Jim Michalak's Boat Designs
118 E Randall, Lebanon, IL 62254
A page of boat designs and essays.
(1June 2014) This issue will breath new life into my old Roar2. The 15 June issue should review the 2014 Rend Lake Messabout.
THE BOOK IS OUT!
BOATBUILDING FOR BEGINNERS (AND BEYOND)is out now, written by me and edited by Garth Battista of Breakaway Books. You might find it at your bookstore. If not check it out at the....
ON LINE CATALOG OF MY PLANS...
...which can now be found at Duckworks Magazine. You order with a shopping cart set up and pay with credit cards or by Paypal. Then Duckworks sends me an email about the order and then I send the plans right from me to you.
My old Roar2, refreshed, sits among the wild flowers again.
...I see I designed the first Roar in September of 1990. It was my second design after Piccup. At that time I had (still have) the usual pile of boating books and was maybe trying to copy the shape of a Whitehall in a simple plywood boat. So the original Roar had a plumb bow. I guess my prototype hit the water the next spring. It was fast and able but would get blown around in a wind, as will any shallow multichine with a bald bottom. At that time most of us were still doing taped seam hulls with polyester resin although the epoxy mafia was constantly after us, and my prototype Roar was built that way (as was my prototype Piccup). Also used standard lumberyard exterior 1/4" plywood. No troubles really with either. And the reason was that at that time marine epoxy was about five times the cost of polyester resin.
The next year I built my Toto with a more complex bow shape, actually designed after taking a long hard look at the small Swampscott dory in one of Gardner's books. It went so well that I still think it is the best overall shape for a simple taped seam boat. In particular it tracked better than Roar with the plumb bow, most likely because the long lean bow gripped the water better in the bow than Roar which is really a gentle multichine everywhere below the waterline. By now I found that epoxy could be bought at about $30 a gallon locally thanks to chemical engineer Dave Carnell who assumed us that epoxy resin is epoxy resin just like water is water, it is all the same. (NOT SO FOR THE HARDENERS, but you can mix and match since the resin is always the same, right? Always use the mix ratio stated for the hardener, not the resin.)
So in September 1992 I drew up Roar2, same boat as the first Roar except the bow was changed to a long lean Toto shape. Since the rest of the boat was the same I modified my Roar to become Roar2 by cutting off the different bow part and putting on the new. (As an interesting side note, the old bow section was cut off in one piece and placed against the wall and the local kids thought it was a jet ski of sorts. But these are the same kids that thought my Birdwatcher was a submarine.) The new bow went on with epoxy as I had learned by now not to repair things with polyester resin - seems to work fine with brand new wood but not with used wood. Painted it up and launched probably in the spring of 1993 although I worked very fast back then and it might have been a bit sooner.
So 20 years later, last year, it is getting awful wet inside the Roar2. She had seen quite hard use over those two decades, really my most used boat since it only takes a minute to get off the roof and into the water. I had to bail quite often. Clearly some water was leaking through checks in the plywood but those would seal themselves after getting wet. The main leaks were on the outer bottom sides where the bilge panels met the bottom. Years of dragging her around had completely worn out the taped joint there. It was two layers thick there and the bottom was armored with a light layer of glass. Since the boat was still in one piece it should be easy enough to repair. I kept it under cover this winter so it was good and dry. I put the job off as much as possible but when this year's weather quickly went from too cold to too hot it was time to get cracking.
I cast around to see what was at hand in the shed and found some Raka epoxy and hardener, maybe five years old, and some fiberglass tape. I did a trial mix of the old epoxy and it set up fine. So let's get started...
This was the state of the bottom at that time. The years had taken off a lot of the glass armor. But some was still there and very stubborn to be removed. This was a polyester job and I had the impression that the part that shed was probably somewhat starved for resin. The real leak problem was at the bilge/bottom seam...
The glass tape had been completely abraded from the joint. The inside joint was the only thing holding her together and that was just one layer of glass. The bow joint was worn through also but not leaking...
And here is a shot of the bottom condition after I used a knife to pry off a lot of the loose glass...
This glass had been coming off for maybe the last two years but that seemed to do no real harm. The cheap exterior plywood actually has held up like a champ. I prepared to mix up small batches of epoxy and here is my favorite method...
A soda can has its top cut off to make a straight sided open container. The stick has marked on it a line 1" from the bottom and again "1-1/2" from the bottom. Then the stick is clamped to the side of the can with its bottom all the way down to the can's bottom. Then I fill with epoxy resin to the first mark. Then the hardener goes right on top of that to the second mark. This gives the 2:1 mix ratio this hardener requires but if you have a different ratio to work with you just remeasure those lines to suit. You get the idea. Then you mix right in that can with that stick. If you don't have an "accident" with the mix setting in the can you just keep using it to mix the next batch, etc. Never mix too much. A big batch that kicks off before you are ready can start a fire!
AND I FORGOT TO MENTION...
...always have the glass tapes or cloth already cut to length or shape. You don't want to be cutting any glass while you are spreading epoxy. Here is my repair just before going into battle, the mixing can and the tapes all laid out. I have masked the sides with paper to try to outsmart the epoxy which likes to run where you would never expect. In general you can't outsmart running epoxy so you just try to protect and avoid having to grind off drips later. Here are two layers of glass tape set into the epoxy...
Yes, I am using an old brush that once painted latex. Too messed up for new paint but not for spreading epoxy. This will be its final sacrifice, alas! It is best to stagger the layers of glass just a bit to avoid a noticeable hump as epoxy fills the edges a bit thicker. Dave Carnell told me he never used glass tape because of the extra edge fill, resulting in more sanding. He always cut his tapes by hand from cloth. He is way less lazy than I.
So I did the new chine seams this way and spread extra epoxy around on any glass on the bottom that was too stubborn for the knife. Another aside. I planned to sand all the bottom glass with those great 24 grit disks you get at NAPA but couldn't find my 5" rubber disk and found they seem to be no longer available, at least not on the quick. With the weather improving very very quickly there was no time to shop and I decided to just paint the bottom this time. But I also wanted to run a 1x2 down the bottom outside for stiffness and maybe a bit of protection. Here is how I put skids on the bottom now solo.
A suitable 1x2 is gotten and, with the boat inverted, weighed down temporarily in place, enough that I can mark the location of the skid on the bottom. Then the skid is shaped and some glue or sealant is applied on the marked area and the stick is again weighed into position. I suppose if you had enough weight you could let it cure and maybe be done if you trusted your glue. But I use long drywall screws, one on each end and one in the middle of the stick, to secure the skid for now, long screws that protrude well into the inside bottom. Like this...
Now you can remove your temporary weights and flip it right side up. Then use those long screws to define the boat centerline and continue screwing the skid on from the inside out with proper length screws. After that you can remove those long screws which have done an important job by holding the skid in place and also letting you know exactly where the inside screws need to go. You can do this with nails too I suppose but anything like a skid might need removing twenty years from now and just maybe those screws will allow that. Flip it inverted again and here you go...
New chine seams taped and new skid in place. I also renewed the butt strap tape on the outer bottom...
Paint it up (nobody's gonna see that bottom paint anyway...)
And were off for 20 more years!
PIRAGUA, SWAMPBOAT, 13' X 30", 70 POUNDS EMPTY
The photo above is of a Piragua built by Bob Taylor down in Texas. Piragua is a very simple useful boat. I probably get more Piragua photos than of any other boat, an indication that more Piraguas get built. Piragua is made from two sheets of 1/4" plywood with very simple old fashioned glue and nail construction. It's very suitable as a first project, both as a way to learn construction and as a boat you will use a lot. But the first Piragua almost never got built, an indication that you can't tell what will be popular in this hobby. I drew it up and thought it pretty good for what it was supposed to be. I put it in my prototypes catalog and had two blueprint sets printed. After a year in the catalog I still had those two prints! I took it out of the catalog. About a month later I sold one set to Don O'Hearn and gave the other set away to Brian Waters who had ordered other plans, saying he was looking for a project for his sixth grade shop class.
Both boats got built! Waters' bunch of kids finished the first one, shown below. Brian also sent an article from his local newspaper showing the boat with himself and a class full of smiling kids behind the boat. I still have the copy on my wall and always thought it to be a trophy!
O'Hearn's boat followed very closely and he lives close enough that he brought the boat to our Messabout and I had a chance to try it myself. I thought it was quite good. I could just barely stand up in it, very common of this sort of narrow boat. It's 24" wide on the bottom and I've found that you can't reliably stand up in something that narrow. Don used the boat for fishing in little waters and keeps his butt on the seat. You paddle Piragua with a double paddle like a kayak. Here is Don's boat with his son at the paddle.
Here is another boat local to me by Rich and Ben Scobbie of St. Jacob, Illinois.
Steve Jacob built this one with Spanish moss hanging above. His used taped seams instead of the external chine logs with some crown to the decks.
And here is a photo from New South Wales from Ashley Cook. I'm very glad these boats are getting around. You can see these are best as solo boats but have the room and capacity to take some passengers in good conditions. Also you can tell that kids really take well to this sort of boat. They are easily understood in one glance. Still, you have to take any boat seriously. If you fall out of or capsize a boat like this you well need special training and gear to get going again in deep water. If built with the end air boxes the boat will have plenty of buoyancy but probably won't be stable enough for you to get back in. I think the only way to do the job is with a bailing scoop and a way to lash the paddle across the boat with a flotation cushion attached to one end to stabilize the boat in roll. You have to do all this as you swim around. My own appoach is to use these close to shore in warm water!
Plans for Piragua are still $15.
Some of you may know that in addition to the one buck catalog which now contains 20 "done" boats, I offer another catalog of 20 unbuilt prototypes. The buck catalog has on its last page a list and brief description of the boats currently in the Catalog of Prototypes. That catalog also contains some articles that I wrote for Messing About In Boats and Boatbuilder magazines. The Catalog of Prototypes costs $3. The both together amount to 50 pages for $4, an offer you may have seen in Woodenboat ads. Payment must be in US funds. The banks here won't accept anything else. (I've got a little stash of foreign currency that I can admire but not spend.) I'm way too small for credit cards.
I think David Hahn's Out West Picara is the winner of the Picara race. Shown here on its first sail except there was no wind. Hopefully more later. (Not sure if a polytarp sail is suitable for a boat this heavy.
Here is a Musicbox2 out West.
This is Ted Arkey's Jukebox2 down in Sydney. Shown with the "ketchooner" rig, featuring his own polytarp sails, that is shown on the plans. Should have a sailing report soon.
And the Vole in New York is Garth Battista's of www.breakawaybooks.com, printer of my book and Max's old outboard book and many other fine sports books. Beautiful job! Garth is using a small lug rig for sail, not the sharpie sprit sail shown on the plans, so I will continue to carry the design as a prototype boat. But he has used it extensively on his Bahamas trip towed behind his Cormorant. Sort of like having a compact car towed behind an RV.
And a Deansbox seen in Texas:
Another prototype Twister is well along:
And the first D'arcy Bryn is taped and bottom painted. You can follow the builder's progress at http://moffitt1.wordpress.com/ ....
AN INDEX OF PAST ISSUES
THE WAY BACK ISSUES RETURN!
MANY THANKS TO CANADIAN READER GAETAN JETTE WHO NOT ONLY SAVED THEM FROM THE 1997 BEGINNING BUT ALSO PUT TOGETHER AN EXCELLENT INDEX PAGE TO SORT THEM OUT....
THE WAY BACK ISSUES
15jun13, Rend Lake 2013, Toto
1jul13, Drawing Boats 9, AF4 Grande
15jul13, Taped Seams, Mikesboat
1aug13, Plywood Butt Joints, Paulsboat
15aug13, Sink Weights, Cormorant
1sep13, Lugsail Rigging, Hapscut
15sep13, Sharpie Spritsail Rigging, Philsboat
1oct13, Modifying Boats 1, Larsboat
15oct13, Modifying Boats 2, Jonsboat
1nov13, Modifying Boats 3, Piccup Pram
15nov13, Sail Area Math, Caprice
1dec13, Stretched Stability, Ladybug
15dec13, Trailering, Sportdory
1jan14, Cartopping, OliveOyl
15jan14, Width/Stability, HC Skiff
1feb14, Hiking, Shanteuse
15feb14, Dory Stability, IMB
1mar14, Scram Capsize, Scrampram
15mar14, Bulkhead Bevels, Frolic2
1apr14, Capsize Lessons, RiverRunner
15apr14, AF3 Capsize, Sneakerbox
1may14, Paper Capsize, Blobster
15may14, Prismatic Coefficient, Roar2
Mother of All Boat Links
The Boatbuilding Community
Kilburn's Power Skiff
Bruce Builds Roar
Rich builds AF2
JB Builds AF4
JB Builds Sportdory
Puddle Duck Website
Brian builds Roar2
Herb builds AF3
Herb builds RB42
Barry Builds Toto
Table of Contents