The mould (mold) number
The mould (or mold as the Americans would say) number is simply the sequential number corresponding to the order in which hulls were moulded: 1, 2, 3 …. etc. The hull moulds for a Corbin 39 were actually a left-hand and a right-hand pair of moulds that were then fully bonded together to form the full hull, with an integral keel (there are no keel bolts !). Given that about two hundred hulls were made it is best to quote this as a three-digit number: 001, 002, 003 …. etc.
We do not have a full set of records of the hulls that were moulded or who the original buyers were. According to Marius Corbin the late 1982 fire destroyed all the records to that date (which probably corresponds with hull #128, which was the youngest hull to be destroyed in the fire, i.e. moulded immediately prior to the fire) and that may account for some of the confusion. The other reason is likely that the self-fit-out nature of many of the hulls meant they passed into the hands of owners who then, or subsequently, were less concerned about paperwork. After all they had fitted out their Corbin, and what more was there to know. However originally all the owners certainly knew their mould number and used it to assist in identifying various matters.
We periodically publish an updated Summary List of all the Corbins we have located, including the mould number and/or full or partial HIN. If you can add any information to that please contact us.
The Hull Identification Number (HIN)
The Hull Identification Number (HIN) is a fairly internationally recognised alpha-numerical sequence that uniquely identifies your boat. There are a couple of different formats to it (as it has evolved into CIN and etc formats), but all the Corbins are in the same ‘straight-year’ format. Ordinarily the HIN should be stamped onto the hull in two places: externally on the upper transom, and somewhere out-of-the-way in the interior.
The external Corbin transom stamp is ordinarily a few centimetres beneath the stern rubbing strake, and generally on the starboard stern but occasionally on the port stern. Unfortunately there is no HIN stamp on the interior of a Corbin, we have confirmed this definitively with the Corbin yard manager (Gaetan Duchesne) so there is no point searching the inside.
Regarding how the HIN was actually moulded during the mk1 period at least. “The individual hull numbers were created by stamping a piece of aluminum strip with the HIN, which was then temporarily adhered to the inside of the hull mold. Once the gel coat and laminate schedule were laid up and cured, the hull was removed from the mold and the aluminum strip destroyed.” From a survey of owners (in 2023) and photos we have, the location during the mk1 period was clearly not perfectly consistent – some are to port, and some are to starboard. Also setting height and offset during the mk1 era is not exactly the same each time. And clearly a 2 got substituted for a Z on many occasions, with ZCJ becoming 2CJ. However so far we have not observed a post-fire hull with a starboard HIN so perhaps they became more consistent. (note, some pre-fire hulls were completed as mk2 arrangement, hence the careful wording). It is possible that the more precise positioning was influenced by the move to split backstay becoming the factory standard rig, which means that positioning of the HIN stamp is more critical to avoid it becoming hidden by the external chainplate.
Here is the actual HIN stamp on #123, Bockra – it is just above the ‘r’ on the starboard stern, below the metal vent. (This is a pre-fire hull mould, but completed as a mk2).
Some online explanations of the HIN system are (boatsafe, here) and (hinsearch, here) and USCG (here) or (hindecoder, here). Many other links are available online.
For Corbin the first three letters are ZCJ, corresponding to Corbin Les Bateaux Inc of Napierville, Quebec, Canada who were in business from 12/12/1978 to 12/9/1997.
The second group are five numbers corresponding to the mould sequence. So for most Corbins that will be something like 00123. The last four digits correspond the month and year in which the hull was moulded. Note this is not the year the fit out was finished which could be very different indeed.
Then for my #123, Bockra which was moulded in November 1981 the full result is:
A few things to be aware of are.
- Often the yard could not find the Z stamp. Strange as it may seem there are a great many reports of Corbins being stamped as ‘2CJ’, far too many reports for this just to be difficulty in reading, typing, or damage. The most likely explanation is that the Z stamp was mislaid for periods and so they simply stamped as ‘2CJ’ instead of ‘ZCJ’.
- A little bit of damage to the stamp can cause people to misread the HIN. It doesn’t matter whether it is a berthing scrape, paint, sanding down, or whatever. It is evident from going through the records that occasionally an 8 and a 3 get confused, or a 9 and a 8, and so on.
- As far as we can see the yard was pretty faithful to the actual calendar month/year of moulding. There are a few slight oddities but not that many, and they are ordinarily within a month or so. Since we believe that there were one only one pair of hull moulds this ought to have been easy to remain completely faithful to, but I’m sure there were always slight oddities. But the gross date oddities that some owners report are probably explainable due to another cause, most likely damage to numbers. A significant exception is that things did get rather muddled in the late 1982 through early 1983 period where the mould sequence and the mould date cease their normally good alignment, so one must take especial care when reviewing HINs from this period, which is of course the period after the 1982 fire.
- Not all authorities require the HIN as a mandatory data item when registering a boat. This is especially so for Canadian registry data.
- Some people are plain dyslexic, or don’t care. We have gathered our records from an amalgamation of a great many records that have come in over the years, and there are definite variations in quality out there.
- Some owners are convinced of their HIN, but they are plain wrong, due to a combination of some or all of these factors (and others, for example some folk got confused by sail numbers, without realising that their sails had originated on a different Corbin).
- We do not think that the same HIN was given twice. However there are (so far) three ‘twins’ where a pair of boats claim to have either the same mould number, or the same HIN. So far we are inclined to suspect reporting confusion or damage to numbers rather than the yard absent-mindedly stamping two boats up with the same number.
Does this matter ?
Yes this does matter. You want to know the history of your Corbin before you buy it, or before you sell it. This is especially so because there are rumours of a few ‘extra’ Corbin 39 hulls that may have been un-joined when the Corbin yard stopped making them in the early 1990s. (We now – August-2021 – are almost 100% certain that #201 was the last hull moulded, and we know that #200 and #201 were both made by Corbin personnel). Anyway this all affects the value of your boat. It is important.
What to do
Check the stern of your Corbin very carefully indeed. Check the paperwork very carefully indeed. Check any other registration numbers, or tonnage board numbers. Email us to discuss what you can see either on the boat or in the paperwork. Send us photos, of the boat and of the HIN stamp. We have quite a few scraps of information in our personal files that may, together with your scraps of information, be able to solve the puzzle for your Corbin. In doing so, through a process of elimination, this may help solve the puzzle for other Corbin 39’s.
[above note, written as of 2019 by DS; updated in 2021 and 2023 with further info and clarifications]
Is there only one HIN stamp ?
In August 2021 we (DS) were able to speak with Gaetan Duchesne who worked for Corbin Inc between 1977 and 1990/1992, and was the production manager for much of this time. He explained that Corbin Inc only stamped the HIN in one place on the stern. Some owners may have stamped the HIN themselves in a second place internally, but if so that was entirely an owner-specific decision.