Wood or Fiberglass hulls

Discussion in 'Construction' started by JustinScott, Dec 23, 2006.

  1. JustinScott

    JustinScott Well-Known Member

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    Now I've heard wood hulls last longer & I've heard fiberglass hulls last longer... I've not owned a ship long enough to know. What do you guys think?

    TO ME: Fiberglass makes sense, wood could eventually warp or rot. Fiberglass would never succumb to such things.
     
  2. JohnmCA72

    JohnmCA72 Member

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    I've got both, & had both last a long time. A wood hull can be sealed to prevent rot or warp. Don't think that a fiberglass hull never needs any maintenance, though. I've had "ribs" break, & reduced plenty of them by sanding off old hull sheeting. Repairs are pretty easy, but are required from time to time.

    The biggest difference is in the amount of room you get inside. A fiberglass hull loses about 1/16" to 1/8" of interior space all around. Wood can't be cut that thin & expected to not split into splinters, so it's got to be thicker, usually on the order of 1/2" or so. Take away 1/2" on each side, & your space inside is reduced by a full inch. On a ship with a 6-8" beam, especially, that's a lot of space lost!

    Then there's the time-to-build aspect. I figure that, the day a fiberglass hull arrives on my doorstep, I'm 4-6 weeks into the project vs. where I'd be if I built with wood.

    If there's a fiberglass hull available for a ship I want to build, I'll buy it every time. If not, there isn't much choice. I haven't built any fiberglass hulls from scratch myself - if I ever did, I'd probably make several from the same plug to sell the ones I didn't use & pay for my effort.

    JM
     
  3. Kotori87

    Kotori87 Well-Known Member

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    I know of a wooden hull that is older than I am and still actively fighting (if that says anything about longevity, I don't know WHAT does). I haven't built any fiberglass hulls yet, so I don't know how well they work. I agree very strongly with the time savings that fiberglass hull gives you. Wooden takes much longer to build. However, a well planned wooden hull lays out ribs with built in braces and studs for mounting. Wooden hulls also look nicer and cleaner that fiberglass. A well planned wooden hull is far better than a well done fiberglass hull in my opinion (which is why I CAD modeled the Mehoshi Maru). However, I have also seen wooden hulls that have been slapped together as fast as possible with little planning, and the resulting ship suffers because of it.
     
  4. aroeske

    aroeske Member

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    I personally like wood hulls for battle ships. An fiberglass hull that hasn't been reinforced can be a problem. My North Carolina was a Swampworks hull and after two years of battling and a rebuild halfway through, I abandoned that hull. It was splinterd and fractured. Lesson learned.

    A properly backed or thicker hull should last mush longer and work just as well as a wood hull though.

    Andy
     
  5. CURT

    CURT Well-Known Member

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    Wood Versus Fiberglass? I would lean towards fiberglass. My Bismarck is a swampworks and it is 15 years old 9 of them of hard battling. That hull had one cracked Rib. I rebuilt a Nagato that was 20 years old back in 2001 but a season later after reiiforcing the hull finally split apart. It's been reglassed entirly with reinforced matt. Wood and fiberglass would last about the same cept wood would require more maintenance to make it last longer, whereas Fiberglass requires little to none. Fiberglass is much stronger too and weather resistant than wood.Fiberglass doesn't rot like wood either. I like the smell of new wood hulls but nothing is nicer than a smooth shiny fiberglass hull. Wood is great for the hard core builders but most people don't have the time so fiberglass ready hulls are more appealing that way.
     
  6. Craig

    Craig Active Member

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    One word... fiberglass. Just thinking of my uncle's canoe... he's had that thing for ever. I would consider a wood deck. But, the hull to me would be fiberglass. Seems it would be easy to maintain and last longer.
     
  7. JustinScott

    JustinScott Well-Known Member

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    That's what I thought too & is what I put on the main page... but someone called issue to it and said I was completely wrong, that wood would last longer. I told him I didn't understand how that was possible, but conceded that I just didn't have any proof & removed it.
     
  8. JohnmCA72

    JohnmCA72 Member

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    There are a lot of "it depends" options here. In general, a wood frame will have heavier/thicker ribs than fiberglass. The theory is that the thicker ribs will hold up better to the abuse of combat, & I'm not about to dispute that. If someone tries to use wood ribs as thin as a typical fiberglass hull, it probably won't survive skinning without fracture. I've also seen (approx.) 1/2" plywood ribs that fractured from combat & had to be fixed. A good waterproof coating is essential for a wood hull, if it's going to last a long time.

    I've got both wood & fiberglass ships that have lasted for many years. Most of the structural damage that I've had to fiberglass hulls has been self-inflicted - overly aggressive grinding to remove glue at re-skin time. Both can last a long time, even with frequent combat & many re-skinnings, but both will require some maintenance & probably some repair, too, during their lifetimes.

    JM
     
  9. CURT

    CURT Well-Known Member

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    In fibre glass hulls that are made thin generally rule of thumb is to attach a wood backing to the rib to prevent it from bowing when upon a heavy ram. Now some hulls are made very thick ie: Ralph Coles Yamato and Veneto, those hulls are so thick and difficult to cut out but you get a very very strong hull with very thick ribs. No wood backing required. I did have a problem the Armored stringer as it was made incorrectly and I cut it too thin by accident. Some of the sections did break. On most fibre glass hulls it's best to reinforce the armored stringer with a birch or ply backing resined to the stringer. Gives it a lot of strength and prevents the stringer from snapping in 2. So rule here, thin hull reinforce the ribs, thick hulll not necessary but wouldn't hurt but do reinforce the armored stringer. That usually breaks if not supported.
     
  10. Craig

    Craig Active Member

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    How old is the Shinano hull I have Curt? Twelve, Thirteen years? Fiberglass and thick too. I guess an argument could be made if the wood was treated adn properly maintained it would last longer... watch out for termites though. Also, if the wood is wet would't it rot faster... I think there is less maintenence with the Fiber so I'll stick with it for now. Stick... hmmm.... I could bring the argument of fiberglass and wooden hockey sticks into this..... :) It's a Canadian thing.

    :)
     
  11. Tugboat

    Tugboat Facilitator RCWC Staff Admiral (Supporter)

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    Both hulls can be durable and last a long time. We have a few of the old 1/150 scale ships in MWCI that are grandfathered from before the 1:144 standardization. They are wood hulls, and have significant coatings of epoxy on them, which probably helped with durability.

    I like wooden hulls, probably because I like building them. When you factor in time and materials, a wooden hull probably costs about the same as a fiberglass one, and as some have pointed out, takes more time. My Vanguard took about a month to do, not working every day, but definately worth it. If you look on the MWCI how-to page, it's in a consruction article with its sister ship that was built at the same time. The frames were originally coated with several layers of varnish, but the first one is in overhaul right now and is getting soaked in West System epoxy.

    Almost sad now because they were built to operate together, and now I'm Axis :) My Hyuga BBCV is a scratchbuilt fiberglass hull, it takes much less time and has more room inside. Hopefully she'll be all ready for Nats 07.
     
  12. JustinScott

    JustinScott Well-Known Member

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    My iowa is also scratch built fiberglass. It seems that (for one ship) whether your buy it or build it, it cost the same. So when it really comes down to scratch or buy; decide if you want to build or not. Don't think about the price.
     
  13. CURT

    CURT Well-Known Member

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    Craig the Shinanno is Ralph's first Yamato hull from the plug and mold so I'D say that is hmm lets see it was launched for Can-nats 4. I know Ralph was bulding it 1999 but did not finish the hull till the summer of Can-nats 3 2000,it's nearly 7 years old. My Yamato was the third one from the mold as Paul March purchased one in 2000 as well. My Yamato is 6 years old.Come July 07 will be here 7 th year anniversary launch. So has a battlehship Shinano is old, as a carrier she is new.
     
  14. CURT

    CURT Well-Known Member

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    AHH that's your Vanguard, I saw that entire site. I mentioned this to the guys building Vanguard. That's nice work. I had to give up my Vanguard and switch to a smaller ship the USS TENNESSEE. Since you have a working model we need data on it's performance, and what size props and motors your using and how many batteries. This will help the guys building thier Vanguards here at NABS.
     
  15. CURT

    CURT Well-Known Member

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    Agreed both hulls are durable and like I said before in an earlier post guys are building wood because they like to work with wood. Wood has a certain appeal and I can relate to that.
    Agreed build what you like and not dwell on price. As long as you are happy with your work and what you have built so that you can sail your ship into battle.
     
  16. Tugboat

    Tugboat Facilitator RCWC Staff Admiral (Supporter)

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    I agree with you both, Justin and Curt, it's about what you like, and really if you like to do woodworking, then it won't matter if you have extra maintenance. For a new guy building his first combat ship from scratch, I absolutely recommend a fiberglass hull. Way faster to get them battling, and then, gentlemen, they are HOOKED! After that, they can be enticed to try building an Iowa from matchsticks and chewing gum.

    Curt, I will get the data as soon as I can pull the gears to check how many teeth :) I'm driving 2 props (1.75 inch 4-blade, 25 degree pitch). I tried 2" props, but they didn't turn as well as I had hoped. Battery-wise, I use a 12V, 18A-H lead-acid battery. Plenty of capacity, and I have 1 in the boat, and the other charging, swapping them at lunch. My friend Brian uses a 6V, 36A-H battery of roughly the same dimensions. Both of us run 1 ESC per motor, and that helps me with the 12V battery vs 6V motor question. It also avoids burning out ESCs. At Nats 06 (the first year with lots of ESCs on the water) a lot of ESCs toasted themselves. I cut out a piece of the hull bottom, epoxied an aluminum plate over the hull (flush-mounted) and mounted the ESCs against the plate so it'd act as a heat sink, transmitting the heat to the "ocean" My rudder is a mighty axe that'll cleave a destroyer in two if I can get one to stand still for me to run over her. I got a huge servo to swing it, one from a big RC truck that was mostly destroyed at the local store's outdoor track. My big advice to them is to make sure that they have really good water channelling. The Vanguards have such a long hull that it takes an act of God to get the water in the bow back to the pump. I had actively considered mounting a booster pump in the bow to move the water aft, but now that I am an Axis captain,that's not a priority :)

    Speaking of building what you like, my IJN Hyuga BBCV is slowly progressing :) It'll have a wierd (for fast guns) gun configuration, but then I want to be different anyhow, not one of 10 North Carolinas on the water. (j/k you NC drivers!)
     
  17. CURT

    CURT Well-Known Member

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    Awesome Tugboat, that is excellent data. Thankyou for submitting that. Once the chart is done it will be easier to post the data on the chart. Just this info alone you just provided is extremely helpful exspecially for the guys who tried out esc for the first time and had issues with them unfortuntly during contest time. Also the additional info on Vanguard is extremly helpful and I can relay that if the guys miss this on the post. Thanks again
     
  18. Tugboat

    Tugboat Facilitator RCWC Staff Admiral (Supporter)

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    I'll email Brian and see what his current setup on his Vanguard is. Technically, mine is HMS Enterprize. There was only one Vanguard, and naming it that helped convince the Star Trek watching wife who supports me to let me build a big ship :) Gots ta keep da wife happy, don't'cha'know!
     
  19. Craig

    Craig Active Member

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    Noice tugboat. That is the way to do it. Only one question remains when the wife comes around asking questions, Kirk or Picard in command?

    Once again I am all for Fiberglass. :)
     
  20. Tugboat

    Tugboat Facilitator RCWC Staff Admiral (Supporter)

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    Yeah, the wife is in charge. Fortunately she lets the first mate have some time on the conn now and then. Usually when there's a roach or spider that needs to encounter a size 12 prime directive.