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Wooden framework braced with Kevlar rovings, covered with a tough heat shrink Dacron skin

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You may find what you're looking for in our Tutorials & How-To's
 

QUESTIONS:

 

WHERE are the TUTORIALS? (not an answer, just the link)

 

General & Beginners:

 
1.1
 
1.2  
1.3  
1.4  
1.5  
1.6  
 

 

 

Construction & Supplies:

 
2.1  
2.2  
2.3  
2.4  
2.5  
 

 

 

Boat Covering (Skin):

 
3.1  
3.2  
3.3  
3.4  
3.5  
3.6  
3.7  
 

 

 

Terminology & Products:

 
4.1  
4.2  
4.3  
4.4  
4.5  
 

 

 

Online Ordering & Web Terms:

 
5.1  
5.2  
5.3  
5.4  
5.5  
5.6  
5.7  
5.8  
5.9  
 

ANSWERS:

 

General & Beginners:

 
1.1

Q: Are these boats strong enough? How can they weigh so little?

 
 

A: Yes, Geodesic Airolite boats are exceptionally light but they are also exceptionally strong. For example, the 8-pound Sweet Pea has held 300-pounds of people (father and two children) in calm water! The Geodesic Boat building concept came from various aircraft construction techniques and materials, so it is light weight and strong by it's very nature. The use of Kevlar aramid fibers on many Geodesic Airolite models add exceptional tortional rigidity while adding almost no weight.

 
 

 

 
1.2
Q: How long does it take to build a Geodesic Boat?
 
 
A: It depends upon the individual and their work habits. The times that are posted on the design pages are optimistic. It is a time that some one said that they took. I spend a lot of time admiring my work and can’t do it that fast. One individual was reported that he spent time planning in his head every step. When he started building he wasted no time. You could get an idea of the time by adding up the number of items on the bill of material; for example the Sweet Pea Mark 2 has 19 . It is a boat that might be built in 30 Hrs by a disciplined worker. Now the Cricket 12 has 90 items - Plan on a winter project. You can get a relative idea for the build time of our boats by viewing our boat index sorted by build time.
 
     
1.3

Q: Which boat should I build?

 
 

A: A first time boat builder should study all of the designs listed and choose a simple one. My advice would be to build a canoe appropriately sized to handle the user. Also don’t push the limit on the maximum weight recommended for the chosen design. See our selection & comparison guide for more information.

 
     
1.4

Q: How much room do I need?

 
 

A: This varies with the selected design. We recommend a few feet on all sides - it is helpful to be able to step back and view/admire your work from a distance. The Geodesic Airolite Boat building process is relatively clean and many people have built these boats in their appartment. Note that you will need proper ventalation for certain adhesives and whatever sealant you chose and you will need to be able to warm the room sufficiently for them to cure.

 
     
1.5

Q: What is included in a set of plans?

 
 

A: The plans consist of full sized patterns, detailed scaled drawings, a complete Bill of materials, sailing rig on certain designs and a step by step construction manual. Plans are always priced separately from the partial kits.

 
     
1.6

Q: What is included in a partial kit?

 
 

A: It is a source of the unique materials selected for the particular boat design. Specifically; Cut to length 3.7 oz. 72" width heat shrink Dacron fabric, Kevlar roving, Structural Epoxy adhesive (1 to 1) mix thickened to a viscosity similar to Vaseline (very low toxicity) and Transfer Adhesive Film (hot melt glue). Note that the plans are NOT included in a partial kit.

 
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Construction & Supplies:

 
2.1

Q: Do I need special lumber? Where do I get it?

 
 

A: The necessary lumber is not necessarily "special" but there are some pointers that you should take under advisement. The longitudinal parts (stringers, gunwales and floorboards) can be milled (cut) from whatever is used to build houses in your area...typically 2 x spruce, fir or hemlock. Forget the 2 x 4 and look at the 2 x 12 they come from older larger trees and are more likely to have straighter grain with fewer knots.
The bent ribs should NOT be Kiln dried. The preferred wood would be Green ash, oak or juniper. Try to get this wood at a sawmill. The Amish people ,who make furniture, are a good place to look. If all else fails the ribs can be laminated of just about any type of wood.

 
     
2.2

Q: Why can't I buy the lumber from you?

 
 

A: We cannot provide you with lumber for most of our boats due to the length of the material. It's very impractical to try and ship anything that is longer than eight feet. You should be able to obtain the necessary supplies from a local lumber store.

 
     
2.3

Q: Do I have to steam bend the wood/ribs?

 
 

A: No! but if you try steam bending you will be glad that you did. First of all, only the ribs need this treatment not the longitudinal members. If you can locate good quality straight grain clear green Ash an over-night water soak will soften the small section wood. It can then be nursed into shape to make the bends. The satisfaction received when you take the same piece of wood from a 15 minute steam bath and tie it into a knot is worth the effort. The instruction manual details the procedure. Also, see our steam box tutorial for more information.

 
     
2.4

Q: What kind of glue will I need and where can I get it?

 
 

A: Supplied in the partial kits is a 1:1 low toxicity epoxy mix with a viscosity similar to vasoline. It is used for the structural parts of the assembly, all of the Gunwale, stem joints, the transom and especially the Breast hook and knees. Some of the kits include one part Urethane and this is recommended for the stringer to rib joints. It is mostly a convenience item because there are so many joints. The expanding squeeze out property serves a purpose here because these joints rarely fit perfectly so the expansion fills the gaps. Further more if you get clever with it you can judge how much to apply to end up with a structural fillet squeeze out around the edges.

If you chose to order a partial kit it will already include your epoxy, otherwise you can find epoxy at your local hardware store. Structural epoxy may call for the use of a filter/respirator.

 
     
2.5

Q: What tools are required?

 
 

A: The first step in the process is to mill out the wood, so you will need access to a table saw*. A bunch of regular household tools will get you through most tasks. It would be helpful to have a saber saw and a small drill motor. Model hobby stores sell PROEDGE #01350 razor saw (42 teeth/ in.) I say you need a bunch of clamps but people improvise around that with electrical wire ties, rubber bands and even ribbons cut out of panty hose. The Clamp-Its that we sell are cheap enough and are liked by most people. Also small, inexpensive spring clamps may be found in local stores.

* I have been touting that the first thing you need is access to a table saw with a hollow ground planner blade (even better is B&D "piranha" blade [cat # 73-957]) Well guess what - a young fellow in Hong Kong simply used a hand held circular saw (Skill Saw) and did just fine. Whatever approach you chose, always know your limits and work safely!

 
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Boat Covering (Skin):

 
3.1

Q: How tough is the Dacron skin?

 
 

A: The good: It will withstand a serious impact like bouncing onto a boulder. There are no problems stepping on it; a 2 ft. square panel will withstand a 400 # person standing on it. Dogs are said to cause no trouble to the skin.

The bad: It cuts easily against sharp objects like broken glass, but it is easy to repair. Now comes the tricky part ...It is almost impossible to rip the bare fabric, But a coat of varnish or paint that soaks into the fabric renders a loss of ripstop quality.

The answer is that there are a number of sealing coatings that do not soak into the cloth weave such as; an iron on mylar film (MonoKote). You'll find additional information on this page for optional strengthening techniques. Your need for a tougher skin will depend on how you intend to use your boat. We always encourage using a double layer of Dacron, but many people do not.

Some customers have chosen to replace Dacron with 1/4" plywood (on the hard-chine boats such as the Car-Topper 9). They find the end result to be heavier but still praise the performance of the boat & design. Most people just go with the Dacron because it works!

 
     
3.2

Q: What is used to seal the Dacron skin?

 
 

A: There are a lot of options. A couple of coats of exterior acrylic latex paint or water born varnish are the simplest, The varnish has been popular to render the translucent see through geodesic framework (this is satisfactory on a boat that can be pampered a little).

Another approach is to apply a thin mylar film (MonoKote) over the regular layer of Dacron. This yeilds a brilliant finish in the color of your choice, but adds to the expense of the project. Please see the next question in this list or refer to "What is MonoKote?"

A heavier duty coating is a rubberized Plasti-Dip material (tool handle dip). But it adds weight and can be difficult to apply smoothly.

If the boat can’t be stored in a barn and must be exposed to continuous UV, a UV barrier can be created with a few coats of aluminum Rust Oleum paint.

Occasionally someone will add a layer of epoxy fiberglass. I’m not in favor of this approach. For one reason it is so messy compared to applying the slick Dacron. The thin glass being a ridged and brittle material will not stand the impacts like the Dacron will so I question the gain?

 
     
3.3

Q: Why do some of your boats look so shiny? How can I do that?

 
 

A: These boats have likely been covered with a thin mylar film (MonoKote.) The appearance of these boats is truly outstanding, but it requires additional expense (material) and time. Please see our MonoKote-related topics on this page:
What is MonoKote?
How do I apply the mylar film and where do I get it?

 
     
3.4

Q: What can I do to make it (the skin) tougher?

 
 

A: There are various ways to improve the durability of the skin. The first was is to add a second layer of Dacron (described below.) Another is to add an iron-on mylar film. Using sealants that do not soak into the cloth improve durability by letting the Dacron fabric retain it's remarkable resistance to tearing. The double layer of Dacron is very easy to do, while the mylar film adds a remarkable luster that makes the boat shine like polished fiber glass. Beware that mylar is not UV resistant, so the boat should not be stored in direct sunlight. You can get a feel for the appearance of mylar film by viewing various photos on this web site.

 
     
3.5

Q: How do I add a second layer of Dacron?

 
 

A: This is renders and extremely tough skin, is easy to do and it doesn't add much weight. Apply the first layer of Dacron at a bias angle. Use a double width HeatnBond with the fabric glued also to the Gunwale top (considering the boat right side up). Leave off the stem doubler and shrink it tight. Install the Kevlar (use the 2 yarn grade). Next is a cross wise layer of 17" wide flat stock HEATnBOND. Be sure there are no holidays and don’t worry about the overlaps. If the compound shape is a problem slit some darts in it. Now do the second Dacron layer with the bias apposing the first layer. Shrink the fabric just enough to smooth the wrinkles, but not too tight. When you do the final fabric layer, shrink it gently until it is all snug. Then go slowly over the entire bottom with the thermostat at the "no shrink setting" to activate the HEATnBOND.

There is a variation to this procedure where the first layer is terminated along a stringer that is located just above the waterline. On the smaller canoes there is enough scrap from the main layer to provide for that bottom covering. You just have to reverse the order in which they are applied. I would recommend an exterior Acrylic Latex paint finish.

 
     
3.6

Q: How do I apply the mylar film and where do I get it?

 
 

A: The mylar film (MonoKote) is available in many hoby stores. In the quantity that you would need to cover a boat this option is pricey. The heat shrinking ability is limited so must be applied in lengthwise strips (2 planks) and requires more accuracy than the application of the Dacron layer which precedes it. Please read the "What is MonoKote?" topic for more information about MonoKote, and see our MonoKote application tutorial for detailed instructions.

 
     
3.7

Q: How can I recanvas a canoe?

 
 

A: (For complete instructions see out recanvasing tutorial.) Strip off all of the moldings, trim and rub rails. go over the wood work to tighten any loose fastenings and sprung planks. Use thin epoxy or Git-Rot to firm up any punky wood. Now carefully go over the entire hull with course sandpaper or file to smooth down any bumps or pimples. Due to the fine weave of the Dacron, any irregularities will telegraph and show through. Varnish the entire hull and you are ready to recover. Order the Dacron with one foot extra after measuring stem to stem along the Gunwale. Apply HEATnBOND tape along the gunwales, down the keel and around the front and sides of the stems. Peel off the keeper paper from the HnB and drape the fabric over the hull and stick it in place. You can purchase a printed copy of this process, or just view it for free online.

 
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Terminology & Products:

 
4.1

Q: What is HEATnBOND?

 
 

A: It is hot melt glue in sheet form. Available in 10 Yd rolls 7/8" width . You activate it with a household clothes iron. It is used to attach the Dacron to the wood frame. It is also used to make a patch if the skin gets punctured. It is ideal for laminating a double layer of Dacron. (Many people have learned the hard way that hot glue from a glue gun is not the way to go - we recommend against even trying it.)

 
     
4.2

Q: What is MonoKote?

 
 

A: An alternate sealer that is tough, thin and light weight. As a surface film it does not fill the Dacron weave to impair rip-stop qualities. It is an iron on film that is available in about 50 brilliant colors including clear. This is sold, a little pricey, in hobby stores for covering RC model airplanes. If it is not mylar as they say then it must be a close relative. The heat shrinking ability is limited so must be applied in lengthwise strips (2 planks). The overlap joints are hard to feel and almost invisible. The one weakness is that it has poor UV resistance so the boat should be stored in the barn when not in use.

You can locate a dealer near you by visiting the MonoKote website. Look for the "Where to buy" link at the bottom of their page: http://www.monokote.com/

 
     
4.3

Q: What is Plasti-Dip?

 
 

A: It is a tough flexible coating...Tool Handle Dip. Rather than brushing I have found that it is better to apply it thick with a serrated squeegee. Then lightly tip it off with a brush dipped in solvent. This system does not particularly soak into the fabric weave and yields the best ripstop results. Plasti-Dip does add a fair amount of weight.

 
     
4.4

Q: What is a Jiffy-Sail?

 
 

A: A Jiffy-Sail is a simple and inexpensive sail made out of Tyvek. Tyvek is that white, thin fiberous material used to make tear-proof envelopes, light weight protective suits and countless other things. Plans for boats with sails outline the construction of this type of sail. You'll also notice Tyvek written on the sails in some of our pictures. And No, it has not been readily available without the printing!

We have recently learned that there is now a pure white Tyvek stock (it no longer bears the giant Tyvek logo) available in up-to 10-foot widths. You can order this material from:
Goodling Outdoor Products

4323 Hope Valley Drive
Hillsborough, North Carolina 27278
dgoodling@nc.rr.com

 
     
4.5

Q: What is a Clamp-It?

 
 

A: They are simple bent wire spring clamps that have a deep throat with a wide grip range - similar to clothes pins in that they can be installed one handed. They look sort of like shower curtain clips. There are a lot of joints that need clamping. They are offered as a convenience option for those people who do not have the imagination or patience to improvise i.e.:nylon electrical wire-ties, etc.

Click here to see Clamp-Its in action.

 
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Online Ordering & Web Terms:

 
5.1

Q: How do I know that your server is secure?

 
 

A: If your browser is displaying a status bar at the bottom of the browser window you will see a closed lock icon indicating that a secure connection has been established. The shopping cart only moves into secure mode when you start the checkout process. Adding or removing items to your cart does not require any special security because no personal information is involved. Our shopping cart uses industry standard SSL encryption. This is the same security mechanism used by most if not all major web sites. Your web browser is partially responsible for the strength of the encryption - it is always a good idea to use a somewhat current version of a well known browser.

 
     
5.2

Q: Do you store my credit card information?

 
 

A: We do NOT retain your credit card information on this site or in the secure cart for any reason or duration. Your information is processed internally by our cart and is immediately "forgotten." In actuality it is never written to a file or database. That is why your credit card is the very last piece of information collected in the checkout process.

 
     
5.3

Q: What is a Cookie and why would I "need one"?

 
 

A: "Cookie" is computer industry term that refers to any information that a web server stores on your computer. Cookies are usually temporary, and are always very small in size. Almost all major web sites use cookies for one reason or another. They are usually used to remember preferences you have chosen and to remember who you are while you move between pages on a single visit. We use cookies only to allow you to jump back and forth between our web site and the shopping cart. They allow our server to identify you and thereby recall what items you have selected - without them it is not possible to remember what you have selected if you leave the cart and return to the main site. Users who are not willing to enable cookies can still shop online, but they must stay inside our online catalog until all items have been selected and checkout has been completed. The online catalog contains very little information on the boat models, but should represent all major products that are available on this main site.

 
     
5.4

Q: How do I enable Cookies?

 
 

A: Enabling cookies is usually a simple process of changing a setting or two on your web browser. These exact settings vary from one browser to another and even from one version of the same browser to the next. As such, it is very hard to tell you exactly which menu options to look for to change your settings. Most browsers have cookies enabled by default, so unless you have intentionally disabled them you probably don't need to do anything.

Please visit this google link for instructions on how to enable cookies in common browsers. This site offers another explaination of what cookies are and shows browser settings on a Mac.

 
     
5.5

Q: Why are your online shipping costs lower?

 
 

A: We have chosen to support online ordering to "stay with the times" and make it easier for you to place your order. The shopping cart's ability to lookup exact shipping rates allows you, the customer, to select among several shipping methods based on their cost and the weight of the items you select. This process saves us time as well because we are not spending a lot of time comparing shipping rates and the process of obtaining credit card information is automated and processed immediately. Any mistakes that are made in entering credit card information is detected immediately and the customer is given the chance to re-enter it. To put it simply, online ordering removes many of the complexities of conducting business and allows the customer to pay actual shipping with minimal "handling fees." We offer it as a value-added service. You are in no way discouraged from mailing in your orders, although we do ask that you do not e-mail your credit card information.

 
     
5.6

Q: Do you ship to other countries?

 
 

A: Yes, we do ship to countries other than the U.S. The online ordering process makes it considerably easier for customer's to know shipping rates without having to contact us and then waiting for us to call the post office and then return that information to you. NOTE: We have been suggesting to most overseas customers who wish to order partial kits that they locate their own epoxy adhesive because it reduces shipping costs dramatically. If you find the shipping costs for a partial kit to be too high please e-mail us (bettemonfort <at> roadrunner.com) for an estimate of this "light weight partial kit." Presently we do not have anyway to order these light kits online.

 
     
5.7

Q: Why does your shopping cart show a different web address?

 
 

A: We have chosen King-Cart to host our secure shopping cart offsite. Their support for international currencies, many shipping options, and industry-standard SSL security made this a better option than running one directly on our site. Everytime you add an item to your cart you are being sent to our catalog and cart on that secure server. You'll notice that you can click right back to this main site and then return to your cart at any time. You'll also notice that the shopping cart doesn't change to secure mode until you begin to check out. This is because the shopping cart does not contain any personal information until you start to checkout.

 
     
5.8

Q: What is JavaScript and where does your site use it?

 
 

A: JavaScript is an enhancement to HTML (web documents) that allows your computer to perform actions beyond just displaying a static web page. Generally JavaScript is enabled in all major browsers, but can be disabled. We use JavaScript on every page to provide mouse-over graphic effects. We also use JavaScript to help display submission tips on the final secure checkout page.

The following sentence should tell you if you have it enabled:


 
     
5.9

Q: What can I do to get help?

 
 

A: If you are having trouble using our online cart you can ask us to process your order for you using the contact information shown on the bottom of each page. You also can contact our web master with technical questions using this form. Please do not send credit card information via e-mail.

 
     
Copyright 2002-2008 Monfort Associates.
     

Aladdin Products, Inc. d/b/a
Monfort Associates
50 Haskell Road
Westport, Maine 04578

 

Phone: 207 882-5504
e-mail:
bettemonfort <at>
roadrunner.com

     
 
 
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