Be Careful Of Copies
Folding system copies have caused many problems over the years, as too often the designer or builder have not done the
necessary development work, and just try to copy my designs. In some cases the designer has never built a folding boat,
ever, while a few have even had access to all my production drawings yet still got it wrong.
The above photo shows one recent copy where designer has basically copied what I was doing back in 1991, with external beam
brackets, while writing that internal folding strut anchors in the beams (as on my latest designs) introduce a weak or water entry
point. This is completely wrong, and I suspect the inability to see inside my latest beams to copy was probably the real issue.
The internal structure of my new third generation beams, with their integrated pivot points, took 3 to 4 months and many test
builds to develop, and these latest beams are actually far more reliable and foolproof than the old style external brackets. I know,
having been designing, building and testing folding trimarans since 1973, plus I have personally built around 40 beams.
The old style metal brackets work fine, but they are corrosion prone and need to be installed properly so as to not damage the
carbon inside the beams over time - hopefully the correct bolting technique was copied properly, as this procedure is not
readily apparent to copiers either.
Another concern is how the lower folding struts have been attached to the main hull, with the primary load looking to be at right
angles to the bracket orientation. Everyone knows that a chainplate and its bolts should be aligned with the load from the stay,
and the above is like mounting a chainplate at right angles to the stay. There could be a major twisting load on the bracket as
shown, with the first bolt ending up being grossly overloaded. It has been reported that these brackets may have already been
problematic so it really is a case of buyer beware.
The above shows how it should be done, with no metal brackets on the beams, and the hull brackets bolted properly in line
to take the lower folding strut loads into the hull and internal bulkhead. The lower folding struts are the primary structural
member and the very high loads into these must be absorbed correctly into the hull. Note also the alloy wingnet lashing
eyes - also internal, and these eliminate all those stainless steel saddles and multiple fasteners. A much superior (modern)
system, plus the beams have built in spray rails at the top for a much drier boat.
A better view - everything aligned correctly as it should be. The angled recess into the hull as shown is harder to do than the
vertical recess, but is essential for the structural requirements of the folding system. The loads here are huge, and must be
distributed properly into the hull and beam bulkhead inside - not into a poorly designed bracket at right angles to the load.
The external mounting of the beam end can also be seen here, which avoids unnecessary intrusion into the accommodation.
Also be wary of claims that more beam and bigger floats are going to make a boat better. It is just the same sort thinking
that fits a huge rig and minimizes accommodation just so a designer can boast how much faster his designs are. Anyone can
add more beam, bigger floats, a taller rig, and eliminate any worthwhile accommodation - all that is dead easy to do. But
there are also consequences like more windage, more weight, more expense, more risk, and a taller trailering height (yet
more windage again). But worse, there is little demand for such impractical and risky boats, with no room inside, and the
resale values are very poor. It is in fact much harder to design a good all round boat that has both room and performance,
coupled with a good safety margin, as this involves a lot of work and experience in getting just the right balance between
all the factors as above.
So if considering a copy, be sure to check on what development work the designer has actually done, or if he has even
built a folding boat, or even one beam. If he is just copying what can been seen on my designs, then be very careful.
My name and the success of my Folding System are now being used more often on copy websites, which seems to be
an attempt to gain credibility for a designer or copy with no track record. It should be clear that I do not endorse
It would be a lot more sensible for the copiers to license their system during the design stage, so that I could check over
what they want to do, and advise of all the pitfalls and any problems that could occur. Then no one would be put at risk
by a poorly designed copy
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