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McKenzie Drift Boat - Nelson Builder's Blog


Hi there, I am a new member

Hello everyone, I am a new subscriber to the forum. I am building a 20' Caladesi from Spirainternational. I have the ribs built and am going to built the keelson this weekend. I look forward to discussing and posting photo's of the boat. I look forward to hearing from everybody. Thanks Michael Herring  

McKenzie Drift Boat - Day 6

Today we got at least 3 boats taped on the outside and one covered with resin and cloth on the bottom. They are starting to look nice. We used two layers of tape on the chines and then a layer of cloth on the bottom that overlapped the chine for a third layer. Three boats are now structurally finished (taped inside and out). They still need seats inside but the kids can do that on their own. We have the parts all cut out. They will take these boats home on Monday.

There are four more boats that need to be taped. Two are ready to go, two still need to be filleted and taped on the inside. Can you actually build one of these boats in 5 days? Yes you can as long as you are willing to work at it. The kids who are finished are the ones who came on time and worked all day. The boats that still need work are behind because they didn't get as many work hours.

McKenzie Drift Boat - Day 5

Today we got more boats gooped (filleted and taped). We also did some work on transoms that were not square. We're still having problems with kids not mixing epoxy correctly and had to do some retaping. When it rains we have to stop and it has been raining in the afternoons leaving us with only mornings to get much done.

The plan for Saturday (Day 6) is to get as many boats taped as possible. We do have photos but it will be a few days before I can pull them off the camera.

McKenzie Drift Boat - Day 4

Things were just too busy to keep up with daily updates. I'll recount our progress to date. On Thursday, Day 4, we performed several goop and tapes. This was the official term the guys gave to the process of making fillets and taping the inside seams of the boats. We installed seat braces that served to stiffen the amidships frame and installed stern and bow tank bulkheads.

I've never seen kids make a bigger mess than what the inside of a couple of these boats looked like. Some were able to go back and scrape off the extra epoxy and will end up with nice looking boats. Others will spend some sanding time first and will come to a new understanding of what it means to be tide up front in order to save hours of time later.

McKenzie Drift Boat - Day 3 Stitching sides on...

Today we made progress but we had a setback as well. Yesterday, a batch of epoxy was mixed up without the hardener. This was used for the butt joints for three pairs of sides. When we came in the next morning, instead of finding 8 pairs of sides ready to attach to the bottoms, we had to spend half a day tearing the joints apart, cleaning off the uncured epoxy and re-gluing them. We did get all the bottoms cut out and sanded. We also started stitching the bottoms onto three boats.

McKenzie Drift Boat - Day 2 more scarfing...


Today we finished scarfing the boat bottom halves together. Now we have 8 boat bottoms. We also used butt blocks to join the two pieces that make up the 16ft. long sides of the boat. Tomorrow morning we'll cut out the three frames that help the boats take their shape and then we'll start stitching the boats together. I know already that the kids will be excited about this part of the process. It's when their hard work from the last two days will start looking like a boat.

McKenzie Drift Boat - Day 1 Scarfing Plywood

Today we had a great beginning to our project. We're building 8 McKenzie River drift boats and we spent all day scarfing plywood and cutting out parts for the sides. The bottom is 54 inches wide so we are scarfing four pieces together. We got the first half of 8 boat bottoms done today. That meant we had to scarf 32 pieces together. Each scarf was almost 7 feet long. That's over 200 feet of scarfing. We had a plywood scarfing jig that made it, if not easy, at least efficient. I managed to buy a used 10 1/4" Skillsaw on Craigslist.com for $40 and it did a great job. We managed to trip our 15amp breaker a few times when we pushed it too hard and it started getting hot. We managed to find the perfect pace and started turning out perfect scarfs in about 6 minutes for each 7 foot panel. We started with a brand new 10" carbide combination blade and it was shot after going through over 200 linear feet of 3" cuts. The saw must be at least 20 years old. The only thing better than using a great tool that you paid a lot of money for is using one that you got at great price.

McKenzie Drift Boat Update - Ready to begin...

We have all the wood and glue at the school. I have cab-o-sil, micro spheres, squeegees, chip brushes, gloves and all the fiberglass tape we'll need. I still need to get/make mixing sticks and a supply of containers for mixing. I still have to figure out the best way to dispense 30 gallons of epoxy so we don't spill and waste it. The kids are bringing saw horses and sheets of MDL to make workbenches. They are also bringing an assortment of jigsaws, drills, sanders and other assorted tools. All they really need to build this boat is a jig saw and a drill so I think we'll be ok as far as tools go.

Driftboat Builder's Checklist and Update

3/16 Update:
Mr. Plywood (7609 SE Stark Street, Portland) will deliver our plywood on Friday afternoon at 3:00. One thing you'll need to purchase is a sheet of 3/4", 4'x8' MDL (medium density laminate) for use as a workbench (one per boat). Mr. Plywood has these for $22.99 and will deliver them to the school for you if you order them before Friday afternoon. You can call them (503-254-7387) and order it over the phone and just tell them to ship it with the Riverdale High School delivery.

Right now we are about $50 per boat over budget. I will ask assistant boat builders to chip in some to help us cover the cost of the project. Your help with this will be appreciated as the extra funds will come out of my pocket otherwise.

McKenzie River Drift Boats - 8 Boats, 5 Days

I'm working with 18 kids from my high school to build 8 McKenzie River Drift Boats this year. Each year we teachers have one week where we can lead special projects. I've always wanted to build boats with kids so I decided to give this a try. Frankly, it's an ambitious project and I'm not sure how we'll get it all done in one week but I am sure we'll learn a lot and have a good time.

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