... the ROCAT story

Discussion in 'Boat Design' started by cristofa, Apr 22, 2014.

  1. upchurchmr
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    upchurchmr Senior Member

    Cristofa,

    Each of us has our own experience and of course think our concerns are most important.

    I want to thank you for showing your experience, it probably contains some lessons learned but they are not always obvious without discussion.

    For myself, I will probably never do a vacumn infusion, so while that is interesting it doesn't raise questions for myself. From my professional experience, filling a structure full of foam generally just adds unnecessary weight, so that was not an important point to me.
    Certainly making a closed mold is interesting, but I have seen multiple ways to do it depending upon how much money you spend. My question here is was it worth the cost for the weight saved (an assumption I believe) To answer the question would require seeing the actual layup, the final weight vs what was planned and a bunch of other details that I have never gotten anyone previously to show. Sorry if I was wrong in assuming you would be the same.
    I don't understand why you would bother with epoxy primer in the mold. If you are going to paint the hulls anyway, why not just primer as a part of the painting?

    Last - when I published the catamaran rowboat I made for myself, I got exactly the same response. Little real interest, focus on issues I thought unimportant, and no technical questions when I made what I thought were question begging statements.

    My conclusion for myself were:
    Almost no one will consider a catamaran rowboat no matter what the benefits.
    Very few are even interested in considering sliding riggers of any design.
    Most on these forums are interested in historically recognized boats.
    My techniques are not of interest to most here, in spite of not being very radical - they were not old enough.
    Cost is an overwhelming issue with most of the people here.

    My response to your presentation was "mostly" a question of why the boat did not sell.
    I admit to rising to the bait about a minimal size drain hole, but the basic question was why was the seatshell necessary at all.
    I was trying to understand features which seemed to increase the cost - due to the fact that it seemed to be more expensive than people would pay.

    I'm sorry you had a bad experience here, but we seem to get about 30% interesting or useful responses, in my experience.

    Good luck with selling the project.

    For my own part, I did notice you were not very interested in discussing the elements which might not have contributed to success.
     
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  2. cristofa
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    cristofa Junior Member

    ... thanks for the response - probably too much to answer satisfactorily in one go, but I will make a start

    ... obviously, it depends what you are trying to achieve but, having used vacuum resin infusion for composite parts, I can't imagine using any other process - especially in closed moulds. The most attractive feature is the cleaness and absence of mess and smell (although using epoxy, there is less smell anyway). But also, I was very impressed with a part consistency that would be quite impossible by other means. I'm afraid I have forgotten the weight of the seatdeck, but I do remember that we were getting no more than around +or- 30gms difference between pulls. And of course, the other very attractive feature is that all the part's surfaces are smooth. In a production situation, using an automatic resin delivery system, closed mould composite parts can be made in an almost clinical environment.

    ... the foam's weight was obviously an issue, especially in the crossbeams where the foam is not particularly contributing the the strength. I was always looking at ways to reduce weight so the foam had to offer something beyond core strength - in the case of the crossbeams, it enabled me to produce an elegant, light, extremely strong part. Carbon braid wraps the foam blank and the whole is infused in a closed mould with impressive results. The ROCAT is rated to carry 120kgs so it had to support that 120kg in the middle of its 1600mm (3.3kg) crossbeam with very little flexure - in fact it dips 11mm under a 100kg load. I didn't have the resources to destruction test the crossbeams, but suspect they would probably support twice the rated load. Incidently, the beams are deliberately torsionly flexible.

    ... well the answer is slightly skewed by the fact that I rapidly came to the conclusion that closed mould VARI was (for me) the best way. You can see the actual layup for the hull in pic #5 in the proto-4 gallery - the cured wall thickness was 2mm. Out of the mould, if I remember rightly, the 5m hull weighed 7.3kg - I think fitting the crossbeam sockets, the skeg and the built-in buoyancy added 1.6kg. I was asked at the time why I didn't use carbon for the hulls to save more weight and this is an example of popular culture being brainwashed by ignorant journalists. Carbon fibre is a remarkable material which, properly used, can be extremely strong - but it has lousy impact strength, so is definitely not appropriate for a hull. The layup I used was incredibly tough and I failed to puncture a scrap hull with heavy hammer blows.
    The seatdeck layup was a single skin of Saercore (like Rovicore) which is a random mat/resin infusion medium sandwich. It's a great material to use because it shapes very easily to double curvature and infuses flawlessly every time.

    ... next instalment later
     
  3. Skyak
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    Skyak Senior Member


    Christopher,
    I don't have many of the important details but from what I can see...
    the primary challenge to the ROCAT enterprise is establishing commercial viability -customers paying in excess of the cost to provide, including customer acquisition costs and a return on investment commensurate with risk.

    ROCAT is pre-revenue and it's biggest tangible asset is a set of tooling. I could get into intangible assets but the point is that for recreational watercraft the value of the enterprise is between zero and pennies on the dollar for tooling. The inclusion of intangible assets just increase the value of the tooling -it's worthless on it's own. As a profitable enterprise it can be valued at some multiple of profits. This risk profile means that investment expects a very high rate of return and this will not change until a reliable profit is established. This might seem harsh or invalid but supporting evidence is abundant. The most likely argument to the contrary is that your cost of capital is lower because you can get a lower interest loan secured with personal assets but that would just be hiding costs in higher risk. The important point is that the rate of return required on invested capital is high and any plans that do not meet this high standard are worthless (negative net present value). When you realize this you will see that the huge potential of a low cost version is not a viable option because it is unrealistic to think that profits will catch up to the cost of initial investment. The one design racing idea is similarly flawed when you consider the combination of investment and customer acquisition cost and time. If anything the most logical path to the low price high volume tooling is succeeding up market first to lower the finance cost and risk. The good news is that the product you have created has the high level of finish and consideration for customer experience to make sense as a high end 'toy'.

    The back injury information helps make a case that the ROCAT stroke is different, but has the positive attribute of eliminating the most common injury.
     
  4. Russ Kaiser
    Joined: Jul 2009
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    Russ Kaiser Exuberant Amateur

    Enjoyed looking at your development story

    After perusing your website I was quite impressed with your efforts on the ROCAT project.

    I have been interested in rowing catamaran designs over the past few years because of the platform's stability. If you are getting into (or in this case, onto) a boat and you're going to be rowing in a lonely location the added stability is a plus. Who want's to tip a shell a mile from the pier in cold water with no one to witness that you're in trouble.

    That said, I think your project's choice to emphasize high tech materials was a mistake. Other than exercise, there is no use for your craft. The subset of folks that would use a rowing catamaran as a choice for exercise and also be willing to own the very best technology money could buy has got to be small indeed.

    Now if you had made it with blow-molded hulls and aluminum tubing and could keep the price under $1500 US you might have had a winner.

    Weight is only important to a point. As long as your craft was reasonably light and can be stored and launched single handed it would do well. The typical owner will be exercising on, not racing the ROCAT. Their weight is what they're worrying about, not carbon fiber this and foam filled that.

    It's like my bicycle. The guys I know that will pay $25 to shave a gram off their bike's weight are already in great shape. Why would I pay $25 to shave a gram off of my bike when I'm overweight more than 12000 times that amount?

    Certainly you want to be rewarded with speed when you row, but saving 20 or 30 lbs. through high tech construction materials and techniques is not going to change the rowing experience for most buyers.
     
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  5. cristofa
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    cristofa Junior Member

    Skyak ... thank you for your considered and interesting analysis.

    I guess the 'intangible assets' you mention include my expertise - all the processes and experience are in my head. So, until that is all documented, that increases risk for an investor.

    What's your take on crowd-funding?
     
  6. cristofa
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    cristofa Junior Member

    ... thank you

    ... OK, apparently you did not make it to the bit about 'the future' - I suggest you have a read of that, as well as Skyak's post above, which is relevant.

    The reason I didn't make the cheap one first was down to the high cost of the moulds - ironically, it costs a lot more to make moulds for cheap roto-moulded hulls, than fancy high-end hulls. However, once you have the roto-moulding mould, the unit cost of the hulls is peanuts compared.
     
  7. SukiSolo
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    SukiSolo Senior Member

    I think that may depend on the price of gas....;)

    BTW I have designed speaker cabinets which use the same roto mould technology as marine hulls ie the self foaming centre layer. Probably about the same time as the first hulls.
     
  8. Skyak
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    Skyak Senior Member

    I am a fan of crowd-funding and intend to use it in the future. It's great to be able to make the product sales before making big production investment. That said I don't see how it applies to ROCAT -the tooling is already purchased. The challenge is selling at a sufficient price and I suspect that the price and uniqueness of the buyer would make it a nonstarter. It would end up selling T-shirts and looking like a bake sale to benefit a high priced toy (not a knoble cause). There is another type of crowd-funding, for equity, that might be pertinent but that brings me back to my last post. Equity needs a rate of return commensurate with risk. First comes a viable business plan, then comes investment.

    Of course all this is subject to change based on the price (that dare not speak it's name).

    I will send you a PM.
     
  9. cristofa
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    cristofa Junior Member

    upchurchmr - here are a couple more answers to your questions

    ... once again, it was down to testing various systems. For a number of reasons I decided not to use gelcoat, so every part had to be primed with a product which was compatible with the layup resin. From my tests I found that substituting the gelcoat with epoxy primer produced better and more reliable results than infusing the layup resin directly on to the mould surface - most particularly, there was significantly less print-through.

    ... one might suppose that the members of this forum would be interested in cutting-edge design and technology but, sadly, that would appear not to be the case.

    ... but the boat did sell! With virtually no sales or marketing, I had 12 orders from as far afield as Buenos Aires and Vancouver – I simply ran out of cash and was not able to fulfill the orders. We finished 3 boats before I had to pull down the shutters.
     
  10. upchurchmr
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    upchurchmr Senior Member

    ".. but the boat did sell! With virtually no sales or marketing, I had 12 orders from as far afield as Buenos Aires and Vancouver – I simply ran out of cash and was not able to fulfill the orders. We finished 3 boats before I had to pull down the shutters."

    That might be important to emphasis. I did not get that from earlier discussion.

    Thanks for the comment about print thru, not having done in molded laminates I forget that issue.
     
  11. Squidly-Diddly
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    Squidly-Diddly Senior Member

    advantage of sliding RIG on smaller(shorter) boats is rower's weight doesn't shift.

    that would be even more important on a cat with two somewhat shorter hulls.

    would also seem more seaworthy if 'something happens' you don't have your butt on a sliding seat to complicate matters....then again having a sliding seat allows sliding to an ice chest on either end for beers or sandwiches.
     

  12. Rick Killeen
    Joined: Jun 2021
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    Rick Killeen New Member

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