Does base­plate thickness mat­ter?

Canal Boat - - Back Cabin: Experts -

Q I have been asked by my builder if I want to go for 12 mm in­stead of 10mm for my base­plate. Will this make a big enough dif­fer­ence to make it cost-ef­fec­tive? The steel peo­ple have ap­par­ently made me an of­fer at a good price.

BILLY BOYLE, via the CB web­site

A TONY REPLIES… Much de­pends upon the qual­ity of the steel and other fac­tors. A 12mm base­plate will be heav­ier than a 10mm one so the hull will need less bal­last. This will al­low the builder to fit a lower floor (for greater head­room).

Steel comes in a num­ber of grades and some prob­a­bly come with no grade at all. With graded steel there is a far bet­ter chance of the qual­ity be­ing con­sis­tent. A choice be­tween 10mm graded steel suit­able for hull work ver­sus 12mm un­graded steel might make the 10mm a bet­ter and pos­si­bly longer lived op­tion. You will need to re­search and dis­cuss steel grades to be sure.

Springer boats were orig­i­nally built with the equiv­a­lent of 4mm or 5mm base and many are still in use maybe 40 to 50 years later. Dutch mo­tor cruis­ers are of­ten built from 6mm steel, while 6mm or 8mm base­plates have been com­mon in the past and are still in use to­day. With (say) 10mm base, 6mm hull sides and 4mm cabin sides and roof, it is al­most cer­tain the sides will re­quire plat­ing long be­fore the base.

If the steel qual­ity is the same, 10mm is per­fectly ad­e­quate but 12mm is nice to have, es­pe­cially if you are tall. As so many peo­ple think thickness is all that mat­ters, us­ing 12mm will prob­a­bly give you an ad­van­tage when it is time to sell.

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