The Other Boatbuilding Material
Fiberglass is so prevalent in boatbuilding today that we expect every boat to be built of that material, especially if she's intended for salt water. (There are some excellent freshwater multi-species fishboats crafted from aluminum.) But Triumph Boats has another option: They roto-mold their boats out of polyethylene at high temperature, producing seamless hulls that, the company says, are "incredibly strong." Polyethylene? Isn't that plastic?Well, yes, but if you've ever bounced a whitewater kayak over rocks that would shatter a fiberglass boat, you know how tough polyethylene can be, even when cast into thin, single-skin hulls. Triumph goes way beyond that technology: Using solid-modeling CAD programs, industry-proven finite element analysis and a lot of hands-on experience with Roplene, company engineers design hulls that will maximize the material's properties. After testing and tweaking, the design is passed on to the company tooling department.
It's All in the Tooling
In fiberglass boatbuilding, the tooling department pulls female fiberglass molds off male plugs; the molds are made of essentially the same fiberglass as the parts to be built in them. But in the Roplene process, the molds are way more complex: First, they're made of metal, the individual pieces shaped by computer then expertly welded to create seamless molds, one for the outer hull, one for the inner. The two molds are joined for building a hull. While a typical fiberglass mold creates a part finished on one side, the Roplene molds include the outer hull, inner hull and all the bits and pieces inside – transom, gunwales, stowage boxes, deck, etc., are all built simultaneously in the same mold.
Rockin' and Rollin' in the Oven
Roplene polyethylene comes as a powder. An appropriate amount is poured into the mold, which is sealed, then heated to over 500 deg. F in a movable oven. The poly powder melts, the oven rocks, the mold rotates until the entire inside surfaces of the mold are coated with a layer of polyethylene. This is called rotomolding. Sensors monitor the process to ensure the correct thickness of poly is laid over every interior surface of the mold.When the sensors say the process is complete, the mold is taken out of the oven for cooling; it's still rotated to ensure the coating stays just right. Once the casting has cooled, the mold is separated and a "part" with an outer hull and an inner liner comes out. Triumph injects the hollow hull with high-density foam into the transom, lighter foam into the sidewalls and other cavities to add strength, stiffness and flotation. What you have now is a one-piece hull, complete and ready for rigging.
Subassemblies and rigging are precisely placed using molded-in locator points in the hull. Areas to receive fastenings have backing materials in place, and any openings – for hatches, etc. – are accurately cut with a CNC router. Everything is tested repeatedly during the finish process. Finally, every Triumph is covered by a limited lifetime warranty, transferable during the first five years.Even better, during that lifetime Triumphs require almost no maintenance – no polishing or waxing. Unlike fiberglass boats, there is no gelcoat surface to oxidize. They don't absorb water, won't blister, fade or crack. The company says they're even resistant to sunlight. Make sure you prime the bottom as directed before applying bottom paint.
Roplene construction produces few air emissions (most of it takes place in a sealed mold), way less than fiberglass open-molding. And polyethylene is recyclable, so you won't have 20- or 30-year-old Triumphs dumped in the back lots of boatyards with grass growing around them. When they're too tired to fish any more, they can be stripped of their fittings and sent to the recycling plant.
Lots of Testing
Roplene-built boats have been tested in the lab, the factory and, more important, in the real world. Before introduced to the pleasure boat market in the late 1980s, Roplene boats had been used for more than five years in the South Pacific, as commercial, fishing and rescue boats. Triumph says the boats are five times more impact resistant than fiberglass, unsinkable and virtually indestructible. They company says Triumphs are the World's Toughest Boats, and have registered that as their trademark. We'll buy "toughest boats" before "indestructible," but we've had experience with rotomolded polyethylene ourselves, and it's pretty tough stuff.
A couple of years ago we tested the Triumph 215 CC with a single 150-hp Yamaha outboard; she ran 43.1 mph (69.4 kph) tops, cruised at 26.9 mph (43.3 kph) with a range of 253 mi. (407 km). Our test captain said, "The 215 CC is a tournament-ready boat that can take the beatings of tournament fishing. These boats are easy to clean, simple to maintain and very quiet riding."He added, "The Triumph 215 CC [has] the guts and the stamina to go out to the fish offshore, stay out all day, and get back without any problem. If you like to fish hard and play hard, but are afraid of what it will do to the boat, then you need to check out Triumph, because all your worries will dissipate. When it comes time to fish with the big boys, the 215 CC offers you an ideal fishing platform with tournament-ready features." And, if you are the type of boat owner who likes to fish but you don't like to constantly be taking care of the gelcoat, washing your boat with soap and water, and worrying about scratches to the hull, the Triumph might be the boat for you. Once you return from a day on the water, just spray her down with a garden hose and you're done.And with a price starting at $42,945 with a 150-hp Yamaha, we also think the Triumph 215 CC is definitely worth a look. Maybe it's time to break the fiberglass habit.
Standard and Optional Features
|Washdown: Raw Water||Optional|
|Outlet: 12-Volt Acc||Standard|
Full Warranty Information on this brand coming soon!
(It's quick and FREE!)