So, more frustration with the prototype mat project. At least the prediction for the near future is for more swell...
The other day, Graeme from Plympton wrote, "Would it be rude to ask about I-beam heights/stagger, and how these compare to the fatty and 5GF?"
This is in reference to the new 4GF prototype. (And no, it's not particularly rude to ask. Cheeky maybe, but not rude.) It's hard to put my answer into words, but here goes...
Stagger refers to the height of the two main I-Beams relative to the overall thickness.
This means that a mat with smaller I-Beams has a lot of stagger. And a mat with larger I-Beams has low stagger. Each 4GF model has a unique stagger, based on practical, in-the-water testing. Generally speaking, wider mats work best with a lot of stagger, narrow mats work best with less stagger. The reasons why are too tangential to go into here.
The new prototype has a Fatty nose (which is moderately wide and has a lot of stagger) and a 5GF tail (which is very narrow with less stagger). I decided to use the the stagger that works best for each of these designs...which means the stagger is greater in the nose and less in the tail. We've never made a mat like that.
You can clearly see the nose has a lot of stagger, the tail less.
You can also see the taper of the overall width, as well as the narrowing of the bottom groove width in the tail. Who knows if this concoction will work? If it does, it could be a breakthrough. If it doesn't, it would be a confirmation that the current stock 4GF mats are pretty good as they are.
Trying new things now and then always nets a new perspective, even if it doesn't change things. About 7 or 8 years ago, George ordered 4 Standards from me. (Believe it or not, he's always paid for his mats.) He said, "I want to re-explore the stagger, just to see if we got it right."
So I made him 4 Standards, one with stock stagger, three with 1/8" increment changes in the I-Beam height.)
About 3 months later, he called to report which one he liked best...and it turned out it was the stock design that we had settled on back in the mid-80's. So, we didn't learn anything new...but at the same time, we gained even more confidence we had that aspect of the Standard design right.