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1982 Skye 51
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Discussion Starter #1
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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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
 

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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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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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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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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. :D 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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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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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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1982 Skye 51
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Discussion Starter #9
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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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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There are actually quite a few high end boats being redesigned for modern materials and built these days.
A couple of times a month we see what we believe to be beautiful old classics, but they end up being new constructions. Many are alloy, a few carbon fiber, but from a distance you would swear that they were built in the 20's or 30's.
Isn't it nice that a few of the very, very rich have some class.
 

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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.
In my experience it is much more difficult to get aluminum anywhere near as fluid as many boats in FRP. Especially with keels, transoms, bows and the transition areas to and from these. Then there is the whole weakening of metal when you flex or bend it, that happens in construction as well as use. Now add in the many "flavors" of AL, and the need for people to counterfeit the specs and finished panels. Now add support structure, more welds - way too many of which alter not only the structure, but the hull where it is attached/welded and you end up with an inherently weaker boat than the design. Add in some oxidation or electrolysis.

It will be very interesting to see how Ford's new truck impacts or annoys AL construction. The Jags they made seemed to be OK, and Perhaps adhesives or a new way to weld/attach panels to structure will be found.

I know that Ford's attempts in 2005-06 to attach AL hoods and trunk decks to underlying structure was a real failure. My mustang started showing signs of oxidation at the joint and way under the paint showed up in less than two years, most of the time garage kept.

Thanks and all the best.
 

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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. 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.
Both Mike Kaufman and Rob Ladd are still around Annapolis (Mike is actually in Severna Park) and still practicing yacht design. They are no longer partners but they are both an email way if you wanted to talk to them. Kaufman Design - Naval Architects Marine Engineers Surveyors and Robb Ladd Yacht Design - Annapolis, MD 21403 - (410)268-9194 | ShowMeLocal.com


They were probably in their 30's when they designed those boats back in the early 1980's, so they have a bunch more experience under their belts by now. Both Rob's and Mike's designs have evolved to keep up with the lessons that they have learned over their years of experience. Like most designers i supect that they would have thoughts about how they could update their older designs, and so they certainly could advise you on the do's and don'ts of how you might 'update' their design.

Pleasant dreams,
Jeff
 

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1982 Skye 51
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Discussion Starter #14
Both Mike Kaufman and Rob Ladd are still around Annapolis (Mike is actually in Severna Park) and still practicing yacht design. They are no longer partners but they are both an email way if you wanted to talk to them. Kaufman Design - Naval Architects Marine Engineers Surveyors and Robb Ladd Yacht Design - Annapolis, MD 21403 - (410)268-9194 | ShowMeLocal.com


They were probably in their 30's when they designed those boats back in the early 1980's, so they have a bunch more experience under their belts by now. Both Rob's and Mike's designs have evolved to keep up with the lessons that they have learned over their years of experience. Like most designers i supect that they would have thoughts about how they could update their older designs, and so they certainly could advise you on the do's and don'ts of how you might 'update' their design.

Pleasant dreams,
Jeff
When I did a keel-up refit in 2008 on the Severn River (VA not MD) before leaving the Bay, I spoke with Mike several times. The first time I was shocked when he answered the phone, remembered the boat, asked if she was still flag blue and was genuinely interested in chatting before getting down to business. When I came to a question he couldn't answer about the skeg, he asked me to hold, in the background I heard papers rustling and he returned to the phone with the original plans in hand! Class act all the way.

I was just wondering if it would be better to bring in a set of "fresh eyes" or impartial minds on a redesign or best to stay with the original.
 

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The way I understand your question, I'd go to the original designer. Much of the "look" of a boat comes from extremely subtle variations in line weight, tapers, a few inches difference in the low point of a sheer and so forth. Most of that comes from the specific designers eye and is what gives different designers their unique look.

Kaufmann & Ladd boats like the Skye look a lot like the Swans of the time but they have an entirely unique take on that basic style.
 
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Another Bob Perry story.. his Norseman 447 was 'reworked' into an aluminum design for a skilled homebuilder.. We saw this boat shortly after construction and it wasn't until you were within a few feet that you could see any indication that she wasn't a factory glass 447. So it can be done (ie taking a molded glass design and rebuilding in Alu.)

If Bob notices this thread perhaps he can tell us how big a deal it was to rework the design for the different material. One thing I'm pretty sure of is he didn't consult a certain BC metal boat builder :rolleyes: ;)
 
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Daniel - Norsea 27
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I've thought of similar ideas of building a boat based on old plans, if I were to find plans I like. Maybe not to the same size as the example but something that could be built myself. I'd have to learn how to read the plans in order to build anything more complex anyway and trying to find what info I can about it.

It sounds like a good plan. Hope it works out for you.
 

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1982 Skye 51
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Discussion Starter #18
Daniel,

Use the term "plan" loosely!! more like a pipe dream but just something I got to thinking about. When I was in the Azores, I was rafted next to a boat from Newport named "Gracie", a beautiful 69' Concordia and, as the story goes, she was the second iteration of the hull. The first was several feet shorter and the owner decided to fashion a new hull with input from his crew on what needed to be improved in order to win the Bermuda Race. After all the suggestions were compiled, the result was a hull with very similar lines but much improved layout: Gracie (formerly "Arcadia", i think). It made me think about those little tweaks I would make to mine if the money, time and motivation were to present themselves.
 

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Keep in mind that these plans are the IP of the designer. Kind of like copying a song, with minor tweaks, it is a violation of the original designer's ideas and rights. You would have to at a minimum pay a royalty if they would let you do it at all. The only way I could see doing it is if the original designer was deceased or incapacitated, but would get approval from the designer's family or representatives. Just keep in mind that the improvements are normally far from an improvement, just look at the abomination that was the redesign/improvement of the T-bird.



VS

 

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1982 Skye 51
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Discussion Starter #20
miatapaul,
the original plans lie with the designer and, of course, they would be needed and the designer's approval (whether purchasing a set of plans or some other agreement) would have to be given.
 
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