Aluminum Runabout Design?

Discussion in 'Boat Design' started by woodmandan2, Feb 2, 2012.

  1. woodmandan2
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    woodmandan2 Junior Member

    Hello All
    I am a High School Senior aspiring to make a runabout such as the one attached for use during the summer. I currently already have a motor, a 25horse Evinrude with controls so I am good in that sense. I have spent most of my winter so far rebuilding and painting the motor. What I am wondering is how I should go about attacking this project. I am looking for a boat that had this beautiful shape to it originally, but I have not been able to find one. I was thinking buying a fishing boat, cutting up the transom, welding additional aluminum onto sides of the boat, and then welding the rear end nice and water tight. I also plan on installing a wooden deck for the whole boat. My dad is a cabinet builder, so I have access to all of his wood working tools. My Grandfather will allow me access to his angle grinders, TIG welders, etc. The main thing I am looking for is to get that beautiful "barrel back" design onto a fishing boat. Any suggestions on where to get a used one of these boats, or how I should go about making one would be much appreciated!
    Thanks

    PLEASE SCROLL DOWN TO THE ALUMINUM RUNABOUTS, 4th or 5th picture.

    http://www.quincylooperracing.us/subpage104.html

    Dan
     
  2. Mr Efficiency
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    Mr Efficiency Senior Member

    Some nice pics there of those old motors, very interesting. Those old mercs were ahead of their time, shame that salt water wasn't their thing !
     
  3. FMS
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    FMS Senior Member

  4. woodmandan2
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    woodmandan2 Junior Member

    Hello All,
    Thank you for helping me identify what exactly I am looking for! It seems after a bit of searching that I am looking for a 11'ish Deluxe Crusier. Unfortunately I am having much difficulty trying to find a boat like this in my area. Does anybody know how difficult it would be to modify a similar-bottomed Jon boat, or possibly even build a complete aluminum boat from scratch like the boat in the picture? The Main thing I would love would be suggestions on where I could get a small boat like this if it is still possible to buy one like it.
    Thanks

    Dan
     
  5. messabout
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    messabout Senior Member

    Does it have to be aluminum? You could build a wooden one that could be lighter and stronger than the aluminum examples. As a cabinet shop guy, one might think of wood as a more appropriate material choice.
     
  6. beachcraft
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    beachcraft Junior Member

    How much lighter for a wood boat this size with 25 hp outboard capacity? The lightest I have now is a 175 lb aluminum 14 footer.
     
  7. woodmandan2
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    woodmandan2 Junior Member

    Are you sure about the wood being lighter? I would absolutely love to build out of wood, but the main thing I am looking for is the lightest boat possible. I was planning on decking the whole aluminum boat in wood, but if it truly is lighter and cheaper to build straight out of wood I would absolutely love to.
    Thanks

    Dan
     
  8. messabout
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    messabout Senior Member

    Aluminum certainly has its place as a boat material. Longevity is excellent. There are 50 year old Grummans, Lone Stars, Orlando Clippers, Dura-Craft, and others out there still going strong. Longevity is one thing, light weight is another.

    A competant 14 foot open runabout could be made of wood and weigh 125 or so. Pound per pound, wood is among the strongest materials you can use. The boat that you have chosen will need some good craftsmanship because it has the tricky rolled sides aft. Still, it might be easier to build in wood than aluminum unless you are skilled and experienced with sheet metals. I strongly suspect that the wood boat will cost less in materials as well.

    You can not have it both ways though. You would need to pamper the wooden boat more than the metal one. You could leave the aluminum boat in the back yard over a snowy winter and it would endure but you would not want to leave a lovely wooden boat out like that.
     
    Last edited: Feb 7, 2012
  9. woodmandan2
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    woodmandan2 Junior Member

    How much do you guys think an actual wooden boat would cost to make? I have the tools, it's simply the cost of lumber which I know is expensive. That is one of the reasons why I was leaning towards an aluminum boat, as I can easily get an older used one for free or a low cost <$200 and I feel like it shouldn't be too incredibly difficult to modify the transom into the shape I want. Any ideas on this?
     
  10. PAR
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    PAR Yacht Designer/Builder

    I disagree that you'd have to pamper the wooden boat more then the polished aluminum version. These things (small aluminum boats) dent up like the back stop at a driving range, so I'm pretty sure you'd have to be a bit more delicate, with the shinny aluminum one. I do agree with Messabout, in that the aluminum boat could tolerate neglect over a longer time frame, then wood.

    In the size you're looking at Woodmendan, a plywood hull will be a good bit less costly to build and probably lighter too (depending on design of course). You also have literally thousands of wooden designs to choose from, compared to just a handful of aluminum designs to select from.

    As to modifying a jon boat, well it could likely be done, but shaping metal on the boat would be quite difficult. If you think lumber is expensive, just cost out a sheet of 16 gauge T-6 aluminum and the stamped/extruded shapes necessary to make it as stiff as a hunk of plywood. You see, the vast majority of these aluminum jon boats are riveted. To make the curved aft panels properly, you'll want to remove the whole topside panels and use the appropriate tools (a buck, English wheel, planishing hammer and old fashioned leather bag and hammers, etc.). Lastly you'll need to extend the top and aft edges of this top side panel to account for the material needed to make the various radiuses. This doesn't count the necessary support structure. You could stretch a fair portion of it, particularity aft to the transom, but this is a skill that takes quite a bit of metal working experience. You just don't have enough topside panel to stretch it into that barrel shape, so you's be welding or riveting on a triangular piece at the top, near the transom.

    I'm not sure of your metal or wood working abilities, but working wood is far more forgiving, then pounding aluminum into a shape that can be polished, without looking like it had a bad case of acne as a teenager.

    To prove the point, make a simple cardboard model of a jon boat, then try to bend the topside panels into the shape you desire. You'll quickly see where you need to add or stretch metal to make it work. The transom will slope in ward, the topsides will not have enough material to bend around, while still offering enough freeboard to keep you from swamping, at each passing powerboat wake. If you can stretch and weld thin gauge aluminum, then go for it, but if not, maybe an alternative is in order.
     
  11. woodmandan2
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    woodmandan2 Junior Member

    I'd like to start off by thanking you all for the replies! I am really starting to consider how I want to go about this. One of the things I do love the most about the aluminum boats is the polished look to them, however I have another idea for this boat now. If aluminum is incredibly hard to work with, which it is sounding like this right now then I think I will go with wood. I was not planning on modifying the aluminum boat extensively, I was just planning on rounding the transom however I can see how this could be very difficult.

    As for a plywood boat, does anybody have any suggestions into what plans I should look for? I have seen some beautiful designs by others on here, so I am sure somebody on this website has at least a general idea of what I am looking for. I know there are thousands of boat plans of this size in my range, however I am interested in some of the easier/cheaper to build boats that I could make. My budget is somewhat tight and it would be nice to do this for as cheap as possible.

    As for the sheet metal aluminum, I now understand how incredibly expensive it can be! As a result I was thinking of building a small 12' plywood boat, and then sheeting the deck with 2" strips of aluminum? I feel I can screw these down to a wood backing, polish them and get the look I am aiming for at a lower weight and smaller price.

    I would be happy to buy plans for a smaller wooden boat. The thing that scared me away was looking at the plans for a Glen-L Zip or similar. I am not afraid to spend hours building the boat, I just saw lumber costs upwards of 1,500 Dollars, which is fairly steep for me. Now that you mention plywood I feel like I could do it for cheaper although it may not be as pretty.

    Again, thank you all so much for the help in this process!

    Dan
     
  12. PAR
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    PAR Yacht Designer/Builder

    Simple to build boats, generally don't have fancy shapes incorporated into them. Tight budgets also don't produce fancy curves on boats. These two parameters usual mean flat panels, bent into position, screwed, glued, etc. Adding an aluminum skin will quickly add to the cost of your boat. You might want to consider a vinyl applique over a very well faired and smoothed plywood (or strip planked) wooden hull. It would be much, much cheaper, wouldn't add any weight, wouldn't have a dissimilar materials issue and is easy to apply, none of which applies to an aluminum skin.

    The Glen-L zip was a popular little boat some decades ago, not so much now, though by no means suggests it's any less desirable (folks want newer looking stuff). $1,500 for materials is a real bargain, once you consider the whole package. An engine alone will cost that much, even a good deal on a used one, with tank(s), fuel lines, batteries, controls, etc. included. You'd be very hard pressed to build a Zip from scratch for less then $5,000 and you'll still need a trailer! With some scrounging, you might be able to get this figure down to $3,500, but you'd need to be a real shopper and know all the right places to look for the stuff you need.

    To start out, you're often best buying a used boat in need of some love. Generally you'll get an engine, tanks, trailer, steering, controls, etc. Some or all of these things may need some work, but usually not as much cash as elbow grease. With the experience of a project like this, you can then consider a new build or another fixer-upper. You can swap out the stuff you need, like an engine or steering and have a better boat. Building a boat, even one of these small runabouts will take some serious money. You can build a simple skiff or flats boat, but they don't look as sexy as a runabout.

    As a rule, you get what you pay for. We'd all like to own a 28' mahogany runabout, with pristine caulked seams on the foredeck and a beautiful blond in the passenger seat. Then we wake up and realize we aren't good looking enough, to afford the blonde or the runabout. Welcome to the world of yachting.
     
  13. Squidly-Diddly
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    Squidly-Diddly Senior Member

    I'd scan Craigslist and dumps near water for any aluminum boat hulk.

    Figure you will ruin at least the first boat you try this on.

    Maybe if you ruin one side, then use that knowledge to do better on the other side, you MIGHT be ready to do this mod on the boat you will keep.

    You gotta figure those boats were made by master aluminum fabricators as pet projects, probably fresh from building thousands of aircraft during WW2.

    I also think you might somehow use parts the bow section of a doner/practice boat to get your cool looking curves on the barrel stern....probably 'inside out' or 'upside down'. It might not look like those old skool boats, but might still look cool. Might end up a little more 'bat boat'.

    I've also heard that some aluminum boats that are all riveted use a different type of aluminum that isn't good for welding, so you might want to look for welded boats for this project, but I don't know anything about welding aluminum.

    Have you thought about using aircraft or boat style rivets? I've heard they work good for bending sheets into place and that you can sort of cinch them down and into place little by little.
     
  14. woodmandan2
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    woodmandan2 Junior Member

    I think at this point I am going to throw the Aluminum Boat Idea out the window. It seems it would be best for me to buy an older used boat, as I simply do not have the cash to build a nice one. I currently have a 25HP Evinrude Short Shaft motor with controls and everything that I restored this winter. Does anybody have any ideas of what kind of boat I should be looking for to repair in order to run this summer? I have been searching around craigslist and I am finding nothing, but I am sure I am searching for the wrong thing! I am going to have to say that I think I should pass on the runabout. I was looking at the 10' Squirt by Glen-L and that would be over my maximum budget.
     

  15. PAR
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    PAR Yacht Designer/Builder

    A clamming skiff would be well suited to your short shaft and dozens of designs are available for these well tried types. They're flat bottomed usually and get up and scoot, with minimum power, though like all flat bottoms, they can pound if pushed too hard.

    I have a 17' skiff design, that requires 11 sheets of plywood and a handful of dimensional stock. It's designed to use Lowe's/Dept materials and with a 25 HP and a moderate load (1,000 pounds) she'll run 27 MPH and with a full load (1,400 pounds) she'll do 23 MPH (figuring a small amount of slip). That's pretty good really, considering the available power. It's also a tough as nails boat, with double thick bottom planks, so bashing your way over rocks and running up onto beaches aren't problems. The best part is you get to build it as you like. The boat is setup in the plans as a center console, but you could install the helm to one side with a little dashboard, etc. It's just a fishing boat, with casting platform forward, splash well aft and wide open middle. There's room for bait wells, rod storage, etc. too. Contact me by email (click on my name) if interested.
     
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