Drift Boat plans...

Discussion in 'Watercraft' started by Riverman, Jun 28, 2009.

  1. Looking for plans to build a small drift boat next winter... a two-person rig is all I need.

    Anyone have any simple plans that you like?

  2. Looking for free plans to build a wooden drift boat. Thanks a lot from Uruguay.
  3. Sorry, just saw this post.

    I just spent the last year making an Ozark style drift boat based on the Spira International plans linked to above.

    As most would understand the term "plans", they were practically worthless. The best they will give you is a very rough idea of the dimensions. The rest is up to you.

    Dimensions were off, critical and time saving information like the angle of each rib is not given, and the "instructions" are laughable. Step 7: Finish the interior to your preference. Ummm, OK, that covers a lot of ground, but I was hoping for a few more specifics.

    Obviously, I understood that boat building was going to be a test of woodworking skill, but good plans should save time by at least including all the necessary dimensions and angles. Better yet would be accurate and detailed construction steps and instructions because the vast majority of those who purchase plans will be first time builders.

    As far as free plans, good luck. I searched far and wide and I didn't find any.

  4. FYI: The plans at the first link have even less instructions. :(

    But once I saw the plans I realized how ridiculusly simple a driftboat design is, compared to other wooden boat designs. And the guy at the Montana River Boats site says he stopped building his boats with frames in the traditional way; he builds the boats without them with the stich and glue method. Simpler to build and just as strong since the seats and interior fittings are structural.

    BTW: When you buy the plans at the first link, you get access to the plans for all three boats on their site, not just one.
  5. Yes, I'm aware of the advantages of S&G, but there are also disadvantages that are worth thinking about:

    - Cost - Good resin and cloth is EXPENSIVE. An S&G boat uses significantly more resin and cloth because it relies on these elements for structural support.

    - Weight - Because of the amount of fiberglass involved, I was worried that the weight would be a major issue with S&G. This was a big concern for me because here in Minnesota on anything but the largest rivers, there is a significant chance that in low water we'll have to get out and either drag our outright carry my boat over or around something on every float. A beaver dam, falls, a boulder field, etc. This is a deal buster for some guys who have big fiberglass boats.

    Also, I don't buy that line about heavy fiberglass boats "handling" better. Bull. Heavier is harder to maneuver and harder to row and that's never a good thing.

    My goal was to get the boat under 200 pounds, which I came very close to doing. This would have been impossible with the S&G designs because the weight of the required cloth and resin alone made up almost half of this weight.

    Here's my boat, I just finished it 2 weeks ago:



    The interior. The interior took as long to build as the hull, that was just one of many "learning experiences" building this baby.


    It floats. We took her for a maiden test drive on a lake by my house. What a relief, it's NFL (no friggin leaks).


    BTW, I also bought the Montana Boat Builders plans, but after considering both designs I thought the Spira design wasn't as elegant, but it did appear to be more straightforward. Whether or not that is true for sure I can't say because I haven't built both designs. That's part of the problem with the lack of thorough instructions for any of these boat designs. You can't tell anything about how they're built until you build them.

  6. Grouse,

    Nice looking boat! Good job considering your remarks about the general lack of plan details and construction and finishing instructions. I was looking at that plan some time ago as a potential winter project. I'm building a house instead, so it will have to wait.

  7. Thanks.

    I think the main advice I'd give to anyone thinking about building one is that you're going to be heavily dependent on your own woodworking skills. From what I've seen having bought both the Montana Boat Builders and the Spira Intl plans, the plans give you a very, very rough idea of what you're doing.

    My father has built canoes, so I have at least a basic understanding of the process of building something on forms. I'm also a fairly decent woodworker, so generally I can figure my way through.

    But basically there came a time during construction when I just quit looking at the plans. You have to build the boat not from dimensions and shapes on the plan, but from what you're seeing in front of you. Every part is custom made to fit every other part and you just keep fitting and shaping and fitting and shaping until you're there.

    Bottom line is you can't just cut all the pieces out from dimensions on a plan and then screw them together. I knew that going in, but it really slows things down when the plan lacks critical information that would have made an 2 hour trial and error process of painstaking meausrement and cutting test pieces into a cut-glue-screw single step.

    If anyone's thinking of the Canadian plan from Spiria, get in touch. I have 3 big items that can save you a ton of time. I'll give you the angles for each rib, a huge timesaving tip for making the center rib, and some close-ups of the seats I built so if you want to copy them you can.

  8. First of all, that is one cool looking boat! Great job!!

    My understanding of stitch and glue is that the tape and fiberglass is used just on the joints, not on the entire hull. That amount does not add much to the weight, or expense, at all. And without the wooden frames the hull ends up being lighter. People who sheath the hulls do so for abrasion resistance, not structural integrity. And it is usually just the bottom, not the sides or the inside. My current boat that I am building uses biaxial tape just on the joints.

    There are a lot of plans out there and a lot of different ways to build them.
  9. Congrats on the new boat!

    All of the stitch and glue boats that I have looked at are completely sheathed in fiberglass both inside and out not just on the joints. The degree and weight of the fiberglassing depends on what you are building the boat for. In addition to that it is nice to have all of the wood complelety encased in fiberglass to seal it. Yes, there are arguements on water getting under the fiberglass and rotting the wood but with some maintanance it is really a non-issue. I just finished up a stitch and glue boat from Montana River Boats and very pleased with the results. I went a bit fancy on the interior with dry boxes and what not but storage was a issue that I wanted to solve based on previous boats I have owned. Even with that the boat is nice and light and handles great. I have had two previous framed wooden drift boats and one Hyde. If I would have done a basic interior on my boat I would say that a framed boat and stitch and glue boat probably weigh around the same...trading frames for fiberglass as mentioned above.

    Anyways nice work on the boat and I hope you enjoy it! :beer2:

  10. I noticed that a lot of boatbuilders do this too. I thought that was the only way to do it. I had the same reaction when I started pricing out fiberglass cloth and epoxy resin.:eek:

    But I then came across Dynamite Payson and his Instant Boats method. Really minimalist boat building. Other real eye-opening information came from reading Dave Carnell's articles on epoxy and boat paint. He is a chemical engineer that has built boats for 40 years. He is really crititcal of the "epoxy nazis", I think he called them, who want to slather everything in sight with epoxy and fiberglass. He said it just adds weight and expense. He told me that he has used 1/4 inch fillets covered with one-inch wide fiberglass tape. When tested, the plywood broke before the joint gave out. Now, one-inch wide tape on the chines of a boat is a little too minimalist for me, but I feel confident with the three-inch wide I am using now.

    My design criteria for a drift boat is pretty similar to Mr Grouse's: I am looking for a very light weight boat for Michigan rivers. No white water hear but some can get very twisty. Also, the only access on one of the rivers requires dragging the boat across the grass to put in; a typical drift boat is too heavy to do this often.

    So I am looking at the Ozark Fisherman by Spira International, the Buffalo Boat at Montana Riverboats, and the the Mini Drifter by Don Hill River Boats.

    That is definately a project for next year; I have to get my current boat done before the weather gets cold.

    I am glad Mr Grouse posted those pictures, it is nice to see a boat so well done from someone with similar design needs.
  11. Truer words have never been spoken. This is where I am at with my current boat, and why it is taking so long. I could not find plans for what I needed so I had to combine several and make some of it up.
  12. Josh, this was my understanding as well and the various estimates I got from people who built various S&G designs in the 16 foot class indicated they used 6-8 gallons of epoxy.

    By contrast, the framed designs used 2-3 gallons, again depending on how many layers of cloth you want to add.

    So my conclusion was that the S&G would end up significantly heavier because the weight of 7 spruce ribs is far less than the weight of 5 gallons of extra epoxy.

    Also, cost WAS an issue for me. Take a gander at how much coinage you have to plunk down for that extra 5 gallons of epoxy! Oh, and shipping, don't even get me started on the cost of shipping a gallon of liquid, what a ripoff.

    Where I got it wrong was that I didn't count the weight of putting in those floor boards to make the floor flat and usable. Yeah, for whatever reason the plans didn't mention that. :rolleyes::cool:

    If you build the Spira, get in touch. I modified the plan for the 16 foot Canadian and like I said, I can save you a bunch of time with a few measurements and some pictures of what I did vs what I now know the shitty plans should have told me to do.

    And if anyone is ever in Minneapolis/St. Paul, get in touch and we'll drift.

  13. There are lots of advantages to going full S&G and leaving out the frames. Not the least of which are maintenance and interior efficiency. One way to keep the weight down is use thinner plywood because the sheathing adds substantial strength. Say going from 1/2" to 3/8". You will end up with a zero maintenance boat that is a lot easier to keep clean and will last much, much longer. As well, you can sheath only the outside for durability and just coat the interior with epoxy and no cloth.

    Having said all that, I very much like the traditional look of your very well built boat. The great thing about boats is the fact that you can have yours any way you like.
  14. A fine looking rig Grouse.
  15. SWEET boat Grouse!
    Makes me want to build one.
  16. FWIW

    I just purchased a set of plans from Don Hill River Boats (http://www.dhdriftboats.com/) the 14' standard. They plans are very straight forward and appear to very well put together, I've yet to get started on it, trying to pre-plan all the steps first. Right now I'm compiling a list of lumber and will send it to various stores for a bids. I also received a list of suppliers for all the material needed as well as a detailed video showing assembly steps. Hopefully I can get going on this project after the first of the new year.
  17. Grouse,

    I am looking for your tips and angles on building the Canadian plan. Just started building the Canadian dat 2.


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