I am a complete newbie to wood boats but have done some research. Just purchased an 1985 16' Don Hill Project Boat with trailer for $800. Thought I could get it fishing for another $500 until today when I got done stripping everything down. I have a friend that built a Tatman back in the 80's and he has had some input on the repairs. The way he built his boat has influenced how I think a boat should be built, but there is more than one way to skin a cat so I am open to suggestion. In General the wood is in good shape. My plan was to fiberglass the bottom and add some graphite powder to finish. Epoxy paint the boat inside and out, but varnish some of the trim pieces, etc.

Got the boat home yesterday and started working on it. I just finished disassembling the interior (seats, floors, etc.) and have scraped the boat inside and out(removed extremely peeled varnish, there was no epoxy).

Here is a list of questions/problems with some of my ideas on each subject. At this point I may have to start selling stuff to finish the boat. Feel free to comment on any or all of the questions. A rough cost estimate for any new ideas would be helpful.

1. This boat was never epoxied. All the original owner ever did was keep it varnished and used what appears to be silicone caulk at every wood joint. in general the wood is in good shape. Should I be concerned? What will need to happen taking into account the above plans for finishing the boat.

2. Discovered that one of the inside chines is broken behind a rib. There is a little dry rot at the break and at a couple intermittent spots a foot or two on each side of the break. Also, A couple of the bottom ribs were cracked starting at the drain holes and extending toward the center about 6" and 18". The poor excuse for a fiberglass bottom covering about 80% of the bottom was coming off so I just pulled it off (he did a poor job and applied it over the varnish, don't know if that is why it didn't stick). Found that he used regular screws instead of brass or stainless. As expected, there is substantial corrosion on the screw, but they seem to be holding tight. Here is the question. Do I pull off the bottom, replace both chines, replace cracked ribs, replace the floor board (original wood is good), and use stainless screws? Or, do I chip out the sections of rotted chine and patch with epoxy and fiberglass if needed, epoxy the cracks in the two bottom ribs, and leave the screws as they are? Should I replace the chine and just put the original bottom back on? I am not too concerned with minor blemishes from a repair because it is getting painted anyway. Side question: If I have to replace the bottom do I have to use marine playwood or could I just use some exterior rated playwood?

3. Considering that when I am finished stripping the boat that I will be down to bare wood, What is the general process for fiberglassing the bottom of the boat? My plan was to remove the outside chine. Make sure everything is sanded, smooth, and clean. Lay out 18 or 20 oz. tri-axial cloth. Wet out. Add 2 coats or more of epoxy with graphite powder until the bottom is smooth. Trim glass about 1/2" up from bottom so that the screw from the outer chine will not penetrate the glass. Epoxy paint the side of the boat to overlap the 1/2" of glass. Re-install chine. I would like to do all the epoxy in one shot so that everything is chemically bonded and I don't have to sand clean and worry about blushing. Do I need to add some other coats of plain epoxy in the process somewhere? Remember, Entire boat will be bare wood. I Only planned to epoxy paint the interior and exterior. There is no other epoxy on any of the boat except what I use for the bottom.

4. Is there a better or cheaper bottom for the boat? What is it? How much? where can I get it...? Heard of a product called liquid graphite that was supposedly applied like a paint and was pretty inexpensive, but couldn't find any information on it. Sounds too good to be true, probably is.

Any help you may have will be greatly appreciated. Remember, I am already way over budget. I''ll be passing around the collection plate later...Thanks!!!

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I would love to restore the wood, but there is some really severe checking in places, especially on the inside. I'm going to stick with the epoxy paint more to help hold the wood together than anything else. I have the bottom off and am working getting some new inner chines built because these are trash. I kind of like the idea of the wood shoe. Everything you are saying makes sense. Is Marine plywood necessary for the shoe or will anything work? Treated plywood maybe? I would think that you would wear one out before it rots out. Having a hard time finding marine plywood in Boise to replace the bottom as it is. I have another old boat available (from Rick) that I could take the bottom off, but to pick it up may end up costing the same as new plywood so I am checking all options. What would you recommend for the finish on the bottom of the floor prior to putting on the shoe. Epoxy paint? What type of Oil do you reccomend for the shoe? I may still go with glass, but you got me thinking. If I don't like it, I could always glass it in a year or two.

For the record, checking is not a sign of structural weakness. I lived in a house with 100+ year old oak beams that had 3/4" wide checks in them. The fir is plywood- it will check as part of the drying process. But remember, you got three plies there. I doubt the checks will cause the boat to spontaneously fall apart.

Use marine 1/2" or 5/8" for the real bottom. Since you got your bottom off, you could get those chines out. Find a good chunk of it, then cut a nice cross section. Should be pretty easy to replicate. Bed your new bottom on, with a healthy dose of 3M 5200 or Sikaflex 291.

Ok for the shoe- use an A/C grade fir plywood. need not be marine grade. treated might be a good option too.

Oil the interior floor, the exterior bottom, then oil the skid shoe before you put it on. both sides. DO NOT bed it with caulk of any kind. remember, that is a sacrificial shoe- It will nee dto come off later. Also, the key to installing the shoe is to fasten it with screws or ring nails. you know water will find its way through fasteners, but if it can get in, it needs a way out. by epoxying or painting or any hard finish, you will be trapping water in. which leads to rot.

After the shoe is on, fair it up, put on your chine caps.

After owning three boats with different bottom treatments, hundreds, maybe more river miles, on hard rocky water, I think much hype is raised with bottom treatments.

I think your boat will look very nice when complete. Do what you can to salvage that natural wood look, you might be suprised. Personally, I think boats that show earned wear are very attractive.

Have fun with it..
Oh, and the type of oil I have been using:

1 part Boiled Linseed Oil
1 part Turpentine
Pine tar- I just dump in until it looks like guinness dark.

mix it up and slop it on. Its cheap and easy. Pine tar reeks. but your boat will smell good when the sun hits it.

This is the "Old Down East" deck coating.
I have heard favorable results with Deks Oilje, purchased here through Randy.

Hello, sorry I know this is an old thread but I am trying to figure out the safest way to roll my drift boat over on its top so I can replace the uhmw shoe. I have a 16' tatman and I have no clue how to accomplish this. Any help would be much appreciated.  

Most drift boats do not weigh that much. My son and I turned my boat over by ourselves. Two more people would have made it easier. I built a rectangular frame out of scrap 2' x 6's with wheels at each corner so I could work on my boat and move it around the shop. I modified the stand so that I could place the upside down and work on the bottom much like you are discussing. I mounted a short 4" x 4" on each corner and connected them between the ends forming a platform that allowed us to place the gunnels of the boat on them thus suspending the ends of the boat off the ground. It protected the boat and allowed me to move it and work on it with ease. I have added a couple of pictures for you,  Good luck!

Rick Newman

Awesome! Thanks for the response and pictures!

You are most welcome!



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