Sunday, April 11, 2010

A riveting experience

I’ve been waiting 3 weeks for the weather to break and finally yesterday it happened.  We were at Charterfest in Bellingham yesterday so I couldn’t get any work done during the early part of the day and it was still cold late in the afternoon but today was a grand day. 

The frenchybus is starting to show its age.  The smooth side rollboard that they used when they did the conversion is to a degree structural.  Buses are a very complex engineered structure.  Most people, even a lot of bus owners, would never know that a bus doesn’t actually have a frame.  Long before car manufacturers had figured out how to spell monocoque, buses were monocoque construction.

The area along the beltline where the rollboard meets the original stainless steel is a stress point and the rivets that attach the rollboard to the frame are starting to work underneath the paint and creating blisters.  I first noticed the blisters about a year ago and they have got a lot worse in the last 12 months.  The solution that I have arrived at is to add rivets between the existing rivets.  The shiny rivets and caps in the photo above are the new ones.  From a distance they look pretty good.

Unfortunately our home is getting to the stage where it looks much better from farther away.  A $20,000 paint job would restore it to its original splendour but that would likely add at most $5,000 to its value.  So even if we had $20,000 waiting to put into a paint job (which we don’t) it’s not going to happen.

This winter I got up the courage to add some rattle can clear coat on the curb side of the bus and I think it improved matters a lot.  Some campgrounds frown on maintenance or repairs so I have to watch where I tackle those projects but I intend to redo the clearcoat on the driver’s side.  If I can find a cooperative bodyshop I should be able to get them to computer match a paint code so I can use rattle cans to touch up the rest of the paint as well.  I figure a couple hundred bucks worth of rattle cans will add as much to the bus’s value as the $20,000 paint job that we aren’t going to buy.

We spent the warm part of the day yesterday looking at more boats.  The Port of Bellingham puts on an annual weekend called Charterfest to promote their local charter companies.  I think there were three charter companies represented and likely over 50 boats in the three fleets.  One of the companies encouraged the boat owners to be present for the day so we had a chance to visit with several charter owners.  Another of the companies specializes in Grand Banks so we got a chance to take a real hard look at two different models of Grand Banks.

The more recreational boats we look at the more I am convinced that what we are really looking for is a commercial boat that has been converted to pleasure at the end of its working life.  In the same manner that we look at production motorhomes and wonder how people can put up with the compromises that are necessary to own one we are starting to look at the glitz and glitter on recreational boats and wonder why we would want the headaches.  Yesterday we were onboard a 2 year old 46 Defever which is a very expensive boat.  I’m not 100% sure what its worth but you wouldn’t get much change from a million dollars if it was new.  The owner was onboard and I’m sure he’s very proud of his boat but all I could see was silly frills designed to make it look pretty while it was tied at the dock.  It actually had 5 closed circuit video cameras, 4 exterior and one monitoring the engine room.  Give that circuitry a couple of years of exposure to salt water and it will just be one more thing to spend maintenance dollars on.

We also had a chance to get onboard a 42’ power catamaran.  I suppose there are likely different layouts but they’d have to be a lot different from this one to interest me.  The staterooms were unbelievably cramped and they would have to be regardless of the layout because the hulls are so narrow.  The living area, salon or whatever you want to call it is amazing because it crosses over both of the hulls.  But the quarters that have to be stuffed inside the hulls are by necessity tiny because the multi-hulls are so narrow.  I never did see into the engine rooms but I zeroed in on where they must be located and you’d have to be a spider monkey to work on the engines.  That was on a 42 foot cat too which I had been led to believe was a pretty large boat.  NO THANK YOU.  Butt ugly and crowded we can do without.

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