Due to our limited knowledge of boat manufacturing our research continues…

The Fiberglass Boat

  • Durability and ease of construction make fiberglass the material of choice for the recreational boats we’re familiar with today are made fiberglass, usually with a wood or form core for strength.

    Fiberglass—or glass-reinforced plastic—is made of glass fiber cloth, encased in resin. Lightweight and inexpensive, fiberglass is an ideal boat-building material. It can be laid into a mold, so that each boat hull of a series is an exact duplicate of every other hull of the same design. It can absorb significant damage and remain afloat for an extended period of time. It can be modified easily to suit the owner’s needs without having to be returned to the shop for an extensive and expensive refitting. Most repairs can even be made by the owner, as long as the hull isn’t catastrophically damaged.

Molding the Hull

  • The hull is the body of your boat. Fiberglass boat hulls are laid up, that is, they’re formed using a mold, so that the hulls of one design all match, so that manufacturers aren’t starting from scratch with each boat built.

    After the design process is completed the molds are built. Like the molds in ceramics, the mold for a boat is a “negative version” of the finished boat. To build a boat, the interior of the mold is first covered with Gelcoat, a clear coating similar to the clear coat finish on an automobile, but much thicker. The Gelcoat is allowed to dry. After the Gelcoat has cured, the fiberglass—which comes in rolls, like a gauze bandage or attic insulation—is saturated with resin and several layers of the fiberglass is laid into the mold, one layer at a time. The resin hardens into the finished fiberglass boat hull with which we’re familiar. Before the final layers of fiberglass are added, a core of foam or balsa wood is added for extra flotation.

Adding the Boat’s Systems

  • The completed fiberglass hull is removed from the mold and inspected. If necessary, minor cosmetic repairs are made to the hull at this stage, the Gelcoat is touched up and the hull is inspected.

    At this point, the boat is essentially completed, but before delivery to a dealer, carpeting, seating, heads, a galley, controls or other components are added. If the boat is a sailboat, this is where the mast and mast step are added; if the boat is powered, the engine is installed after the final inspection.

    Even after the manufacturer’s fitting out, the boat owner can make changes: adding a transom door, beefing up the transom so that the boat can carry heavier outboard motors or adding specialized systems is well within the capabilities of most boat owners.”

    Website: http://www.ehow.com/how-does_5317867_boat-manufacturing-process.html