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Thread: Optimist Pram plans and building questions

  1. #1

    Default Optimist Pram plans and building questions

    I am looking to build an Optimist Pram with a few dads. The goal being that if each of our kids had the same boat as they use in sailing school they would be more likely to go out and sail together.

    That being said is there a place in the USA that sells the plans or do we need to go through Optiworld in Ireland ( http://www.optiworld.org/ )?

    Also, has woodenboat ever covered the building of an Optimist or are there and bookts that have step by step instructions for building of an Optimist, that an amateur like me could understand?

    Thanks in advance for your input.

    CG

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    Default

    Look here CG: www.woodenoptishop.com


    Steven

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    Another option is the El Toro, I built one of mine when I was 13. I still have the boat (30 years on) even though Claudia has staked her claim to it

    El Toro Yacht Racing
    "The desire to build a house is the tired wish of a man content thenceforward with a single anchorage. The desire to build a boat is the desire of youth, unwilling yet to accept the idea of a final resting place." -Arthur Ransome

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    Default

    I assume that you have seen this part of the Optiworld site:

    http://www.optiworld.org/epoxy.html

    This shows the layout on the plywood panels, molds, etc. The spars are detailed in the class rules section.

    This is a very simple boat--I doubt that you would have any problem building it with a jigsaw, block plane and other simple tools.

    I've looked at this site for a couple of years now, contemplating building 4 for the local kids---I think it can be done with the info from the site without a detailed set of building instructions. Basic stitch and glue (for which there are a few books out there already).

    Good luck.
    Vince

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    If similar boats are an option I would suggest Jacques Mertens' D5. It is similar to the El Toro in that it has a more seaworthy vee-bottom but, carries a daggerboard instead of the El Toro's lee boards. The bulkhead/seat assemblies in the D5 form sealed chambers that offer a lot of built in floatation so there's no need for expensive floatation bags. The D5's monocoque style of construction makes it a light but, very sturdy boat. I get hit by big powerboat wakes now and then and when I slam down the back of the wave the hull takes it like a champ.
    There is an older version of the D5 called "D4"' that is offered as a free plan at;
    http://www.boatplans-online.com/
    The plans include a brief tutorial.

    And here is as photo spread of my D4;
    http://gallery.bateau2.com/thumbnails.php?album=343
    Charlie
    Last edited by Cuyahoga Chuck; 11-04-2009 at 04:05 PM.

  7. #7

    Default

    Thanks for the input.

    I plan on calling the secretary in Ireland sometime this weekend to order the plans. After reading these sites I think someone is missing out on selling/renting the templets for the optimist.

    It appears to be a simple boat to build.

    The kits cost more than some of the plastic boats.

    If the idea is an affordable boat to teach kids to sail on I think I need to do it the way my dad did with me. Read the plans and build to the plans.

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    It's true, building an Opti-like pram is easy. However, building an opti that will both measure-in under IODA (international optimist dinghy association) rules and be competitive with the 'glass boats is a bit harder. The measurement form includes over 50 specific dimensions that have tolerances in some cases of +/- 2 mm. Believe it or not, the commercial 'glass builders have used these tolerances to optimize their boats fior stiffness and shape. Still, its harder but I think its worth building a boat that can be raced because this is what Opti sailing is all about. There are something like 250,000 opti's around the world and typical regattas (here on the US east coast) have 100-300 boats. It's totally cool and the kids get totally sucked into the fun of running their own ship and navagating their way through a crowded start line and around a race course. The "epoxy opti booklet" that comes with the plans does not provide a reasonable basis for building a competitive opti since it specifies a needlessly heavy 12 mm bottom panel. I've also heard that some of the dimensions on the booklet are wonkie but I don't know that for a fact. When you get the plans from Ireland, and you decide to go for the official measured-in opti, you will have questions, fire away -- I've build a few and my 10 yr old daughter is quite competitive in the woodie that she's sailing now.

    David

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    It's a noble thing you're doing there Mr Cracker. A lot of us here were first exposed to the wonders of sailing in Prams. Welcome to the fourm, by the way.

    As noted above, the Optimist pram has evolved way beyond the designer's original intent. That's what happens when the big kids get involved.

    Whatever you decide, don't forget that there is a wealth of advice to be had here. And keep us posted. Pics are always good.

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    Default Old story and I've posted it before

    but my Dad and I built an Opti in the early sixties or thereabouts. It leaked very badly. I named it the TEABAG for obvious reasons. I'm surprised I didn't get saltwater boils from racing that boat!

    Good luck... I mean it!
    Last edited by rbgarr; 03-02-2011 at 05:18 PM.
    "It ain't what you don't know that gets you into trouble. It's what you know for sure that just ain't so."

    -Mark Twain

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    Default Opti Plans

    We have finally completed our version of the original Clark Mills Opti plans which are available at our web site:

    http://www.cabbs.org

    They do not qualify for racing under the Opti rules and regulations but it sure is a fun parent/child project and real easy to build and sail!

    Happy building,

    Ric Altfather

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    One wonders how things got to the point where tolerances of plus or minus 2 mm are required, and boats built to the original plans no longer qualify as class legal. Smells like a rat to me -- it seems as though someone didn't want people to build their own.

    Incidentally, the original plans can also be found in volume 41 of Motor Boating's Ideal Series (copies of which can be found used through sites like http://www.bookfinder.com or http://www.abebooks.com )
    Last edited by Steve Paskey; 03-11-2007 at 08:54 PM.

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    Default Re: Optimist Pram plans and building questions

    Quote Originally Posted by Steve Paskey View Post
    One wonders how things got to the point where tolerances of plus or minus 2 mm are required, and boats built to the original plans no longer qualify as class legal. Smells like a rat to me -- it seems as though someone didn't want people to build their own.
    Having just finished a Optimist to the specs, I agree 100%. If the goal was to make it impossible for amateurs to build a wood/epoxy opti which would measure, then I doubt anyone could do a better job.

    My partner used the class rules to build a 3D model in Rhino and there are discrepancies between some of the parts. It may actually be impossible to build and measure We cut an elaborate basket mold with various locating jigs and in the end it was a terrible boat building experience, something I would never want a child participate in or else loose them to fiberglass boats forever. We are now in the process of making a new opti that will be MUCH easier to build and from every practical standpoint it is the same boat; but it will not qualify for official racing - but who cares, it will be inexpensive and fast to build. The goal is to get a new generation building and racing their own boats

    to grahamcracker's post: I doubt templates will work, there are too many parts and the tolerances are too close to reply on paper. Not only are some parts measured to 2mm, there are many inside parts that have the same tight tolerance for no real reason (no advantage). Epoxy gluing 2 wood parts within 2mm is not easy even for a pro. I think we had three different cleats in the boat, none of them were the same thickness or width (none were standard nominal wood thickness either), in other words you must have good table saw or planer to make those parts.

    With all the jig parts and Okoume, the optimist we cut to the plans would cost close $1k (if we were to sell them)...... ridiculous IMHO. The new opti kits will be around $400, we are going to call it the Club Racer.

    For lawyers who like woodworking, I highly recommend building a wood/epoxy opti from the class rules

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    Default Re: Optimist Pram plans and building questions

    Quote Originally Posted by Shine View Post
    For lawyers who like woodworking, I highly recommend building a wood/epoxy opti from the class rules
    I'm a lawyer and I like woodworking, but I think I'll pass on that.

    It's a shame that there hasn't really been a popular class of home-built boats for young sailors ... what the Opti could have been, but isn't. And it's great that you're trying to get a new generation building and racing their own boats. Good luck!

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    Default Re: Optimist Pram plans and building questions

    I agree with the observations that a wooden Opti will never measure in under the class rules. It still is the boat to build, however. If you have a club or junior sailing program nearby that uses Optis, it is possible that they would let your kids sail and race at the club level. It seems unlikely that they could race at a much higher level. I think it would still be a terrific experience at the entry level to sailing. I don't have my catalogue for Annapolis Performance Sports handy, but it is a good reference for how much you can spend at the top competitive levels. Maybe $4K plus. It makes Little League baseball look pretty tame. There is a great story by Bruce Kirby in the latest issue of Sailing World about Opti racing at the more competitive levels.

    Frank

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    Default Re: Optimist Pram plans and building questions

    It is Annapolis Performance Sailing (www.apsltd.com). Can you believe this? $797 for a daggerboard and rudder; $550 for a North sail; $855 for a spar set. And then the parents need a Zodiak to follow the racing scene. I understand it is prohibited to have a radio aboard for coaching during the races.

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    Default Re: Optimist Pram plans and building questions

    All of the comments by you gentlemen are true. However, folks can simply thumb their noses at the present Opti structure and build to the original Clark Mills plans and intent.

    I lived and breathed Opti's from 1958 to 1962. A yacht club started the program as a community service. Any 9 year old kid could sign up for 5 bucks and a note showing he could swim. Yacht club membership wasn't required and I believe in some cases the 5 bucks was slippped in there by one or more of the adult volunteer instructors. Local businessmen contributed to pay for the pram materials. A local builder slapped them out.

    We were only permitted to race; no easy back and forth reaching. Then the club got high performance fiberglass dinghies and we kids were able to move up, again at essentially no cost as a communtiy service by the yacht club. But the original prams were used and maintained for more than 20 years. We kids got to paint them and help with repairs too.

    A lot of kids became hot sailors and there were plenty of positions to fill on larger boats

    We had canvas duck sails, the locale was windy, and they softened up quickly. Sprit and outhaul adjustments were satisfactory and made a difference. The original plans won't meet the current class requirements, but I'll post them here in case anyone gets the urge to knock one out. It's a real simple boat.

    . A

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    Default Re: Optimist Pram plans and building questions

    Continued:


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    Default Re: Optimist Pram plans and building questions

    Cont:


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    Default Re: Optimist Pram plans and building questions

    Cont.


  21. #21
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    Default Re: Optimist Pram plans and building questions

    Finshed. Incidentally, it was amazing how the sheet metal rudder "fittings" held up with a simple 1/4" brazing rod as a pintle. Kids would wear them out though, with lot's of hard sculling on the occasional windless evening.


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    Default Re: Optimist Pram plans and building questions

    My inclination would be to make the Opti thing work for you. But... if you decide not to wrestle with the political/class-rule issues of an Opti - consider a PDR. A very capable (if homely) small boat, and dead simple to build. Quite a good first boat project.





    http://waderweb.com/events/080823_ch...8pdr_start.htm

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X-pNI...eature=related

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T14jH...eature=related

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LPgrM...eature=related

    http://www.pdracer.com/

    with a nice Yahoo group for support:

    http://groups.yahoo.com/group/pdracer/

    Not that I'm a fan or anything...
    David G
    Harbor Woodworks
    http://www.harborwoodworking.com/boat.html

    "It was a Sunday morning and Goddard gave thanks that there were still places where one could worship in temples not made by human hands." -- L. F. Herreshoff (The Compleat Cruiser)

  23. #23
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    Default Re: Optimist Pram plans and building questions

    Quote Originally Posted by David G View Post
    My inclination would be to make the Opti thing work for you. But... if you decide not to wrestle with the political/class-rule issues of an Opti - consider a PDR. A very capable (if homely) small boat, and dead simple to build. Quite a good first boat project.





    http://waderweb.com/events/080823_ch...8pdr_start.htm

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X-pNI...eature=related

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T14jH...eature=related

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LPgrM...eature=related

    http://www.pdracer.com/

    with a nice Yahoo group for support:

    http://groups.yahoo.com/group/pdracer/

    Not that I'm a fan or anything...
    I'm on dial up so the moom pitchers won't do me much good. But I would like some specifics.
    How much do either of those PDRs weigh, or any other PDR for that matter, minus the sailboat accessories. I cartop a lot and my ability to get a boat up there is limited.

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    Default Re: Optimist Pram plans and building questions

    C'Chuck,

    You're asking about a PDR? I thought that you had hated them from the moment you laid eyes on their simple squareness. And you have your (more shapely) D5. Well OK, then... here goes --

    As to weights - as usual it depends. I've never weighed mine, but it's built with a 3/8" bottom instead of 1/4" and probably still weights - easily - under 60# I car top it solo on my Mazda MPV frequently. Because of the size, putting it up top is harder than bringing it down, and if someone is standing around, I'll get help putting it up - but I often do it alone also.

    I believe some folks have reported hull weights as low as 40#

    And, I failed to mention - the "plans", such as they are, are free. Or... Storer offers a $20 set of plans for the OZ version which is essentially a boatbuilding course. There's an extensive step-by-step how-to booklet along with the drawings. This is very helpful to one who has never fabricated foils before... or spars... or sewn a sail. Everyone who buys them comments on how much info is included for 20 bucks. I recommend them to folks for the nifty rudder-tiller mechanism alone.
    David G
    Harbor Woodworks
    http://www.harborwoodworking.com/boat.html

    "It was a Sunday morning and Goddard gave thanks that there were still places where one could worship in temples not made by human hands." -- L. F. Herreshoff (The Compleat Cruiser)

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    Default Re: Optimist Pram plans and building questions

    Why are there PD racers on this Opti thread. They are completely different boats.

    As a coach, I'd love to see a grass roots effort to bring back home built optis to club competition.

    Again it's totally irrelevant to bring the PD into this thread.

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    Default Re: Optimist Pram plans and building questions

    Quote Originally Posted by Hwyl View Post
    ...As a coach, I'd love to see a grass roots effort to bring back home built optis to club competition....

    I would hope many feel as you do. I posted those 5 pages so folks could get a better feel for Clark Mills vision and how it was implemented by so many contributors and volunteers in the initial years. Sadly, I think that very simple but powerful vision has been waylayed.

    When I last saw a modern Opti at the boat show I just about gagged at the price. The multiple adjustments available to the rig were bordering on the nonsensical for the sail and hull type. I remembered that the 15 boat fleet that I sailed in as a kid cost 1500 bucks - 100 bucks per boat - sail away. Mills knew what kids really needed, and it didn't involve much money or sophistication.

  27. #27
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    Default Re: Optimist Pram plans and building questions

    You can still get glass club racers fairly inexpensively, say less than $1K for a competetive used boat, but when you start competing in the program, you need at least 2 boats an RV a chase boat and a non combatative nature.$50K would get you in the door.

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    Default Re: Optimist Pram plans and building questions

    cayuga chuck... el toro uses a daggerboard.perhaps you were thinking of sabot?

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    Default Re: Optimist Pram plans and building questions

    Quote Originally Posted by Hwyl View Post
    Why are there PD racers on this Opti thread. They are completely different boats.

    As a coach, I'd love to see a grass roots effort to bring back home built optis to club competition.

    Again it's totally irrelevant to bring the PD into this thread.
    You're probably right. I wasn't trying to derail the discussion... just offer an option that might work for his situation:

    "My inclination would be to make the Opti thing work for you. But... if you decide not to wrestle with the political/class-rule issues of an Opti - consider a PDR."

    Then I went (admittedly) a bit crazy with the links

    Now... let's finish starching and ironing those knickers of yours - and carry on with talking about Opti's if you wanna...
    David G
    Harbor Woodworks
    http://www.harborwoodworking.com/boat.html

    "It was a Sunday morning and Goddard gave thanks that there were still places where one could worship in temples not made by human hands." -- L. F. Herreshoff (The Compleat Cruiser)

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    Default Re: Optimist Pram plans and building questions

    Quote Originally Posted by David G View Post

    Now... let's finish starching and ironing those knickers of yours - and carry on with talking about Opti's if you wanna...
    I said thread, not thong.

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    Default Re: Optimist Pram plans and building questions

    Why are there thongs on this Opti thread? They are completely different pleasure devices

    But... back to Opti's. Am I getting this right -- it's no longer possible to built your own wooden Optimist hull (even though that's how they started) and have it be class legal? What sort of Buffalo Bagels is that? And why would someone want to be associated with such a group?
    Last edited by David G; 11-05-2009 at 12:06 AM.
    David G
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    http://www.harborwoodworking.com/boat.html

    "It was a Sunday morning and Goddard gave thanks that there were still places where one could worship in temples not made by human hands." -- L. F. Herreshoff (The Compleat Cruiser)

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    Default Re: Optimist Pram plans and building questions

    I built a couple optis in the late 1960 for our boys to Clark Mill's plans for $50, including $25 for Johnson sail.

    Last year we started a sailing school locally and built 12 Optis. I built a female mold and cut plywood templates for all parts. Like others said, the tolerances are ridiculous but I spent a lot of time time to figure them out and think our boats are legal.

    The mold and templates are available for free to similar group building efforts. A returnable deposit of $500 is needed to insure that they come back. If the distance to coastal NC is not too far, we would like for others to be able to use the mold.

    Certainly there are other boats just as good or maybe better as sailboats but none are able to offer the same racing progression or level of competition as the opti.
    Tom L

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    Default Re: Optimist Pram plans and building questions

    A few years back, Bob and Erica Pickett of Flounder Bay Boat Lumber and Rip, Strip and Row, up in Bellingham were making Opti kits out of CNC machined plywood.

    They had one rather big problem, IIRC: the Opti class measurers were extremely unwilling to even measure (much less certify) their kits. What I remember Bob telling me was that the class was basically uninterested in woodies.
    You would not enjoy Nietzsche, sir. He is fundamentally unsound. P.G. Wodehouse (Carry On, Jeeves)

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    Default Re: Optimist Pram plans and building questions

    Here's a link to building a wooden Opi,

    http://66.102.9.104/search?q=cache:b...lnk&cd=3&gl=uk

    Brian

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    Default Re: Optimist Pram plans and building questions

    Just a practical advice:

    If the kids are going to race, they want their optimist to be fast. I have raced optimist many years ago and know the difference between a fast and a slow one optimist.
    Its all about getting the bow and stern as high above the waterline as possible. This means building the boat to the max limits. It can be difficult on a plywood optimist but it can be done.

    Good luck. Sailing the optimist has been one of the best moments in my life.

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