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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Chris Craft. I’m starting to attach the frame supports. All these pieces received two coats of Smith’s Penetrating Epoxy Sealer. I apply 3M 5200 to both mating surfaces and spread with brush. They are fastened with a couple wood screws and 1/4-20 carriage bolts. 

Chris Craft. I installed the auxiliary supports for the side frames and bow frames. The wax paper on the bow is to keep the 3M 5200 from sticking where I don’t want it to stick. 
I also cut a 1/4-inch deep by 3/8-inch wide rabbit in the transom frames to inlay two 1/4-inch thick marine plywood panels. I think this will strengthen the transom and make it more water tight. Always lots of saw dust with router work. 

very nice, Guy!  Great attention to detail!

Thanks Shawn. I’m learning a lot on this project. Thank heavens for the information on the internet. 

Chris Craft. Tonight I cut and fit the transom panels. 

Chris Craft. Strengthening the aftdeck frames. 

Chris Craft. I made battens to support the upper chine rail. In this picture you can see the two chine rails that run the length of the boat and provide the transition between the bottom and the side. There is a plank that runs between the two chine rails. Maybe it’s called the chine plank. The lower chine rail is about twice as thick as the upper chine rail. And both rails accept wood screws from planks along two faces. So the battens add thickness to the upper chine. 
The upper chine obviously curves. And there’s also some twist, but not much. The battens had to be shaped accordingly. This picture shows the 10 battens after coating with Smith’s Clear Penetrating Epoxy Sealer. And a few other pieces for the aft frames. 
The original wood screws in the planks were #8s. I’m using #10s on the rebuild. 

Chris Craft. Interesting...

The 1961 Chris Craft 17-ft ski boat with a 185 hp engine retailed for $3,620 (trailer not included). In 2021 dollars, that’s about $31,300.

This boat has the same engine as a 1961 Corvette which sold for about $5,700 in 1961 (as best I can tell).

I have records from the previous three owners. I am the fourth owner. The second owner spent $7,500 on a restoration in 1998. That’s about $12,000 today. Fortunately, despite doing a poor job, they didn’t damage anything back then.

Chris Craft. Chine battens attached to the port side. 

Chris Craft. Chine batten attached to the starboard side. 

Chris Craft. The end of the frames work is in sight. This is the transom area. Frames for the transom planks and aftdeck. Once the frames are done I’ll finish sealing and painting all the frames between I lay down the plywood and planking. Lots of detail work. 

Chris Craft. First of at least 10 small plying panels for the space between the upper and lower chines and the frames. Part of my attempt to strengthen the boat. 


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