MACGREGOR 26

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HOT NEWS:   After 58 years of production, and 38,000 sailboats, the MacGregors are retiring.  Production of the MacGregor 26 has been discontinued.   Our daughter and son in law, Laura and Paul Sharp, have opened a new boat building business in Stuart, Florida, and are manufacturing a boat similar to our MacGregor 26.        Contact them at  tattooyachts.com 

 

 

For all of the details about our retirement, and for the full MacGregor 26 website, click here.

 

 

 

 

MACGREGOR 26 CONSTRUCTION

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The MacGregor 26 is built to outlast all of us. Each boat is built of individual layers of fiberglass fabrics, laid in place by hand, in a carefully controlled process. Hulls and decks are light, but strong, with extra reinforcement at all high stress points.
Most of our competitors use "chopper guns" to build their boats. These are devices for spraying a mixture of resin and very short strands of fiberglass. We don't use them, even though they reduce cost. They do not, in our opinion, give adequate impact strength or controllable hull and deck thickness. They result in heavy laminates with low fiberglass to resin ratios, accounting for much of the excess weight found in many competitorís boats. Light weight is the key to easy trailering and to high performance.
 
We have stayed away from sandwich construction. Most of the failures of fiberglass hulls involve the rot or delamination of balsa or foam core materials. We use only solid fiberglass laminates in the 26's hull. If exposed to water for long periods, balsa coring material can rot and literally turn to soup, causing major structural problems. Balsa is fine, in our opinion, for decks and structures that are not constantly immersed in water, as long as there is no balsa near holes for hardware. Foam cores are also widely used for stiffening hulls, however, they offer less than 200 pounds of adhesion per square inch. That is not much better than rubber cement. It takes over 2500 lbs per square inch to delaminate the resin bonds that hold our hull laminates together.
 
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Production begins by spraying the exterior color (polyester gel coat) on a highly polished and waxed 3 ton hull mold cavity. The waterline and accent stripes are also sprayed on at this point. In building a fiberglass boat, the first thing you actually make is the exterior paint job. The rest of the hull is laid up against the inside of this paint (gelcoat) layer.
 
 
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Initial hull layup (26X)
 
Alternating layers of fiberglass fabrics are then applied. Each layer is saturated with polyester resin and all air and excess resin is removed with brushes and squeegees. The resin is then allowed to harden before the next layer is applied. One of the benefits of fiberglass construction is that the thickness can be made to vary (by adding additional layers) to match the stresses that each area encounters. For example, where the rudders and chainplates are attached, many extra layers are added to distribute the loads thru the hull. The resulting laminates are of the highest quality.
 
 
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The cured hull is then removed from the mold.   In the case of the hulls, water is injected between the hull and its mold to literally float the hull free from the mold. Each part comes out with a high gloss and molded in black stripes. All the fiberglass parts are built in precision molds in the same manner as the hull.
 
 
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Here is the deck being removed from its mold.   The window accent color and the non-skid deck surfaces are molded in.  the deck liners have already been bonded in place.  (This picture shows the deck of a 26X.)

These are the fiberglass parts that make up the boat. At the left is the hull, still in its mold. Notice that the water tank and daggerboard trunk are molded in as part of the hull. Next is the deck, the deck liners, and the hull liner. On the right are the rudders, daggerboard, galley parts, hatches and other smaller parts.

 
 
 
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After the parts are removed from their molds, they are trimmed. When the parts are moved into assembly, they are predrilled for hardware, using elaborate hole locating fixtures. Hardware is then bolted in place. Most hardware is attached before the hull and deck are joined together, to make for easier assembly. Even so, you can easily get at all the nuts and bolts later on if necessary. All items are thru bolted, with large backup washers under the nuts.  You will notice that other boats have lots of nuts and bolts showing on the inside, looking a bit mechanical. On the MacGregor 26, the nuts are hidden behind small covers that match the interior gel coat color. The result is a smoother, more finished interior.
 
The hull and deck are joined with 3/16" bolts on 4" centers. Top grade adhesive is used to insure a watertight seal. Many builders use screws or pop rivets for this joint. Bolts are better. Our bolted hull to deck joining system is strong, but compact, and adds little to the width of the boat. Many of our competitors use wide joining flanges, which contribute a lot to their beam, but add very little to strength or usable inside space.
 

Automated router sytem 

We use automation wherever possible to reduce costs and improve quality.  Here you see a computer controlled router carving out a wooden master "plug" from which rudder molds are made.

 

Hull plug

This is the full size mockup, or "plug," that was used to make the production molds for the boat.  The shapes were cut on a computer controlled router.  The plug has to be absolutely perfect.  If there is a flaw on the surface, the flaw will be transferred to the production molds and then to the parts produced from those molds.  Molds are layed up over the plug in much the same manner as a fiberglass hull is layed up in a mold, except that the molds are much heavier.

 

Deck plug
 
 
This is the plug for the deck.  It is complete down to the non-skid surfaces that will eventually  become part of the mold and the finished production parts.   One of the big tricks is to prepare the surface of the plug so that the molds can be removed without damaging the plug.  We use a lot of high quality wax and thin sprayed on parting agents to permit easy release.
 
We are building and selling a lot of these boats. A new one comes out of the plant door every 4 hours. They are being shipped in containers all over the world.