Scroll for more

Interview: Pete Gibson, Hardwood Machinist at Princess Yachts

Working in the engineering and crafting of Princess Yachts for 35 years, Pete has seen the design change from traditional models to revolutionary introductions, such as the Princess R35. Here, we are
given an insight into Pete’s experience within his role at the shipyard, looking at how all the components come together to create a finished Princess yacht.

How did you start with Princess Yachts?
I started my career as a furniture maker, making not just the furniture but also the tooling to create it. I saw a job advertised with what was called Marine Projects in those days for a wood machinist, applied and got the job.

How long have you been working with Princess Yachts?
In total I’ve been with the company about 35 years. I began working at the company’s Valley Road site as a wood machinist before being promoted to charge hand. I later moved to creating intricate parts for the furniture and I now work at the Coypool factory which is a huge facility that assembles much of the large kit parts, such as the furniture, that is eventually fitted to the boats in build. I create a huge variety of items, things like the trim to the backs of the helm seats.

How does the process begin?
We start off with design drawings and dimensions from the design studio. It’s then down to us to see whether we can physically create what has been asked for. Sometimes it’s quite a challenge to match a complicated request, but there’s almost always some way of doing it. And of course, every single model requires its own bespoke items. It’s not simply a case of making one part that is then used across multiple boats, they’re all unique.

What do you make the parts out of?
They’re made from hardwoods. Walnut, oak, beech, tulip, those kinds of materials. The choice of material will in part be governed by the customer’s specification for the boat.

Have the designs changed over time?
We’re working with much larger items these days, especially for the bigger boats. And the designs can be far more sophisticated and intricate than they used to be.

Has the process changed much over the years?
Yes, very much so. We used to do everything by hand and then it would be clamped into blocks. Now we use computer driven CNC machines, grinders and other power tools which improve both the efficiency of manufacture and the quality of the end product.

What happens to the products you create?
After we’ve made them, they go to the ‘furniture shop’ and will be used in the production of the furniture. And once that is assembled, it will go to the ‘paint shop’ to be finished as specified by the customer, typically a high gloss or satin finish.