Marine Surveys, Rob Scanlan

“Credentials you should
look for when hiring
a surveyor”

Highlights from this Segment

– The best time to test oil during a survey

– This type of survey is the hardest to conduct.

– The best tool to use to detect voids with the lamination in the fiberglass layup  

– Recommended number of hours to test engine oil

(transcript for this segment)  

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Here’s what you’ll discover in this presentation…

  • The three biggest questions to ask when hiring a marine surveyor 
  • A secret weapon to uncover the truth about any known problems in the construction of a particular boat
  • Five tips on working with surveyors to ensure a successful survey
  • What you need to know about sea trials
  • The monster do’s and don’ts for surveying a wooden boat
  • The most useful technique to determine the strength of a fiberglass hull
  • Two tools surveyors use (you can too!) to determine a boat’s age and condition
  • Why marine surveyors don’t give warranties for their work
  • If you are not having this diagnostic done on your engine, you may be buying a dud
  • The #1 mistake boaters make buying from a friend

About Rob Scanlan

Rob Scanlan is a certified marine surveyor, in business since 1986. He was the first marine surveyor in the U.S. to be recognized by both the National Marine Bankers Association and the Yacht Brokers Association of America.


Robin: … when should oil testing be done and what’s involved in that?

Rob: Oil analysis, testing of oil is like testing blood.  

Robin: Ewe!

Rob: You have to draw the oil samples when the engine’s warm. Separate extraction hose, separate bottle, everything ultra clean when you’re extracting the oil and you usually get an ounce, ounce and a half into the plastic bottle, make all your markings: the make, model number of the engine, hours, and hours since last oil change. In the lab that I use, they do twenty-seven tests on my oil samples. It tells us if there’s any bearing wear, cylinder wear, also tells us if the oil is getting contaminated with raw saltwater or antifreeze. The labs are pretty good. The one I use local here in Boston will come back and tell me if there is any critical bearing wear or cylinder wear and where it’s coming from. Oil tests are recommended when you’re buying a boat. It’s best to draw the oil after the sea trial so that at least you should get an hour and hour and a half run time on the oil sample being drawn. The oil goes out to the lab, lab does all the tests on it, comes back with the report. And if you own a boat, I recommend that you have the oil tested maybe every two hundred hours.

Robin: Ok, I had a question for that but it went right by. So, the next one is: Are there any differences between a fiberglass boat and wooden boat surveys?

Rob: A lot. Wood boat surveys are a lot harder to conduct. There’s very few marine surveyors that are well versed on surveying wood boats. With wood boats you got the strakes below the waterline, and the planks above the waterline that are fastened to the ribs of the frames. Wood boat surveys as well as any survey on any boat or any hull, the vessel’s got to be hauled. It’s got to be up out of the water. Wood boat surveys require a real close inspection of fasteners, you would have to do a random pulling of the screws or fasteners below the water line. Usually every four square feet. If you can pull a fastener to test the integrity of the fastener. As well as percussion sounding, the strakes and the planks below the waterline and above.

Fiberglass boat survey is percussion sounding the hull, let’s say a phenolic hammer to detect if there are any voids with the lamination in the fiberglass layup. When I do a survey on a fiberglass boat, I have some different hammers that I use. I use a  phenolic plastic head hammer for outside the boat percussion sounding the hull, the decks, the superstructure, the cockpit soul, and … 


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