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Soy un Perdedor
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Anyone have any thoughts about the latest use of Carbon Fiber, Innegra and Epoxy Resin in boat builds? I know there are a few of the high end builders that are using these materials in their builds and they claim it results in a lighter & stronger lamination.

It seems to me it's still a production method thats in its infancy and there are not enough years to look back in terms of longevity and success. I wonder how many of these skiffs might end up with hull failures down the road and if the companies building them would be able to handle the warranty if they fail?

I've always heard that carbon fiber is very strong until it's compromised and then it fractures/explodes due to it's brittle nature. Not having a long history of problem free builds using this method would make me nervous considering these light weight skiffs get bounced on their trailers, poled across oyster bars and pounded in short chop day after day.

Is it risky or is it the way builds are heading in the future?
 

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I dont think it is a question of epoxy over vinylester or polyester resins so much as it is carbon fiber over regular e-glass, standard cloth, and bi-axial types (legacy?) Laminating schedules.

It would be hugely informative to have Chris Morejohn, Boatbrains, and several other very knowledgeable individuals comment in-depth about this very subject.

Just HOW DESIRABLE IS CARBON FIBER AS A BOAT BUILDING MATERIAL? I know it is very stiff and light. But how well does it handle hundreds of thousands of repetitive hammering shocks from short stiff chop? Technical considerations in lay-up using carbon fiber with respect to radius of corners, directional bias with respect to stress loading, optimal resin-wetting etc.?

It would be very enlightening to have some gurus of glass provide some real hard-core do's and don'ts on proper laminating schedules for a great resource. Not only for a prospective home builder, but also for anyone looking to buy a skiff for proper evaluation of cost / price and best functionality like weight vs handling diverse conditions etc.
 

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I don't know shit about carbon but I fish on a carbon boat from time to time. It's nice but it makes this crazy roaring noise when traveling across wind rippled water. Kind of like driving a sports car really fast down a gravel road. Your coffee better have a lid that closes tight or you will be wearing it.

My experience in motor sports tells me that stiff carbon parts have a weird resonance to them. They tend to be noisy. My wife has an all carbon road bike that feels and sounds very stiff.
 

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I have a Trek carbon fiber frame and recently ordered a Rodriguez custom steel frame and the difference in ride quality is night and day. The steel frame is MUCH more comfortable to ride.

Wondering if a completely carbon fiber boat absorbs shock and provides a nice ride on light to moderate chop. Like just about every trip in TX coastal waters the wind will be from a light breeze to a nice gale at around 40+ so it matters if a boat will beat you down or not.
 

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its a good question. or 2 questions:
will a carbon fiber hull hold up to long term hard use
will a carbon fiber hull ride as comfortably and quietly in a chop.

likely if any problems develop it won't be a warranty issue as I'm guessing it would get through the warranty period.
 

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Yes it would be somewhat unfortunate to discover 5 years later when the last payment is made, that cracks are starting to form around the transom area exactly right about the time the 5 year hull warranty goes away. Then a trip under the boat shows a few more cracks starting to develop along the keel and into the flats. Well darn it that $60k spent on the boat is not looking too good.

Hopefully this does not prove to be an actual scenario. Increased usage of carbon fiber does seem to be the next direction though.
 

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I am basing my thoughts here having since 1973 lived aboard boats for 98% of the time over this time period. I have had the opportunity to have experienced hundreds of different designs in all kinds of conditions from sailboats to small powerboats.
All materials have their place in boat design, construction, and engineering if used properly.
Today in the flats skiff market several materials and building methods in my opinion are used as advertising tools to lure potential buyers by touting the materials greatness alongside their company’s name and by association hoping to glean some build credibility.
During my time at Hells Bay Boatworks Hal and I wrote together all our advertising lingo. We used words like vacuum bagging, Kevlar/carbon construction, patent pending, etc through out our sales pitches.
We advertised all our hulls in a basic eglass construction version and then a Kevlar carbon one at greater cost.
When asked I always said just go with the eglass build. Explaining that the Kevlar skin would aid in impact resistance only.
In reality 1 layer of 10 oz Kevlar cloth was laid in the outer skin only and a strip of carbon Unidirectional cloth was laid down the top of the stringer. Carbon was used at times in other places under the deck depending on the client and the build.
No mater how I explained it everyone went with the more expensive build.
The Kevlar and carbon cost difference verse regular Eglass was about $95.00 to us.
When I came up with what became the Waterman series of skiffs these hulls had to cost less so we had to take out more stuff.
So out went the core in the upper hull sides and the build was just 18oz roving and 1-1/2 oz. Matt.
No Kevlar option.
These two build types have it seems held up pretty well over the past 20 years.

Fast forward to today’s market of several builders trying to outdo the ole Whiprays old school building methods. I designed this skiff to be light yet strong using basic materials and user friendly methods that anyone off the street could be taught to build. What made these skiff builds really work well was it was a simple concept of a monocoque build putting hull skin thicknesses in place where it was needed and the rest using common sense elsewhere, and having a good hull shape to mold all this into.

Today finds Carbon and Carbon blends all the rage. Builders using and touting these magic materials are going on about how much lighter their hulls are. Yes they are lighter by 50 or so pounds from their previous builds but they are still way heavier than the Whipray and it’s later sisters originally built at Hells Bay. By many, many lbs.
To me the original micro skiffs started with the Challanger skiffs, Super Skiffs, Maverick Marage, and then the Whipray which introduced super light weight design and engineering compared to its predecessors.

By not taking the commonsense approach to build engineering and practice you can end up with a nightmare.
Look at the above hull build as one example. It’s an all carbon vacuum infused hull. Look at the sharp edges of the core being put into place onto the dry outer skin. Now you can see the inner all carbon skin cloth is in place.
The final photo shows a finished hull that has been infused over the sharp edged core with the worker leaning over its hull.
You can clearly see the core was not tapered to allow the carbon cloth to lay and flow over the cores sharp edges evenly as it’s supposed to. It’s an industry standard to taper all core edges starting from the day the core method was developed. This is a step that has not been used in ignorance by everyone in that shop or as a timesaving cost, cutting out a step in the build process.
What will happen as we all know carbon is very brittle and when bent at a slight angle against a corner it will crack and fail. A hull built like seen above has the potential to fail all along those unfaired sharp core edges.
If built to military specs this hull would be discarded. In America’s cup sailboats this would be laughable.

Carbon is a great material if used properly. In skiff design I would not use it except in certain places like around stringers, bottom of the stern, deck beams etc. I have recently used carbon 12” Wide uni cloth in my last two skiff builds that were solid skin hulls under the stringers. Works great there.
An all carbon hull will be a very rigid unforgiving jumpy feel at rest and underway compared to a regular eglass hull. Not for me. Even if I get the material for free.
In sailboats built properly you have to be very good on your feet at rest because they are so springy it’s like being on a trampoline with your kids.

Kevlar cloth can add impact resistance to a skin over the same weight eglass cloth. The weight savings is minimal between the two. It has no abrasion resistance. Any skiff built with a Kevlar skin on the inside or worse a Kevlar-Carbon blend saw you coming. A waste of $ to no use to the skiff and to you.

Basalt cloth is new to me and I will be using it soon so will get back with what I see. On paper it looks to be a good alternative to Kevlar, eglass for abrasion and sound and increased stiffness over eglass.

I have never used Ennegra blends, I have always stayed away from blends because I see no sense in having one cloths stiffness work against another’s lower stiffness in the same layer of skin. To me it’s like locking your fingers together with someone else’s who you know can break your fingers no problem if bending just a bit.

I hate all biaxel weaves and cloths for light weight skiff construction. Not enough space here to show and explain all the failures I have come across using it.

So what this comes down to is, engineering first, then building details next, If your aim is to be in the light weight top end micro skiff world.

I will in my coming book have all the info to explain from my point of view and from the industry's to help understand the options out there today.

The best clue about a skiff salespersons hands on knowledge to me is by how much glue, resin are on its clothes and the shape its hands are in.
 

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I Love Skinny Water
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I have a Trek carbon fiber frame and recently ordered a Rodriguez custom steel frame and the difference in ride quality is night and day. The steel frame is MUCH more comfortable to ride.

Wondering if a completely carbon fiber boat absorbs shock and provides a nice ride on light to moderate chop. Like just about every trip in TX coastal waters the wind will be from a light breeze to a nice gale at around 40+ so it matters if a boat will beat you down or not.
i think my Trek Domane is aluminum and as light as carbon
 

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Permitchaser,

I'm guessing you have a Domane AL3 which is the same weight as the cheapest carbon Domane SL4, and about 1.5 lbs heavier than the much more expensive carbon Domane SL6.

If you shell out $8,000 more you can drop another 3 lbs on the SLR9..... and you thought the carbon/kevlar hull upgrade was expensive.
 

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What CM said above. Carbon fiber should be used around stringers and stress areas. And depending on the resin used that changed weight. You can use West system epoxy and gain a little weight or whatever resin IRL car builders use and get a very light and flimsy hull.
 

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I've never been real smart, and after a couple of drinks this afternoon am probably less so. That being said, for the most part all of our skiffs run around 30mph----we're not talking offshore power boat racing here. We run in the waterways and sheltered creeks--not 4' seas ( though some on this site may claim so ). We are literally talking about less than an inch difference in draft for most boats using this material if the manufacturers were honest . So.....why does anyone need space age material that costs 40% more, unproven, and does not work nearly as well as Viagra for all of us vain, macho , more money than sense boat owners???

Fire away---I can take it...........
 

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WOW look at that layup there with that core laid in there crazy like that. And that is superior to these guys' hand built works of art in what way? That just looks horrible.
 

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Carbon fiber is great for safety cells in racing boats, cause the rest is wood. Someone made a all carbon tunnel boat and if raced will need about 500 lbs of weight to be legal. It is not the be all to end all.
 

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The problem I see as coming from the aerospace side, which is light years ahead of the boat market, is the desire to use “advanced”, cutting edge composite tech where it doesn’t apply, purely for marketing to rich fuck wannabes. These are light duty skiffs for chrissakes, not aircraft.
A better approach would be DFM, Design For Manufacturing. Vacuum infusion, or even better, closed mold. All I have worked on is always based on design and process, process, process. Precise layup schedules, controlled glass to resin ratios with light stiff core added where applicable. Epoxy is superior which is why it’s used in aircraft exclusively not poly based resins for a whole bunch of reasons. But, it’s not necessarily needed in such a low level application. But....you get the layup right and process down, the delta between costs/performance/weight/ CYCLE time, might just favor epoxy. It can all work.
As far as carbon...why? stiff, light, brittle, but possibly with compromises in a hull application for power boats but has advantages in a racing canoe. It’s about application.

You can build really great hulls with high quality marine ply and epoxy, light, strong and durable but not suitable for volume production, but done well are superior to anything production based. You can do it the less precise way in a mold, cheap resin, CSM, etc. as well, and pop them out fast and surprisingly good if the layup and process is controlled. They’ll all be fine.
You can use all the latest fibers and resins and cores with a good design but a so-so process and be no better off than a cheap poly hull using CSM and average mfg process.

The idea that using the latest and greatest buzz words makes your hull better is just bs, but you guys eat it up and so the mfg’s go where there money is, just like the fly rods and reels. If you really think you can only fish with a $500+ fly reel explains a lot about why we have these discussions. It doesn’t mean anyone is right or wrong.

And at times I think we should all just STFU.....

YMMV as always...
 

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I don't know shit about carbon but I fish on a carbon boat from time to time. It's nice but it makes this crazy roaring noise when traveling across wind rippled water. Kind of like driving a sports car really fast down a gravel road. Your coffee better have a lid that closes tight or you will be wearing it.

My experience in motor sports tells me that stiff carbon parts have a weird resonance to them. They tend to be noisy. My wife has an all carbon road bike that feels and sounds very stiff.
Correct
 

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Seeing the carbon fiber transoms in the chittums has always made me wonder how durable they are. Not sure if that is just an inlay for show or if the cf has a purpose.
 

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EXACTLY why I am not buying a pure carbon fiber layup boat. Not enough data on the longevity of those boats, plus I am not sure about how they would ride and handle stiff chop etc. Just too many un-knowns to risk big dollars on at this time.
 
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