Bruce Roberts Designs

Discussion in 'Boat Design' started by doug lundy, Oct 17, 2009.

  1. doug lundy
    Joined: Oct 2009
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    doug lundy New Member

    I noticed an old thread and wanted to comment..

    I built a roberts 370 design and have never 'asked Bruce' but instead used the grace of local boatbuilding shops and suppliers and also fiberglass experts in the aviation industry for technical support..found used books like Ferenc Mate 'from a bare hull' and Vaits' One off boatbuilding in fiberglass which are far more helpful and sound than Roberts work..

    From my background in basic physics and aviation work I immediately saw the engineering in his designs was intuitive and weak, not structurally sound..reinforcemnts not a the stress points and his laminate schedules are wasteful and heavy. Not engineered..

    Until I asked his advice I suspected he did have qualifications as an NA and then with simple questions about speed and hull shape and boat performance, the only replies I got from him were demands for photos, to puff his promotional materals and then, "no comment."

    There is a wealth of expertise and information here, Id just say if you have his plans, get LOCAL help to modify and tweak them to your purposes, or stdy and do it yourself..but dont "ask bruce" because its a waste of time.

    His designs seem to be things you could find in any book of boat plans available in a used book store or taken from any proven, popular and tested classic design..Hes a marketer. His loyalty to his customers extends to cashing their checks..Dont ask me about Bruce!

    He has quite a section on his website about stolen plans and detractors which seems to show he isnt held in high regard either business wise or as a designer. Boatbuilder Homebuilders, be advised...but nothing against his boats. Theyre beamy, stout and conservative shapes..stable. Some perform wonderfully others less, just depending on the quality of construction..which with amateur builders varies from marginal to superlative, of course..

    Like one author clarifies, a good boat is a thousand jobs, done well. (more like a hundred thousand jobs)
     
  2. WestVanHan
    Joined: Aug 2009
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    WestVanHan Not a Senior Member

    Many/most of "his" designs were designed by others who have been paid a fee for their plans.

    And on the power boats,have to figure a way to smooth out those sharp right angles-weld in piping I guess.

    The Aussie guy (Phil Hogg)has not stolen any plans,he bought the rights to them,and Bruce is pissy.
    If BR had a foot to stand on it would be a simple matter for the courts to shut down Phil.

    Few years ago a friend bought plans from BR for a sailboat.They messed up the order,sent him half for a different one-he was missing 1/3 of the plans for his boat.
    BR said it was impossible, he was lying,trying to get 2 plans for the price of one etc.
    Which is insane-all he wanted was the missing plans to his size of boat.
    I think after threats of lawsuit,the missing parts were begrudgingly mailed.

    2 years ago I enquired to BR about the TPI/cargo capacity of a couple power vessels on his site,I need a steel vessel.
    Received a terse reply that I shouldn't try to steal proprietary info etc etc and that I should buy study plans for both and that will be $99.95 plus $19.95 shipping and handling please.

    Well, F%^& that.

    Last month I emailed Phil Hogg and received the info I wanted-one inch per ton of load.

    V. nice email,had been cruising my area a fair amount,told me of some great places he had seen here,sees why I need steel,etc.

    Who would you deal with?

    I avoid (in every way posible) people who try to make themselves look better by running others down.
     
  3. doug lundy
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    Location: Oregon

    doug lundy New Member

    I beleive I had a great reply from Ted Brewer about one of his designs, but didnt persue it..

    In this economy Ive found that abandoned projects are plentiful and you could buy salvage and abandoned boats for scrap value or less and get all the hard work done for free...ten cents on the dollar invested. Theres an abandoned ferro right down the dock from me with a 30K rig on it, for anyone able to dispose of a rotted cement hull, here it is!

    Just shopping harbors and with want-ads and through local knowlege one can find a wealth of deals begging..Id never advise anyone to do what i did, and scratch build. Its a lifetime of work- glad I did it, but unless you have free facilities and want the expereince its an uphill battle to build for yourself.

    Roberts knows his market has more imagination than experence..Id say get to know good folks in your local marine industry, local mechanics and shipwrights that are hands-on, not wheeler dealers. Let them steer you..as friends, not to sell you a bill of goods!
     
  4. Paul No Boat
    Joined: Dec 2009
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    Location: Indiana

    Paul No Boat Junior Member

    doug,

    I have emailed both of the designers you speak of and my impression is exactly the same. Bruce Roberts dodged my simple questions pending the purchase of his plans in a "sell sell sell" environment, while Ted Brewer was more interested in helping me find a design for "My Boat" than he was in selling me a plan.

    And he even took time to chat about unrelated topics like our common interest in model railroading and summer travel to see family at a distance. I felt like I was emailing with an old friend. And that is important when building any project from someone elses design whether it is a boat, toy train, or rocking horse as understanding the designers thinking helps to understand the architecture involved.

    Ted gets my vote too and I am close to ordering his study plans for the Cape Cod Bay catboat.
     
  5. souljour2000
    Joined: Aug 2009
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    souljour2000 Senior Member

    Wow..I had heard of these designers so much I thought they were dead...or in nursing homes...good to know the...rest of the story...thanks..good thread guys...
     
  6. Paul No Boat
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    Location: Indiana

    Paul No Boat Junior Member

    Agree PAR,

    I sure don't want to make a "Let's roast Bruce" thread out of this and I certainly don't have the experience to question the judgement of any proven designers. I can only go by my gut reaction to communications I have had with them. It's just that I have noticed a pattern in people's responces to both designers. But this isn't a popularity contest, is it?

    Maybe my allegience to Ted Brewer stems more out of a kinship toward other subjects or just that I love the location at which he resides.

    Mr. Robert's responce to my basic questions seemed almost in a copy and paste format. But I am sure all successful designers tire of potential clients (Newbies like me especially) looking for free advice or seeking answers better found in forums.
     
  7. Paul No Boat
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    Paul No Boat Junior Member

    Yeah, for awhile I was building heirloom rocking horses. I gave several away to be used as charity fundraisers. (One right now for the Indianapolis Colts)

    But when I tried to make a few honest bucks suddenly everyone needed one for a fundraiser and I should donate it. Forgetting that as a one off project I have hours and hours of hand sanding and numerous coats of hand rubbed lacquer or tung oil in them. I prefer using wood from a previous family treasure like from grandma's broken desk or something.

    Boat designers and builders, like woodworkers, are artists and sometimes not good businessmen. Then after being taken advantage of a few times they sometimes overcompensate.

    I am proud of my work and would like every child in the world to have one but dammit my time has a value too. and the stock argument of "I can get one at walmart for 50 dollars" infuriates me. Mine are labors of love not a production run.

    So it is hard to know what drives people to do what they do. All we can do is make an initial connection with our mentors and go on instinct from there.
     
  8. troy2000
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    troy2000 Senior Member

    Been there, done that, got the t-shirt. The only possible response to those people is, "then go to Walmart."

    Up in Idyllwild, CA one time, I redid the living room of a gentleman's weekend cabin in knotty pine tongue and groove, and did a proper job. He also wanted his bedroom done, but when it came time he said he had found someone who would do it for half the money. I told him to go ahead and use the guy.

    I dropped by a few months later for a friendly drink, and he proudly showed me the finished bedroom. It was terrible: face-nailed instead of blind nailed; the runs of t&g didn't match at the corners, and the corners were gapped; the top boards were wedge-shaped instead of running with the ceiling, because the runs weren't kept level; over-sized trim and molding everywhere to hide the poor cuts, etc.

    The homeowner said, "see? Just like you would have done it, and for half the price." I started to tell him everything that was wrong with the job. Then I realized that if someone's unable to tell the difference between garbage and quality work, there's no point in them paying for quality.

    So I told him, "yes; very nice." Then I had another beer and some good conversation, and went on my way.
     
  9. Paul No Boat
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    Paul No Boat Junior Member

    Well said, Troy,

    I have backed off on the rocking horses and now want to get started on a boat. But I would still build a horse for a worthy recipient. If my work is to go for free, I am at least gunna be damn picky about who it goes to.

    It floored me when I read in another thread that after designing one of the 100 most magnificient boats in the county (The Tree of Life) Ted Brewer probably cannot afford one of his own designs. Such is the life of an artist/craftsman in this day and age of mass production.
     
  10. TollyWally
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    TollyWally Senior Member

    Troy,
    Pearls before swine, harsh perhaps but it's a shame when good practice is driven out by shoddy work. My daddy told me that the most important part of any job was to qualify the customer.

    Paul,
    The horses sound cool, I like that they're made out of Grandma's old desk sometimes. I need to start on my upcoming twin granddaughter's cradle. Naturally I want it to be a boat, still working out the details but I'm running out of time.
     
  11. troy2000
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    troy2000 Senior Member

    I once remodeled an old man's den, using a stack of used redwood 2x4's he supplied. The wood had come from corn cribs on his grandfather's farm, so no telling how old it was. It was mostly clear heart redwood, with a little sapwood here and there. The sapwood had worm holes in it, but the heartwood was still rock solid.

    I re-sawed, planed, spliced, glued, routed and sanded until I thought I'd never want to smell redwood again. Eventually the stack turned into wainscoting and chair rail, book shelves, a bar, wall cabinets, a table and chair frames. The bar top was made from a 6x16"x10' chunk of what he said was a blue gum eucalyptus timber from an old bridge. By the time I finished dressing it flat and straight, and cutting off the cracked ends, it was more like 4x14"x8'.

    If I remember right, Woodenboat used to have multiple ads for boat cradle plans in every issue; it might save you designing your own.
     
  12. troy2000
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    troy2000 Senior Member

    A link to the boat you mentioned:

    http://www.tedbrewer.com/sail_wood/treeoflife.htm
     
  13. TollyWally
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    TollyWally Senior Member

    Troy,
    The coolest house I ever built made extensive use of lumber scavenged from a dairy closing down in the area. The homeowner had an in with the guy who had the demo contract. This was about a 5 year project so we had lots of time to get the wood.

    There're lots of carpenter hero stories but to keep it brief, we made almost everything but the framing material from that place. The cabinets were fashioned out of the old creamery floor, our trophy piece of trim came from a 32' clear 2x12. I knew at the time this was probably as good as it was going to get, lightning in a bottle. Bittersweet.
     
  14. Paul No Boat
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    Paul No Boat Junior Member

    Here is one of the horses I built. It is made from Indiana Cherry cut on her great grandpa's farm about 35 years ago. been sitting in a barn since.

    http://lighthouscolor.tripod.com/ALLMakayla/Makayla/Avahorse.jpg

    I wrote to Ted Brewer last night asking if he has or knows of any photo galleries of his boat Cape Cod Bay. Sadly he doesn't but I have found a few examples just surfing around the net. I would love to see one close up and with technical shots not scenic ones. and when I go see my granddaughter this summer on Puget Sound I plan to take a ride up to Port Townsend where I am sure I could find a few samples of Ted's designs.

    But he does take the time to write back.
     

  15. troy2000
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    troy2000 Senior Member

    Yeah. When I waded into that pile of redwood, I knew it was a once-in-a-lifetime project. I did it for hourly wages, between other jobs. And I wish I had taken pictures.
     
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