On Design

This page is dedicated to notes on design and specific designs. Scroll down to read various articles and commentaries.

"DESIGN" Explained; a commentary by Brian Clark
Product Design is the conscious, educated and disciplined attempt to translate a clearly defined idea into a physical product.  It takes years to build the intuitive 'mojo' and discipline that drives design.  It also takes material knowledge, an understanding of physics and processes of manufacture to become good at it.  Design takes responsibility for the process from idea creation to product design and production, product use, and today, product disposal when replaced by new designs and new products.

Good design happens when masterful design skills support the best solutions to product requirements and customer needs.  Good design is as perfect as possible when nothing can be added to or subtracted from the product.

I’ve known Russell since he was a barefoot teenager in Virginia.  Even then his attention to detail and interest in every discipline was evident.  Over the years he has continued to hone his mastery of every aspect of boat design and building.  His solutions to material use, structural and building methods are masterful; ‘Objects of Art”. His boats live up to customer expectations by performing precisely what they are designed to do. But most importantly, his boats are like great friends, dependable, available and always a comfort.

Design notes from Paul Bieker of Bieker Boats. Erick Jolley and Paul Bieker are the designers of the PT Skiff.

"THE PT SKIFF DESIGN , Designer notes by Paul Bieker
Bieker Boats has designed high performance sailing skiffs for the past 20 years.  Our International 14 designs have won the majority of World Championships in that exciting sailing class since 1997 (see http://www.international14.org/ ).  Largely due to this influence, the hull shape of the PT Skiff has more in common with a high performance sailing skiff than it does with the hull shapes of most post World War 2 powerboat designs.

World War 2 ushered in an era in which both power and fuel were cheap and readily available.   The majority of small powerboats designed in that era were designed to be both fast (25+ knots) and inexpensive (relatively low tech and heavy).   These boats varied in their ability to run at high speed in rough water - the boats which could did so by using inefficient deep Vee hull forms.  The amount of power required to push the boat at its design speed was of secondary importance.

Sailing skiffs evolved under very different constraints.  The power available from the wind is limited and variable and in order to be competitive a hull needs to be efficient using the power available from the sails in anything from 3 to 25kts of wind.  A sailing skiff  also needs to have reasonable control characteristics over a wide range of sea states.  A future in which power is expensive economically and environmentally will require powerboats to meet constraints more akin to those under which sailing skiffs evolved.   The narrow waterline, moderately fine bow, and relatively flat aft sections of the PT Skiff  are all characteristics that it shares with high performance sailing skiffs.

Unlike conventional post World War 2 powerboats, the PT Skiff does not have an awkward hull speed.  Like a sailing skiff it runs efficiently at every speed from idle to 25kts.  Being narrow and relatively fine bowed, it can also run comfortably through a chop that would be very uncomfortable in a wider and flatter bottomed skiff.  In rougher conditions when the boat would start launching off waves and pounding on its flatter aft sections, the PT Skiff can be run slower and still be efficient and safe.  Although the PT Skiff can comfortably run at 20+ kts our favorite speed range in the boat is between 15 and 17kts.

Performance rarely comes without tradeoffs.  In general it is more difficult to build a lightweight boat than it is to build a heavy boat.  Also, narrow skiff  hull shapes are tender (initially tippy) and they have to be steered actively in a following sea (the narrow bows tend to steer one way or the other when driving into the backs of waves).  That said, these are also the characteristics which make the boat feel lively and somewhat challenging.  We believe that lively and challenging are also characteristics that the boat will share with life in the modern economy.

Bieker Boats, LLC
Seattle Washington
USA www.biekerboats.com"

Design changes from the first prototype to the current version:

Hello All,
Letting you know here what changes we have made and why. Lots of things happening right now (2010)to bring this into a super package with a boat that will be both challenging and terrifically fun to build and very satisfying to own.

The PT Skiff was designed for the Wooden Boat and Professional Boatbuilder design challenge. It met and very much exceeded the requirements for the contest.
In reviewing it for our kit business however, we decided to take the design a step further.
The original design needed foam flotation in most of the compartments in order to comply with USCG requirements. (under 20ft outboard propelled motor boats)
Many production skiffs are this way, but we didn’t like the thought of having most of the available stowage space filled with foam.
Much of the flotation needed is to provide stability in the case of a swamped boat.
It made sense to put some of this buoyancy at the outer edges of the boat.
We had been thinking about side decks while building the first boat as a way to simplify construction, so the choice was made to re-design the boat with side decks and allow for 3’ (75 mm) of foam to be fitted in the space underneath. This foam is hidden by the combing.
The modification will mean that the boat will have a much smaller outer spray rail, and be about 15lbs heavier, but
the advantages are;
Stability if flooded, (update: The PT Skiff with side decks was tested in 2010 by the USCG and passed for Stability when flooded)
Storage in lockers, instead of foam,
A more rigid structure,
Easier to assemble (no laminated gunwale),
More security. Side decks mean the boat is much less likely to ship water in very rough weather. Pictures of the current design are on the website, ptwatercraft.com


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