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Hull of a Problem: How to Restore a Wooden Drift Boat

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November 20, 2013

Hull of a Problem: How to Restore a Wooden Drift Boat

By Tim Romano

http://ak.c.ooyala.com/ZwaHNoaDqV1uZR8fTvtkn3rhkWSXAS39/QCdjB5HwFOTaWQ8X4xMDoxOjBzMTt2bJ

This past summer I inherited an old wooden drift boat from my good friends over at Boulder Boat Works. I naively thought I'd give myself a "little project" and restore a 10-plus-year-old drift boat that's been rotting outside for a good chunk of that time. Let's just say it's turned into a bit more than a "little" project. And I'd have to be delusional if I think I'm going to finish it by myself. I mean, just removing the seats, dry storage and floor took three separate nights. Can you say many stripped screws...

So of course, neighbors, friends and family have all gotten involved. I had to buy a trailer for it and some new tools I've never owned, so it's not really so "free" anymore, but who am I to complain. I've got all the dry storage and seats out, as well as the floor. I'm working on those in my neighbor's wood shop to bring them back to life.

Now comes the hard part: What to do with the bottom of the hull? Right now it's got some of the Boulder Boat Works super strong plastic on there, but it seems to be delaminating due to the wood and plastic not playing nice together. I've been scouring websites and forums and I'm at a total loss for how to handle it.

Most people I know have told me to rip off the plastic and to throw a couple sheets of fiberglass on it. Seems reasonable enough, but I thought I should ask the masses to see if you have any other bright ideas.

Comments (9)

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from treelimit wrote 21 weeks 3 days ago

I can't help you with the boat but Holy Bieber, I can give you some tips for crushing the brow of that Broncos lid.

At least those can't be skinny jeans or they wouldn't roll up like that! ;)

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from timromano wrote 21 weeks 3 days ago

treelimit,

no need to be hatin' on the Broncos lid...

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from Dangle wrote 21 weeks 3 days ago

You end up with a very heavy boat. Wood soaks up water in time coupled with a substance on the bottom as well. Best to junk it, and buy a used fiberglass.

-2 Good Comment? | | Report
from buckhunter wrote 21 weeks 3 days ago

Looks like fun.

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from ejunk wrote 21 weeks 2 days ago

I've never restored a wooden boat, but I have built one (plywood stitch and glue) from scratch. I know enough to be dangerous, hahaha.

if the bottom of the hull is delaminating you almost certainly need to remove the plastic and find a new solution. fiberglass and epoxy is really, really strong and not too terribly difficult to install if you're patient and don't try to work too fast. even epoxy by itself is very tough. it probably won't be cheap or lightweight, however. I assume that a drift boat is going to want a pretty tough coat on the bottom so the best course of install of epoxy and fiberglass might require a lot of materials and result in a lot of weight. it'll be rock solid when you're done, however, and will withstand a lot of abuse.

wooden boats are awesome and I think its great you're doing this. I hope you get it done!

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Brookstreamfly wrote 21 weeks 2 days ago

I built a wood driftboat and it's about as light as my buddy's Klackacraft. Great resource... woodenboatpeople.com It is important, though, to completely encapsulate the wood in epoxy to avoid rot developing in the first place. once you flip the boat over and remove the bottom. Use 1/2" mahogany meranti marine plywood for the bottom. Once it's on, I put two thin coats of epoxy on, followed by two coats of epoxy mixed with graphite powder. forms a nice shiny black surface which slides over rocks quite nicely. then coat the inside with epoxy followed by UV polyurethane because epoxy does not have UV protection. and reassemble. There are instructions out there for joining two sheets of plywood with either a scarf joint (overlapping tapered joint) or butt joint (edge-to-edge with a backing piece) I used the latter and it sees to be plenty strong on some bony rivers I 've had it on. Cheers.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Chuck Robbins wrote 21 weeks 2 days ago

Tim,
Remove whatever is delaminating; lay on a couple layers fiberglass. If chines are in need of repair (probably are) get yourself some coaxial tape (heavy duty fiber glass) glass the chines (West Marine or Jamestown for materials, advice, etc. Once the bottom and chines are repaired (not rocket science by a long shot) coat the bottom with a mix of epoxy/graphite and for anything like normal use you should be good to go for many seasons. For a once and done bottom find a Line-X truck bed dealer who knows his stuff and you've got a bomb proof bottom. Do not substitute Line-X is only bed liner I'm aware slippery enough for running river rocks and such...any questions feel free...over and out ChuckR

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from timromano wrote 21 weeks 2 days ago

thanks a ton folks. These are great recommendations!

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from nuclear_fisher wrote 21 weeks 2 days ago

I've stitched and glued as well, and, if you go that route, ejunk is spot on that patience is a virtue for laying fiberglass and epoxy.

My question is did you decide on a name? I'd still have to cast my vote for whoever suggested Phoenix.

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from ejunk wrote 21 weeks 2 days ago

I've never restored a wooden boat, but I have built one (plywood stitch and glue) from scratch. I know enough to be dangerous, hahaha.

if the bottom of the hull is delaminating you almost certainly need to remove the plastic and find a new solution. fiberglass and epoxy is really, really strong and not too terribly difficult to install if you're patient and don't try to work too fast. even epoxy by itself is very tough. it probably won't be cheap or lightweight, however. I assume that a drift boat is going to want a pretty tough coat on the bottom so the best course of install of epoxy and fiberglass might require a lot of materials and result in a lot of weight. it'll be rock solid when you're done, however, and will withstand a lot of abuse.

wooden boats are awesome and I think its great you're doing this. I hope you get it done!

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Brookstreamfly wrote 21 weeks 2 days ago

I built a wood driftboat and it's about as light as my buddy's Klackacraft. Great resource... woodenboatpeople.com It is important, though, to completely encapsulate the wood in epoxy to avoid rot developing in the first place. once you flip the boat over and remove the bottom. Use 1/2" mahogany meranti marine plywood for the bottom. Once it's on, I put two thin coats of epoxy on, followed by two coats of epoxy mixed with graphite powder. forms a nice shiny black surface which slides over rocks quite nicely. then coat the inside with epoxy followed by UV polyurethane because epoxy does not have UV protection. and reassemble. There are instructions out there for joining two sheets of plywood with either a scarf joint (overlapping tapered joint) or butt joint (edge-to-edge with a backing piece) I used the latter and it sees to be plenty strong on some bony rivers I 've had it on. Cheers.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Chuck Robbins wrote 21 weeks 2 days ago

Tim,
Remove whatever is delaminating; lay on a couple layers fiberglass. If chines are in need of repair (probably are) get yourself some coaxial tape (heavy duty fiber glass) glass the chines (West Marine or Jamestown for materials, advice, etc. Once the bottom and chines are repaired (not rocket science by a long shot) coat the bottom with a mix of epoxy/graphite and for anything like normal use you should be good to go for many seasons. For a once and done bottom find a Line-X truck bed dealer who knows his stuff and you've got a bomb proof bottom. Do not substitute Line-X is only bed liner I'm aware slippery enough for running river rocks and such...any questions feel free...over and out ChuckR

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from treelimit wrote 21 weeks 3 days ago

I can't help you with the boat but Holy Bieber, I can give you some tips for crushing the brow of that Broncos lid.

At least those can't be skinny jeans or they wouldn't roll up like that! ;)

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from timromano wrote 21 weeks 3 days ago

treelimit,

no need to be hatin' on the Broncos lid...

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from buckhunter wrote 21 weeks 3 days ago

Looks like fun.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from timromano wrote 21 weeks 2 days ago

thanks a ton folks. These are great recommendations!

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from nuclear_fisher wrote 21 weeks 2 days ago

I've stitched and glued as well, and, if you go that route, ejunk is spot on that patience is a virtue for laying fiberglass and epoxy.

My question is did you decide on a name? I'd still have to cast my vote for whoever suggested Phoenix.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Dangle wrote 21 weeks 3 days ago

You end up with a very heavy boat. Wood soaks up water in time coupled with a substance on the bottom as well. Best to junk it, and buy a used fiberglass.

-2 Good Comment? | | Report

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