Hello there, 

I am new to the club and this is my first post. I will apologize up front for any misnomers or boating faux-pas. 

I am looking at a potential purchase of a 1970 31 Commander convertible. The boat has been on the hard for at least the last 12 months. It has original 327 engines with approximately 900 on the port engine and 1100 on the starboard. The interior is original as well - in decent shape for a 49 year old boat. It has been in fresh water its entire life. This is my first boat purchase - we have been fortunate to have "friends with boats" for many years... :-) . From my research, the Commanders appear to be very well made and hold up well with good care / maintenance. I have restored numerous cars, so understand the mechanicals, but boat structure and fiberglass are relatively new for me.

This particular boat definitely needs bottom paint, and a good clean / wax. The engines fire up and run. My concerns are with the overall structure and integrity of the hull, deck and cabin. The gunwale on the starboard side of the cabin (approx. forward window) flexes and makes a noticeable creaking sound when you step on it. This is the area where the strap from the crane went when the boat was taken out of the water and placed on the hard. The door to the cabin does not close. The door overlaps the door frame by about 1/4 inch. Are these major issues that indicate bigger problems? The yard says the door problem "Could be do to placement on the hard". Is that reasonable? It 

Additionally, the areas where the shafts go through the hull look to be covered in grease or oil, is this normal? (I have posted a picture of this area).

I appreciate any guidance or assistance you can provide.

Thanks,
Pete

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1. The boat is poorly supported under the keel; that could easily be causing flexing and poor fitting doors. Maybe even creaking in the gunnels. Some Commanders have been known to crack with insufficient blocking.

2. Find out what the black gunk in the bilge is. That's a major concern.

3. I wouldn't listen to anything from the folks that parked this boat.

Bet the black gunk in the bilge is oil.  The remote filter on the 327F is base down and a good deal of oil can run into the bilge at each change.  Sloppy practices lead to sloppy boats.  I agree with Jim the boat probably was not supported properly.  Even properly supported I have had my cabin door need a few days to return to proper operation.but is was only tight not out of position.  If the owner is serious about the sale at a minimum I would ask it to be floated for several weeks to see if the hull will relax into shape before even discussing a survey.

The hull is very robust in general but various models have unique weak points, particularly around the cockpit window frame area.  There should have been another set of stands in the area of the cabin entrance and the aft end of the keel.  Had this been done the problem may not have occurred.

The bottoms of the Commanders are very robust but meant to be floating or supported in that same manner but they do flex.  Think of a shoe box with a heavy bottom and normal sides and top all fastened  together, flex the bottom and all above gets repositioned.  The question that must be answered is how does the box fit when relaxed.

If they aren't willing to launch and let it relax, if it will, prior to survey walk away.  The cheapest boat is the one you board, drive and enjoy without becoming overly friendly with the yard for at least a year.

Good luck and keep us updated, Tim

Jim,

Thanks for the reply. I will need inspect the bilge more closely. 

Pete

Cool boat!  You dont see many of the soft top 31s around!

Sure its certainty posibile that bad blocking or even poor sling locations  in a travel lift could cause a misfiting door. Id also look at the more simple stuff like are the door hinges bent , is the removable section of the bulkhead loose? (The door swings on this panel), is the jam loose? 

Regarding the creaking  noise,  there could be loose structural stiffner  blocks under  the deck. I have had to deal with some of that on my boat. Therr can also be broken or loose fiberglass tabbing . You could simply be hearing two parts rubbing.

 

Thanks for the feedback Tim and Jeremy. I will definitely inquire about launching to see if it relaxes. I did check the hinges and the frame, all looked normal. The owner self maintained the engines, I will need to ask for more detail about the last maintenance / oil change.

The current asking price is $6000, is that market correct?

Pete

The last full year of the mahogany interior was 1968, so the boat is probably not a 1970 model.

 

Thanks for the insight. Can you let me know where to find the hull serial number on a pre-70 boat?

I think the number will be FXA-31-XXXX and you will find it in various locations painted but it should be on a brass plaque on the stb engine hatch.  ff that plaque is missing look in the anchor locker, the back of the door or painted on the inside of the bow.

Price is probably low but reflects the owners faith or need for the boat or financial status.

https://commanderclub.com/page/31-commander-express

Thanks, found hull # in anchor locker.
FXA-31-0083 H.

Oil change in bilge looks to be dripping from port engine.

That’s a ‘66, first year. Should have 327 F’s in them, which is my preference over the Q due to parts availability. 

The boat is blocked wrong, it may well be causing the door not to close. I bet it goes back though when put in the water, or blocked correct. My gunnels also crack alittle when I walk on them, it was greatly reduced when I replaced all the screws in the side trim, which is semi structural to the gunnel. Many of the screws where broken off. The gunnels don’t have a wood core, but do have a fiberglass tube for stiffening. 



Peter Hanushewsky said:

Thanks, found hull # in anchor locker.
FXA-31-0083 H.

Oil change in bilge looks to be dripping from port engine.

I found several areas on my boat where the 6 oz. glass tabbing that attaches the mahogany and or cardboard half tubes had fractured causing a crackeling/creaking noise.

To remedy this I groung off all the fractured glass and fit in new 24 oz bi-ply  and boy did that make a difference.  

I like mike said I too have several sheared off rubrail screws which will also get dug out and replaced to further remedy the creaking. 



Mike H said:

That’s a ‘66, first year. Should have 327 F’s in them, which is my preference over the Q due to parts availability. 

The boat is blocked wrong, it may well be causing the door not to close. I bet it goes back though when put in the water, or blocked correct. My gunnels also crack alittle when I walk on them, it was greatly reduced when I replaced all the screws in the side trim, which is semi structural to the gunnel. Many of the screws where broken off. The gunnels don’t have a wood core, but do have a fiberglass tube for stiffening. 



Peter Hanushewsky said:

Thanks, found hull # in anchor locker.
FXA-31-0083 H.

Oil change in bilge looks to be dripping from port engine.

Don't be concerned that it is older than 1970, the earlier hulls were probably more heavily built than the 1970 hulls. 1964 was the first year of the glass Commanders so this is early, before they got comfortable with the strength of the build. If it were a 1990 Bayliner blocked that way it would probably look like an accordion.

Mike H said:

That’s a ‘66, first year. Should have 327 F’s in them, which is my preference over the Q due to parts availability. 

The boat is blocked wrong, it may well be causing the door not to close. I bet it goes back though when put in the water, or blocked correct. My gunnels also crack alittle when I walk on them, it was greatly reduced when I replaced all the screws in the side trim, which is semi structural to the gunnel. Many of the screws where broken off. The gunnels don’t have a wood core, but do have a fiberglass tube for stiffening. 



Peter Hanushewsky said:

Thanks, found hull # in anchor locker.
FXA-31-0083 H.

Oil change in bilge looks to be dripping from port engine.

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