Dave Smith's report on the rendezvous:
We had a great time too, but we were no where near full throttle in the Whaler! I have to admit, it was amazing how fast a 40 hp motor makes a 13' boat go in reverse. Yikes! For others, I thought it might be interesting to relate the following questions that were asked to Dick Valdez and his responses. Q: Why did some boats have iron keels and some have lead, and how were the keel bolts installed on the iron keel boats? A: paraphrased) Lead keels are obviously better, but more difficult to build and more expensive. Lead was about 3x-4x the cost of iron at the time (I forget the cents/pound numbers he used). Using an iron keel was one of the ways they were able to make more boats affordable. The keels were drilled and tapped about 6" down, but you only need 5x the diameter to get full strength. Q: It's been said that the keels were glued on so well that you don't really need keel bolts. What's your opinion on that? A: Well Columbia had one of their other divisions design a really strong adhesive that was the consistency of peanut butter, but was really strong. I mean like 30,000 pounds/sqin tensile strength (this is about the strength of mild steel). If you spread that over alot of square inches it could indeed hold a keel up, but you'd better keep the bolts just in case.
In fact there was one boat they were building to order, and had it almost done when they found they had the wrong keel on it. They undid the nuts and tried to knock the keel off, but it wouldn't come loose. They had to use a saws-all and cut the keel off. Q: What was your favorite Columbia and why? A: Definitely the C50. It won so many races and was so pleasing to the eye. Q: What was you least favorite Columbia, or the "lemon" of the bunch? A: The C33. (He had a pet name for it, something to do with a cormorant, but I forgot it) Q: Why did some boats have a balsa core and some didn't? A: Fiberglass is a great boat building material, but it isn't very stiff. If you take a 1/4" piece of plywood and try and bend it, you'll find it is very stiff. If you take a 1/4" piece if fiberglass, you'll find it isn't. There are two ways to make it stiffer, one is to make it thicker, which makes it heavier and uses more materials, and the other is to add a core. It was his opinion balsa is still the best core material. The balsa core was a way to make a stiff, lighter hull that could still get a Lloyds certificate and was affordable. Q: With regards to all the custom C-50's and starcrafter models, when would you say a boat is no longer a C50. A: If it came from our factory, it's still a Columbia 50. Lots of people finished their own boats and probably found better ways of doing things, but it's still a Columbia. Other comments: Columbia made over 30,000 boats all over the world. You can travel anywhere, go to the water, and find a Columbia. In the "early days" resin was 16 cents a pound, now they pay $1.60 a pound for resin. The reason some boats had A-4's and other's had Palmers was because they couldn't get enough A-4's. They would buy as many as they could get, 100 at a time and pay $450 each. He related he had a C40 which he would enter in the big Mexico races(Cabo, La Paz or Mazatlan, or Puerta Valerta). The boat had an A-4 in it and after each race they would motor it home (800-1000 miles). The gas in Mexico was so bad that they had to do a valve job on the motor when they got home. It was cheaper to replace the motor than do a valve job, so after each long race like that they would drop in a new A4. On their C26 production line, they put out one C26 a day. (wow) The most profitable boat in terms of percentages was the C43. He always thought there was a place in the market for a motor sailor, but they lacked the funds to make a new design. They had a different bolt on portion for the aft end of the C43 mold, and made the hull of the C45. It used the same keel and rudder as the C43. "We sold 450 of those boats!" There were lots of other interesting antidotes, but that's the ones that come to mind. We had two high points in the day. #1) We were in the dinghy with Vince Valdez (Dick's son) going to pick up Mike Keers at the dock. We (Lisa and I) told him we were on the C45 anchored over there. He says, oh, so you guys have the biggest boat here. We explain no, we're on the 45, not one of the 50's. He grins, says no- you are the biggest boat here, obviously understanding some of the attributes of the C45. #2 Later, Dick Valdez drives his rented electric dinghy over to our boat and says he doesn't have much time, but he wants to come aboard for a tour. He came down stairs, sat in chair in the main salon and chatted with us for 15 minutes telling us about the 45's, how he liked motor sailors, started Lancer Yachts, how nice our wood was! It was really neat! Molly liked him and pounced him. She would have licked his face if we let her! Three cheers to Doug Ward for putting it all together. David Smith C45 Total Eclipse
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