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Old 25 May 2008, 13:20   #1
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Country: UK - England
Town: The wilds of Wiltshire
Boat name: Dominator
Make: SR5.4
Length: 7m +
Engine: Yam 85
MMSI: 235055163
Join Date: Jul 2005
Posts: 13,053
Buying a 'cheap' rib-what to look out for.

Buying a cheap RIB or an easy refurb project.

This is a bit of a minefield for the unwary so read/listen and take note or you could end up with a big hole in your pocket and nothing to show for it bar a bill to dispose of waste or another 'unfinished project' advert. This is for the boat only-not the outboard or trailer.


I'm assuming that you're looking at a boat with Hypalon tubes as these are far more durable and UV resistant than the other types available (PVC or PolyUrethane/PU) and so will be a far more viable cheap project.
Leaking/tatty Hypalon tubes are far easier to refurbish/repair than any other type and can be made to look very good using the correct materials and a lot of elbow grease. You need to check for leaks in the same way as you'd check an innertube on a bicycle. Don't forget to check for leaking valves-a leaking valve is a nice cheap easy fix.
Use the 'search' button to search for tube refurbishment methods, patching methods and cleaners. There's loads of ways to do it. If you're not confident though, good retubing companies (again use the 'search' button or the 'Trade directory' will often do a refurbishment service at a fraction of the cost of a retube.

If you're looking at a boat with anything other than Hypalon tubes and they
a)Don't look good
b)Don't hold air very well
c)Have innertubes fitted
then realistically if you ever want it to look pristine budget for a retube. This is going to be expensive (upwards of £1500-and bear in mind this is from 2008- depending on company/material/size) and it'll probably no longer be a cheap RIB. It can be well worth doing though if you've got a good hull.

The Hull

Hulls can be looked at in sections-deck, hull, transom and console/fittings (if one is present).Don't worry too much about minor knocks/scrapes. Most hulls will have them and they are easily rectified. If it's cosmetically grotty and antifouled don't worry too much either as Flowcoat can do wonders-but factor it in to the price as it's time consuming and messy work.

Starting at the stern and working forwards, we first come to the transom. These are usually ply cored with GRP over the top. This should be rock solid and have NO water ingress into the wooden core at all, no cracking and hopefully no modifications. If an outboard is fitted, look at the bolts holding it on. These should be sealed with Sikaflex 291 or Purflex and NOT silicone sealer or any non marine product. Expect trouble if silicone/bath sealer has been used. It'll leak water into the core and the transom will rot. You really don't need this. If Silicone/bath sealer has been used, ask if you can remove the bolt to check for water getting in. If the answer is no, walk away Bolt holes can be filled if the transom is dry inside.

Moving to the hull and deck, a lot of hulls (Avon Seariders for example) use a marine ply core with a thick layer of GRP over the top. There's nothing wrong with building this way-in fact it's very strong-BUT if the hull/deck becomes holed as far as the ply and water gets in, it will rot from the inside out and the wet area will need fixing to stop this.
Check for any soft or soggy areas on the hull or deck by applying sharp pressure with the heel of your hand or foot. The boat is designed to take a pounding from big waves/slamming and people being bounced up and down on it so you needn't worry about damaging it.

The console needs to be intact and bonded firmly to the deck with either GRP or Sikaflex 291 and screws. Any screw and fittings that go into the deck need to be properly sealed with Sikaflex or the equivalent. Again, no bathroom sealer/silicone type sealers should be used. IF they have been used anywhere on the boat, ask if you can remove the screws sealed with it to check for water ingress. Any water inside hull/deck cores will be a real pain in the neck to get rid of.


IF it's a project, have a good look at the fixture/fittings for what's there and can be re-used/refurbished. This can save a lot of money if for example there's a good steering system, fuel tanks, bilge pump, compass etc.
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