I've been lurking around here for years, but its time to make a post!  I bought this cool homebuilt boat from the builder's widow a few years ago.  Its a bit of a strange bird, very narrow with low sides and it rows backward (for a drift boat, more like a row boat with the rowers back towards the pointy end).  I suspect it may have been based off of more of a coastal boat design because it looks like it has a fin box that was later glassed over.  Its a stitch and glue boat and the exterior is fully glassed.  It rows quite well in the lake and is speedier than the drift boats that I've had in the past of flat water.  So thats the good: Its a good looking boat that rows well in the lake, even with it's quirks.

The bad:  The paint is pretty rough on the inside, and it needs new hatch covers and just a general once over, but the thing that worries me the most is that it seems the original builder used 1/4" ply for the bottom of the boat and its pretty "floppy" on the lake.  Definitely doesn't inspire confidence while rowing. The glass on the bottom looks like it need some work as well.

I'm wondering if it would be enough to sand the paint off of the bottom and lay a fresh layer or 2 of glass over the bottom and then add a sheet of 1/4" marine ply to the middle of the interior to add some rigidity, I would then sand and repaint the interior and make a new set of gunnels, replace hatch covers etc.  

The other thought would be to sand the paint of the bottom, epoxy a fresh sheet of 1/4" onto the bottom and then glass over that.  Then go through, sand, paint, gunnels, hatches, etc.  

The woodworking part doesn't worry me.  I'm an instrument builder so I have access and experience with tools, just looking for some help forming a game plan and insight into the boat.  

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Anybody?  I'm leaning towards a layer or 2 of glass on the bottom and a false floor or some other form of reinforcement inside

why not just clean up the bottom and laminate a piece of 1/4 inch ply to it? Layer of biax over that and call it good?

The physics of the situation requires a material that resists forces applied in tension, such as a rock trying to push through the bottom of the boat. Adam mentioned that the bottom of his boat was too flexible. An oil-canning bottom will waste energy when he rows his boat as the energy he applies when rowing can't be fully utilized. Stiffening on the interior of the boat will resist the excess movement and allow his control movements to be fully utilized. Dependent upon how much fiberglass cloth of the proper type with the added ribs will solve his problems. People have added sacrificial sheets of 1/4" plywood to the bottom of their boats, primarily on wooden, McKenzie style driftboats with internal ribs already present. There are several posts on here that can be found with a search. 

Rick Newman

Makes sense.  Maybe first replace the gunnels with something a little more substantial.  Add in spacer blocks to set the inner gunnel inboard a little to create a truss around the shear like Mckenzies and most whitewater dories do.  If that doesn't stiffen things up then glass?  I just saw one gunnel needs repair anyway

Thanks guys!  Since I originally posted this I took the boat out on the Deschutes.  She floats and rows great, but the gunnels are low and I'm not.  Its not the most comfortable boat I've ever rowed so im actually leaning towards passing this boat along to the next person and trying to find a boat thats more ready to go. 


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