Mostly retired spend all my time working on or thinking about boats and outboard motors :)
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Follow our project from start to finish

 

Blueprints/Plans

On a larger project, blueprints, patterns and a fastening schedule provided by the designer are more of a necessity than a luxury. You want to minimize your chance of making costly or even dangerous errors during the build - besides you are going to make “boo boos” no matter how much instruction you have, may as well try and keep them limited to a few :)

What do plans cost? That depends on the particular boat. In the case of our model they were about $220 (or about 1/2% of the budgeted build cost) - not much when you put it in that perspective. I have seen plans for similar sized vessels sell for anywhere between 80 bucks (do the lofting yourself) and 400 (which include very fine details).

Plans alone may not provide all the "instructions" you need. Combine them with a good book or two written to the type of construction you are doing and the project will go smoothly.

Since ours is a epoxy encapsulated "plywood" over frame boat we have three "bibles" to assist with the build:

Boatbuilding with Plywood - by Glen L Witt - ya, this is where we got our plans from, but it really is a great book for the amateur builder with step by step pictures, good explanations etc.

Boatbuilders Notebook - a companion to above from Glen L - it's really a cut down version of the above meant to stay on the shop bench for quick reference.

Gougeon Brothers on Boat Construction - these are the guys who literally wrote the book on Epoxy - the inventors of West System - every few years they update the book, so if you don't already have a copy, pick up the very latest version you can find.

Of course, if you are using a different construction method - clinker, stitch&glue, carvel, lapstrake etc, find publications dealing with your chosen method. If you don't know where to start, ask the designer, supplier of the plans or stop into one of the websites dedicated to wooden boat building (such as woodenboat.com) and post a question in the forum. There are builders there with many decades of experience who will give you solid advice.

Better yet, read a book before you decide on a method. You will either reinforce the fact that you have the skill level or you may decide another method would be better suited.

Now to get back on topic.

A good set of plans/instructions will also outline what modifications can be easily made to suit you and which one's should only be made with the assitance/concurrance of the designer (or other qualified individual). Following the design closely will give you the best chance of producing a seaworthy vessel that will perform in the manner which it was designed. A small change which may seem minor to you could have disastrous effects on the finished boat. If you are unsure at all, ask the designer.

The design we chose did not exactly meet all the specifications we were looking for, but it was the closest we could find.

We wanted a larger cabin than the simple sleeping area provided. The addition of a small galley and enclosed head would make the design perfect. That would however, require that the cabin be extended an additional frame length on the boat (an extra 2'8"). Moving things around can have the affect of upsetting the balance of the boat, so must be considered carefully.

The designer had made some allowances for customization of this particular model. He allows for an extension of hull length by adding an additional frame near the stern of the boat. Perfect! We wanted an extra bit of cabin (which would be achieved by lengthening it aft), so by adding an extra frame length at the stern most of the balance would be maintained. The boat however, would go from approx. 24 feet to 26 or so.

Our cabin modification would also move the helm/passenger seat just aft of the center of buoyancy. This may be something that you would have to consider and offset; however, as noted in our "power options" section, our power choice is resulting in 800 pounds less in the stern than the design allowed for, so in our particular case, it will be actually beneficial to shift a bit of weight aft.

The consideration that we kept in mind when adding to the length, was keeping the boat to 26'3" or less. After that length, the boat moves into a different class as far as the coast guard is concerned thus requiring additional safety gear and compliance (at least in Canada where we are).

A second choice we made which varies from the design is to utilize twin 40 gallon fuel tanks instead of a single 105 gallon. Why? Well, a couple of reasons:

First off, this boat will live most of it's life in the lakes and canals that make up the Trent-Severn and Rideau canal systems in Ontario, with an occasional run in the Great Lakes. Today's gas contains between 5 and 15% ethanol (methanol or alcohol) which can turn "old" in as little as a few days. Because of this you should only put enough gas in your boat to cover your needs for the particular outing, with additional amounts for safety.

Given our choice, 140 horse outboard, which will burn about 6-7 gallons per hour at cruise speed, a 40 gallon tank is the near perfect size for a day or two of cruising. The second tank will be included to achieve that "long range" capability. With both tanks full, this rig should have a range of in excess of 250 miles while pushing along at about 22 miles per hour. Perfect for our needs. Of course, once the boat is actually on the water, I will confirm my speed/distance calculations with a FloScan, just to be sure.

The "main" tank will be right on the center of buoyancy as the plans call for, with the second tank immediately aft of it. Again, normally something you would have to allow for since 40 gallons of gas can weigh 250 pounds or more, however, our secondary tank will rarely be full and when it is, it will still be many pounds lighter than the additional 800 pounds of motor located aft, had we chose to power with a 1300 pound, 300 horse V-Drive.

So in our case, using the instructions of the designer, we will lengthen the cabin by one frame, run twin tanks back to back, move the helm/passenger seat slightly aft and add an additional frame aft. Then using the designers recommendations as well, we will alter the spacing slightly of all frames a little closer than the 2'8" on the plans which will leave us with an overall length of about 25' 8" - perfect :)
 
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