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Power Drifter Project

Posted by RedwoodRob 
Re: Power Drifter Project
January 21, 2012 09:44PM
I think these types of river runner jet boats are a little beyond what the OP was looking into. Really a power drifter & the ones on Mean Chicken are like apples & oranges.

Re: Power Drifter Project
January 21, 2012 11:38PM
I couldn't agree more. I certainly wouldn't call the boat Mr Hendrick pointed out to anything near a power drifter either. My point is that boat is far from the end all jet boat. By posting the link to the mean chicken, I was hoping all of you might be able to gain a little more insight into powered river craft. Many of the guys on that site have more than one boat. Most have a big one for playing in the big water and some smaller ones for running and fishing in more restrictive areas.
Personally I've been following the forum here for quite some time. I'm trying to regain my knowledge of wooden boat building before I take on a project like this. It's been many years since I've built a boat, when I was 16 I built 3, 15' rowing dories that were to be rowed to AK from Seattle. One thing led to another and I wasn't able to make the trip but my buddies did and they rowed all over SE AK for a summer before ditching the boats and flying home. My boat was stolen a year later from Lake Sammamish. Some thirty years later I spotted the boat on Lake Union. You never forget something build with your hands. The boats were made with exterior grade fir ply and glassed on the outside and resinned on the inside. Pretty good for 30 years.....
The "power drifter" type boat has been around for many years (Late 40's) and was pioneered by Glen Wooldridge on the Rogue River. Back then they were just Power Skiffs. Glen W. was also the first person to run Hells Gate in BC up stream and many stretches on the Rogue. It was thought to be impassable. I guess what I'm getting at is these type of boats are not new and have been around for a long time. Sure materials change and that's how they keep being reinvented.
All that said, I'm here to absorb and exchange knowledge, I can tell many of you are well versed in boat building, I'm better acquainted with aluminum and engines. So please don't the mistake of thinking I'm stupid or I'm here to troll because that's just not the case. We can learn from each other’s experiences without having to make the same mistakes time after time. Correct me if I'm wrong but isn't that what a forum is all about?
Re: Power Drifter Project
January 22, 2012 12:05AM
RE> "correct me"

This forum is talking about boat building. So yeah. Damn right.
It started out pretty much drift boats only. But I like boats of all kinds.

I like fly fishing too. But I also like lures and (god forbid) bait fishing too.
My rules about boats are similar (there are no rules). Actually that's not true.
There are two rules for this forum: no flames and no politics. And no religion.
(I count the same way I build boats).

Re: Power Drifter Project
January 22, 2012 02:29AM
Awesome Sandy!!! Just exactly what I thought the forum was about.

Thanks again!
Re: Power Drifter Project
January 22, 2012 03:04AM
Please don't mistake my last response as trying to diminish anyone's contribution here, that was certainly not my intent.

I totally agree that the free exchange of information is what makes this, and other forums great. I was just trying to address the OP help him out with his project.

If it weren't for forums like this, and others I am sure I would not have even thought I could build my own boat.

Re: Power Drifter Project
January 24, 2012 07:05PM
This is great stuff and you are correct I have not priced big jet drives. I think the price would send me into shock. I once saw a twin diesel hamilton pump setup for 125000 and it was ten years old. It is possible that those who could write the check might have called it a bare bones jet boat.

This forum is mostly small custom built stuff which we spend a few thousand building.

When I saw medium and what I consider larger boats powering up the Main Salmon, I was intrigued. I will never have anything with that kind of power. From my perspective I would just love to understand what is possible as a small scale builder. I have been around inboard and outboards all my live. I have rebuilt 2 outboards both 2 stroke a 50 HP and 100 HP and know all about how they work. One was a 70s Chrysler the other a Merc. No wonder Chrysler outboards went away. If I were to build a 17 foot hull by making the bottom flat going to a wide transom how much of HP would I need with a jet outboard to push it up a modest river? From what I saw of the rapids on the main salmon it would be my thinking a light 17 foot 50 HP setup would not be powerful enough or safe enough for class III runs on the salmon. I am just talking about late summer flows. Seems like a 2 stroke would be a better engine for a jet conversion being a more powerful motor for it's size.

I have never run any kind of power boat up river in shallow water. From what I see on the rivers I row there must be some real skill needed. When I saw the big twin jets blowing down the main they seem to be going more the 25 MPH down river. If a person doesn't know the channel and where specific rocks are I can only imagine what big hit would be like. Actually from my point of view it looks very dangerous.

Hope this discussion can keep going.


For those who are interested in seeing some classic jet boat video, the DVD "Rivers runners of the Colorado" has some crazy footage of the New Zealanders up running Lava Falls in the Grand Canyon back in the 60s before the park service put an end to it. When I scout that rapid and see the drop and flow it's hard to believe any boat could power up that rapid.

The DVD might be available at public libraries.

No politics,,,,,,, no religion,,,,,, what's up with that Sandy? Would the subject of Scott, Winston, Sage not be a religious discussion?

Is a rowing a Lavro not yielding to a higher power?

Now that you no longer have a job you might have time to work these things out.


Re: Power Drifter Project
January 24, 2012 07:36PM
lhedrick Wrote:

> Is a rowing a Lavro not yielding to a higher
> power?

Get thee behind me satan!
Re: Power Drifter Project
January 25, 2012 01:02AM
Hehehe, yeah Chrysler OB.... I have this thing about motors starting right now on the river. Yikes! Lots of footage on the mean chicken of guys running the salmon. I'm not really sure I'd be a party to running an open sled places they videoed. Open boats, IMHO don't go in significant white water, just too easy to stuff the nose and fill the boat. I'd absolutely say 50hp would be a little shy for big water but it's really more of the power to weight. We normally run the little sleds in skinny and use them for drifting. Instead of oars we use an electric troller to keep it straight and slow it down a bit. As far as power the new 4C motors are deceiving in their power. One would think 2C would be better and many do but I think its mainly a perception thing, they have more perceived power through the sound they make. 50hp is 50hp. They're a little heavier so you make it 4 inches beamier. I can buzz around all day in my buds little boat with the 25 Merc 4C, it's almost silent and another pals boat has 90 Yam 2C and it just tears ya up with the noise. Skinny water you want look hard and make sure you have a place to set down on the other side. Reading the water up or down is pretty much the same so it's really just a matter of getting out there and doing it. One thing about power is you have the bow wave or pressure wave working in your favor. If you look down when on plane and you estimate you're drawing 2 or 4 inches of water you can safely take a couple more inches off of that because of the bow wave or the wad of water you're pushing in front of you. You kind of ride right on the wave over things you may think you're going to hit or bounce on. With the little boats I tend to think if there water over it, any water I can go there. With the big boats pretty close to that because they have a bigger bow wave on step but the consequences are a bit steeper with several thousand pound boat. Dangerous? Ha, you bet it is! I thought my insurance agent was going to stroke when I said white water! For a point of reference You should always run the river with someone that knows it first and until you’re comfortable, barring that always go upstream first and I use a GPS plotter on unknown waters, with a braided river you really need to know which side of an island to go around and that's about as close as you want to get with the GPS, read the channel and the river not the GPS it looks totally different on the way back down. If there's one little bit of wisdom you should take to the river with you is, the throttle is your friend. If you start to get worried, pin it till to get to a place you can set down and then take a breath a pee or have smoke or whatever it takes then rock on.
Hope that helps, just my take on things
PS I'm not in the hundred K boat club either. I do it to go fishing. ;4)
Re: Power Drifter Project
January 25, 2012 01:55PM
I really like and appreciate the way this forum is gradually growing beyond the confines of oars and drift boats only.
When I run for president I'm gonna run on the "boat in every driveway" platform.
Re: Power Drifter Project
January 25, 2012 03:52PM
Now that's a platform I can get behind!!!!!
Re: Power Drifter Project
January 25, 2012 04:40PM
Bodofish Wrote:
> Now that's a platform I can get behind!!!!!

I've got 4 of 'em! Well, the cat raft is actually in the basement, but the canoe, the jet and the drifter all out front! I'm doing good, I actually sold one last fall!
Re: Power Drifter Project
January 25, 2012 04:46PM
I'm in trouble,

I have:

1 sea kayak
1 inflatable kayak
1 sit on top
1 canoe
1 drift boat
1 white water dory

That's kind of more then a boat in the driveway. I hope I won't have to give up 5 boats. I really need 7.

Re: Power Drifter Project
January 26, 2012 12:07AM
I was kinda thinking one more.... I'm down to two; a CustomWeld and a blowup, the kayaks and stuff had to go away.
Re: Power Drifter Project
January 26, 2012 01:20AM
Alll you rich multi boat owners need to give some of your boats to the less fortunate non-boat owners!!

Re: Power Drifter Project
December 15, 2012 02:20AM
Any updates on the power drifter? Wanting to start a design but need more research.
Example, do I want a pointed bow or a flat broad bow?
What are the advantages of either? The broad bow would give more room up front.
How much rocker and how is rocker measured?
These are some of the questions that come to mind.
Built a stitch and glue Kingfisher from Jason's plans.

restored a 1976 Mako


Now I need a jet sled.
Re: Power Drifter Project
June 05, 2013 02:54PM
I can add a bit of information here.

The typical rowed drift boat design with full rocker is purely a displacement hull. A motor of any type will increase speed up to the full displacement hull speed, about 6 knots or 7 mph for a 17'. Above that speed more power just makes a bigger wave and actually sinks the boat down into a 'hole' in the water. Exactly the opposite of what we want when powering up stream.

Power dorys/drifters have the fuller, flatter stern of a planing hull because they need to get up on plane. Being on plane, the boat has a shallower draft and less boat is in the water. Less in the water means less resistance and more speed for a given power input. Both of these are exactly what we want for getting up stream in fast, skinny waters. The down side is that they don't pivot as well. Also these boats often are rowed with the bow pointing up stream, other wise it is pretty much impossible to slow them with oar power or to use a drift anchor due to the water pressure against the relatively flat transom. The down side to bow upstream is stand waves in rapids can swamp over the transom fairly easily, though a splash well can help mitigate this.

If you are pretty well set on using a motor on a rockered boat you'd be best off with a 5-9.9 hp with a shaft length to suit your transom height. Puting a midship mounted jet drive in is not worth the hassle.
Re: Power Drifter Project
June 05, 2013 03:17PM
For a power drifter, no need to worry about how it drifts down through rapids as you'll never do it, it has an engine. It's all in the power, just turn around and head down, when you get to the flat, turn around and drift. Personally that's what the electric troller is for, then you don't have to row and you can fish, with the others. Rocker on the bow, none on the stern and a tunnel for the pump. The other nice thing about power is you have a big battery to run a bilge pump, if you take a splash or two. As for the shape of the bow, just think drift boat to the widest part then just go straight back. Keep it simple or you'll just be building a jet sled, but come to think of it, they drift just fine where you want to fish, I've been doing it for years. For a good look at a classic power drifter look at FishRite have a very nice looking metal one, check them out and model yours after. I'll bet you could get a lot of the dimensions off the web site. You won't be sorry, check it out.
Re: Power Drifter Project
June 06, 2013 12:10AM
Well said.........
Re: Power Drifter Project
March 06, 2016 10:40PM
Can I get plan for this power drifter? i want to build one for use on the wisconsin river, i have been looking for months for plans for similar boat but with no luck, can you help?
thanks, Bernie
Re: Power Drifter Project
March 08, 2016 02:53AM
A Google search on "jet boat plans" yeilds quite a few links. Most of them are about plywood boats. A few are talking about welded aluminum. All could be adapted to one-off Plascore. Or stitch and glue plywood (burn the ribs and cover it with glass).
Re: Power Drifter Project
March 08, 2016 11:14PM
the river i'm on is one that has a sand bottom, and for the most part is shallow water. but at times can change depth daily depending on release 30 miles upstream.I am on a backwater of the main river and when i go out to the main channel rowing back is not practical. I want the best of both worlds in a boat to fish from and use as a utility boat when camping on sand bars in summer. jet sleds would be fine for powering around but speed is not what i want.many times i am alone for short outings and don't want to drop a trailer down stream.we have used small jon boats over the years but now i would like a larger more comfortable boat. i have been looking at large jons from clark,oquawa,alumacraft, to name just a few. those searchs lead me to wooldridge and others. to much money and to heavy. on a 80 degree summer day i dont mind jumping out in water and pulling a 12 foot light weight jon 50 yards over a sand bar but fall and early winter its not fun. i want to draft very little water ,in a 18 20 foot boat ,with an interior that i can customize like some of the drifters i have seen. stitch and glue with plascore that i will pick up from factory and keep it light. the boat in beginning pic looks perfect. ive even considered tunneling to keep prop of bottom if this on drafts to much.
Re: Power Drifter Project
March 09, 2016 05:21PM
Looks like a great boat (i'll go further and say a masterpiece ) maybe a little much for me, 115 jet is more power than i looking for, wonder how much it weighs ? if it could be pushed with something smaller . Guy up here that rents jet skis says sand eats up impellers. but shape looks great and it seems like it won.t draft much. i would think with all that power in his back pocket it won't get stuck , but im looking for less power.
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