What goes into a Grady
Grady-White has a reputation for building strong, stiff sea boats using proven techniques. While you won’t find vacuum-bagged hulls with vinylester resins or Kevlar-reinforced keels, the North Carolina company has a track record of building them right.
Hulls and decks are laid up by hand using knitted and woven fiberglass fabrics. A couple layers of 1-1/2-ounce knitted fiberglass mat are layered on top of gelcoat in the mold, and that is built upon using bi- and tridirectional woven fiberglass mat.
Fiberglass chop is used only in some small, non-structural parts, says Grady-White sales and marketing director Joey Weller.
End-grain balsa coring is used on the hull sides above the waterline on boats with more than 8 feet, 6 inches of beam. Balsa coring is used on certain parts of the decks, too.
Grady-White uses temperature-controlled blended polyester resin that is measured and metered to guarantee the correct resin-to-glass ratio. “With the combination of our gelcoat and our process controls, we don’t see a great benefit to using vinylester resins,” says Grady-White compliance manager Jim Hardin, adding that room-temperature curing makes the difference even less appreciable.
“If you do your gelcoat right and your gelcoat is compatible with your resins, you won’t have blistering problems,” says Hardin. Most builders that say they use vinylester resins are using a blend that is mostly polyester anyway, he says.
Stringer systems are constructed of Perma Panel pressure-treated plywood cut on a computerized router and glassed in place while the hull is in its mold. Closed-cell polyurethane foam is sprayed between the stringers, providing strength and rigidity, as well as flotation and sound dampening. An inch of foam is sprayed on fishboxes and live wells for insulation, but the painted aluminum fuel tanks aren’t foamed-in to avoid trapping moisture.
All Grady-White boats have basic foam flotation, Weller says, and those smaller than 20 feet have level flotation. Larger Gradys get Prisma foam-cored fiberglass stringers to take out some unnecessary weight.
“Our boats are not very light, and we tend to overbuild them,” says Weller. “It helps the ride.”
Transoms are built with several layers of Perma Panel laminated together with fiberglass, and a heavy-duty aluminum brace distributes engine torque across the transom.
Grady-White also uses closed-molding processes and has been doing so for more than 15 years, says Hardin. This includes the resin transfer molding process used on fishbox lids, hardtops and bow pulpits.
Among other materials used to build Grady-White boats are Spray Core, a putty-like synthetic resin with fillers that is used to bond backing plates in the decks; weather-resistant polyethylene for such components as toe rails, rod racks and other trim work; through-bolted 316 stainless steel hardware; and chrome-over-bronze through-hull fittings.
Now that you know what goes into a Grady, what keeps them together? Decks are joined to hulls in a shoebox configuration, with the deck fitting over a flange on the hull. Stainless steel screws, stainless steel blindside fasteners, an adhesive sealer and a 3M sealant are used to bond the two pieces, then the rubrail is screwed into place over the joint.
Grady-White hulls carry a five-year, non-prorated, transferable warranty.