Join boats.com and host Marilyn DeMartini along with Lonni Rutt, VP of Design & Engineering at Viking Yachts for another episode of our series Factory Fridays. This time we visit the Viking Yachts headquarters in New Gretna, New Jersey for a full factory tour. Since Bill and Bob Healy acquired a wooden boat factory in 1964, Viking has expanded its holdings and now encompasses Viking Yachts, Valhalla, Palm Beach Towers, and Atlantic Marine Electronics. The manufacturing tour showcases the yacht-making process, beginning with the fiberglass hull and molds.
The factory spans nearly 1 million square feet, highlighting the company's growth. Bill Healy believed in maintaining quality control by bringing processes in-house, leading to the establishment of many support businesses under the Viking umbrella. The design process is crucial to ensure minimal changes during production. The factory currently builds boats ranging from 38 feet up to 90 feet for the Viking line and 33 to 55 feet for the Valhalla line. The tour also discusses the step-by-step construction, including detailing, tank installations, and engine fitting.
Attention To Detail
At Viking Yachts, the attention to detail is evident in every aspect, especially the woodworking. The company meticulously crafts and serializes each wooden part for easy referencing later. Their finishing booth produces both satin and gloss finishes. From raw material to finished cabinetry, they handle every step in-house, using a variety of woods including mahogany, teak, and increasingly exotic types. As fashion trends change, Viking adapts, ensuring luxury and quality are at the forefront of their designs.
Viking's Infusion Process
Viking employs a revolutionary infusion process for creating fuel tanks. This method guarantees consistent thickness and optimal fitment within the boat. The tanks are made to align perfectly with the boat's structure, ensuring efficiency. The infusion process is likened to a controlled blood flow, and while it is manual, the staff uses drawings and repeated practice to perfect the method. This process, started about 25 years ago, ensures the fuel tanks' consistency and quality in every Viking yacht.
The factory contains three CNC machines used to craft a multitude of parts, from engine mounts to internal components of control panels. Viking Yachts retains in-house control, accommodating any custom requests by customers.
Bill Healy, a significant figure in Viking Yachts' history, emphasized the importance of metal work. From aluminum to more specialized metal work for the boats' hardtop, all the fabrication happens in-house. The facility even includes a paint room for both powder coating and liquid paint jobs.
The production line is where everything converges - wood, metal, and fiberglass. In the middle of the production lines, major assembly takes place. By this stage, installations such as the Sea Keepers, engines, carpentry, wiring, and plumbing are underway. The host likens the process to an aircraft carrier, with everything coming together from different directions.
They discuss the various boat lines, including the 55 Valhalla line which is so popular it has a two-year backlog. This line was specially designed around 600-horsepower engines to ensure optimal performance. The Valhalla line boats are also produced at another Viking facility, which the host plans to visit.
At the dock the finished Viking yachts are ready to hit the water. Many boats have customizations specific to individual customers, reinforcing Viking Yachts' commitment to personalization. Viking explains that many customers often own multiple boats from the brand. Some owners even have both a Viking and a Valhalla.
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