Wooden boats with high-performance core materials

Van Dam Custom Boats mixes classic wooden boat designs and highly evolved engineering.

Wooden boats with high-performance core materials

Van Dam Custom Boats
In 2017, Van Dam Custom Boats celebrated 40 years of craftsmanship. This family business was founded in Michigan by married couple Steve and Jean Van Dam. Trained as a wooden boat builder in the early 1970’s, Steve is one of those on board early in the use of epoxy as a part of wooden boatbuilding in North America. The company is still using the finest materials and the latest in technology when designing and manufacturing its hand-crafted boats. A vessel from Van Dam Custom Boats is always the only one of its kind.

Classic design with superior engineering
When classic wooden boat designs are incorporated with highly evolved engineering, the finished product is strong and beautiful. A naval architect in his own right and son of founders Steve and Jean, Ben notes that the company has never intended to build a production model and looks past the fact that there are cheaper, faster and less structurally sound methods of building boats. 

High-performance core materials 
The cold molded process used at Van Dam Custom Boats affords owners a strong, lightweight vessel that is watertight and impervious to rot or cracking from swelling. Van Dam boats are built so that the raw wood never has to interact with, or react to, the element of water.

“We build a variety of sizes and types of cold molded wooden boats and have had a relationship with Diab for over 10 years”, says Steve Van Dam. “When we have had an application requiring a structural core, our go-to product has been Diab’s Divinycell core material. We have used this product between wooden skins, and also with carbon fiber or glass fiber in certain applications.”

Sunray – a motor yacht made of mahogany and core material
The construction of the stunning 50′ Motor Yacht Sunray, designed by Michel Berryer of Van Dam Custom Boats, began during the fall of 2015. Classically styled with a nod to vintage 1960’s watercraft, Sunray sports a beam of 13′ 6″. The boat will be built from mahogany with a displacement of 35,000 lbs. A core material is used in key areas such as the cabin and wheel house, allowing for a lighter boat that still has a beautiful wooden finish.

“For Sunray, we will be using the HM80”, says Ben Van Dam, “primarily for insulation in the Florida sun but also as a structural component between wood skins in the cabin sides and top.”

A 450 gallon fuel tank feeds two Cummins 8.3 L-600 HP diesel engines that give Sunray a speed of more than 35 knots. Sunray is full of custom details such as inlaid with SS Mahogany trim and a double wide helm seat. It is also equipped with a complete Garmin navigation package, including two big screen displays and autopilot, a Seakeeper 6 gyro stabilizer, a full galley with state-of-the-art appliances. It features plenty of fresh water tankage for a hot shower in the beautifully detailed head compartment and underwater lighting for that night time swim off her teak swim platform.

Companies: Diab Global Portal

Industries: Marine Transportation and Shipbuilding

Terms: Applications, Business

This article has been edited by Basalt.Today
This article has been written on JEC Composites Magazine
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