We all get excited when a manufacturer announces that they are going to do a new model. It happens in several subtle stages, the first of which is quite literally "conversation." "We are thinking about doing XYZ" Depending on the feedback they get from their inner circle and close customers XYZ might change into ABC. The end point though is they have crossed what I believe to be the biggest hurdle in the process which is "It's time to introduce a new product into the market place."
The next thing that will happen is artistic renderings of the potential product will be created. This is an important part of the process because now your idea has now become the smallest part of reality with a "visual." Bringing the project to life for the first time was a collaboration by Franco Gianni with SFG Yacht Design in Miami FL, and the Team at DCB Performance Boats down in San Diego CA.
If you look closely here you can see several variants of the side profile being developed. The initial design ques were to be taken from their flagship model the M44, but it isn't like you can just shrink one and make it look right as an outboard boat. In concept A you can see a smaller side vent like the M44 (and one of the Iconic styling Cues DCB is known for). In concept B the vent is deleted and it has a more flared look, and finally in concept C the vent itself is deleted, but the shape of the M41/44 Vent is incorporated into the glass as a larger feature.
As things are progreessing you can see that there are several "details" for the deck that were drawn up as potential aesthetic features.
Right down to the steps (and how many of them there will be) on the transom. As you can see they all have the M44 styling cues on them, but they are very different in design. Each detail is incredibly important to the potential success of the boat.
It may look aesthetically correct, but if the steps are too large or too small, than functionally the boat will suffer.
We may have summed that process up in a few sentences, but those styling points I listed as well as a 100 other ones represent a ton of meetings in house, and a ton of collaboration meetings between DCB and SFG. Things need to flow without something catching your eye, as well the boat is a new model, but must retain the DCB styling to fit in with the lineup. We can see as the renderings are coming along that the three steps on the transom, as well as the easy walk around gunnel at the windshield were two key points in the design process.
Time to start looking at some overall packages and contrast and compare to the M44. In the second pic and third pic you can see where they are actually moving the cab of the boat ever so slightly. There are small design differences on the transom of the grey center boat to the white bottom boat down by the outboards.
You can see the white boat has a slightly longer bustle with a more aggressive chiseled effect on the outside of the steps by the outboards. The steps on the bottom one are considerably larger than the center boat as well. Pointing out the obvious you can also see the deck hatches have been moved in the models and are different both on the deck and behind the passenger compartment. The recessed "Sea Deck" portion has been added on the bottom boat as well. Note also the appearance of the transom hatches for the first time.
This is the evolution of design, where you can see now hatch details have been added on the upper hatches behind the passenger compartment. The Transom hatches have changed shape slightly and we have now determined the front hatches will be opening gull wing style instead of lifting from the rear.
In the second photo down you can see they have elected to ditch a "hood" deck detail, and they have added a slight crown to the deck. They have also settled in on a recessed detail between the upper hatches leading to the stair case.
We are now closing in on the center console between the driver and passenger seat. (Note they are different in the images above and consistent in the images below)
It's very difficult to tell from these pics of the side profile, but I believe the top photo has a slightly taller and more protruded windshield, while the bottom two images have a little more rake and a little less height on them. That might be an optical illusion because of the colors.
After 100's of hours of design work, and countless e-mails and collaborative meetings brings us to the final renditions that are now in CAD and the boat will ultimately be tooled from.
The industrial design of the boat is done and now the Naval Architecture begins. This is the first DCB that is being tooled as a true tunnel. Having built boats that many hail as being some of the most exotic and best performing boats on the west coast the team at DCB can rattle off more about tunnel compression, wing angle, lifting strakes, and steps than anyone person would care to know about.
That said with the current market conditions and economy, time to market is more important than trying to accelerate a learning curve on how to build a competitive true tunnel. For this a third party engineering team (unnamed) collaborated with the DCB team to shorten the time to market. The only piece of information I was able to get out of them was they have decades of knowledge and experience designing and building true tunnel cats that perform.
In the pic directly above you can see a large 5th Axis CNC machine cutting the foam plug to make the bottom of the boat! Below you will see the "rough cut" pics where the CNC Machine has begun to make the shape of the boat with the roughing cutters and fast passes.
Because of the sheer size of the parts this is a pretty time consuming process. We can't show you the finish cuts (or high res pics) of the bottom of the boat until the first one actually comes out of the mold. It's not something you really want your competitors to look at before you are even in the market place.
The plug is now finished and has been "molded." Molded meaning they have wrapped the plug in fiberglass to create the negative and you can see them now "caging" the mold. This is a process where they will make a steel cage around the outside of the mold to insure that it holds it's correct shape over time. The cage is then tabbed to the mold and will be ready for shipment as soon as it is released from the plug.
The Bottom mold is complete now and has already shipped from Florida to California. It arrived at DCB last friday! Below we can see the mold has already been polished and waxed and was ready to build parts as soon as it was received!
In this pic you can see the caging on the side of the mold and where they wrapped fiberglass around the steel beams to bond the two together. You might also notice it's already on the truck and headed towards DCB in this pic.
Now it's time for the top of the boat to be tooled and molded! As we get our first look at the front of the boat we can see it's a wide tunnel narrow sponson design that has proven well for a lot of the East Coast Builders over the years. In the bottom pic you can see the CNC machine cutting the deck profile and hatches into the plug.
Our first look down the plug and see vision become reality.
You will notice a pink or purple coating in some of these pics, that is what is referred to as "Guide Coat." They will apply the guide coat and then begin sanding and it will show them slow spots and high spots in the plug. They will block sand and hand sand the plug to perfection before again wrapping it in fiberglass and creating the mold.
You can see a tremendous amount of progress has already been done on the top plug. Below you can see the rendering of the transom, and the transom now machined and coated ready to be sanded on. At the top of the pic you can barely see the details that were placed into the top hatches, and also take note of the edge details at the outside of the stair case! I am not entirely sure what that line behind the transom hatch is?
With the Plug nearly finished next will come the mold process and then caging. There's a few miscellaneous parts that are being tooled along side the top (hatches, center console etc..) DCB is expecting the top mold and individual molds to be wrapped up and in their hands by late February, which will put them on an extremely tight timeline to debut the first M37R at Desert Storm 2020 Street Fair! While that timeline is tight, their confidence is high that they will be able to accomplish the goal. According to Jeff Johnston they have already taken deposits on 5 new builds and are looking to fill slot # 6!!
We look forward to the unveiling at Desert Storm and look forward to testing the boat either during or shortly after the event!
For a Video (complete with watching the CNC machine the plug of the boat) Please watch the video below!
Photos : DCB
Words : RiverDave