The SmallTug Design Series


FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions  (Scroll Down to the number you want)

Today's Insult: Sales Outside USA? (Now Discouraged)

1. Why are the plans now FREE when they used to cost from $200.00 up to $7000.00?
2. What do I get in the FREE plans set?
3. What don't I get?
4. Are there any restrictions on use of the FREE plans?
5. What is the difference between the single chine and double chine hulls?
6. Aren't all these hulls the same?
7. How seaworthy is Design XXX?
HYPERLINK  \l "8"8. Geez, I'm sorry I asked!
9. Why don't the topsides of these small tug hulls have more tumble-home or cant?
10. Can I call you for more information/ help deciding on a design/ construction help/ etc.?
11. Why don't you offer the ATB design anymore?
12. Should I build in: (wood, aluminum, steel)?
13. Can I do towing with the Tug-Yacht design SmallTugs?
14. Can I use a gasoline engine in my tug?
15. But I have a nice marine conversion of my old car motor...
HYPERLINK  \l "16"16. What is the difference between the 361TY Pouch and 363TY Paunch designs?
17. When I scale the hull from the paper plan drawing I get a different value in the Y direction than when I use the Offset Table, why?
18. Can I have a Mal Low design tug image to use as wallpaper on my computer?
HYPERLINK  \l "20"19. Can I shorten/lengthen/widen/narrow the hull of a SmallTug to suit my needs?
20. Is the 21 ft. Single Chine SmallTug trailerable?
HYPERLINK  \l "21"21. Do the single chine SmallTug hulls use a deadwood and what does it look like?
22. Why aren't the bilge keels shown in the 21 ft. hull offsets table anymore?
HYPERLINK  \l "23"23. Is there an easy way to lay in the waterline/top of bottom paint line?
24. Why isn't there any crown in the deck of these SmallTug hulls?
25. I don't know how to set up my engine beds. Is there a good way?
HYPERLINK  \l "27"26. The plating to keel and pipe/plating joint at the deck line are not clear to me, isn't there a simpler method?
27. What are these yellow sheets in the Construction section of the Tutorials?
28. Why don't you include the same level of detail with your plans that other Naval Architects do?
29. Why buy the Tutorial Set? Doesn't it cost big bucks? ($30.00 in the Combo deal.)
30. Sales Outside USA? (Now Discouraged)
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1. Why are the plans now FREE when they used to cost from $200.00 up to $7000.00?: Because of failing health I am no longer able to provide unlimited support, on-site supervision, custom design modifications, detail drawings specific to a client's needs, and/or construction detail drawings on request. These were all formerly included in the full price. Additionally the Tutorials Set was only included with the Full Lines and Offsets Packet. As a replacement for my personal support I am now offering the Tutorials Set for sale separately and also an on-line Owner's Forum. The fee charged for the FREE plan covers duplication, materials, assembly/labor, overhead including this web site, and domestic shipping. There is no margin for profit, the fee only covers our costs.. See also #28 (Click here) Back to TOP 
2. What do I get in the FREE plans set?: You get a Plan, Profile, Lines, and Offsets drawing(s). These have sufficient detail and material included for the average builder with some boat-building experience to construct the vessel. Some creativity will be required in interpreting details and the how-to for basic boat-building skills and methods is not included. The latter is available from experience or from the many fine texts available elsewhere and as listed in the Tutorial Section on Planning. See also #28 (Click here) Back to TOP 
3. What don't I get?: You don't get detail drawings of components, assemblies, joints, or other parts of the vessel with dimensioning or layout. Scantlings are not included with "free plans only", they are a section of the Tutorial Set. See also #28 (Click here) Back to TOP 
4. Are there any restrictions on use of the FREE plans?: No, but as a personal favor to me (consider it a gentleman's agreement) I would like you to build only one hull from each set of plans obtained under this FREE plans arrangement. If you want to build two, or more, order a set of plans for each even if its the same design. Also note that these plans, just as those obtained from any naval architect, are intended for the purchaser's use only. By copyright and other law you may not copy it, distribute it, or exchange the information I send you with any other party, by hard copy, digitally, or by any other means. This applies to the material in its original form and also in any derivative form whether added material is by you or a third party. Back to TOP 
5. What is the difference between the single chine and double chine hulls?: Basically the difference is displacement, and therefore cost to build, limits on fuel and engine loads that can be carried, and to some extent, operation in harsh conditions. The single chine hull is lighter and less expensive and the double chine hull is heavier and more expensive, but more heavy duty. Back to TOP 
6. Aren't all these hulls the same?: Yes and no: except for the distinction between single and double chines, the designs within a single size are based on a common hull form. When you receive your plan you will see that the Plan and Profile is for the design you selected but the hull Lines and Offsets are for a base hull design that matches that design size and characteristics. Back to TOP 
7. How seaworthy is Design XXX? Can I cross the (Gulf Stream/Straits of Magellan/Gulf of Alaska/Philippine Sea/North Sea/Florida Straits/ etc.)?: Well, a bunch of folks recently crossed from Cuba to Florida in a vintage taxicab on floats but that doesn't mean it was a sound idea. All my tug designs are seaworthy within the limits of their size and power. I can design the Hell out of them but if they are poorly constructed or operated I wouldn't want to be on board. The answer to this question lies in the skill of the builder, the outfitting of the vessel, the skill of the operator and his acknowledgement of weather, range, and other considerations, heavily laced with common sense. Its no fun waiting for the USCG helicopter to arrive in a vicious sea because you: (used hardware store hose clamps instead of all SS/ didn't put an above waterline loop in your bilge pump discharge hose/ don't even have a bilge pump and an emergency hand pump/ used ordinary window glass in your ports/ don't know how to repair or repack your stuffing boxes/ underestimated your fuel load/ forgot to change the filters/ think maintenance only includes bottom paint and new beer coozies/ packed more beer than charts/ are just plain drunk or stupid/ etc.). All of the above? A properly planned trip does not mean just taking your cell phone with you. Back to TOP 
8. Geez, I'm sorry I asked!: Well, I 've seen it all from the bridge of a tug and I am tired of the lack of personal responsibility in today's society. When you are at sea, you are your only support and you damn well better be prepared. (Plus I'm old and entitled to be cranky!) Back to TOP 
9. Why don't the topsides of these small tug hulls have more tumble-home or cant?: These are real tug hulls and the topsides are shaped to handle barges alongside as well as other equipment, or vessels. The plumb topsides are better able to handle the fendering and motion of an object tied alongside, especially while underway. Additionally, these shapes are easier for the backyard builder to plate. My SmallTug hulls in the smaller stock sizes were all designed to be built easily and as inexpensively as possible with a minimum of waste. Back to TOP 
10. Can I call you for more information/ help deciding on a design/ construction help/ etc.?: No, that was then, this is now. And that's why the plans are now FREE. (see question 1 above.) There is a vast amount of information in these web pages and in the Tutorials that will help you with all these questions; if you request a set of plans you are only risking a few dollars, the equivalent of one cinema ticket (without the snacks and Coke); this is a whole lot more rewarding and lasts more than 2 hours. See also #28 (Click here) Back to TOP 
11. Why don't you offer the ATB design anymore?: Because the interconnect between the tug and the barge in a true ATB form is too difficult and expensive for the average builder to construct. You can accomplish nearly the same thing with a conventional tug and a "rigid" wire connecion to the barge. The ATB tug itself was a very sophisticated design and I found it to be impractical for the general range of my clients. A true ATB also has licensing requirements in the larger size that are beyond what most of my clients want. Back to TOP 
12. Should I build in: (wood, aluminum, steel)?: Buy the Tutorial Set; the Planning section includes help on this subject. Back to TOP 
13. Can I do towing with the Tug-Yacht design SmallTugs?: Yes, within the limits of your powering choice, alongside or ahead, and to some degree astern. Towing astern requires that the towing bitt be further forward than the extended accommodations superstructure of a tug-yacht allows. With the towing bitt located so far aft on a tug-yacht the tug is dangerously limited in its ability to control the tow and in its own ability to maneuver. Back to TOP 
14. Can I use a gasoline engine in my tug?: Only if it crawls in by itself and refuses to leave. Face it, small diesels are now almost as inexpensive as small gas engines of similar Hp. And the gas engines don't have the low RPM torque to perform adequately in a tug. Plus the safety and reliability of diesels makes it a no-brainer. Back to TOP 
15. But I have a nice marine conversion of my old car motor...: Forget it. Please. Back to TOP 
16. What is the difference between the 361TY Pouch and 363TY Paunch designs?: The basic difference is that Paunch has inside passage between the pilothouse and the after cabin. With Pouch you must use the side decks and enter the after cabin from the stern deck. (There is a pass-through for coffee, etc.) This compromise (Paunch) results in a slightly shorter aft deck space; Pouch has more aft deck area. You decide which is of more importance. Back to TOP 
17. When I scale the hull from the paper plan drawing I get a different value in the Y direction than when I use the Offset Table, why?: Because the Offset Table is for steel and aluminum hulls and is the recommended set of offsets for any material. The paper drawing is the original design for wood and/or fiberglass construction. This is stated elsewhere in the Tutorial Set too. The weight of metal hulls requires a deeper hull form and that form also provides a drier ride for tug-yachts. Click here for the "White Paper: Steel Hulls for Small Vessels". Back to TOP 
18. Can I have a Mal Low design tug image to use as wallpaper on my computer?: Sure, click here. 
19. Can I shorten/lengthen/widen/narrow the hull of a SmallTug to suit my needs?: Yes, on the single chine hulls only, and with some restraint. You may alter these hull parameters by up to 10% without significantly damaging the vessels's seaworthiness. Remember that displacement will be changed too, and design your loads accordingly. The best way to do these modifications will be to use a constant multiplier on the appropriate values in the offsets table when lofting the hull. You will be the judge of the safety and practicality of the redesign so be careful. You cannot alter the double chine hulls this way; any changes require a full redesign effort by a qualified Naval Architect. Back to TOP 
20. Is the 21 ft. Single Chine SmallTug trailerable?: In most cases the answer is no, for over-the-road trailering without special permitting. Reducing the beam to 8 ft-6 in. will allow trailering in most states. You will still have to contend with a heavy vessel and therefore will need a high capacity trailer and towing vehicle. See 19. (above) about altering beam. Back to TOP 
21. Do the single chine SmallTug hulls use a deadwood and what does it look like?: Please look over Pg. 5 of the Scantlings section and also the yellow detail sheets that are inserted in the Construction section of your Tutorial Set. There are 3 pages of detail re: the deadwood and its relationship to the hull structure. The double chine hull will use a deadwood in the single screw versions, not in the twin screw versions. There is nothing magic about the deadwood; it has three functions in these hulls: 1. to carry the aft end of the keel up into the hull, giving major torsional resistance to the keel/hull joint, 2. providing a solid mounting for the stern bearing and its long-term alignment, and 3. finishing the after end of the keel with a structural element. You can do your deadwood any way way you wish if it fulfills these three requirements. Back to TOP 
22. Why aren't the bilge keels shown in the 21 ft. hull offsets table anymore?: Very few builders have been interested in this addition and they were dropped as being confusing to those who were having a hard enough time understanding the offsets table concept for the basic hull. Interestingly, almost any shape similar to a dagger board, or lee board, attached rigidly to the outer extreme of the bottom at the chine, about 37-45% of the LOA from the bow, and the same depth as the main keel at that point will do the job. Typically the bilge keel need be no more than 3 to 4 feet longitudinally at the the chine and taper in section from 8 inches at the chine to 4-5 inches at the flat bottom. The outer surface should follow the curve of the topsides and be in the same plane; the inner surface should be flat and incorporate all of the taper. The profile leading and trailing edges should be somewhat streamlined, (its not an airfoil), and it needs to be constructed such that it can support the hull in a beaching situation; the structural framing of the bilge keel should be part of the topsides framing with no joints (similar to the deadwood requirement #1, see 21. above). A straight horizontal line thwartships and running from bilge keel to bilge keel should touch the main keel at all longitudinal points of the bottom of the bilge keel. Also see the first photo in the Owners Page Progress Photos section; it shows the port bilge keel in 3/4 view. You can see the taper and the leading and trailing edge shapes. Back to TOP 
23. Is there an easy way to lay in the waterline/top of bottom paint line?: Using the plans and offsets table as references mark a point at the bow and stern for the line, both points being visible from a location off the beam of the hull. Borrow a laser level with enough sophistication and power to be used for ceiling leveling in the building trade and set it up to lay a laser line on the hull. Mark the hull accordingly and you will have a nice straight line to work with. Be sure to set the absolute height of the laser rig to coincide with the absolute height of the waterline (otherwise the line will curve) and artificially set its level to agree with the forward and aft points you previously marked as references (assuming the hull is not level fore and aft; disregard if your hull is still nicely level from the building process. If you built the hull upside down and turned it over you may have lost your level; it might be best to mark the waterline prior to turning the hull over. Back to TOP 
24. Why isn't there any crown in the deck of these SmallTug hulls?: Because there is a large amount of longitudinal curvature in the main deck, the low point of which is the location of the multiple freeing ports in the bulwarks. Since this hull incorporates developable surfaces that can be built with sheet material it is not possible to put in the compound curve that a deck crown would generate. In fact, the large fore and aft curvature makes for a quick draining deck if the freeing ports are properly positioned and of adequate size. In a low freeboard tug hull attention to the latter is important. Back to TOP 
25. I don't know how to set up my engine beds. Is there a good way?: Well, there are many ways but the first thing you must do is settle on a specific engine and either measure its mounting points or obtain a manufacturer's drawing of them. This also applies to your choice of gear. Since I recommend elastic mounts for the engine and a flexible shaft coupling (you must use both if you use elastic mounts) you must also obtain the right size units for your engine and figure in the offset in height that they will require. At this point you should know the height from level of both fore and aft mounts (on small engines they will usually (but not always) both be on the engine and on larger engines the aft mounts may be on the tranny) and also the distance from output shaft centerline of each mount in the thwartship and elevation directions (front and rear mounts are not always identically positioned in either of these dimensions). Remember that the 21 ft. hull requires an offset gear output shaft and use that as your shaft reference, not the engine crankshaft. By careful measurement of the manufacturer's drawing or by temporarily mounting the flexible coupling on the gear offset output shaft locate the shaft centerline and the longitudinal position of the coupling. On your lofting floor (or as a second choice, on the plan and profile views of the hull) lay in the points you have measured such that the coupling and the centerline of the gear output shaft are coincident with the shaft centerline of the hull and position the coupling forward of the aft engine room bulkhead such that it locates the engine CG or gross position longitudinally as shown in the plans. You should now have the points located in plan and profile that will have to provide support for the engine mounts. Construct a "basket" of steel or aluminum structural members that pick up those points with adequate pads (bearing surfaces) for the mounts (don't forget the pads may be angled, depending on engine/mount style) and with access for maintenance. Have this engine bed framing span the length of the engine room from bulkhead to bulkhead and at least 2/3 of the beam (single screw) or fully across the beam (twin screw) of the engine room. I recommend full width even in single screw applications. Remember this frame transmits all the engine's power to the hull and construct it accordingly. It is OK to shift the position of the engine slightly fore and aft if coupling/oil pan removal/access/drain plugs are obstructed by hull framing. Your elastic mounts will also allow small changes in alignment by built-in adjustment or larger changes by shimming. Every one-off hull I have ever seen has had shims under the engine mounts; don't be afraid of them. It is easier to build up height with a few shims than it is to take off height by rebuilding the entire bed so build your frame such that the mounting pads for the engine mounts are 1/2 to 1-1/2 inches lower than dimensions dictate (depending on your confidence in your layout work). Engine mounts must be through bolted with adequate bearing surface and bolt size; no skimping here. Back to TOP 
26. The plating to keel and pipe/plating joint at the deck line are not clear to me, isn't there a simpler method?: The joints shown and described in the Tutorial Set are the time-honored method. However, there are two techniques called "Stitch and Tape" (for ply hulls) and "Origami Boatbuilding" (primarily for metal hulls) that you might find easier to do, so long as you give it some thought before wading in. In these methods you simply assemble the hull by attaching the plating pieces directly to each other at their common edges, with no intermediate structural members. You will need a few structural pieces to stiffen, spread, and hold the hull form as you go, like the bulkheads for example, but the plating will form the hull shape without the usual complicated framing being built first. You must have enough fixturing, either temporary or permanent, to hold the plating panel's unsupported edges true while pulling into position and fastening the others. Once the hull form is close to complete (aft deck not attached on 21 ft.) you must add internal stiffeners. This technique is an approximation of the modern monocoque automobile body wherein the body shell supplies the strength and rigidity without a conventional frame. For a boat hull a litle more is needed in the way of supporting framing, engine beds, stem, cant frame at the transom, deck carlins, etc. As far as the keel is concerned, if you use one of these methods, just ignore the keel and build the bottom as a continuous surface. Then attach a keel structure with cutouts through the previously assembled bottom for the deadwood, driveshaft, etc. This brief description is not intended to be a complete lesson, but common sense, some forethought, and Googling of "stitch and tape boat" or "origami boat" should see you through. I will give more detail on these methods in the future. Back to TOP 
27. What are these yellow sheets in the Construction section of the Tutorials?: Please read the Note mentioned on the email order page "...read this before placing an order: Click here.".Back to TOP 
28. Why don't you include the same level of detail with your plans that other Naval Architects do?: This is a multi-part answer: a. I was diagnosed with a second terminal cancer in October 2005. At that time I initially decided to close my design office. At the request of some concerned fans I revised that to offering my stock smaller tug and tug-yacht designs at no charge (except duplication and post) with a revised and more detailed Tutorial Set to supplement the material in the free plan set. I felt my family could support this minimal effort to make my designs continue to be available. And I felt that the package with the Tutorial Set included all the necessary basic information to build a complete and sound vessel by a builder with some limited experience and the help of the many fine boat-building texts available elsewhere. b. The question arises from time to time about why I can't just sell the expensive extra detail that was done for clients, on request, prior to the October 2005 cut-back. The answer is that this work was done for specific vessels and specific builders, is proprietary to their accounts, and would create more back and forth, what if, and how to questions than I can now handle. It is not a question of the money. Thanks to the intensive work of the world-class Hepatobiliary surgical staff at Lahey Clinic, Burlington, MA, and the Oncology Dept. at Addison Gilbert in Gloucester, MA, I have some days that are rewarding. I choose to spend these "quality time" days with my family and consider them a blessing not to be squandered. c. Finally, it would be a disservice to my profession, and unfair in the extreme to my fellow Naval Architects and Small Craft Designers, some of whom are probably making less than break-even, to give away competing fully detailed packages of plans for the price of duplication and post. If you want fully detailed, step-by-step plan sets then go to the many fine designers who offer them and be glad to pay the extra cost that entails. 
29. Why buy the Tutorial Set? Doesn't it cost big bucks? ($30.00 in the Combo deal.): It amazes me that folks will think nothing of starting a boat-building project that will, realistically, cost more than $20-30,000 and not want to get some extra help with the designer's ideas that were incorporated in the plan they are paying a whole $17.00 for. The $30.00 (in the Combo price) for the Tutorial Set itself buys a binder full of Tips and Advice, Material sizes and weights (called "Scantlings"), Lofting-made easy instructions, Step-by-Step Construction in all materials, Planning-to-build details, and Fitting-out and Breaking-in steps and advice. For the price of 8 or 9 gallons of diesel fuel the designer's intent is spelled out in detail. As explained elsewhere, I cannot handle the follow-up emails from plans-only buyers asking about steel plating sizes, print reading advice, "missing details", "I don't understand how-to...", "what is a "cant frame", "do you need a deadwood", and a hundred other questions, most all answered in the Tutorial Set that I wrote just to forestall these questions needing to be asked in the first place. Elsewhere I suggest that experienced builders may not need the Tutorial Set; this is true but may not be wise. I am perfectly fine with selling you just a set of plans if that's all you need; but please don't ask how-to/what-if questions later, that's one reason the plans only cost $17.00 and I discount them and the Tutorial Set in the Combination deal. The theory behind the low prices is explained at great length elsewhere. 
30. Sales Outside USA?: We have found that a client in the EU has difficulty presenting our free, and therefore minimal detail, plan in order to get a comformance to current EU standards and classes for self-built vessels. Our stock small hulls were, for the most part, designed 40 odd years ago when such did not exist and so that consideration was not part of the design process. While they most likely do comply, we cannot certify to that for the reasons just stated. Therefore, since we also cannot currently provide support, we discourage purchases by non-USA clients who expect such compliance to be included with the free plans. In addition please note #1, #2, #3, #10, and #28 above. 
More to come. 


Copyright 2005, 2006, 2012 SmallTugs LLC, Gloucester, MA USA

Revised 23 Oct. 2008