Hookham's Newspaper Sailboat

We quote/paraphrase/summarize/plagiarize extensively from the National Fisherman from August 1974 written by John Gardner, Technical Editor

Hooka,'s sailboat

One of the exhibits at the International Boat Show in 1962 was an extraordinary sailboat built almost entirely from newspapers cemented together with Aerolite 310, a two-part urea-formaldehyde glue manufactured by CIBA. After 12 years of use this 17' 6" round hulled boat (with 5' 6" beam and 27' mast also of glued paper) was still sound, seaworthy and sailing. The boat was designed and fabricated by John Hookham of Cambridge, England.

In post-WW II England, conventional boat building materials were simply not available. In casting about for scrap materials to use, all sorts were considered by Hookham, but only newspaper seemed to be in plentiful supply. "The original intention was to laminate paper over a mold, but enough material to build a mold was not to be had. Furthermore it seemed like building two boats to get one."

The great strength of bamboo suggested the idea that paper tubes could be made with Aerolite. These could then be bent according to a pattern to any required shape before the glue set and thus a frame could be built up. The hull consists of an inner layer of these tubes placed transversely every six inches and an outer layer placed longitudinally. All these tubes were glued together and inner and outer skins were glued over them. Twelve layers of newspaper were used inside and out for skins; the resulting hull weight was about 300 pounds. A tapered mast was built from a heavier Kraft paper than used for the tubes.

A machine to produce the tubes consisted of a solid steel mandrill, cranked at one end to form a handle, and rollers to apply resin and hardener to opposite sides of the paper. Most of the tubes were wound on a 3/16" mandrill and have an outside diameter of 3/8". To make members of any length these tubes were doweled together with tubes of smaller diameter. Under favorable conditions about four 12-inch tubes could be made per minute. (Approx. 10,000 feet of tubing were used. That figures out at a minimum of 40 hours for tubes alone!)

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