Modular Furniture

Discussion in 'Boat Design' started by Matt Sponer, Jul 1, 2009.

  1. Matt Sponer
    Joined: Jul 2009
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    Location: Coronado, CA

    Matt Sponer New Member

    Modular boat.
    Every piece of furniture is a removable module. Each module:
    * Fits through the companionway hatch.
    * Bolts onto the floor.
    * Is mechanically self contained:
    -- the galley fridge module contains the ice box, compressor, drain sump.
    -- the galley sink module contains the sink, pressure water pump, and manual foot pumps.
    -- the head module contains the head, a small holding tank, valves, and macerator pump, everything except for the intake/output hoses to the thru-hulls.
    * 3" conduit runs along the edges of the floor, to route new plumbing and electrical lines at will. No more spending a day snaking depth sounder sender cables through holes in the back of furniture.

    * Simplify boat maintenance
    -- Instead of laying on your back with your arm snaked into a crevice, trying to blindly unscrew a hose clamp, pull the sink module out from the wall, remove the side panels, and get at it from all angles.
    -- Ease outsourcing boat maintenance: rather than waiting for the watermaker guy to never show up for a warranty problem, unbolt the half-settee it is mounted in, lift it out the hatch with a halyard, throw the whole thing in the back of a pickup truck, and drive it to his shop.
    -- Never rebuild the head on your knees, with your face inches from the poo leak, again. Pull the whole unit out the hatch, hose it off on the foredeck, then take it apart in the fresh air.
    -- For metal/aluminum hull maintenance, remove all of the interior furniture in a day and have unrestricted access to the interior of the hull.
    * Parallelize boat construction. Start building these modules in your shop while the hull is under construction. Do proper, thoughtful installations with the module on your bench, with the side panels open, rather than trying to work around what you can get to from a single opening.
    * Remove unused modules to lighten her for races, or in my case more likely, a long Southern Ocean trip alone when the kids are grown.
    * Possibly rearrange the modules occasionally as you get bored, as one would home furniture (ex: switch from a U shaped galley to a European style linear galley).

    I am new here, so a little background on me. I recently sold my beloved Passport 40 after 12 years of sailing her on most of the oceans. I can not think of a single mechanical thing on her that I did not replace or rebuild during that time (from the smallest galley foot pump to the engine). Most maintenance and repairs were very easy, but nearly everything took hours longer than it should have because of simple access issues.

    My wife and I are planning our 'next boat', and this modular idea is a big part of the minimalist functional style we want. We want to do this in a Japanese aesthetic with modern materials: aluminum and plexiglass shoji screens that bolt on the floor to make rooms, and unbolt to make a larger salon when the guests (or kids) leave. A low Japanese style salon table that you sit on the floor with to eat at. For when we leave civilization for a few months, big nesting tupperware bins that we pull out of the forepeak, fill with food, and lash to the floor.

    I've read a lot here and value your collective feedback. What do you think of this modular idea?
  2. Guest62110524

    Guest62110524 Previous Member

    fab, only way actually , especially if you are trying to cut hours as in commercial builds
    For instance you build in sit a ply heads shower room, and it takes 60 hrs to cove up and paint the thing to a high standard
    Go to a bathroom shop, buy a drop in shower cubicle adn look at the hrs saved, 40x40 dollars is 2400 dollars, and thats a lo estimate
    Many superyacht builders, since the coming along of CAD and multiple axis routers, are sending the dwgs to furniture makers and , then dropping the product into the boat
    The racer Mari Cha(sp) had one interior for racing another for being a luxury craft
    on our latest boatt we wll surely try to do more of this, good post!!
  3. Stumble
    Joined: Oct 2008
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    Stumble Senior Member

    I like the idea but there is one problem I can see. A lot of the furniture you are talking about serves a duel purpose both as furniture and as structual support for the hull. In effect a lot of boat 'furniture' could be considered odd shaped stringers.

    Of course this can be designed around, but it is something to be aware of when designing the internal modular system.
  4. yipster
    Joined: Oct 2002
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    Location: netherlands

    yipster designer

    basicly yes but boathulls arent square and 3d cad can help
  5. Crag Cay
    Joined: May 2006
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    Location: UK

    Crag Cay Senior Member

    Bruce Bingham did exactly his with one of his steel boats about 25 years ago. He did it for flexibility and to ensure he can always at at the hull interior for maintenance.
  6. wardd
    Joined: Apr 2009
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    Location: usa

    wardd Senior Member

    another idea would be insulated fabric panels velcroed to frames for interior panneling, sort of like military aircraft
  7. Guest62110524

    Guest62110524 Previous Member

    we do that with all our deckheads, get to the wiring, etc soft fit with small gap
    Last edited: Jun 21, 2010
  8. philSweet
    Joined: May 2008
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    Location: Beaufort, SC and H'ville, NC

    philSweet Senior Member

    You want your watermaker AND your furnature to be gone for three months?
    (and the first thing the mech will say is you have to take it apart before he'll touch it, probably.)

    A new head costs about 80usd on sale. Replace every year or so. How long is your payback on the modular setup.

    Unless it is a small steel hull, it will be expensive to increase the hull strength lost from removing the conventional integrated liner and furnature.

    IMHO, it would be cheaper and probably just as effective to use a conventional build and pay attention to the maintenance requirements as you go. Lord knows how we've suffered maintaining the boats we've ended up with. How, exactly, am I supposed to install 1 inch of keystock when there is only half an inch of shaft between the seal and the coupler? The furniture I'm most interested in removing is my tool boxes.
  9. philSweet
    Joined: May 2008
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    Location: Beaufort, SC and H'ville, NC

    philSweet Senior Member


    I am sorry for the abrupt post. I'm having connection trouble and lost my first post. Tried a short post to see if it was working, then lost connection before I could edit it to what I'd intended. There's nothing wrong with the idea at all. I and others think its a good and practical thing on steel yachts. The point I wished to make was that the generally hopeless maintainability of most yachts is not due to their construction method so much as their design priorities. All you want is attainable in a traditional interior if it is designed in in the first place. Look at Pacific Seacrafts, to name one example. I tried to PM you, but that didn't work either.
  10. Matt Sponer
    Joined: Jul 2009
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    Location: Coronado, CA

    Matt Sponer New Member

    Hi Everyone,
    Thank you for your feedback.

    The boat will be made out of aluminum, so the furniture will not need to support the hull.

    What do you guys think of using 80/20 Slotted T to anchor the furniture to the floor? Lengths the 1050 or 1534 extrusion welded to be flush with the floor, maybe two feet apart, and the furniture could be T bolted to that. The advantage of this system is that everything would not need to be made to tight tolerances, and the floor would be flat with no nuts or studs sticking up.

    Are there any corrosion or fabrication nuances to welding 6105-T5 anodized extrusions to the 5xxx aluminum of the boat?

    We plan to use velcro'd fabric for the head liner. And for the walls, this is a little weird, but to further the Kyoto shrine meets industrial future aesthetic-- there is this frosted plexiglass that has bamboo or grass embedded in it. It looks like a shoji screen with silhouettes of a garden on the other side. We were thinking of screwing this plexiglass to the ribs and backlighting it with strips of RGB LEDs. So that we can light the interior with a diffuse glow from the walls, and change the color and intensity. And maybe, on a long boring passage, programming them to match the external environment, in a highly pixelated and diffuse way, so that at anchor there's more green (or brown) on the side of the boat facing land... And experiment with using the LED array to project a large artificial horizon inside the boat, to see if it helps with my wife's seasickness. This is probably better than playing The Sims for a couple weeks on night watch when we run out of books and are tired of listening to the BBC.

    Phil, thanks for coming back with your second message. As far as the head goes, next time we are taking a porta-potti as a backup, so that we don't have to start a completely disgusting plumbing project until we are good and ready. I've long been an admirer of Pacific Seacrafts, but I am going for a level of simple access to systems that's more ugly than not, that's more like a 'polar expedition' boat we met in Cape Town than a yacht. The challenge will be in making it look reasonably good by cloaking it in some kind of future industrial aesthetic. We might fail and it could look like garbage. But I really do want an electrical panel that's in a waterproof enclosure. For example, this afternoon my wife and I were mulling over the pros and cons of completely sealing the cockpit electronics in a laboratory style glove box (with a single rubber glove to operate the buttons inside the case). We won't go that far, but we are tired of replacing 'waterproof' electronic displays in the cockpit that fog up or short out after four or five years, and the goal is to figure out something that protects them better.

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    FAST FRED Senior Member

    This is a very worthwhile endeavor .

    Velcro has limits in G loading, I use wire ties for items that need simple EZ access like a wiring chase.

    No biggie to snip 3 or 4 ties and replace them after the new wiring is installed.

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