Fer-A-Lite

Discussion in 'Materials' started by darr, Sep 3, 2010.

  1. darr
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    darr Open Minded

    Lets both get enlightened

    < split from http://www.boatdesign.net/forums/boat-design/perfect-passagemaker-ii-building-material-34265-6.html >

    I make the challenge openly and based on scantling to scantling comparisons.

    And I somewhat agree with the fact that Polyester/glass hulls are not that strong.

    The reason our method works is the interaction between the components.

    A steel armature is constructed in a very similar way to a ferro cement boat, but there the comparison stops.

    Our plastering material is a blend of mineral based, iron based, polyester based products as well as a little eglass thrown in that creates a material that is used to fully encapsulate the steel armature.

    And just for the record there is no concrete or concrete like components used.

    The material (not including the steel armature) is 60 lbs per cubic foot which means that it floats.

    The plastering material has a flex modulus similar to aluminium which transfers the impact from the maul or partially submerged container across the steel armature, which then distributes the energy throughout the hull.

    We do strongly recommend an epoxy barrier coat, but to be honest we have not seen any evidence of water migration in hulls that were not epoxy coated either.

    We have taken repeated blows on a 41' hull in an attempt to remove material to repair a damaged area.

    In frustration I hit the hull myself with a 20 lb sledge, 1 ft aft of the damaged area, the sledge almost flew out of my hands.

    We wound up using an air hammer to finally get the material out to facilitate the repair.

    It took over 7 hours of 5+ ft drops onto the sharp edge of a seawall, to open a 6 in. x 6 in. area in the stem, but the boat destroyed a much larger piece of the seawall in the process.

    This is the only known hull that has suffered damage to this extent.

    I know of one that was lost off the coast of Georgia due to navigation errors. The hull actually survived, but the DNR would not allow a barge in to pull it out of the bird sanctuary.

    To our knowledge the rest of the 100+ hulls that were completed are still out there.

    The steel armature in and of itself is not that strong, the plastering material in and of itself is maybe not the strongest, but when the two systems are combined I will put it up against any other material used to produce a vessel.

    We have experimented with developing an epoxy based plaster, but it does not have the energy transfer characteristics that our poly based product has.

    The willow survives the storm because it knows when to bend, the oak does not.

    As I stated, this in not a fly by night product, it was developed over 40 years ago, several hulls have completed circumnavigations, a few have spent time in the Antartic.

    Now, tell me about yours.
     
  2. TeddyDiver
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    TeddyDiver Gollywobbler

    A bit vague statement.. sounds more like a TV-shop miracle. Any references?
     
  3. mark775

    mark775 Guest

    Sham- WOW!
     
  4. darr
    Joined: Nov 2004
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    Location: Tampa, FL

    darr Open Minded

    (wearing blue shirt, black beard) Hi Darr Palmer here for ......

    References to which,the material or existing boats?

    The material was developed by Platt Monfort back in the late sixties and marketed under Fer-A-Lite by Alladin Products.

    There are a couple of chapters dedicated to the material in Bruce Binghams book Ferro-cement Design, Techniques and Application first published in 1974.

    Platt also had a book out but I do not believe it had a large circulation titled A Revolution in Ferro Construction. I believe it was first published in the early 70's.

    I believe the first hull was constructed in 1969, but I do not have first hand knowledge with that hull.

    I do have first hand experience with our boat (1982) Original builders took her to the southern ocean.
    The boat lost off the Georgia coast (1986)
    As well as a couple of other boats here in the Tampa area that are mid eighties in vintage.

    And of course the Schooner Anne, which recently completed an 1152 day nonstop voyage without benefit of resupply. (early 1970's) circumnavigation as well as time in the Antartic on an earlier voyage.

    We have been producing the material to Platt's original formula since we bought the manufacturing plant and rights in 2004.

    There is currently a hull being completed in AU as well as one very near completion in South Florida.

    I can put folks in touch with current owners, but for serious inquiries only.
     
  5. MikeJohns
    Joined: Aug 2004
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    Location: Australia

    MikeJohns Senior Member


    There were quite a few boats built with Ferralight in Australia and I have met them before. The matrix has a higher elasticity which is certainly better than standard plasters when it comes to impact damage, and a higher UTS but a much lower compressive yield.

    I think the cost is high and amount of work is still staggering the only advantage being the low skill level required to produce a hull. There’s no advantage I can see for a professional yard.

    Alkaline cement passivates steel and largely stops it corroding. The problem with Polyester over steel in a marine environment has always been the eventual buildup of acidic fluids in small pockets through water ingress (osmosis), water being all that’s required for polyester to hydrolyze. It also has a poor bond with the steel and being relatively elastic yields quickly and easily to corrosion expansion of the steel. Another serious concern is the complete lack of compatibility wrt expansion coefficients. With a low bond strength the steel is continually expanding and contracting relative to the matrix which makes for a serious concern if you do get water ingress.

    I did a quick survey for a friend on a 50 foot Adams built using Ferralight there were some obviously large deep and extensive problems within the layup but only around the stern gear. I suspect that the vibration from the prop had separated the matrix from the stern tube was causing some extensive traveling mischief within. I managed to get some material properties and guidelines from the Australian distributor but the price was prohibitive and repair looked to be something of a nightmare removing the compromised material.

    Standard ferro vessels are ok if you accept the brittle nature of the matrix to collision and perhaps design the vessel accordingly with decent wt partitioning. But I’d stick with sheet metal hulls well coated rather than a steel armature/matrix construction.
     
  6. darr
    Joined: Nov 2004
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    darr Open Minded

    Mike more info please

    Hi Mike,

    I want to make sure it was Ferralight which was a mixture including fiberglass fibers in a slightly modified Portland cement epoxy or polyester mix that you are describing and not Fer-A-Lite which has no cement properties.

    Ferralight is a common name given to just about any formulation of polyester or epoxy, glass fibers and cement and is often confused with Fer-A-Lite.

    It is even marketed by different construction materials companies still.

    FerraLight was also touted by several Ferro boat companies after the introduction of Fer-A-Lite. I am pretty sure that Ferro Boats out of Canada was using a Ferralight mix as well as a couple of Austrlian ferro builders, as I am familiar with a couple of the australian built hulls, I recently sold some Fer-A-Lite to repair damage on a Ferralight hull.

    I am only aware of three Fer-A-Lite hulls that were built by professional yards, and one of them is sitting unfinished down at Jean Street Shipyard in Tampa. The other two were completed and left in the early 80's

    Prior to his death I had several long talks with Platt, he never mentioned any distributors, and I asked about the status of any distributors as part of my due diligence, all the shipments of material appear to be going to end users, we did get pretty good records of end users including in many cases pictures during construction.

    If you have knowledge of a former Fer-A-Lite distributor anywhere besides Alladin Products through 2004, we would like to know about them and let them know the material is back in production!

    Can you please confirm which material your friends boat was made of, I could also check the back records to see if he purchased from Platt before we bought the business, but I need a name and an approximate date would help.

    Ferralight is not the same as Fer-A-Lite.

    Kind of like saying you are going to copy something, even if in fact you are using a Xerox.
     
  7. peter radclyffe
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    peter radclyffe Senior Member

    are you aware of the shape of an english maul?
     
  8. darr
    Joined: Nov 2004
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    darr Open Minded

    Yep

    To the best of my knowledge it is the same as a maul over here in the states.

    A heavy weighted end with one face flat and one face wedge/pointy, attached to a long wooden handle.

    Yes, the wedge/pointy end is the face that would be used in the challenge.

    Reid and his crew took a fireaxe to the pilothouse on the Anne just to see how tough the material was, after beating on the Fer-A-Lite on the Pilothouse and noticing the minimal/lack of damage, they decided to do the entire hull with the material.

    This is posted on their website where they are building the schooner back in the early 70's
     
    Last edited: Sep 4, 2010
  9. Riccelli Yachts
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    Riccelli Yachts Yacht designer & Builder

    Isn't it customary to pay for advertising?
     
    1 person likes this.
  10. darr
    Joined: Nov 2004
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    Location: Tampa, FL

    darr Open Minded

    I am not sure what you are referring to as advertising. I do not believe there has been any solicitation to purchase.

    But an interesting discussion none the less.

    While we do anticipate placing ads in a select number of venues we do not see a strong enough economy to justify it at this point.

    Or are you speaking of asking for information and or testimonials.

    Amazing thing advertising and/or paid testimonials, you can pay just about anyone an amount of money to say this or that about a product.

    I am not going to use "Lending Tree" just because Adam West is a paid spokesman for them. Batman was my hero when I was 8.

    I am not going to recommend a Reverse Mortgage to someone because Robert Wagner is a paid spokesman for a particular mortgage company, but I did like him in Hart to Hart.

    I did recommend the particular company he is pushing to an elderly friend, but it was because another friend has had a good experience with them.

    I tend to buy a product or service more often than not by the feedback I find among users of the product or service, not paid ads or paid tetimonials.

    I think most folks don't need the enticement of money to state their feelings about a particular product or service, and their opinion carries alot more weight in most folks decision process.
     
  11. srimes
    Joined: Sep 2008
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    srimes Senior Member

    the fer-a-lite link on your web page doesn't work.
     
  12. PAR
    Joined: Nov 2003
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    Location: Eustis, FL

    PAR Yacht Designer/Builder

    Maybe if it was rephrased to "self serving" instead . . .
     
  13. EuroCanal
    Joined: Jul 2010
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    EuroCanal Junior Member

    Advertizing

    Well said, Mr. Riccelli Yachts, Designer & Builder.
     
  14. darr
    Joined: Nov 2004
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    Location: Tampa, FL

    darr Open Minded

    Srimes

    Thanks for the information, I will try to get it straightened out. In the meatime the correct link is www.fer-a-lite.com
     

  15. mcollins07
    Joined: Jan 2006
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    Location: Texas

    mcollins07 Senior Member

    Darr,
    In the pdf file on your website, at the very end is: CAUTION: Contains asbestos fibers avoid creating dust, breathing asbestos dust may cause
    serious bodily harm.

    Does this product still contain asbestos?
     
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