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I apologize that this long and was written for a different discussion but it does represent my views on the Vanguard:

I probably come at this with a different perspective than most people. I have been sailing since 1962 and my family actually owned a Vanguard for 5 years in mid to late 1960's. I have sailed on and worked on Vanguards at various times over the period since. I know the problems that we had with the boat as a new boat and I know how the boats behave compared to more modern designs. While the boats have become venerable to some people, many of whom are just now getting into the sport or have never sailed the boat, the reality of these boats never lived up to their current reputation.

In their day Tritons and Vanguards were seen as the least expensive cruising boats that could be bought. They were seen as the Hunters of their day. I know there is no comparison between early Pearson’s and the current crop of Hunters but the point is they were built to be as cheap as they could be and were popular because they were less expensive than anything else out there at the time. Pearson fans like to claim the Triton as the first production fiberglass cruising boat. It was not by a long shot but it was the most popular of the early production boats mainly because of price and hype about Fiberglass's low maintenance.

My concerns with these boats are as follows:
Sailing ability: I keep seeing people call these boats great offshore boats. That is hogwash. These were never designed to be offshore boats. They were CCA racing rule derived race boats and coastal cruisers. By the time these boats were designed the CCA rule, promoted boats that were really not very wholesome. The CCA had very short waterlines, full bows (especially on Carl Alberg's designs), and a lot more weight and a lot less ballast than they should have. They used low aspect ratio rigs and huge genoas. These design decisions derived from the goal to beat a racing rule and not from any objective criteria based on sailing ability. The short waterlines made them slow and wet and miserable in a chop. It made for hard to drive hulls that needed a lot of force to be propelled (as compared to earlier and later designs) and so you had to carry a lot of sail even in a breeze to make head way.

To get any speed these boats were sailed heeled over at very large angles. This allowed the waterlines to lengthen a bit. It did not make them fast, just faster than they were on their feet. It made the boats wet and it meant a lot of weather helm. It meant a lot of strain on crew and gear.

Weight in and of itself does nothing good for sailing ability. Weight, in and of itself, does not add stability or strength or even comfort at sea. It only adds weight, which means more stress on every part of the boat and the need for more sail area to propel the boat. To stand up to this sail area requires a lot of stability The Vanguards were comparatively quite tender even when compared to their contemporaries. In a conversation that my father had with Phillip Rhodes shortly after buying our boat, Mr. Rhodes indicated that the Vanguard was supposed to have had 10% more ballast than it actually received. Part of that discrepancy came from the fact that the original design assumed external ballast and some moveable trim ballast, and the Vanguard received incapsulated ballast and no trim ballast.

Then there is the rig. Since headsail area was untaxed, CCA boats used huge headsails. Ours had a 180% Genoa. This was an enormous sail, and a pain in the neck to sail with, but the boat did not sail worth a darn in winds less than about 7 knots without these huge sails. Today's better sailcloths have allowed these sails to be reduced a bit in size, but they still take a lot of sail area to go.


Age: We are talking about 45 or more year old boats. They were designed to be race boats and coastal cruisers. They were never intended or engineered to be offshore boats. Forty five years of sitting and rocking, forty five years of thrashing to weather, forty five years of sun and rain and ice- and all of this takes a toll. The electrical systems of the day were simple and frankly troublesome as connections would routinely corrode and things would just stop working.

Construction:
My biggest single problem with the Vanguard’s construction is the encapsulated keels. It is very difficult to proper glasswork in the sump or a keel. The leading edge of ours was damaged in a fairly mild grounding, which led to water getting into the cavity between the ballast keel and the skin. During the repairs we exposed areas of dry glass and lenses of unrienforced resins. We kept grinding larger and larger areas of the keel away trying to fix this problem and were never 100% successful. We kept getting into areas of poor glasswork. I don’t see how this problem ever could have been repaired completely.

Another issue is the use of plywood with Formica over it. Formica traps moisture and prevents one from being able to properly observe the condition of these key structural elements. Beyond that I seem to recall that much of the plywood was not marine grade.

These were some of the first boats to use balsa-cored decks. This was before the industry knew about using bonding resins or vacuum bagging. Even in the 60's we were finding small, delaminated areas in the deck.

Then there is the sail handling hardware, which was pretty advanced for its day. By today's standards the sail handling gear is simple but sorely lacking in mechanical advantage and it is hard to find replacement parts for such items as winch pawls and handles. The roller reefing main never worked properly and the reel winches were an absolute hazard to ones health. (I assume that some of this may have been upgraded on most Vanguards)

The original rudders were of wooden construction, built like a wooden boat’s rudder. These were notoriously fragile and needed more care than an all glass rudder. There was a problem with the cutlass bearings. Cutlass bearings of the era were made to have water flowing through them. When they were adapted from dead wood installations in wood to full encapsulation in glass they had a very short life span and would tend to score the shaft. We ended up installing a monel shaft and drilling a hole to provide intake water to the bearing.

Then there is the Atomic 4. I personally like Atomic 4’s but these are getting to be ancient engines with a scarcity of parts. Also the atnks were never properly installed in these boats and it resulted in problems that probably have been addressed on many examples but which is pending repair on most I heard about in the past decade.

Lastly there is the fact that the fiberglass and resins were not as good as our current materials. Shorter fiber lengths and more brittle resins meant a very flexible and at the same time fatigue prone material. It’s a myth that they did not know who strong Fiberglass actually was. They knew precisely, and these boats were intended to match the strength of wooden boats of the era. This made them heavier than comparable wooden boats, which meant greater stresses, and greater stresses meant more fatigue.

Conclusion:
I guess I see it like this. These boats are antiques. They were designed for a purpose in a different time. We tend to loose sight of just how long ago that was and how much has happened ever since. If you compare it to automobiles, as much as I always love to see someone who has maintained and used an antique sports car, I also understand taht no one would ever suggest that an MGA or a 356 (Bathtub Porsche) would make sense as daily drivers. Each of us who comes to sailing brings with us our own set of goals and senses of pleasure. Just having a boat of any kind and getting out on the water is a luxury none of us should take for granted. If your sense of pleasure comes from boats like the Vanguard, with their feel and aesthetics of a bygone time then these would be reasonable boats to own. If you are approaching these boats as bargain basement cruisers with all the comforts, sailing abilities, and strengths of a modern ocean criuser than I think you are making a mistake. If you are used to sailing modern boats, you will be pretty miserable after a while.

Respectfully
Jeff
 

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Jeff H. You were speaking on the construction materials and it appears you said this about the Vanguard?

"Shorter fiber lengths and more brittle resins meant a very flexible and at the same time fatigue prone material."

Short fibers? In woven roving? How do you figure? Short compared to what? I would consider short fibers to be more like the chopper gun products that have been manufactured the last 30 some-odd years to be the champion of short fiber lengths. And what's this about vacuum-bagging? There were companies working without vacuum systems into the 1990's, only relenting to closed systems, not for the end product quality, but for the demands of the EPA, so I'm not seeing how that's relevant either, be it on Vanguards or any other fiberglassed anything made (in an open setting) up til the EPA mandated it be a closed system.
You are still asking these same questions after all these years? ;)

To addresss your "Short fibers? In woven roving? How do you figure? Short compared to what?" :

I have explained much of this to you before and referenced my comments with a roughly 10 to 12 year old marine insurance industry study that looked at the strength of older fiberglass boats. The study was produced because the insurance industry was finding that older boats seemed to be having greater impact damage claims than would seem to be expected from the impacts that they were actually encountering. The study tested actual hull and deck panels cut from older boats and discussed the reasons that were believed to have caused the unpredicted decrease in strength in these materials. That study was available online when you and I first discussed this, but regretably, I am no longer able to find this report available online since if available I would have liked to have provided a link.

In any event, to address your short fiber question, the glass fiber in the fiberglass fabrics (mat, woven roving and woven cloth) that was used in the early days of GRP boats was produced using a process that called a staple fiber process. This produced individual fiber lengths that were comparatively short in length (typically less than 2 feet) which were then bundled into the yards used in roving and cloth. This process not only produced fibers which were comparatively short in length, but which were also less uniform in diameter and more prone to breakage if the woven fabics were not properly handled at the boat builder.

Generally, boat builders of the 1960's were not aware that fiberglass fabrics needed special handling. When I visited Pearson during the 1960's fabrics were precut, then labeled and folded, and stored in neat piles on racks ready for lay up. This folding of the fabric caused some breakage of the individual fibers, and concentrating fiber ends, along the fold line further shortening the fiber length along the fold lines.

At some point in the late 1960's and into the 1970's, the method of producing fiberglass fibers used in boat building changed to a continuous fiber method, which as the name suggests produces longer, nearly continous fibers that were also more uniform in cross section. Also by the 1970's and early 1980's manufacturers also had routinely adopted better fabric handling techniques, storing cut fabrics flat or on rolls.

Fibers produced using the continuous fiber method, and where the fiberglass fabrics are handled properly, are less prone to fatigue and are less brittle over the life of the laminate.

Fiberglass construction during the 1960's was a more casual affair. In the 1960s metering of the resin mix was not done with the high level of precision that is routine today. Resin admixtures were very popular during the 1960's to allow a longer working time, while accelerating the ultimate cure to allow the parts to be removed from the molds sooner. The imprecise mix ratios and the accellerators in use back then, made for a comparatively brittle and factigue prone cured resin as well.

In the 1960's, resin to cloth ratios would vary widely within individual laminations with the layup. Looking at plug cut from a 1960's era boat, you would see variations in the layup with lenses of resin that varied in thickness from layer to layer. And ideal resin to cloth layup results in a material with better flexural strength and resistance to fatique and rupture. This combination of shorter fiber length, less ductle resin formulations, and the lenses of resin rich laminate that was typical during the 1960's boat industry, resulted in a comparatively brittle and fatigue prone laminate.

So while slightly thicker than hulls which followed, hulls like the 1960's era Vanguard, lacking in internal framing and with laminate which the marine industry study showed to be comparatively brittle and prone to fracture, are not the excessively strong hulls which many people assume them to be.

To answer your other question "And what's this about vacuum-bagging?" I know of no boat building company that adopted vaccuum bagging as a way to address air polution problems. There were cheaper ways to do that. In the 1980's, some manufacturers began using vaccuum bagging as a way of better controlling the resin content within the laminate. The problem with hand laid up construction is that it is hard to completely wet out the cloth to a uniform resin to fabric ratio. What happens with vaccuum bagging is that the laminate is fully wet out and then air and resin is sucked out through ports in a membrane. The process compresses the laminate and removes excess resin before the resin sets. It guarenttees a more complete wetout, while reducing the resin left in the laminate to a closer to ideal level. Its an expensive process in that it requires more labor, equipment and there is more resin used, the excess of which is vaccuumed out before cure. But vaccuum bagging produces a much stronger and durable panel.

Where vaccuum bagging is especially effective is in sealing coring in balsa or foam cored decks to the skins where the vaccuum does a more effective job in clamping the core to the laminate and drawing resins further up into the core materials.

I hope this clears this up for you,
Jeff
 

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I would like to touch on a number of other points in this discussion. I too have heard of Vanguards that had spade or skeg hung rudder, but I would be skeptical that these were actually built that way at the factory. Pearson was a comparatively late adopter of spade or skeg hung rudders.

When I visited the factory around 1966, Pearson was already building the Coaster and Wanderer, both of which had long keels (the Wanderer with shoal draft and a centerboard) with attached rudders.

When we were looking at the Coaster, the last Vanguard that was ever built was still at the factory. It had remained unsold due to gelcoat defects, but was under contract when we saw her. That boat had the same keel hung rudder that was on our Vanguard.

The first Pearsons constructed with spade rudders were the Renegade 27 (a really nice but seemingly forgotten design) and the Pearson 22 and these were designed and built several years after the last Vanguard was constructed. My best guess is that any Vanguards that have a spade rudder were probably owner modified.

Obviously, I could be wrong on this since Pearson may have built one or two custom spade rudder Vanguards along the way.

Jeff
 

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Jim:

You and I probably agree on more points than we disagree on. Its more a matter of how the points that we agree on end up impacting our view of the Vanguard as boat being bought to be sailed today. I am not sure that I would say that I dislike the Vanguard, its more that I don't raise them high up on the pedestal that seems to be the norm these days. Anyway, please see my comments in red below.

Sigh...
I've said before, these boats are dirt simple and the interiors should be thought of as more of a blank canvas than a finished design. But those are upgrades any older boat will likely need.

I completely agree that as designed the Vanguards were very simple boats. This makes them easy to work on, update and maintain. if you are handy its is pretty easy to return one to original condition or upgrade it with modern hardware and amentities. Where you and I may disagree is that there are a lot of boats in the same general size and price range which can be purchased with all of the updates already onboard and operational. I also believe that if you are the one doing the upgrading, it is very hard to get even a reasonable percent of your dollars spent on the upgrades out of the boat when you are done since the prices on these boats are somewhat limited by the broader limitations of their age and design.

Phil Rhodes was a pretty well regarded naval architect at the time he designed the Vanguard. Boat design is a blend of many compromises. Vanguards are slow by todays standards, but if you work with the design attributes they sail well. For example, they don't need to sail at a heel beyond fifteen degrees, nor were they ever intended to. If you heel over to twenty, put a reef in and she will sit right up. She will not go beyond twenty easily.

I would agree, Phillip Rhodes was one of the top design offices in the world at the time that he designed the Vanguard. In conversations with Phillip Rhodes about the Vanguard, he made it clear that Pearson compromised the design when they were building the boat the main one being leaving out some of the ballast. You and I would agree that the Vanguard can be sailed quite comfortably at a heel angle of 15 degrees and that if you reef early (12 to15 knots of wind depending on the choice of headsail) she will stand back up and have a comparatively balanced helm. Where we might disagree is that the rule of thumb to get the most speed out of the Vanguard was to sail her with her toerail approximately a foot above the water, which I believe was closer to 20 degrees, and perhaps over that. There is a tendancy to talk about these long overhang boats increasing their waterline and therefore their speed with heel. If you stand them up, you are theortically are giving up speed. It may be that by standing the boat up some, that lost speed may be made up by a smaller leeway angle and therefore and better VMG. It would be fun to experiment with that using modern instruments.

I sail all over New England and never felt the need for anything larger than a 135 on a furler. I sail on the open Atlantic, not the Chessie where air does tend to be lighter, but I regularly do 6 knots continuously off the wind and average 5-5.5 into the wind if I don't pinch. That is with four crewmembers and provisions for a week of cruising. With one reef in, the helm is almost neutral and you do need to reef at 15 knots. The second reef goes in at 30 and you will switching to a storm jib. I sail often when nobody else will go out.

I think that you and I are actually in agreement here too. If you sail in a venue where the predominant winds are in the 10 to 15 knots you can probably do well with a 135%- #2 genoa. I do seem to recall that there is a geometry problem with the sheet lead on #2 genoas (125% to 140%) ( a conflct between sheeting inboard of the lifelines and outboard of the shrouds for which there needed to be a jib track and car added on the deck, or using the outboard jib track on the toerail and sheeting outboard of the lifelines without having the foot distorted on the bowpulpit and forward lifeline, or dropping the forward lifeline to the deck) that limits the size of a #2. But that said, I would think that a #2 could have a pretty wide range on a boat like the Vanguard. And also, reefing the main before reducing headsail size goes a long way towards taming the Vanguard's weather helm. As you note, when you start sailing these boats in venues with lighter winds, say winds much below 10 knots, you really need a larger much genoa, and those larger genoas are a pain to sail with, especially with the original hardware. But then you are faced with ideally swapping for a #2 genoa in winds around 12-15 knots, which then gets swapped for a #3 or working jib as you approach 20 knots. These are comparatively narrow windspeed ranges compared to more modern designs and that was all that I was saying.

The rig came with a roller furling boom-switch to slab reefing at a cost of $50 and you won't regret it.

I am not sure how you change to slab reefing for a cost of only $50 but I completely agree that slab reefing would be a major improvement.

The mainsheet benefits from a traveler upgrade to help shape the main and dump a little wind up top when the breeze picks up. Cost about $250. The decks are wide, simple and clean. There is a real 2" toe rail to keep you aboard, not a half inch square of teak or an aluminum extrusion. The side decks are unobstructed by inboard shrouds, so she may not point as high, but deck work is easier, safer and more secure.

Similarly, I am not sure how you add a traveler and control lines for a cost of only $250 but I completely agree that a traveller would be a major improvement on a boat with as little initial stability as the Vanguard.

That large underwater hull profile translates into more living space below. I have 6'2" of headroom. I've cruised extensively with my wife and kids and we always felt safe and comfortable, if a little cramped as they got larger. The bunks are roomy. The boat does not pound or sound like a resonating drum as it beats to windward. Flex in a Vanguard hull is unheard off. The deep vhull and mass combine to yield a much quieter and more comfortable ride. The boat tracks well, is not squirrely at all downwind or running in a sea. She heaves to easily, forereaching only slightly under backed jib and centered main. Speaking of the underwater profile, we have bazillions of lobster pots up here-folks won't even attempt a night passage in some parts due to all the lines. The attached rudder has a very well protected prop in an aperture which has never tangled in twenty years of cruising through thousands of pots.

I agree with most of this, but that 6'2" headroom is only in the doghouse. Where we might disagree is that the full bow sections hit harder in a chop than the fine bow on a well designed modern boat, and a well designed modern boat does not pound or boom like a drum when beating. I disagree that a Vanguard hull does not flex. The ones that I have sailed to weather tend to have their head doors stick when going to weather because the boat is flexing. If you sit on the trunk portion of the house with your feet on the deck you can actually feel the flexure.

Someone mentioned the Farr 37 above. I agree with that comment that they do tend to pound. The Farr 37 was an IOR design and so has comparatively flat botton which can slap and pound pretty badly. That is one of the things which would discourage me from buying an IOR era design, but that is another story. (I own a Farr 38 which was not an IOR boat and which has vee shaped sections forward)

The A4 is a fine and elegantly simple engine. I rebuilt mine a few years back for $1500 and expect it to last another forty years. I can order you a block, a crank ,a cam-virtually any part you would conceivably need in fifteen minutes or less from multiple sources on the web. Would I like a diesel? Sure, but for $8000 I'll save my money for now. For long distance cruising, the A4 is limited in power and range given the inefficient power curve and the limited tankage. For coastal cruising, it's smooth, quiet and has adequate power. Mine pushes me upriver regularly against the outgoing tide of the Merrimac River which ebbs at 1.5 knots. A Beta diesel upgrade would give a cruising range under power of a couple hundred miles-which for a small boat is not terrible. Many Vanguards have already had a diesel upgrade.
I actually like the Atomic 4. I agree that they are easy and comparatively inexpensive to work on and if maintained are quite reliable. I must apologize for my comments above about parts availability. That was written approximately 10-12 years ago and there seemed to be more problems getting Atomic 4 parts than there are today, as long as you don't mind updating to newer (and more reliable) style parts.

It is true, I guess, that you can cross oceans in just about anything, but it is extraordinary how many long voyages have been made in Vanguards. Three college grads circumnavigated on a Vanguard after graduating college. A couple from Maine went as far as Indonesia-I know several who have crossed the pond multiple times and I know one that races in the PACCup which is 2070 miles. I've spoken or corresponded with most of them and they all tell me the boat was safe, dependable and easy to handle in a seaway. We see them all over the coast of Maine where they are very well regarded. There is a very active users group on yahoo where you can correspond with hundreds of happy Vanguard owners and learn of virtually any upgrade you can imagine.

You and I agree on most of that. If you are a good seaman and in decent condition, and you have a Vanguard that is in good shape and well maintained, it would certainly be possible to take one distance cruising and do so on a budget. By the same token as these boats age, it takes a diligent effort to make one safe and reliable. Certainly chainplates, fuel and water tanks, and rudders can be replaced. Bulkheads can be stripped of the formica, repaired or replaced as well. Longitudinals and transverse framing can be added were needed. The hull deck joint can be beefed up where fatigue has taken its toll. And when you are done you have a boat that can probably go the distance. But my point in these discussions is not whether it can be done, but whether the Vanguard really makes sense for that purpose, or whether a person considering a lot of offshore sailing would not be better served by a boat design which began life as a distance cruiser, rather than a boat like the Vanguard which began life as a race boat and coastal cruiser.

The thing is, every newer design I look at does not look 1/2 as pretty as my Vanguard in profile. Every time I row away from her, I take one more look to take her in-I am having a really hard time imagining letting her go.

And you and I agree on this as well. Where we might disagree is my belief that a boat is a tool, a very sophisticated tool, but a tool none the less. And to me, no matter how beautiful a tool may be, I sstill judge it on its effectiveness for my purposes. For my purposes, ease of handling, speed and seaworthiness come first. And how ever we each may view this, I respectfully suggest that for my particular set of preferences, the Vanguard does not do all that well compared to other options within its general price range. But we each chose the boats we do in response to our own needs, tastes, goals and budgets. And in that regard there is no one right answer that suits all of us equally. If your Vanguard makes your heart soar and your days bright, then it is the exact right choice for you. And that is all that counts.
Respectfully,
Jeff
 

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Thank you everyone for the lively discussion, and for the very kind words.

MStern, I have never understood why the Renegade has such a small production run followed by instant obscurity. They have always struck me as one of Bill Shaw's nicest designs for its era. The Renegade design was moving away from the extremes of that era with a proportionately longer waterline, finer bow, more moderate wetted surface and foils. Very clean lines; not too heavy, not too light. Both the traditional aft galley layout and the alternate, dinette layout were quite workable for a boat this size. The only slightly odd thing about the Renegade was the propeller shaft exiting the back of the keel on the inboard versions. What is there not to like?

There is a seemingly nice example for sale on Yachtworld for $4,500.

1968 Pearson Renegade Sail Boat For Sale - www.yachtworld.com

Jeff
 

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I've seen that ad; I almost convinced my wife to take the short ride over to look at her!

Take a look at this example:

1968 Pearson Renegade sailboat for sale in Colorado

Seems to me that this is a classic case of someone putting an awful lot of time and money into a boat, and wanting to get some of that back. Regardless, check out that door to the head!
Wow! Ads like that make me sad. You are 100% right that the guy obviously put a whole lot of money and work into this boat. And while its easy to argue that way too much was spent on things that do little or nothing good for the boat, the sad part is that this is an outboard motor version, which combined with the length and age of the boat limits is price to about a third of what he is asking for the boat. I hate seeing things like this. It gets to the heart of my point earlier about the fact that most decent boats can be fixed up to be really nice boats, but if you are the one doing the fixing, its next to impossible to recover anything resembling the money and time put in.

But beyond that, as Jim rightly says above, the virtue of these boats are that they are simple, and that simplicity is what makes them reliable, inexpensive, and easy to work on. If you feel that you must restore one, and if you can try not to get too far carried away, staying close to the original concept, and not try to make a new boat out her, and can live with the understanding that part of the charm of an older boat is that she is an older boat and doesn't need to guilded and garnished; when you are done you will still have a nice boat to sail and own. If you can spread out the work over time, the old girl will only get better as you own her and will owe you nothing when you sell her for a fair price.

But boats like this, over done in some ways and under done in others, are impossible cases because in the end only an idiot with money to burn would pay anything near $30K for a boat this old, this size and this limited. Which is a real shame, since I can only figure that might be what the seller has invested in the ole girl.

Jeff
 
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So here is where you and I agree: (see my comments in red)

Jeff, you know of no boat company that used vacuum bagging? Don't take that "bag" reference too literally. The SCRIMP process is consistent and repeatable-ideal for one-design boat building." SCRIMP stands for Seemann Composite Resin Infusion Molding Process. It is a closed, vacuum-assisted, resin-transfer molding (VARTM) process used for the fabrication of fiberglass products.
"In the early 1990s TPI was forced to revisit the vacuum system-by the EPA. "At that time we were one of the biggest emitters of VOC's (volatile organic compounds) in the state. We had been trying for some time to develop the vacuum technology, but were still working with the resin outside of the bag. A salesman from Dupont suggested we talk to Bill Seemann who had been successful in developing a closed vacuum system. I took one look and said "you got it!" - Neil Tillotson.
The early 90's. Boat company. EPA. VOC's. You been asleep Jeff?
Note, that's Neil Tollotson, not me, talking. I'm making allowances that the Oracle of Jeff knows that name.

I knew that J-boats adopted infusion/vaccuum molding in the 1990's. In their marketing materials of the day, they described the descision as a way of improving resin ratios. That they now say that it was for EPA reasons is new to me, (thank you for teaching me something that I had not heard before) but since TPI was late to infusion/vaccuum that does not change the fact that the original adopters like Performance SailCraft (Laser) had adopted it for resin ratio reasons in the early-80's, nor does it change the fact that vaccuum bagging is widely adopted by better quality builders and that it produces a better control over resin ratios and so creates a higher strength/ less fatigue prone laminate.

However, if 2 ft lengths of woven roving are weak, that is a serious indictment against the (better according to you) current methods of construction that include the use of 1-2 inch fiberglass fragments in the chaos factor chopper gun technique. You cite an ancient study, but have yet to address the chopper gun angle and how it relates (newer is better?). You seriously cite an insurance agency-funded study? No bias there, huh? Riiiiiight.

I completely agree with you that chopped glass has no place in boat building. I don't know that chopped glass is used much any more. I also agree that non-directional fabrics (mat) should be kept to a minimum since it is generally seen as the failure mode in an impact failure. One of the ways that modern laminate has been improved over older layup is that the use of vaccuum bagging has allowed there to be less mat than used to be the norm in the 1960's when mat was needed to properly bond between layers of roving. Where we might not agree is that the other improvement is that continuous strand allows for biaxial and triaxial cloth which has fewer crimps than roving and so flexes less reducing fatigue.

So they didn't know how to handle fiberglass back in the 60's? Really. You cited the fiberglass strength myth, and I agree. They knew exactly how strong it was. They had to know. Weight being at a premium in aircraft (radomes) demanded they know exactly how strong it needed to be, and what thickness/composition was necessary. You also cite all the money the military invested in the development of fiberglass. All that, and they didn't know how to handle it? Or did they just keep that info Top Secret from the sailboat guys for over 15 years? Just last night I saw bags of folded woven roving in the auto section of Wally's. Wonder if they know they're selling an improperly packaged product that is weakening as it sits there? Agreed, wet out is more of an issue with woven roving. That's why you can't just come in off the street and do it correctly. That would seem to be an argument that when done properly, it's strong, and an unskilled worker is the issue, not the construction. I would think the report you cite would serve to encourage longer strands, not shorter as is currently seen, and better wet out techniques, not abandoning of the technique.
Here we are in disagreement. You keep saying that modern boats use chopped glass and shorter strand techniques. That really does not match the reality in the kinds of quality modern boats that I advocate. As far as I know, even the value oriented shops have largely moved away from chopped glass. Beneteau stopped using chopped glass in the 1970's. The last time I spoke with the Hunter factory, they claimed that they used to use chopped glass for interior parts until the 1990's and had not used it since. I can't speak for Catalina.

Seems to me 2 ft sections are still stronger in old boast than chopper gun assembly in new boats. And if chopper gun construction is so good, a few fractured fibers in woven roving aren't an issue because they're still much longer than chopped strands.....but then, that'd tend to invalidate the insurance study, wouldn't it? Oh, but there's better wet out in chopper gun application, right? There's NO structural strength in chopper gun applications.
You and I and the marine industry agree that there is minimal structural strength in chopped glass which is why its such a good thing that quality boat builders have long since abandoned it.

I do have a link some may be interested in reviewing.
Fiberglass strength for ocean sailboats
Some will say this fellow has a bias towards building blue water boats as strongly as possible. Yeah, terrible isn't he?

He is saying precisely what I was saying.

All this because someone wanted to know which of two examples would be more comfortable. I may have missed one along the way, but I'm thinking I'm the only one to actually cast an opinion on that actual question and the cited examples. Yeah, yeah, I'm the pariah because my attitude is so acerbic, but to me, Jeff comes across as condescending. It's an imperfect world.
As to answering the original poster's question, those of us who actually owned a Vanguard, myself included, provided detailed descriptions of the boat and by and large those of us who owned one of these boats were in agreement in our observations, so I don't know why you think you are the only one to have cast an opinion.

You and I agree that it is an imperfect world. Where we may disagee is that, at least to me, given the imperfect nature of the world, it is helpful to have an honest discourse on those imperfections.
Respectfully,
Jeff
 
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