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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Martinac. I saturated the wood inside and out with Smith’s Clear Penetrating Epoxy Sealer. Then I taped from the inside and applied epoxy filler from the outside. These are preparations for the fiberglass. And I started working on support frames for the bow gripe. 

Martinac. I shaped and fit the supports for the bow gripe. 

Martinac. Laid fiberglass on the inside of the bow. I made paper patterns to use to cut the fiberglass. 

Martinac. Plan B. I originally thought I fill the old scarfs with fiberglass and epoxy. I tried one and it didn’t go well so I abandoned that plan. Instead I’m installing proper Dutchmen repairs. Once again I routered the scarfs, but this time with straight edges. Then I made patterns to cut the 1/4-inch plywood Dutchmen. 

Martinac. To hold the Dutchmen in place while the epoxy cures, I screwed down overlapping pieces of 1/4-inch plywood. I put some West 403 filler in the epoxy as a thickener. And I put a couple layers of wax paper between the hull and clamping wood. Port and starboard sides shown. 

Martinac. The Dutchmen after some sanding and another application of Smith’s Clear Penetrating Epoxy Sealer. They turned out well. I still have to fill the screw holes left from clamping. Next I’ll work on the backer boards that go on the inside. But first I’m taking a one week vacation!

Martinac. I’m preparing the 3/8-in. plywood panels for the inside of the bow. Once these are epoxied in place, I’ll install one more layer of plywood panels, for a total of 3/4-in. plus the 1/2-in. hull. The 3/8-in. plywood is flexible enough to meet the contours of the bow. 

Martinac. One set of inside panels installed in the bow. Three more sets to go. I bed the panels in 3M 5200, not epoxy as I mentioned earlier. The panels are also secured with 1/4-20 silicon bronze machine screws that are recessed from the outside. Can’t tighten them too much else the heads will pull through the plywood. I’m not entirely satisfied with the situation, but I’ll just keep moving forward.  

Martinac. I’ve been waiting for some fasteners to arrive to complete the bow repairs. Meanwhile I’ve been sanding the bottom hull. Overhead sanding is monotonous. I wear goggles, dust mask, and hearing protection. I can maybe reach 70% of the hull while the boat is on the trailer. 

Martinac. Finally finished installing the interior panels in the bow. Here are some before and after pictures. 

Martinac. I’m curtailing work on the Martinac’s hull until next spring. I cleaned and organized the work area around the Martinac and moved many tools and supplies back to my garage at home. This winter I’ll focus my attentions back to the Chris Craft. But I will also start working on the Martinac’s engine. Here I’m cleaning the raw water pump. Like the transmission, the water pump is also obsolete. I hope these obsolete components have a little more life in them. A new engine and transmission for the Martinac would cost about $14k. 

Good luck!



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