Restoring a wood drift boat

Discussion in 'Wooden Boat Building and Restoration' started by pduhglas, Aug 3, 2008.

  1. pduhglas
    Joined: Jul 2008
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    Location: boise, id

    pduhglas Junior Member

    I am new to this forum, and posted a thread last Friday (I didn't ask the right questions).

    I have come by an old wooden drift boat, and want to restore it, and reinforce it with fiberglass. The first thing I need to do is sand off the existing paint, what is the next step-do I prep it before I begin the fiberglass process? And are their any tips to the fiberglassing process I need to look out for?
     

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  2. thudpucker
    Joined: Jul 2007
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    thudpucker Senior Member

    P, here's my answer to your other post.
    I see more now that you have photos. You have a pretty good boat for what your gonna do.
    My opinion on wood is not to F/glass it.

    On taking the old paint off: "Why?"
    If the old paint is flaking off, that would be a good reason to take it off. Aesthetically it wont look good and water soaks into the wood under the paint. If it cant dry out it will rot.

    But...if that paint is sticking pretty good, dont remove it. It's got a good bond, so it'l last as long as its not abused.
    Just lightly sand or scratch off the dirt n' residue, primer and paint.


    Now, read my answer to your other post and enjoy.
    Interesting post.
    When I was a kid I helped a guy build some McKenzie Knockoff's for drifting the western Washington Steelhead rivers. Great fun. I actually took people on three trips down one of the Rivers.

    I built one from plans later on (years later) but I deviated from the plans to make the bottom like the knockoffs I dealt with in the 50's.

    I made a bent wood, 2X2 stringer down each side at the bottom. Thats gotta be a pretty good piece of wood. Strong. It'l be heavy and hard. Not the soft stuff you buy at Lowes, you need Pine and you may find a place near you that deals in treated wood for underpinning of houses.

    I made a scarf joint 1/4" Marine plywood bottom and with Pine Tar as a sealant, I put a jillion bronze screws in through the bottom, up into that 2X2 frame rail.
    Put those screws every inch or so down both sides and across the stern if you have a wide place for a motor.

    Here's the reasoning my Boss had, and I heartilly agree with.
    That bottom gets ***** during a good year on the rocks and shoals of the river. You may have to replace that bottom (if you have a lot of trips) maybe twice a year.
    So dont waste any money on F/glass, Rhino lining or even expensive epoxy paint.
    That stuff wont make it skid across the current any easier.
    So what if it leaks?
    I used plain old Oil based sealer. Probably stain would work too.

    The bottom of the skiff is the temporary part.
    The rest of it has to be pretty good stuff.
    Now this story and advice I'm giving you here is only for a McKenzie style drift boat.

    If you've never done this before, maybe you should pay a guide for a trip. There's a lot to learn, and a terrible price to pay for some certain mistakes in judgment.

    In your own defence, and maybe you might take me down the river some day, you make sure you have good Oars, and easy to handle Oar locks.

    Your first trip by yourself in that drift boat is gonna be a whole book full of Failures and learnings. Dont get discouraged. Do it again and again and catch a lot of fish. Take photos too. You are on the river with no noise. You'll see things nobody else since Lewis n' Clark has seen.

    "I'm not good at Failing. I'm just real good af finding out which things wont work!"
     
  3. Butch .H
    Joined: Apr 2008
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    Location: South Africa

    Butch .H Senior Member

    NICE BOAT. Thud do you still have those plans

    Regards
    Butch
     
  4. thudpucker
    Joined: Jul 2007
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    thudpucker Senior Member

    Sorry Butch,
    I sold out when I got too old and it all went to the 'other' guy.

    I bought the plans from a Guy in Oregon, and the plans turned out to be from a designer in Tonwonda NY of all places. The plans came with a VCR Tape on construction that was so poorly done it was useless.
    (Do they have any running water in NY?)

    That boat plan called for an Oak stem. I was in AK at the time and Oak is an import. I finally found out that some Pallat boards have Oak. You can tell which ones are Oak, because you need help to pick them up.

    That's where I got my Oak stem.
    The Rest of the boat I made from local stuff except the Marine Plywood that I had to special order from some place in California.
    Working with wood in an open shed in that cold just about did me in.
     
  5. Butch .H
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    Location: South Africa

    Butch .H Senior Member

    Danm:( no problem I will google him down:D
     
  6. pduhglas
    Joined: Jul 2008
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    Location: boise, id

    pduhglas Junior Member

    thudpucker,

    Thanks for the reply.
    Why not fiberglass the bottom half of the boat? My brother currently has a aluminum drift boat and I use it all the time. When you drift down the river hitting a rock is always a strong possibility, so to fiberglass the bottom and up the side of the boat reinforces the structure and allows the boat to stay afloat after a hard hit. I will have to sand the paint off because it flaking off easily, have you restored a boat like this before? If so do you know the steps it takes to get this thing running again?
     
  7. thudpucker
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    thudpucker Senior Member

    Flaky paint comes with real old boats for two reasons.
    The old stuff wasn't as good, and most folks dont spend the bucks to primer and seal it before painting it. Then too, lots of them sat out in the weather and the outer layers of the wood just crumbled and the paint had nothing to hang onto.
    Usually the paint n' primer only goes into the wood a few thousands of an inch. Hardly a purchase at all.
    There is some stuff from Smith Chemicals in California called CPES which I have used. That stuff is thin and penetrates a long way into the wood.
    It's an epoxy based stuff and you can paint on it with just about anything and it will hold.
    I did not know about CPES when I did my drift boat or I would have sealed the bottom with CPES. Just re-apply when needed.

    Re: Crashing into rocks, scraping over shoals, beaching in the sand and gravel, doing damage and the thought of F/glass protection.

    No amount of F/glass on wood can hold up under that kind of treatment.
    You know that you cannot avoid that scraping forever. I never even tried to avoid it. I went down the river to fish. The rocks were in my way!

    Lets say for instance that you F/Glassed over wood bottom of your drift boat.
    You hit a rock pretty good and scraped over it, and went on fishing.

    You can see the scratches go plumb through that thing F/glass coating and right into the wood.
    Now you have water inside the wood. You have to let that dry out before you can cover it.
    So why bother covering? Just go fishing!
    The bottom wont ever let you down. You wont step through it. I never heard of anybody ever losing his drift boat because he dropped over a cliff onto a rock and punched a hole so big the boat sank. Never!

    So dont waste any time with something to prevent damage.
    Seal it and go fishing.
    If it gets splinterd or shards of the outer layers of Plywood start coming off, you can consider some kind of repair or just get the Drill driver out and replace the bottom.

    I do not remember how he did the bottom piece back in the 50's. I was just a kid, doing what I was told to do. I had fun though.
    When I built mine, it was almost 16' long and Fourty something wide across the bottom.
    I had to make a jig to scarf two pieces of Marine plywood together to make a 16' piece. That wasnt easy. To this day I do not think it worked out like it should have. But it went on, and I went fishing and had a great time.

    If you make one bottom piece, maybe you should keep the jigs intact and make another bottom at the same time.

    You also need the 10 Lb polygon lead anchor on a pully/lock system if your gonna fish in comfort.
    Have you learned how to skid over into the Eddy current and row back upstream yet?
    That's a cool trick. However if your ever gonna break an oar, thats when it'l happen. That's why I say to have those oars and oarlocks fitted loose so you can jerk an oar out if it gets snagged on a root when your close to the bank.

    I'm so windy. Your lucky I'm not sitting at your campfire.
     
  8. pduhglas
    Joined: Jul 2008
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    pduhglas Junior Member

    Thudpucker,

    This sounds like a good idea. A few things I am not sure of though. Referring to the current 2x2 material on the boat-do I take that off or put the treated 2x2 on the out side of the existing board? Do you happen to have any pictures or plans I can follow?
     
  9. thudpucker
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    thudpucker Senior Member

    Your boat already has the nailer put on the outside of the boat. See that 1X2" piece of hardwood going around the bottom.
    Thats your nailer.
    I put my 2" on the inside basically because I didnt know any better. It dont matter. If its on the outside it will double as a rub rail and will be much easier to replace if it gets broken.
    Right now it sounds a bit spooky. But after you've replaced that bottom once, you'll be an expert.

    One more tip, on all those screws, make sure you have some framwork down in the bottom to screw the bottom to. If you only put screws around the outside perimiter, the bottom will 'oil can' and you'll have a thunderous ride down the rapids.

    Dont bother with limberholes. This is a boat you can tip to drain.
    I wish I lived closer.
     
  10. rwferr
    Joined: Jun 2008
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    rwferr Junior Member

    I answered your other thread but now that I see the boat I feel you should use a heat gun and that paint could all be removed in a weekend.
     

  11. thudpucker
    Joined: Jul 2007
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    thudpucker Senior Member

    rferr has a good point. Heat guns are good for that.
    I always wondered if a Chemical paint stripper would wreck the wood.
    I never tried it. No guts here!
    I used the wife's blow dryer first then I got a really aggressive heat gun. It did the job.
    Scraper and good steel wire brush are handy tools to go along with the Heat Gun.
     
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