Plans or Kits

Many suppliers are offering boat designs in kit form, as an alternative to (or instead of) the traditional drawings/plans (often supported by full size frame templates).

Kits come in 2 main variants. The first (traditional) is ancillary items – fastenings, resin packs, etc. The second (more recent) is sheet parts (typically aluminium, steel, plywood) that can be used to shape up and generate the hull structure. Ply stitch and glue lends itself very well to kit construction (as an alternative to the builder marking out the component shapes on own material).

Computer aided design (CAD) has made the generation of shapes for boat kit components much easier and more affordable. How the components are generated doesn’t really matter; the availability does.

A key feature of kits for hull shells is that shell components can be cut out to predetermined shapes, bent and fastened together, and then pulled into final shape. In some cases transverse and longitudinal components can be joined together to parts of the vessel shape.

Choice between drawings and kits may be a matter of individual preference. In some cases the choice may be forced by what is on offer for the preferred design. The use of kits may well be cost- and time-effective for an individual builder. In many cases the use of a kit will by-pass an area of low skill and familiarity for a home builder – the laying out and cutting of individual components. Many of these components will require shaping (from the original flat material) for incorporation into the vessel structure.

One counter to the use of kits is the cost of moving the material (hundreds or thousands of kilograms) from the cutting site to the site of the boat builder. This is unlikely to be an issue within an individual country, but could well be prohibitive on a transcontinental basis. Moving a package of drawings, even including full size frame template prints, involves at most a few kilograms. Note that ply or plate, in uncut, unmarked form is going to require delivery from material supplier to the builder’s site.

Supply of cutting files for the local cutting of plate parts is already supported by Bruce Roberts Yacht Design.

Kits are proving to be a popular option for the lower end (mainly trailable boats) of professional buliders of plate aluminium boats. This applies parti9cularly for one off and low volume boat models for a particular builder.

Some construction techniques do not lend themselves to kit construction. Carvel planked timber,  batten mould, and GRP are examples. However, we could regard buying the major mouldings for a GRP boat (often joined together) as a form of boat kit. This can well be an effective choice, if supported by the intended supplier.

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