View Full Version : New developments in boat-building materials

Ed Harrow
01-02-2001, 02:51 PM
I’m working with Lurker John at developing a new boat-building material that, like wood, is 100% natural and biodegradable. Like all experimental materials, knowledgeable people examine the material and the problem and then approach the problem with their particular SWAG.

photopoint casualty

I took the hot-molded approach, and here you see the hull ready for the autoclave. I found the material mix, autoclave temperature, and the warm, soak, and cool cycle, are important to the ultimate success of this approach, but not so critical as other, well-known, materials used in similar “cold” processes.

another photopoint casualty

Lurker John, on the other hand, being a rather hide-bound conservative in his approach, decided to build his boat using the Bob-Cleek-approved traditional method of plank on frame but, as you can see, the nature of the material is such that googe is far more appropriate than screws as fasteners. Both methods were seemingly satisfactory until John turned his hull over.

still another photopoint casualty

Unfortunately, at this point in time, the official event photographer was otherwise engaged and this picture doesn’t show the extent of the damage caused by both googe and plank failure.

Lurker John then switched tacks and produced a hot-molded hull to continue his developmental work. I believe, based upon this limited research, that the hot-molding process will likely be the process employed to build boats of this miracle Gingerboard ® material.


Here is another shot of my boat, Hesperus, with her mast steps and partners in place. I am a firm believer in keel-stepped masts, especially as I like the rigging-free look that can be achieved with other, more suitable spar materials.


Hesperus with her spars, built of Pretzawood ®, another material which I developed as a replacement for the traditional Spruce or Fir.

As a consequence of the Delta ® pilots, Hesperus, as of yet, is still without sails, but you can see that Lurker John (that's him to the left) has developed a Gingercloth ® material which he employed for the sail on his boat.


We have found that yachtclubs and marinas are not interested in associating with individuals owning yachts build of these non-traditional fibers, even when we point out that there have been no, not even one, reported case of seasickness on a yacht made of Gingerboard®! So regretfully, we hired SWMBO to build us a Gingerboard ® clubhouse.


Happy New Year! Ed

[This message has been edited by Ed Harrow (edited 01-01-2002).]

Dave R
01-02-2001, 03:56 PM
Very nice. Will you be marketing the Hesperus plans and/or a kit version? I think with the right marketing approach you might be able to convert those skeptics. May I also suggest that you look for ways to broaden your potential market by investigating other applications for Gingerboard®, Pretzawood® and Gingercloth®. Perhaps you might find interest in the Experimental Aircraft community or custom car builders.
Be sure to get legal advice before selling your new products. There are those dimwits who will insist upon using materials in ways which will cause the design characteristics to be exceeded thus causing personal injury and/or property damage. Make sure your legal counsel finds wording to hold you immune to damages.
Above all, don't get discouraged be a few naysayers. Remember, they all laughed at Ron Popeil in the beginning, too.

Mark Van
01-02-2001, 07:29 PM
Tortillacloth makes a pretty good sail, especially the stuff imported from Mexico. (watch out for the genetically engeneered corn, which is unaproved for sailcloth use)

Ross Miller
01-02-2001, 11:45 PM
In his book “Half-Baked Boatbuilding” author Head Arrow recommends painting a Gingerboard (tm) hull with a 50/50 glaze of egg whites and CPES (tm) for a long-lasting and attractive protective finish.

01-03-2001, 07:58 AM
Well, yes, this is all well and good but the important question is: Is it a real, i.e., traditional wooden boat. If not, you need to examine your consience, your motives. Get a grip, man! http://media4.hypernet.com/~dick/ubb/smile.gif

John R Smith
01-03-2001, 07:58 AM
I'm sorry, but I just can't go along with the use of CPES in this situation at all. Call me a stick-in-mud traditionalist if you will, but egg-white ONLY, please.


Tom Lathrop
01-03-2001, 09:06 AM
It's true that some hidebound clubs will shun your boats because they are not "traditional" but please don't let that deter you from advancing the art. I would, however, second the proposal to investigate tortillacloth for sail material. Your masts certainly seem salty enough for anyone. As a sop to the traditionalists, you could spread on some linseed oil or a bit of pine pitch.

Dave R
01-03-2001, 09:46 AM
You could finish the brightwork with a varnish made from sugar and water boiled together to make a syrupy consistency.
For a lighter sail you might try Lefsecloth®. The Norwegians have been using it for years with great success.

[This message has been edited by Dave R (edited 01-03-2001).]

Keith Wilson
01-03-2001, 10:09 AM
The Chinese have been using something similar for millenia, wheat-based, rather than corn or potatoes. It would be good if you want to use a junk rig, and it's usually a little lighter and stronger than Tortillacloth(tm) or Lefsecloth(tm), possibly better in light air. Not sure of the name, my Chinese is a little weak, but it's not hard to find - comes with Mu Shu Pork.

01-03-2001, 11:35 AM
I believe that the Greeks have been experimenting with a new fillacloth (sp?) to campain in the next America's Cup. Are these new sail materials sewn or laminated?

[This message has been edited by scottek (edited 01-03-2001).]

Dave R
01-03-2001, 11:52 AM
I'd forgotten about fillocloth® That might make a very nice Genoa or a Spinnaker.

Ed Harrow
01-03-2001, 11:15 PM
Fillocloth®. One of the things I know about that is it has a tendency to flake. You're not trying to insinuate that my new boat-building material is an indication that I am flaky, are you? http://media4.hypernet.com/~dick/ubb/smile.gif

Dave R
01-04-2001, 08:26 AM
Ed, Ed, don't worry. Nobody is attacking you or your work. http://media4.hypernet.com/~dick/ubb/wink.gif
I think I read somewhere that the flakiness of Fillocloth® can be reduced by liberally painting it with slightly warmed Buttercoat® sail treatment. This reportedly works on Lefsecloth® as well.

01-04-2001, 09:25 AM
Up here in New England,we hold by a coating of medium amber maple syrup,cut if necessary,with a little Jack Daniels for the brightwork, and nothing beats six year old Christmas fruitcake for tough wear items like cleats or sampson posts.

01-04-2001, 09:36 PM
Many have suggested the best use of Vegamite is as caulking and bedding compound. And with a gingerbread man crew seasickness won't be a problem.


01-05-2001, 04:31 PM
For antifouling application to the bottom, I would recommend crushed red hots (cinnamon candy FTWDN)instead of the traditional red pepper.

01-05-2001, 09:11 PM
my gingerbread boat sank, and my keyboard doesn't have a registered trademark symbol on it...

01-09-2001, 09:44 AM
I see that you are using the tried-and-true "Galleon" design for your hull. Given this, what are you using as a ballast material? I encourage you to consider a new product I have been developing: FruitCakeWeight®. With the advent of the racing keel, the use of inboard ballast treatened to become an archaic practice, but recent archeological finds in the Florida Keys have spurred a renewed interest in this design. Among many other advantages, the "Galleon" hull vessel has a shallower draft and can maneuver in nearshore environments. (Historically, this design seems to have been predominantly used in nearshore reef environments.) Archaeologists have found that ships dating as far back as 1300 have used FruitCake as a reliable ballast material. The new FruitCakeWeight® has many of the same desirable properties as the FruitCake of old including a very high specific gravity and a resistance to shifting while under sail (wherever you put it, that's where it stays...for centuries). So, I encourage you to investigate the use of of FruitCakeWeight® in your new vessel and to advise me of your reactions. I would be happy to send you many, many samples from over the past 10 years so that you may be assured of its usefullness and longevity.

Ed Harrow
01-09-2001, 11:40 AM
Such ideas, such creativity. How ever we have a small problem with Hesperus. Some disturbance in her vicinity, there were no witnesses so we're guessing here, resulted in her partial dismasting. There was no failure in her Pretzawood® spars; the failure occured in the the meringuegoo® reinforced googe that held the assembly together.

Naturally the finger points to an outlaw band of jet skeet known to frequent the vicinity.

ThreePT, the use of FruitCakeWeight® is a terrific idea. Are there any samples stashed away on "Golden Pond"?

Ed Harrow
01-01-2002, 12:12 AM
OK boys and girls, keep your computer dialed tuned to this channel for the next installment of Gingerboard ® Construction. You'll not believe the creations of Lurker John, SWMTMH, and others who prefer to remain unnamed...

Ed Harrow
01-01-2002, 11:02 AM
Here's the infamous Lurker, caught in the act. Last year we realized the limitations of Gingerboard® as a construction material, so The Lurker tackled a new construction project. A prize awaits the first person to identify the source of his inspiration.


[This message has been edited by Ed Harrow (edited 01-01-2002).]

Art Read
01-01-2002, 11:17 AM
Ummm... That lighthouse in New London?

01-01-2002, 12:19 PM
Impressed the hell out of me, so I ordered in a huge supply of the materials discussed. In testing the limits of reality I discovered that when Cocoasolv is used hot in the shop, Gingerboard and Gingercloth seem to disappear. The apprentices profess to know nothing about it. Even worse, we found that the same thing happened to both Pretzawood and Tortillacloth whenever we attempted to treat them with either dark or light Beeropoxy. The Chief Painter seems to know something about this, but can't speak clearly enough to enlighten us. However, research WILL go on. Send more supplies!

01-01-2002, 02:07 PM
Inspired by The Lurker's classy re-creation of a lighthouse, we built a full-
sized replica of the Point Reyes (CA) lighthouse using Gingerboard (tm) and various recommended coating materials. We installed a 5,000 watt light, complete with Fresnel lens. Unfortunately, we did not heed warnings about the vulnerability of these materials to heat. The result was a complete melt-down which spread the viscous Gingerboard (tm) and other material throughout our shop and far into the neighbors' yards. Ed, please advise as to appropriate solvents and other clean-up materials.

Undaunted by this temporary setback, we are surging forward with the technology of substitutes for canvas or Dacron sailcloth. So far the most promising is a product which we have dubbed "Crepecloth" (Pat. Pending). It can be produced in any large frying pan. It is considerably lighter than other materials proposed, and should be particularly suitable for small one-design craft as well as for spinnakers. If the edges are lined with eggwhite and pressed together while still warm it can be expanded to just about any square footage. So far we have produced about 1/2 acre of Crepecloth (Pat. Pending), but are limited by the size of our yard. The neighbors have refused to allow us to expand further, since their yards are still inundated with melted Gingerboard (tm). We have considered re-locating, but local realtors have not returned our calls.

Art Read
01-01-2002, 02:18 PM
Bayboat? Any suggestions for a "traditional" looking licorice(sp?) or pasta material for the running rigging? The red stuffs looks just plain silly... http://media5.hypernet.com/~dick/ubb/smile.gif

01-01-2002, 03:30 PM

I asked the under 11 crowd. They say licorice, both twisted and strands, is available in many traditional boatbuilding colors.

They suggest apple cinnimon -brown- for manilla rope, and grape -dark purple- for tarred rigging. (Black licorice is available, but so nasty tasting to them that they advise aginst it.)

Happy rigging,


Ed Harrow
01-01-2002, 03:44 PM
Bayboat - the best is yet to come - The real advantage of these materials is that they are biodegradable. Last years failures where placed on our picnic table and left for mother nature to resolve. In know time at all the picnic table was covered with cute little furry critters chowing down.

The next thing we knew one enterprising little fellow named AD Furryhide had erected his own minature set of Golden Arches and was doing a land-office business. Then the full-size golden arches got wind of this and threatened to sue us, and hired a bellicose attorney by the name of J Bato. Fortunately for us a wonderful attorney by the name of Pat Ox took the case pro bono. However, before the case ever made it to trial AD Furryhide had folded his arches and moved on, having cleaned up on this opportunity.

The issue for you is the large quantity you have. The natural half-live for this material is reported in the literature to be 1.375 years, unless, of course, you can coat it with the aforementioned Cocasolve. Unfortunately, being experimental materials, the data is not yet available in the literature defining the efficacy of this solvent.

I think you have a very good opportunity here to carry out some controlled experiments and to publish your results of this important work. No doubt The Chemist, or Dave Carnell (tho maybe you'd best work with them independently of each other) can help you with the particulars of planning the experiments.

Good luck with your neighbors.

01-02-2002, 01:37 PM
Art Read: We are currently experimenting with angel-hair pasta cooked in cuttlefish ink, then twisted (right hand lay) to imitate tarred rigging.

As for the problem with melted Gingerboard (tm) covering our neighbors' yards, it has been pretty well solved. The copious supply attracted a large number of squirrels with winter-type appetites, and within a few hours the mess was gone. There remain, of course, many squirrels waiting around for re-supply, which is putting a great burden on other edibles in the neighborhood. Any ideas about how to rid the neighborhood of approximately six squirrels per square yard would be appreciated.

In the meantime, tests continue on our Crepecloth (Pat. Pending) sail material.
Unfortunately, the squirrels would like to include it in their cuisine, and we are having a hard time defending the borders of our yard, which is still covered with Crepecloth (Pat. Pending).
Despite such problems, we are forging ahead with new development of boatbuilding materials, our enthusiasm spurred by Ed Harrow's pioneering contributions. We envision a day when fiberglas will succumb to more cost-effective constructions and we will treasure the frozen-snot "classics."

[This message has been edited by Bayboat (edited 01-02-2002).]

01-02-2002, 07:32 PM
Have people given up on what lighthouse this is?? Ed maybe we need to give them a hint.

01-02-2002, 09:43 PM
Hey this is not fair. I was really thrown off by the title. But I'm glad the picture was there to set me straight!

John Bell
01-02-2002, 09:43 PM
The one at the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum in St. Michaels?

Don't know where it cam from tho...

01-02-2002, 11:01 PM
Ed, as they say in the CIA, this is for your eyes only. All others please change the channel.
I believe I have identified the plot you and John the Lurker have hatched, and I would certainly like to join the effort. The lighthouse served well as a red herring, but it's time to get back to boatbuilding.

Boats built of all these new boatbuilding materials are destined to replace boats of fiberglas (or frozen snot as L. Francis put it). If this occurs at any rate approaching the replacement of wooden boats by fiberglas, it should not be long. When fiberglas is extirpated from the nautical scene, almost all boats will be of the new materials. Now here's the key: THEY WILL ALL BE BIODEGRADABLE!! AND EDIBLE!! Think of it--think of the day when multitudes of furry creatures, to say nothing of herds of sea mammals, discover this new treasure trove of culinary delights. Boats of this ilk will be consumed in no time, there will be no back-up of fiberglas vessels, and, like the small mammals that outlived the dinosaurs millions of years ago, wooden boats will fill the vacuum and again become the rightful dominants of the maritime scene. What a day that will be!!!
So keep up the good work in the knowledge that you are contributing to the salvation of civilization and life as we knew it.

Just a bit more progress, and we can divulge the scheme to fellow forumites and the wooden boat community at large. With their cooperation the revolution will proceed apace. For the moment, mum's the word, but soon.....

Ed Harrow
01-03-2002, 12:33 PM
Bayboat, some conspiracies are best discussed in private. The Committee will deal with you, later. http://media5.hypernet.com/~dick/ubb/tongue.gif

Now as to the contest - nobody has come close, and no I don't think a hint is deserved at this time (tho I do know the lighthouse off New London and I can see the general resemblance).

Art Read
01-03-2002, 01:07 PM
How 'bout Race Rock off Fishers Island? (though that ain't exactly right either...)

Ed Harrow
01-03-2002, 01:34 PM
And to think you're New England born... Art what are we to do with you. At least you're game, LOL

Art Read
01-03-2002, 01:42 PM
Well, it's been awhile, Ed... Hmmmmm... Sounds like a hint. Something off the North Shore maybe? Glouchester's Ten Pound Light? Isn't that just a tower? Does Boston harbor have any of those "Victorian" lighthouses? Something down in Buzzard's bay?

[This message has been edited by Art Read (edited 01-03-2002).]

01-03-2002, 02:18 PM
yum yum http://media5.hypernet.com/~dick/ubb/biggrin.gif

Jonathan Kabak
01-03-2002, 02:58 PM
North Dumpling Island