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post #1558 of Old 10-08-2013
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Re: Pros and cons of steel sailboats

Originally Posted by Capt Len View Post
Disregarding factors of material, design. moments etc, advantage of steel over wood is obvious when you consider inside volume.My planking is 2 inches, frames 4 inches, deck beams 6 inches, carlins 6x6 shearclamp 10 by 10 all in a hull that could be better used if the same shape were steel or even FG.This volume wouldn't have to be full of stuff but would make it easier to swing a cat.Since captains aren't allowed to do that any more, I wouldn't change a thing.
As contrast, the western red cedar strip planking of my new Perry 62'er is one inch thick and the West System sheathing (set in tri-axial 24 ounce Vectorply) adds only a fraction of an inch, so no more than 1-1/16 total. She has basically no other protruding structural elements as the deck and entire interior (bulkheads, berth-flats, etc) are foam core composite and designed to be structural. Therefore she is very open down below.

Granted steel would be thinner, but then you would have insulation, etc to add to the steel and a steel vessel would not be near as light.

I have read that various lab tests show that wood/composite can be stiffer and stronger than steel. (And I believe that wood/composite is a better insulator for temperature and noise.)

I have nothing against steel as a vessel material (or any other material for that matter), each material has a valid place in boat building. (I have 316SS keel floors to distribute the keel loads via some G-10 girders throughout the hull.)

This argument of one material being better than another makes no sense to me, each material has pros and cons, the best vessels use many different materials in different applications to accomplish the desired mission. As all missions are different, each might take a different approach and use different materials.

My vessel is built of wood (western red cedar, fir, cherry, ash), West System Epoxy, carbon fiber, solid G-10, titanium, several brands of dense and light weight foam core, VectorPly in several different weights, 316 SS, Aqua-mat 22, anodized aluminum, sheathed mild steel, lead, Dacron, Spectra, and I am sure I have forgotten to list other items used in her build.

All boat building materials have their place IMHO, even ferro-cement.

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