Braided Kevlar®, or composites with Kevlar and carbon braid, are used for joints and many components of my sailing canoes. These include the hull/deck joint, cockpit coaming and spray deck rims, the leeboard bracket and retaining pin, the attachment of the mast step to the hull, the gunter’s yard heel fitting, and the Continue reading →
The original sailing rigs on both Serendipity and Puffin are Hugh Horton’s sophisticated version of the old, but efficient sliding gunter rig (Figure 1). Hugh had put a lot of thought into sailing rigs for canoes and had chosen the gunter because it best fit several needs that he considered mandatory for a cruising canoe. Continue reading →
Boats are my first love, but I get excited about projects like this Supermileage® vehicle, other SAE (Society of Automotive Engineers) and airfoil carved-foam bicycle. My job offers great opportunities to talk to some of the most talented and positive thinking people around: sculptors, inventors, rocket builders, and good ol’ boatbuilders. Folks who envision and tinker with a desire to experiment, improve, compete, make a living or just play around. Continue reading →
Cover Photo: “The last thing I needed to worry about was whether or not my boat would stay intact.
Tiptoeing on the edge of danger, I was crouched down on my knees in the cockpit of my ten-and-a-half foot “sheet of plywood” hydroplane, screaming across the water at speeds reaching 65 mph. Crossing the start line with wide open throttle, I, along with eleven other boats, aimed for the first turn pin. Who will make it there first? With just inches between boats, whitewater from the roostertails engulfed my boat and hammered against my helmet’s visor. These roostertails, which extended thirty feet behind the engine and turn fin, were difficult, almost impossible, to avoid. During this moment of frenzy, I prayed that another hydroplane had not stalled in front of me, or worse . . . flipped.Continue reading →
Just an hour after the hot air balloon took off from a quarry in Illinois, a helium cell in the balloon burst at 21,000 feet. Two hours later the 165′-tall balloon with its carbon fiber gondola landed in an Indiana cornfield. After bouncing and skidding across the snow-covered field, the capsule, with Kevin Uliassi safely tucked inside, snagged an irrigation rig, finally bringing it to a halt. Continue reading →
Futurist Daniel Burrus lists Fiber-Reinforced Composites (more commonly known as Fiber-Reinforced Plastic or FRP) as one of the top twenty core technologies that will shape the future. In company with FRC are genetic engineering, superconductors, thin-film deposition and so on. Among the top twenty core technologies, FRC is the only one you can use in your own little shop, for really important things like your boat or similar hobbies. Continue reading →
Cover Photo: ADAGIO was racing with fast company in the 1996 Port Huron to Mackinac Race.
It was after eight months of building that we originally launched Adagio, our 35-foot cruising trimaran. It was on July 6, 1970, and she was then a unique boat in three respects.
First, she was the first large wooden boat entirely bonded together with epoxy using no permanent fastenings. While this is common today, it was revolutionary stuff back when adhesives for wooden boatbuilding (including epoxies) were looked upon as a backup to traditional wood fasteners like nails, screws and bolts. Continue reading →
As winter wore on, I ran out of things to do. There was no snow for skiing and no ice for ice boating. I figured it was a good time to make something fancy for the new catamaran. I reckoned that fairing the compasses that stuck up out of the deck would reduce windage and make everything look cleaner. I decided to make carbon fiber compass hoods with a clear finish inside and out. This was a good application for the matched mold technique of composite construction.
Composites have been on the automobile motor sports racing scene for some time now. Indy cars, Formula 1, IMSA GTP (International Motor Sports Association Grand Touring Prototype), and others employ composites to the fullest limit of the imagination (and budget). Engine builders are even beginning to use composites for internal components. Autoweek, Advanced Composites and similar magazines write about composites constantly. But most of these applications involve sophisticated techniques, tooling and materials such as autoclaves and resin-impregnated materials (pre-pregs). These require aerospace-level technology not commonly available or economical for the amateur builder. Pre-pregs and other advanced composites employ adhesives that require an oven to promote curing (post cure). Continue reading →
I built a retractable rudder case because no matter what kind of boat you have, there is nothing so delightful as building or fixing the part that steers her.
A reliable, easily lifted rudder system can greatly enhance the performance of a shoal draft boat. After years of building boats for our customers and ourselves, we’ve come to appreciate the importance of a functional and reliable steering and rudder system. Continue reading →