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Back to (mostly) wood

Posted by Sandy 
Back to (mostly) wood
May 20, 2016 08:08PM
A few threads down I posted photos of wooden form or plug I built, in order to build an all fiberglass/Plascore hull boat, a decked 17'x66" boat.

I just got back from two days on the river. Cold wind and driving rain for two days. It was a blast. We had the whole place to ourselves. Good fishing too. And I changed my mind. I like change.

I'm going back to all wood. No ribs no glue (almost no glue) no fiberglass and no paint or varnish. 3/8" plyood sides 1/2" plywood bottom and a 5" horizontal ledge top gunwale. The joint from bottom to side panels will have an extra thick ash or white oak chine strip, laminated in place from 3 3/8" inch strips, so it's easier to bend. Glue lam is stronger too.

Same sort of strip at the top edge of the side panels so the ledge top gunwale can be screwed down, with Torx screws driven from a dry waller's power driver, so the screw heads all get torqued down an equal amount, with screw heads flush to the plywood.

Plywood is soaked in oil twice a year. No fiberglass and no paint or varnish. And any part can be removed and replaced, because it's screwed together but not glued.

The deck (if you want one) is separate. Bolts down through the ledge top gunwale, squashing a fat closed cell foam gasket. Now you have open or decked. As you like it.

No more fiberglass for me. There is nothing in anyway wrong with glass. I had fun with it for many years. Now it's time for something new. Because new is good.
Re: Back to wood
May 21, 2016 07:13PM
Looks like I'm gonna miss AJ's boat show again. I have some minor eye surgery coming up in a few daze and they want me to stay close to home for at least a week. Take photos. Say hi to the Phat Man. Tell him I'll be there next years. With a woodie
Re: Back to wood
May 22, 2016 03:31PM

For 3 sheets 3/8" inch Meranti Hydrotech (for the sides of a 17' footer) and two sheets of 1/2" inch Meranti Hydrotech I just got a crated and shipped quote for close to $700 dollars. $400 dollars of that was crating and shipping.

Local lumberyards can sometimes be coaxed into ordering specialty plywood with a minimal shipping charge, if you can afford to wait for their next 18-wheeler shipment. Which is often a month or more away. Tomorrow's Monday. I'll hit up my local lumber yards tomorrow.

I need to figure out how to build boats with empty milk jugs. Or something like that. ABC gum.
Re: Back to wood
May 22, 2016 07:41PM
Hmmmm. The road to hell is paved with good intentions.

Enough Meranti Hydrotech to build a decked 17' foot white water boat costs a small fortune. Plascore fabric and resin is pricey too. But that I already have. Not sure I want to spend $800 on plywood right now. Perhaps I'll still build this big wide boat as all glass. One more time.

Another project I want before I quit is to design and build the smallest possible boat that comfortably rows and fishes two. The Buffalo Boat can squeeze three and that's bigger than I'm envisioning. I want to have a wide and stable but short and squat two person boat. Lots of two person boats have already been built by others but not one both short and wide at the same time. That boat doesn't exist yet. That would be a good way to test my all wood no ribs no glue no paint no varnish no fiberglass.......ledge top gunwale idea. Cheaper too.
Re: Back to wood
June 14, 2016 01:11PM
I really like your idea for an oiled finish ribless wooden boat. I am starting to think about my next boat project and your post keeps running through my head.
Re: Back to wood
June 14, 2016 05:36PM
Chris Patterson Wrote:
> I really like your idea for an oiled finish
> ribless wooden boat. I am starting to think about
> my next boat project and your post keeps running
> through my head.

The whole idea does rely on a substantial "ledge top gunwale" and a stouter than traditional "chine strip." And another pair of strips similar to the chine strips to join ledge top gunwale to side panel. 1" thick ash is what I'm thinking. That's too hard to bend. You'd have to spend all day steaming with water and fabric softener (Woolite) and then you have to move too quickly. You only have a minute or so to bend ash like that before it's stiff again.

What I envision is to make a 1" inch thick chine strip (and gunwale fastening strip) by laminating two 1/2" inch thick pieces with epoxy and expoxy putty, laminated in place on a form with temporary ribs, where notches are cut out of the temporary rib trapezoids...........where the strips go. Glue and lots of C-clamps. I've made many laminated-in-place gunwales already. So I know it works.

I'm also thinking about 3/8" inch plywood for the sides. 3/8" plywood can be hard to bend too. On most boats the sharpest bend is up front around the front seat area, where the sides pull together quickly toward the stem area. You can get plywood to bend easily by placing it flat on the floor over visqueen, with wet rags top and bottom, in the area of the sharp bend. That would probably be necessary for the MRBoats Honky Dory for instance. Probably not necessary for the MRB Beavertail. For other hull shapes you'd have to wing it. Wet the plywood only if you have to. It does work.

Once on the form the wet plywood will dry out and permanently assume that bent shape in 2-3 days, depending on where you live. Longer in Orygun. Sooner in Aridzona.

The other part of this idea I think is important is no glue. Fasten everything with stout Torx screws and butyl caulk, so it all goes together and comes apart again like an erector set. So any individual piece of the boat can be replaced. Lickedy split. Anytime you want. I did sub-contract roofing for about 5 years at one point. Butyl caulk has no bonding strength but it is some sticky waterproof stuff. Get it on your fingers and it's there until the skin changes over.

I had white fingers for almost 5 years in those days.
Re: Back to wood
July 01, 2016 12:53PM
I ordered $900 dollars worth of Meranti Hydrotek yesterday. Arrives July 10 or so. 9mm (3/8" inch) for the sides and 12mm (1/2" inch) for the bottom and for the ledge top gunwales.

No ribs no fiberglass no glue no paint no varnish. Plywood, four full length 1" inch thick ash or white oak strips, Torx screws and butyl caulk. With an oil finish. I will deck this boat eventually with a removable, bolts down onto a foam gasket deck. The deck will be Plascore fiberglass, largely because I have a lot of fiberglass stuff to use up.

Any part of this all wood hull that gets damaged can have its fastening screws backed out, so that damaged part becomes a marking template for a replacement. Screw it back on with a little roofer's caulk and away you go.

Why? It's new and it's time to move on for me. I just don't need to make any more fiberglass boats and I'm too old to buy a bunch of aluminum welding equipment, for which I'd have to build a new shop. Welding doesn't mix well with sawdust. Ribless all wood construction will be fast and easy too. Quick prototype building is what I've always wanted.

Hull building techniques are interchangeable. What matters most are hull shape and design. With ribless wood I'll get to play fast (relatively) cheaply and well, not furious anymore. I'm too old for furious. But play I will.

Ideas and loose talk are one thing. Spending $900 is another. I'm committed now. Well. Not that way. Not yet anyway........
Re: Back to wood
July 01, 2016 09:29PM
Scratch the ash or white oak chine strips. I have a bunch of 20' foot 1x8 clear vertical grain fir boards I've had stashed for years. I'll use them. I think I'll plane those down to 5/8" thick so they'll bend without steam, and make a doubled up 1-1/4" inch thick chine strip. And one such strip at the top edge, to provide nailing (Torx screwing) for the ledge top gunwale. Ash is too much pain in the butt to work with. And I already have the clear fir. And I like using what I already have.
Re: Back to wood
July 02, 2016 11:29AM
:=)) You're undoubtedly right. Ash it is then. The local lumber yard has a bunch of it.
Re: Back to wood
July 12, 2016 11:52AM
My plywood arrived. Pick it up today. I'm still changing my mind every 5 minutes.

Now I'm thinking Plascore bottom and up the sides 6" inches. Everything else bare oiled plywood, including the deck. No one has ever built that boat before and I'm tempted to do it.
Re: Back to wood
July 12, 2016 06:54PM
Have you ever tried a "bear oiled" coating?:<)

RK Newman
Re: Back to wood
July 12, 2016 08:00PM
No but I do believe in the right to bear arms. Bear claws too for that matter.

I have clarity now. Plascore bottom, wrapping around the chine so it's plascore for six inches up the side too. Then (bear) plywood with no paint no varnish no resin no fiberglass. For everything else. Slobbered with oil. No ribs. No glue.

Everything put together with Torx scews and roofer's caulk so any part can be removed and replaced lickedy split. Just like that. The deck will bolt down onto a ledge top gunwale, squashing a 1/2" closed cell foam gasket. Under the deck will be two partition walls at most, on which the free-floating deck rests--rather than a rat's nest of small compartments.

Bottom will be 66" inches wide. Now that's what I call wide. Approximately 17' feet long, made from 18' foot side panels. The hull shape is already determined. The form is already made but I haven't done anything with it in six months because of health issues, now largely resolved. And because I didn't have that clarity until now. To design and build a new boat from scratch you need that clarity. You need to know what you are going to do before you start. And now I've got it.

I unloaded the plywood this morning. Those 3/8" Meranti sheets are a bit stiff. Bending them will take effort. And moisture. I've done this before. Put the side panels down flat on top of wet rags, covered with wet rags--in the bending spots anyway. And do the bending and assembly 24 hours later. I want that thicker side panel because this will be a wooden boat with no ribs.

I'm not sure where I'll put my no bell prize when I get it. But it's in the works. I can see it coming.

Re: Back to wood
July 18, 2016 02:54PM
A couple of dories that are floating down the Main Salmon as I write this. One is a clone of a dory built and used in the early 1970's. The other is a modern aluminum Brigg's style dory. Instead of retyping and reposting a bunch of details follow the link below for pictures and details.


RK Newman
Re: Back to wood
July 18, 2016 04:29PM
Nice old boats. For clarity's sake I want to build a decked boat whose bottom and the first 6" inches of the sides, up from the chine, is Plascore. The rest will be oiled Meranti Hydrotech, with no paint no resin no fiberglass. Sides 3/8" plywood. Deck 1/2" plywood. No ribs. No glue. Everything will be screwed or bolted together with Butyl roofer's caulk at the seams. Roofer's caulk is remarkably sticky and water proof but it has no bonding power at all. So any part of the boat can be quickly removed and replaced.

The Brigg's is a long boat, made from 19' foot side panels? Something like that. But it's only 48" inches wide, so it is long and skinny and very side-to-side tippy.

A 15x48 scaled up to 17' feet long would be a 17x54. The Briggs is 18x48. That's skinny.

I'm building a 17x66 (seventeen feet long and 66" inches wide across the bottom at the widest point).

Wider makes a boat less side-to-side tippy but it also makes it quicker and easier to turn, because it only sinks into the water a few inches. The Briggs is slow to turn and hard to maneuver. Wider is better.

Do I have this right? Keith Steele made the first decked boat for Martin Litton: the Suzie Two. He took a standard 15x48 and chopped it in half and added a 4' foot "flat spot" parallel section in the middle. Later on Martin Litton had Jerry Briggs build a few more boats. He did the same thing. So they both stretched a small boat out to longer instead of scaling up so it was wider as well as longer.

I'm making a boat that is a lot wider than even the semi-standard 17x54. I'll be 17x66. A mostly wooden boat with no ribs inside. Where everying comes apart and goes back together with screws and bolts. Fiberglass bottom. Wooden top. That's something no one has done yet. Including me. I'm working on it.

Roger Fletcher likes to say all drift boats are minor variations on the Rogue or the McKenzie style drift boat. But I don't think so. Those two boats both started off as 15x48 boats. The Rogue had a dished out chine to reduce rocker. The McKenzie didn't. The McKenzie was a fully rockered boat (had a straight line chine on the side panel).

Both those boats scale up proportionately to 17x54 from the original 15x48. In other words the 17x54 is the same boat but bigger.

17x66 is different. You can't say it's a knock off of either the Rogue or the McKenzie. The only two drift boat builders I'm aware of--who have built wider boats--are me and Cyrus Happy. I've rowed them all. Wider is better. Narrower is worse. That's what this thread is all about: a wider wooden boat with a fiberglass bottom. With no ribs.

:=)) I am picking a fight with the Briggs. I think it's one of the worst boats ever made. I've rowed it. And the Suzie Two. They're both tippy and you need to be the Incredible Hulk to make them turn.
Re: Back to wood
July 18, 2016 04:58PM
I wish I had an opportunity to row both of those boats. It would be interesting to compare the loaded McKenzie style 48"er to the Brigg's style in aluminum. Both boats left Corn creek with big loads. Sort of like a big backpack, the more space the more gear you put in it. I didn't get an opportunity to measure the Brigg's boat but it was very wide, I'll bet it was closer to 60" than 48" Of course they can get aluminum in a variety of widths. MIG welding allows easy joints. Not that I want one but it was intriguing to look at. You could land a small airplane on it's deck!

I am trying to catch up to a variety of home tasks that I have put off for years. I am a couple of years behind you so maybe I have a couple of years to catch up to you. I have strongly considered decking my boat over too. Right now it is torn apart so I can reapply some epoxy and finish to the interior. The Missouri River mud was tough on the interior. Grey epoxy paint on the floor will help that out.

I stopped by both forks of the Bitterroot but only caught one small Rainbow on the East Fork. I drove up the Bitterroot Valley that night and could see a thing out of the windsheild because of all the dead mayflies on it. I guess I should have waited until almost dark to fish. I camped on Fish Creek west of Missoula that night and enjoyed the fishing there for a while, fishing was good, catching not so much. Next I traveled to St. Regis and headed up the Thompson River. Pretty place but not much happening midday. Enjoyable but i was ready to get home.

My favorite river is still the St. Joe in Idaho. I will host a group of 20+ Spokane Fly Fishers there in two weeks. I have been fishing there for thirty years and know how to fish it. It didn't hurt to have the outfitter I used to guide for teach me how to fish it. I have been sharing his knowledge with others so it can get passed on, hopefully those that I teach will do the same. You ought to come over there sometime. Very quiet and peaceful, unless it is time for the Harley Riders to drive along the river on their way to Sturgis. Most of the time it is absolutely still except for birds.

Rick N
Re: Back to (mostly) wood
July 18, 2016 06:19PM
Good info Rick. If that aluminum boat was 60" wide it wasn't a Briggs. Even if someone called it that--it wasn't. 60" inches is a good boat.

If I could roll the clock back 30 years I'd like to build some aluminum boats. I had some high quality welding and cutting equipment for a while but never used it much. Sawdust and acetylene together give me the heebee jeebees. So I sold it all off.

I need to get up to North West Montana soon. Idaho too. That river you named? The St Something? I can't remember its name. Well I can. But I won't say it to anyone. There are some central Montana secrets too. I'm headed up that way next week. I'll be fishing.......damn. I can't remember the name!
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