We just spent a few days in my shop with Greg Loehr of Resin Research. He's been making leading-edge epoxies for the surfboard industry for the last three decades and has some products that blow my mind. Greg's 2040 is a very low-toxicity, extremely resilient resin that is outperforming WEST by a mile. Here's a goofy write-up I did of our highly scientific tests.
One of Greg's great demonstrations is a series of samples of fiberglass cloth with each of his for resins laid up on a styrofoam sheet. His hardest resin is comparable to WEST for brittleness. His most resilient resin with the highest amount of plasticizer, called 2040, is the other extreme. Pushing a screwdriver into the hard one (or WEST--we tried that too) gives way quickly with a resounding snap. As you move toward the more resilient resins, it gets harder and harder to push through. The 2040 is amazingly tough. We did a lay-up of toilet paper and 2040 and it was quite a bit tougher than WEST with fiberglass. Seriously.
We shattered some fillet joints in our tests. The WEST explodes into a zillion pieces. The 2040 either tears the substrate apart, or simply breaks in one place if there is no alternative. You guys really ought to get a batch of this and see if you like it. I am blown away and switching over pronto. I used the last of my WEST up in the tests and don't reckon I'll get any more.
Brad it's been great following the Boop's reconstruction. Great Job!
I have had the new Suzie Too on the Rogue River with Greg this October. I wasn't finished but wanted to have a chance to row in some Class IV before spring and thought this might be my only chance. This is a radically different hull than any of Keith Steele's other boats. The flat spot is HUGE. In addition to that PT Riley put the rowing station in the center of the boat with a seat for passengers behind him. That means that I have a little more flat spot behind me than in front of me when I'm rowing. I allowed myself to get spun around in the first three rapids I went through.
Overall I would not call this a great rowing boat, but instead was one of the cogs in the wheel of learning how to make dories for the Grand Canyon. By the time I got to Blossom Bar I was able to predict the boat better and ran that rapid as I intended. (thank God!) Here's a photo that a friend took at the end of the critical moves and showing the bottom part of Blossom.
The Portola and the Suzie Too were used for years by Martin Litton, you would know better than me, but when they were gone they were replaced by Briggs Dories. When I asked Martin about that earlier this year he didn't talk about the performance of the hull design, simply saying "they were good boats." He preferred the Briggs because they stored more gear more conveniently.
I sure would like to get a chance to row the two styles on the same day. I'm believing that the Briggs Dory will be the better rower but want to find out if that is true and if the characteristics are what I believe they would be.
Yeah, I have been eyeballing Susie/Music Temple's lines on her blueprints, which are on the wall above the Betty Boop. Huge flat spot for a McKenzie boatbuilder. Boop is flattish in the middle but not nearly as much as Susie. And what a huge bow! It also shows a sudden shift in bow flare but not as radical as the Boop.
I, too, would love to do some back-to-back comparisons. The Briggs boats seem to have taken over abruptly in Grand Canyon and the Steele boats got shunted off to Idaho. They were but a memory when I arrived at GCD in '78. But the Briggs boats had superior deck design, which may have been part of the preference. From what I gather, however, the boatmen really fell in love with the hull performance of the Briggs as well. My guess: the Steele has too much boat out front and not enough behind for really big water. But if we really want to know, I guess we'll have to try it out, eh? (What are you doing for New Year's? We may run the Boop through the lower gorge of Grand Canyon. I can bring a Briggs too...)
The photo you posted here of Blossom Bar brings back a vivid memory of a trip we did with Jerry and Barbara Briggs, Roger Fletcher, Andy Hutchinson, and a few others. We were standing where the photographer of your shot was, and here came Jerry (with Barbara) without scouting, in his Rogue River Special. He got about where you are in the picture, reached over, pulled his life jacket out from under his seat and set it beside him, and finished the run. Caution prevails!