pH850 Catamaran Prototype Build

pH850 Catamaran Prototype Build

Learn How to Build High Tech from Scratch

Project Summary

The initial construction stage of the project involved building the 4 separated parts of the outer hull shell composite.  This is done on a ‘one off’ boat build by using a ‘strongback’ of cross section frames even spaced with longitudinal strips or stringers that bend into the female sections.  Core material is then formed vertically into the stringers using temporary fasteners and heat forming where necessary.  The foam is edge glued with lightweight thickened bonding epoxy for strength.  

building frame for pH850 prototype
Phillips, building frame for pH850 prototype

Lamination begins on the inner exposed hull. In this case we will be using 2 layers of 7 ounce Eglass, reinforced with loadpath directionally oriented 150g unidirectional carbon fiber, and some additional thickness in areas of high foot traffic and rigging load point.  Once the inner hull side laminate is fully cured, it is removed from the ‘Strongback’ and flipped over so the outer side can be laminated.

The Outer Skin can be a bit stronger and thicker than the inside skin considering much more environmental abuse affects the exterior of the boat.  Connecting edges along the keel and deck are recessed for secondary bonding or ‘tabbing’ and fairing.  Laminate for the exterior hull is likely to be a 411 Carbon (~12 ounce) + 200 g Woven Carbon + 150g Unidirectional Carbon in specific loadpath areas.  The joined hull sides are designed to weigh a total of 250 lbs before bulkheads, fairing and paint are added to them.

The Strongback Frames are then disassembled and flipped 180 degrees to make the opposite outer side of the hull and the process is repeated.  It is possible for each hull side composite to be done in a week, making for all 4 sides able to be joined together in about 2 months.  

The tentative schedule for construction of the complete prototype.  It is likely to change as more is learned about the process.  For instance, making the first hull side shell may take much longer than the last hull side shell,  which is just one example of how the process stretched back and forth based on the learning curve and process improvements.

  • Making the Strongback
  • Port Outer Hull
  • Starboard Outer Hull
  • Starboard Side Bulkheads
  • Starboard Inner Side Hull
  • Port Inner Side Hull
  • Port Side Bulkheads
  • Joining Hull Sides
  • Deck and Seat Flat Top Area
  • Cockpit Plinth
  • Cockpit Nacelle
  • Cockpit Edge Beams
  • Cockpit Core Assembly
  • Canopy and Canopy Covers
  • Hull Fairing and Finishing
  • Final Rigging and Commissioning (May 17, 2021)

Boatbuilding Workshops

Our tiny shop in Avon, NC has room for about 3 – 4 people to work together without tripping over each other and we do need as many hands on deck as possible to help us efficiently keep to our production objectives.  If you are interested in a hands on learning opportunity building a high performance catamaran hull prototype, there are a few educational positions open. One will learn how to go from a design to a completed boat and the lessons learned could easily be used to build your own dream boat! For those too far away to participate in person, we plan to offer an online video series featuring the production methods. Please email us to learn more.

Follow the Prototype Construction

Time Lapse Video – At least one camera will be dedicated and fixed to the shop wall for a time lapse video of the entire process. We will also try and put a camera on the laminating table and woodshop area, but can not guarantee those areas are filmed.

Instructional Video – We will film some of the process used and learned along the way as we build this prototype.  Emphasis will be on using manufacturer recommended and ABYC recommended Best Practices with ample explanation of our reasoning behind most choices made with the boat construction and design choices.

Sponsors – The pH 850 invites sponsorship and industry partners in the areas of:. 

  • Yacht Design, Naval Architecture and Engineering
  • Epoxy Resin Manufacturers and Distributors
  • Composite Fiber Manufacturers and Distributors
  • Exterior Finish and Fairing Manufacturers and Distributors
  • Sailmakers and Rigging Manufacturers
  • Composite Spar Manufacturers
  • Composite Shops Interested in Production Parts Subcontracts
  • Retail Sailboat Dealerships and Dealership Inquiries
  • Lifestyle Related Brands and Businesses
  • Rigging Hardware Manufacturers and Distributors
  • Commercial Charter Boat Industry
  • Boatbuilding Schools and Brands 
  • Any industry that promotes environmentally friendly sports and adventure

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