The dangers of CW617N European Brass Valves, skin fittings and hose tails
Brass Skin fittings, a real life experience
The issues of European Brass CW617N and other non DZR corrosion resistant skin fittings, valves and hose tails have been well documented over recent years and YDSA Fellow surveyor Paul Stevens is credited with bringing the issues to the attention of the yachting media and the public at large.
I have attended training sessions with Paul Stevens and took on-board all the good advice. I have surveyed over 900 vessels, but never have I had such dramatic failure which highlights the need for thorough checks on these items.
I was commissioned to survey a 1995 Beneteau Oceanis 351 sailing yacht, which was ashore and had been ashore for 2 years. When I got to the boat I could see it had been previously recently surveyed, antifouling had been removed in neat 2” squares across the hull. I asked the broker the issues found and was given a copy of the previous findings, which did not mention any issues with skin fittings or valves.
Carrying on the survey, I scraped back the outside surface of all the through hull fittings and there was some pink areas, indicating dezincification on the surfaces and the inside of the fittings had some surface corrosion viewed externally.
When I came to inspect on-board the vessel, there was some minor surface corrosion visible and the valves were identified as being CW617N nickel plated brass, fitted as standard but not the originals from what I could ascertain.
The toilet valve was closed, so I tried to open it and it would not so I tried a bit harder by hand, no tools, and the skin fitting snapped clean off below the valve! So pleased I was not afloat at this time!
Picture shows broken skin fitting and valve.
This next picture shows clearly the broken skin fitting with pink colouring which is classic dezincification, where the zinc in the brass has been leached away through galvanic action.
all these broke on testing ashore on the same boat.
This highlights the need to actually test skin fittings when the boat is surveyed out of the water. Harder to do so when it has been put back in, and also highlights issues with European Brass CW617N which is still being fitted as standard on many boats and I understand CE and RCD only require 5 years life.
Is this one ready to be changed?
Based on my experience now, I say yes.
Surveyors are placed in a difficult position when reporting these Brass valves. If they don’t break during testing and they operate, how do we report this?
I now say the below :-
Recommendations:- The skin fittings and ball valves passed the tests carried out but they do have surface corrosion on them and are made of non corrosion resistant brass which is not suitable for long term immersion in salt water. CE regulations state they have to last 5 years and these are older than this. Therefor it would be prudent to plan a full replacement with corrosion resistant skin fitting and ball valves and hose tails using CW602N DZR corrosion resistant Brass, Marelon or similar suitable material. ** Should be completed without undue delay because they affect the long term maintenance of the vessel but do not pose an immediate threat to the vessel.
It doesn’t make us popular with some sellers but having experienced first hand, we feel justified.
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“…Communication was good and we arranged to meet whilst the survey was being carried out…. Matt was very good at explaining all aspects of the survey….The result was a very comprehensive and thorough survey report clearly identifying any problems, how to resolve them and the time span in which they should be done.
…… Matts approach, help and advice made it a good experience.
Matts services are highly recommended. Les. Reviewed on facebook June 2019
….very detailed and yet very clear with his report and recommendations……… I would recommend him without any hesitation. A very professional and helpful surveyor. David G. Review on facebook November 2018
I can’t praise Matt highly enough for the survey on my new boat. He was meticulous to a fault, happy to be left to do his thing and was invaluable on the sea trial. The fee was very reasonable ……..Thanks Matt. Peter E. Reviewed on Freeindex July 2017
…..Matt was very thurough and took the time to explain to me the issues and advice me during the survey. I was extremely pleased with his work and would recommend him to anyone looking for a first class surveyor. Sebastian. reviewed on facebook, Feb 2017
Matt provided an extremely professional service …… He was most helpful on the day of the survey, spending time explaining and discussing points identified and recommended fixes to pragmatically resolve……report was delivered the within 48 hours ……presented in a way that was easy to understand and extract key points that needed to be addressed with the Yacht Broker. I have no hesitation highly recommending Marine Surveys UK based upon the services provided. Husron V.P Reviewed on cylex Jan 2018
“Matt provided an excellent survey service ….. very flexible with timings, arrived promptly and conducted a very thorough inspection, taking time to explain key points to me and offer general boating advice. The report came through very quickly and was comprehensive, clear and made sensible recommendations. I would fully recommend Matt. ” Nick Bournemouth, Review Jan 2016
….. ‘Ancasta’ ………. recommended using Matt for our survey. …..Matt was extremely helpful and easy to deal with. I attended for part of the survey, and he took time to talk me over the yacht and gave me a very detailed verbal description on the day. This was followed up naturally by a more detailed written report . Everything was dealt with very promptly , Matt was easy to contact throughout the process , and I would highly recommend his services .
“I was very pleased with the survey that you carried out for me,It was comprehensive and at a fair price ,done when I wanted and it was very useful to be able to discuss you findings with you” Chris Forsyth. Olympic 500C. December 2014
…….. he was very thorough and answered any questions I had. Overall an excellent service without fault or delay so if you are looking for a marine survey I would highly recommend Matt. Terry Goulty. Rinker 232 December 2014
………He made a pre-purchase condition survey to great value for me. He also taught me a lot about this boat model. Knowing the status of the boat we had a nice sailing trip home to Sweden.” Jörgen Haslum December 2014
… A really nice guy, very knowledgeable and helpful. The report was clear and easily understood and all findings were clearly put into perspective for me. Thoroughly recommended! Peter Bristow, Haywards Heath May 2014
Excellent survey at a very reasonable price and the report was received the following morning … Matt was also happy to offer further free advice on the phone several weeks later and I’m sure even years later he’d continue to do so. …. Gary from Fleet. April 2014
…Matt did a great job, supporting me from start to finish and coming up with common sense solutions to potentially tricky problems. I will certainly be instructing Matt for my future surveying needs.Paul Lovejoy, Emsworth Feb 2104
…His inch by inch and nut and bolt complete survey was broken down into easy to understand sections that graded the work to be done using a simple star grading system. ….. He gave me the confidence to make my purchase, undertake the repairs and to have a boat now which has given me many happy hours of sailing. Mark Wood Portsmouth
Our 1984 Sunseeker 25 XPS Portofino required a safety / condition report for insurance purposes. This was carried out very efficiently and without fuss. P. Crowther-Wilton, Banbury 1st January 2014
Matt West was recommended to me …. the service he provides is prompt, reliable helpful and efficient. From initial call to receiving my survey took just a week. I would have no hesitation in recommending Matt” Andrew Campbell
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The previous owner, ….. was very impressed with your level of detail and testing and has kept your details to use your services when he buys his next boat. ….. we are very happy with her and in the knowledge that she has had a very thorough and detailed survey performed on her by a very knowledgeable and professional company. Dave D. December 2013
As a foreigner, having someone local you can trust, acting as your eyes and your ears and helping you to keep you with both feet on the ground, is an investment that’s worth every penny. Joris Van Roy, Belgium December 2013
He went out of his way to be helpful and even accompanied us on the sea trial. He produced an extremely comprehensive survey report and so far 3 months on I have not found a single thing he has missed. He is an accomplished professional with an in depth knowledge of boats and has been an invaluable source of advice. I would have no hesitation in recommending him to you, you would have to go a long way to find anyone better.” Mike S. December 2013
I have used surveyors when buying boats previously and none came up to the standard of service provided by Matt. Peter V. Sea Ray 240 July 2013
A very friendly and exceptionally helpful service, I would definitely recommend them. Rosie T. 43′ Narrow boat June 2013