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jimh posted 02-19-2000 03:33 PM ET (US)   Click Here to See the Profile for jimh   Click Here to Email jimh  
While at the Detroit Boat Show this week, I happened to be talking to a SeaRay salesman from a local dealership.

He asked me what kind of boat I had, so I told him "Boston Whaler."

He described a visit to the Whaler plant in Florida and how "old fashioned" it was in contrast to the SeaRay operation.

Specifically, he told me of seeing the foaming of the hulls done in what he described as a really "old" style:

"They put the molds together, then a bunch of guys come out with some buckets. They pour some liquids in the buckets, take an electric drill motor with a stirrer attachment, and stick the stirrer into the buckets, mixing the liquid."

"Then they just pour this liquid into the hull molds! It goes all over the place, splashing around..."

"You'd think they'd have something more modern, like the foam coming out of a hose, or something--they just pour it in from buckets!"

The salesman seemed to think this was something to deride Whaler about, I guess.


bigz posted 02-20-2000 10:08 AM ET (US)     Click Here to See the Profile for bigz  Click Here to Email bigz     

Huh, well unless they have changed something drastically the foam was always pumped into the hulls -- the original foam was styrofoam in the early prototypes of the 13 but that was replaced almost immediately by urethane and that stuff goes off in less than a minute -- guess hand pouring might work but blast you got to be awfully fast :) The Whaler engineers described the system as "foam shot with a fiberglass skin around it"!
Don't forget you were talking to a competitor event though Brunswick owns them both!
If you want one good book on fiberglass just came out go get yourself a copy of Heart of Glass by Daniel Spurr, the pretty complete history of "glass" development in boats both sail and power --- excellent reading --


kingfish posted 02-20-2000 05:54 PM ET (US)     Click Here to See the Profile for kingfish  Click Here to Email kingfish     

Second your review on Daniel Spurr's "Heart Of Glass"; my wife brought it home for me from the library this week, and I've really enjoyed it. It's been kind of neat putting faces and names and dates on the development of the BW's, as well as a whole lot of other nifty info and history.


dfmcintyre posted 02-21-2000 11:09 AM ET (US)     Click Here to See the Profile for dfmcintyre  Click Here to Email dfmcintyre     
Thomas -

My wife and I spent a better part of a day in 1977 (honeymoon...I know, just how many of us had even thought about going to the plant on their honeymoon?) taking a tour with Bob Dougherty at the BW plant out east. We watched the "birth" of a 17 hull. It wasn't all slop and glop, but it wasn't pumped in either. Here's what I remember:

The two molds were called in the factory, the bathtub and the turtle. Bathtub was the mold for the outer hull, turtle for the inner hull. Both on wheels. While the turtle was being layed up, it was on the wheels. When it came time to foam, the turtle was picked up by a crane at the stern and bow, pivoted 180 (turned turtle?) and the bathtub was manuvered under it, and the turtle was lowered, and the front (bow) wheels were set onto a set up wooden blocks (more later).

Clamps applied along the gunnel. "Snake holes" (another factory term, remembered for two decades) made about every 18" along the gunnel. The molds were rolled over to a gantry type operation, where a few buckets were being prepared. Temp and humidity were noted, and figured into the mix (the speed in which the foam would react was dependant on this). A spade handled drill with mixer attachment was used. And what looked like a REALLY big plunger. And the pour hole was down a 6" shaft in the turtle, that ended in the anchor locker.

Now this is where it got reallll interesting, real quick:

There were between four and six guys doing the foaming;
One guy directing from the gantry, calling off the time.
One guy pouring the contents togeather.
One guy running the mixer.
One guy to handle the mixer, once done.
One guy ready with the plunger.

Mixing would start, counter calling off the seconds. When he called the time to stop mixing, drill came out of the 5 gallon bucket, mix poured, and remains squeeged out and down the foaming shaft. Last action was for the plunger to get rammed down and hydralically clamped to the mold.

For a BW guy, it was poetry in motion....

Within about a minute you could hear the whistling of the expanding foam shoving out the air from the snake holes. When all the snake holes filled with foam coming out, they knew that the hull was completely filled.

After about five minutes, the turtle was removed, and ya got a new hull.

I asked how long did it take for them to get the proper angle for the foam to run to the back. He said that was one of the harder things to figure out, as they also had to factor in the temp/humidity too.

He also mentioned that about every other month or so, the foam would go off, before the plunger was clamped and it would take a day to clean foam off the mold, gantry,people, etc.

Probably more than anyone wanted to know about the process.


bigz posted 02-21-2000 02:48 PM ET (US)     Click Here to See the Profile for bigz  Click Here to Email bigz     
Thanks for all the detailed information --
Great story really left an impression to remember in such detail --- after 23 years!

I should have used the correct term -- my fault --- the foam was injected --- and in boat building parlance it simply means poured into sprues (AKA "snake holes") just like doing a casting except the foam expands and the sprues have to clamped shut, the mold then becomes the inter and outer skin --- :)
(I have been able to accomplish this on small regular shaped flotation cavities but boy to try it on an entire hull WOW!) Can see why the engineers referred to it as "foam shot with a fiberglass skin around it" ---- and brother you were going to be the one "shot" if those "snake holes" weren't clamped off in time ---- chuckle

Appreciated the story very much --- wonder how they handle the big Whalers --- say the 24-25-27's lots of buckets I guess ---

Regards, Thomas

dfmcintyre posted 02-21-2000 05:48 PM ET (US)     Click Here to See the Profile for dfmcintyre  Click Here to Email dfmcintyre     
Thomas -

I don't think I was clear on the post. The sprues aka snake holes along the gunnels were only for:
1 - allow the air to exit the mold, abeit at a pretty rapid pace and
2 - it allowed them to determine if the hull, (by seeing foam tails) had actually got a complete fill.

They only filled (foamed?) from one point... at least on the 17's. I remember a larger filled hole (8"?) up in the bow area of our 22' Outrage. Can't remember finding a fill hole on a 25' Revenge/Cuddy or our current 21' Outrage... will have to look sometime.

I had spotted the blocked bow wheels, and asked if that was so the foam could travel toward the stern. He stated something to the effect of "You wouldn't believe how long it took us to figure out the right angle".

He also showed us the area in the plant where they tapped the hulls with a plastic hammer to check for voids, the woodworking and design areas. Other times for other stories!

Best - Don

bigz posted 02-22-2000 06:21 AM ET (US)     Click Here to See the Profile for bigz  Click Here to Email bigz     
Thanks Don, for some reason I missed that part -- my eyes must be getting to old like the rest of me :(

So there is only one sprue -- that makes sense but why not use pump injection! Guess in '77 that wasn't an alternative --- easier and cheaper to do the on site mix pour I guess --- wonder if that technique has now been changed since the new hull designs but still used just for the traditional hulls?

Enjoyed the story very much added to my Whaler education. Keep them coming!

Will be down in Edgewater in April and I hope to arrange a plant visit both to BW and to Edgewater Boats.



dfmcintyre posted 02-23-2000 08:20 PM ET (US)     Click Here to See the Profile for dfmcintyre  Click Here to Email dfmcintyre     
Thomas -

Be sure to get some photos of both plants and check with Jim about posting some of them!

Best - Don

lhg posted 02-24-2000 01:41 PM ET (US)     Click Here to See the Profile for lhg  Click Here to Email lhg     
Thanks, guys, for the very interesting and detailed information on how these boats were made. Not many readers would know about Whalers' manufacturing process. But the issue Jim brings up is still there, and Brunswick should be concerned about it. As most know, Brunswick made the decision to make Boston Whaler a division of Sea Ray, and by now the Sea Ray people hold all of the management, design & decision making postions at Boston Whaler. This includes, evidently, requiring Sea Ray Dealers to sell Boston Whalers, of which not all must be happy about doing it. Sounds like Jim ran in to one of these characters (or would a better word be "idiots"). People like that can do a great deal of harm to Brunswick's efforts to make a "go" out of Whaler, and they should be aware of problems like this. Sea Ray proved many years ago that they can out-sell Boston Whaler with their cheaper, glitsey, sinkable, Euro styled boats, and created an equally loyal bunch of owners & dealers. Which is all well & good, but so what. Merging these two companies (for all practical purposes) seems like a big mistake to me. Boston Whaler owners & buyers are a "different breed of cat", and completely unlike Sea Ray buyers, and putting these brands together in design, engineering, manufacturing, & dealerships, and letting Sea Ray Dealerships brag about it, seems like the inevitable culture clash. There is even a Sea Ray Dealership whose web-site indicates that now that Sea Ray owns Boston Whaler, and with Sea Ray's better technology, we should be seeing some new, improved Boston Whaler boats. Give me a break!! What a joke! That's sure not what I'm seeing out there. The company has been through a lot in the last ten years, with the revolving door owners & unsuccessful, quickly discontinued, boat designs. All of us still want to see the company be successful, and to come up with new, higher quality, more efficient & pleasing to look at, hull designs & overall products, but I think Boston Whaler needs to be distanced from the Sea Ray, mid-level quality, Express Cruiser, Euro boat, image. (Boston Whaler is now calling their new 34' boat an "Express Cruiser", although much to their credit, it does not have a Euro transom).

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