Author: Simon White
Wood is strong and naturally buoyant, a good heat and sound insulator and a joy to work with and live with. A well built wooden boat can last for years, as long as it's carefully looked after. This is easy to achieve with the help of modern adhesives and sealantsWood is strong and naturally buoyant, a good heat and sound insulator and a joy to work with and live with. A well built wooden boat can last for years, as long as it's carefully looked after. This is easy to achieve with the help of modern adhesives and sealantsThere are many types of wooden boat constructions:Carvel Lapstrake Plywood Strip Plank MoldedFibreglass boats - A typical 20 foot wooden boat could be made up of 3,000 separate parts. A fibreglass boat of the same size needs only 30 parts. Fibreglass does not rot or corrode, it's robust and makes high volume manufacture very easy. Even though fibreglass is more expensive than wood, it's still economical to use. Little skill is required and man hours are reduced, compared to building a wooden boat.The building of a fibreglass boat begins with the plug, a full size mock up of the part to be built - such as the hull. From the plug a concave mold is made, usually made from fibreglass. Before the lay up is begun, the mold is separated with a releasing agent to keep the fibreglass laminates from sticking to it. As various parts will come from the mold, it's carefully built so the shapes never varies and is polished to a high finish.Metal boats - The first metal boats were made from wrought iron. Although not as strong for it weight as wood, it was easy to work with and resistant to corrosion. To add to its strength, carbon was added to create alloy steel. Steel is stronger than anything else. It's resilient, tough and relatively inexpensive to work with.Iron or steel plates were originally joined by rivets, with the plate edges hammered down to make it watertight. This method was superseded by welding, making boats stronger and lighter. Steels main problems are its weight and loss of material through rust.Since the 1940s, new alloys of aluminium have made what some believe, to be the finest of all boat building materials. It does not rust, it's light and almost indestructible.
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