Are older, cheaper or free boat plans from a long time ago good value?

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A question was asked about Hartley Designs.  The answer applies to the general discussion about what has changed in plans and designs over the last 50 years and some of the advantages of modern plans.

Richard Hartley's work as an example of older plans

Hartley was one of the great designers of his time. Many of his boats are perhaps not great masterpieces, but they are workmanlike (work as advertised) and his plans set a benchmark for many years.

My feeling too is that his TS16 (the first really popular trailer sailer) is the transition point for the performance of modern yachts. It was one of the very first cabin yachts with a hull drawn more from sailing dinghies, so it had sensational performance for the time and made a lot of boats that were to come later possible (Farr, Young, Davidson, Whiting). All these New Zealand Designers come from the same tradition, but Hartley was the first one to get commercial success for the concept

However that was 45 years ago.

David Payne's work as an example of modern plans.
I agree with much of the thread about David Payne's designs. He is a great designer - nearly all his boats have a "rightness" about their appearance. and because he has a long small boat racing background they all work very well. He knows how to get performance without making the boats hard to sail.  His boats will end up being modern classics, as I hope will some of my own.

The Construction Differences - lighter/stronger
It is an interesting point to contrast designs from each designer - it shows some of the changes in technology over the intervening years.

The Hartley hulls are largely self supporting - there are enough ribs, floors and deckbeams to hold the boat's skin rigidly.

However with David's boats (and many modern designers - Kirby, Bolger, Oughtred, Holt and others) much of this additional timber; ribs, floors, deckbeams, stringers are eliminated with large savings in cost. The loads are carried by the interior fitout of the boat. There is a gridwork of support from all the furniture bonded directly to the hull.

For example the seat tops support the sides of the hull, the seat fronts support the bottom of the hull. The galley structure and berths all have these stiffening and strengthening effects providing a hugely strong network of parts.

In a Hartley the furniture can be left out almost entirely and the boats will still be strong enough - the furniture is not expected to make much of a contribution.

The difference is largely in the effectiveness of modern adhesives - notably epoxy. It allows any part of the boat to be effectively mechanically connected to adjacent parts in a structural way.

Reliable Glues - little need for nails and screws
Hartley relied on his current technology of glues that were not particularly gap filling which were backed up by lots of screws and nails.

The modern designers don't use many screws and nails - the glues are much more effective than fastenings by a long chalk - many of the modern boats may use fasteners to hold parts together while the glue sets up, but then are often removed.

For example fibreglass boats don't use nails and screws - even where they use timber for bulkheads or furniture - it is simply fibreglass taped in place - and the modern epoxy timber boats are put together in the same way.

Plan Choice:
So what to build?

Hartley has a huge range of plans with few gaps in sizing - if you want a 17ft half cabin outboard or inboard - Hartley has a plan for it or something very close.

It may be hard to find a more modern design with modern construction that fits in the same gap.

But wherever you can find a modern boat plan that is from one of the better of the modern designers (like the names above) it will have significant savings in timber cost and labour and also be much easier to build (eg you don't need to notch everything in the interior to fit over all those ribs, floors and stringers for example).

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