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Old 01-19-2010, 10:20 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Cold Molded Boats

All of this Bertram, core, etc stuff that is going on in various threads started me thinking about my boat.

Last year I traded from what I have always had, a production fiberglass boat to a Custom Carolina cold molded (Okume plywood) boat. Design, ride, etc were at the top of my reasons to swap, but aside from all that, the following were my only considerations as to the build difference.

1) I knew I would have more maintenence costs (teak, varnish, Awlgrip, etc)
2) I always pull my boat once a year, inspect well, bottom paint touch-up, zincs, etc, so I figured that to be no different
3) I knew that I had to be extra careful with any through hulls (more so than solid glass

In essence, I thought that I was sacrificing some strength and durability and extra maintenence for better ride and a beautiful design. I've also heard the mantra many times "our boats have NO wood, and therefore they are better" After reading all of these threads, I really have a bit more peace of mind and less worry about "wood".

If I am careful with through hulls etc, should I worry about water intrusion (will it travel if it makes it into the wood?) (you know that video is just scary!)
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Old 01-19-2010, 11:44 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Why do you think you've lost strength with wood? Wood is the superior material.
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Old 01-19-2010, 11:51 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Well, now I'm of the mindset that wood is better, but boat marketing for the last 15 years has been "our boat is better because we don't use wood".

The one thing that I am sure of in this world is that all boats are a compromise. You cannot have a fishing boat that is comfortable in 20 foot seas, roomy enough to travel to the islands, is trailerable and uses less fuel than your car. If you want more room in the v-berth, you get a fat bow and worse head sea ride. I guess what I'm saying is that the "no wood" mantra depends on a lot of factors.

The purpose of this thread is to ask (as some of you seem very knowledgable) if you agree with my thinking (after all we have seen lately). My thoughts are now that unless the hull is solid glass, yes including above the water line, that maybe a cold molded boat is a better way to go. I didn't think that before seeing some of what we have seen. Makes me feel good, but am I just knee jerk reacting?

Last edited by Bluefin; 01-19-2010 at 12:23 PM..
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Old 01-19-2010, 12:06 PM   #4 (permalink)
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I used to sail a 150yr old wood boat that still had the vast majority of its original wood and fasteners. When wood has an issue, it will show signs before catastrophic failure. You can fix wood rather easily. Wood is a naturally produced laminate with a bonding agent as strong as most we produce. All in all, the only material really better longevity wise for building boats out of than wood is 90/10 copper nickel.

No wood was a good marketing mantra because people associate wood with work, they just weren't telling you what work you were trading woodwork for. Every material requires work and has a life limit and failure threshold. "No wood" means whatever the consumer is smart and experienced enough to assign it.
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Old 01-19-2010, 12:56 PM   #5 (permalink)
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You are fine. Blackwell builds a bulletproof boat. Don't let this crap falling apart bother you your boat is built with the finest woods and epoxies no comparisions to this polyester foam cored improperly built mess.
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Old 01-19-2010, 01:15 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Cold molded hull are better than cored glass and probably better than solid glass since they are lighter. Don't worry about it.

As to wooden hulls, they are ok up north where you haul out in winter but very impractical down south... Ever heard of toredo worms?
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Old 01-19-2010, 01:24 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tommymonza
You are fine. Blackwell builds a bulletproof boat. Don't let this crap falling apart bother you your boat is built with the finest woods and epoxies no comparisions to this polyester foam cored improperly built mess.
Oh I'm not worried. I guess I was just trying to get some more debate going on basic construction methods. As I said, I have changed my convictions due to all of this stuff. I realize that cold molded doesn't lend itself well to mass production. I've always thought a solid glass hull was a low maintenence, long lived way to go. Further, I thought that cored hulls, being "new tech" was a great idea; a way to go lighter, save fuel and still have a glass boat. I'm re-thinking all that. My new thought is that if you design for tight tolerences and modern methods, you better have workers more like NASA than Joe's Body Shop if you want these tight tolerances to succeed.
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Old 01-19-2010, 01:25 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Those Carolina boys would never build a boat that they would not want to be caught out 60 miles off Hatteras in the worst weather they could see.They staked their lives on their boats long before they started building them for the general public.
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Old 01-19-2010, 01:28 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bluefin
Oh I'm not worried. I guess I was just trying to get some more debate going on basic construction methods. As I said, I have changed my convictions due to all of this stuff. I realize that cold molded doesn't lend itself well to mass production. I've always thought a solid glass hull was a low maintenence, long lived way to go. Further, I thought that cored hulls, being "new tech" was a great idea; a way to go lighter, save fuel and still have a glass boat. I'm re-thinking all that. My new thought is that if you design for tight tolerences and modern methods, you better have workers more like NASA than Joe's Body Shop if you want these tight tolerances to succeed.
And there lies the problem
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Old 01-19-2010, 02:03 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bluefin
My new thought is that if you design for tight tolerences and modern methods, you better have workers more like NASA than Joe's Body Shop if you want these tight tolerances to succeed.
You've got that dead on. It doesn't matter near as much of what the boat was built of as it does who built the boat, and I'm talking the guys on the shop floor, even moreso than the management. Although management can shoot down good guys on the floor by giving them inferior materials and have them build to insufficient spec.
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Old 01-19-2010, 04:58 PM   #11 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pascal
Cold molded hull are better than cored glass and probably better than solid glass since they are lighter. Don't worry about it.

As to wooden hulls, they are ok up north where you haul out in winter but very impractical down south... Ever heard of toredo worms?
Up north, the wet/dry/wet/dry/wet/dry cycle encourages rot in the lower sections of the boat (not just the bilge). Dry rot fungus also finds its way wherever there is wood.

So the "no wood" sales pitch was the "no rot" sales pitch.

Every material is a compromise for certain people in certain situations.

I think Ken Bracewell can probably tell some stories about how sound wood can be (or not be) even with the best builders when there isn't the best maintenance.
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Old 01-21-2010, 08:49 AM   #12 (permalink)
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Wood is Good!

From Chapter 8 of the US Forest Products Handbook

"8.6 Wood Degradation and Protection
In the absence of biological attack (due to fungi and insects), the degradation of wood under rain and ultra-violet light occurs at a very slow rate - the surface layer is removed by 1 mm per 20 years. Biological attack is therefore the major cause of wood deterioration.
Fungi are low forms of plant, which grows through the wood, using cell walls as food. With fungal attack, wood becomes brittle and weak. In order for fungi to grow in wood, there need to be a proper temperature, a moisture content above 19% (except for a special fungus called house fungus which can live and grow under much dryer conditions) and an ample supply of oxygen. Therefore, when wood is dry, or completely immersed in water (so the supply of oxygen is low), fungal attack is not a problem. When wood is in contact with soil ground, where water tends to be collected, degradation occurs at the fastest rate. Besides fungi, insects also attack wood. Insects such as termites, carpenter ants and marine borers (which live in salt water) literally eat up wood as they all use wood as their food.
The simplest way to protect wood from fungal attack is to cover it with paints, stains or waterproofing chemicals. The penetration of these materials into wood is, however, quite limited. Surface cracks or splits can allow water to get into the underlying wood. For reliable protection against both fungal attack and insects, pressure treatment needs to be carried out. Chemicals are injected under pressure into the wood. In most cases, the wood surface is incised by toothed rolls to allow the chemical to be impregnated deep into the wood. Common chemicals employed for this process includes pentachlorophenol, creosote and inorganix arsenicals. These chemicals are effective for controlling both fungal attack and insect attack. "

In the end Fiberglass is popular as it is low maintenance.

Improper design and construction techniques will still ruin the best materials.
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Old 01-21-2010, 08:44 PM   #13 (permalink)
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In my experience people these days use the term "cold-molded wood" to include multi-layered wood construction (typically marine ply strip laid diagonally) over a male mold form as well as strip plank molded construction (often cedar or similar). However, it is almost universal that the hull is then encapsulated in an FRP outer skin which adds both stability/strength and secures lower maintenance. Equally, and for similar reasons I believe, the interior exposed wood surface is normally resin saturated but often with added FRP reinforcements abutting any ribs, stringers,floors or bulkheads - if not otherwise fully encapsulated in FRP too.

The result is another form of composite vessel really with the wood forming the core rather than providing the total structure. Such methods typically provides a strong, relatively light structure and has been commonly used for racing boats and many high end custom builds.

The chances for water ingress are minor and maintenance performance is similar to any plastic fabrication. It would be rare if any modern cold-molded wooden boat was really, in effect, a wooden boat in the traditional sense and the issues of wood deterioration are largely irrelevant. I detect a prejudice against wood by some but it may be through a lack of understanding about modern methods for its use. No caulking needed these days that's for sure!
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Old 01-21-2010, 09:10 PM   #14 (permalink)
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No caulking needed these days that's for sure!
Yep, no "paying the Devil" on a cold mold.
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Old 01-21-2010, 09:18 PM   #15 (permalink)
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Yep, no "paying the Devil" on a cold mold.

Been a while since I heard that old expression! However with any male molded vessel the quid pro quo is the long boarding to fair the hull! Henning , have they invented a salty sailor's expression for that penance yet?
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