P & H (and Brookbank)...a cautionary tale

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P & H (and Brookbank)...a cautionary tale

Postby Cornholio » Thu Jul 12, 2007 9:30 pm

Well...here goes.
On the 19th of last month I sold my Capella RM, which was the same day I bought a "showboat" Quest LV which would be my pride and joy- glitter blue deck, kevlar keel strip, carbon kevlar hull, £2.4ks worth for a discount, after demo-ing a new diolen standard one and being VERY impressed with it, especially the fit for a "standard" boat(no need for custom bulkhead).
Well, I took the LV along to the club paddle that night, and to my horror the next morning found water in the rear hatch. I did some exploratory work (I'd read a few threads on here before) and found that there was a minor leak at the outer cable/skeg box, but more importantly when filled with some water and raised from the front it was pi**ing out the stern toggle hole.
Gutted and utterly, utterly furious do not come close....
When Brookbank opened I was there(well, I do work next door and this was my 4th boat in a year, kinda regular I'd say). Cam was pretty shocked too, and when I asked for a refund was told it wasn't possible, as it had "been used"(there were NO scratches), the boat would need to go back to P&H!.... June!? Just sold my Capella!? AAAARGH! I'm not hot on consumer rights , but this boat wasn't fit for purpose in my book, but I didn't want it sent back as I knew it would be weeks and probably enter an endless cycle of damage/repair if it went off into oblivion, especially the way the BB WW boys handle the composites...
Cam, to be fair, was decent in saying that bar that coming weekend, I could get use of the LV demo boat until my LV returned from P&H.
I went off to simmer down and had a think...now I'm in the world of composite ownership maybe I should repair it myself. Which is what I did with a tin of polyester epoxy resin from Halfords. I filled the toggle hole externally, after widening it to 7mm to ensure any crap was out of it. I then re-drilled it with a 4.5mm bit keeping the drill off-centre to minimise any chance of opening a cavity up again. I then replaced the toggle cord which just goes through and no more, tight as a gnats chuff. I took someones advice on here and epoxyed the skeg cable at the join too, covering it in tape and it's been fine since.
So, maybe when buying a boat there in future I might ask if they will fill it with water first outside, rather than taking it away and finding out it leaks the old stupid old obvious way- like putting it in water.
I was given some Malone roof J bars as a compensatory thing, and my only real beef with Brookbank is this last point I've made. I mean, if a boat leaks you should surely have no resistance to a refund? You'll only find out by using it afterall!
My real anger lies with P&H though (as Brookbank are just their outlet and take their boats to sell in faith). I was wondering what the hell a company like P&H is doing sending out boats that leak, do they really not care or are they so overstretched they can't have a quality assurance/control employee doing something simple like pressure/vacuum testing the hatches? It's the pits really. Cam spoke to Pat there about me repairing the boat (said they were ok with it- wonder if that invalidates any warranty!?!), and they know what was wrong, what I did to repair it, and presumably who I am. Yet no-one from the company has contacted me to give an explanation as to why a "showboat" isn't fit for purpose? Maybe it is literallly just a showboat (like cars at motorshows with no engines etc!) and the first bit of surf I encounter I'll probably walk away with the coaming around me....
Am I alone here with these experiences?!!!
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Postby NeilG » Thu Jul 12, 2007 9:51 pm

I would think all new P&H owners are wondering about theirs now.......Mark!
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Postby YvonneB » Thu Jul 12, 2007 9:54 pm

Oooh, I foresee a long thread here. It's a long time since I took law exams but Im pretty sure:

A sea kayak is for taking on the sea. If it lets water into a compartment it is potentially unstable and dangerous, especially if it is more than just a drop. Leaking like this it cannot possibly be fit for purpose, especially taking into account a) the high spec and price of the boat and b) the fact it happened first time out. The fact you had used it is irrelevant, how else could you know? Your contract of course was with Brookbank.

If it had happened six months down the line, or you had been buying a second hand boat, a court might look on it differently. But a brand new boat worth over £2k? On their bikes.

I like to think I would have insisted on a refund, or they could have a letter before action the same day. However I know it isnt always that easy when you are in the situation and it is even worse if you know people personally.
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Postby Cornholio » Thu Jul 12, 2007 10:01 pm

Yeah Bonnie- the brain was going 100mph in all directions, which is why I broke it down to what was a reasonably simple, but quite stressful nonetheless first ever epoxy repair. I'd envisaged doing a repair eventually, not the bleedin' second day of ownership when the boat had done 2hrs on an estuary without touching even sand or rocks!
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Postby matt_ttuk » Thu Jul 12, 2007 10:05 pm

Hi all

As an engineer this problem got my brain thinking.

What sort of testing and quality control do most manufacturers undertake when a boat is ‘finished’? I know that certainly within the engine industry where I work there are multiple tests looking for very definite requirements before a product leaves the factory.

One test which I think could be useful from my industry for kayak manufacturers would be the pressure degradation tests. Manufactures could modify a hatch cover with an air line which they can then use to pressure test the compartments in the boat. The equipment used in engine testing would probably be over kill for a kayak but even a relatively simple gauge would tell you if you had a hole in the boat. Probably a lot cheaper than having to pay out warranty claims on dodgy £2000 sea kayaks all the time.
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Postby Mark R » Thu Jul 12, 2007 10:27 pm

NeilG wrote:.......Mark!


Huh? This has nothing to do with me and I'm very irritated at seeing my name dragged into someone else's individual dispute. I will respond to this once only.


I find this thread disappointing. I have encountered service and/or goods that I am unhappy with before, but I try not rush to the internet for revenge, and if I do register irritation, it's done with some tact (search for 'Riot Magnum plastic' and 'Lendal Wings wait time').

The kind of approach shown here almost invariably damages the customer's reputation as much as that of the business concerned. Disputes are never simple and one-sided. This instance was dealt with through the supplier rather than the manufacturer, as should be the case. Compensation was given, a replacement loan boat offered and an offer was made to rectify the fault. Seems a bit harsh to drag Brookbank and PH through the mud on top of this response.
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Postby NeilG » Thu Jul 12, 2007 10:30 pm

Mark R wrote:
NeilG wrote:.......Mark!


Huh? This has nothing to do with me and I'm very irritated at seeing my name dragged into someone else's individual dispute. I will respond to this once only.


I find this thread disappointing. I have encountered service and/or goods that I am unhappy with before, but I try not rush to the internet for revenge, and if I do register irritation, it's done with some tact (search for 'Riot Magnum' and 'Lendal Wings wait time'.

The kind of approach shown here almost invariably damages the customer's reputation as much as that of the business concerned. Disputes are never simple and one-sided. This instance was dealt with through the supplier rather than the manufacturer, as should be the case. Compensation was given, a replacement loan boat offered and an offer was made to rectify the fault. Seems a bit harsh to drag Brookbank and PH through the mud on top of this response.


Steady on! Tongue was firmly in cheek. Apologies. No offence or trouble intended!
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Postby Cornholio » Thu Jul 12, 2007 11:03 pm

Beg to differ Mark- maybe if more folk did this (hardly "rushed for revenge" either eh? nearly a month has elapsed) some companies would buck up their ideas.
I stated facts in my opinion. Spending £2100 on a boat that leaks "should be leaked". As I said Brookbank and mainly myself sorted this out.
It's P & H who need a poker up the jacksy, and if everyone who gets poor service says nothing then nothing changes. I thought that the internet was a place to be heard and to listen to others. Or should we censor ourselves and say nothing? I'd rather know if there were frequent complaints over a companies actions/service/products than find out the hard way.
As for "The kind of approach shown here almost invariably damages the customer's reputation" ?
How so? Seen as a whinger or something? how can griping after parting with that kind of cash for a faulty product damage my reputation?
Sorry you sound so annoyed over this, I didn't bring you into it either.
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Postby Tiff » Thu Jul 12, 2007 11:19 pm

Thought I might add the legal consumer rights bit here. Within 6 months of purchase if the consumer finds a fault, it is the manufactures responsibility to prove that they are not at fault. After 6 months to 1 year it is the consumers responsibility to prove the fault is with the manufacturer. While sounding similar they are entirely different. As long as you did not cancel these rights by buying a product that was advertised as being pre-used or damaged, you can demand a full immediate refund on returning the product from the manufacturer. In a case like this where it is irrefutable that the manufacturer is at fault, legally they have to provide you with a full refund should you request one.
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Postby Douglas Wilcox » Thu Jul 12, 2007 11:23 pm

I understand Cornholio's disappointment. I have experienced the same twice. I bought a Quest in 2005 and a Nordkapp LV in 2006. Both leaked in the stern hatch. I phoned Mike Thomson of Scottish Paddler Supplies on both occasions. On each he came to my house uplifted each boat and had it back, fixed, 2 days later. Yes it's a pity they leaked, but I was not inconvenienced and indeed I was rather pleased about the speed with which things were resolved. Ultimately it is the dealer you see face to face and I try to buy everything from SPS as I have had completely the opposite response from some other dealers whose portals I no longer cross. I know Cam from his time at Kogg and have also found him to be particularly helpful. Buying something from a small retailer is different from buying at Tesco. Small dealers do not make a fortune and many would find it very difficult to stand the cost of having to take a boat back and order another. I know one person who took a free demo from a specialist dealer then bought their boat from a box shifter who offered no demos but did a bigger discount. I have never asked for a discount at SPS, maybe that's why I have had outstanding customer service.
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Postby geoffm » Thu Jul 12, 2007 11:46 pm

"Disputes are never simple and one-sided. "
This one clearly is.......
Taking lousy customer service quietly is never wise, the best way to improve a company's poor customer service is to advertise it freely. And of course good customer service gets praise as well.
In this case I think Brookbank (who are also a victim) should have contacted P&H. P&H should then have organised for the repairs to have been done locally or arranged freight to repair the boat at the factory and returned the boat within a couple of days. That would have restored customer faith and been very good customer PR.
I know that Mike at Rockpool certainly does the pressure test on every boat, a very quick and simple process that can save a lot of pain later. No reason why every manufacturer couldn't do it.
And a phone call to apologise from P&H would not have hurt.

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Postby naefearjustbeer » Fri Jul 13, 2007 1:38 am

I tend to agree with those that think the Internet is the place to talk about these things. If I am going to spend serious money on something I want other folks knowledge on what I am looking at. If Google is the place to find that info then I will use that just as much as I would speak to my friends, family, paddling buddies and workmates asking for recommendations and advice. If a company has a good customer service record you wont find complaints anywhere. If they have problems then this is one of the places to discover them. If I had spent that sort of money I would be very unhappy to find it had problems. Now I know that sometimes things go wrong and that can be for a variety of reasons the important bit is how the shop and manufacturor deal with those problems afterwards and how quickly they do it.
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Postby Martin S » Fri Jul 13, 2007 6:02 am

I have to say I think you are being a bit unfair to P&H whilst you had a problem that was obviously disappointing you didn't give them any opportunity to sort it out.

I have bought two boats from them this year, after using one we found it had a slight cosmetic flaw in the gel. On contacting Perrin he was insistent that the boat should be replaced. As our boat was going to be put into the demo fleet we were told to hang onto it until the replacement was ready.

It has to be said that composite boats are by their very nature hand made so occasionally there is going to be issues - in our case as soon as a problem was identified, it was sorted. I know they pressure test in the factory as I have seen them do it. It isn't good that your boat obviously missed this but I am sure P&H would have responded to any problems had they been given the opportunity.

I should say at this point that I have no ties to P&H I am just a satisfied customer.

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Postby NeilG » Fri Jul 13, 2007 6:42 am

NeilG wrote:I would think all new P&H owners are wondering about theirs now.......Mark!


I dare say that the problem is likely to be a one off. My point was that if I was the owner of a new boat and I had heard that someone else had found a significant fault on their new boat, I would be keen to check mine to ensure that my boat was not affected. They may be different models, but they come off the same construction line.

I'm affraid Mark was an easy target for a bit of fun as a publicly announced new owner of a new P&H kayak. It is odd that what seemed funny last night after a bottle+ of wine isn't so amusing the following morning, or is it just that I am off to work...
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Postby steve crofts » Fri Jul 13, 2007 6:47 am

I have known quite a few Quests to leak and at least one from the club that Cornholio paddles with,in fact it has kind of put me off buying one.
But I still think you are being a bit hard on P&H,the offer of a repair was immediate and a demo boat offered for the duration albeit not there and then.and I don,t know how you can assume:

but I didn't want it sent back as I knew it would be weeks and probably enter an endless cycle of damage/repair if it went off into oblivion, especially the way the BB WW boys handle the composites...


I would have spoken to P&H personally to see what they could offer.You are also not alone in your experiences.The 2 boats I have had from them were problem free initially but down the line a problem was handled promptly with equipment supplied FOC.

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Postby Cornholio » Fri Jul 13, 2007 7:19 am

P & H did obviously offer to repair the boat, well it had 364 days warranty left on it. They didn't however offer to "pull out any stops" in doing this with a rapid turnaround. The boat would have had to gone down on the next available van to BB Stockport, and transferred from there to Pyranha, back the same route. Cam was honest enough to say this would take "several" weeks and that wasn't to my recollection including the actual repairs. From his assessment I made mine to fix it myself.
Well- from Douglas and Steves comments it could possibly be inferred that maybe there is a problem with leaky Quests? Or is it just coincidence and we're the statistical "1 in X" boats that come out flawed?
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Postby Goldspoon » Fri Jul 13, 2007 9:38 am

Hi all,

Couldn't resist a quick post here. Up until 2000 I was Managing Director of P&H, and had been for ten years (it was my father who started the company way back in 67).

During my time at P&H I created a quality manual of a dozen pages or more. This was used to check a kayak and had to be open next to the kayak and its instructions followed as part of the process - step by step. Accompanying it was a sheet of A4 double sided with sections and tick boxes that folloowed the process in the manual. This accompanied the kayak to the customer and included the name of the laminator, finisher and checker (P&H kept a copy for their records).

Boats could only be checked by a Director of the company or one other trained person as back up in case Directors were not present (rare - and person was of high calibre). The check was very comprehensive and also included weighing of every kayak (if outside a certain weight it was deemed a "second").

Air testing was considered the most important step of the check process. A hatch with a valve was fitted to each compartment and then pumped up hard untill the boat's compartment was at a high pressure (hatch well domed). Then soapy water was applied to all the areas where a leak was possible (toggle holes, skeg box (clear tape over box on outside of boat and pinhole in tape), bulkheads, recessed fittings etc.). If leaking there would be bubbles. The system also had a guage and one could see the pressure drop if a leak.

There is, in my opinion, NO excuse for a leak. Whilst this process was in place it would suggest the paperwork had been signed without the check having been done (for a Director to do such a thing is just not forgiveable). The system was designed even to the point that the finisher did not get paid unless the paperwork was in the office and the office checked the signatures prior to filing.

What system is in place now I do not know and it is nothing to do with me. I do wonder how this can happen though? Good quality requires systems.

A last point. The method used to repair the boat mentioned in this thread is sound. At P&H, if a toggle leaked we would drill the hole out larger and insert a plastic tune of the required diameter trough the orifice - then squirt resin around the tube. Allow to harden, then pull out plastic tube and job sorted.
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Postby Goldspoon » Fri Jul 13, 2007 9:50 am

Also of interest to me is whether these things should be added to the web.

I believe they should be. I have had various horrible experiences with poor companies and now use the web to research things in advance. I am having problems with a technology company right now - oh how I wished I had just done a quick google before employing them! I googled them after having service problems and was horrified to find tale after tale of woe and rage. I have just employed another company in the same field. When I google this company all I see are tales of fantastic service and support and I cannot find a single complaint. The company I am having problems with do not deserve to take people's money and I will be one adding to the avalanche of bad web press they will get - if only to prevent somebody else getting the misery.

However, I do worry that those companies without morales may pretend to be customers with grievances by posting anon.
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Postby Jim » Fri Jul 13, 2007 11:02 am

I think the only disagreement I really have with any of what has been discussed is the idea that P&H and Brookbank did nothing to help.

P&H did offer to take the kayak back and repair it, it is the retailers job to handle the return, which they offered to do, at his cost, and loan a boat in the mean time. Yes there would have been a weekend without a boat because it was already booked out - one can't expect miracles can one?

I actually don't think Cornholios post was particularly inflammatory, at least not compared to other complaints I've seen here. Just try and remember folks, only unhappy people complain (and they reckon only 10% of them do), happy people usually just continue without ever saying a word of praise, so whilst Goldspoon has found an alternative company for his problem with glowing reports, personally I would be suspiscious of this and certainly would not expect it to always be the case. I guess I just look at the negative reports to see if I agree with a reviewer and whether their complaint is something that would bother me, sometimes they are sometimes they aren't.

It used to be the case that threatening to write to watchdog with an unresolved grievance got results, has UKRGB become the paddlers version of watchdog?

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Postby Pete C. » Fri Jul 13, 2007 11:14 am

I wrote an article on how P&H build boats last year - doesn't sound like it's changed much. They still pressure test every boat that leaves, so it looks like yours slipped through the net. Still, that's what a warranty's for...

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Postby Chris W » Fri Jul 13, 2007 1:54 pm

In the long run, it pays to patiently build good long term relationships with manufacturers and retailers. It works both ways. Posting on here that P&H needs 'a poker up the jacksy' probably isn't the best way of doing so. Chatting to them on the phone would be better.

We all make mistakes. I don't know what you do for a living Cornholio, but I assume you do too. I certainly wouldn't want to be slated on the internet every time I made a mistake!

I think the offer of investigation and repair by P&H and the loan of the same model was a fair solution. As it happens, you came up with an even better solution- DIY and token compensation. Whilst it might have made you feel better, I'm not quite sure where a refund would have left you, if that was the model you wanted and your local canoe shops didn't have any more in stock.

I don't know how viable the UK sea kayak trade would be if every repairable defect resulted in a return and refund. Composite sea kayaks are expensive, but then UK hand made bespoke products are incredibly labour intensive.

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Postby action_girl72 » Fri Jul 13, 2007 2:12 pm

Martin S wrote:I have to say I think you are being a bit unfair to P&H whilst you had a problem that was obviously disappointing you didn't give them any opportunity to sort it out.


To be fair, he doesn't have to. The sale of goods act makes it pretty clear that if the goods aren't fit for purpose, the buyer is entitled to a refund. They clearly weren't fit for purpose, maybe if P&H did a bit more Quality Assurance, they wouldn't get bad press like this.

I should just point out that I have no ties to Valley, NDK, Rockpool, Tide-Race, I'm just someone who expects good value for my hard earned cash.
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Postby YvonneB » Fri Jul 13, 2007 2:14 pm

I don t think it was unreasonable to air this on this forum. Cornholio's account was very fair and balanced, considering how he must have been feeling. We have someone in the trade confirming that a leak in a brand new kayak is both avoidable and unacceptable. A kayak is not such a complex product that it cannot be properly inspected before despatch.

If you set up as a retailer you know that you will at some time have to make refunds if items you sell are not fit for purpose. If you don't want ever to make £2k refunds, then don't sell £2k items.

I bought a new gp touring boat last year and one of the footrests fell off first time out. I didnt make a fuss, just spent half a Saturday refitting it, incluidng drilling new holes as the old one was slightly in the wrong place, causing the problem in the first place. I politely informed the retailer just so they could check their remain stock. No compensation expected or offered. So I dont consider myself a whinger.

Yes, making anything in the UK these days is expensive and I take my hat off to anyone who manages it. But if we pay UK made prices we have a right to expect UK made quality. There is a big mark up on these things. Otherwise we might as well start buying from China. There are no composite sea kayaks coming from China do I hear? Not yet but it's going to happen.
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Postby action_girl72 » Fri Jul 13, 2007 2:16 pm

Goldspoon wrote:However, I do worry that those companies without morales may pretend to be customers with grievances by posting anon.

My experience has been that of people bigging themselves up and writing their own glowing references
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Postby AlanTelemark » Fri Jul 13, 2007 2:38 pm

This discussion does need to take place.

Recently purchased 2 composite boats, a Greenlander and a Greenlander Pro from Sea Kayak UK (Nigel Dennis ), the designs are superb and I was impressed with the performance of the boats.

However, both boats leaked in the majority of hatches!

On the first trip out we were shocked to find so much water in the hatches after only a few hours in some bumpy water, (up to 1/2 a litre in some hatches). I had hoped that this manufacturer had dealt with their QC issues. Of less importance were the very rough interiors (which needed sanding )due to resin spikes and glass, gelcoat cracks, an off centre seat and footrest rails, oh and unsymmetrical RDF's.

After a return trip of almost 400 miles to collect boats, you can imagine how depressing this is. The suppliers, Karitek, were very understanding and helpful, immediately offering a demo boat while the issue was dealt with.

After almost 2 Months our replacement boats were not even built yet and Karitek promptly gave a full refund.

I had expected the manufacturer to deal with this issue as a priority or at least offer to pay costs of driving kayaks around the country?
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Postby Dave Thomas » Fri Jul 13, 2007 4:02 pm

matt_ttuk wrote:Manufactures could modify a hatch cover with an air line which they can then use to pressure test the compartments in the boat. The equipment used in engine testing would probably be over kill for a kayak but even a relatively simple gauge would tell you if you had a hole in the boat.


Not necessarily so, oddly enough! I have had a 'delamination' flaw in a bulkhead-to-hull seam which would seal up when the sun's heat caused the day compartment to pressurise (hatch cover bulged outwards) but would open up when paddling (cold water on the outside - slightly negative pressure in the compartment)and let any water in the bottom of the cockpit through into the day compartment.
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Postby Cornholio » Fri Jul 13, 2007 4:53 pm

I know I may be digressing from my own thread (very interesting opinions from many angles, and a fair amount of similar stories to tell), but maybe this is a wake-up call to UK manufacturers.
I know someone who sails, he was telling me that many top level sailing boat hulls and decks are being constructed not by hand lay-up anymore, but by computer controlled vacuum resin injection or something, done in Eastern Europe at a much lower cost with almost perfect results- no osmosis he says and perfect uniform strength (said osmosis is mainly caused by air pockets when hand laid-up and subsequent water ingress)
It may just be a matter of time before we see this applied to kayaks which would probably slash construction cost and time. (And jobs if companies don't evolve?)
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Postby Jim » Fri Jul 13, 2007 5:32 pm

Cornholio wrote:I know I may be digressing from my own thread (very interesting opinions from many angles, and a fair amount of similar stories to tell), but maybe this is a wake-up call to UK manufacturers.
I know someone who sails, he was telling me that many top level sailing boat hulls and decks are being constructed not by hand lay-up anymore, but by computer controlled vacuum resin injection or something, done in Eastern Europe at a much lower cost with almost perfect results- no osmosis he says and perfect uniform strength (said osmosis is mainly caused by air pockets when hand laid-up and subsequent water ingress)
It may just be a matter of time before we see this applied to kayaks which would probably slash construction cost and time. (And jobs if companies don't evolve?)


As a former laminator of top level sailing dinghies I doubt if this is the case for the very top boats. Good hand layup is the best way to get a light boat. Epoxy resins don't suffer from osmosis (we only used epoxy), and we would check for voids on every hull - our boss would casually run his hand over a part finished boat and give us hell if he found any voids! Voids were repaired if economic or the hull scrapped (now that is expensive). We also didn't have uniform strength, we used unidirectional reinforcement to get extra strength in specific areas where it was really needed. Osmosis is not usually caused by air pockets, but pockets of unreacted resin components.

So basically the resin transfer stuff has hopefully taken over, or is taking over from chopper guns and spray systems used on mass produced boats that are pretty good, but I can't see the very top level boats moving away from hand layup in the forseeable future. the very top level boats are made without gelcoat - if any mistakes are made they are visible to all the world, expecially the guy who is buying it!

Yes we used to pressure test the hulls. We did very occasionally have returns. We once opened one up to discover that the bulkheads had fallen over when we put the deck on - no surprise why that boat failed!

Wake up call to manufacturers? Maybe, it depends if they can really afford to do it, or not do it. Only they can work that out we can just speculate.

Jim
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Postby Douglas Wilcox » Fri Jul 13, 2007 10:13 pm

Alan>
The suppliers, Karitek, were very understanding and helpful


I very much agree, it is a great pleasure to do business with Jeff from Karitek. He fitted Hydroskegs to a couple of Rockpools for a friend and myself. 2 months later he phomed to say he had improved the design and would fit it FOC to our boats. He also sells midge jackets and makes and repairs trailers!

Douglas
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