T-Belly Generation 2

What works and what doesn't. Share design ideas, references and contacts for paipo board builders.
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nomastomas
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T-Belly Generation 2

Unread post by nomastomas » Wed May 21, 2014 12:58 am

My name is Thomas Patrick (aka NomasTomas) and I'm a surfcraft builder by trade. While the majority of the surfcraft I build are longboards and "alternative" mid-length shapes, I continuue to be intrigued by belly boards and the challenges they present to designer/shaper/rider. I build no more than 1 or 2 T-Bellys a year, but I think about them a lot, some would say too much, given the ultra-low demand for these unquestionably "niche" shapes. And, of course I follow what other's are designing/building on this forum with great interest.

More recently, I have been building a lot of surfboards using EPS/epoxy construction. The ratio of volume to buoyancy with EPS is extremely attractive for riders over 170lbs (most of us are ways north of that mark I would guess) Less volume means thinner, more sensitive rail design, and less drag. But, less volume by way of EPS/epoxy construction can be more costly as compasred to standard polyurethane foam/polyester resin (PU/PE). Make no mistake, of all the prone-riding surfcraft that can be built, fiberglass-over-foam-core boards are probably the most expensive. But, they also accommodate a variety of possible design features that in some cases, e.g. bottom contours, foil, etc can only be accompolished using this medium. Other builders on this forum have experimented with EPS/epoxy construction with some success.

So, with all this in mind, I set out to revise my "T-Belly" belly board. My design goals were to reduce volume, i.e. thinner, shorter, than my previous design based upon Larry Goddard's work. (standing on the shoulders of a giant here) I also wanted to incorporate some bottom contours from my mini-Simmons variant, the Mini-Widget. (Note: there are in fact several design features shared by both my T-BellyG2 and my sub-6ft Mini-Widget, which can also be seen in my mid-length "Widget".) Using fins in conjunction with bottom contours to control water flow a la Campbell Bros Bonzer, has always intrigued me, as well as Max McDonald's concept of the elevated wing for radically altering rocker at the rail. I planned to apply both of these concepts to the TBG2. The Bonzer side runners are ideal belly board fins due to their low aspect ratio which presents a very low frontal exposure (less drag) but a long base for drive and hold. Lastly, I wanted to reduce cost by designing a shape that woud not require a full-sized "fish" blank. The solution here came from the almost too obvious choice of a standard bodyboard core (in eps) from Marko Foam. The biggest problem with the bodyboard core is its lack of rocker. The solution to this design problem was the use of a wide-point behind center, narrow nose outline with plenty of "belly" or convex curve in the bottom front third of the board. Finally, I wanted to save weight by not having a stringer in the blank. This raised questions about the risk to the structural integrity of the blank that going "stringer-less" might create. I have the good fortune of shaping in an environment that produces SUPs. I won't bore you with my anti-SUP rant, but I do acknowledge that SUP construction in the USA is on the cutting edge of the whole lightness-plus-strength movement. Here I borrowed the use of VectorNet, a Kevlar netting in a nylon filament, added to the lamination to provide torsional strength while maintaining minimum weight.

I have to acknowledge the long phone conversations I had with my customer Daryl D. in Oregon. The conversations helped me to solidify my thinking on design and board sizing, and particularly concerning the use of Bonzer side runners. This board is a true prototype, from which I hope to learn more about such things as proper board-sizing, fin configuration (maybe finless?), durability of materials, more flex/less flex. etc
Attachments
TPS43TBG2_deck5.JPG
TPS43TBG2_bot1.JPG
TBG2x_Build3.JPG
VectorNet under 6oz E-cloth
TBG2x_Build2.JPG
VectorNet up close
TBG2x_Build1.JPG
VectorNet laid over bottom.
Last edited by nomastomas on Wed May 21, 2014 11:21 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: T-Belly Generation 2

Unread post by nomastomas » Wed May 21, 2014 11:16 am

More photos...
Attachments
TPS43TBG2_deck1.JPG
Added double leash cups to accommodate right- or left-handed riders. May also use as anchors for grip strap.
TPS43TBG2_bot4.JPG
TPS43TBG2_bot5.JPG
Close-up of e-wing
TPS43TBG2_foil2.JPG
Hullish up-rail in nose, with down rail in last 18"
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Re: T-Belly Generation 2

Unread post by bgreen » Wed May 21, 2014 4:11 pm

Thomas,

Thanks for posting the photos and good to see you are experimenting with design. What are the dimensions of the board and how many layers of glass? Could you also post a standing planshape photo?

Bob

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Re: T-Belly Generation 2

Unread post by nomastomas » Wed May 21, 2014 11:14 pm

Actually, Bob, every belly board I have built has been an experiment. This time it was more "premeditated" :D
Dims: 43"L 18-1/2" x 22-1/4"@16-3/4" up from tail x 22" Thickness 2-1/8"/2-1/4" (centerline/rail) Tailblock is 18" and nose is about 8". Nr=2-3/8" TR=7/8" I used 2lb density EPS foam. Glass schedule is two layers 4oz E-cloth deck, and layer VectorNet and one layer 6oz E-cloth bottom. Sanded-gloss coat.
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IMG_1078.JPG
After first session at Pitas Point, CA, 3-4ft mix SW ground swell/NW windswel.
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Re: T-Belly Generation 2

Unread post by SJB » Thu May 22, 2014 10:11 am

Nice looking board.
Questions:
1. EPS is a new concept to me. Is there a short answer as to pros and cons? I am particularly wondering about performance and ding repair.
2. I love my off the rack Austin which is 50 inches lenght and I am 165 pounds. I see your board is 43 inches for someone larger than me. Thoughts? Perhaps the EPS construction gives it more float or?
3. Looks like the fins are permanently attached. Yes? How does this work for air travel?
4. Price for a custom bodyboard? I am 68 and maybe in the mood for a new board one of these days if I don't wear out first.
Thanks from Santa Barbara.

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Re: T-Belly Generation 2

Unread post by nomastomas » Thu May 22, 2014 8:58 pm

I'll try to keep this brief...
1. Expanded Poly Styrene (EPS) is what many people call "styrofoam" or "beer cooler" foam. The density of EPS is graded by the weight of 1
cubic foot of foam. In other words, 1'x1'x1' block of 1lb eps foam will weigh 1 lb. EPS has a different cell structure from polyurethane (PU) foam
(standard surfboard foam). The cells in PU foam share cell walls, while in EPS foam cells make up tiny hollow beads. These beads are
compressed together in a mold to produce a block of foam. Its the air within and between the hollow beads that gives EPS is added
buoyancy.The higher the density, the more closely the beads are packed together, the less buoyant and the more resistant to water absorption.
EPS foam "feels" to me like its 20%-30% more buoyant than PU foam. Performance advantages are what you would expect from less volume in a
surfcraft, e.g. quicker response due to lower mass, thinner rails for better water penetration, etc. Polyester resin, like Solarez, will melt
EPS foam, so ding repair must be done with Epoxy resin only. EPS, especially the lower densities, will "suck" in water, so your surf session
is over when you get a ding. And, care must be taken to remove any water drawn into the blank after damage and before re-sealing.

2. When I started designing belly boards 4 yrs ago, I took Goddard's specs and tweaked them to my liking. I can see similarities in outline and volume in Austin's belly boards compared to my first generation T-Bellys, although, the TB has more functional contours on both bottom and deck. I started with a 4'3" length (51") but found that length to be uncomfortable for me (at 5'10"/185lb 66yr) to kick paddle while in the best planing position. My prone riding experince goes back over 30yr to the first Morey Boogie boards. My current boogie board is a 41.5" Morey Mach 77. I'm accustomed to kick-paddling from a position on the board which also offers the best planing efficiency (maybe an inch or two away). No major positional adjustment needed after dropping in. Also, at 51" I was unable to reach the nose comfortably, and had to hold the board at the rails, again alien to my boogie boarding experience. Based on my experience, I figured that volume-wise, the Mach 77 was sufficient, and I used its volume as a base to design the TBG2. The difference in performance between the bulky TBG1 and the TBG2 is like the difference between longboarding and shortboarding. I've always sat on my body boards in between sets, primarily to rest my back. On my 77 and on the early TBs, while sitting, I would sink the board until the water level came to my navel. On the G2, the water level is almost chest-high when I'm sitting on it. But, I find the G2 no more difficult to paddle, but much easier to duck-dive. Speed on the wave and rail-to-rail response is vastly improved on the G2. Again, think LB vs. SB.

3. Fins are removable FCS. There is a huge assortment of FCS-based fin on the market. I prefer twin or quad set-ups, to single-fin or 2+1. They offer the best combination of speed and hold, hands down.

4. Belly boards are comparable in price to shortboards, somewhere in the $400-$500 range, depending upon extras, like fin set up, color, etc. I have to use a US Blanks 5-10RP fish blank to get the thickness, width and most importantly, the rocker I need. I always discuss the advantages of a good, $200 pro-quality soft-foam bodyboard with prospective customers. Spending $400-$500 on a bodyboard is no trivial matter, and I want them to be aware of their choices. That being said, I am convinced that I can build a high performance belly board for under $400. To do so, that board must be under 46" in length. This size limit is based on the use of the Marko Foam Bodyboard Core in EPS, which costs 60% less than the 6-1 Marko Pescado EPS blank. There are things I can do as a shaper to increase the volume but not exceed that 46". For example, the current G2 I'm riding is 21L, but I can go up to 30L without changing the outline or bottom contours.
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Re: T-Belly Generation 2

Unread post by SJB » Thu May 22, 2014 10:13 pm

Thanks for taking the time Nomas.
Over on the sale section of this forum....right now..... Ted has his custom made 44 inch Austin for sale.....and he states "Low volume board suitable for a lighter rider (80-130 pounds)."
I don't want to put words in Ted's mouth....but I do not believe he was happy with this length board.
I am not much of a techie....and if I had to guess....I am thinking your smaller length board must offer additional volume over Ted's so you get the float you want for putting all four appendages to work. I surmise this because you are a bigger guy than either Ted or myself.
I do think I am going to stay away from EPS....I say this primarily because the prospect of a fracture or some such ding sucking up water does not appeal.
Thanks again....next time I am up Ojai way I will call for a visit to your shop.

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Re: T-Belly Generation 2

Unread post by nomastomas » Fri May 23, 2014 12:41 am

No, actually I hate to arm paddle on a body board. Feels too awkward to me. And I really don't like the feel of "corky" boards either; not in body boards or surfboards. But that's just my personal preference. I couldn't help but notice that the rear 2/3 of the G2 is under water when I'm paddling, yet it doesn't feel slow or bogging. I have talked with many classic paipo riders, who bemoan the lack of buoyancy of their craft, but love the flat out speed they have once in the wave. They also wish that they had better turning and not so much side-slipping. My G2 attempts to match the speed of the paipo, but offer more buoyancy and more turning response and hold. My shop is actually in Camarillo. Let me know if you'd like to take the G2 for a test spin sometime. I've found Pitas at low-tide to be a good spot. Maybe Hobson at low-tide as well. That goes for anyone out there who might be interested. I could use some more "test pilots".
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Re: T-Belly Generation 2

Unread post by SJB » Fri May 23, 2014 9:59 am

Thanks again Nomas. I have never gone out at Pitas Point. Launch off that rip rap shelf looks tricky if any size on it....only ever eyeballed it when by myself and color me hesitant. Now that you mention it however.....I do remember seeing your truck in the Faria Beach parking lot on one occasion this past year. Might be a modest swell coming in Wed/Thurs. I will PM you as we get closer for your consideration.

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Re: T-Belly Generation 2

Unread post by nomastomas » Fri May 23, 2014 11:40 am

RIDE REPORT:

For its maiden voyage, I took the TBG2 to a local right-point break. This particular wave is known for its long, head-high freight-train rights when the NW Winter ground-swells roll down the California coast. In the spring, Pitas catches the local NW wind-swells, which while lacking the size, have the same speedy walls. The take-off here is intimidating for someone lacking the quick twitch muscles of a 20-something. I've been unceremoniously pitched more than once on my 7-3 Widget at this very spot. On this day, it was chest-shoulder high, and a little lumpy from the onshore Santa Barbara Channel winds. The combination of small-size, and nearly close-out conditions resulted in an empty line-up. The tide was low and just turning, so I fished for surf-pearch for an hour, killing time while I waited for the rising tide push, and hoping that the onshore wind wouldn't increase. An hour so after the tide changed, the surf was still lackluster, but I noticed a few small rights peeling down the Point. With low-expectations, I walked through the campground, heading for the drainage ditch that forms a pathway through the rip-rap break water to the north and the 15' residential seawall to the south, and down to the beach. With leash attached, I made my way through the waist-high boulders in the shore break and paddled out to the empty lineup. First off, I noticed how easy it was to duck-dive the TBG2. Easier than my Mach 77, which tends to bend when being pushed under, and much easier than the TBG1, whose buoyancy makes duck-diving a real wrestling match. Once outside, I noticed that a short-boarder had decided to join me. As I waited, he paddled into a position about 15yds south and a little inside of me. I waited for a set wave, and was soon rewarded with a peaky, chest-high right. Kicking hard, I dropped in as the lip was pitching, making my turn as I dropped. The G2 carved down the face, stuck the landing and then immediately accelerated down the line, whizzing past hissing sections that would have been unmake-able on any other surfcraft I have ridden. Suddenly, I flew out onto a soft shoulder, and instinctively cranked a cutback back into the foam. The G2 came around smoothly, and precisely, with no spin-out or wash-out. Watching the wave start to steepen again, I turned to my right and once more the G2 took off across the steepening section. This time I pulled my self about an inch forward and gained a little more speed. Soon the wave began to hollow out and before I could react, I ran straight into a closed-out section in front of me. Re-surfacing I noticed that I was in waist-high water, about 50yds from where I dropped in, judging by where the SBer still sat. I was totally, but pleasantly surprised to have traveled so far, so fast. As I paddled back outside, the SBer caught a similar wave, but by the time he had gotten to his feet and made his turn, the wave had closed-out in front of him. He struggled a bit in the whitewater, trying to break out, onto the wave face, but eventually gave up. I stayed out until the tide rose to a level where exiting at the seawall was still possible. I got many similar waves and had a blast, despite the small wave size and lackluster conditions.

The G2 paddled well, and caught waves as easy as any prone craft I have ridden. It was very fast, much faster than I had anticipated. It turned well,felt very responsive and held into the wave face. My only complaint was the seemingly inability of the board to climb up the wave face in hollow conditions. As the inside section would start to throw, I was stuck at the bottom of the wave. I think the short height and extreme cant of the Bonzer side runners may be at fault here. Especially since I'm not using the 6" center fin that normally goes withth Bonzer set-up. I'll switch to a smaller quad set, like the True Ames Timmy Patterson Quad set and test. Maybe they'll provide a little more traction? I also have a set of "split-keel" quad fins from Shapers Fins (similar to Speed Dialer & Future Controllers) and a set of asymmetric keel fins, but I think they may be too much fin for smaller conditions. The other thing I noticed was that I could feel the flex/compression in the tip 2"-3" of the nose as I tightened my grip. I left the nose just wide enough to be gripped by my two hands, and thinned it out to maybe 1/2" as I brought the bottom up to the deck to maximize rocker. I had pulled in the nose to compensate for the lack of rocker, and never once came close to pearling. The other advantage of the pulled in nose is the lack of water flying off the front rail and into your face as you lean the rail into the wave face that you get on wide-point forward boards. I may have to reinforce this area with a carbon fiber patch on future models. I ended the session feeling more stoke than I have for some time, and looking forward to bigger waves.
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Re: T-Belly Generation 2

Unread post by SJB » Fri May 23, 2014 4:15 pm

Sweet narrative. Got my motor running just reading it!

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Re: T-Belly Generation 2

Unread post by bgreen » Fri May 23, 2014 6:49 pm

Thomas,

I've mostly surfed finless or small twin-finned paipo but recently bought a bonzer paipo. It's about 53" and I'm the same height as you. The board was intended to replicate one of Robert Moynier's.

My first impressions are the bnzer needs some juice. I've wondered about the cant of the keels. One day I'm try them with a straight pair of fins. Getting the fin settings right seems a complex issue. Robert tells me minor adjustments to the centre fin makes a major difference. I'd like to try a smaller centre fin. I've not found climbing up the face a problem, but if I attempted to draw too long a bottom turn it tracked a little. This could just be me trying to ride the bottom as I would my other boards. The other thing about paipos is that they tend to like to ride higher in the wave rather than at the base.

I agree that finding the minimal necessary volume is important.

Bob

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Re: T-Belly Generation 2

Unread post by karuhi » Fri May 23, 2014 8:39 pm

very cool board review there thomas, pleased to hear the board put a smile on ya dial. thats what its all about. certainly got me enthusiastic to get my little project in the water. will be interested in hearing some other guys reviews on riding it and some pics of the beast in water would be great. i have another eps blank here that i'm going to do another build on as soon as i've finished this one, but am going to try it with different bottom contours, and after looking at your shape maybe i'll try a different shape as well. thanks for the thread and please keep us all informed. justin

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Re: T-Belly Generation 2

Unread post by nomastomas » Sat May 24, 2014 1:09 pm

Bob - I think all surfcraft need to spend time in the upper third of the wave-face, not just prone craft. This is where the most power is located, power translates into speed, and speed is required to execute most surfcraft maneuvers. (The mistake that I see some surfers make is that they stay at the bottom of the wave. Little or no energy there, and they soon bog down.) Additional speed can be generated with the help of gravity as the board descends the wave-face. The power from the descending speed is then used to turn/drive back up the face, where the process can be repeated, or other maneuvers performed, e.g. lip hit, floater, etc or, as is the case in critical sections, speed can be simply maintained by trimming in the upper-third of the wave. However, when the upper-third of the wave starts to "throw" or go past vertical, the rider must pick a much lower line, say half-way up. On the wave in question, re-adjusting my line, I mistakenly let the G2 drift too far down the face, and once there and with the wave throwing, I couldn't seem to get it back up into the pocket. Might have been the fins, but might have been rider technique or that I was as high as I could get in this little 3' barreling section. A different set of fins should tell the tale.

Justin - like the work you did shaping the "Starship". The shop rats where I shape would be fighting over it as a stand-up board. Get that thing in the water!!
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Re: T-Belly Generation 2

Unread post by Poobah » Sat May 24, 2014 3:26 pm

I think extra glass on the deck side of the nose is good prentative design. Think of it as a deck patch for your thumbs.

You haven't said much about the concave on the tail. How deep is it?
Last edited by Poobah on Mon May 26, 2014 3:45 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: T-Belly Generation 2

Unread post by Cuttlefish » Sat May 24, 2014 3:56 pm

I was experiencing similar problems with my prone board.
Trying to climb back up the face on hollower waves was difficult.
Took it to the local ding repair shop and the ding repairer and he's son who builds his own alaias put their heads together and made some changes.
They put a hard edge on the bottom of the rail from the tail through to near the nose.
If that didn't work the next step was to reshape the rail with much less foam in it.
The rail is very blocky at present.
I also had them install fcs plugs in a twinzer placement so now I can run the board as a twinzer.
I use fcs curves in the rear plugs and bonzer sides in the front twinzer plugs.
These changes helped a lot.
Here's a link to the board before the modifications with its original chine rail.
http://mypaipoboards.org/forum3/viewtop ... 5&start=20
Can't post pics so no pics of the latest re-incarnation.
Suprised you've made your rails so full.
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Re: T-Belly Generation 2

Unread post by rodndtube » Sat May 24, 2014 6:50 pm

Thomas, many thanks for your detailed discussion, as a designer, shaper AND rider. Also great to hear you being upfront about your personal preferences... which provides useful context to the discussion.

I was a bit surprised the G2 does not yield more liters of displacement. Especially since it used a stringerless EPS cores. Does the fiber (VectorNet, a Kevlar netting in a nylon filament) add much weight to the glass job and how does it compare in strength to the 6- or 8-oz S-cloth (strong, but bends before breaks)?

Maybe I missed it but how does the "float" differ from your Morey Boogie 7+7? I always found most boogie boards to be more floaty than my baseline Austin-style board.

One last comment... the G2 appears to have a lot of nose rocker in addition to lots of belly. The belly should certainly cut through the cross shop on larger, open ocean waves.

As with anything... plan shape, rocker, rails, fins... every design tweak compromises the ideal of another goal!
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Re: T-Belly Generation 2

Unread post by OG-AZN » Sat May 24, 2014 8:01 pm

Thomas-
You should take the fins off that board and go for some test surfs to compare. Your board is very bodyboard like in overall proportions and outline, seems like you could go without fins. Your experience with the board getting stuck in the wrong place in the barrel is very similar to my original experiences with finned paipos as a kid. Does the board have any "give" or flex when you ride it prone? Nice work and looks like a fun ride. Would love to try it without fins as a prone board, and with fins as a dropknee board. Never down in your area though.

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Re: T-Belly Generation 2

Unread post by bgreen » Sun May 25, 2014 5:53 am

Thomas,

I showed my bonzer to a long-term kneeboarder and one of the first things he said, like Cuttlefish, was to add a resin edge. You've identified a couple of other options to explore first, fins and the rider.

I had a surf today that ranged from fairly fat point like waves, hollow shore break through to fullish beach break. I stayed out for a fair while and moved around a bit. The board was a bonzer 5 (but I removed the two forward fins to see how it rode). These different wave types really highlighted how the bonzer liked the power of the hollow shorebreak and struggled more on the fuller, less powerful waves. Is it possible, the difficulty climbing up the face occurred on hollow, but not so powerful waves?

Finding the optimal placement on the bonzer could be a full time job.

Bob

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Re: T-Belly Generation 2

Unread post by karuhi » Sun May 25, 2014 6:30 am

sorry for stomping on your thread Thomas hope you don't mind - but how could i add a hard resin edge at the gloss coat stage. board is all epoxy - but i've glossed with poly. can i tape an edge now and fill it?? - what about strength? - roving in it?

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