Are Conga plans too old to be practical?

Discussion in 'Sailboats' started by penguinjuggler, Nov 26, 2011.

  1. penguinjuggler
    Joined: Nov 2011
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    penguinjuggler New Member

    I'm trying to choose a beginner boat as a year or two long build (<$800), and after looking through many plans, I've decided to choose between:

    the Conga (http://www.polysail.com/conga.htm),
    the Biloxi Dinghy (http://www.vintageprojects.com/boats/biloxi-dinghy.pdf),
    the Dart (http://svensons.com/boat/?p=SailBoats/Dart),
    The Super Sunray (http://www.polysail.com/supersunray.htm),
    and the Petrel (http://svensons.com/boat/?p=SailBoats/Petrel).

    I want a boat between 10/11' to 15/16'. I live next to a small lake, but am near the ocean and could probably find a trailer to get there if I needed to. Looking for something I can operate myself or with one (maybe two) other people. Not looking for racing or high performance.

    I am against buying plans, but am wondering if the boats I have listed are too out of date to be practical (weight or price of materials) or if there's a better fit for my needs. I am also worried if these plans are detailed enough that as I get into it I will be unsure of what to do.

    Basically, is the conga (and these other older boat magazine builds) still reasonably feasible? Or is buying plans for a blue jay/sabor/topper/etc. necessary for a novice builder to be successful?

    (Also, I refuse to build a PDRacer)

    Thanks!
     
  2. gggGuest
    Joined: Feb 2005
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    gggGuest ...

    The laws of physics haven't changed, so a design that was good thirty years ago will, outside the strict arena of racing, still be pretty good today.

    The question is, of course, whether the boats in question were/are good. These aren't a style of boat I know enough about to comment much, but in the higher performance arena I like to think I know a bit about my observation has been that the many of the "internet plan collections" boats really don't look that great to me.

    The other thing about those boats is that the ones I looked at all seem to date back to before plywood. That really does make a difference because it changes the weights so drastically. A shape that worked well at 250lbs weight in solid hardwood is very unlikely to work so well at 150lbs, be it plywood or whatever. The materials bill is also going to be a lot bigger for those boats. IIWY I wouldn't go back beyond the mid 50s at the very earliest to get a boat that is really designed for ply, and probably target the 60s. Wood dinghy construction probably reached a peak in New Zealand in the 70s, but I don't know of plans available to you from there of the sort of boat you need.

    Ps. I don't know enough to make any definitive statements, but were someone who'd sailed the Conga describe it to me as a cow downwind in waves I wouldn't be suprised. Really the advice I give anyone looking to buy a boat applies in spades to someone who's going to put the hard yards in building one: Go Sail One First. There are few things so disappointing as putting all that work in and then finding you don't like the results.
     
  3. rberrey
    Joined: Oct 2010
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    rberrey Senior Member

    You can buy plans for that type boat at fairly low prices. The cost of the plans are small in the whole scheam of things. Also the advice and aid of a living designer in the build is worth the small ammount you pay for the plans. PAR may have something in this size range , or bateau, who also has a forum to help in your build. Rick
     
  4. messabout
    Joined: Jan 2006
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    Location: Lakeland Fl USA

    messabout Senior Member

    So you are opposed to buying plans. Are you also opposed to shooting yourself in the foot? That is what you'll be doing by using antiqated plan sets from those old magazines. There were some very good boats in those old Rudder or How to Build 20 Boats magazines. The problem is that they used building materials and methods that are, by modern standards, about as useful as buggy whips.

    Buy a decent set of plans from a living designer and you will SAVE time, MONEY and disappointment.
     
  5. sharpii2
    Joined: May 2004
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    sharpii2 Senior Member

    Another thing to think about is that nominal lumber sizes aren't what they used. If you saw a 1950's 2x4 next to one bought today, you'd be amazed. The newer one looks downright anorexic.

    When those plans were drawn, the designer assumed the lumber used to build them was the old size. Today's pared down lumber might not be strong enough, though probably is.

    Most of those boats were not designed to plane (the one I built, designed in 1948, was and did), so the designers didn't usually go all out to reduce weight.

    One problem with today's plans is that they rely on modern super adhesives such as epoxy. Getting into a situation were you can not use epoxy is not uncommon. I can not use it because the person living with me is allergic to it.

    Some might argue that the methods used back then were needlessly labor intensive. The boat I built, for instance, could have done away with all the shear clamps and chines, even if built with 1948 technology. The plywood could have been applied directly to the 1 x 8 nominal side planks, with generous helpings of roofing cement.

    The weight savings might have been a few pounds, but those few pounds add up. My boat leaked copiously, so polyester fiberglass was put over the seams. The chines and sheer clamps swelled, splitting the fiberglass tape. It took good old duck tape to finally fix it.
     
  6. Milehog
    Joined: Aug 2006
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    Milehog Clever Quip

    Why? Are you looking to step over a dollar to pick up a dime?
     
  7. ancient kayaker
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    ancient kayaker aka Terry Haines

    There are boat designs out there that are much simpler and easier to build using modern methods and materials, which will save you money, labor and time. The resultant boat will be lighter and easier to handle out of the water. The designers of these boats earn their money by selling their plans. Everybody wins with this arrangement.
     
  8. PAR
    Joined: Nov 2003
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    PAR Yacht Designer/Builder

    Anyone uninterested in not purchasing plans, should be permitted to build one of these dated, old "Rudder" plan sets. It serves them right, as most, including the ones posted above, are not complete plans, let alone have real instructions, let alone building tips, setup, procedures, etc., etc., etc. We see a lot of this sort of thing and I think you should get what you pay for. In this case, it was free or public domain stuff and the designer is long dead so you can't call with a question or two (dozen). Good luck with your cut rate approach, but generally, you'll end up with what you got in it. So, if you use ridiculously dated plans, where materials can't even be found according to the BOM, just to save a couple of bucks, then I'll suspect you do the same with the BOM list and the result will be precisely what it should be.
     
  9. gonzo
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    gonzo Senior Member

    A large percentage of those plans where drawn by amateurs. In theory to be built my amateurs too. However, they are as PAR says usually incomplete. Also, they are often hard to build because of the designer's lack of experience, and not always a good boat. There are some exceptions, and those are boat classes that have survived. The Snipe is a good example.
     
  10. penguinjuggler
    Joined: Nov 2011
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    penguinjuggler New Member

    Thanks for all the input.

    I can see how there are numerous advantages to buying plans from a living designer who can give help when needed, along with a more detailed instruction manual and more modern (plywood based) materials. Which is why I started this thread in the first place to find out, to see if buying a plan was worth it.

    I admit I am somewhat cheap (can you blame me for being a college student?), but I am also willing to put in the time and use whatever the right materials may be for the job (no skimping on the BOM).

    So, any ideas on similar boat sizes/capabilities/costs that one of you would recommend for me to buy?
     
  11. gonzo
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    gonzo Senior Member

    A flat bottom skiff is the easiest boat to build. You can sail and row it. Also, any small flat yard trailer will work. A skiff can be built in four or five days unless you want a really fancy finish. If you want something a bit more complicated and a Snipe fits the bill, I believe I still have set of plans you can have. I also have a rig with sails and a rudder for really cheap.
     
  12. PAR
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    PAR Yacht Designer/Builder

    Your Snipeness is showing Gonzo . . .
     
  13. gonzo
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    gonzo Senior Member

    I know, it's a curse ;)
     
  14. ancient kayaker
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    ancient kayaker aka Terry Haines

    You each have a gift . . .
     

  15. thedutchtouch
    Joined: Feb 2010
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    thedutchtouch Junior Member

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