Lightweight builds??

Joined
Feb 29, 2012
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Location
Schenectady, NY
I have always tried to build my boats as light as possible, while maintaining structural integrity and general utility.
I also happen to prefer fast, skinny boats...this also keeps the weight down.
I am forever searching for methods of building lighter and lighter boats.
Most of my strippers are surprisingly light, my 16'8" DY weighs 31 lbs, and is holding up nicely.
I have (had) a 17 foot custom tandem design that was a joy to paddle and carry at 38 lbs.
I have another 18 foot tandem that weighs 40 lbs and has served me well for over 15 years.

All this was accomplished with just cedar and fiberglass with epoxy resin, no Kevlar, no carbon.

I know some skin on frame builds can be very light, yet durable. My son's 12 ft Snoeshoe weighs but 10 lbs!! But I don't particularly like paddling a pack boat.

Has anyone else built lightweight canoes/kayaks?
I am intrigued with skin on frame, Dacron over wood and other materials/techniques that I maybe never even thought of.

Why do I ask now?? I am getting ready to build another solo boat, maybe around 15 ft, and since I am constantly getting weaker (and more worthless!), I want to keep the boat as light as possible.

Anyone?
 
Joined
Dec 7, 2011
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425
Location
Maryland, USA
Stripperguy,
I have built exclusively in skin on frame, mostly kayaks. Weights have been 24 lbs for a 16'x19" kayak for my son, two 18'x20" kayaks came in at 29 lbs.Western red cedar for longitudinals and deck beams, oak for ribs and 8 to 9 oz nylon for skins.You can get them lighter but you loose durability. I built a 12' pack canoe at 24 lbs and my recent 16'4"x29" solo canoe at 40 lbs. Can you get them lighter? Sure, but with less structural strength or rigidity. It's all a compromise. Your snowhoe was light but how durable was it? That design uses very light dacron cloth, if I recall, which compromises puncture resistance. I am totally impressed with the light weights you have achieved with your strippers. If I built lighter I wouldn't expect the hulls to last as long and I would carry more duct tape than I do now!! :)
Dave
 
Joined
Feb 29, 2012
Messages
1,819
Location
Schenectady, NY
Stripperguy,
I have built exclusively in skin on frame, mostly kayaks. Weights have been 24 lbs for a 16'x19" kayak for my son, two 18'x20" kayaks came in at 29 lbs.Western red cedar for longitudinals and deck beams, oak for ribs and 8 to 9 oz nylon for skins.You can get them lighter but you loose durability. I built a 12' pack canoe at 24 lbs and my recent 16'4"x29" solo canoe at 40 lbs. Can you get them lighter? Sure, but with less structural strength or rigidity. It's all a compromise. Your snowhoe was light but how durable was it? That design uses very light dacron cloth, if I recall, which compromises puncture resistance. I am totally impressed with the light weights you have achieved with your strippers. If I built lighter I wouldn't expect the hulls to last as long and I would carry more duct tape than I do now!! :)
Dave

Dave,

These are the details that I'm looking for...my son's Snowshoe has held up OK, only one puncture due to falling on the boat over a spruce deadfall while carrying. It works for him, my paddling preferences would beat the little thing beyond recognition.
Most of my preferred paddling involves carries through dense woods, basically bushwhacking with a canoe on my head, and extensive beaver drags. That also let's out a kayak, too hard to scramble in and out of every 100 yards, and too difficult to fill with gear that needs to be carried.

Do your nylon skinned boats hold up well to abrasion? I've seen some stuff on the web that demonstrates the durability and I'm impressed...
 
Joined
Dec 7, 2011
Messages
425
Location
Maryland, USA
The coatings will abrade but the skin is tough. Nylon stretches. Polyester does not. Nylon has more puncture resistance because it stretches a bit to absorb a blow but gets wrinkly on a damp day. Having said that I've never put a hole in any of the dozen or more SOFs I have built, nylon or polyester. I do put skid strips of oak or plastic on the keel/stem area to protect those high wear spots..
Last night I was thinking about ways I could have made the 40 lb 16'4" canoe lighter. I probably could have saved 6 to 8 lbs at the expense of some stiffness(no inwales or rubrails, fewer ribs, fewer stringers,cedar instead of hardwoods for thwarts, stems and decks) and cosmetics (3 coats of paint in lieu of five). It is all a trade off, isn't it.
 
Joined
Feb 29, 2012
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Dave,
I have been ruminating for some time now about a skin on carbon fiber frame build. The ribs and stringers could be carbon on foam, with whichever skin is most practical. I suppose some Dynel in the high abrasion areas could be added.
My son in law makes many components for four wheelers from foam and carbon...impressively stiff and light in weight.
My goal is a 15 ft solo that's around 20 lb and still tough enough to drag over beaver dams and force through the woods.
 
Joined
Dec 7, 2011
Messages
425
Location
Maryland, USA
Mike,
I have thought about composite frames but one reason I build the way I do is I really don't like working with epoxy and resins and laminates. It could be done and it could result in a VERY light hull. The ribs would have to be laminated into the right shape or the thickness would have to be tapered to get the changing radius needed when bent. I attach the skin on canoes with ss or monel staples so wood gunwales/stems are perfect for that. On a kayak the skin is stretched and sewn so the frame material is not an issue. I'm not sure how I would attach a skin to a composite,cored gunwale (mabe umiak style). It would be an interesting project. How about a light wood frame supported by kevlar cord (Platt Monfort style) with a more durable( heavier) cloth for the skin. My canoe frame was 34 lbs unskinned so a lot of weight savings could be had just in the frame.
 
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