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  #1  
Old 02-21-2014
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Reviving an Old Design

Recently, I was tooling around on the internet, looking for information on Dickerson 50 sailboats. My next-door slipmate in Virginia was a beautiful example and I was made to understand that there were only two built in 1982. As she was designed by the same folks as my boat, Kaufman and Ladd of Annapolis, I was quite keen to learn a bit more about her. That's when I stumbled on an article from Offshore Navigator from January 2003 entitled "Reviving an Old Design" about a guy who settled on the design as his choice for a new-build, offshore boat. He had the plans digitized and a hull shaped from the only remaining set of paper plans.

This got me to wondering about the feasibility (i.e. cost, availability of qualified and/or willing yards, etc.) of reviving an older design. I am in love with my hull (Skye 51) but I often wonder what the boat would be like with a few tweaks. For example, I have done quite a bit of sailing in higher latitudes in a boat that, while very strong, was not really designed with that in mind. What a difference a smaller cockpit, lower entry to companion way, aluminum hull would make in those conditions!

That lead me to a few more questions and, at the risk of overloading a thread, maybe someone out there can provide some answers to these questions:

-How straightforward is it to convert an older design, fiberglass hull plans into a one-off aluminum new-build?

-Does anyone have experience with such a project and could recommend resources?

-Would one of the big yards (Kanter, etc.) be interested or would it be a smaller outfit?

Any other thoughts or comments on the process.

It's just wishful thinking at the moment but if I win the Powerball...

Thanks.
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Old 02-21-2014
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Re: Reviving an Old Design

You would need the powerball $$ to do it.

Even some of the high end production boats have 8-10K hours in the boat...this after the design, testing and engineering is done. These shops have the skills and equipment to handle composites of all kinds and the best engineering practices in world. Could easily be several million dollars, double digits for the best technology and surfaces. That is before you get to finishes interior/exterior and final touches.

Hull design is pretty straightforward, but almost any change - however slight, may disrupt the compromises made in the original design. Keep in mind the Dickerson was bay built and may have some oddities you may not like in the open ocean (plywood hulls....some failed dramatically). The hard part is the structure behind the hull. Will it still allow the interior to be installed per the original design. Do the bulkheads line up to offer strength where needed (engine bed, ie) and weight savings to not over load the design parameter? The right CNC work can be done ir-regardless of hull material, it will just cost money.

A week in annapolis or seattle/vancouver would uncover some capable, experienced people and yards. Else head to the far east or South Africa. You could make it an academic exercise and get Stevens Inst and the acadamies to all take it on and see who does the best, they may even throw in some tank testing to make sure the final design is viable in the real world.

The right amount of money would interest ANY builder. For the one off, skipper who wants to be involved and has the right resources, customer a smaller more nimble and tolerant yard would be best.

Were I to win and follow this dream...I would engage the likes of Bob Perry to get started. A body could learn a lot spending a week with him and the plans.

Best of luck, just don't be shocked when she comes in over budget and late to the dipping of the keel. If you need grunt work done, count me in, I would do it for room and board, just to learn and contribute

Last edited by kd3pc; 02-21-2014 at 05:59 PM.
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Old 02-21-2014
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Re: Reviving an Old Design

Best thing to do might be to take your idea, and then plans, to a naval architect. Some designs might lend themselves well to production in different materials. Others might not. Big yards might be less interested than small ones, but it wouldn't hurt to ask.
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Old 02-21-2014
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Re: Reviving an Old Design

That's only a question of money. Many NA cabinets will be willing to make you an old designed boat along the lines of that one to be built in aluminium and there are many aluminium shipyards able to build a boat like that but not as a production boat simply because there would be a bad business to the shipyard: How many sailors with money for it would want a 30 year old design?

Imagine that regarding cars, even regarding some famous models from 30 years ago:



Do you think you would be able to convince a car manufacturer to build again one because it was a great car 30 years ago? Some manufacturers used the general shape of cars from the 60's and 70's to make new models that vaguely remember those cars, but that's the only similarity.

If you want a boat with contemporary performance that has the Dickerson 50 as "model" the same way a Modern mini cooper resembles a cooper from the 70's, go to a good NA and he will be able to design it.
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Old 02-21-2014
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Re: Reviving an Old Design

I think today that you'd make a list of the things you really love about your current boat. Then you sit down and honestly make another list of things you wish were different, or that doesn't really work (if you're honest there will be something(s))

Take that, along with the specs of your original boat, to a good designer whose work you admire, and see what they'd come up with to replicate your likes and deal with your dislikes, all within the up-to-date view of modern practices, techniques and design ideas.

Actually, Bob Perry's recent design for a guy who loved his Hinckley SW42 but wanted something newer/bigger is almost exactly the kind of scenario you're describing, and he even managed to retain some of the 'look'....

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Old 02-21-2014
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Re: Reviving an Old Design

Hey! I owned one of those cars, only it was painted Shelby blue. It had the 302 and was wicked fast off the line. The only problem was the rear tire wear. My BIL has a rodded out 1966 model and my 89 had a much more comfortable ride with about the same top end.

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Re: Reviving an Old Design

Quote:
Originally Posted by GeorgeB View Post
My BIL has a rodded out 1966 model and my 89 had a much more comfortable ride with about the same top end.
But it sure didn't look as good.
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Re: Reviving an Old Design

On the car comparison to the OP's post - there is a facet of hot rodding called "Resto-Mod" that takes particularly attractive old cars, like 60's Mustangs, and replaces all the running gear with contemporary equipment. You end up with a contemporary car that looks old.

Just bring $$$$$$$. A nice one can easily run well into 6 figures.
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Re: Reviving an Old Design

Quote:
Originally Posted by kd3pc View Post
You would need the powerball $$ to do it.

Hull design is pretty straightforward, but almost any change - however slight, may disrupt the compromises made in the original design. Keep in mind the Dickerson was bay built and may have some oddities you may not like in the open ocean (plywood hulls....some failed dramatically). The hard part is the structure behind the hull.
I was just using the Dickerson 50 as an example because I spent time docked next to one, admire her lines, stumbled across the article and was designed by the same firm.

That gets right to the point of my question: how the bones differ from a FRP to an aluminum hull and how much the interior would have to be rearranged. At what point is it better/more cost effective to take the general lines of a hull you like to a designer and have him design a completely new hull from them like Faster suggested. Guess that would bear some research. BTW, the Dickerson 50 is a solid glass laminate and quite strong.

Aslo, I wonder if it would be better to go back to Mike Kaufman or Rob Ladd and have them take a look (as the guy in the article did) or to engage someone from outside like Bob Perry?

Fingers crossed for the Powerball!!

4 8 15 16 23 42
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Re: Reviving an Old Design

Quote:
Originally Posted by obelisk View Post
BTW, the Dickerson 50 is a solid glass laminate and quite strong.
Understood, I was thinking more of the 35-38' that were on the Chesapeake some years back....

Actually marine ply, when properly manufactured, bent, installed and epoxied can be a great hull. It is when a cost, only, is used to make a decision to use an inferior product that will not meet the need of the design, that I get grumpy.

The Dickersons were not inexpensive boats in the day, when compared to others. They should have held up better/longer.
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