I've wondered about the fate of fiberglass boats when they get old, the wood stringers rot or transoms get so wet they would require major repairs that would not be economically feasible, given the age of the boat.
Here's an article about a company in Ontario that possibly has an answer. Interesting article and lots to speculate about.
"Beachcomber" 1995 Sea Ray 550 Sedan Bridge
I've often wondered this myself, but after watching tire shredding machines turn old tires into recycled steel and fuel to burn in lime processing plants, and watching actual people sift thru tons of garbage on conveyor belts to separate glass from tin from aluminum from steel from paper from plastic for recycling--- I'd somehow assumed that YEARS ago someone already thought of grinding up old fiberglass and using it as some sort of recycled aggregate. I've been engraving and machining fiberglass Baco boxes for over 20 years. I've often wondered if they were made from recycled 'glass... apparently not, but I'll bet they could be!
---------------- 1988 SkipperLiner Custom 53x14 - Twin Merc 120hp/Alpha's 2002 Regal 2860 Commodore 28x10 - Twin Volvo 4.3/DP's 1995 Sun Tracker 32' Party Cruiser - 115hp Mariner OB 1987 Sea Ray Seville 21' Midcabin - 5.7 Merc/Alpha
Loc: Lincolnshire, IL
20 years from now I think you will see a lot of scrap yards recycling fiberglass. The new CAFE standards will require the use of more composites in automobiles that will have to be recycled at the end of the vehicle's life. Many automobiles and trucks are already starting to go in that direction. They will also be using more exotic metals which I have read will add substantial cost to new vehicles in the very near future along with the use of composites. The scrap yards may choose to buy shredders large enough to handle boats to take advantage of the economies of scale to pay for the new equipment.
Many years ago, I bought an old boat on a trailer with a 135 outboard on it. Saying it was a fixer-upper is putting it mildly.
Once I figured out that it was a lost cause, I managed to sell the trailer it was on for a little more than I paid for the boat and trailer together. The OB pulled a few bucks from a local boating scrapyard.
So how to dispose of the boat?
I used a sawsall with an aggressive ripping blade and cut the thing into pieces. A couple trips to the landfill and that was that. Doubt that would be an option today.
Maryland marinas all seem to have a "boneyard" area where old boats are left to die.
Loc: Bryson City, NC. 28713
The shredding part is so simple. The part about finding new ways to use the left over materials is perfect. Great article! Thanks for sharing GFC.
30 years ago we owned a rotted out 12 foot slide in camper for a pickup truck. The thing had leaked from several places and turned the structure into mush. Both the front and rear endcaps, roof, and the shower/bathroom unit were solid fiberglass. It was so rotten that it could no longer be moved the traditional way. The jacks fell off. We tried to get a recycler to take it, and the only thing that they were interested in was the aluminum siding. We stripped the camper and removed the aluminum. The remains were dragged into a field and burned it. It burned hot and very smokey for a couple of hours. I am sure that by today's standards we would be breaking several laws. Multiply that buy millions of items made out of fiberglass that are scrapped each year, and it turns into a big deal.
In my posts, I regularly boast about my 31 year old boat and 21 year old boat. Both are petted and pampered and stored inside on their trailers, however we all know that is not the fate of most old boats. Everyone knows someone with a used up old boat sitting somewhere. Some of the boating bone yards that are springing up are huge, and just go to show what a problem boat recycling is becoming.
Just saw this topic and thought I could add some additional information to the problem of what to do with old boats. The biggest problem is a lack of a material pipeline for the used fiberglass. The other parts like engines and electronics go to shops that resell them but it is not that easy with fiberglass. Properly processed fiberglass can be reused to make new items with almost no change to existing manufacturing systems. What is needed is a material pipeline like the one in place for cans and plastic bottles from the consumer back to manufacturer. While this is currently possible no one seems to want to be first to start. This is like standing in a money stream and not wanting to be the first to reach down to pick it up because you already have some money in your pocket. There are a few businesses ready to start with the equipment and the idea and we are waiting for the post consumer fiberglass to become the production resource it should be. If you do a web search for equipment to recycle fiberglass into production you will find that almost all of the web sites with equipment for sale for truly recycling fiberglass not just chopping it up to make smaller bits of stuff all come from the same place. We use recycled fiberglass to repair fiberglass boats and have had great results for many years but we have to process our own fiberglass from boats and bathtubs because there is no place to buy this material today.
Loc: Bryson City, NC. 28713
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There was a show on Discovery a while back that shown someone shreading used up fiberglass items, and the shreaded material was being used to reinforce concrete. It was supposed to make the concrete a lot stronger, and lessen the volume of other materials used to mix it. Pretty Cool!
I work with a company called ECO-WOLF INC in Edgewater Florida and we sell equipment that enables you to take your fiberglass scrap (old boats,spas,cars,in fact anything fiberglass) and reuse it to make new fiberglass products. This system is totally unique and in use around the world but has yet to catch on for most companies. There are a few companies in the USA that use our equipment and more overseas. As the regulations for landfills grow we are seeing more interest in our system but there is no fiberglass supply line like there is for cans and bottles as of yet. We feel that this is the solution to "what to do with old boats" just like the problem we had with cans and bottles we had years ago. our web site is www.ecowolfinc.com go there and you can see more about this great invention. It has been on the market for years. Thank you for asking
The company in Canada that was recycling fiberglass shut down because the product they produced was only useful for very limited use. Mainly it was used under concrete slabs and was not cost effective.
Recycled fiberglass can be used to add to concrete and that only one use but it makes the concrete stronger shrink less. Very few companies do this at this time. Adding fiberglass from recycled items is one of the cheaper things to add to concrete that really improves it.