Wood Sled resto


Active Member
Some of you may know I purchased Howard Miller's wood sled from his daughter last winter. They had been trying to sell it for some time, but most people just saw an old wood boat. I believe Kerry alerted me to the Craigslist post, and I immediately started getting excited about the project. There was a small bidding war with Salmo as he wanted the motor. I again apologize and thank you for letting me get the boat and motor. I owe you a trip or two when she's done.

I got tired of working on the prams, even though not quite complete, they are ready to customize so I set them outside under the shed.

Had one of my buddies help me get the boat off the trailer and flipped on a roller cart, and deconstruction began. It was really an adventure in wondering what happened as I uncovered several repairs that had been made over it's life. There a couple in the bow area and one large section of plywood replaced in the middle. The frame is good and I really only found one small area of rot, that will be easy to repair. Maybe some day I will get a chance to sit and talk to some of Howards fishing buddies and find out more about the accidents and repairs.

In a coffee can (Folgers), stuffed down in one of the storage lockers, was all the original title and registration for the boat along with the original warranty card for the motor. I found the original title for a '52 Home Made Boat. There is no description or length on the application other than 300 lbs. I find it very hard to believe this boat is actually 61 years old. A simple description of the boat is an 18 foot long open jet sled. I think it was a bit ahead of it's time with the design. If you look at all the modern aluminum jet sleds, this old guy was their grand daddy.

They were lucky back then, because you could get 20 foot long sheets of plywood. The sides are full length and except for the repairs the bottom is two pieces joined long wise on a keel. It appears the glue used was Resorcinol. Some of the patches are put in with this glue and some with what appears to be 3m 5200. The bottom is 5 ply fir plywood. I just cut off the chine battens which were white oak and glued on with resorcinol which leads me to believe they were original. The starboard side chine batten was beat to death and had been patched with many small pieces of what ever was around and nailed without glue using 8p galvanized nails. Farm boy fixes?

There were 3 rub strips (1x6 VG Fir) nailed to the bottom. Some of the patches are directly under the rub strips so I am going to guess these were early added improvements, as evidenced by the use of galvanized nails. I need to confirm but it appears the original builder used brass or bronze nails to secure the plywood.

Over time, it appears a steel bracket was added to support the transom and one in the bow for an anchor release and trailer cable connection. All of this is mild steel and crudely welded. More farm boy fixes?

I have some new 6mm BS1088 ply coming in to skin the bottom and will be putting on a larger profile white oak chine batten. I am also thinking of milling new rub strips for the bottom. Rather that just 3 1x6's I think I will go with 7 pieces 5/4 x 2 1/2". Since the frame is only 1x3's I want to provide some additional stiffness to the boat. I also plan to replace the fasteners in the frame joint at the chine and add some gussets to improve torsional rigidity. As many of you know I am not a fan of fiberglass over wood, but in this case, I think it is a must.

As always the shop is open to visitors.

I will periodically provide progress updates.



Well-Known Member

Thanks for sharing what you're doing. Until the mid-80s, that was THE most popular style of boat on the Skagit, and I've fished out of a couple of them. They handle amazingly well and are perfect for Skagit style boondogging. That was a heck of a deal, but I'm glad it landed in the hands of someone who can do that old boat justice. I'd love to see what you do with it.



Active Member
Over the past month and half, there has been some serious progress with the resto.

After repairing the one small rot area, I laminated a full layer of 5 ply 1/4 inch BS1088 using Sys-3 epoxy and about 250 silicone bronze screws. This was covered with one layer 6ox fiberglass cloth and the same epoxy. The original boat had (3) 1x6 rub strips and a really small chine batten. I changed up the plan and milled out (5) (4/4x 2 1/2") rub strips and the same size white oak chine batten. These were bedded in 3m 5200 (10 tubes) to seal and secure. I found warming the tubes in the BBQ set at 150 made this stuff spread way easier. After letting the sealant cure for a week, all the raw wood was sealed with S1 epoxy. And two coats of Interlux Brightside applied. Time to flip over.

I have gone through the motor and replaced the water pump (old impeller rotten), cleaned up, lubed and greased. Got good spark, stuck a new prop on it, so it should be good to go. I picked up carb rebuild kits for this winter activity.



Piscatorial predilection
I really admire your woodworking skills, and knowledge of glues/finishes. I can't speak for anyone but myself, but, I think everyone is pleased that Howards old boat is in your most capable hands. Look forward to more up-dates and seeing the finished product too.



Active Member
I think there is a slight dip between frames 5 and 6. I plan to get it wet this year and get the grand kid a chance to catch some pinks and cut throat. This winter the boat will go back into the shop to finish making fixes on the inside which will involve replacing some of the old frame repairs with new ones. There is only a single bolt connecting the frame at the chine, so each one of these will be reworked.


Active Member
The upgrades are close, work sucks............ lets just leave it at that.

After flipping the boat, the inside was sanded down (not to bare wood) and the front deck and storage boxes were removed. I think these were later additions to the boat as the workmanship and materials differ a bit.
For the most part I have left all the old repairs in tack, as these tell part of the story with the boat. There are interior bottom patches where he hit rocks. The STB bow rail had a major crack where it ran into something.

The original front deck was nailed down to the top of the frame, so anything put up there was ready to go overboard. I put the new deck under the rails and reinforced the bow with white oak. The bow was being pulled off the boat they way the scabbed on steel anchor bracket and bow eye was installed. I pulled that all off and its now hanging in the rafters of the shop. I have a trolling motor I will mount later.

The transom was also being pulled off the boat. I added lateral and rotation support as well as reengineered the motor support. It's stout now.

I wanted to save the storage boxes, but could never really figure out a way that made sense. I replaced the arrangement with a large drawer on each side with room for the fuel tanks and batteries below.

I still have not been able to transfer the titles, as the paperwork is a bit out of the norm. Old guy dies and his daughter sells the boat, even though the wife is still alive, and there is no transfer of ownership from father to daughter. Egads. I did find and save all the original documentation, title, boat registration, hull number etc. One of my favorite things to do, stand in line for an hour, only to be told you have the wrong form.

I am seriously debating getting a new trailer, as the old chunk of iron is just that, an old chink of iron. It works, tows ok, has good rollers and truck axel, but probably weighs more than the boat. I'll save it so if I end up donating, the boat and trailer will go together.