After a few years of chasing down a wooden drift boat here in southern Oregon I found my diamond in the rough. I have looked at Prichetts, Briggs, Steeles and others. Never could find the right one or Iwas always a day late. But that is another story. The one I found is a Rouge River Boat Shop mckenzie style drifter. The shop was owned by Jerry Briggs and I bought the boat from the original owner. It was built in 1971 and I'm glad I will be able to put it back floating the Rogue and other rivers where it belongs.

Makers tag

I thought I'd start on the inside first, removing the seats, power washing and starting the paint removal. Three applications of citristrip, scraper and 100 grit sandpaper 40 year old old growth plywood seeing the light of day.


 Im planning on leaving the interior bright. Haven't decided on a oil finish, 50/50 linseed and turps or Deks Oljie or possibly varnish. I know the draw backs of varnish but I build bamboo fly rods and it would seem appropiate. Should I decide on a finish and coat the sections s I go along or wait until it all stripped?


 results after a second session removing paint.Went to using kleen strip and a scraper to get the top two coats of paint off and then using 80 grit to get to bare wood. This is after two applications of stripper. Citristrip was just not cutting it.


 Here is a crack I found in the bottom rib running from the rib bolt for about a foot. It's all the way through. The crack is also in the side rib about four inches. I'm thinking on an epoxy fix. The bottom of the boat is epoxied and glassed on the outside by the previous owner to obviously repair the hard hit on the bottom so taking the rib out means removing bottom glass to get to the ring shank nails. Should I bite the bullet and remove this bottom section and replace the bottom rib and plwood section or just go with the epoxy glue fix. I was planning on glassing the bottom between the ribs to beef up the bottom inside. Any ideas are appreciated.


 Here is another picture of the split on the bottom and side rib.
















































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Comment by Vance Wonser on March 25, 2013 at 9:48pm

Mark, I'm really looking forward to the rest of your project.  I have a Don Hill that is an about the same shape that I will be doing so I will be anxious to watch you deal with various issues.  Thanks for taking the time to share.


Comment by Mark Heskett on February 23, 2013 at 4:26pm


Thanks for the advice, that seems like a good idea. I was just concerend about raw wood but it is covered and kept out of the weather between work sessions. I plan on keeping the post going tho the process  may be slow at times, between fishing,  cane rod building, eventual boat cover building and all the stuff keeping a 5 acre home going.

Comment by Tom Anderson on February 23, 2013 at 12:13pm

Hi Mark . . .

I'm commenting on your blog entry in part just because I know it's fun to get feedback on things on this forum.  Your boat looks great . . . I too am a first-time owner of a wood drift boat.  Having been a design/build contractor here OR/WA for the last 17 years, I can say that I always regretted stepping the process of re-finishing anything.  I know its really tempting to finish out one section and see how it looks, but I would say that the reward is greater (and process is easier and faster in the end) if you strip/sand/prep it all, and then finish all together.  It will lengthen the process quite a bit waiting for the multiple coats required of any finish to dry out before you can move on with sanding/prepping your next section . . . even with an oil finish.

I hope you keep adding to your blog post as I always learn a lot by watching the progress of others.  And . . . it feeds my fishing bug during the winter while there's still snow on the ground here (and we have no winter run to speak of here this year).


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