Setting up a Shop to make Vacuum Infused Canoes

Discussion in 'Fiberglass and Composite Boat Building' started by variverrunner, Dec 2, 2010.

  1. variverrunner
    Joined: Dec 2009
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    variverrunner Junior Member

    I have attached a few photos of stretched Wee Lassies that I build.

    They are vacuum infused with wood veneer, carbon, aramid, and S glass.

    The seat is a simple basket weave of veneer, aramid, and veneer.

    The lightest version is built of horizontal wood strakes and interior wood "ribs". Her total weight is 14.5 lbs. My infusion process does not require any infusion media. I am finally setting a shop in Western NY with my 84 yr old Father, to build and sell these canoes, as well as a tandem version and a dinghy.

    I received a US patent for my infusion method and have been thinking about letting small boat builders use my idea for a fee of $75.00 or so per hull built.

    I would appreciate everyone's feed back.

    If anyone is interested in more about how I do it, let me know.

    Thanks in advance

    Allan


    black egrit diag on snow.jpg

    variverrunner (1).JPG

    Stern deck.jpg
     

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    Last edited: Dec 2, 2010
  2. War Whoop
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    War Whoop Senior Member

    Most of us have our own systems,But it would be worth a try, maybe someone needs a infusion setup.
     
  3. variverrunner
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    variverrunner Junior Member

    War Whoop,

    Thanks for your comments. I understand that it makes a lot of sense to do what has worked for you in the past. The PVA I use works so well it is hard for me to imagine even thinking about trying something else. It would likely be a waste of time.

    I posted these photos back in early 2008, a few months after I got the patent. No one at the forum seemed too interested at the time and for various reasons I let the idea drop off my To Do List.

    After thinking about it, I realized that it would be fun to dust off the idea and build some boats with my Father and my nieces and nephews. So I am moved up to western NY from DC to set up and small shop to give it a go.
    I have enjoyed and learned a lot from this forum, and I hope can be of some small to others like me. And I certainly admit it wouldn’t hurt to make a few dollars licensing my idea.

    My original idea sprang from my childhood fascination of Henry Rushton’s Wee Lassie that I saw at the Blue Mountain Lake museum in the Adirondacks. To me the boat is gorgeous and amazing light. Part of me always wanted to figure out how to make it lighter. I built a glue and stitch kayak from drawings in Fine Wood Working (I think) in the late 1990s and wasn’t very happy with it. It was still 26 lbs and nowhere near the graceful shape of the Wee Lassie.

    In 1999, I was sitting in a DC restaurant fiddling with a paper napkin when it struck me that I could build a lightweight hull by laminating reinforcements and wood veneer in a mold and making a finished contoured reinforced plywood hull of any shape I wanted. After hundreds of small scale bench tests and 21 failed full scale hull attempts I finally the worked most of the bugs of the system out, applied for and a received a patent.

    Along the way I have learned a lot of patience, gotten a divorce, and learned a lot about vacuum infusion. Such is Life.

    I think the main advantages of my technique are:

    A. The very light weight of the finished panels. My strake/rib boats weight approximately 4.25 oz. per square foot, bringing the total weight of the 13’-6” x 27” hull in at approximately 8.5 lbs. It is worth noting the obvious that these are flat water boats, not white water, but will still hold up extremely well under a lot of use.

    B. The system is very time efficient and requires very few consumables.

    1. The air flows out and the epoxy flows via the small “Infusion Triangle” created by the overlapping veneers no infusion media is required.

    2. The overlapping veneers create a minor beam effect stiffening the overall hull.

    3. The inclusion of interlayer veneers between reinforcements creates a “ web” effect increasing the strength of the hull.

    4. I made the last hundred or so bench tests using a clear pourable silicone membrane as a vacuum bag. I am currently setting up to infusing my next canoe using brushable silicone vacuum bag that is currently being used by Laser for infusing their boats. Besides the bag being reusable, it does not require the use of mold tape at the perimeter.

    I have had a lot of fun along the way in spite of soooooo many failures. When I started in 1999, my main source of data was videos from Fibreglast and the few books I could find about composites. The rest was mainly just trial and error and more trails and more errors. I have learned a huge number of things since I logged first into this site in 07, and I am here to help others in any small way I can

    Allan
     
    Last edited: Dec 2, 2010
  4. Landlubber
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    Landlubber Senior Member

    Allan, Good on ya mate.....all the best.
     
  5. variverrunner
    Joined: Dec 2009
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    variverrunner Junior Member

    Thanks Landlubber, I appreciate the positive feed back. The worst possible result is I might lose a bunch of money, but I will get to spend a lot of quality time with w/ my Dad before its to late. I really like your slogan or whatever is is called. It is important to understand what you don't know. That's the cool thing about this site. Egos aside, and sometimes silly diatribes, there are a lot of incredible people here sharing their knowledge. I have learned a lot even from the diatribes

    Allan
     
  6. TeddyDiver
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    TeddyDiver Gollywobbler

    And where you think the limits of your method are? Weight and length of the boat?
    Looks nice anyway.. :)
     
  7. variverrunner
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    variverrunner Junior Member

    Hey TeddyDiver,

    The thickness I have gone is 5 layers:
    1. 3k 2x2 Twill weave carbon
    2. 1/32" Perf. Wood veneer
    3. 3k 2x2 Twill weave carbon
    4. 1/32" Perf. Wood veneer
    5. 3k 2x2 Twill weave carbon

    The 2 foot by 2 foot sample infused very well and was incredibly stiff. I am gathering supplies to set up two testing stations to determine the exact strengths of various lam schedules.

    One of my marketing ideas is to build a 20 foot version of Rushton's Wee Lassie to canoe the entire length of the Mississippi this coming spring or summer. The boat would be 27" x 20' and I think pretty darn fast. The fastest time is about 18.25 days, I think set back in 2003 by a couple of guys paddling a canoe they had built for the race. I was originally thinking it would take about 45 days, but who knows, I might try to come close or beat the best time. I am working on some of my nephews to see if one of them will come on board with the idea.

    I am currently looking for a 50s - early 60s Porsche 356 that is beyond repair so that I would feel to bad about cutting it apart in order to make molds to build an entirely wood carbon wood 356 monocoque car. I plan on finishing it brite. It should be pretty gorgeous and a fun car to drive.

    Your thoughts about all of the above would be appreciated.

    Allan
     
    Last edited: Dec 3, 2010
  8. Herman
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    Herman Senior Member

    2 thoughts:

    Your centre layer of carbon does not add much in panel stiffness, you could replace it by glass if it needs to be there, without losing much properties.

    Sourcing a 356 can be a tough job. Prices went up the roof in the last years (cars do not evaporate, shares on the stock market have proven to do...)

    Still a nice project.
     
  9. variverrunner
    Joined: Dec 2009
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    variverrunner Junior Member

    Thanks Herman,

    I'm not an engineer but I understand enough to know your right about the carbon at the center line of a flat panel. The very first hull I made was wet laid up and then vac bagged. The lam schedule was 4 oz s glass wood strakes, 5.7 oz aramid, and a final layer of wood veneer ribs. It was made in a 2 pc split mold. The hull weighted about 6 lbs. My caveman testing was to take the boat out onto the Rappahannock and double paddle as fast as I could directly into rocks that where above the river 4 to 5 inches.

    The results really surprised me. I could see the hull deflect (enough to see the shape of the rock) as I went over the rock(s). I did it probably 15 -20 times or so and the interior ribs never cracked. That was a torture test and I do not recommend my egrets for anything but flat water

    I do wonder about its value in a highly curved surface such as a monocoque 356 body.

    My plan for testing includes flexural tests and impact tests. For my own education, I plan on testing a wide variety of lam schedules on flat panels and compound curves.

    Your right about the price increases of old 356s, I might end up building an 60s V bug instead. I really want to try the 356 if I can find one that I can afford.

    Thanks again

    Allan
     
    Last edited: Dec 3, 2010
  10. Landlubber
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    Landlubber Senior Member

    ...emmm, I read the carbon in the centre bit too and wondered why...who did the spec on the layup and why is the carbon on the "neural axis"...does seem strange to me.....
     
  11. Landlubber
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    Landlubber Senior Member

    Alan, Do a bit of a google on aussie surf boats, I seem to see a good market there for you...let me know if you have any dramas, a mate of mine is still a "clubbie"....( we hated them cos we woz board riders)
     
  12. Herman
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    Herman Senior Member

    Please do keep in mind that in flex, the panel does not improve from the carbon in the center, but if the whole panel is loaded in tensile, the carbon is an advantage.

    Also, some flexibility is not a bad thing for things that should not break.

    About the 356 again:
    Another option would be a 911, they can be had for little money, or a 912.
     
  13. Coen
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    Coen Junior Member

    The thickness of the materials is also important to keep in mind. If for instance the wood would have a thickness of 0.1 mm, and the carbon would be 3 mm (unlikely, but anyway), the wood will not do much. Flex would then also come from the carbon, and it would differ when that would be changed to for instance glass.

    But nevertheless, basically, the carbon in the center does sound a bit strange.
     
  14. variverrunner
    Joined: Dec 2009
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    variverrunner Junior Member

    Herman,

    Thanks for your feedback. I have only done one 2’x2’ layup of the five layers I described, just to see if it would completely infuse. I think I understand that having the reinforcement at the center of the layup where it is theoretically at the “inert” center of the “web”, is the worst place for it to be.
    It is interesting that my canoes are so stiff, even with the aramid or carbon at the center.

    My typical layup is:
    4 oz. S glass @ .006
    Venee @ .03125
    5.7 oz. reinf. @ .012
    Veneer @ .03125
    4 oz. S glass @ .006
    Total in field = .0865

    In my strake boats the veneers overlap one another by about 3/8”. The overlaps form a +- 3” o.c. grid that is approximately .1177 or a bit over 7/64” thick. The grid adds further stiffness and the veneer overlaps t form what I call an infusion triangle, which also me to infuse without the need for infusion media. By using silicone vac bag, I am hoping to avoid the need for peel ply. If it works my consumables, will be down to just mold wax, pva, and 3 or 4 feet of epoxy supply hose, per infused hull.

    Besides setting up testing apparatus for testing the flexural and impact strengths of different lay ups, I want and need to learn how to actually learn the engineering theories and methods of calculations for composites. I never got past high school trig so I have a lot of learning to do.

    Everything I have done to date is by hand, without any cad. I have down loaded Freeship, and I am about to start grinding my way through that.

    With regard to flexure and carbon, I am planning on revising my reinforcement to a carbon/aramid hybrid and turning it and the exterior S glass 45 degrees. The 45 degree turn will give 2x the fibers crossing the grid and I think will further strengthen the overall hull. Do you agree?

    The hulls would be stronger if I used the carbon or hybrid as an outer layer on each exterior surface, with the two layers of veneer cross lapped on the interior. Right now my egrets are strong enough and I want to produce them with at least the interior finished brite. I think the former idea will work well for racing sculls and other light weight hulls were stiffness and weight are more important than aesthetics.

    I think your right about building a 911 instead of a 356. 911s are way more plentiful and therefore less expensive and still fun to drive. I had a 1972 911T back in the early 80s and it was a screamer. Part of the reason I switched to a 356 was because I could drive it hard and still not be going to horribly fast.

    Landlubber,

    Thanks for the tip about aussie surf boats. I did google them and think they are a market very worth pursuing.

    Coen,

    Thanks for your comments. The materials thicknesses are important. I hope my description above makes more sense. Having the reinforcement at the center doesn’t make structural sense as I know it, but it does work. If I knew more at the time I might not have tried it. Sometimes ignorance can be bliss.

    I have posted a few more pics.
    Alex 001.jpg

    2008-07-04 at 18-22-01.jpg

    Strakes on wall 001.jpg

    Stakes in half mold 001.jpg

    Fish Finder.JPG
    Allan
     
    Last edited: Dec 4, 2010
    1 person likes this.

  15. variverrunner
    Joined: Dec 2009
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    variverrunner Junior Member

    I have attached one more photo to show a number of my failed attempts along the way. The canoe is the center is the first one I made. She suffered quite a bit from the rock bashing.

    Allan


    Part of my bone yard 001.jpg
     
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