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Custom Fiberglass International

  • Builder: Custom Fiberglass International
  • Builder Country: United States
  • Builder Address:  P.O. Box 1976  •  Wake Forest, NC 27588
  • Builder Postcode: NC 27588
  • Builder City: Wake Forest
  • Builder Website: intl-fiberglass.com/
  • Builder Phone: 984-235-4360
  • Description: Custom Fiberglass International (CFI) has over 34 years experience in custom fiberglass fabrication. The FRP engineering and fabrication have ranged from the very simple to high tech laminations using composites and specialty resins. Nothing exhibits the design skill, fiberglass engineering and product production of CFI any better than the Isotope and Cheshire catamarans. These individualized catamarans are high tech performance sailboats. Pondering the plight of artists in a pickle -- a Van Gogh voluntarily crossing the bar after hundreds of paintings produce a single sale; a Gauguin expiring of syphilis in pagan poverty, his work rejected -- moistens the eyes of all sensitive mortals. Yet the tragedy of the popularly unrecognized but talented artist is the accepted common fate of the skilled craftsman, one of whom is Frank Meldau, who exercises his talent at IFG (International Fiberglass) on South Miami Boulevard between the Research Triangle Park and Durham. Those in the fiberglass trade, however, know Frank well, as Carrboro designer Diane Gillis discovered two years ago when she was looking for someone to embody her plans for the Airport-Playport in Terminal A at the Raleigh-Durham International Airport and followed up on references to IFG. "It was a pretty loose situation," Diane says of the bedroom-size playarea airplane mock-up. "Frank had to really put a lot into it to make the curved fuselage and wings meet the space because there was really no way that I could dimension it on a drawing. It was a very custom job." To create an object from fiberglass, Frank first creates a "plug", a true-size rendition of the final product, from which he takes a mold. "Almost any material can be used for the plug," Frank explains, "just as long as I can get the shape." For the Playport, urethane, plastic and random odds and ends went into the plug. Frank refined the draftsmanship necessary to his craft in engineering courses taken at the University of New Mexico during a 1951-1954 hitch in the U.S. Air Force and applied that education in the Special Weapons Command at Kirkland Air Force Base drawing plans and "exploding-view" technical illustrations to be used to place brackets on aircraft to carry nuclear weapons. While at Kirkland, Frank had two adventures that altered the course of his life, one temporarily, and the other permanently. Attending a dinosaur dig in Sand Bluff, Colorado, convinced him he wanted to be a paleontologist, and a 30-day leave sailing with a friend's family in the Gulf of Mexico exposed him to a totally strange sailing vessel, a 46 foot catamaran cut from Hawaiian logs. From his grammar school days in Raleigh, sailing had been his favorite sport, appropriate since he had been born in August 1931 aboard a sailing yacht off Charleston, SC. When Frank first started with the Isotope it was very hard to overcome the monohull sailors' prejudice against cats. The one point most harped on was the cats inability to head into the wind. The Isotope goes to weather at 35% and has a perfectly balanced helm. These basic design features have kept this catamaran alive after all these years. Beginning a business in 1964 to build multihull sailing craft with $650 was possible only for dreamers and doers, who had persistence as a middle name and a true love for catamaran sailing. The Isotope and Cheshire Cat have always been the reason and Frank's love of the business... But not the money. What does the future hold for multihull sailing? The question is what does the future hold for sailing as a sport and recreation. Catamarans are now a part of the sailing scene---a respected part! Everyone, who loves sailing as a participant or with just shore perspective, needs to in some small way encourage sailing and support their local sailing clubs. Sailing is a metaphysical experience that must be kept available for discovery by a modern society.

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