Building my first Drift Boat - 16' Double-Ender with Transom

Hello folks,

I stepped foot in a McKenzie style drift boat for the first time nearly ten years ago, and have been wanting to own one ever since. I have decided (finally) to start building my first drift boat; the Original McKenzie Double Ender with Transom. 

I purchased Rogers book, as well as the plans from 'The Rivers Touch' and I have been taking small steps towards starting the project for over a year now: building a shop space, purchasing tools, researching, cold calling strangers for advice, gathering materials etc. 

I started last week, and have learned a few important things already:

  1. Scarf joints are not as scary as they look (I wish I hadn't have waited so long).
  2. Being a complete beginner at something is rough - somehow I forgot that.
  3. This website and the contributions made by all of you is invaluable. I contemplated not posting but then realized that it would be selfish not to give back.

I am open to as much advice, suggestions, criticisms, stories and photos as possible!

My goal is to have this boat on the water by the Winter of 2021 (changed from 2017 haha)

So, here goes. I hope you enjoy watching me work through my first technical wood project ever ;). Maybe this can help a newcomer like me down the road.

Thanks All, 


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The chine cap takes the brunt of the damage on a drift boat. Perhaps you can separate the fiberglass from the boat's bottom, however your boat would suffer far greater damage first. Not to say the separation can't happen, but the chances are remote.

Rick N

Hey Kyle, I used 17-19 oz triax on my boat trimmed at the edge not wrapped. I got it from Raka.  they have it listed in a weird way so I’m not sure which it is. I can’t tell if they ship to Canada or not but hopefully they do. As said previously the chine caps take the real hits. I think on a framed boat it’s not worth the hassle of wrapping but I’ve got no reason to be against it. This stuff is thicker and stiffer than say a potato sack, more similar to erosion fencing. It’d be a pain to wrap. But if you pull it off it’s that much more protection

Thanks for the advice on the bottom. I ended up rounding the bottom and wrapping the fibreglass around a few inches.. quite a bit of cleanup to do (sanding the mess I made on the sides).. bit, it’s in and I feel good about it. Just making up the chine cap now from several shorter pieces of White oak.. 

The white oak chine caps are on and last night I flipped the boat. I stared cleaning up the 5200 which will be a bit of a process. 

Im going to use ash for the rails. I have question about adhesive for the outside rail. 
My plans do not explicitly call for adhesive. Should Polysulphide be used between the rail and the hull? 

thanks in advance 

Polysulfide would be good. I used titebond 3 but I am realizing as I type this it probably didn’t even stick because I glassed and painted my sides first haha. Point being I think anything somewhat removable is ideal

By rails do you mean the outwales (outer gunnels)? 

Thanks for the reply. Yes the outer gunnels.

Why caulk there? I don't mean it's wrong to use caulk there, but it's far far above the water line. If you're putting a stainless bolt through the gunnels and the tops of each frame piece everything will be very securely fastened.  Without the caulk it would be easy in the future to replace a broken or otherwise damaged inwale or outwale. 

I decided to use sealer as the plans I have actually do call for it. I think it makes sense to keep moisture out from the area between the gunnel and the side wall. Thanks for the feedback. 

I decided to steam bend the ash for the outside rail and it worked out well. 

On a very positive note, I am done all of my scarf joints!  

I used Fir for the inside rail. I ended up trimming the frames prior to notching them out to accept the inside rail. Although it was time consuming and nerve-racking, I was able to get a fairly exact notch. I drilled all of the the holes and installed the bolts temporarily to make sure everything was true. I'm ready to affix them permanently (or semi-permanently). 

Quick question though: my plans do not call for a sealer or adhesive n the notch. Should I be sealing the inside rail where it bolts to the frame, and if so, what would you recommend? It seems like problematic area if you don't seal it for moisture, but it would be good to be able to remove it easily if a frame repair is needed. Thanks !


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