Catalac Catamaran Update

by John Lack

Catalac Catamaran Maintenance Issues

Your Honorable Secretary has a printable short fail for this month’s letter – so who should walk past, the door when pressure was on but myself ! The timing is totally inappropriate as this is our busiest time, coupled with my ineptitude towards written work, as many of you will have encountered, but I wi11 do as I am told – after all, it may prejudice a babysit one evening!

It has always been very difficult for me to write to the association members via the letter without being seen to promote the services I have to offer. However, this time I intend to be blatant with that abuse, especially as the space is non-committed.

By ordinary class association standards, the B.C.C.A. is very supportive and strong in voice when compared with others – this, I am sure is, as many of you have already stated ad inf initum, due to the “family” atmosphere created and obvious strong ties with the innovators of the product. I too, although being a member of the family, stood with you on the bye line, watching this grow. Obviously, I and my business benefitted from that association and I would be hard pushed to deny it, but I trust that your dealings with me have* proved beneficial to you as a Bobcat or Catalac owner.

Father and Mother, having created their “ultimate” cruising vehicle, many of you now ask me …. are you going to?…… the response is still -How can I , we haven’t yet finished repairing your existing one! However, I am sorely tempted at times.

I digress and find myself using all that free space! I feel it is extremely important for the Association to continue that which has been started, especially as, believe It or not, that strength enhances the value of your craft. We are all aware that the demise of the various Catalac builders to date has been disruptive to the supply of spares and advice and each time I have tried to fill that void where possible. I intend, if you so wish, to continue to write with my comments, from experience gained whilst working on the two classes – however, I do need your support and contact – to be able to collate and pass on this information.

And now, to the absolute abuse. – Whilst I supply many of you with class-associated spares, from which the association funds benefit to some extent, I intend to offer a full supply service to you all and will, in next month’s newsletter, draw-up reference sheets, detailing component items available. However, I will only do this if I hear from at least 30 of you, as an indication of the general concensus of opinion – as I can only carry this abuse so far. If the response is not forthcoming, I will assume either disinterest or a feeling that the Newsletter should not be used in this way.

With the advertising put aside, may I tediously repeat some earlier comments, hopefully to your benefit. These are based on the season, i.e. The Relaunch.

1 . Have you bought the right size of Marigold gloves for your wife to do the antifouling whilst you discuss the merits of the latest Sat.Nav coupled with the new in-mast furling gear, which might interface with the old mechanical log with the owner of the boat two along from yours!!

2. here lurking under the floorboards or, if you like to be technical, the sole – SEACOCKS -seized open, are they? – or rusted? – wheels lying dejected, in a state of decomposition all alone in the bilge? – Familiarity breeds contempt – it is not until you need them that you kick yourself – “Well it was on my list last winter!” Please remember, lV or \” apertures can create a spectacular influx of water. As a “Business Interruption”, replacement wheel valves are avail­able in Alloy, as opposed to coated metal, thus avoiding total replacement. However, as the cost Is low, it might well prove beneficial to replace. I favour ball valves as suitable, but understand that, as yet, they are not recommended by Lloyds please check yours. Your peace of mind, not mine

3. Mast raising. A continual reminder from me – please UPRIGHT in the tabernacle, at all times. If you have any difficulty, please contact me, in order, hopefully, to avoid any stress-related problems to the deck structure.

4. Mast raising again. When tensioning the bottle screws, if open-bodied type, do not tighten by inserting a torque mechanism into the body of the bottle, for this distorts the unit enough to strain the line of the threads and produce a bound bottlescrew – which now will cost in the region of £18.00/ to replace.

5 – Following my previous comments, how many of you have checked your stemheads for movement or degradation of welds? N.B. if Rotostay or similar Is fitted, that is one forestay to the centre web, please do not offset when replacing, for ease of anchor handling, as this may lead to unfair loading to the one side.

6 . Fixed Skegs and Rudders. Please do check the fastenings, especially on the lower margins. In some cases, I have found the s.s. bolts used severely wasted, as they are not connected to sacrificial anodes. Replacements should be in M6 size of A2 or A4 stainless. This refers to 8m, 9m, 10m and 12m Catalacs. With the Bobcat having no lower shoe, but fastening to the brass or bronze when withdrawn, will prove somewhat alarming (a thin tapering point with a reddish dust residue, all that remains of the original fastening).

7.Believe it or not, some of you Catalac owners may now need a survey to comply with your Insurance Company requirements for craft nearing the 10 year age group. For that you will want a full overall survey ashore, undertaken by a professional person, i.e. not me, so be prepared.

Gel Coat Repairs

Whilst a potential nightmare and minefield these, correctly under­ taken, should not detract from the overall appearance – those that are dabbed with the car body fillers and off-shelf colour kits, will -would you drive your car to the office looking like that?

To achieve a good gel repair, the most important ingredient, believe it or not, is cleanliness. Gel damage, as a rule, will fall into one of three categories. 

a). Minor impact, perhaps causing an over thick gel application Co break away from the underlying substrate. 

b). More serious impact damage, resulting in loss of gelcoat exposing laminate, star crazing radiating out and evidence of damage to the laminate itself .

c). Manufacturing defect commonly referred to as a void or breakout. 

So, let us attempt to achieve a reasonable repair to item (a). 

Materials required:

  • Pigmented gelcoat
  • Catalyst
  • Acetone
  • Wet and dry sandpaper
  • Small rubbing block
  • Masking tape or similar
  • Profiled hacksaw blade

The first requirement is to clean out the “wound”, obviously we carry tooling for this but a short 1ength of broken hacksaw blade ground at its end to suitable profile, provides a miniature cabinet scraper which is ideal. We have now scraped back the damage to provide a clean edge – DO NOT TOUCH IT to admire the “workmanship” as the “grease” from your hands will expose itself on final “blending”.

Next mix up a small quantity of gel with catalyst and apply to the affected area. If deep, retain with masking tape to hold in place. DO NOT OVERFILL as it is harder to remove the overspill later – indeed it is advisable to undertake with 2 – 3 fillings – by doing this you will also avoid air entrapment (large mass under catalysation) which will prove evident on sanding down.

Hopefully having achieved a reasonable profile, we now need to rub down. Firstly, to remove the tacky surface, wipe over with acetone, then start with grade 320 wet and dry paper, using a small rubbing block NOT your fingers, as these will ride over the raised area and create a dip local to that repair. Once near a reasonable shape, change to 500 or 600 grade, then change again to 800, then finally to 1200 grade. DO NOT rub 6″ either side of the area, as self-inflicted “scratching” is hard to remove and not time-effective. Once happy with the overall proflie/shape, rub over with a burnishing compound, such as Solvol Autosol, which is white in colour. Try to avoid using a car rubbing compound, usually orange in colour, as this will deposit itself in the smal1 scratches not removed.

b) . More serious damage may prove beneficial left with your local yard, but for those self-inclined, you wi11 need to grind back the laminate to remove any trace of stress to the substrate, both internally and external. Then back up the laminate internally using c. s .m. in conjunction with generous overlaps onto original structure. Externally rebuild to just below gel line and then proceed as J tern (a).

c) Manufacturing defects. Remove gelcoat until gel adheres to underlying laminate, repair as item (a).

9. Most of you with inboard versions are fortunate to have Yanmars of varying models and sizes fitted – those that have Dolphins or Renaults are, in my opinion, not so lucky, but I do know of cases where a good working relationship has been achieved between Master and Motive Power.

My next statement is not directed to any one owner in particular, as I know many of you care “lovingly” for those items fitted below decks, whatever trade name they have stamped on them -indeed, I find the most reliable engines, (namely the Yanmar) are those that are most often abused. Please do not hide yours engines, (although I know the designer gave you the space,) under barbecue sets, concrete weights, dinghies, fishing rods, sail bags, fenders – you name it – we’ve seen it. Accessibility is controllability. Abuse can only be carried so far before expensive repairs are required.I write this somewhat disheartened, having under­taken last year a re-build of two Yanmars, carefully re-placed and re-installed into the craft. To my horror this year, on undertaking a minor modification in the engine bay, I lifted the sound-deadening boards to discover the engine “festering” externally from lack of ventilation, a short road back to the state preceding the £1,000 spent. Take heed please , you who are abusers.

Meanwhile, hopefully not having painted too black a picture, may I wish you all a very safe and rewarding season afloat. To those of you who seek advice, please do not hesitate to ask, however small the problem. (We prefer the small ones!)



By Rick

Owner of a Catalac 8M and Catamaransite webmaster.

5 replies on “Catalac Catamaran Update”


Thank you making these tips available!

We have a 10M and am not sure if I understand p3 (not native English…):
is it the mast should stand without any rake, thus compress the deck evenly on the fore-aft length of the tabernacle?

Best regards

Thanks for keeping the family together. I visited the ‘works’ in ’81 and signed on with Tom as an agent to sell Catalacs in the Florida Keys. I had a 8M shipped over to use as a demonstrator. It was the first unit built with a white deck.
Here we are 40 years on down the road and I’m wondering if there is a registry of current owners where I might find information on my old boat.
denis in Minneapolis

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