We tend to take the humble hinge for granted, but not Paul Edmondson, founder of PE Marine Designz in Poole, UK. He specialises in supplying the yachting industry with a range of patented, multi-pivot hinges that have to be safe, functional, reliable and good looking.
The single pivot butt hinge has been around for as long as doors have had to open and close. It is still part of modern day hinge design, but it has become a lot smarter and I now have over 400 hinge designs for different applications.
When I started up PE Marine Designz Ltd in 2004 it was because the superyacht industry was looking for a supplier of clever, concealed hinges. I started with the traditional 7-pivot hinge opening 180 degrees for heavy-duty exterior door applications. The design was styled to be flat and non-invasive when the doorway was open, and incorporated an integral gas strut to assist operation.
Then I proceeded on to hatch hinges with a gas strut also integral to the design, which has been adapted to different size gutters and hatch thickness. The industry was then looking for late-fit, glue-in locker doors to be installed post fairing. The design integrated a fully working door with frame, sealing, latching and 180-degree hinging movement.
The basic 4-pivot pantograph hinge hit my desk next and this has been developed into 6-, 9- or 12-pivot systems depending on installation that can also have an opening/closing powering strut. Along the way, concealed hinging systems have been developed for small limited space envelopes such as fuel flaps and glove boxes.
On yachts there are innumerable other hinge applications, including fold-down seats, fold-over bulwarks, fold-out bow steps for tenders, folding panels for TV screens, and multi-functional deck furniture. Originally designed as the Pascoe Beachlander Option, the power-assisted, hinged bow step (pictured) for tenders, for example, provides dignified beach landings for guests and crew, and is also useful for diving and other watersports.
Our tube hinge is a beautifully clean and clever design. Made from T316 stainless steel with polished aluminium bronze arms, it is small, remarkably strong and housed inside a Ø38mm tube so it becomes invisible when closed. It can used to replace clevis joints on ladders, for collapsible legs on tables, as a pivot joint for electrical cable arms, or for handrail breaks.
A few years ago I was asked to design a folding dive platform (pictured) for 37.5m S/Y La Cattiva (ex-Taramber) built by Pendennis. The existing stern entry system was comprised of various panels and support wires that were manually assembled, often taking up to half an hour to deploy. The solution was to develop an automated hydraulic platform with 'wings' that uses multi-pivot hinges to deploy in under five minutes, then retracts back into the transom.
Currently in development is a web-based interactive design and procurement tool for hatch hardware, which I see as the way ahead. I’m also working on new ideas for other access-related areas, such as interface plates for split consoles on tenders where the hinge, latch and open/close systems are all incorporated into a single unit for easy assembly.
In issue 182 of The Superyacht Report, we talk with some leading manufacturers of moving structures on yachts, such as sliding doors and folding balconies, and look into their latest developments. Subscribe to The Superyacht Report here.