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A strong floor

8 December 2011 Phil Smidmore

Flush mounted corner fastenings of the new floor system

"Flush mounted corner fastenings of the new floor system"

Photo by:
Phil Smidmore

With just over two months until the World Championships, we are working on the three new boats that we will be delivering for the series. We are also trying to build up stocks of spares for firstly the Australian and then World Championships; we have plenty of masts, but stocks of many items are low at this time. If you are considering any equipment upgrades, get your order in early to avoid the inevitable pre-Worlds rush and possible, subsequent disappointment.

Both owners of our first two new mould boats have reported great satisfaction with their new boats. One area that has received particular acclaim is the floor and how it is fastened to the hull. We put a lot of work in developing a complete new floor set up and I am very pleased with the results, even though it takes a lot more work to install.

Our first aim was to produce a stronger floor with an upturn on the outside edge, so as to reduce the risk of ropes getting caught between the hull and floor, as well as incorporating an under floor bin on each side. Our old floor was already at the class rule maximum weight of 20kg and as we wanted to add the upturn and bin features, we had to think about how we were going to design and build it. To assist with reducing weight and increasing strength, we upgraded both materials and building technique. The floors are now vacuum bagged, using closed cell foam and 300gm, E glass cloth. To reduce the floor surface area and to allow for a neat fitting of a mesh from the floor up to the thwart, we curved the aft of the floor to mirror the curve in the thwart.

Instead of using timber beams glassed to the underside of the floor, we moved to an aluminium box section, but unlike the timber, there is no centre split. The aluminium box is continuous, across the width of the entire floor. The beam is fastened to the floor by bolts tapped into the beam.

Our old floor had four lateral beams supporting it. For the new floor, we have used three lateral beams and a longitudinal one, spanning between beams one and two, either side of the forward lift out section. This beam gives the floor great strength right where the (110kg?) crewman usually jumps into the boat!!!

Our second aim was to develop a really strong and neat system to fasten the four corners to the hull. We had done some retrofits by glassing a threaded rod onto the hull, which came up through the floor and was then nutted off. This works well, but I wanted something neater, so now we glue, then glass onto the hull, a pre-drilled and tapped fibreglass block, which of course must be positioned exactly under the hole we drill into the floor. With the floor having a foam core and just a layer of glass each side, we had to increase the compression strength of the floor around each fastening. This included the spots where the floor was to be fastened onto the alloy beams, as well as the four corner supports. To achieve this extra strength, we work from the underside of the floor and take out the foam core for a diameter of 35mm around each fastening, but leave the top non-skid surface in tact. We then fill the de-foamed area with casting resin and finish off with a layer of cloth. This allows the top to be countersunk so that the fastening is flush with the non-skid floor surface.

The result is a really strong and stiff floor that fits securely into the boat. Hopefully, the days of the broken floorboards are gone.

Congratulations to Vaughan Prentice and crew for winning the Queensland State Championship in a Pacesetter boat and rig, as well as Graham Taylor and crew, who won the recent NSW title in a Bashford boat, also using one of my masts. A few fleets have now completed their Worlds qualifications and it is pleasing to see that the Swan River, Melbourne and Pittwater qualifiers were all won by Pacesetter boats. The Saturday Nor'easter of the NSW States exposed several defects, including one item of very poor workmanship. A spinnaker pole track held on by alloy rivets tore off, with every rivet sheared. I don't think the alloy rivets were worth the weight saving. We also had a couple of vang swivels to repair, a broken boom to replace and a lower shroud to replace, where the 8mm thread of the old style Brolga turnbuckle broke. If you are running these older ones, I recommend changing up to the Mk2 model with a 10mm thread and an improved ball race.

Good sailing

New frame and great storage are a part of the new system

"New frame and great storage are a part of the new system"

Photo by:
Phil Smidmore


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