Why did we choose wood epoxy ?

Laminated timber ribsFirst of all, it is a well-proven, durable, resistant technique. Wood epoxy is 40% stronger than reinforced polyester for a similar weight. Moreover it is the best technique for a custom boat, which allows to be closer to our clients' wishes.

So why the majority of boats available on the market are made of polyester ? Because this is the best technique for an industrial mass production. Once the molds have been made, one day is enough to get a hull, or a deck, and this doesn't require skilled workers. For the same price and even less, we can build an epoxy wood one off boat, perfectly customized.

History

Wooden boat construction. The come back of the wood in shipbuilding is the result of a double revolution sitting on the appearance of water-resistant adhesives and epoxy resins ensuring long lasting hulls.

Wood has been the reference material for boatbuilding for millennia. Concerning ships, the industrial revolution will end this and replace it with steel just over a century ago. Fishing boats will stick to wood building longer, passing more recently to steel and polyester.

The revolution begins with the appearance of really waterproof glues (urea phenol , resorcinol), due to progress in aviation and the democratization of boating.

Plywood construction then appeared, available in almost all sizes, from the “Optimist” (55 years old and still an Olympic class) to Muscadet, as well as “Vaurien” or “Enterprise”.

CP allowed a quick and simple, lightweight and very affordable construction. Well built and well maintained, these boats have proven their durability and many sailors are still very happy and proud of their plywood built boats. However, this material had two defects : the obligation to build “with chine ", ie junctions with sharp angles, unusual to the eye, and fragility of these junctions, which could get moisture through the edge.

A brilliant idea came quickly to solve these problems : make moldeed plywood. Cross thin layers of wood, glued together on a mannequin. Thus, no more chine, no weakness at junctions; and it was possible to suppress internal battens, and so, to build very strong and remarkably light. Many famous boats were built with this technique : the 420 and 470, Olympic classes till now, the Tornado, and of course larger units, such as Roc 129 or Beaufort 16.

However, these techniques require a lot of labor, and skilled one. The bulldozer polyester, with its economic benefits, and easy maintenance, swept everything except racing boats, including offshore who were still built in molded wood. The carbon fiber recently took its place, but at what cost !

The chemical revolution continues in the early '80s with the advent of epoxy resins and polyurethane paints two components. Wood, who had never lost its credentials in mechanical terms, for its strength and lightness, would be able to compete with the polyester on its strengths, maintenance and durability, allowing complete flexibility of the construction according to needs and tastes of the customers.

Epoxy resins

Epoxy resins are a mixture of two liquid components : the resin itself, and a hardener. Their mixture gives a very fluid liquid, which will polymerize according to the user's needs (in time or temperature), depending on the selected hardener. They are fully compatible with all fibers : glass, aramid, carbon, and thus allow stratification. Their grip is incommensurate with the polyester : if you want to tear the fabric, this is the material that comes with it. They are fully waterproof and extremely durable. When they are thickened, with micro-balloons for example, they become an incredibly strong glue. According to the charges, you can make an extremely tough and "hard" coating or a material that can "weld" two pieces together.

Two-component polyurethane paints

Again, they provide a complete waterproof cover of the hulls. They are extremely hard to abrasion, but are relatively flexible, allowing local deformation. Highly resistant to ultraviolet light, they are durable : it can be considered as a minimum ten years. These paints are used for airliners.

In short, the two products wood was waiting for to find a new youth.