26... Factory website for the MacGregor 26', $22,900
24 mph, the WORLD'S best selling cruising sailboat.
MACGREGOR 26 CONSTRUCTION
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The MacGregor 26 is built to outlast
all of us. Each boat is built of individual layers of fiberglass fabrics,
laid in place by hand, in a carefully controlled process. Hulls and decks
are light, but strong, with extra reinforcement at all high stress points.
Most of our competitors use
"chopper guns" to build their boats. These are devices for
spraying a mixture of resin and very short strands of fiberglass. We don't
use them, even though they reduce cost. They do not, in our opinion, give
adequate impact strength or controllable hull and deck thickness. They
result in heavy laminates with low fiberglass to resin ratios, accounting
for much of the excess weight found in many competitorís boats. Light
weight is the key to easy trailering and to high performance.
We have stayed away from sandwich
construction. Most of the failures of fiberglass hulls involve the rot or
delamination of balsa or foam core materials. We use only solid fiberglass
laminates in the 26's hull. If exposed to water for long periods, balsa
coring material can rot and literally turn to soup, causing major structural
problems. Balsa is fine, in our opinion, for decks and structures that are
not constantly immersed in water, as long as there is no balsa near holes
for hardware. Foam cores are also widely used for stiffening hulls, however,
they offer less than 200 pounds of adhesion per square inch. That is not
much better than rubber cement. It takes over 2500 lbs per square inch to
delaminate the resin bonds that hold our hull laminates together.
Production begins by spraying the
exterior color (polyester gel coat) on a highly polished and waxed 3 ton
hull mold cavity. The waterline and accent stripes are also sprayed on at
this point. In building a fiberglass boat, the first thing you actually make
is the exterior paint job. The rest of the hull is laid up against the
inside of this paint (gelcoat) layer.
Initial hull layup (26X)
Alternating layers of fiberglass
fabrics are then applied. Each layer is saturated with polyester resin and
all air and excess resin is removed with brushes and squeegees. The resin is
then allowed to harden before the next layer is applied. One of the benefits
of fiberglass construction is that the thickness can be made to vary (by
adding additional layers) to match the stresses that each area encounters.
For example, where the rudders and chainplates are attached, many extra
layers are added to distribute the loads thru the hull. The resulting
laminates are of the highest quality.
The cured hull is then removed from
the mold. In the case of the hulls, water is injected between the hull and
its mold to literally float the hull free from the mold. Each part comes out
with a high gloss and molded in black stripes. All the fiberglass parts are
built in precision molds in the same manner as the hull.
Here is the deck being removed from its mold. The window accent color and the
non-skid deck surfaces are molded in. the deck liners have already been bonded in place. (This picture shows the deck of a
After the parts are removed from
their molds, they are trimmed. When the parts are moved into assembly, they
are predrilled for hardware, using elaborate hole locating fixtures.
Hardware is then bolted in place. Most hardware is attached before the hull
and deck are joined together, to make for easier assembly. Even so, you can
easily get at all the nuts and bolts later on if necessary. All items are
thru bolted, with large backup washers under the nuts.You will notice that other boats
have lots of nuts and bolts showing on the inside, looking a bit mechanical.
On the MacGregor 26, the nuts are hidden behind small covers that match the
interior gel coat color. The result is a smoother, more finished interior.
The hull and deck are joined with
3/16" bolts on 4" centers. Top grade adhesive is used to insure a
watertight seal. Many builders use screws or pop rivets for this joint.
Bolts are better. Our bolted hull to deck joining system is strong, but
compact, and adds little to the width of the boat. Many of our competitors
use wide joining flanges, which contribute a lot to their beam, but add very
little to strength or usable inside space.
Automated router sytem
We use automation wherever
possible to reduce costs and improve quality. Here you see a computer controlled router carving out a wooden master "plug" from which rudder molds are made.
is the full size mockup, or "plug," that was used to make the production molds for the boat. The shapes were cut on a computer controlled router. The plug has to be absolutely
perfect. If there is a flaw on the surface, the flaw will be transferred to the production molds and then to the parts produced from those molds. Molds are layed up over the plug in much
the same manner as a fiberglass hull is layed up in a mold, except that the molds are much heavier.
This is the plug
for the deck. It is complete down to the non-skid surfaces that will eventually become part of the mold and the finished production parts. One of the big tricks is to
prepare the surface of the plug so that the molds can be removed without damaging the plug. We use a lot of high quality wax and thin sprayed on parting agents to permit easy release.
We are building and selling a lot of
these boats. A new one comes out of the plant door every 4 hours. They
are being shipped in containers all over the world.