LAKE PLACID - For Joe Moore, owner of Placid Boatworks, building pack canoes means everything. That's why, when a fire destroyed the company building 263 Station St. in January 2013, it was all the more damaging.
He didn't just lose a building and his boats, he temporarily lost his way of life - the ability to create boats. Moore had to restart his 10-year-old company from scratch, and he did, quickly.
"We lost 30 boats and lost the molds," Moore said. "Within a week, we were here bringing in things that were salvageable."
Joe Moore, owner of Placid Boatworks, with a canoe mold (Photo — Matthew Turner)
The company moved to the former Hunter Designs building on Cascade Road.
"Basically, we had to call customers in to bring in their boats," he said.
Moore used boats from his past customers to rebuild his molds, pouring resin and fiberglass around the boats' outer shells. It wasn't a bad deal for the customers who helped Moore out, as they each got a free boat out of the deal.
Placid Boatworks sells a selection of boats differing in size and weight. His 12-foot, 21-pound boat is called Spitfire, and the 15-foot, 26-pound model is called Rapidfire. Prior to the fire, the company made five different models of canoes and is currently working to re-establish the five-model catalog. Moore has several finished boats in stock. The company makes about 100 boats a year and ships them all over the country.
The molds look like bulky orange canoes. The inside is smooth to the touch, after being sandpapered and buffed. This is because the inside of the mold matches the outside of the boat when the product is complete.
"We build boats from the outside in," Moore said.
Moore starts by shaping the rails of the boat from a foam material, which is shaped by hand with saws. Then it gets a carbon and Kevlar sleeve wrapped around it.
Moore creates the boat after filling the mold with different material. Sheets of carbon and Kevlar fabric are layered to form the body. Carbon is the strongest of the materials used and is placed in the center of the boat to give it strength. Kevlar fabric, like the stuff used for bulletproof vests, is used throughout the boat.
Then the boat is covered with plastic, and tubing is attached around the outside. The tubes connect to a suction pump. Resin, in liquid form, is poured into the mold through the tubing and spreads across the boat's surface by way of the suction pump. It takes about 7 minutes to completely cover the boat. It binds the materials together 15 minutes later, after drying.
The alternative way to build a boat is to move the resin on the boat's shell manually with a squeegee and Tyvek suit and respirator. Moore can avoid that because the resin is kept in the plastic.
"We feel this is the right way to go," he said. "It takes extra time, but you get a better product."
This method of boat building creates a finished product that is more durable while remaining lightweight.
"This boat will last decades if treated right," Moore said, standing next to a boat he and his team were preparing to fill with resin.
For more information, visit www.placidboats.com.