Dufour Insider: How the boats are built (Part 3)

Okay, so let’s keep on moving down the Dufour Yachts production line. We learned how the hulls are laid up in Part 1. And Part 2 describes how the decks are made. Now it’s time to talk about how an empty shell of a hull that first comes out of a mold becomes a Dufour Yacht.

unnamed[7]It all starts with solid fiberglass structural grid (above) that’s engineered to provide strength as well as provide solid connection points for all the interior components.Screen Shot 2015-02-16 at 3.43.41 PMDufour’s grids are built the same way the hulls are. Specific layers of fiberglass, resin, and gelcoat are laid up on a mold. As you can see in the photo below, the one-piece grid that comes out of the mold has a highly finished gelcoat surface. This allows the grid to be as attractive as it is strong and allow for wonderfully clean locker and cabinet floors, as well as sump areas.unnamedDWC2U02OAttaching the grid is literally the first step in the assembly process. It’s actually chemically fused to the hull with adhesive.

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The support beams are molded into the grid and the entire structure is fused to the hull. Notice the circular hole and solid mounts that are designed for the engine and saildrive and the black hoses that are there to make it easy to run plumbing and wiring.

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The grid is also tabbed in place with fiberglass in high load areas around the chainplate anchors (pictured above). This spreads the load of the rig out over a wide, heavily reinforced area.

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Once the grid is in place, the boat quickly starts to take shape. Here you can see the engine and saildrive have been installed. Some wiring and plumbing have been run. Hull ports have been installed. The first of several tanks have been dropped into place, and even the anchor locker is taking shape.

Notice also the temporary plywood “floorboards” in front of the engine. Those are there to make it easy for workers to move around and will be replaced with the much more stylish ones as the boat moves down the production line.

But this is only the beginning. Click here to see how the interior takes shape in part 4

Dufour Yachts: How the boats are built (Part 1)

All Dufour Yachts are built in our facility in La Rochelle, France. They all combine fine hand craftsmanship with innovative high-tech construction techniques. It all starts with the hull, and this is how we do it.

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It actually all starts in a hull mold (pictured above). We start with a flawless, highly polished two-piece mold and then spray layers of gelcoat that form the outer layer of each hull. Each hull is then laid up with a precise, highly engineered number of layers of fiberglass, resin, and various core materials that are all placed in each mold by hand.

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Here you can see the hull is beginning to take shape. Notice the layers of fiberglass and resin that have already been applied. Also notice how the rudder area is reinforced. Our molds are built on special rollers (pictured below) so they can be rotated in-place. This makes it much easier for workers to lay the various layers.

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This shot shows the underside of one of our molds. And as you can see, they are extremely well-built to extremely high tolerances so every hull comes out perfect. You can also see how much they can be rotated in place. Rotating molds speed production and increase quality because they are much easier to work on than static molds.

Capture10All Dufour hulls below 50-feet are built of solid fiberglass while the 500 GL (pictured above) and the 560 GL are laid up with solid fiberglass below the waterline and PVC core above the waterline to provide strength and stiffness. This photo also shows how workers reinforce high-load areas such as chainplate connections and keel areas with increased layers of fiberglass and resin.

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Another important element of hull lamination is the fact that Dufour uses 2-part molds as you can see in the photos above. This makes it easy to release the finished hull from the mold, and it also allows for an inward-facing flange that forms a strong and elegant inward-facing hull-to-deck joint.

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One of the first elements that’s added to freshly laid-up hull is the structural grid. This shot also shows what the inward-facing flange looks like and some of the other early tasks that are done at this stage like cutting out the hull ports and installing a strip of PVC core material to the aft area of the hull to provide increased stiffness. Capture7As a result of the high attention to detail paid in the early stages of construction, each hull comes out of the mold looking clean, sexy, and fast.

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We’re never satisfied with the status quo and our high-tech facility allows us to build the best because every element of the production line is constantly being upgraded. We’re always to looking to improve efficiency and performance, but also you can also see below, we believe our production facility should be as beautiful as our boats.

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Click here for part 2 of this multi-part series where we’ll explain the innovative process we use to build our decks.