I have a customer at Lake Macquarie using Purbond Polyurethane Single Pack Waterproof Glue to build boats. To be precise he is building Historical 10 Foot Skiffs and completed his fifth 10 foot Skiff using Purbond in late 2013. His is presently modifying the first skiff as he was not happy with the bow shape once No. 5 was finished. This started by taking the circular saw out and removing the front 4 feet from the bow and starting again.
The fourth creation is shown at Figure 1 partially completed and waiting for its deck. In the past we have avoided recommending Purbond for building hulls as it requires a tight joint and firm clamping to ensure good adhesion. Therefore I was keen to see the technique Alf was successfully using. After viewing Alf’s handiwork I have no hesitation in recommending Purbond for Double Diagonal Planking hulls.
Figure 1- Alfs Fourth Skiff using Purbond
Alf is using a basic skeletal frame and then placing a vertical layer of planking over the frame using 3mm Gaboon plywood cut into 75 to 100mm strips depending on the amount of torturing required as shown at Figure 2.
Figure 2- Showing 1st layer of planking complete
Then he lays up fore / Aft strips using the Purbond and stapling the outer layer to the diagonal layer. The occasional Screw is used through a block of wood where there are high stress loads to ensure the outer plank is pushed down firmly onto the inner plank. This is the basic overview and he has a few tricks up his sleeve to make sure the two layers are securely glued together. Alf has managed to develop his own techniques to ensure firm bonding and he has not had any delamination in the five boats he has built.
The reason Alf selected Purbond to build his boats is that he became hypersensitive to Old Technology epoxy resins during his lengthy career of boat building. The last time he used epoxy, it took him two weeks to get over the effects. You can obtain more information about what causes Hypersensitivity to Epoxies by contacting DRIVE Marine Services for an information sheet and why it is safer to use Bote Cote Epoxy Resin than old technology epoxies which are basically most other epoxies available in Australia or check out www.boatcraftnsw.com.au/botecote/info. I have recently come across another 2:1 ratio epoxy which is based on old technology, therefore do not rely on the mix ratio. The first test is to carefully take a whiff of the hardener. If it has a strong pungent smell , it will be old technology.
By the way I provided Alf with a small kit of EPOX-E-Glue last year as he had a tricky job to do where he could not guarantee no gap so he purchased a 600 gram kit of EPOX-E-Glue from us and believe it, he had no reaction to EPOX-E-Glue. This is positive proof of someone who is highly sensitive to old technology epoxy being able to use BoatCraft’s modern technology Epoxies. If it had of been old technology based, Alf would have had an immediate reaction and probably bed ridden for a few days.
Alf is now 83 years young (gave his secret away in a recent phone call) and the latest 10 foot Historical Skiff was his 75th boat building project. He started his career working for his father as a boy and all of his training has been practical or by experience. He has built and repaired boats of all shapes & sizes including trawlers and his own yacht and has always worked around Lake Macquarie. His last 10 foot skiff has been the Australian Champion for the last three years (2010 - 2012) and at Figure 3 Alf proudly shows off the champion’s plaque.
Figure 3 – Alf showing off the Champions Trophy
The latest boat was built to better handle the short chop of the Brisbane River and Alf tells me the design has some subtle differences to his last boat. It is also being built on minimal frames and no stringers as the crew have been complaining that they make it cumbersome to move about the boat. A good indication of the difference between Alfs boats and the traditional shape of the Historical 10 Foot Skiff is the photo on the front cover of the Traditional Skiff Association Newsletter. It shows Miss Marlene (Alf’s boat with the all Red Spinnaker) overtaking the opposition to Leeward. Note the bow wave the other boat is pushing up and how Miss Marlene is riding high in the bow as shown at Figure 4.
Figure 4 – Miss Marlene Overtaking to Leeward
His other pride & joy is a Putt Putt which dates back to early last century which he has restored and can be regularly seen out & about on the Lake. Note the classic lines at figure 5 and vertical bow. It’s interesting how modern design has moved back to vertical bows and less flare towards the midships to reduce bow wave and smoother cut through the water.
Figure 5 – Alfs Putt Putt on its Mooring
Alf was nominated for the NSW Hal Harper Award in 2013 which is presented every year to the most worthy project of building wooden boats and keeping the dream alive. Alf was awarded the award of” Most Prolific Boatbuilder” at the awards dinner in December 2013.
As for Historical Skiff No. 5, it sailed the NSW State titles and blew the opposition away. Unfortunately they broke a mast at the Nationals and were unable to complete enough races to take out the trophy.
I just hope I am as fit and able as Alf when I reach his maturity.