Monday, February 11, 2008

Build Comparison: Tiki 26 and Tiki 30

In my last post here I mentioned that I was going to Florida for a few days to help my friend, David Halladay and his company Boatsmith in the intial assembly of a new Tiki 30 he's building as a spec project. Most of you who follow this blog have probably been following his progress on Pro-Built Tiki 30 as well, and have seen the photos I posted last week while I was there. If so, you know we made remarkable progess in the four days I was there, and I'm sure this pace has continued today as I was back here in Mississippi, working on my Tiki 26 again. With the right crew, a spacious shop to work in, and lots of machine tools to handle parts, building a Tiki 30 is not that big a deal. But for one person working alone as I am doing on my Tiki 26, I think there is a significant difference in the ease of construction between these two models. Remember that the 4-foot difference is just an illusion. A Tiki 30 is a lot more boat to build than a Tiki 26. Although I have no doubts that I could build one singlehanded, I knew from comparing the plans back before I made my decision to go with the Tiki 26 that choosing the 30-footer would have considerably delayed my launching date.

Below you can see the two hulls and the eight of us that put them together and completed all the keel filleting and glassing as well as bulkhead fillets and fabrication of many of the other parts in just four days. For one person working part-time and alone, the amount of man hours we put into the project to get this far would stretch into weeks. As you can see here, the hulls are much deeper than those of the Tiki 26, and will look even bigger with the topside panels on.

Another photo that illustrates the depth of the hulls and the height of the bulkheads. The Tiki 30 is a deep boat, but in this size there is still not standing headroom in the cabins, and the Tiki 26 offers full sitting headroom, so there's not much you can do in between sitting and standing when you're down below.

From a construction standpoint, one thing that makes the hull assembly and set-up much more difficult is the addition of the long, low aspect keel that has to be fitted between the lower edges of the hull panels. This keel assembly must be lined up just so or the hull panels will not open correctly when spread for inserting bulkheads. The keel backbone is also slotted to receive the bulkheads, and getting all this together while it's held together with wire and temporary screws requires some patience. Lots of tweaking and adjusting is necessary to get everything to fit correctly, and then once the hull is upright and bulkheads are in place, it has to all be locked down with braces to keep everything lined up and level until the epoxy fillets can be made. This was hard enough even with several people, but would take awhile to do alone. As James Wharram states in his design book, the Tiki 30 and 31 are about the largest hulls of this shape that can be reasonably built in the stitch and glue method. That's why in the initial phase the Tiki 38 is built upside down, so that the lower hulls are easier to line up and keep straight.

So did I make the right decision to chose the Tiki 26? Yes, I think so. It will give me most of the capability of the Tiki 30 for less money and for a smaller chunk of my life dedicated to building it. If I could just write the check and have a crew like David's put together a brand new boat for me, I might consider going larger, but as one who will be mostly singlehanding anyway I will be able to do what I want to do with the Tiki 26. But working on another Wharram design was certainly interesting, as was doing this as part of a professional boatbuilding team. I certainly look forward to following David's progress and to seeing the finished boat. At the rate it's started, I won't have to wait long.

"No necesito un Tiki 30 - un Tiki 26 es suficiente! Let's see if we can knock this thing down to a reasonable size!" (That's me with the hammer - clowning around with the guys) As usual, I had a great time working with the Boatsmith crew, and building a boat in Spanish is a good way to learn new words in a second language.

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