that needs to be done on the starboard cockpit area. .... How DO you fill in holes where instruments had been? I imagine fiberglass work costs a fortune too.
Research it. Glass repair is pretty straightforward. Getting a good gelcoat color match is very hard. As with all boat things, paying somebody else to do it is indeed expensive.

There are thousands of C-27s out there. It's a phenomenal boat for what it is. I'd recommend outboard power (it's cheaper to fix) and pick the best one you can find for the price.
 
Nov 7, 2012
678
1978 Catalina 30 Wilbur-by-the-Sea
On my C27 and now my C30 I keep a 50 watt solar panel that runs below to a charge controller. Keep it tied to the cabin top when we are away. When we use the boat we untie it (par cord so it does not blow overboard in a squall) and toss it below.

Our C27 had an outboard that did not charge the batteries. Solar panel did fine.
 
Jun 8, 2004
2,318
Catalina 320 Dana Point
Saildrive didn't seem likely to me either, maybe a Johnson Sailmaster in an outboard well.
 
Oct 21, 2017
12
Catalina 27 Michigan
I would sail the boat from that marina to mine, so my question was about transporting the empty cradle to my marina.

I asked if it was a diesel. I thought The owner told me "sail drive" when I asked. He told me it was a 4 stroke motor, straight gas. I just looked at the pictures from the ad and it does look like thr sail drive that Calif Ted posted. There is a small pod protruding from the hull with the prop attached. He does not have to add oil to the gas. It had two large gas tanks installed. He said that it was in new condition because the mechanic completely rebuilt the engine. Yet he insisted that the motor never had the capability to charge the batteries. Very confusing. I thought that a rebuilt engine would save me headaches for years to come.

He was not the original owner. I suspect this
Might have been his first boat and maybe he wasn't very knowledgeable about it.
 
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Aug 22, 2017
1,589
Hunter 26.5 West Palm Beach
The Johhny/rude version of the sail drive is a dinosaur. Most top end parts are probably still available. I don't know about lower end parts.

That power head was supposedly the same as on the 20-30hp outboards of the day. The outboards did have a charging system. It was located under the flywheel. The flywheel was mounted on a taper shaft & getting an old one apart to make repairs was risky business. My guess (& this is only a guess) is that the charging system went bad & nobody was able to fix it. I could be wrong. maybe it really never did have a charging system. Another idiosyncrasy of Johny/rude outboards of that vintage was that the charging systems were completely unregulated. You had to watch your volt meter & turn on extra gizmos when the voltage started to get dangerously high. I have been told stories of some people who added zener diodes to shunt excess power through spot lights or other large loads as a work around for the unregulated charging system.

Volvo also makes a sail drive, but that one has an alternator on it. I think that Yanmar also makes them. Somebody out there also makes an electric version. I don't remember who. I've only seen 1.

I'm on board with those who think that a sail master is more likely to be found on that boat than a sail drive. I think that the "charging loop" was an option on the sail master. I think that it can be added later, if you can get the flywheel off without wrecking anything.
 
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Oct 19, 2017
5,761
O'Day 19 Littleton, NH
MI,
I'm not a mechanic but, I would think that any motor where the drive shaft continues to turn while in neutral could potentially have an alternator installed, engine room configuration not withstanding. Voltage regulators for solar systems, vary in price from very affordable to several hundred dollars, could be adapted to prevent overcharging. I think there are even battery boxes with them built in.
Fiberglass work is not hard nor is it expensive when doing it yourself. However, you might consider taking the previous owner's approach a step further and get a piece of scrap wood (mahogany/Sapele or teak) from a local cabinet/boat shop and finishing out a nicer looking cover panel. Polished wood on a boat is not only beautiful but usually very in keeping with the aesthetics. How big are the holes? You would probably want to put a backer behind them to support the patchwork. Any local auto parts store should have a small fiberglass repair kit to patch the holes with. You might want to find out what instruments use to be in that spot. Maybe you want to replace them? There are also some very good two-part urethane-based paints that would do an excellent job, in place of gel-coat, that might make color-matching easier.
The cracked teak can't be fixed as you were asking but, just as Ted said, you can fill the cracks. This can be done by mixing a little fine teak sawdust with a clear epoxy and washing the cracked surface in the mixture (work it into the cracks as deep as you can). Be sure to obtain the sawdust without sandpaper as the sanding grit can get in with it. The best way is to mount a small block of teak in a vice and use a wood scraper across the end-grain. This will yield a very fine dust that makes a perfect paste to spread into the cracks. After it dries you can sand it out to bare wood and finish as normal.
Spider-cracks in gelcoat, I assume the rudder is coated in a gelcoat if they are covered in spider cracks, are not usually anything but cosmetic. they may indicate weakened areas in a fiberglass base like in the walking areas around your deck, where cabin and deck come together, near chainplates or mast steps, but for the rudder, it is likely the result of uneven shrinking and swelling due to age and exposure to temperature changes. you can sand and recoat with gelcoat or a good two-part urethane paint. Of course, if you feel flexing or softness underneath, that is a deeper problem.
-Will (Dragonfly)
 
Oct 21, 2017
12
Catalina 27 Michigan
Thank you all for the many responses and advice. I am amazed!

I am now convinced that the boat has an after market saildrive. In the last few hours, I've read everything I could find about them. It is interesting to note that Catalina strongly objects to them and won't offer them. There are expensive maintenance issues including replacement of the rubber boot every 5 years for $4000! Galvanic corrosion is a problem with the aluminum lower unit that can be greatly accelerated by so many things: using shore power, using a copper prop (which thus boat has), using the wrong antifouling paint, using the wrong sacrificial anode. I just read the advisory put out by Yanmar. Scary stuff there!

https://www.yanmar.com/us/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/MSA2010-007_Saildrive-Corrosion.pdf
 
Aug 22, 2017
1,589
Hunter 26.5 West Palm Beach
That "scary" information from Yanmar applies regardless if you have a sail drive or not.
 
Oct 21, 2017
12
Catalina 27 Michigan
Can anyone recommend a good site describing how to do your own survey on a prospective Catalina 27 or 30? I'm considering both.
 
Feb 26, 2004
20,890
Catalina 34 224 Maple Bay, BC, Canada
I am now convinced that the boat has an after market saildrive.
Does the boat have an inboard engine or an outboard in the aft well in the lazarette? Many older C27s had outboards that from the outside to the uninitiated look like saildrives. I highly doubt it has an inboard saildrive.

Do you have any pictures?

:worthless:
 
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Aug 22, 2017
1,589
Hunter 26.5 West Palm Beach
Voltage regulators for solar systems, vary in price from very affordable to several hundred dollars, could be adapted to prevent overcharging. I think there are even battery boxes with them built in.
That's a really interesting idea. If it works, it would be very useful to me on an older boat that I have.

I do have one concern though. The solar regulators may regulate by opening up the connection to the load when the voltage gets high. In the example of the older OMC outboards, this may blow out the rectifier. On the working examples that I am aware of, the solution to overvoltage on those outboards has always been to add a load, not open the connection. I am not sure that you will blow out the rectifier if you used a solar regulator on those outboards, but I suspect that it is likely. When I have enough spare time, I'm going to need to do some reading.
 
Oct 22, 2014
11,383
CAL 35 Cruiser Portland OR, moored EVERETT WA
the drive shaft continues to turn while in neutral could potentially have an alternator installed,
Will,
They are manufactured to do just that. They are called water electric generators. They are on a line that streams off the stern of the boat. The line spins and the generator converts the rotation to electrical energy. Efficiency I think is somewhere in the 15-30% range. Not sure about the conversion of an existing prop shaft idea. The boat shafts are often connected to a transmission. If the shaft is turning then the transmission gears are spinning. Causes gear wear. The reason most transmission manufactures recommend parking the transmission in gear while sailing.
 
Jan 18, 2016
517
Catalina 30 Dana Point
A picture would be worth a thousand words.

I wouldn't want a C-27 that somebody retrofitted a saildrive into. That sounds bizzare. There was enough room for an A-4 or a diesel inboard with a straight shaft. Or they had a quite usable outboard well in the back of the cockpit. Why do anything else?

If you're looking at 30s too - I'd go for the 30 over the 27. But they're both great boats.
 
Feb 26, 2004
20,890
Catalina 34 224 Maple Bay, BC, Canada
I wouldn't want a C-27 that somebody retrofitted a saildrive into. That sounds bizzare. There was enough room for an A-4 or a diesel inboard with a straight shaft.
Very true.

A C27 with any inboard engine has horrendous access to the stuffing box. Not a knock, just a physical reality. Better with an outboard in the well, as originally designed.
 
Oct 21, 2017
12
Catalina 27 Michigan
It is an inboard engine. It is down in the cabin behind a panel behind the steps. The aft well has two large permanent gas tanks.
 
Aug 22, 2017
1,589
Hunter 26.5 West Palm Beach
They are called water electric generators. They are on a line that streams off the stern of the boat. The line spins and the generator converts the rotation to electrical energy.
I am completely unfamiliar with those. Google turns up nothing for me. Can you point me towards a source? I'd love to learn more about them.

Thanks,
Jim