340 Convertible — By Capt. Bill Pike
— May 2000
|Looking for a feisty little fish warrior? Check out the Luhrs 340 Convertible.|
Just the other day a friend of mine asked how long I'd been testing boats. It was an innocent, off-handed question that promptly produced a burst of gratitude--I mean, 13 years is a long time to be doing anything you really enjoy. A couple of revelations followed. First, I was struck by how much boats have changed since I started testing them in 1987, not only in terms of styling and design, but also in terms of construction and engineering. And second, I was struck by just how well a specific boat I'd recently tested in Stuart, Florida--the Luhrs 340 Convertible--illustrates where mainstream boatbuilding is these days and where it may be headed.
Not that scaled-down battlewagons are anything new. Over the years builders like Ocean, Albemarle, and Luhrs itself have offered several to the sportfishing public. But most of these vessels were only noteworthy by nature of their size--designed to resemble larger models, they often suffered from small interiors and fairly narrow cockpits. Such is not the case with the Luhrs 340, however. This thoroughly accoutered little fishing machine offers a beamy, full-bodied footprint and a lofty layout to go with it. Moreover, the 340 incorporates advances in construction and engineering that point to the next level of boatbuilding for Luhrs.
Consider the 340's construction. The basics are similar to what many production builders have been doing for the past decade or so. The hull bottom is solid glass, and the hull sides, decks, soles, and superstructure are cored with Baltek AL600/10 balsa. Longitudinal and transverse hull stiffeners are of glass-encapsulated marine ply, secondarily bonded. ISO-NPG resins are used throughout the laminates, with woven and some knitted fabrics. The hull-to-deck joint is secured with screws and tenacious 3M 5200 adhesive. While none of this is exactly groundbreaking technology, another feature of the 340's construction is something of an envelope-pusher--the extensive use of nonstructural, thermoform parts.
Thermoforming is an increasingly popular manufacturing technique, whereby thin, flat sheets of ABS plastic are placed over heated, male molds and drawn into place via numerous vacuum ports. When cool, the parts are pulled from their molds, trimmed, and usually used in cosmetic, semistructural applications like glove-box interiors and dashboard moldings. They are typically strong, resilient, good-looking, less bulky than fiberglass, and a lot lighter. In fact, Luhrs estimates that the use of thermoform components in the 340 reduced her displacement by a whopping 1,000 pounds.
Accounting for most of the weight savings are stowage bins and locker interiors in the master stateroom as well as in the practical "split head" just abaft it, a feature that allows one person to use the MSD while the other takes a shower in an entirely separate compartment. Luhrs introduced the split head in the late `80s on its 3400 Flybridge Motoryacht. Additional weight savings accrue in the saloon/galley area, where there's a large, thermoformed overhead rod-stowage locker (with a capacity for seven big rods or 11 smaller ones) and an attractive thermoformed valance system that keeps the window blinds from dangling and tangling. A multipurpose cabinet at the rear of the saloon on the starboard side also showcases the versatility of the technique. Inside, a complicated, elegantly molded thermoformed part protects and secures the nether regions of a whole raft of equipage, including a Paneltronics electrical panel, a set of Perko battery switches, a Black & Decker Space Saver coffee maker, and an optional Raritan icemaker.
This article originally appeared in the January 2003 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.