A Rough Guide to Bringing an Old Boat Current

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I've had this discussion with a number of new owners of early-production boats, so it really is time to document my experience, which is probably typical.

TF #23 was from one of the first manufacturing runs, built by the Kettermans prior to their merging with Hobie. As such, it lacked a number of improvements made until the design settled down around #64, after which it was pretty stable until production ended. Further, #23 had been neglected somewhat by its previous owner, and had become a little run-down. So I think it represents a useful case study for anyone buying an older boat and wanting to know what he/she is up against in getting it back in shape.

Once I took delivery, I emailed Dan and asked him if he could supply me with a list of things likely to need repair or upgrade, based on the age of the boat. His answer was, "No, that's not how we're going to do this. You're going to take a whole bunch of pictures and send them to me, then we'll get on the phone, do a walkaround together, and look for things that need attention." That call lasted a couple of hours, and here is the result.

It's important that you understand this part: The TriFoiler is like no other boat you've ever sailed. When you rig it up for the first time and absorb its architecture, you'll see that it's more like a hang glider than a sailboat. And because it's so high-performance and its design so unique, almost any failure carries catastrophic consequences. For example, you may not really grasp how crucial the shocks are until you break a shock mount. And where a regular beach cat might suffer a simple dismasting, the TriFoiler equivalent is known as a "gravity storm", because everything comes down, leaving you in the middle of a truly astounding mess. So this is not a boat that you want to sail in compromised condition. If you see something that needs attention - and you should be looking very closely - take care of it without procrastination.

Again, this list should be considered illustrative, and not definitive. - Jonathan 17:39, 5 September 2010 (UTC)


  • Shrouds: Inspect for wear, abrasions, etc., and verify lengths against drawing (Is the drawing here? I'll have to check.).
A note on snap hooks: Check the snap hook on your starboard lashing and confirm that it's a Wichard, identifiable by their "W" logo and "FRANCE" in the forging. Sea Dog snap hooks are identical in appearance but are cast (rather than forged) and lack the Wichard markings. The difference is significant. Where the Wichard 2480 is rated for a 200kg working load and 300kg breaking load, Sea Dog does not supply a rating for their part, instead weaseling on about how they have no control over the parametrics of castings and parts they get from their suppliers. Based on that, I wouldn't use Sea Dog parts on a bet. Neuperg: Note that some owners have replaced the rear stay snap shackles altogether with "chain quicklink" rated at 1100 lbs. Sensible considering the Wichard snap is rated at 550 lbs and the stays are rated at 1700 lbs. SeaDog packaging rates them at 275 lbs. I had them on the foil retraction and nearly straightened the hook out on teh SeaDog when a foil refused to retract and I pulled hard on the line. Neuperg 22:24, 1 October 2010 (UTC)
  • Mainsheet should have bowline tied around sail link and through eye strap, which should be on top.
  • Do you have a dashboard sticker?
  • Check both sheaves in the mainsheet exit block - the bearings decay.
  • If you have the old style mast bases and rotator bars, the tube goes on the aft end. But you really should be upgrading to the current version.
  • Does your speedo work? You should be able to do 15mph by blowing into the tube.
  • Sensor bow lines: The Wichard hook is overkill, but ditch the brass snap and go to the Wichards anyway.
  • Do you have the original ama castings and foil castings that use the pin lock? They're difficult, and should be upgraded to the later latch type.
  • The little plastic posts that the downhauls loop over - attached with the rivets that go through the mast and into the mast base - were missing and needed to be replaced.
  • Both the little piece of rope attaching the Wichard hook to the kingpost and the loop on the port boom outhaul block that it mates with when raising/lowering the port mast should be as short as possible. Neuperg: Condition of the little rope is critcal. If it parts while rigging, the rig comes down... on your car if trailer is still hitched.
  • The compression strut ends changed from a bayonet (snap-in) pin to a threaded pin. Upgrading (both the compression strut sockets and the male mast fittings) is strongly advised.
  • Some kingposts feature adjustable height. Confirm correct height - with the boat fully rigged, the beam end should be deflected down ~9" from the beam center.
  • I had hairline cracks in the gelcote around the transom pinstriping. Dan pushed me to grind them out to see if they were structural or just superficial. What I discovered was a big void where the top and bottom hull halves had been mated and the joint not properly filled with epoxy (these early hulls were fabricated by an outside contractor). I kept grinding, then epoxy/glassed back up and refinished the gelcote.
  • The amas exhibited a lot of hairline cracking in the gelcote too. Look in the drain plugs for foam reinforcement at the bow, under the shock mount, under the casting, and in the middle of the aft section. Neuperg: See ECN Media:ECN05_AMA-FOAM.pdf for this.
  • Neuperg: Replace Mast Ball studs in the mast rotation socket with the shoulder type. Original non shoulder style Ball can break off while applying mast rotation. See Mast Ball, to Socket.
  • Neuperg: Inspect Epoxy/glass integrity in attachment of rudder cable pulley blocks on inside of hull on underside of deck. Loss of one of these pulleys can lead to catastrophic rudder loss and casting damage under some conditions.

(more coming soon)

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