Blog Backup

Victory #2, found some spongy wood in his mast below the goose neck. Now he's debating rather to replace the mast with wood or metal. This begs the question, how exactly was the LNVT's mast made? First cut a groove, which will become the wire chase, down the middle of two 3" x 1-3/4" x 13' boards. The boards are then glued together and hand planed to the final 3-1/4" round, finished diameter. When I expressed surprise that the spar shaping was done by hand, Tommy said "Too long for a lathe." Very good point ;-). He couldn't remember the type of wood used (other than it wasn't the local type of mahogany which is a poor wood) but said it was both light, rot resistant, and plentiful. He does remember using rosewood for some spars. Those will last a thousand years he said.

13 March 2014

Trev Croteau, Hjortie #33, found leaks into the saloon from at least four screws which were holding the O2 teak decking down. The screws had penetrated all the way through the saloon's fiberglass roof. To prevent a recurrence of the problem the new O2 deck teak pads were epoxied down.

Tosh Chontosh, Petite Wazo #20, found the wall thickness where he'd removed his stateroom, head, and shower portlights to be 1-3/4".

6 March 2014

I just got a copy of Concinnity #17's January 2014 survey. The surveyor, Bob Ptak, stated that the estimated fair market (FM) value was $138K while the estimated replacement (R) cost was $500K. Combined these two numbers give us an interesting ratio, the FM/R. For #17 the FM/R = $138K/$500K= .276. In the box below is the FM and R data for all the surveys on—clearly we need to collect more surveys.

FM/R Hull # Date of Survey FM R
1.00 #34 4 November 1985 $95K $95K
0.64 #46 27 January 1993 $135K $210K
0.79 #66 12 September 2005 $178K $225K
0.39 #74 23 January 2006 $175K $450K
0.45 #42 March 2009 $190K $425K
0.28 #17 17 January 2014 $138K $500K
0.33 #74 11 March 2014 $125K $350K

The first thing that strikes me is that replacement cost (R) has gone up dramatically while selling prices have not. This means inflation, which has increased the replacement cost by five times, has had little effect on sales prices. On in the case of a boat, depreciation trumps inflation. It's worth keeping tabs on FM/R as it will let us know if inflation adjusted sales prices are increasing or decreasing. An FM/R > 1 would be consistent with a collector's item. Clearly LNVTs are not collectables—yet.

When considering fair market (FM) valuation it's important to know why the survey was done. FM valuation for an insurance driven survey may be lower than in a purchase survey. In the first case, a lower valuation translates to lower insurance premiums. In the second, a higher valuation. i.e. loan value, makes it easier to borrow a greater amount.

8 January 2014

The LNVT's laban, tongue-and-groove headliner is a thing of beauty. I especially appreciate the golden patina that age brings. It is, however, subject to water damage and unsightly holes from legacy equipment installations.

13 September 2013

This is an update to the 37' LNVT production chart that was first put together in July 2010. This update is possible because we now have all the fleet's Hull Identification Numbers (HINs).

Year Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Total
1983 1 2 3 4 5 6, 7 8 8
1984 9 10 11 12 14 15, 17 16 18, 19 20 22 12
1985 21, 23 24, 25 27, 29 26 28 30, 31 32, 42 33, 34 35 15
1986 36, 37, 40, 41 38, 39, 43, 51 44 46 45 47,48 49 50 66 52 17
1987 53, 54, 70 55, 56 57, 58 59 60, 65 62, 63, 64 67 68 15
1988 69, 71 72 73 74 5
1989 75 76 2
Total 13 8 7 5 5 8 5 8 7 4 3 1 74

The chronological hull# order is:
(1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11,12,14,15) (17) (16) (18,19,20) (22) (21) (23,24,25) (27) (29) (26) (28) (30,31,32) (42) (33,34,35,36,37) (40,41) (38,39) (43) (51) (44) (46)
(45) (47,48,49,50) (66) (52,53,54) (70) (55,56,57,58,59,60) (65) (62,63,64) (67,68,69) (71,72,73,74,75,76)

12 July 2013

Bob Allnutt, Victory #2, just confirmed that his stateroom, head, and shower port light exterior trim rings are bronze.

11 July

Like all of the earlier tugs, at least through #42, Hull #20 has bronze port lights in the stateroom, head and shower. The port light's trim rings, on the outside of the hull, are stainless steel. Strange that a bronze port light would have a stainless trim ring. Was this done by the yard to match the stainless of the other windows (the five wood pilothouse window frames excluded)? Did the earliest tugs have bronze trim rings? Did the yard make the stainless trim rings?

7 July 2013

This drawing below shows the white space (gel coat), in inches, between the dutch door and the windows on hulls 2, 31, 63, and 66. The earlier tugs have less space between dutch door and the first salon window. I believe the spacing was increased in later tugs so that the teak window valance (inside the tug) would span the entire window.

Elevation (side profile) of a 37' LNVT. Pilothouse to the left. Measurements (in inches), on the outside of the boat, of the white space between the dutch door and the first salon window, the space between the windows, and the space between the last window and the end of the salon.
Hull # Door to Window #1 Window #1 to #2 Window #2 to #3 Window #3 to back of Pilothouse
2 26 28-1/2 3-3/4 18
4 30 28 3-3/4
31 25-1/2 24 7-7/8 19-1/2
33 26-1/8 24 7-7/8 19
38 24 8
43 26 24 7-3/4 19
47 30-5/8 19 7-3/4 18-3/4
66 30-1/2 19-1/4 7-1/2 18-3/4
56 30-1/2 19-1/2 7-1/2 18-1/2
63 30-3/4 18-1/2 7-3/4 19

5 July 2013

Here's an interesting one. After painting Nellie's bilge from the bow to the engine room bulkhead, and while Nellie was still on the hard, a 1/2 and ounce of brown fluid magically appeared in the bilge. Funny, it hadn't rained, and the fluid was no where near any hoses. The fluid has no obvious odor. Wipe it up and the next day there's more in the same spot. I suspect water has found its way into the keel and is mixing with the iorn ballast, explaining the rust color; changes of temperature force it up and through small cracks in the bilge's fiberglass.

Need to talk to Tommy Chen about the 3000 pounds of ballast he placed in an LNVT's keel: was it iron; the shape of the pigs; was anything poured around it to keep it from moving; etc. Does he think water could accumulate around the ballast, and if so, any ideas on how to drain the water?

The rust-filled fluid which seems to be entering via hairline cracks in Nellie's bilge.

22 February 2013

It was during a conversation with Craig Smith, Rose Bud #34, that I realized that the floor heights of LNVTs vary. Craig's experience was first hand—his head hit the ceiling in some tugs but not in others. He specified is his purchase order that #34's ceiling was to be no higher than hull #22's. Here are two data points as measured just forward of the companionway hatch in the salon: #28 is 6' 1-1/2" and #2 is 6' 3-1/2".

21 February 2013

Per Jamie Hansen, Philbrooks Boatyard, Ltd., the glass in Tess II's #22 drop-down pilothouse windows is 6mm thick. Why isn't it 10mm thick like the rest of the glass aboard an LNVT? Maybe because 6mm glass weighs 7 lbs less than a comparable 10mm pane.

Also per Jamie, has stainless steel window channel (621-4471) which fits an LNVT's 10mm glass. It costs $47/8' + shipping from Canada. He describes the installation process as follows:

  • The windows are made with two stainless steel frames that are inset into an outer frame that is attached to the cabin side. The inner frames are held in with small flat head machine screws under the gasket material. After the old gasket has been cut out and screws removed the frames can be pulled out using small pry bars or tapped with a wood block and hammer. Be careful not to bend or kink the frames during the removal step. Be sure to clean the inside of the metal frames well to prepare for the new gasket material.
  • To bend the new gasket into the frames can be hard so we have come up with a helpful method to obtain a good fit. Using the frames as a template, trace the inside shape onto a piece of ¾” plywood or MDF. The cut out is a good jig to bend the gasket around and give you the right size and shape to fit the frames. Slots are cut into the gasket before being installed to create the drain holes. The track can be glued back into the frames with silicon as well as the frames into the openings on the boat. Tape can be used to hold the gasket in place while the silicone dries over night. Be sure that the new screws attaching the frames are not in the way of the operation of the sliding pane of glass.

Also per Jamie, this on how to remove the companionway hatch:

To remove the fixed panel of the aft sliding hatch there are a few steps needed to take. There are several wood plugs on the top edge of the panel. After removing them, screws below can be removed. This may be enough to remove the panel. If not the hatch will need to be cut along the wood joint around the edge of the hatch frame. Once cut the top panel will be loose. To reinstall use a brown caulking on the joint and screw the top back on the hatch frame. New teak plugs can then be glued in and sanded flush.

12 February 2013

The actual length of a 37' LNVT is 36'-10" per Bob Allnutt, Victory #2, who dropped plumb bobs from the bow and stern and measured between them.

31 January 2013

Comparing Craig Smith's sales invoice on hull#34 with the data in Admiralty Ltd.'s ledger provides an insight into the LNVTs pricing structure. From the ledger, see table below, we know that the wholesale amount invoiced to the broker for hull#34 was $82,038.10. We also know the retail amount, invoiced from the broker to the owner, was $91,104. The $9,065.90 difference between the invoices is the broker's commission. All told this tug had roughly a 20% margin; 10% ($8,735.40) went to Admiralty and another 10% ($9,065.90) went to the broker—also Admiralty in this case. Thanks go to both Sally Seymour and John Howell for helping this analysis come to fruition.

Buyer Date Ordered Hull Laid Date Shipped Date Arrived in US Closing Sale Date Basic Hull Cost1 + Options Cost2 + Other Direct Costs3 + Shipping from Taiwan + Markup = Amount Invoiced to Broker4
Smith, C. 03/07/85 8/85 unknown 10/31/1985 11/12/85 $62,101.19 $5,627.69 $1,996.69 $9,204.82 $8,735.40 $82,038.10
The above data is from Admiralty Ltd.'s Ledger


A word on nomenclature; Admiralty Ltd.'s ledger contains a column titled 'Cash Sales'. The values in the 'Cash Sales' column are the amounts invoiced to brokers. As such 'Cash Sales' is synonymous with wholesale price.

The relationship between Admiralty Ltd. and Cruising Yachts is as follows: Admiralty Ltd. and Cruising Yachts were wholly owned by Loren and Lani Hart. Admiralty Ltd. was an import trading company that wholesaled Lord Nelson yachts. Cruising Yachts acted as a broker buying Lord Nelson's from Admiralty Ltd. and then selling them at retail.

Here's an interesting aside, of the 52 tugs listed in the ledger, the 'Cash Sales' sales amount (i.e. the amount invoiced to the broker) equaled the sum of the expenses allocated to each hull in all but 7 cases. For those 7 tugs the 'Cash Sales' sale amount exceeded the allocated expenses by anywhere from $500 to $5,500. Admiralty Ltd.'s allocated expense categories for each hull were: Profit, Interest, Insurance, Line of Credit bank Charge, Design, Freight, Yard, Options & Equipment.

What does it mean when the ledger lists freight costs of between $6,500 and $11,000 for 22 of the tugs and $0 for 30 tugs? A simple answer is that if Admiralty Ltd. didn't pay the freight costs, then either their in-house brokerage, Cruising Yachts, or their customer did. To do an apples-to-apples comparison on LNVT costs here in the US, 22 of the ledger's 'Cash Sales' prices need to be adjusted to include freight. A freight value can be interpolated from known freight costs from tugs shipped at about the same time and to the same destination. Adding the 'Cash Sales' price to the calculated freight costs will yield a Freight Adjusted Cash Sales Price.

29 January 2013

Updating the Wiki with what the tugs cost and how long it took to deliver them. It cost about $3,500 more ($6,500 vs. $10,000) to ship a tug from Taiwan to the US West coast versus the East coast. It appears that some of the tugs were sold with the shipping cost included and some were not. To normalize the estimated selling price, shipping costs were included.

28 September 2012

Notes from Tug Talk at the East Coast Rendezvous, Sept 22, 2012

1. Some owners are reporting engine overheating failures. The cause could be a blockage in the exhaust, which could cause the muffler to explode. This could be caused by mechanical clamping and pressure over the years. When one blew recently, inspection inside showed PVC buckling and crackling. Suspect that Tommy was using PVC as a form to make the fiberglass pipe.

Guess: Running at normal temp is not a problem for the exhaust. But as temp starts to rise due to reasons for overheating, the PVC is melting inside the muffler. As pressure builds up, pushing water out the stern, the PVC could be getting pushed downstream.

If you don't see PVC in there, where is it? All our exhaust hoses are getting older, so be sure to inspect when pulled out.

Did a field pressure test using a Shop Vac to blow out air. There should be no back pressure. Therefore, assume all the "stuff" is still in the tank.
Check the muffler to look for a stain. It probably has pinholes - small leaks.

2. Location of mufflers differ

3. Hull thickness: cutouts from bow thruster show hull thickness is plenty strong. Hjortie and Sally W went one size up, to the size Vetus 95 (8hp).

4. First time tug owner: report from Trev Croteau
Did research on tug handling. Prior boating experience was on low hull boats, like Whalers, @ 50mph.
- Hjortie has a right hand prop. When put into reverse, the stern should go to port, bow to starboard. (The pivot point is at the pilot house.) Learn how to back and fill. (DAVE: a tug with a left hand prop prefers docking on its starboard side)
- Get your head out of the helm. Trev's boat has lots of electronics, and it's easy to become distracted.
- Learn maneuvering in close quarters. Neutral is your best friend. Let her do what she wants to do. Turn the rudder before putting in gear. Keep the bow into the wind or current.
ED: When docking, use one hand on the gear shift lever only, to avoid hitting the throttle.
- Trev likes to use spring lines, not breast lines like most of us, because marinas on the Mississippi River have cleats (that's what he said)
John Isaksen on spring lines: sometimes use the bow line as a spring line. The direction of the tide and wind has a lot to do with how you come in.
*** Local knowledge is very important.

John Mackey on fuel tanks. The standard repair is to replace with aluminum. John did it differently. He sandblasted to reveal bad areas; repaired the steel by cutting out the bad stuff and putting in new. Standard costs: new tank: $800 plus labor X4. John's way: $500 for the whole job.
- John also had a new polyethylene holding tank made to fit in the bow of the boat. Tank work done at a place called Duraweld.

Bob Allnutt: Burns 1.2 gal/hr at 6 knots in still water at 1500-1600 rpm. Has a Yanmar. He upgraded his Alpha Marine auto pilot. Sent it to someone in Washington State to have new works installed. When returned, he noted that a few components were in backwards. The flex gate compass was in reverse. Couldn't get hydraulic pump - had to buy a new one. More trouble that he thought.

Open question: Teak pads on O2 deck are shot. What material is good replacement? Treadmaster is a synthetic decking material that looks like teak. There is synthetic cork. John Taylor prefers teak because it lasts!!!

Lisa and John Taylor: Learned the button in the shower is supposed to turn ON the sump. She spent four hours rewiring to fix something not broken.
John dislikes Dahl fuel filters. Hard to change in rolly conditions. Now owns Racor switchover unit.
Reinstalled propane system.
Pressure water system - all new parts
Air horns are still a mystery.
Grub screws in cutlass bearing: if made out of naval brass, will corrode.
Learned lots about zincs, found sources and replaced all.
Has some weeping water tank access covers. Will replace gaskets.

Marilyn Johnston: A very special boat because of the special people attached to it.

Larry Johnston: This is his fifth boat. All boats are different. Only project: the boat had blisters. Bottom was sandblasted, painted with Interprotect, and then bottom coat. Sandblasting took off more than expected. Did not put fiberglass back on. Put on Interlux 2000.

If the boat hasn't blistered, it probably won't. Tommy said the resins were causing problems; came in 55 gallon drums; probably used different brands.
Garry said that a fire retardant put into the resin could have caused blisters.
Why, after applying Interlux 2000 did blister appear? John Mackie: surface wasn't dry enough.
To determine if dry: put tape over blister. If you find water under the tape after two days, it's not dry enough.
Ed: when boats have poor gelcoat, water leaks out; no blisters
when boats have good gelcoat water is trapped and blisters will appear

Trev Croteau: About to ship his tug from the Chesapeake to the Tennessee River and travel north to home in Minneapolis. Surprised how much it can suck up money. Nothing has really surprised him.

Stephanie Croteau: The tug is going to be a new adventure. Glad she came to the rendezvous. Slept aboard for first time last night.

Ed McChain: Work with Tommy door opening. Engine room hatch left open and wife Mary Ann fell through.

Mary Ann McChain: It was emotionally hard to sell their sailboat. They plan to cruise south this winter and north next summer. The boat is comfortable; dogs love it.

Barb: Learned to chant "Neutral is a gear." She uses the head in the sand approach. Most learning from noise or smell; waits for something to happen and then acts. Wants to take a more proactive approach. Planning to truck her tug to a friend's house two hours away. Big cosmetic and mechanical overhaul during the winter. "These boats need to be used." Bought her boat in seven days from first seeing on the web. Tug has unique superstructure: radar arch

AllanSeymour: What made the Mini Loop trip special was the people met. Jim Backus made an object which makes people smile. Great attraction.

John and Ellen Isaksen: Added to Allan's comments on popularity of the LNVT. Experiences with open house in New Bedford; many people came on board and raved. The tug is very relaxing. Have company a lot. The people they've met through the association has had a great impact.

Key Stage: His fuel management plan: Don't go anywhere. Stay tied to the dock.
3 issues:
1. Boat stored on trickle charge. LONG STORY. Conclusion: Smart chargers aren't smart.
2. Struggling with Raymarine for 5 years. Problem was his Raystar 120 antenna. He rewired, put in a new GS 130 GPS and it works perfectly.
3. Boat farts. Foul smell on boat traced to the kitchen sink. Effluent flushed from the toilet displaces air in the black water tank. A common vent with the gray water allows this tank to be over pressurized allowing foul air to backup into the kitchen sink. Bottom line: don't common vent gray and black water tanks.

Clara: So impressive. The passion is contagious. Dave and Key are great teachers.

Garry and Carol Domnisse: Installed solar power to LNVT. One solar panel keeps trickle charge on 8D batteries. Need solar controller to make sure not overcharging. Great when on a mooring; no need for wind generator.

27 September 2012

The Velvet Drive transmission has a switch on the starboard side which prevents starting the engine in gear. If open, this switch will interrupt the flow of electricity to the engine's starting solenoid. A fist step in diagnosing an engine that won't turn over is to check for +12V on both of the switch's connectors.

11 September 2012

While aboard Hjortie #33 yesterday I noticed that the pilothouse drop down windows appeared thinner than 10mm. Also that the waterlift muffler is like Nellie's #63 (i.e. vertically mounted just aft and starboard of the engine and in a space cutout of the starboard water tank). The tripod front engine mount is identical to Titan #31, Sally W. #42, and Knock Off #66. By the time Nellie was built the engine's tripod mount had been replaced with conventional corner engine mounts. Hjortie has a second pilothouse-to-engineroom floor board, that doesn't appear to be factory installed, directly over the engine. I assume this was put in to facilitate the new engine installation.

10 September 2012: What I learned at the PNW Rendezvous

There are at least two waterlift muffler configurations. Earlier tugs (including Titan #30 and Sally W. #42) have a muffler where the inlet is on one side of the can and the outlet is on the other. The muffler is attached under the floor boards and inboard of the starboard water tank. On later tugs (Pet Tug #60 and Nellie D. #63) the muffler's inlet and outlet are both on the top side. The muffler sits in a cutout part of the water tank's inboard, forward section. The latter is a much more complex and costy installation—I can only think that it was for functional reasons the change was made.

How quickly the exhaust hose heats up very when raw water flow stops. I could barely keep my hand on Pet Tugs 3" exhaust hose, a foot or so aft of the muffler, meaning it had reached ~115F in the short period between muffler explosion and engine shutdown.

In the past week I saw two tugs with bilge pumps forward of the engine and with their respective float switches mounted on top of the pump. Was this where and how the factory installed the pumps? If so, it doesn't make a lot of sense as the deepest point in an LNVT's bilge is under the packing gland. This pump won't turn on until the Cummins' pan is well under water.

In a conversation with Sally and Allan Seymour, aboard the Sally W. #42, Jim Backus suspected that the glass in the two pilot house lowering windows was thinner than the 10mm saftey glass he'd specified. I believe that Nellie's glass in these two windows is also less than 10mm and probably it's true of the rest of the fleet too. So, why are the drop down windows in the pilothouse 5mm (I'm guessing) when they were specified to be 10mm? Perhaps it's because the factory thought the weight of 10mm glass would be too heavy lift and opted for 5mm. So what's the weight difference? Glass weight (exclusive of the wood frame) in a 10mm pilothouse drop down window is 14 lbs and 7 lbs for 10 mm glass. It doesn't seem like a 7 lb difference is worth it considering the safety compromise. But as both Allan and Sally on Sally W. point out, 7 lbs is a lot especially when reaching all the way across the starboard side's chart table.

The numbers to support the calculations:

1. 10mm glass weights around 5 lbs/ft^2
2. 5mm weighs 2.5 lbs/ft^2
3. Pilothouse drop down window glass measurement is: 17-1/2" x 23-1/4" or 2.9 ft^2 (per Sally W. #42)

27 August 2012

LNVT Muffler Issues

A handful of tugs have reported problems associated with the muffler. Today I got to see a failure firsthand when Pet Tug #60's muffler split apart while the tug was underway. The split occurred along the fiberglassed joint between the unit's top and bottom halves. According to Lou Steplock, there was a loud bang and oily water went everywhere in the engine room. After the muffler was removed only a little bit of fiberglass held its two halves together--resembling something like the hinge on a clam shell. Not much effort was required to get the halves apart. Once apart several things became clearer. The fiberglass tubes, which the exhaust hoses attach to, we're formed around what appears to be PVC. As the picture shows, Pet Tugs' PVC was deforming and small pieces of burnt PVC were found in freely floating inside the muffler.

On Pet Tug #60, where the normal sink and stove positions are swapped, i.e. stove inboard and sink outboard, the galley width is 1" and the Tommy door is 1" deeper.

18 July 2012: What I learned from Ed McChain, Thistle #47

1. By rotating the Dutch door's exterior escutcheon 120 degrees, the door handle can't vibrate itself open--and thus the door hooks aren't required. This not only makes the doors safer but easier to use too.

2. Getting aboard an LNVT from the water is problematic. Using the engine room's ladder on the bulwark's exising pintles is not really satisfactory because (1) the ladder doesn't go far enough into the water and (2) it's hard to climb the ladder's negative slope. Ed bought a marine ladder and then made a PVC adapter to mate the ladder to the existing Pintles.

3. To cool the engine room Ed installed a ducted fan near the ceiling and then vented it by drilling a new hole in the cabin side just aft of the existing portside engine room grille. He could have used the existing engine room vent but feared he'd diminish the little natural airflow that already exists. Using the ducted fan reduces the engine room's ambient temperature by 20F.

4. If you want to know what dinghy handling systems really work, talk to a pet owner that likes to anchor out. Ed takes his two pups ashore regularly using his 8' sailing dinghy and 2hp (?) engine. I watched him singlehandedly stow the dink, with the engine attached, on the O2 deck, in a total of two minutes, using an electrically powered davit. The davit is mounted to the port, aft corner of the salon. it's tall enough to lift the dink over the O2 deck's lifelines. Ed estimates the dink weighs around 200 pounds. The dink sits on chocks just aft of the companionway hatch. There wasn't any noticeable heeling of Thistle as the dink was lifted.

17 July 2012: Cummins 4BT-3.9M 150hp Fuel Consumption

Data came from a newly installed Flowscan on Hjortie #33. As a sanity check Hjortie's data is compared to Nellie D's #63 data which was collected last year.

RPM Hull 33 Hull 63
1200 .7 .9
1400 1.1 1.2
1600 1.4 1.6
1700 1.7 1.7
1750 1.8
1800 2.0 1.9
1950 2.4
2000 2.5 2.8
2200 4.0 3.6

27 February 2012: Known LNVT issues list

The following is a list of issues which LNVTs may face sometime during their lifetimes

  1. Replace BMW diesel ($18,000)
  2. Fuel tank replacement ($12,000 or $5,000 DIY)
  3. Window channel replacement ($150 DIY)
  4. Window frame rebed ($50 DIY)
  5. Cummins exhaust elbow replacement ($1,800 or $1,600 DIY)
  6. Turbocharger rebuild ($1,600)
  7. Replace 3" wet exhaust hose ($300 DIY)

23 September 2011: What I learned for Jim Backus

The person who was involved with the Victory Tug while Jim was doing the preliminary design and part of the final working drawings was a man named Steven Dowdney. It might have been Stephen but Jim tends to think not. He has a company called Rockland Plantation Products somewhere in the Charleston, SC area.

Requirements as defined by the The Society of Naval Architects and Marine Engineers (SNAME) drove the freeing port design.

Surviving a deadhead strike drove the design thickness of the LNVT's hull.

Jim credits Lindsay Lord's book for the idea of balancing the boat--i.e. keeping it traveling straight through the water--by using both underwater forces on the hull and wind forces on the pilothouse.

William Garden, Bob Perry, and Jim Backus, in that order, were approached by Loren Hart to design the 37 LNVT. After rejecting the designs of Garden and Perry, Bob Perry recommended that Loren talk with Jim Backus. The rest, as they say, is history.

Jim Backus
'61 - 62 gets a business degree but moonlights designing houses
'67 - '71 Marines. Works F-4 logistics—mainly fuel supply. Becomes afraid of heights after a helo wind-shear incident.
'71 - gets job as inside salesman for a lumber firm
'72? Enrolls in Westlawn
'73? Gets an engineering job with Pearson Yachts
'75 Marries Helen. Jim and Helen were introduced by Jim's father. Helen was Jim's father's nurse.
'7? Graduates from Westlawn
'7 move to Seattle to work for Bob Perry.
7? Left Perry to open his own shop

The hull is designed minimize snap rolling. A snap roll occurs when a heeling hull rapidly returns upright.

Lord Nelson Tugs help put Sundowner tugs out of business.

Jim regrets that the board he put under the pilothouse windows wasn't included on the finished tugs.

9 September 2011: What I learned at the 2011 Seattle Rendezvous

The following information came from Tommy Chen, LNVT builder, during discussions at the 2011 Seattle Rendezvous

The tugs' interior wood finish consisted of:

  • one coat of brushed on sealer, the sealer was a two-part product made in Japan
  • six coats of brushed on finish, the finish was a two-part product made in Japan
  • one coat of sprayed on finish, the sprayed on finish was a two-part product made in Japan

Only one LNVT, a 41', was shipped to Japan. All the other tugs Tommy made were shipped to the US.

The cradles used to transport LNVTs aboard the freighters were made from 'Yako' (iron wood). This same wood was used in the stringers and the floor joists they support.

Tommy designed the salons chairs and table. They are glued together with epoxy.

The wood knobs on the window locks were turned on a lathe at the yard and then epoxied to the threaded rod.

The molds used to make a tug included:

  • hull (the mold being bolted together along the keel)
  • bulwark/deck/cabin sides/cabin top
  • pilot house visor
  • smoke stack
  • dorade box
  • pilothouse window box (into which an open window drops)

It turns out that what appears to be a waterline molded into the hulls of early 37s is in fact a level line. After a newly formed hull was removed from the mold, it would be put in stands and leveled according to this line. Carpenters, knowing the hull was level, could then build the interiors using spirit and water levels (see photo).

All the faucets came from a local Taiwanese supplier.

The dinghy deck and pilothouse roof are cored with 1/2"x4"x4" pieces of end-grain balsa—or as Tommy said 'the Taiwanese version of end-grain balsa'. After the gel coat and first layers of fiberglass set up, the coring was installed in a checkerboard pattern. The air space between each piece of coring was filled to prevent water migration. More layers of fiberglass were then laid over the leveled coring and filler. Solid laminate and waterproof filler will be found at all major joints, e.g. roof-top to cabin-sides, and under all windows.

The stone counter top came from either Taiwan, S. Africa or Italy, depending on type.

To strengthen the hull to deck joint there are bolts, 18" to 24" on center, under the cap rail which are threaded into backing plates in the bulwark.

To keep toilet smells down use PVC pipe for the effluent lines

According to Lani Hart:

  • there were 76 LNVT 37's made
  • LNVTs come with a lifetime warranty—Loren Hart's lifetime.
This type of water level was used by the carpenters inside the hull to establish where the stringers would be located. The stingers support the floor joists.

18 August 2011: Teak Deck and Fuel/Water Filler

According to John Isaksen, Neptune (35), and confirmed by Tommie Chen, the teak decks are held down with a black adhesive. It's the same polysulfide-like material used in the deck seams and window jams. The decks' teak was originally 1/2" thick. This was determined by removing the fuel-deck-fill-plate, which protected the underlying wood from erosion, and measuring its thickness. The deck's overall thickness at the filler port is 1-3/4". The fiberglass appears to be 1" thick. There's a 1/4" of plywood under that. The filler port appears to have had a 3" extension spout welded to it.

12 July 2011: What Supports the Teak and Holly Sole?

So what does support the 13/16" thick floor boards? In a nutshell, floor joists. The joists are 2" thick by 1-3/4" wide. There's a stringer, fiberglassed into the hull, upon which the joists, running athwart, rest upon. The joists are fixed to the stringer by fiberglass. According to Tommie Chen, inside the stringer is a wood called 'Yako' which is very much like iron wood.

Looking forward and outboard on the starboard side. The stainless water tank is forward.
Looking outboard at the floor support structure. Starting at the bottom are: (1) turn of the bilge for the fiberglass hull; (2) a stringer fiberglassed to the hull; (3) a floor joist that has been fiberglassed to both the stringer and the hull; and (4) a fixed portion of the floor.

7 May 2011: Wet Muffler Failures and the Injection Elbow

Some LNVTs with over 4000 hours on their Cummins engines have reported wet muffler failures. Autopsies of these mufflers turned up melted components. After the obvious causes were eliminated, broken impeller, blocked thru-hull, etc, it was thought that the melting was due to poor muffler material selection by the manufacturer. However, the cause may very well lie in the exhaust's wet injection elbow. Over time carbon build-up in the elbow reduces the raw water's cooling efficiency. Cooling efficiency is important because depending on RPM the exhaust's temperature is between 350 and 800F. The muffler, which is only about 3' away from the elbow and made of FRP, can withstand temperatures to around 250F. Thus an engine running at high RPM that has carbon build-up in the injection elbow could conceivably go over-temp in the muffler. A recent inspection of Nellie D.'s (63) 4500 hour elbow showed significant carbon build-up. When the carbon was removed from the elbow extensive crevice corrosion was found. So much so that the elbow had to be replaced. It's probable that the crevice corrosion was exacerbated by the carbon because it allowed a very caustic micro environment to form.

I now have many good reasons to bi-annually inspect for and remove carbon build-up on the inside of the elbow, not the least of which is its $1600 replacement cost.

For some good background information I recommend the following articles:


8 January 2011: Gel Coat Rub Rail Cracking Revisited (see 20 December 2010, below)

Gel coat should be applied anywhere from .012" to .026" thick. A sample of gel coat just below Nellie's waterline measured .019", well within tolerances. However, as the picture at right shows, the crack's gel coat thickness is three to four times the ideal.


30 December 2010: Fuel tank venting

Several years ago Phil de l'Etoile, Brave Duck #67, discovered his fuel vent lines were clogged with fuel. This week it dawned on me that every LNVT with fuel vents on top of the tank will suffer the same problem. That's because after leaving the tank, the 3/4" vent hose must dip down to get under the floor joist. It's only a matter of time until the dip fills with fuel. Fuel-filled vent lines also explain why there have been so many Forum discussions concerning filler port fuel eruptions during refueling operations.

Phil's solution, which is fix-and-forget, is pictured below. The vent on the port forward tank was relocated to a new location about 2" down the tank's side. This required drilling into the tank and installing a 3/4" fitting. The abandoned fitting on the top of the tank was plugged. Then the two forward tanks were connected together with 3/4" hose. A 'T' was put in the connecting hose and leads to the cabin-sides vent port. Care was taken to make sure the vent hose slopes only upwards from the 'T' to the cabin-sides vent port. Now, any fuel that enters the vent hose will automatically be routed back to the port forward fuel tank. The aft tanks were vented in a similar fashion except the starboard tank had the new fitting installed. To work properly, the tanks with the new taps can be filled no higher than those taps. This results in a reduction of fuel carrying capacity of approximately 30 gallons ( 2" x 2 tanks x 7.5 gal/" = 30 gal).

Another solution, which admittedly isn't fix-and-forget, is to pretty much leave the venting system as-is but install a trap to give the fuel caught in the vent hose someplace to go. From the aft tank the vent hose runs forward and constantly downward until it arrives abeam and about 2" below the forward tanks vent port. Here the forward tanks' vent 'T's in. Another 'T' just forward leads the hose ever-upwards to the cabin-sides' vent port. Attached to the downward facing leg of the second 'T' is a piece of clear 3/4" hose, about 2' long, which is capped on the bitter end. Since the clear trap line is lower than the vent, it will collect any fuel. Only when the trap is full does it need to be drained.

Starboard tank shows vent on top while port tank has vent on side
Here the starboard vent has been relocated to the side of the tank while the port vent is on top.

28 December 2010: How Loud is it in the Pilothouse?

The following noise level readings were taken while underway using an Ipod Touch 4G running Sound Level(TM)—a free app. I was standing in the middle of the pilothouse, facing forward. The Touch was held upright and was about 5'4" high . Hmm, looks like Nellie has a resonance problem at 800 rpm ;-)

RPM Nellie D. (63) Knock Off (66)
db db
600 65
800 79
1000 71 68
1200 71 72
1400 73 73
1600 75 72
1750 74
1800 77
2000 79 79
2200 83
2400 84

25 December: The Ceiling Lights—An Easy Fix to an Old Problem

The ceiling lights are finicky—to put it nicely. Invariably either the red, white, or both lights don't turn on. It's not that the bulbs are burned out either; it's simply a bad connection between the bulb and socket. As the close-up picture of the bulb shows, there's a circular deformation in each of the bulb's contacts. Heating, due to a poor electrical connection, allowed the socket's steel pins to sink into the bulb. To fix the problem the contact between bulb and socket needs to be kept clean and oxidation free. Something easier said than done in a salt water environment. Fortunately the fix is easy; before installing the bulb simply apply marine electronics grease to its contacts. This will keep the environment at bay and help dissipate heat too.

Pretty but not always functional
By removing only two screws and loosening the third, the lens easily slides out
Note the heat-caused indents in the bulb's contacts
Replace the old bulbs or grind-out the indents
Liberally grease the bulb's contacts before reinstallation

20 December 2010: Gel Coat Rub Rail Cracking

What causes those consistent and persistent LNVT rub rail cracks and how can they be eliminated once and for all? The cracks are consistent in that they almost always appear on the upper (i.e. the skyward) section of the rub rail and are usually nearly vertical. They're persistent in that many owners have repaired the cracks only to have new ones appear. When Nellie D. was repainted last year her many rub rail cracks were ground out, filled and faired. These cracks were only in the gel coat and did not penetrate the underlying fiberglass. So, what's causing these cracks? I had an experience yesterday that got me thinking. But first I must digress.

I've preformed some exceptionally ugly landings lately. Yea, it's been 10 months since I've had Nellie out—but still. Anyway, during the last 'crash' I managed to drive Nellie's hull, just below the stateroom's port light , rather abruptly into the corner of the floating dock. Fortunately the dock was well padded and left only a rubbery raspberry on the hull. After counting my blessings, and spending 30 minutes removing the offending blemish, I noticed a big, new rub rail crack (see photo) almost directly above the point of impact. Hard to believe my little bump didn't contribute to this new battle scar. On the other hand, some strong winds in the past few days had pushed us rather forcefully against the floating dock. Either event would cause the hull to flex and I've suspected that movement of the fiberglass substrate is the root cause. Flexing can be caused by many types of dynamic loading: a rough passage; bumping a dock, a piling, or even from a fender; and certainly from the straps during a haul-out. But why does this otherwise normal fiberglass flexing manifest itself as a crack only in the rub rail?

So here's the theory, the hull mold was upside down, i.e. keel facing up, when it was sprayed with gel coat. Remember, the hull mold includes not only the rub rail but the bulwark too. Imagine a guy standing inside the hull with a spray-gun trying to put an even, thin layer of gel coat on all the surfaces surrounding him. It's fairly easy to do on the large flat areas of the turn-of-the-bilge, hull sides, and bulwark, but the rub rail, which is the nexus between the hull sides and bulwark, is a narrow, 6", concave indent (see first photo). If the spray was too thick in the indented area, the gel coat would run and pool on the indent's lower back and bottom surfaces. The exact surfaces, in fact, where today's rub rail cracks appear. Thus it's this too thick gel coat that's the problem; unlike the thinner gel coat everywhere else, the too thick gel coat can't handle the nominal deformations of the fiberglass it's attached to. The only practical way to eliminate rub rail cracking then is to get out the sander and remove the too thick gel coat.

See: Getting a Handle on Gel Coat Cracking, by Bob Lacavara

An opening in the stern bulwark clearly shows the rubrail's curved indent

The new crack …

Note the fender location

7 December 2010: Lani Hart's Lord Nelson History

Received an email from Lani Hart in which she documents the Lord Nelson Corporate history. Very interesting.

4 December 2010: Cummins 4BT3.9M Fuel Consumption Measurements

So how much fuel does a 150hp Cummins 4BT-3.9M use? The following data was compiled in calm conditions, aboard Nellie D. #63 on the Caloosahatchee Canal west of Lake Okeechobee, Florida. RPM readings came from the helm's VDO tachometer, ground speed came from a Garmin GPS and fuel flow rates came from a Flowscan.

600 3.3 .2
700 3.5 .3
800 3.6 .4
900 4.2 .5
1000 4.7 .6
1200 5.5 .9
1300 5.8 1.0
1400 6.1 1.2
1500 6.4 1.4
1600 6.7 1.6
1700 6.8 1.7
1800 7.2 1.9
1900 7.5 2.4
2000 7.7 2.8
2100 7.8 3.1
2200 8.0 3.6
2300 8.3 4.3
2400 8.4 5.1

2 December 2010: Why have a Waterlift Muffler

One reason to have a waterlift muffler, according to John Mackie, John William #68, is to prevent water, which is aft of the muffler but has yet to be discharged overboard, from backing up into the engine. This could occur in large seas when the bow is down. Interestingly, Knock Off #66, has no muffler at all.

29 July 2010: Cooling Load Calculations for an 37' LNVT

Used Dometic's guidelines for sizing cooling load for a 37' LNVT. For a temperate climate need 22,000 Btus (1.8 tons) while a tropical climate requires 28,700 Btus (2.4 tons). Assuming a tropical climate, the load could be easily divided between two air conditioning units: 18,000 Btus (1.5 tons) for the pilothouse and stateroom; and, 12,000 Btus (1 ton) for the salon. At 250gph/12,000 Btus, need a 1" thru hull and a 750 gph raw water circulator.
Zone Sq. Ft. Temperate Factor Temperate Btus Tropical Factor Tropical Btus
Salon 100 90 9000 120 12000
Pilothouse 70 120 8400 150 10500
Stateroom 77 60 4620 80 6160
22020 28660

The next question that needs to be answered is the CFM required in each space and from that the number and size of supply air ducts can be calculated.

26 July 2010: The Big Engine Room Wrench

The LNVT wrench, mounted on the engine room's forward bulkhead, fits 3" and 3-1/2" nuts. The 3-1/2" fits the prop shaft's packing gland. The 3" fits the rudder shaft's packing gland. Several years ago Nellie's rudder packing started leaking badly. But then just as quickly it stopped. I believe the reason was due to water salinity—we'd gone from saltwater to fresh. The difference in buoyancy between salt and fresh water must be enough to move the water line from below the rudder shaft's packing gland to above it.

10 July 2010

Finally was able to get a trial copy of Microsoft Publisher 2007 to read the Irvin's, Tug-for-Two (42), cruising blog. Moved the text over to a couple of Wiki pages: Will put the pictures in next. Long documents don't seem to work well as a web page.

9 July 2010

John Niccolls, Knock Off (66), gave me a rich text format of a MS Publisher document he's working on; an Operation and Maintenance (O&M) Manual for KO. I've converted this into an HTML document and posted it at: I'm hoping that this can act as a model for others that want to make O&M manuals for their tugs.

8 July 2010

I've noticed on Nellie D. and Titan that any water which collects on the outside of the port, engine-mount bed, just sits there. There's no limber hole to allow the water to drain into the bilge.

7 July 2010

I'd read that a bow wave moves aft as the hull accelerates. In fact, I believe it's a displacement hull's inability to get over the bow wave that results in hull speed. This 4th of July weekend while out on Knock Off I took the following series of pictures. No doubt the wave is moving aft.

4.7 knots at 1000 rpm
5.2 knots at 1200rpm
6.1 knots at 1400rpm
6.8 knots at 1600rpm
7.35 knots at 1800rpm

6 July 2010

Tugs known to have bulwark doors:
LNVT Side Installed How Door Opens
Lady (8) port side opens inboard and towards bow
Moby (14) port side opens by lifting the door up and out
Titan (31) starboard side opens inboard and towards bow
Neptune (35) starboard side opens inboard and towards stern
Sea Turtle (40) starboard side opens inboard and towards stern
Mocko Jumbie (49) port side opens inboard and towards stern
Nellie D. (63) starboard side opens inboard and towards stern
Fram (71) starboard side opens inboard towards the bow
J. Edgar Moser (76) starboard side opens outboard and towards stern

5 July 2010

Finally had enough of the hull numbers to put this graph together. Several things can be seen from it. Not many hulls were made in the last quarter of the year. According to Lani Hart this was because of the high humidity at that time of the year in Taiwan. A hull laid-up in a highly humid environment may suffer blistering. The order of the hulls is in no way chronological. Unfortunately, there's no way to tell from this chart when the interior work on the hull began.


4 July 2010

Got to experience Knock Off's (66) new roll chocks today. The Chesapeake was calm but we did get waked by some large boats. The chocks' damping effect can really be felt—there's a definite deceleration and the rolling period is slower.

1 July 2010

The following is the beginning of a future web page which will help folks sell their tugs. Need to get lessons learned from both buyers and sellers.

Selling your Tug: Lessons Learned

Naturally, keeping the tug in good condition will increase its selling price. However, knowing the competition may be just as important. Sellers often only know their own tug. Buyers, however, will most certainly look at multiple tugs. Only by researching the other tugs for sale on the market, to determine what shape they're in, what equipment they have, what their asking price is, etc., can the market value of ones own tug be determined. The bottom line is, if a tug isn't selling the price is too high. Put your tug in a location where it'll get lots of traffic, both walk- and drive-by. Think about co-locating your tug with another tug that's for sale. If selling through a broker, get an experienced one. One familiar with LNVTs and comfortable selling classic boats. The site averages 3,000 visitors a month and . Keep your tugs photos and data complete and current. Done right, it'll help attract buyers and keep 'tire kickers' at bay. Take good pictures of the tug. Here's an example for some interior shots. Use a wide angle lens.


Things we Learned while Visiting Lani Hart August 2009

1. The LNVT 49 got it's length designation not because it's actually 49' long, it's actually longer than that, but rather because the break point for the shipping company was 49'—anything longer cost a lot more.
2. There wasn't a clean break between the BMW to Cummins switchover. There were still some BMW's in inventory when the Cummins decision was made. Boats for which orders existed got the BMW while spec boats, which would make the boat show rounds, got the Cummins.
3. Lani said that no 'unlucky' hull 13 was built.
4. Lani has the sales records for each hull and said she'd be willing to make them available.
5. Sometime during the 37 and 49 production run, LN considered making a 43; which Lani has artist conceptual drawings of. They also gave some thought to doing a 60'. Lani said it was to have a spiral staircase up to the bridge.
6. Loren actually went through the Panama Canal three times. Twice east to west; on a Choy Lee 35 and a Grand Banks. And once from west to east in his LNVT 49. When he entered the Straits of Juan de Fuca, a wave went right over the Grand Banks and killed one of its two engines. It was this experience that convinced him that two engines were worthwhile. And is why his 49' has two engines even though single engine boats predominated at the time.
7. The LNVT 37 mold was bolted together along the length of the keel. It took days of polishing and waxing to get the mold ready. No one at the wake knew where the 37 molds are.
8. Very few hulls were laid up in November and December because they are very high humidity months in Taiwan. A hull laid in a high humidity environment is more likely to suffer from osmotic blistering.
9. The Lord Nelson Company may not be owned by Tommy now but by a cousin. This cousin owns the PAE yard and this is where the fabled shipping container, which contains enough pieces to make another 49, is stored as well as the 49 molds. It's reported that the 49 molds are not in good condition.
10. Lani has the original artist renderings for the LNVT 37. These were done using Jim Backus' blue prints.
11. The Hart's home has many more photographs and drawings of their tugs than sailboats—you know which of their craft captured their hearts.
12. Loren Hart Jr. died when his car crashed head-on with a big rig in 1986. He and a friend were returning to Sun Valley, ID from a construction job interview in California in 1986. It was after this that Loren lost interest in and started backing away from the Company. He sold Lord Nelson in 1988 for $500 and a royalty on each future boat sold.

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License