Category: design

Aberration; Powerplant design

In my prior blog on Aberration I promised to write a discussion on the propulsion system and the whole powerplant design. It is probably most useful to describe the whole powerplant design process to see how things eventually came together. That makes it a long story, but should be an interesting opportunity to go down… Read more »

Aberration; an Update and Personal Critique

Since my blog on Aberration in October last year, the concept has come to life and is now operating to a level where I can ponder my brilliance (right) and mistakes. As a designer it is particularly interesting and cathartic to find yourself on the receiving end of the design. I often write blogs to… Read more »

Hybrid Propulsion; Stinkpotting for Raghaulers

  Due to the fact that my wife became wheelchair bound recently, I am in the middle of the design and construction of a 35 foot hybrid propulsion wheel chair friendly catamaran. Together with the boat design and construction masters of Scarano boats, I am converting a 1996 medium to high performance 35 foot sailing… Read more »

The Unpredictability of Innovation in Wheelchair Use

Standard wheelchairs have not changed in decades. It is a chair with wheels and has foot pads to support a person’s feet and to keep them from dragging on the ground. The foot pads are actually quite complicated, because they need to flip away when the person is being seated or stands up and they… Read more »

Build a Little, Test a Little and Learn a Lot; A Waterpomptang story

  Note: The Waterpomptang family is fictitious and occasionally a Waterpomptang story appears on the M&O website. Some say their adventures resemble real events, but that is just a coincidence.   It was early morning at Watt & Fulton’s office above the BuyLo Packy in Red Bank. After the VC investors had overcome their initial… Read more »

The Jeep Stick; I’ll Take Accidental Perfection Any Day

This will be a longer story, but it tells how random timing, the passage of time, weird coincidences, sticking with what works, and a sense of fun, can result in overall near perfection. The story starts in 1995, and Martin & Ottaway had just moved from New York City to Red Bank. The move to… Read more »

Is It Possible to Argue about Taste?

  A long time ago I enjoyed a Car Talk episode where a listener asked Click and Clack what car he should buy for a cross country road trip. Click and Clack right away started making suggestions about late 1960’s or early 1970’s great American cruisers. Their argument was simple. Those cars are not expensive,… Read more »

Grace in the Details Kills Bike Helmets

Design is complicated, but often we try to explain it in a quick catchy phrase. There is a saying: “The Devil is in the Details”. Mies van der Rohe is often credited with flipping the concept upside down by saying: “God is in the Details”. Regardless, it means that if you do not pay attention… Read more »

Sergio Marchionne, An Appreciation of a Leader

I have always had an odd fascination with Chrysler. The whole story is too long to get into, but it relates to my Mother first seeing value in Chrysler stock and timing the ups and downs like Paganini on a violin, and my days at Chrysler’s Highland Parks Tech Center working with Chrysler engineers on… Read more »

Patenting and Copyrighting Great Ideas

My wife posted this picture on my Facebook page. I copy it here because the picture made me think, and that led me right into a patent and copyright approach that I have been toying with for a number of years. First of all, I could not figure out where the picture came from (who owns it), but… Read more »

Brilliant Black

My friend Danny had to take his Black Jack wooden inboard Jersey sea skiff to the Sea Bright NJ Marine Police Barracks to get it titled. David’s Diesel Jeep Cherokee lease was almost up and it had not yet towed anything of substance. Furthermore, it was a nice day, which made it unfair for my dog Harris to… Read more »

The Delightful Frustration of Cruise Ship Power Plant Design

Last year I was contacted by the Philadelphia Section papers chairman of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, who asked if I could make a presentation at a joint ASME, SNAME, SAME section meeting in Philadelphia on January 24, 2017. I told him that, in principle, I would love to do that, but wondered what subject… Read more »

Good News About Sustainable Energy

When we talk about efficiencies it often becomes difficult to figure out who benefits from the efficiency. Airlines may be as efficient as they can be (spend the least amount on wages and fuel per passenger moved) but that does not mean that airline travel is efficient for the passengers. They may stand in long… Read more »

Rattling the Cage of Preconceived Notions in Design

It is always important to ask “why” about every detail in every design, since bad design imposes a penalty on every user for the life of the bad design. Bad design can hang around forever even if good design exists. I often ask “why?” when I am forced to use a badly designed cleat on a boat… Read more »

Project 114, Research Vessel Optimization

This is a Guest Blog by our U. Mich summer intern Sam Edwards. I was handed off progress on Project 114 by a previous intern in the office. He had added in a feature to plot the sections of files that were input to the “Hydro2A” calc engine as well as started the design of… Read more »

Thoughts on Convoying Fuel Efficiencies

The Maxi Taxi concept describes the advantages of convoying in saving fuel during highway travel. Cars that closely follow each other can achieve impressive reductions in total air drag. Air drag is the leading overall drag component at higher speeds and therefore represents the lion’s share of a car’s fuel consumption at speed. Air drag… Read more »

Project 114 and Student Use.

Project 114 is an innovative approach to engineering computations that is being developed for SNAME by Steve Hollister. In essence, it will be a suit of basic NAME computer programs that run on an Excel input/output backbone. This approach is quite powerful and runs a careful middle ground between large, canned, NAME program suites and home grown NAME computer… Read more »

SWATH, The Art Of Compromise

M&O has worked on both the implementation and the failure analysis on quite a number of SWATH (Small Waterplane Area Twin Hull) projects in the last decades. SWATH vessels hold great promise and continue to intrigue naval architects and potential ship purchasers. When we first became involved in SWATHs, as far back as 1981 with… Read more »

Feedback: Here’s Your Sign.

Life is complicated, and designing to deal with life’s complications is difficult. Unfortunately bad design unnecessarily punishes humanity by increasing inefficiencies and frustrations. Design mistakes get made, and sometimes the mistakes cannot be easily corrected. However, it is difficult to imagine anything more destructive to humanity than bad design that affects many people that can… Read more »

Great Design Is No Joke

True or not, this joke is attributed to Abraham Lincoln: A farmer’s young son comes running into the house. Out of breath he says: “Pa, Pa, the hired hand and Sis are in the hayloft. The hired hand has dropped his pants and Sis has pulled up her skirt! Pa, I think they are fixin’… Read more »

Sprawl, the Infrastructure Trap, and A Real World Solution (Maxi Taxi 9)

A Time magazine article by Leigh Gallagher highlights a problem that we deal with on a daily basis but that pretty much stays just below our awareness horizon. In the article Mr. Gallagher describes a professional epiphany of a town engineer with regard to town planning codes that exhibits itself as suburban sprawl. The issue… Read more »

New Jersey Makes, The World Takes

The actual slogan is “Trenton Makes, the World Takes”, and even in that form it is still a pretty weird slogan. The slogan originated very early in the 20th century when Trenton, NJ just about made anything, and it is supposed to mean: “Trenton makes the stuff that the rest of the world buys”. I… Read more »

NAME Computer Programs In The “I Am Not Dead Yet” Category

As a naval architect and marine engineer I have slowly drifted into a bizarre conundrum that actually may be an industry wide problem that is ripe for an industry wide solution. What I am talking about is a loss of all those really great NAME engineering computer programs that were developed in the 70’s, 80’s… Read more »

Better Ship Electric Arrangements

The SNAME annual meeting is a high speed knowledge exchange fest and the last annual meeting in Seattle may quite possibly have been the best one yet. I always get the printed version of the proceedings and leaf through the papers on the flight home. My proceedings need to be the printed versions because I… Read more »

Is There a New Wind Blowing In Technology? Is It Efficiopunk?

The march of technology is not a straight line. It can take leaps (internet), occasionally stop completely (dark ages), depend on big project steps and raw power (Apollo), or occasionally it seems to do a jitterbug and move all over the place at the same time. When it jitterbugs it seems the world belongs to… Read more »

Are Five Foot Wide Maxi Taxi Roads The End Of Driving Fun?

Some people pondering five foot wide roads (or, at best, roads a little wider than 60 inches) populated with Maxi Taxis may think it would spell the end of driver excitement. Personally, having owned a Triumph Spitfire (57 inches wide) and always having coveted the original Mini Coopers  (55 inches wide), I doubt that is actually the… Read more »

Hyperloop and Maxi Taxi

In our office, we often discuss the pros and cons of new tech.  So when Elon Musk’s new Hyperloop preliminary design study came out on Monday, it was an obvious source of discussion. While some of us (*cough* Rik) have some doubts about the Hyperloop concept, we can agree that a very attractive design could… Read more »

Paddlewheelers, Salvors and Designers

On the way to a paddle wheeler passenger vessel project at Cape Girardeau, I passed Vicksburg and decided to stay the night. The next morning I took a quick drive through the Vicksburg battle field and came upon the USS Cairo, the remains of a Civil War era ironclad river gunboat that is now beautifully… Read more »

What Is The Cost Of Efficient Transportation? (Maxi Taxi 5)

Not too long ago only a small proportion of humanity had access to vast resources (which actually equates to access to energy). Although the very rich could travel by ocean liner between continents, poorer people’s action radii were very much smaller. For most of humanity’s existence a human might be tied to a very small… Read more »

How Safe Is Automated Driving? (Maxi Taxi 4)

Automated driving is central to the Maxi Taxi concept. Although the Maxi Taxi ferry concept does not specifically require full automated driving, the ferry concept, at a minimum, will use automated parking type technology to load and unload the ferries automatically with human drivers on public roads. However, the Maxi Taxi concept will really come into… Read more »

Will That Five Foot Width Work? (Maxi Taxi 3)

This is our third blog on the Maxi Taxi concept, for earlier blogs on Maxi Taxi go to: Containerizing People Transportation (Maxi Taxi 1) What Needs to be Standardized? (Maxi Taxi 2) The Maxi Taxi concept has chosen five feet as the working standardization width for the system, which would result in road lane widths… Read more »

The Really Big Picture

The April issue of (mt), the SNAME house magazine, will feature an article by Dr. Wayne Neu, professor of Aerospace and Ocean Engineering at Virginia Tech. Dr. Neu updated the classic 1950’s Gabrielli – von Karman plot using more recent vehicle data collected by the students in one of his classes. The Gabrielli – von… Read more »

The Greatest Show On Earth

Boat shows tend to depress me. It is important to stay up with the latest trends, but most boat shows focus so heavily on consumer products that it is difficult to extract real joy from them. My friend and fellow boat lover Captain Dannie Schade, owner of Classic Boat Rides, convinced me and our wives… Read more »

What Needs To Be Standardized? (Maxi Taxi 2)

In the Maxi Taxi 1 blog we introduced the Maxi Taxi concept as a thought experiment to explore how people transportation can be made to be more efficient by whole system design. The Maxi Taxi is a passenger transportation concept that, through standardization, aims to rapidly increase system efficiencies. System efficiencies are different from component… Read more »

Containerizing People Transportation (Maxi Taxi 1)

We call this peculiar car a Maxi Taxi. Maxi Taxis are just a concept that was turned into this computer model by our intern Zach Davis (Harry Ottaway’s grandson!), but they are an interesting concept and have features that are pretty much available today. The Maxi Taxi concept rests on the success of containerization and… Read more »

The Big Maritime Things In 2012

At the end of 2012 we can look back and see it has been another interesting year in our industry. Here are ten things, in no particular order of importance, that stand out for me: 1. Planet Solar There is no doubt that we can get around the world by sail, but what if we were to… Read more »

The End Of The Exxon Valdez

A recent bit in the news announced that the “Exxon Valdez” in its present incarnation as the “Oriental Nicety” is bound for the scrap yard. It is easy to think of the “Exxon Valdez” as some villainous symbol in the drama of the oil spill in Alaska, but, as Paul Harvey used to say, then… Read more »

Welcome, AMERICA Version 2.0

High tech comes in many flavors. Some of it is just completely new like the Lever building in New York City or maybe an IPad, but I like high tech when it reaches back and reaches forward. In yacht design occasionally I get to see such instances. I particularly like those designs that use wood… Read more »

Robert Fulton

Francis A. Martin, the founder of Martin & Ottaway, was a grandnephew of Robert Fulton, the first successful steamboat operator (I will not get into the debate as to who invented the steamboat, but I agree it was not Robert Fulton). Robert Fulton is a rather elusive figure who was a prolific inventor and technical… Read more »