New life for old Lasers

Discussion in 'Sailboats' started by sharpii2, Mar 6, 2015.

  1. sharpii2
    Joined: May 2004
    Posts: 2,138
    Likes: 261, Points: 83, Legacy Rep: 611
    Location: Michigan, USA

    sharpii2 Senior Member

    Recently I read an article by Jerry Montgomery in “Small Craft Advisor” which mentioned the fact that there are a lot of Lasers™ on the junk pile, because the bottoms of their cockpits are stomped out. He went on to say that repairing these cockpits increases the weight of these boats to the point of making them uncompetitive.

    I came up with the idea of perhaps creating a sub-class of these boats. They would have repaired cockpits, but would also have a hiking rack, so they could be sailed by less athletic skippers. This hiking rack would be a sliding type, so the leeward seat would be inboard. Changing tacks would require some agility and skill, as there would be an extra operation each time, which would be sliding the rack to the windward side. Such would require agility and some skill, but not the physical strength of the more conventional type of hiking.

    This new sub-class would have a higher minimum weight, of course, to make sure the old, repaired boats stay competitive.

    Any thoughts?
  2. tom28571
    Joined: Dec 2001
    Posts: 2,474
    Likes: 117, Points: 63, Legacy Rep: 1728
    Location: Oriental, NC

    tom28571 Senior Member

    Lasers were built with a fiberglass chop spray gun and the hull was pretty weak. The main problem was softening of the hull from trailering as the chopped strand did not take flexing well. If the cockpit is bad, I'd bet the hull is junk too. Many later racers supported the hull around the gunwhale which cured the flex issue.

    Another repair issue was a broken mast tube which always took part of the deck with it. They offered a repair kit for that often recurring problem. Of course, they should have cured it in the manufacturing phase and may have done so later.
  3. sharpii2
    Joined: May 2004
    Posts: 2,138
    Likes: 261, Points: 83, Legacy Rep: 611
    Location: Michigan, USA

    sharpii2 Senior Member


    I didn't think anyone used chopper gun layup during the '70's.

    I've heard of some builders using that for part of the layup, to avoid fabric print through, as well as to save time and labor, but I thought everyone had abandoned all chopped strand layup by that time.
  4. gonzo
    Joined: Aug 2002
    Posts: 15,773
    Likes: 1,200, Points: 123, Legacy Rep: 2031
    Location: Milwaukee, WI

    gonzo Senior Member

    Chopper guns are still commonly in use.
  5. Skyak
    Joined: Jul 2012
    Posts: 1,358
    Likes: 92, Points: 48, Legacy Rep: 152
    Location: United States

    Skyak Senior Member

    I think the idea of racing repaired lasers has merit. I have an old one myself and I am in the region. I don't think a hiking rack is particularly attractive, but I don't have any trouble hiking for an entire race.

    The bottom line is that you need sufficient density of boats and sailors. There are lots of laser hulls -more 'uncompetitive' than not. My thought is that you should just alter the class to add say 5 lbs -anything not needed for repair gets added in a little weight box. In addition allow sails of class design but not certified -saves hundreds. Better yet, do the equivalent of PHRF rating and allow other old repaired boats. If you could figure out the rating, you could demonstrate your hiking rack or other modifications.
  6. CT249
    Joined: May 2003
    Posts: 1,350
    Likes: 142, Points: 63, Legacy Rep: 215
    Location: Sydney Australia

    CT249 Senior Member


    Good ideas.

    Without wanting to derail the thread, Richard Woods proposed the use of old Laser rigs in the "Home Depot boat" thread, and Steve Clark has mentioned how you can turbo an old Laser hull. Perhaps there could also be a development class where you either use a Laser hull and foils with a different rig atop, or a Laser rig and foils with a different hull below.

    I had a mate who fitted a sliding plank to his Laser. Apparently it worked pretty well, but the plank was fairly short and he was fairly light. A full-on sliding plank like the one on an Int Canoe creates enormous loads that would tear an old Laser apart, so perhaps plank extension could be restricted (which is not hard). Alternatively, you could perhaps allow trapezes.

    Skyak, if you don't have trouble hiking flat out for a full race you must have a lot of championship wins in your pocket! :) I used to train with an Olympic medallist who earned a PhD in sport science through measuring the physical effort involved in hiking at top level - by some measures it was as strenous as bicycle racing at pro level.
  7. gggGuest
    Joined: Feb 2005
    Posts: 847
    Likes: 30, Points: 28, Legacy Rep: 76
    Location: UK

    gggGuest ...

    I'm surprised that more classes don't use the little folding wings seen on some European Canoe classes. On the German Taifun, for instance, they're on a pivot so you just rotate them in at the end of the day. Only about a foot of extra righting moment, but enough to make quite a difference upwind without the complication of a sliding seat. If you had something like that on a Laser without moving the toestraps you'd make it a lot more comfortable to sail, and maybe the support structure could be integrated with a cockpit floor reinforcing structure.
  8. sharpii2
    Joined: May 2004
    Posts: 2,138
    Likes: 261, Points: 83, Legacy Rep: 611
    Location: Michigan, USA

    sharpii2 Senior Member

    That's pretty close to what I had in mind. The idea is to get reasonably sound boats back into racing, by making a sub-class for them and making them somewhat less strenuous to sail.

    Kind of like second hand boats for second hand sailors, who don't have the physical strength and endurance they used to have. I'm in pretty good shape myself, now 59. But I'm no where near as tough and strong as I was 30 some years ago.

    I suppose allowing a trapeze fits with the spirit of this idea. It is relatively simple, light, and cheap It also puts the crew righting loads directly on the rig, reducing the stress on the mast step and hull.

    The risk is the first string Laser sailors will want it too. Maybe that can be overcome by requiring a higher minimum hull weight for the trapeze to be allowed.
  9. bruceb
    Joined: Nov 2008
    Posts: 1,252
    Likes: 44, Points: 48, Legacy Rep: 214
    Location: atlanta,ga

    bruceb Senior Member

    Old Laser repair

    Part of the "old Laser" problems were from their early assembly methods. I don't know at what point they changed, but the early ones used a "bondo" like material (bog) to secure the mast base and trunk top when the decks were mated to the hulls. I have repaired five digit hulls that still had the same issues. The stuff absorbs water, cracks loose and lets the mast socket base move against the hull which then cracks it and the deck, and also the top joint of the trunk starts to leak. They often had leaky hull/deck edges. With moisture in the hull, one or two freeze/thaw cycles turns the boat to mush. In addition, the bottoms get soft so the shape is more concave like a rubber hull than a convex planing shape as designed. If the problems were caught early, they were repairable, and even with a 5-7 lbs gain, the repaired boats were stiff enough to be competitive. Once the bottoms and decks get soft, I am not sure you can keep the shape well enough to ever have a fast boat. Just saying :(
  10. Skyak
    Joined: Jul 2012
    Posts: 1,358
    Likes: 92, Points: 48, Legacy Rep: 152
    Location: United States

    Skyak Senior Member

    Build at least two and invite more sailors to some match races to see if you can build a fleet.
  11. Steve Clark
    Joined: Jul 2004
    Posts: 221
    Likes: 26, Points: 28, Legacy Rep: 163
    Location: Narragansett Bay RI

    Steve Clark Charged Particle

    I can say with authority that chopper guns are not used in the manufacture of Lasers. However Chopped Strand Mat is used. There is a difference. "Mostly" and "in general" you "typically" get a better fiber to resin ratio hand laying mat than by using a chopper gun. The quotes are to satisfy those extraordinary operators who achieve great fiber volume with chopper guns. I have known and worked with a few of them.

    The Laser was designed to be built by a value equation as of 1970, and by the nature of the product has developed only marginally since then. All specification changes have to be backwards compatible and deliver better value but not improved performance.
    The ideal is that those "scrap" Lasers could be dug out washed off and returned to the fleet with a minimum handicap. I know of several cases where this does, indeed, seem to be true. But not many.

    Of course the hull is only part of the boat. If the boat is to compete in Laser Class racing, the bits have to all be Laser Class bits, which costs a lot more than people think they should. There are "replica" suppliers who provide knock off equipment that is compatible with the Laser, but which are not legal for Laser racing. This is often significantly cheaper.
    Patched up Laser hulls with replica gear would be a good way to grow the sport by providing low cost entry to an excellent design.

  12. Skyak
    Joined: Jul 2012
    Posts: 1,358
    Likes: 92, Points: 48, Legacy Rep: 152
    Location: United States

    Skyak Senior Member


    The one other boat I think would be a good addition to the 'new' market would be a sort of 'profesional grade' boat -use updated technology to make a boat that performs the same as any new boat, but does not decay with time or heavy use. Possibly with less variation in weight and loaded deflections.
Forum posts represent the experience, opinion, and view of individual users. Boat Design Net does not necessarily endorse nor share the view of each individual post.
When making potentially dangerous or financial decisions, always employ and consult appropriate professionals. Your circumstances or experience may be different.