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 Post subject: DragonSlayer Canoes
PostPosted: October 20th, 2009, 8:45 am 
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OK, this is a little fantasy game to ease the oncoming cabin fever that most of us will be suffering from sooner than we'd like to.

I got the idea from reading about how Steve Knilling designed a brand new solo hull for wood strip construction with the help of input from prospective builders. Curiously, in the end he came up with a design that looks remarkably like a Dave Yost designed Merlin II, only it's swede form in shape. I want to design an entire canoe company from scratch. I may end up with something remarkably like Nova Craft or Wenonah. Who knows, if it looks good enough on paper, maybe I'll even go through with it.

Maybe then I can defeat the dragon that has been devouring the canoe buying public for the last decade - the rotomolded kayak.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

I am preparing to start a new canoe manufacturing company with my modest inheritance of $100,000. The goal is not to get rich, but to provide the the canoeing public with the very best, most affordable canoes in the world. I am willing to lose every last dime of my inheritance, but I refuse to borrow one red cent beyond that. Any and all expansion of the business will have to come from the profits, which will all be funneled back into the business for the first five years.

I already have a very large steel building (60' x 100') with central heat and air conditioning. I also have a brand new full size truck and a new Apple computer, so all I need is the right equipment, the materials and, of course, the know how.

I don't have a clue how to build a canoe, so you folks are going to have to teach me everything. And I've only ever been in a Coleman canoe, so you're going to have to give me specific design criteria, including desired shapes, lengths, weights, maintenance, etc.

So this is the ultimate boat design and construction thread, a game where everybody knows more than I do and can contribute to the company. Who knows, maybe it'll get big enough to challenge Bejeweled Blitz on Facebook.


So what do you want? Light weight? Large capacity? Durability? Speed? Efficiency? Stability? Maneuverability? Seaworthiness? Beauty? Affordability? Easy maintenance? You tell me and we'll see if we can find a way to build it.

Don't be afraid to say what you don't like about other companies and their boats, but PLEASE... don't mention any names. I'm in enough hot water already.



I think a 16' canoe is a good one to start with. Are there any other sizes you'd like to see made?

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“We can have great disparities of wealth or we can have democracy. But we cannot have both.” - Former Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis


Last edited by Battenkiller on October 24th, 2009, 11:15 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Dragonslayer Canoes
PostPosted: October 20th, 2009, 9:13 am 
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Posts: 121
Love it!

a fantastic idea, and you might get some input when I get some more time, though really I would just toss my 100g in a money market fund, and on the interest I earn, go out and buy one schnazzy canoe every two or three years (you know, interest being what it is and all)


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 Post subject: Re: Dragonslayer Canoes
PostPosted: October 20th, 2009, 1:09 pm 
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Well first off we have to do some research to determine who the canoeing public are. I will just toss out that where possible any contributors might want to apply the 80/20 rule, like 80 percent of customers spend 20 percent of dollars, 80 percent of effort is used for 20% of payoff, etc.

I woul hazard a guess that 80% of canoe buyers probably only account for 20% of total gross sales, being predominanly the purchasers of units in the sub $500 range, like coleman, pelican and the like.

So should "DragonSlayer CanoeWerx" disregard the larger market of low margin low profitability canoes, and concentrate on the smaller market of high dollar and (hopefully) higher profitablilty canoes? I would think so.


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 Post subject: Re: Dragonslayer Canoes
PostPosted: October 20th, 2009, 1:15 pm 
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Have you decided on construction method or materials?


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 Post subject: Re: Dragonslayer Canoes
PostPosted: October 20th, 2009, 1:17 pm 
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hmmm, I believe you have just put yourself on the spot! you're it!


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 Post subject: Re: Dragonslayer Canoes
PostPosted: October 20th, 2009, 1:37 pm 
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Komatiq wrote:
Have you decided on construction method or materials?


No. I don't know nuffin' 'bout building no canoes, 'member?

I hear they can be made of a variety of materials, such as wood, fiberglass, carbon fiber, or Kevlar cloth, ABS. You tell me what you think of the various materials and methods so I can get a start. Anything but polyethylene, that's what the Dragon uses for his boats.

I want to work on the design aspect first. Without a design I'm up ____ creek. Any favorite designs you have in mind? I need dimensions and shapes, not just names. Also, do you think folks will want solo boats or tandem boats more? How about those little pack boats. Oh, I should mention that I'm a flatwater paddler only, so that's all I want to build, boats for maybe up to Class II.


P.S. Bear with me, this should get fun a few posts in. :wink:

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“We can have great disparities of wealth or we can have democracy. But we cannot have both.” - Former Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis


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 Post subject: Re: Dragonslayer Canoes
PostPosted: October 20th, 2009, 2:19 pm 
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davidchiles wrote:
So should "DragonSlayer CanoeWerx" disregard the larger market of low margin low profitability canoes, and concentrate on the smaller market of high dollar and (hopefully) higher profitablilty canoes? I would think so.


Yes, that sounds like a good idea. Except the profitability only has to extend to keeping the business going for the first five years and providing a living wage for my help. Maybe $20/hr. I don't want to exclude anybody, but I can't give them away for free. The final price may scare some away. Right now, let's say everyone is a potential customer, but I think you're right, the more serious canoeists are likely to the client base.

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“We can have great disparities of wealth or we can have democracy. But we cannot have both.” - Former Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis


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 Post subject: Re: Dragonslayer Canoes
PostPosted: October 20th, 2009, 3:27 pm 
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Location: Central Maine--Sheepscot Watershed
No technical stuff here, but I'm the customer you are designing for (or at least one of them), so here's what I'd like to have on the market.

Let me suggest you try to fill a market niche that I have found (sadly) pretty empty: canoes for folks who want better performance than plastic or ABS can provide; but can't afford most of the existing composite boats, which tend to have a fair number of cosmetic bells and whistles that add cost.

I think you want three canoes, all of which ought to sell for no more than around $2000:

(1) A solo canoe in the 14 foot range. Other customers will have to tell you about that one, unless you want to target the very limited market for "solo canoes for big guys" that I can speak to. :oops:

(2) An "all purpose" canoe. I'm thinking here of a canoe with enough rocker for Class 2, good tracking for flatwater, enough capacity for three adults, or 2 adults on a 4 or 5 day trip, but still small enough to solo from the bow seat--so it has to be symmetrical. I'm thinking a 16 footer is your better market niche, but I'd personally prefer 16.5 or 17. (More on your target market for this boat below.)

(3) A flatwater specialist. No rocker, narrower in the beam than the canoe above, designed to track well on flat water. Probably also around 16 feet. (Again, other customers can speak better to how you want to target this boat.)

As for the "all purpose" canoe--for which you have a target market that includes at least one potential customer. Your market wants better performance than is available in plastic or ABS, and lighter weight. I think a boat in the 50 pound range would sell like hotcakes; and at 60 pounds you'd find a lot of interest. However, you will need to convince me that (1) this boat is durable enough to be used in places where it might get dinged and scratched (though not abused); and (2) that it will be stiff enough to avoid the inefficiencies that come with the existing plastic hulls.

I think your target price is below $2000, because most of your Royalex competition is in the $1300-1700 range, and although I will pay a bit more for better performance and lighter weight, I won't pay double. You have lots of competitors already supplying the folks who can afford boats in the $3000 range.

Whether this niche includes more customers than just me is a question your market researcher will need to investigate.

By the way, when you find a way to produce the canoe I'd like for under $2K, I'd like you to direct your attention to the automobile market. The world is screaming for a car that retails under $15K new, gets 30 mpg or better, and has enough capacity and the 7 or 8 inches of ground clearance needed to haul a canoe and a week's gear for two over 30+ miles of gravel logging roads. :thumbup:


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 Post subject: Re: Dragonslayer Canoes
PostPosted: October 20th, 2009, 3:36 pm 
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h**y s**t!

I guess native brookie can leave the game now, as we already make the canoes that he wants!

lol!


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 Post subject: Re: Dragonslayer Canoes
PostPosted: October 20th, 2009, 6:07 pm 
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Location: Geraldton, Ontario Can
I think there is still a market for well made wood canvas canoes at a cheap price. And by cheap, I'm talking real inexpensive.

To set up up to build for w/c is a lot cheaper than setting up poly or royalex treatments. Molds can be hand made, as can steamers. A good table saw, band saw, thickness planer, jointer and industrial belt sander would probably be the biggest expenses (although I know BK probably already has some of these things)

As far as designs, I would keep it simple. A solo, a Pal type model and a tripping canoe in a few different lengths, from 16 to 18 feet.

Two people with a plan can turn out a lot of w/c canoes during a winter season.

And here's the selling point. The price is a $1000.00 bucks per canoe.

If you can take advantage of local wood ( I've built three canoes out of New Brunswick cedar, can't imagine the stuff right over the border is going to be any different) and buy canvas, filler, paint, nails, etc in bulk, I think you could get the material cost for each canoe down to about 400 bucks or less.

Of course, you ain't gonna get rich. But it would be a lifestyle, much like farming. A family business. A calling. Damn near a religion.

If I win the lottery, that's my plan.


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 Post subject: Re: Dragonslayer Canoes
PostPosted: October 20th, 2009, 9:04 pm 
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Location: Connecticut, USA
Enroll in the following 10 step program.

1. You don't know how to build a canoe but you are a talented researcher and BS artist. So you use these skills to figure out what the best selling canoes are in about 10 niches: one SinPC, 4 kneeling FW boats, 4 sitting FW boats, and one WW boat.

2. Beg, borrow or steal each of these hulls for a day.

3. Take a mold from each.

4. Build canoes using the same layup schedule as John Kaz at Millbrook: S glass and kevlar with ash trim. Use the least expensive lamination method, which I assume is hand lamination. You will have to learn how do this somehow -- perhaps by sending your spouse into a master laminator's shop as a stealth apprentice.

5. Offer each canoe with a gelcoat or, for lighter weight and lower cost, with just pigmented resin.

6. Offer to stain the ash trim different colors for low cost aesthetic variations.

7. Use the most comfortable seats available, which are the new Conk-Hemlock contoured web seats laminated from ash-cedar. This will be your one expensive ingredient, currently $89 retail at Hemlock.

8. If trademark searches don't reveal registrations for the names of the canoes you splashed, use the exact same names. Like Walmart, you want customers to know you are offering much lower priced knock-offs of famous products. Then, you trademark these names just to give the other companies fits when they try to threaten you.

9. Price your canoes at 60% of the retail price of the canoes you copied.

So far, you may have spent $20,000.

10. Send me a legal retainer fee of $80,000.


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 Post subject: Re: Dragonslayer Canoes
PostPosted: October 20th, 2009, 9:53 pm 
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Battenkiller wrote:
So what do you want? Light weight? Large capacity? Durability? Speed? Efficiency? Stability? Maneuverability? Seaworthiness? Beauty? Affordability? Easy maintenance?


Sure, that's a good start for one canoe. What's the second model gonna be like? :wink: :roll: :wink: :doh: :rofl:

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 Post subject: Re: Dragonslayer Canoes
PostPosted: October 20th, 2009, 10:20 pm 
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BK is aware of this, but I should explain for others:

In the US there is no law prohibiting the plug-mold copying ("splashing") of boat hulls, unless the particular hull is properly registered under a special federal law enacted in 1998. As of last month, only one canoe hull has ever been so registered.

The business plan I am proposing is to "free ride", legally, on the marketing, good will and public awareness already built up around popular canoes. This is the same thing competing computer manufacturers did to IBM when they began making cheaply-priced hardware clones that would run under IBM's software.

In fact, I would name the company Clone Canoe. The names of the models would be something like Merlin-clone, Penobscot-clone, Sairy-clone, Explorer-clone, etc.

In the case of a canoe such as the Penobscot, Clone Canoe would be rendering an additional consumer benefit by offering a low cost composite version of a Royalex-only canoe.


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 Post subject: Re: Dragonslayer Canoes
PostPosted: October 20th, 2009, 10:38 pm 
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Aside from the fact that "borrowing" is frowned on and will get you on the "Z" list of any canoe designer (unless you ask them and get permission)

where is my lightweight clone OT Tripper? I think that that is a fantastic boat except for 85 lbs. I want the toughness of the Royalex version to come close.


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 Post subject: Re: Dragonslayer Canoes
PostPosted: October 21st, 2009, 12:39 am 
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OK, now that I've rounded up most of the usual suspects, let me tell you about my day...


I sold my trusty old Coleman this morning to some unsuspecting sucker for the ridiculous sum of $125. I felt bad for ripping the poor old woman off. I met her in the WalMart parking lot and loaded it onto her roof rack, trying not to huff and puff, and assured her she could easily make the short carry into Lake Lila while carrying a #4 Duluth pack full of cast iron fry pans. I used zip ties to secure it to her rack. Hopefully it blows off before she finds out it weighs slightly less than a bull moose in rut. Then I hightailed it to the Hess station and filled the truck up with high test and boogied on out of town to check out every canoe maker who would speak to me.

I decided to use the method my friend Bill did to learn cardiac surgery. He went to every heart center in New England to snoop on whatever trail blazing techniques he could learn. Today he no longer practices taxidermy and heads a transplant team in Mexico.

My first visit was to a long established maker of wood and canvas canoes in Maine (hey, this is a fantasy game... the drive time is not included). RHaslam was correct, some folks really do make canoes out of wood and canvas, and they don't even leak. They use steam to bend slats of wood over a solid wooden canoe that is upside down and has metal straps screwed to it. Pretty cool. They even let me watch, and told me they would be willing to sell me - at cost- the wood and supplies and everything to make one. $800 including freight, delivered to my door. They said that once I built my own form (the book they sold me told me how and even had several free plans included in it) I could easily turn out a perfect canoe in about 120 man hours. I went to the car and got out my calculator to apply a canoe making formula I had read about on the Internet.

Two times the labor rate times the hours to build each canoe, plus the cost of materials plus the cost of discardables plus $500 in unspecified expenses would give me the cost to build each canoe. It went like this:

2 x $20/hr. = $40 x 120 hours = $4800 + $800 + $500 + ?$ in discardables (I dunno... maybe sandpaper?) = $6100. Then you multiply this figure by 43% to determine how much profit I should get for each canoe. $6100 x 43% = $2623. Now just add that to the cost of building the canoe to get the fair market value - $8723. That gives me a nice tidy profit margin of about 30%, less than most dealers get (who don't even have to make the canoe), but hell, I can live with it. It's really a lifestyle thing, not a get rich scheme.

I figure that I can hire three guys for $20/hr. Working full time they can make one boat per week on the average. That will cost me $2400/week. Subtract that from the sales price, minus the $800 cost of materials, minus the $500 in unspecified expenses (not sure who gets those, but I better subtract them) minus the ?$ in discardables and I get to keep roughly.... $5023 for every canoe we sell. I'm starting to really like this business!

Wait, I forgot... I need somebody to sell these things. H-mmmm... I read that it takes about 6 hours to sell a canoe. At these fair market prices, it's gonna take somebody a lot longer than 6 hours to sell one. More like 40 hours. That's OK, I'll just hire somebody full time as my salesman. It'll only cost me another $800... uh, maybe a little bit more. It's gonna take somebody really slick to move these things, somebody who can sell snow to an Eskimo, who can sell waste oil to the Arabs, who can sell shit to a septic service. Wait... I know just the guy. Moi.

That's right, with my particular brand of BS, I could completely rid myself of a sales force and keep all the money to myself. I wouldn't be doing much anyway, just counting all the money. My favorite part is getting to charge the customer twice for the labor but only paying it out once. Pretty tricky, eh? You gotta love those accountants.

Anyway, I'm spending the night in my truck, figuring all this stuff out. I'm not completely sold that this is the very best way to go. A lot of the designs I've been looking at online don't seem like they'd be too easy to make the way these guys were making them. I'm going to get up early in the morning and take a ride to a shop that builds canoes with strips of wood glued together and covered with fiberglass and epoxy resin to hold them together. Sounds kinda wacky, but then, so did boats covered with waterproof canvas. In the meantime, maybe the think tank I've assembled here can mull it over to see if there's something amiss in my calculations. So far, everything looks good. It appears the biggest expense will be the $80,000 to pay the lawyer. Isn't that always the way?

Oh, I just found out the Yankees won tonight. It's been a very good day.

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“We can have great disparities of wealth or we can have democracy. But we cannot have both.” - Former Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis


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