Restor­ing a Ri­val

Wil­liam Stan­ton takes a very deep breath be­fore com­mit­ting to an unloved 40-year-old Ri­val 34 ly­ing ashore in 'in­ter­est­ing' con­di­tion

Practical Boat Owner - - Contents -

Wil­liam Stan­ton takes a deep breath be­fore com­mit­ting to a 40-year-old Ri­val 34

Isold my Con­test 29 Coda be­cause I wanted to share a boat with a friend, so we could dou­ble the ex­pe­ri­ence and halve the cost to each of us. We wanted a GRP yacht about 35ft over­all, and the bud­get would be the com­bi­na­tion of our sales.

In the event the project stalled, but then along came an­other friend, Mar­tin Har­vey, who’d sailed with me on two of my pre­vi­ous boats. He was keen to share and was able to match the money I had from Coda, which gave us an ini­tial bud­get of about £20,000. The game was on.

When we dis­cussed boats, I said I’d wanted a Ri­val 34 ever since they ap­peared in the 1970s and Wild Ri­val won its class in the 1976 OSTAR. The trou­ble was that their price re­flected their build qual­ity (Lloyd’s 100 A1) and I’d never been able to af­ford one. But GRP doesn’t rot away like wood and the sec­ond-hand mar­ket is swelling all the time – in­clud­ing of course boats built when GRP lam­i­nates were hefty and long-last­ing – so prices have fallen.

Mar­tin was happy to be­come part of this lit­tle co-op, so we started to look for a mod­ern clas­sic. We didn’t look at many boats: a Ri­val 32; a Sadler 32, a Twister and the Ri­val 34s on bro­kers’ web­sites, all of­fered for be­tween about £18,000 and £28,000. Then we de­cided to look at Fréhel, a Ri­val 34 ashore in Ply­mouth. It was Fe­bru­ary 2017 and she was not in good shape; but then again, nei­ther was I. I was wait­ing for a hip re­place­ment, which had been held up by a lin­ger­ing chest in­fec­tion. But at £13,950 Fréhel looked in­ter­est­ing, the price hav­ing steadily dropped from £29,950 over four years. I thought per­haps we shouldn’t get too ex­cited, be­cause while I could work on a project, I wouldn’t be able to sail un­til my hip was fixed, which meant not un­til the fol­low­ing sea­son.

Of the 174 Ri­val 34s that were built, most had the shal­lower keel (4ft 8in com­pared to 5ft 10in), as does Fréhel.

At some point af­ter her build in 1978, some­one bolted 75mm x 25mm iroko rub­bing strakes on top of the GRP rub­bers that were moulded into the hull. They were lift­ing in places, a sight made worse by the

fact that all the teak on the boat – bul­wark cap rails, grab rails, hatch trim – was cov­ered in brown shed paint which of course was peel­ing.

On that first in­spec­tion it was also clear that the prop blades were dam­aged, the Kemp boom (orig­i­nal, made for roller­reef­ing) was bro­ken, the run­ning rig­ging was de­stroyed by UV and it looked from the lichen on the mast as though it hadn’t been down for years.

But un­der­neath the ne­glect and the mould was a lovely yacht, which was wait­ing to be re­vived. A deep breath, and de­spite the fact we wouldn’t be able to sail her for a year, we con­tacted Rob Feloy for a sur­vey. He found very low lev­els of mois­ture in the struc­ture and the only sign of wa­ter in the balsa-cored deck was where a hole had been cut for a ven­ti­la­tion cowl up for­ward and the edges not sealed.

The hull be­low the wa­ter­line had been soda-blasted back to an epoxy coat­ing, the three bat­ter­ies were kept up by a Rut­land 913 wind charger, the cooker was al­most new and the in­te­rior join­ery, though not com­pleted to full Ri­val spec, was solid – and the two can­vas sea berths in the saloon hadn’t been taken out, as is of­ten the case. There was a de­cent main­sail, an al­most-new genoa, a very old asym­met­ric and the orig­i­nal Kemp spin­naker pole lay on deck.

The in­stru­ments, though vin­tage, were of good qual­ity and seemed to work: a Sestrel Moore com­pass (no air bub­ble, but also no light), Fu­runo radar and GPS (pre-chart­plot­ter), a Sea­farer echo sounder, a Sim­rad VHF and a Stowe towed log. The engine, a 35hp Wester­beke, was startable. There was no dinghy and the an­chor chain was rust­ing.

Restora­tion be­gins

It was clear that Fréhel had been ne­glected. We of­fered £11,000 – then, with no in­for­ma­tion as to the age of the stand­ing rig­ging, re­duced it to £10,000. The owner wanted to stick at £11,000 and we should have stood out for less, bear­ing in mind what we were to find later; but at last she was ours and we could start work, be­gin­ning with the things the sur­vey had iden­ti­fied. The gas locker was cleared and cleaned, the gas sys­tem ser­viced and the loose cylin­der se­cured. Three of the seven sea cocks were seized, and all needed new stain­less ju­bilee clips on the hoses.

A sub-bulk­head up for­ward was com­ing away from the hull and was re-glassed when the rub­bing strakes were taken off. We epox­ied the edges of the open­ing for the cowl vent up for­ward, stripped and ser­viced the winches and threw away the boom.

The mast was un­stepped, which meant re­mov­ing the head lin­ing on the star­board side of the saloon so we could ac­cess and free the ca­bles.

We scrubbed green mould off the decks and mast, fit­ted a Win­dex, re­placed the var­i­ous lamps with LEDs and pulled out the rot­ted run­ning rig­ging, leav­ing mes­sen­ger lines be­hind.

We took off the mast­head cap and freed two jammed sheaves, while Eurospars made a new boom, cut a new slot in the mast for the genoa hal­yard and re­placed the stand­ing rig­ging. In the process they took off the spread­ers and found a dent in the mast be­neath one of the roots.

Af­ter much suck­ing-in of breath they said it would cost £1,500 to fab­ri­cate new spread­ers an­chored through the mast, or £6,000 for a new mast.

A dent un­der a spreader is prob­a­bly caused by the boat lean­ing against some­thing, say when go­ing on a wall.

A dent above or be­low the spread­ers is a lot more se­ri­ous. But this was a heavy mast and the dent was old, so we told Eurospars to put it all back to­gether.

A visit to Jimmy Green Ma­rine pro­vided

‘Un­der­neath the ne­glect and mould was a lovely yacht’

enough Liros braid line to re­place the hal­yards and sheets.

While the head lin­ing was down we rebed­ded three leak­ing port lights and dried her out, then moved on to the wind gen­er­a­tor. It was mak­ing quite a lot of noise, in­clud­ing an in­ter­mit­tent jud­der­ing.

Mar­lec Engi­neer­ing sup­plied new bear­ings and brushes, but didn’t know why it was jud­der­ing and sug­gested we send it to them. Be­fore we did we dis­cov­ered that it had been wired to work only when the bat­ter­ies were switched on. So if you left the boat with bat­ter­ies off and wind gen­er­a­tor on (as we do), it kept trip­ping over it­self elec­tri­cally, switch­ing on and off. Once this was fixed and the bear­ings and brushes re­placed (one of them had bro­ken in half) it ran per­fectly.

A small de­tail that’s typ­i­cal of a project like this is that when we took off the pri­mary fuel fil­ter it was of course clogged. But the glass bowl was chipped round the top edge and wouldn’t seat prop­erly, so that ex­plained why a small amount of diesel was leak­ing into the bilge. New fil­ter, new bowl, new gas­kets, lots of Bil­gex. Al­most ev­ery­thing we touched in ser­vic­ing the engine was like that, in­clud­ing a leak­ing anti-siphon vent and the re­mote greaser bro­ken off.

The tiller was var­nished and re­fit­ted, only to dis­cover that the al­loy end cap is so worn that we have to retighten the se­cur­ing bolts ever hour or so when sail­ing. Next win­ter: a new stain­less fab­ri­ca­tion to fit tiller to rud­der head.

The diesel filler hose was fall­ing off, so we re­placed it. The wa­ter filler hose was filthy so we re­placed it and in­stalled a car­tridge fil­ter un­der the sink. The wash­boards didn’t fit prop­erly, so we bought some 18mm teak-face ma­rine ply and made new ones, this time with a vent. We took off the an­chor chain and re­versed it, pend­ing re-gal­vanis­ing.

The prop was stuck on the shaft and, lack­ing any pullers, we asked an en­gi­neer to come and free it. He did, and found the cut­less bear­ing was worn out. We took the prop to C&O Engi­neer­ing in New­ton Ab­bot and they con­demned it, so that meant a new 16x12 left-hand prop. Mean­while the en­gi­neer took the screws out of the short tube that holds the cut­less bear­ing and the whole thing fell off, stern tube and all, be­cause it wasn’t fixed in. Old cut­less bear­ing out, new one pressed in, shaft and bear­ing tubes epox­ied and fas­tened in, shaft align­ment checked, new prop fit­ted.

My Irens lug yawl Romilly was built by Rod Hal­lam and Si­mon ‘Ginge’ Mur­phy. It tran­spired that Ginge’s fa­ther had owned Fréhel years ago, so Ginge was able to tell us more about her. I’d con­tacted Rod, who was based at Ply­mouth Yacht Haven, to ask if he could re­move the iroko rub­bers and make good. He was work­ing for Nathan Bone, and to­gether they did the job.

There was of course os­mo­sis un­der­neath the rub­bers, so they ground off, re­paired and filled, sanded and painted, leav­ing an im­mac­u­late GRP rub­ber with its cove line ready for us to ap­ply cove line tape.

We lifted and re-bed­ded the bul­wark cap rails, then cleaned the shed paint off all the teak, scrubbed it with ox­alic acid so­lu­tion and fed it lots of teak oil.

So it went on, job af­ter job, steadily through the year: things the sur­vey had found, things we wanted to do and things that were bro­ken or worn out. Mar­tin was teach­ing and I was writ­ing and hob­bling about, but we man­aged a day a week and grad­u­ally worked through the jobs.

We or­dered a stack pack and other can­vas work, tested the in­stru­ments again and found that the radar was fine, but the GPS only works in­ter­mit­tently and the VHF has lost many of its func­tions. The fi­nal ver­dict on these two is still pend­ing.

The old Sea­farer echo sounder was

‘the gear­box was go­ing astern when we were go­ing ahead: yet an­other bodge’

above the chart ta­ble and im­pos­si­ble to read from the cock­pit and the log didn’t work at all, so we de­cided to fit a Nasa Clip­per Duet in the cock­pit. The echo sounder is in an oil bath and pings through the hull, but the pad­dle wheel goes through the mas­sive lam­i­nate.

A sea­son afloat

In Jan­uary 2018 I had a new hip, then at last we got the bot­tom sanded, primed and an­tifouled. There was a six-week pause while Mar­tin di­rected the play I’d been writ­ing at a Lon­don fringe theatre, but by the end of May we were ready and in she went.

That was when we dis­cov­ered, mo­tor­ing round to our berth at Mayflower Ma­rina, that the new log tube was weep­ing (as well we might have) – and out she came again. We hadn’t seated it per­fectly flat on the hull, but we’d also dis­cov­ered that the new prop was vi­brat­ing badly above 1,250rpm and the head (the orig­i­nal Simp­son Lawrence 400) pumped wa­ter out, but couldn’t be per­suaded to pump any­thing in.

So while Fréhel was out for Paul Roach to re­fit the log tube, he in­stalled a Jab­sco Com­pact WC and Dar­ren Flint came back to pull the prop off for us to take back to C&O Engi­neer­ing. No prob­lem with the bal­ance, so back on it went – and Dar­ren dis­cov­ered it was key-bound. This meant fil­ing down the shaft key un­til the prop made per­fect con­tact all along the shaft ta­per. No more vi­bra­tion.

A few days later we went for a short shake-down, sail­ing her to Fowey, then

Fal­mouth – our first proper pas­sage and a great sail. The wind stayed in the east so we punched wind and sea, mo­tor-sail­ing up to Fowey – and com­ing up to a buoy, dis­cov­ered she was stuck in gear. We even­tu­ally man­aged to get her along­side a pon­toon and found that the gear-change ca­ble had bro­ken, as had the Morse con­trol, al­though we’d greased it and checked that it worked.

An­other bout of swear­ing about past ne­glect, then first thing the next morn­ing Fowey Har­bour Ma­rine came out and fit­ted a new one.

They also said our left-handed prop was fit­ted to a stan­dard gear­box, so the se­lec­tor had been re­versed and the gear­box was go­ing astern when we were go­ing ahead: yet an­other bodge, per­haps be­cause some­one once hap­pened to have a left-handed prop. Next win­ter we’ll have to de­cide how much it mat­ters...

Fréhel’s best point of sail­ing, not sur­pris­ingly is a reach, when she heels, im­mers­ing her long over­hangs, and leans on her shoul­der as she pow­ers along. Light airs aren’t too good for her, but a good Force 4+ and she’s in her el­e­ment – and she doesn’t pound in a se­away.

We’re spend­ing this first sea­son sail­ing days and week­ends, find­ing out the ways of our fine mod­ern clas­sic and know­ing it was worth all the hard work.

ABOVE Back to her for­mer glory: a re­stored Fréhel look­ing very smart tucked up in Ply­mouth’s Mayflower Ma­rina RIGHT Fréhel at Dartmouth in the 1980s

A new boom, stack pack and wash­boards

In­stru­ments fit­ted were old and not al­ways ser­vice­able

Be­lOW Re­launch day, May 2018

left the own­ers sort­ing out the reef pen­nants

RIGHt Wait­ing for paint and a new prop

A good fetch andFréhel do­ing what she does best

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