Pygmy Kayak

SZihn

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I have been watching too, but so far I have heard nothing.

Anyone out there know of computer software for kayak design?
 

mick_allen

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go to boatdesign.net where they list all the free, low cost, and commercial types with relevant commentary and ratings.
Low cost - freecad or blender look interesting now. Or Delftship maybe typical as a starter still?

Typical use would probably be solidworks though.
 

eriktheviking

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Prince George, BC
Anyone out there know of computer software for kayak design?
Kayak Foundry was pretty useable for playing with designs. I don't know how active Ross has been- it hasn't been updated on the web site for some time but I expect it still works. I had it installed using "Wine" on my Mac and it worked pretty well. Not sure if it will run on a modern Windows installation.
 

mick_allen

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just to note - I don't think kayakfoundry can do chined or panellized designs like the OP pygmy query.
 

SZihn

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One thought that hit me was to detail hull design and shaped form poly kayaks that I have tried and liked and make vertical forms to those shapes and that amount of rocker. Using the strip or the skin on frame methods, I could get very close to many of those roto-molded shapes. With jointed wood I doubt I can get the exact shapes, but I do know I can get pretty close. My wife uses "Solid Works" and she can help if I can find some basic foundational design program or set of prints that are affordable. With wood strips the time would be pretty extreme for me. I am sure I'd end up hand fitting each and every strip one at a time. But by making a form for the keel with the rocker I desire, and setting up a "skeleton" to insert the bulkheads and "timbers' into I could make the hull. Once the hull was made I'd have to make the deck to fit, and I believe that will be more challenging then the hull is. I have ideas about the form I'd like to use, but I bet I'll have to make it as I make gun stocks, one piece at a time, planes and scraped to fit.

Right now I just have no time to start such a project. I am still back-logged 3-1/2 years on my muzzleloaders and I can't in good conscience take time away from customers who have waited for my work patiently for years. But doing the research and accumulation the information now about kayak building would save me time after I work off my back log.

I want to make 2 styles. One is going to be no longer then 17.5 feet, probably about 21" at the beam, and I want to make it with a deck "swell" over the foot section, so it can be used by anyone including friends who wear size 14 boots. That "deck swell" will only be about 8" front to back, and the rest of the deck will be fairly low to avoid wind. I'll make the stern to accept a rudder, but also make it with an option to install a skeg box.

The other one I have in mind is about 14.5 feet long and about 24" at the beam. This one I'd build with a skeg box and about 2X the rocker of the longer one. With the skeg (or maybe a rudder) it can be used in lakes and waters where wind is common and sometimes stiff, and yet be super playful when the skeg or rudder is lifted.

Because I am not (yet) knowledgeable about kayak building and design, I am looking for information now. My idea (which I believe can work) is to make framing and forms to take the skeletons so I can overlay them with either wood and fit it together one piece at a time, or I can also overlay it with a ballistic nylon skin for a much lighter craft, but also far faster to make and much less expensive too, but not as long-lasting. But the hull shaped could be basically the same from the wood strip or the skin on frame types. I may pour a concrete slab and set it up for my forms, so trey can be inserted into sockets to make the hulls and then when not in use the forms can be lifted out and put away in a tool shed. If I make the slab I intend to pour around steel ring tie downs to make anchor points to cinch webbing down, so holding tension on the parts as I go would be a lot easier then just building on saw horses or a table.

Anyway, any kayak builders out there.....I am interested in your techniques and ideas.

This is not anything that is going to happen very soon and I have to admit it may never happen. I am past average "retirement age" and a lot can happen in 3-4 years. But making kayaks would be fun for me, and i have many young friends who I know would love to have one. I have tried to stay in good shape all my life and as I age I feel the effect of the years and the old injuries and wounds, but I always stayed active and enjoyed doing "young men's activities" As many of my contemporaries have aged along with me many have stopped playing and many have died. So I find most of my closest friend today are between 1/3 and 1/2 my age. They often come to me for advice and love the same things I love, so I think making kayaks for them would be a good thing for me to do in my late years.

Just a dream, but all I have done in my life started out as dreams which I turned into activities, and now many are wonderful memories. So I think this would be a good one to end on. "Steve Zihn: Gunsmith and Kayak Maker."
Has a nice ring to it I think.

I'll find out in the next 3 years or so
 

JohnAbercrombie

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Steve:
Some interesting ideas!

I think a lot of first-time builders feel they need to use more substantial strongbacks than necessary. Keeping it simple and basic has worked for me.
People think that skin on frame is a fast building technique, but for most people a plywood stitch and glue boat will take less time, IMO.
If you pick a design with well-defined chines- even one intended for strip building - it's pretty simple to build it with plywood. I think some Black Pearl boats have been built that way, and there must be other examples as well.
(And a S&G boat - even one made with 'ordinary' plywood - will be far more rugged than most S&G boats....)

Have you read any of the 'standard' books on kayak building? (Ted Moores, Nick Schade, etc. )
 

SZihn

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I have 3 books John.

1. The Strip-Built Sea Kayak by Nick Shade

2. Wood and canvas Kayak Building by George Putz

And 3. he Kayak Shop by Chris Kulczycki

Are there more? Those 3 were the only ones I found to buy.


But going through them slowly and trying to absorb information has been fun for me. I have to admit that Putz's Table of Offsets was difficult for me to understand from his text. I am sure if I could see the project done one time I'd grasp it.

But the actual design is what I find to be most interesting. I can just use some existing drawing or blue print, but I want to try to make a few modifications of my own and experiment with speed and venerability of the hulls. To be honest, I think budget will be the thing that stops me if anything does, because building them is no less expensive then buying them in some cases, and in about all cases if the ones I buy are from the used market.

But as you saw in another post of mine, I am wanting to design a deck that allows people to paddle who have larger feet or want to wear boots, and so far the only kayaks I have fund that can accommodate such large feet are huge hulled and very high volume. I see no reason a mid sized craft can't be made to have a swell over the adjustment range of the foot pegs. I invision it being about 8' long and about 1.5" to 2" taller over the normal hight of the deck. That's all it would take.

I like the idea of a hard chine, and one made with some rocker is going to turn and spin well, but the addition of a skeg or a rudder will make it useful over open stretches of water too. Where I am learning the skills of kayaking, some stretches can be as short as 700 yards and the longest one is 21.8 miles. To get "lined out" a long low rocker kayak is just the thing,,,, but for playing around the cliffs and rocks the shorter boat with a lot of rocker is nicer, But.....many of those cliffs are on the north end of the lake and I am on the south end. So getting up there takes me a few hours. (I can drive up and launch from a northern location, but that's not near as much fun.)

Putz shows a way to make forms to build over, and I can see how that system would be easy to use. I have in mind to make an adjustable set of supports for each one, and that set of supports can be "bent' to allow for the use of the same forms but made at heights for more of less rocker. But if I were to use plywood the fitting of the strips would be very precise just as the strip built hull would be, but strips are way easier to work and fit then plywood. Trying to use the same hull forms on 2 kayaks, one with 2" of rocker and one with 6" of rocker would mean the plan for the cuts would be radically different. With strip building, I can fit each one as I go and fitting wood to very tight joints is something I have over 50 years of experience doing.

If I could find a computer program and have my wife run it, so the plywood pieces could be cut to make precise joints I am sure plywood would be the best. But I am as close to a zero as you can get with computers. I barely know how to e-mail or go to the internet. In fact, most forums visit have features I can't use because I have no idea how to do it, and I don't even have a working vocabulary of the terms, so I can't even ask someone other then to say "how do I do this'? And when I get the answers it's always in the same "geek-speak" so the answers doesn't tell me a thing either.

Working 60 hour weeks (and in the past 30 years working an average of 72 hour weeks) I have not had time to learn the cyber game.


But my idea for a kayak building "station" is to start with a cement slab with male/female steel sockets formed at the time of the pour. These sockets can take uprights of steel that I can attach the forms to at differing heights. So setting them up so the keel can be at any degree of straightness or rocker is easy. The hull can then be made to have the amount I want to make. The deck would have to be fitted to each one, but by using the strip type of building I can have any amount of bend or straightness at the joining line I like. In other word, if I so desire, I can use a fairly flat deck on a very "bent' hull, or a bent up-swept deck on a straight hull. I can install bulkheads too and by making them from solid wood I can make them a bit high and plane them down as the deck is fitted over them and get a perfect fit.

Plywood would indeed be faster and easier and also I expect it would be a more resilient material too, but getting the joints perfect would be very hard to do if I didn't have a precise and accurate drawing to follow. Because I am not following the plans of another, getting such a blue print would be 100% on me. (Or ----on my wife, -----if I can get her to do it for me, and if I can find the computer program to give her for the designing of the hull pieces)

All this is just "mental play-time" as of now. I am a few years away from doing any of it, and if the economy was not strong and if my health was to take a nose dive I'd never do any of it. But I am making plans anyway. I have lived my whole life with the idea that if you fail to plan you are planning to fail. It's only a dream as of now. But all my adventures of my life started out as dreams.
Enjoy life until you die and be a blessing to others while you can. That's the best life one can ask for.
 

JohnAbercrombie

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Plywood would indeed be faster and easier and also I expect it would be a more resilient material too, but getting the joints perfect would be very hard to do if I didn't have a precise and accurate drawing to follow.
Imagine you are building a hard-chine boat like the Black Pearl:
Black Pearl.JPG


You could (temporarily) attach wood strips at the 'angles' where the chines meet.
Then tack pieces of plywood to the molds and draw along the wood strips to get the shapes of the panels.
The joints don't have to be perfect - "the miracle of epoxy" will take care of any any small gaps when you fillet the panels together.

Some software can produce a table of offsets for the panels - the old 'Hulls' program could do that - I used it to build a couple of dinghies 20+ years ago, but there must be more modern programs to do that now.

If you are going to develop a new style of strongback/buliding form, one idea to consider would be to make it easy to 'stretch' or compress' a design in length by varying the mold spacing. Setting the molds at different heights is an easy way to vary the amount of rocker. For a kayak-size boat, lofting the lines full-size doesn't take a great deal of space, and it's engrossing. The booK: 'Lofting' by Vaitses will provide many hours of interesting work. That's what I used to loft my sailboat, but I was starting with a Table of Offsets from a well-known designer, which helped. :)

As you paddle more different kayaks and develop your skills, you'll probably find boats that you like (and don't like!). Starting from the basic design of one of those, and modifying it (deck height, length) would be less risky than a 'from scratch' design.

For books, if you are interested in Skin-On-frame construction, Starr and Cunningham have written books on building Greenland kayaks.
Brian Schultz (Cape Falcon Kayaks) has lots of good info online about SOF design and construction.
For stitch and glue, looking for a Pygmy building manual online or watching Youtube videos would give you some ideas about how it all goes together, once the panel shapes are produced.
 

JohnAbercrombie

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But my idea for a kayak building "station" is to start with a cement slab with male/female steel sockets formed at the time of the pour. These sockets can take uprights of steel that I can attach the forms to at differing heights. So setting them up so the keel can be at any degree of straightness or rocker is easy. The hull can then be made to have the amount I want to make.
A few 2x6s and a dozen shelf brackets could get you a long way to the same goal. It always surprises me how rigid the setup gets once a few scrap strips are stapled along the molds.
As you say, the hull is the important shape to 'get right'. Playing with the deck shape is pretty low risk unless you make big changes from 'standard' shapes.
 

SZihn

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I'll have to build outside because my regualr shot has no room for such prijects. Buyt I can put in a slab and set it up fairly inexpensively. Hence my idea for a kayak-building slab.
 

JohnAbercrombie

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I'll have to build outside because my regular shop has no room for such projects. But I can put in a slab and set it up fairly inexpensively. Hence my idea for a kayak-building slab.
That makes a lot of sense to me. You could pour a slab with pipe sockets for one of those 'plastic garage' shelters that folks (in Canada; I'm assuming in the US also) sometimes use for their cars in wintertime. Or just use the shelter ideas that boatbuilders have used for years to build larger boats. If you have a local small lumber mill, you might be able to get lumber for a frame fairly cheaply, even today?
If you have predictable long periods of good weather, outside without shelter is possible, too. I built my first strip kayak (Outer Islander) on the walkway at the back of the house.
 

mick_allen

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You're such a clued-in guy there's no reason to take much time now concerned about how you'll make it happen if you decide to - it'll be straight forward for you. . . especially when one considers that maybe concrete or steel or other dense and massive materials are magnitudes more than is required to move/shift small parts of a 20# or 10kg thin wooden shape to a desired location.
 

SZihn

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John, That's how I am thinking too. My only fear if I build this is that the wind will give me a hard time. Doing hand fitting of wood is fine in wind, but glue-ups are sometimes a pain. Wind up to about 12MPH doesn't usually lift much dust or dirt, but here where I live having it go from 5MPH to 30 MPH and back can happen in a few minutes, and it does many days in the spring and summer. Heavy winds are usually something you can get a 'heads-up' on with the weather service, but a typical day's forecasts will read something like "winds from the North west 5 to 15 MPH with gusts to 40 in isolated areas"

I am in one of those "isolated areas. What may stop me is lack of time or lack of calm air. Going from 5 to 40 in 3 minutes is a kick in the shin if you are trying to get a glue-up done. But if you don't have a roof and walls, you just do the best you can. I expect the Inuits in Greenland and Alaska worked outside on their kayaks too. And they did it without the nice tools I have. So I will not let the lack of luxuries stop me. (What may stop me is a lack of time or a lack of money. But I'll cross those bridged when I get there.)

Mick, I realize making a "fort" to assemble a kayak is not needed, but I have a friend who works at the cement plant and a few time in the past he's had "pit run" (over allotted amounts of concrete mix) and offered to give it away. If I made the forms and set the sockets I can wait for up to 3 years for the next "free batch" and just have him fill up my forms. So making a work place outdoors would be easy and very cheap for me to do. Because I will have to do all the building outdoors anyway, I may as well have something solid and dead level to work on, and if I do it the way I am thinking about, making the forms to build decks and hulls would be a lot easier then trying to deal with movement that you can get from saw horses or light tables.
 
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JohnAbercrombie

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My only fear if I build this is that the wind will give me a hard time.
Yes, anchoring light shelters is a must. A neighbour had a plastic garage get airborne in one of our fall gales here, and it ended up a ways down the street. :)

Dust and bugs in epoxy coats or varnish are a problem, especially if you are planning a clear ('wood-look') finish. Also, the dry windy conditions you probably get in the summer will really dry out wood quickly, so you won't be able to leave hulls and decks with only one side glassed or they will probably warp.

All stuff for the future! :)
 

Mac50L

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Probably the most important question, what do you want to do with your kayak(s)?
For me, learning (teaching myself) kayaking and exploring. There was a place I'd been to a couple of times by yacht but the only affordable craft for me was by kayak to get there. That was my reason for my first ones. The first one was for my daughter's 10th birthday.

Yes I've built all my own kayaks. My partner built the first of the design I've sold about 60 sets of plans and manuals for. She built it over 20 years ago and it is as good as the day it was built. I finally built the narrow version for myself. Designed for short light women. I fail on two of the requirements as I'm only light, not short or female.

All of mine are S&G and glass is only used on the joins and not all over in and out as appears to be the North American way. I suspect mine will only last 100-200 years but it does make repairs, if ever needed, easier. It also leads to a much lighter kayak.

Our kayaks have been paddled in places throughout New Zealand and the double did a circumnavigation of Vanua Levu, Fiji. My first two were built in 1983 and one of those two still used at times.

Books - you might want to look at this. There are only near 1000 titles with some on kayak building such as Byde, Blandford, Ellis & Beams, Cunningham and Davis, etc. -

Mention of "getting the joints perfect" by SZihn, what do you mean by that? Everything "falls together the way it should, easily. I use half a sheet of 15-20 mm thick, 8x4 MDF with two Vs, one at about each end, spaced the distance between the bulkheads. The bottom planks are wired up and clamped or screwed down to the Vs. The V angle is the same as the bulkhead's bottom V. Once the keel is glued and a layer or two of glass, about 40 mm wide, the bulkheads are fitted and once dry, the sides are wired on. The bottom planks are removed from the jig and the hull tilted such that a chine is down and one chine at a time glued. The sides had previously, before fitting, a strip of wood about 20 mm square along their top edge glued on. Once the sides are glued up, 4 laminated curved deck beams are fitted. The deck is fitted and is from plywood roughly cut to size, bigger than needed. Once the glue is dry they are cut back to match the sides.

About the only thing that needs a bit of accuracy is the bottom planks and even they aren't too critical. We're not talking cutting to an accuracy of a thou. Any inaccuracies get filled by epoxy. The "best inaccuracy" is the decks, cut to about 10-20 mm too big.

All of our kayaks are fitted with rudders. Again see what Paul Caffyn has to say about them. In fact see what all of the writers pre-1980 had to say "if a sea kayak fit a rudder".

A "foot bulge" can be put into any deck after the kayak has been constructed. Better to do it that way as the modification won't upset the integrity of the kayak. It will be the same as cutting a hole for a hatch as far as structure goes.

Computers - more my "game" over the past decade but NOT for kayak design. One way of playing round would be sheets of corrugated cardboard and design half size to get an idea of how things would go. An alternative, just long bits of wood for keel and chines and set them up to the shape. Then measure at intervals along for dimensions with a length of wood between chines and keel as a datum line. John has some suggestions.

As for a slab of concrete - why? You build on the "table/bench" which has the two V pieces and put a cover over it when not working on it. As for "solid and dead level", what are you talking about? The light, simple jig is all that is needed. Put the "jig" on a table, boxes or saw-horses to get it up to a good working height. I should know as those are what I've used at various times on about 9 hulls.
 
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SZihn

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Shoshoni Wyoming
There are many here that I sure could learn a lot from. It pains me all of you guys are so far away from where I am. (You Mac50L are especially far away)
:)
John, you mention the "Black Pearl" but I really don't know what that is, or where I'd find information about it. Can you enlighten me?
 
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