Hello Everyone,


My name is Guy and this is my first post in this forum.  I am here because I want to build a wooden drift boat and, undoubtedly, I will occasionally need advice of the pool of experts and experienced drift boat builders on this forum.


In preparation for this project I have read and studied three books: Drift Boats and River Dories by R. L. Fletcher, Boatbuilding with Plywood by G. L. Witt, and Covering Wooden Boats with Fiberglass by A. H. Vaitses.  I have also developed my own set of construction plans based off of the "Original McKenzie Double-Ender with Transom" in Fletcher's book.  I used and MS Excel spreadsheet to calculate all of the dimensions, cut angles, compound angles, and bevel angles of all frame components and I used Pilot3D software to calculate the as-cut dimensions of the plywood sides and bottom.  At this point I am pretty comfortable with the mechanics of construction and I think that I am just about ready to start purchasing lumber.


Presently, I plan to use Meranti Hydro-Tek plywood; 1/4-in. on the sides and 1/2-in. on the bottom.  I found plenty of places to purchase these materials, but they are all far away from Idaho Falls, Idaho, and as a result shipping costs more than the materials.  Are any of you aware of a business within a few hundred miles of Idaho Falls that sells this plywood?  I have a few requests in to the local lumber companies, but I have yet to talk with someone who has heard of this material before.


I also plan to use Port Orford Cedar (CVG) for the straight frame sections and White Oak (quater sawn) for the bent frame sections (chine logs and sheer rails).


Thank you, Guy

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Looking good!

Rick Newman

Thanks Rick. I’ve got some decisions to make. On the trailer, the boat mostly rests on the keel. There are four adjustable pads that press against the hull. Two forward of the trailer tires and two rear of the trailer tires. Over the years, pressure from these four pads have warped the hull enough to crack some of the cross frames.

I don’t think I can take the warp out of the plywood bottom. But I can replace the bottom frames and have the new frames accommodate the warped shape of the hull. I’m still trying to figure out the best approach. 

Wow that would be a difficult decision.
I assume similar has happened with other old ChrisCrafts.  What's the conventional wisdom on the repair?

I'd think rebuilding the trailer with long bunks would spread the weight out better.

Conventional wisdom from woodenboatforum.com suggests that first of all the keel should be supported. Long bunks that share the load evenly on both sides is also appropriate. Perhaps one way to consider this project is how would the boat be supported if it were on water. There would not be any point source loading but rather the load equally distributed.



I vote along with Shawn and Rick.  I recently replaced the long bunks on my 17 ft. Glass Runabout's trailer and extended them a couple inches both ends and they do a good job of supporrting the boat.

phil w

Martinac. Here’s a better description of the hull warping problem. This is the adjustable pad on the starboard side ahead of the wheels. 
This is the adjustable pad on the starboard side behind the wheels. 
This is the fixed pad on the starboard transom. 
However... here’s the worst hull warping. From the pads ahead of the wheels. Port side. 
Starboard side. 
You can see the old repairs. All the old bottom frames will be replaced. But I don’t think I can take out the warped bottom plywood. 

Martinac. Porcupine’ing the transom area. 

Very labor intensive love affair!


Martinac. The transom repairs continue. Need to make a good foundation for the outer plywood skin to attach to. 

Martinac. I bought a pair of jack stands. Ultimately, I will remove the hull from the trailer and jack stands will be needed. The reason I’m using them now is because I want the bottom of the hull to be perfectly flat on either side of the keel as I rebuild the transom area.

In other words, I don’t want to rebuild the transom with any curvature that will produce stress raisers when supported by the flat 4x4s on the jack stands.

So I’ll apply some pressure on the bottom hull with the jack stands and then make the final fit and assembly of the transom.

I hope that makes sense. 

Martinac. Squaring up the bottom at the transom with the jack stands raised the keel about 5/8 inch. I had the trim the transom boards I made earlier. I’m glad I did this. 

Martinac. Performance Automotive finished rebuilding the Martinac’s engine. It’s a 1959 Chevy 283. Not that I need it any time soon. But it’s one more piece of the puzzle. 


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