old plans?

Discussion in 'Boat Design' started by Bernard Arnest, Feb 17, 2004.

  1. Bernard Arnest
    Joined: Feb 2004
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    Bernard Arnest New Member

    Hi,
    I just found a web page of free old popular science and popular mechanic plans, dating to the mid 70s. Are these worthwhile? Have advancements in 30 years added up enough to make these totally outdated and not worth the bother, or in certain types of boats has hull design stayed basically the same, and just simple changes in the construction techniques (improved fiberglass perhaps, advanced bracing patterns, etc) that can easily be made on these older plans?

    thanks!
    -Bernard
     
  2. PAR
    Joined: Nov 2003
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    PAR Yacht Designer/Builder

    The old designs you've found are a few of the many old "How To" articles that appeared in magazines from time to time. The designs where all well conceived and served well for what they where. Most where intended for backyard construction and this in its self can cause unnecessary weight and less then sparkling performance. That said, there are some real gems out there in these near forgotten designs and a careful eye towards the needs you desire can net you a real cheap set of plans.

    Many of these design where done by the great master's of the yacht designing craft and their style is apparent in the drawings and shows through to the design in performance.

    To answer your questions, sure these are fine pieces. Some modern methods and techniques can be used to save weight or increase strength or rot resistance, but sticking with the design as scheduled will net a good result. Just like modern boats each design will have is little flaws and weak spots that owners have addressed.

    If there is one design that strikes your fancy, find out if there are examples still around, active class racing, etc. The folks that have built or owned these boats will be the best to describe the flaws and areas to watch out for during construction. As for being out dated, I'd beg to differ, this would mean the kids fresh from collage are better then me, and I think that idea sucks bilge (I'm triying to be nice). I can think of many boats over 50 years old who regularly bust up the competition in the races. There isn't a designer alive who wouldn't kill for comming up with a design as sucessful as LFH's Big Ti. Good design is good design, no matter when it was thought up.

    Most of us grew up with these designs floating around in our heads or the local lake, so tell us which one(s) has your gaff peaked and someone will remember I'll bet.
     
  3. Willallison
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    Willallison Senior Member

    .... and how about posting a link to the page.... :)
     
  4. sidiag
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    sidiag Member

  5. wwheeler
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    Location: Coldwater Ontario Canada

    wwheeler Junior Member

  6. Bernard Arnest
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    Bernard Arnest New Member

    Hi,
    Svenson's, that's the one. Hmm.. the aqua-racer, the 14' hydroplane (I don't think it had a name, but some sort of title-I can check), and finally the sea angler I believe it was called, a small cabin cruiser. On the one hand a cruiser to take the family out on would be fun, bring sandwhiches and a cooler, go down the bay. On the other hand, if no one else feels like boating at that moment (so you won't be fighting over it) a single-manned racing boat would be very fun :). In my lifetime I'll have time to try both types and more, the question is what to start out with, being a tyro. Partly, I haven't had the opportunity to go boating. My neighbors don't have boats, rentals are so expensive. So I don't know which I'd enjoy more. Frankly, I'll enjoy building either, racer or cruiser, as much or more than the boating itself. I'll just build small boat after small boat and collect them in the backyard, never bothering with costly motors, just to build them :-D

    Being new to boating, I had asked this question about old plans because I simply didn't know whether designs had improved drastically with new materials and CAD or not. Some things haven't changed in hundreds of years like traditional joinery, others like computers change on a yearly or even monthly basis; so I didn't know where boats fit in. Whether these designs belonged to a field where things became obsolete every few years, or where a good design stays around for decades; thanks for telling me that it is the latter case :) It was interesting, though; that the cruiser type boats seemed to have a boxier style than boats today; but that could be a cultural thing too. Then you had classy sedans with sharp corners, now we have minivans so swept back that we call them "dustbusters," and perhaps todays boats are designs with more curves as a style, and the boxy cabins of the popsci and popmech designs were a style and nothing with engineering...? By the way, what is the Big Ti?

    Anyway, do you have personal experience with any of these three, the sea wrangler, the hydroplane, the aqua racer? Comments/ recommendations/ suggestions should I attempt it?

    thanks!
    -Bernard
     

  7. wwheeler
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    wwheeler Junior Member

    I haven't built anything from these plans as yet, but I've worked at drawing out the plans full size. In most of them, there's a grid that you have to copy, and it's clear that it's not as accurate as lofting or full size patterns that you get when you buy a plan these days.

    The other drawback is that many of these plans were drawn VERY quickly, by designers who were paid peanuts, and were published without being tested or even modelled. For example, somewhere on the net I ran into a story about a boat that was built from a Crocker design (a dory/sharpie/ketch about 20' with 2 masts). Apparently it was fun to sail, but had a wicked weather helm, and there were some entertaining problems with the rudder, to boot.

    On the other hand, there's a lot of interesting ideas on the old plans, and they were used to build thousands, if not tens of thousands, of backyard boats in the 40's to 60's. When I was a kid, a neighbour at our cottage built a "Sea-flea" that he used for years, probably from one of these plans. Recently, I also 've actually seen a local boatbuilder has built a repro hydroplane. As for myself, I've been eying an old plan for a "rowing/sailing dory" for some time now, since it appears to be a classic design, and the plywood on frame construction would be a useful thing to work, in preparation for a larger project. The plans are relatively easy to follow, even though they do make some imaginative leaps at times.

    All in all, I think they have their place, and can be used to build serviceable boats. Many of the aging plywood boats quietly rotting away in backwaters are probably based on plans like these. I'd just be careful about building anything that's big, with big $ committed to the project, you may as well buy a decent plan. Also, I'd be careful about anything that appears too weird, since it's probably a dog anyway. Also, I'd be careful about the amount of horsepower that you put on any of the power boats, since most of the designs were designed for much lower hp than is available today.

    PS One strategy would be to hunt for plans by famous designers. Names such as Weston Farmer, Sam Rabl, Monk, etc. are well known and respected. Also look for old copies of magazines such as "The Rudder" and "National Fisherman", which had a new plan every issue.
     
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