wristwister

Alternatives for teak for structural wood?

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I need to make a traveler platform for my Columbia 26. The overall dimensions are roughly 3" X 5" X 48", shaved and shaped to adapt a straight traveler to a curved transom. I'm having trouble finding a chunk of raw teak that will do the trick, and I'd rather not laminate a bunch of teak together. What other woods, preferably more commonly available than teak, do folks use on a boat for structural stuff like this? I'm not real concerned with how pretty it is, although I would like to sand and oil it. I'm more concerned with structural strength and ability to weather long term. Any suggestions?

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Pictures?

Is it spanning a gap?

3" x 5" sounds more massive than most 4KSB traveler bases.

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Depends where you are relative to availability of a structural (assume that it spans between connections) hardwood emune to the marine environment. Be surprised if you don't have a local species that fits the bill.

Teaks advantage is its oilyness and so looks good weathered. If you do laminate use epoxy, rough surface, solvent remove oil and firm but not tight clamping. However epoxy glue line will yellow with UV.

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1 hour ago, Alcatraz5768 said:

try oroko if you can get it.

Commonly called West African Teak..sold as teak in a lot of places.

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5 hours ago, Diamond Jim said:

Pictures?

Is it spanning a gap?

3" x 5" sounds more massive than most 4KSB traveler bases.

No shit - it's going to weigh quite a bit.  If it really needs to be that beefy I would go with Western red cedar to get it at least a fair bit lighter

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35 minutes ago, Christian said:

No shit - it's going to weigh quite a bit.  If it really needs to be that beefy I would go with Western red cedar to get it at least a fair bit lighter

Cedar is pretty water resistant .  Mahogany is another alternative.  I would finish either though for durability.

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8 hours ago, wristwister said:

I need to make a traveler platform for my Columbia 26. The overall dimensions are roughly 3" X 5" X 48", shaved and shaped to adapt a straight traveler to a curved transom. I'm having trouble finding a chunk of raw teak that will do the trick, and I'd rather not laminate a bunch of teak together. What other woods, preferably more commonly available than teak, do folks use on a boat for structural stuff like this? I'm not real concerned with how pretty it is, although I would like to sand and oil it. I'm more concerned with structural strength and ability to weather long term. Any suggestions?

Mahogany, Honduras (rare) or African (sapele) what passes for mahogany these days.  I would not use teak even if I had it, and paint the mahogany.

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6 hours ago, Grrr... said:

Cedar is pretty water resistant .  Mahogany is another alternative.  I would finish either though for durability.

The reason I would use cedar is weight.  Any hardwood in a 3"x5"x 48" will be pretty heavy.  Off course it should be treated to minimize water intrusion but at least it is pretty good for rot resistance.

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Thanks for the suggestions guys.

The reason this piece starts out so beefy is because I'll be carving it down to fit a straight 4' traveler across a curved transom. Once it's all carved down there won't be nearly as much wood. In the center, that full 5" width will ne used to span the gap between the center of the traveler and the center of the curved transom. At the ends where the traveler pretty much lays right across the transom there will basically be just a narrower platform of wood. Make sense? Sorry, no pictures, but next time I'm at the boat I'll snap a couple.

Western red cedar huh? I can certainly get that around here, but I've never thought of cedar as a structural wood, more as a weather resistant wood for siding etc. Is it typically used in structural marine applications?

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7 minutes ago, wristwister said:

Thanks for the suggestions guys.

The reason this piece starts out so beefy is because I'll be carving it down to fit a straight 4' traveler across a curved transom. Once it's all carved down there won't be nearly as much wood. In the center, that full 5" width will ne used to span the gap between the center of the traveler and the center of the curved transom. At the ends where the traveler pretty much lays right across the transom there will basically be just a narrower platform of wood. Make sense? Sorry, no pictures, but next time I'm at the boat I'll snap a couple.

Western red cedar huh? I can certainly get that around here, but I've never thought of cedar as a structural wood, more as a weather resistant wood for siding etc. Is it typically used in structural marine applications?

It is regularly used as the core for rudders and keel blades as well as structural core of hulls

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What about greenheart? Boatbuilders in the Eastern Carib use a variety called purple greenheart.

I have used it in a marine application and it was not difficult to shape despite the warnings. The steps are 9 years old now and still seem fine. 

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Aluminum, or laminate. It would be finished and installed by now.

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35 minutes ago, wristwister said:

Thanks for the suggestions guys.

The reason this piece starts out so beefy is because I'll be carving it down to fit a straight 4' traveler across a curved transom. Once it's all carved down there won't be nearly as much wood. In the center, that full 5" width will ne used to span the gap between the center of the traveler and the center of the curved transom. At the ends where the traveler pretty much lays right across the transom there will basically be just a narrower platform of wood. Make sense? Sorry, no pictures, but next time I'm at the boat I'll snap a couple.

Western red cedar huh? I can certainly get that around here, but I've never thought of cedar as a structural wood, more as a weather resistant wood for siding etc. Is it typically used in structural marine applications?

 

Here's an alternative that saves a lot of wood working,   on my curved transom with traveler, instead of wood, aluminum tube spacers cut to the appropriate length to which the bolts of the traveler go through. ....   on the deck side of the spacer are washers and then through the deck and bolted underneath with fender washers ...

It's ultralite..  bolts take all the stress, the spacers just keep everything level.    one less piece of wood to maintain and you only need a single $7 piece of aluminum tube..

of course on my stern, I've overdrilled the top holes , filled with epoxy, and redrilled for the traveler bolts.

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14 hours ago, Alcatraz5768 said:

try oroko if you can get it.

I think it's iroko.... 

 

Poor man's teak.  Same rot resistance as teak, but a lot harder and denser.  Perhaps slightly less oily, but can have a lot of tension that is released once you cut into it.  Nice stuff if you can find it. 

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If you don't already have the traveler, Harken can bend the track to your dimensions both vertically and laterally.

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Grande Mastere: I'm trying to picture what you're describing. The center of the traveler will be ~4" away from the transom, and I'm not seeing how cantilevering aluminum tubing that distance will offer the stiffness and strength needed to prevent the traveler track from bowing upward when center sheeted. I'd love to see some pics of your arrangement.

Alcatraz: I've never even heard of iroko. I can ask around, but do you think that will be easier to find than teak?

See Level, already got the traveler. This is a low budget boat, picked the straight traveler up at a swap meet. I know Harken could set me up with the exact curved traveler I need, but I fear the cost would approach what I paid for the boat! 

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What's the span?  We can figure out the massive loads of a Columbia 26.

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Total traveler track length is 48" About 6" at each end is above the transom platform, leaving about 36" unsupported in the middle. Can't  build much of a "bridge" under the traveler rail as it would interfere with the tiller, hence I was planning to support it with some beef going back to the curved transom, maybe 3" or 4" max distance.

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9 hours ago, Christian said:

It is regularly used as the core for rudders and keel blades as well as structural core of hulls

so is foam, cedar is shit for this application 

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The transom is curved in the fore-aft direction, not vertically, so the tube spacers aren't the right thing.  That would be used when then surfaced is curved in the vertical direction.

You might be able to just bend a straight one as you install it.  It can be done, the question is if your curve is too much for that or not.

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Any of the woods listed here will work.  You can actually get long strips of cedar from home depot for a reasonable price that will work for this.  But frankly you may have better luck building it out of foam and glass.  Bending accurately to that curve is going to be hard.  Building it out of blocks of foam that you can easily shape to that shape, then glassing and painting might be a better option.

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Laminating a wood beam is not hard.  You can glue up a stack of laminations and clean it up and shape it further after the glue cures.

White oak has good mechanical properties, but is best glued with a flexible epoxy like G/Flex.  I'd recommend white ash, red oak or douglas fir which can be glued with a conventioinal boat building epoxy like West System 105.

I'm guessing that a section about 2" x 2" would be right.  Maybe eight 1/4" laminations.  

You might post your question to the WoodenBoat Forum , http://forum.woodenboat.com/    .  

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Thanks Sea Level, that's the transom I'm dealing with. Draw a straight line between the two rod holders and that's what I'm trying to achieve. I'd like to be able to screw the back of the shaped wood using the same holes on the curved transom as that existing track. 

XYZZY, I'm reasonably sure I can't bend the new traveler track and expect the traveler car to flow across it without getting hung up. It's a ball bearing car about 6" long, engaging the track the whole way.

Diamond Jim, if I can't find the right chunk of the right wood I might consider laminating some up. Come to think of it, my tiller is laminated ash and mahogany. Maybe I could make up a traveler base to match!

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Surely laminated fir, epoxy coated and varnished would be fine.

 

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I'm sure harken tech support can tell you the minimum horizontal bending radius for your car.  They'll probably also tell you what your track can take as a bend during install.

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To respond to the original question, I’ve used jatoba quite a bit for teak like applications where I want the reddish brown appearance, It’s hard and incredibly durable- supposedly jatoba railroad ties in the tropics have lasted to 100+ years. It’s readily available here from a local cabinet wood supplier (Crosscut Hardwoods in Seattle) in a range of sizes and is not expensive. I made Pathfinder’s new handrails and winch supports from jatoba that I intend to keep oiled, but it's also very rich and attractive varnished. http://www.wood-database.com/jatoba/

Another option is cumaru, which is quite close to teak in appearance. Advantage lumber has quite a few of these woods and their characteristics listed. http://www.advantagelumber.com

But I will also go along with the others who suggest that if you are not hung up on the wood appearance, laminating using a lighter wood like cedar or even foam covered with glass would be a lighter weight solution.

Looking at the picture my first thought would be to laminate from strips, whatever wood I choose. When epoxy-glassing over woods like cedar or fir be careful to seal where fasteners penetrate so water can’t be trapped within the wood. If you are going to glass and seal these woods you need to do it pretty much perfectly. The advantage of some of the tropical woods like jatoba, ipe, or cumaru is that they can be left unsealed.

Pic is a jatoba handrail. 

IMG_1445.jpg.a8001d5d389d1e07f51f8df53c94420e.jpg

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I had to span a large section and did it by bolting some new track to some worn big boat track that a rigger gave me.  Same hole pattern so super easy and very strong

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If you cut a curved beam from straight-grained wood, it will be weaker than a straght beam or a laminate.

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I have a regular supply of oak (mostly white oak) that is regularly given to me for free (long story). 

I have made various bits and pieces for boats (my own and others) using it.  

It is very strong and has held up very well in all applications.  Keeping some kind of coating on the wood (paint, varnish, oil, varathane, cetol, etc.) seems to keep the wood in good shape for a long time.  

I'm a cheap bastard so this solution works for me. 

YMMV.  

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As promised, here's a pic of my transom with the traveler I want to install, The traveler will sit a little further back than shown, but as you can see there will be about 3' or 4" distance from the center of the traveler to the transom surface behind. That gap will need to be bridged by something sufficiently beefy to prevent the travelet from bowing up when center sheeted. This is why I was considering making something substantial out of a strong wood.  Wide open to further suggestions, but at this point I'm leaning toward laminating something up and carving to shape.

Traveler.jpg

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All you need under there for strength is a 2" x 2" extruded aluminum box tube, 1/8" wall. Simple and quick. Plenty strong for that size boat.  Vertical bow in a traveller can be a bad idea, if that is in your plan. as moving the car might over stress the leech...break a boom at the vang...or worse.

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"Live Oak" from Steve Cross's Sawmill in South Georgia.

When that fibreglass shitter has gone to dust the traveller will be the only thing left. Your family will be able to pass it down generation to generation as a conversation piece.

 

 

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I laminated Sapele for the Sampson posts that keep my bow sprit in cheque on a Tayana 37.

Cheaper that teak for sure, and way stronger than old growth teak.

Except for trim work and fineries on my vessel, teak is way over rated for sailboats.

Structural amenities deserve structural wood, and at $36/board foot for teak.....

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On 7/23/2018 at 10:09 PM, Diamond Jim said:

White oak has good mechanical properties, but is best glued with a flexible epoxy like G/Flex.  I'd recommend white ash, red oak or douglas fir which can be glued with a conventioinal boat building epoxy like West System 105.

Red Oak is so porous it's a poor choice for aquatic applications.  Ash is easy to laminate & glue and usually cheap too.

OP - 12/4 lumber is comparatively hard to find (though the PNW has edensaw - which wants $45/bf for 12/4 teak), with less choice of species and more expensive. easiest to laminate.

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looking at that, why do you even need a traveller, the stern is so narrow you could get away with three blocks on the transom with double ended sheeting, if youre looking for improvements for tuning the main, get an adjustable backstay. If you insist on a traveller put it in the cockpit well forward, across the bridge deck if you have one. I think you will be very disappointed and waste a lot of time and money doing this mod. 

 

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Gutterblack, there already is a traveler of sorts across that stern. Look at my photo or Sea Level's photo above. Problem is it's a shitty traveler with no means of mechanical advantage in moving it side to side. However, with enough cussing and violence I can get it side to side and I do often, especially during racing. That main REALLY wants to be windward sheeted all the way in order to have any pointing ability whatsoever. And that stern is ~4 feet wide, so that's a reasonable amount of traveling for a 26' boat. And I do like the end boom sheeting on this boat, so no desire to move the traveler forward.

Daddle, I hear what you're saying about just going with an aluminum channel and mounting it at the ends. I now have this image of this beautifully sculpted and varnished laminated wood piece back there, but I may come to my senses, realize how much work that would be, and go with a simple channel. Haven't quite come to my senses yet ...

What do you wood experts think about laminated oak and walnut? Readily available (Home Depot has it!), not too expensive, and certainly strong. May not have the weathering resistance I'd like, but a good thick varnish job would take care of that, right?

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4 feet is nothing, try this, put a block at either end of the traveller and one in the middle, a double block on the boom and run the sheet from the end block up to the boom, down to the middle of the traveller, up to the boom and out to the other side. Now you have a double ended mainsheet, you should be able to ww sheet it using the vang as well. I would look elsewhere for pointing ability, shape, age and setting of the main, as I mentioned your backstay needs an adjuster more than you need a traveller.

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also if you can get away with a smaller motor that you can stow inside when racing, it will make a huge difference.

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55 minutes ago, wristwister said:

What do you wood experts think about laminated oak and walnut? Readily available (Home Depot has it!), not too expensive, and certainly strong. May not have the weathering resistance I'd like, but a good thick varnish job would take care of that, right?

Neither the oak or the walnut you will find at Home Depot are likely to do well in an outside environment.  Relying on varnish for protection is not a long term reliable solution- there will always be nicks and scrapes, and eventually some deferred maintenance. It’s not just rot, but discoloration from little scrapes in the varnish film that keep me away from such woods. 

Where are you? Most places in the Salish Sea area will have a lumberyard with hardwood availability nearby. Ash is tough and attractive as a light laminating wood, and usually very available. Mass flooring suppliers like Lumber Liquidators stores, which seem to be everywhere, sell many tropical woods like jatoba (“Brazilian Cherry”), purpleheart or ipe- or ash or white oak, for that matter- at very low prices in flooring dimensions, which should work for your plans. Materials cost for your project are minimal compared to labor. Go for something that will hold up.

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On 7/24/2018 at 12:39 PM, Diamond Jim said:

Laminating a wood beam is not hard.  You can glue up a stack of laminations and clean it up and shape it further after the glue cures.

White oak has good mechanical properties, but is best glued with a flexible epoxy like G/Flex.  I'd recommend white ash, red oak or douglas fir which can be glued with a conventioinal boat building epoxy like West System 105.

I'm guessing that a section about 2" x 2" would be right.  Maybe eight 1/4" laminations.  

You might post your question to the WoodenBoat Forum , http://forum.woodenboat.com/    .  

White oak has been glued with pva and west epoxy since the dawn of time. They just started making g/flex a few years ago. I can't wait to hear your bs rational for the difference between white vs red, ash, and doug fir. Wood is a hard & stiff easy to bond material. G/flex is a poor choice for most any wood. Its designed to be flexible for dissimilar materials and plastics.

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Gutterback, I hear what you're saying. You've just touched the tip of the iceberg in terms of go-faster things I can do to this old tub. Here's some more:

  • Have the bottom cleaned and painted, I'm guessing my 6 year old bottom job ain't doing me any favors.
  • Replace my hand-me-down blown out dacron sails with a $10K suite of racing sails
  • Clear out everything I don't need for racing (the booze locker alone is good for 500 pounds)
  • Find a crew of experienced racers (as opposed to the rag tag bunch I usually sail with)
  • Learn a hell of a lot more about racing myself (instead of just enjoying the ride and the company)
  • Scrap this $1800 boat all together and plunk $100K down on a new J boat

I could do all that ... but I won't. I love this old tub, I love the group of hacks I sail with, in addition to beer can races, I also use it for everything from day sails to weekend getaways to evening booze cruises with friends. But ... we're all used to using the traveler to help shape the main so I want to make that work better.

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On 7/25/2018 at 2:59 AM, daddle said:

All you need under there for strength is a 2" x 2" extruded aluminum box tube, 1/8" wall. Simple and quick. Plenty strong for that size boat.  Vertical bow in a traveller can be a bad idea, if that is in your plan. as moving the car might over stress the leech...break a boom at the vang...or worse.

Absolutely - if he wants to keep the traveler where it is - I would

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In the Pacific South West I'd pick douglas fir and laminate to whatever size you want. Don't get it at Home Despot - find a proper lumber yard and buy good stuff from them.

Cedar is a great core but is pretty light for most structural applications.

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51 minutes ago, Zonker said:

In the Pacific South West I'd pick douglas fir and laminate to whatever size you want. Don't get it at Home Despot - find a proper lumber yard and buy good stuff from them.

The lumber of choice for mine shafts around the world for its strength and low density/ light weight and principal attribute being it will sound a warning when it is about to shit it itself, unlike hardwood which like carbon may be stronger but goes off with a bang.

However I wouldn't put in a long term durable class as that requires a secure protective coating otherwise it can quickly go to shit courtesy of trapped moisture, which is the strongpoint of high density or oily timbers.

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Talk to Westwind Hardwoods in Sidney BC. Great people, service , and they may have a good substitute for teak. I used Douglas fir base boards from Home Depot to scarf gunwales for my project. They were clear straight grain, kiln dried, and machine sanded. As long as any fasteners are bedded with an epoxy plug, I don't think rot will be an issue.

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I have teak in the dimension you need if you PM me. You pay for shipping.

Diuglass fir could be a good choice too. My 70 yo Ocean racer has a fir keel in damn good condition.

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Doug Fir is a great structural timber. Ideally you want  to find a source of older  growth. The new growth shit they use for framing lumber likes to rot. You can class them into old growth, older growth, and new growth. They are finding that new growth western red cedar is not as rot resistant.

Down south here we use plantation grown Radiata pine for framing. I cut a stud the other week that had 20mm(3/4") growth rings. It grows like a weed.

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Thanks all. I haven't even heard of most of these woods you're referring to!

After staring at my transom with a cold beer in hand, I finally came to my senses and said "Ya know, it sure would be easier to just toss that track on an aluminum channel" as several of you suggested. I found some anodized aluminum C channel that seems to have the stiffness I'm looking for. If I need more stiffness, a simple teak (or other wood) slat tucked into the channel should do the trick. I'm going to give it a shot, and I'll post a pic of the result.

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"C" channel can be kinda twisty, if that matters. Tube resists twist well.

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I can see how some of these ideas might look pretty sharp.  But, I have to admit that I did that same job with a piece of unistrut with a heavy L bracket in the middle.  Took an hour to put together.  Hasn't budged in five years.  Painted to match the fiberglass, it doesn't look too ghetto from ten feet away.  Well, not too ghetto for me, anyway.  

 

edit: now I recall that I did have to finesse the end brackets a bit to prevent creeping lateral movement in strong winds, but it turned out to be a simple fix in hindsight.  

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