Bowriders for Sale, Compare Campion Boats, Crownline Boats, Regal Boats, Chaparral Boats

Looking for bowriders for sale in Ontario or perhaps to purchase a bowrider boat at The Toronto Boat Show in 2017.  Want to compare the bowrider brands Campion Boats, Crownline Boats, Regal Boats and Chaparral Boats before you make a decision?  What about Tier 2 brands such as Glastron boats or Four Winns Boats?  What is the difference between a Tier 1 and Tier 2 boat for construction quality and value?

Unfortunately for the bowrider boat buyer in Ontario trying to make a comfortable informed decision by a means other than some smiling salesperson doing a quick walkthrough of interior features and using the word quality 27 times…there is little actual unbiased visual evidence available to the boat buying public to view or compare.  Part of the reason I believe is that many boat building facilities are say…not clean facilities and unsophisticated by nature….so best we not show that stuff!  ( Boater’s Chat has toured a number of boat building facilities)  The other reason….boat buyers are not even considering real actual build quality….they are all the same!  Brochures are full of nothing more that lifestyle shots with happy smiling families.  Lifestyle shots do a good job of demonstrating the joy of family boating but what do they show you other than that?  With today’s financial pressures on boat builders…if Brand X chooses to utilize less expensive components…how would you know?  The Glasstron salesperson told me it was a good boat….you are expecting them to say something else?

In this article below you will find two U tube videos that are very recent demonstrations of current hull lamination techniques presently being utilized.  These videos are now posted by the builder to the public and you can open them to view and consider below ….very interesting!  These videos are by nature brand biased and edited by the builder to place there lamination process in the forefront to convince you that their product is worthy of consideration.  Regardless, hats off to these two boat builders for laying it all out there for view.  These are the only two recent ones we could find on U tube or have access to at this time.   Below the videos you will find some comments to consider as well as a review by Boater’s Chat of the differences and what they may mean to you in terms of product longevity and value for the dollar.

This next video is one of the best I have seen.  Really tells you their build and design philosophy and its stays on marks for being not a load of crap!

Unfortunately as it is presently not available or not found with reasonable effort we cannot incorporate other brands into this conversation via video presentation.  However of the two build processes one is tradional with time proven results (Crownline) and one is a twist of a tradional open mold system (Campion Boats).  Between the two is an opportunity to visually demonstrate to you the boat buyer what is presently being utilized and as such what you are paying for.  This information provides you and your family a good reference point to start asking the right questions.   Asking the right questions and you will surprise many boat salespersons….should be interesting!  Please note that Boater’s Chat is not just outlining any particular deficiency in process with a particular brand and the processes here good and bad are representative of the processes used today through the fiberglass boating business.  Open mold boat building, with the closing off of VEC technology by Larson ( no longer economically viable) , means that all fiberglass boats are built in the same open mold system…the difference is in the materials utilized and how much.

Huntsville Marine does represent both Campion Boats and Crownline Boats and these brands were used for information purposes as they have a posted well done construction video.  However both the Campion Boat build processes and Crownline Boat process shown here are representative of a Tier 1 construction process that you would expect to find in a Monterey Boat, Regal Boat or Chaparral Boat.  Please note that if you are considering a Chaparral Boat there are two production programs with the H2O version being a lower build quality versus their SSI model.  As I stated…in the boat business…it is always less for less!  We were at this time unable to find a current video of the Regal or Chaparral building processes….we will update if we can find one.

Areas of Concern to Consider:

One of the major build differences is the  use of plywood’s or other wood products treated or untreated in the stringer and transom areas of some brands such as Cobalt and Crownline Boats among others.   Does the use of such materials mean that  Boater’s Chat would consider Crownline or Cobalt a Tier 2 builder?  Does Tier 1 boat building require the exclusive use of composite non wood stringer systems? Old school wood stringer systems had problems which related essentially 100% of the time to poor technique or the boat builder cutting corners on both the protection side and secure installation side.  The danger in any stringer system is that the boat may suffer joint deterioration, stringer separation form the hull, wood rot, improper off center location of the stringer during lamination and or separation of the stringer to hull or stringer system to liner or transom assembly over time.  The boat buyer cannot see what type of stringer construction is there under the floor hidden from view.  When considering value versus cost is non wood panel construction in the opinion of Boater’s Chat is superior value?  Like many issues in the marine business the answer has asterisks all over it!

What does this actually mean to the bowrider buyer?  Buyer beware applies but to what…all wood stringer systems, composite stringer systems or hybrid wood composite stringer systems?  For example Crownline provides the buyer with the strongest stringer construction warranty in the business and its wood/composite…..interesting.  What does Boater’s Chat think about this……..

Properly engineered wood or wood hybrid stringer systems are just as good and will last just as long as non wood stringer systems.  The caveat is on properly engineered and installed stringer systems which means more build cost and therefor higher retail costs.  Claims are made that a properly designed wood or wood composite stringer system actually provides superior ride while underway as they can be considered stiffer.  Where does total hull weight fit into this equation?  The never ending salesperson argument that lighter is better has never floated anyone’s boat who knows something about boat construction….its bull….!  There is a complete article on boat hull weight and what that means to the buyer in Boater’s Chat.  In the Crownline video above the presenter tells you that Crownline may in fact be at the 20’/25′ length up to 1000 lbs heavier than competitive brands.  At $5.00 cost per pound this amounts to $5000 more build cost!

One of the prime questions is ” Can you the buyer get past strictly overall look and think construction and value for the money?”  Decals, flashy graphics and spiffy interior colours with ultra soft foam construction is not a good long term investment.

The problem to the boat builder is always cost as actual build cost is the basis for retail pricing.  With consumer’s preoccupation with price or lowest price and reduced emphasis on quality and durability the pressure is on the boat builder to reduce build costs is significant.  Competitive advantage in the marketplace can come from…price… unfortunately as true quality is hard to demonstrate. For those boat builders that are publically traded companies with quarterly public stock market reports such as Chaparral or the Brunswick Group, to support stock value is always a management and boardroom consideration.   

Crownline Boats:   Now that you have seen the video notice the following:

  • Extensive use of treated plywood in the stringer system with a substantial number of joints in a lattice format which does supply tremendous structural in all directions.  Joint supports fastened together into lattice form before being placed against the bottom hull for lamination in place.
  • Extensive use of plywood in the transom build which is if done correctly very strong.
  • Use of simple cloth roving, Cormat and other synthetic material for hull lamination.
  • Use of a fiberglass liner over the wood stringer system 
  • Crownline does utilize a Vinyl Ester barrier coat.
  • The use of Cook Composites Armourcoat which is considered very high grade for gel coats. 

Campion Boats:  After watching the video notice the following:

  • No wood used in the construction process for the stringers or transom
  • All composite construction to eliminate wood
  • In the model in the video they are using the *F.I.S.T system which means that the stringer system and the floor is one piece construction.  This alone eliminates over 100 separate pieces and joints which can realize far stiffer hull, less hull flex and less potential areas of future concern.
  • 3D Weave system is far superior to standard fiberglass roving materials as the resin penetrates deeper and the resulting lattice structure is superior in strength.  Regal Boats and Monterey Boats use a similar type product call Nidacore 
  • The use of Kevlar
  • Utilization of Maxguard resins for gelcoat which is the same as used by Chaparral which is a very high rated gelcoats for durability.

*Note:  Not all Campion’s use the F.I.S.T. system.  Some of the larger 600 and 700 series models use Penske Board which is a composite panel computer cut to exact standards and assembled as a stringer system.  Although not required the Penske stringer system is then glass laminated in place with gun roving to secure forever the stringer system to the outer hull.  Campion claims that there boats will outlast the owners and may in fact reach a 70 year lifespan.  There is no way to verify this claim. However the Campion all composite construction can eliminate any wood related problems due to poor construction techniques and this in combination with vinyl ester resin systems and barrier coats will provide for a very long lifespan.  If Regal Boats and Chaparral Boats are using a similar system to Campion then the same would be true as well here. ( Boater’s Chat is looking to verify this)

When a manufacturer is using particularly plywood panels even if they are treated, separation of the layers with contraction/expansion cycles due to water absorption can be a problem.  The wood stringer system must be 100% covered with a sealant which in normally a fiberglass resin product. Then the wood stringer must still bonded in place to deny any access of bilge water to the wood surfaces throughout the expected lifespan which normally should be considered in excess of 20 years in fresh water.  If the boat builder is ready to stand up in the marketplace and put a lifetime warranty out there to support the quality of their build process….bravo!  Even a small pinhole can result in potential future problems.  Repairing of a wood transom or wood stringer is often not cost effective due to the amount of time required to essentially disassemble the boat and as such the boat is considered at an end of life situation.  If  the boat buyer is looking for a 20 plus year product this should be considered.

Take a moment and look at the warranty chart below.  Of the compared brands…only Crownline places a full lifetime warranty on the stringer system for as long as you own the boat….interesting.  Take a look at Chaparral as they according to this chart have one of the poorest warranties on structural components!  ( the comparison chart was posted in November 2016) 

Normal wood panel warranties for boats do not include wood laminate layer separation protection due to water ingression or soaking.  Please also note that some US builders may in their warranty disclosure have a clause that for major hull repairs the cost of transportation to the original boat plant is not covered by the builder and as such that cost is born solely and completely by the owner.  Secondly it is also not uncommon to see prorated warranties decreasing over time on wood panels.

It is essentially impossible to get the actual materials list from a builder…considered confidential information.   Campion did forward to me a partial detailed summary of their some of their lamination protocol and here it is:

Campion is using Maxguard ISO gel with a I 50 cadox catalyst.  They use Polynt CCP BK150 Vinyl Ester barrier coat.  Campion’s gun roving is  Optispray made by Owens Corning and this is newest version of this product.  The Polynt CCP BK150 is made by Cooks CompositesMaxguard ISO gel is a Ashland product and would be considered an expensive component choice.  Campion claims to be using the most environmentally sound boat building systems.

Gun roving is a very much abused and misunderstood subject when it comes to hull lamination and like with everything else there is great stuff, good stuff and not so good stuff.  The great stuff like Optispray by Owens Corning costs way more dough! Gun roving since it cannot be seen by purchasers is an area where a boat builder can freely substitute a lesser cost and lesser quality product.  The outer gel coat in normally not discussed by buyers as they assume all outer gel is the same like paint on a car and this assumption is way off line from actual. The Optispray Owens Corning product is state of the art and besides Campion, Regal Boats uses this roving material as well.  Click below on this link to get into more detail on gun roving in hull lamination and its use by Regal boats:

Owens Corning Optispray Gun Roving Advantages

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