FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS, Part 1

Q. Are your plans drawn for amateur builders? 

A. No! My definition of an amateur is one who possesses little or no skills with tools, construction, or the ability to read drawings prepared using marine standards. He needs to be shown every nut, bolt, screw and the exact dimensions and shape of each piece that is used in construction, the tools needed and sequence of use that is required, and desires drawings using isometrics. Designs can be found in some of the magazines that do just this.

Q. I have never built a wood boat before but am handy with tools and have made many things including my workshop, some picnic benches and tables, etc.  Are your designs beyond this level of skill?

A. No.  Most of my stock plans are based on the equipment of the average home workshop that has a minimum of tools. Wood construction requires only hand tools, but the addition of some hand power tools will ease the labor involved in construction.  A learning curve is involved, which takes some extra time to reason out and to accomplish, since boats are comprised of many curves and bevels that are not common to other structures.

Q. I do not know how to weld but have built a couple of small wood hulls. Is it possible for me to construct one of your metal designs?

A. Learning to weld is not difficult. The best way is to take a welding course at the local vocational school, which is usually offered as an evening class. At the end of the session, about 10 weeks, you will be able to weld with confidence. In the beginning, most of the welding involves making the frames, then the bulkheads, and often the box keel. This gives you the opportunity to practice what you have been taught in a constructive manner as every weld finishes a part of the whole vessel. By the time it becomes necessary to weld the plating, your skills have multiplied because of what you have accomplished thus far. Every task becomes easier and what at one time was a monumental task is now just taken for granted. See following photo of PAPILLON: owner/builder also made his own sails, and then proceeded to sail around the world.

Q. Do I have to loft your designs?

A. Yes. It is not difficult, and in doing so you gain an understanding of the shape of the vessel and correct any errors in the table of offsets. Scale effect is one reason for lofting. In a drawing at 3/4" to the foot, an error is magnified 16 times, and in a drawing at 1:20 (metric) will be magnified 20 times. The scales (rulers) that architects use can be read to the nearest 1/4" or to the nearest 5mm and, with practice, a good guess at a lesser increment. Another reason is human error, the most common being in the transposition of numbers. Patterns should be made directly from the loft, and as the construction progresses verification of a doubt is quickly laid to rest. For the mold loft floor, I recommend using an exterior grade of ply that can then be used in the finish hull for berth bottoms, shelving, locker partitions, etc. If any material is not suited for marine use, it should never be in your shop. Lofting is covered in STEEL BOATBUILDING..

Q. I am an experienced metal worker and can weld. What difficulties might I encounter?

A. Working in light materials, ordinarily metalworking involves plates and shapes that are much thicker than those used in small vessels.  The tendency of using too large a welding rod for production speed will warp and buckle the thin plates. It is necessary to use much smaller diameter rods and to skip around to keep the plating reasonably cool. In small vessels, it is not how quickly they can be assembled, but how well. The vessel below (AURORA) was professionally built. The owner did all the joinerwork and rig.

Q. When looking through the magazines at the size boat that I want, I find them to be many times more expensive than my budget. How can you say that, with my requirements, it is possible to build within my budget?

A.  Material cost of the hull of any vessel is but a minor cost of the total. It is what you put in it the hull that costs so much. The owner/builder saves the labor of hull construction, cost of transportation to the dealerís premises, builderís profit, cost of advertising, dealerís profit, and not least the cost of many incorporated items that you do not want. In my former boatyard, I could deliver a comparable vessel fully equipped, ready to go to sea, at 25% to 30% of a stock boat listed price that still had to be equipped; however, the owner could not get delivery for 2 to 3 years, depending on my backlog. The stock boat is available TODAY.

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