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Old 21-04-2007, 16:30   #1
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Flat Pack Boats? (IKEA style!) Why not?

I am sure their are plenty of reasons why not

But I have always had a very vague dream of being a boat builder so have pondered over various questions for many years.......

I was inspired by staring at an old wooden school chair a few years back (I do need to get out more!). They probably made millions of them and they lasted years of heavy abuse. This one had laminated legs where those on each side were formed in one piece. Quite a beautiful piece of laminating involving serious bends and with to my eye a pleasing simplicity about the design.

I appreciate that folk do sell kits for making dinghies and sometimes larger craft but these seem to be mostly based around standard 8 x 4 sheets of plywood (with the looks to match) and require far too much building rather than mere assembly. Especially the bigger one gets.

I was thinking (oh dear ) why not build a flat pack boat? IKEA style (Flat pack furniture) albeit with better assembly instructions - infact with excellent instructions and photos and videos, including marks on each of the items to guide assembly. Also with all the tools required being simple (ideally just a one sized screwdriver ). How hard can it be? if a boat was designed with self assembly in mind rather than self building? it is in many respects just a more complicated wardrobe!

The idea being that ALL the pieces are pre-cut (or pre-formed) EXACTLY to size and that all the punter has to do is screw the pieces together (screws provided!).

I was thinking that the initial fixings could be done with furniture style multiple adjustment fittings, but that the actual joining strength would be from slow curing glue (given the strength of modern adhesives), plus in certain areas the strength would also then be provided by additional screws and bolts (provided!) in pre drilled holes.

I'm sure that this could all be done with 8 x 4 sheets of plywood and accurate cutting..........but IMO this would be a compromise in shape and design. So, why not create the keel (and any ribs) from laminated wood on a simple jig / mould (possibly cured under vacum?) - like the school chair legs! - and then trimmed up to EXACTLY the design size and with all holes predrilled / any rebates precut on a jig at the factory.........the Keel would later be joined to a stem post (and a stern post if a double ender) formed in the same way as well as the gunwhale and any ribs.

I figure two ways to build the hull:-

One being to assemble the keel and ribs to the gunwhale (plus maybe some pre cut temporary inserts to hold the boat shape - if everything does not fit together it means the the shape is wrong / something has been wrongly assembled) to form a skeleton and then for the boat hull to be built on the skeleton through strip planking or similar.


Two being The Hull would be built in TWO pieces. Port and Starboard and would be formed at the factory by laminated wood / composites on a mould into a single sheet (possibly cured under vacum?) so that the end result is EXACTLY the right size to simply screw and glue onto the skeleton formed by keel / ribs / bulkheads / gunwhale already assembled.

You could have whatever shape of hull you required not restricted by the plywood 8 x 4 sheet. The stern would be formed in the same way. The difficulty would be ensuring a water tight fit / adequate strength of the join between the hull side and the keel and transom, but I figure that each hull piece would have a rebate molded in and I figure clinker and carvel built boats solved this problem to a large degree long before modern glues. In any event I would envisage some additional screw or bolting being required / advisable.......again in pre drilled or at least partly pre drilled holes.

Why do this? the thinking is that by the use of moulds and jigs that whilst the process is labour intensive it is to a large extent idiot proof in the factory and easily mass produced or at least in series. plus for shipping to the customer, being a flat pack is easier and cheaper than supplying a pre-built hull. As the Customer will always be a long way from the factory, no reason why the factory could not be in the Far East. and for a labour intensive method of construction this would be an advantage, if not nowadays essential. Possibly even parts of the construction could be outsourced in the far east with finishing down at the far east Factory?

Of course no reason why the factory could not also make complete or partly complete boats as well as flat pack boats.

Would it be cheaper than simply making a fibreglass hull from a mould?, would their be any profit?, would their be any great point!!, let alone a market for DIY boats in the West anymore?? Minor details

I have not yet got to the decks and interior but I figure the same approach would be usable. certainly the interior would suit a Beneteau / IKEA style - it's mainly furniture after all!! The Deck however would need some careful thinking about.........

Go on, tell me someone is already doing this........



(PS notwithstanding my initial statement, I sincerely hope that for financial reasons that I do not end up as a boat builder, mainly cos' I suspect I would end up building great looking boats I loved, but that the market would still want Beneteaus ).
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Old 21-04-2007, 20:22   #2
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My boat fits your first method.
It is supplied as 3 pallets of flat panels that are pre cut to shape. It uses epoxy tapes rather than bolts or screws to join the panels.
I think this is about as close as you will get to what yoiu want.
If you want some thing closer to your second method check out Fusion cats, sorry no link. These are a set of pre moulded panels that just glue together. The boat comes packed in a container.
Mike
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Old 21-04-2007, 20:55   #3
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Yep, somebody is already doing it. : Scrumble … a small piece of work » Boat in a box Or, in a bigger box (and a heck of a lot more bucks): Type Heading Here
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Old 22-04-2007, 00:53   #4
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Roberts on pallets...

Bruce Roberts does a whole range of kit boats.

For example : Voyager 432.

Some of these look like they could go together quite quickly.

The real devil in boatbuilding is the fitting out and I would hesitate to build a steel boat from scratch.

I have seen suggestions that the best result would come from buying a moulded fibreglass hull and doing the interior and deck.

Like all boatbuilding it needs a cheap local building site and lots of spare time and cash.

Could be better than buying one of the overpriced heaps of trash that are sometimes offered for sale.
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Old 22-04-2007, 02:19   #5
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The Fusion Cats idea is nearest to what I was thinking - especially in regard to the saving on shipping costs.

Building a cat? mmmm.....not my initial thought, more traditional medium to heavy cruisers. Good looking ones
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Old 22-04-2007, 08:38   #6
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Well the duflex kits are much cheaper to ship than the fusion - you can easily get 3 x Oram 44c kits in one container, vs 1 fusion.

Your trad heavy cruiser would cost a lot more though - there's all those tonnes of lead for a start.
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Old 10-05-2007, 00:04   #7
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Some one is doing this but not wood try http;//www.kelsall.com
they say that great ideas come at the right time
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