The building of a pack canoe

Discussion in 'Kayaker and Canoe Fishing' started by Mark J, Apr 29, 2008.

  1. Mark J

    Mark J New Member

    Messages:
    9,407
    State:
    Four Oaks, NC
    A couple of years ago fresh out of a back surgery and plenty of recoup time on my hands I opened up a dialogue with a canoe/kayak designer and laid out my specifications for a canoe for the upper Neuse river.

    Must be lightweight. Under 50 pounds.
    Stable.
    One man.
    Able to cary me at 215 pounds and a hundred pounds of cargo.
    Must be able to easily be paddled against the current of the Neuse without much effort.

    I've referred to this concoction as my "back canoe" because it's designed around my wounded back but the actual terminology of such a craft is a pack canoe.
    The designer designed it pro bono claiming all rights to the design. Cool!
    Now for the name. We kicked around some names and finally settled on the "Eno". The Eno river feeds Falls lake and the outfall of Falls lake becomes the Neuse river.

    I shelved the plans since its birth but now is the time.
    I fish the upper Neuse alot because it's some prime time fishing that most people are unwilling to put the effort into especially if they have a bigger boat with an outboard. They cant use those boats in the upper Neuse because of the shallow flats , rocks, and boulders.
    Access is very limited. This is why weight was a major concern. I need something where we can be dropped off at a bridge and without much fuss get these things to the water.
    Later on we can be picked up where we put in or down river at another bridge.

    The Eno is 13' in length and 28" in width.
    Height at the bow is 17" and at the stern 15". Midship height is 11.5".
    Maximum rocker is 1.5".
    Weight is going to fall inbetween 40 and 50 pounds depending on what type of plywood I go with.
    Recommended minimum weight is 100 pounds and a maximum of 530 pounds.
    Thats alot for such a small craft!
    It's basicly a kayak without a top.

    I'm going to be building 2 of these boats at the same time starting in a few weeks. These boats will not serve as a fishing platform as much as they will as a vehicle to get up and down the river to some of my favorite fishing grounds without alot of investment.
    It's a 2 sheet canoe. 2 sheets of plywood will get her done and roughly 120-150 in epoxy and fiberglass tape. Fairing and paint will be extra.
    Conceivably one can be built for 200 or less depending on the choice of materials.
    I'll be coating the bottom with graphite loaded epoxy for a bullet proof, rock proof finish.
    I'll be able to chronicle alot of what I have spoken about as far as building stitch and glue. Making filets and taping filets.

    I'm not going all out on these builds with 60 dollar sheets of plywood.
    If I like the design well enough I'll buy a license to build more going all out.
    These boats are cheap enough to play with. Eventually I may cut a motorwell in the floor and cut the shaft off of a 30 pound thrust motor and mount it where it just does hang below the boat and steer it with a mechanical foot controlled rudder that hangs off the back but thats all later.

    My boat building blog will start here in a few weeks. These are fast builds.
    I can pop these suckers together in a weekend left alone but will drag them out somewhat so it can be made into an introductory of stitch and glue and show its simplicity. Remember that there are stitch and glue plans available for crafts up to 30 feet and not legally towable because of width without permits. Build a couple of these and you can build most anything you would want including something to run 50 miles out to the Gulf Stream on chasing dolphin.
     
  2. slabmaster

    slabmaster New Member

    Messages:
    719
    State:
    missouri
    sounds interesting. i have built my own travel trailer( a woody out of cedar) and a cedar strip canoe. i am also tinkering with the idea of building a jon boat out of sassafrass on an arkansas jon boat(white river trout boat) design. i will be watching for your build.
     

  3. jeremiad

    jeremiad Well-Known Member

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    This sounds great, Mark. What is this license required for? I haven't heard of any required licensure required around here. Is this for business purposes?

    I will certainly be interested in your blog--count me in! :0a17:
     
  4. Mark J

    Mark J New Member

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    9,407
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    Four Oaks, NC
    Typically by buying a set of plans for a boat is the designer granting you a license to build one boat.
    He could actually sue you if he can prove you built more then one boat from those plans.
    If I were going to build them to sell I could work out a blanket license with the designer to do so rather then pay him for a set of plans for every boat.

    Could I get by with it?
    Sure I could easily but it would be wrong.
    If I were going to cheat someone I'd make it worth while and worth while isn't 45 bucks. Not even several hundred dollars.
    Licensing plans is how these guys make their living. I'm not going to deny them that.
     
  5. ChannelCatBen

    ChannelCatBen New Member

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    179
    State:
    Minnesota
    I've always wanted to do a stitch and glue canoe or yak. I'm looking forward to seeing the progress. Thanks for posting this!
     
  6. jeremiad

    jeremiad Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for the information, Mark. I did not realize this. I am using Nick Schade's book, wherein he grants permission to anyone to loft plans from his book at will.

    I'm not sure about the full-size plans from Chesapeake Marine, which accompany his crafts (they sell Nick's full-size plans and kits for those not willing or able to loft their own designs).

    I have also found a couple of great little software packages that help you design your own craft. The terminology and engineering is rather intense, but you do get some useful output from these programs: one is DelftShip, and the other is BearBoat.

    Both software packages are freely downloadable from the Internet. At the very least they are a lot of fun to play around with--at least in the winter when it's too cold to fish! :cool2:
     
  7. catfisherman_eky3

    catfisherman_eky3 New Member

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    2,296
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    Kentucky
    Mark sounds like some interesting canoes there, My next door neighbor has a canoe and fishes in a lot of river with it, it works good for him, im thinking about using his one day and taking it out to a local small lake, glad to hear you had yours decked out.
     
  8. Mark J

    Mark J New Member

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    9,407
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    Four Oaks, NC
    Be careful building with full size plans unless they are on Mylar.
    Paper will expand and contract with humidity throwing actual dimensions off.
    Not critical on an 8x17 piece of paper but a piece or pieces of paper over a 16 foot span could throw you off plus or minus a 1/4" .

    I never even considered it until someone asked a designer about full sized plans.
    He would do them on mylar if you were willing to cough up the dough the mylar would cost for a fullsized set of prints for an 18 foot boat:eek:oooh:

    Laying out isn't really hard with battens.
    One designer I build from does everything in 2' increments.
    All you have to do is grid your plywood in 2' blocks, transfer measurements from the plan to the plywood and bend a batten.
    Real simple and goes pretty quick.
    The biggest key is how well the plans are made. A good set of plans leaves you asking no questions, easy to follow, and gives plenty of information and plenty of known points to measure from.
    Those plans are out there.

    I own some of the worst and what I deem some of the best.
    Some of the worst plans gives a measurment here and there and the lines of the boat. You are left scaling alot of it yourself.
    If you ever run across a set of those plans and pictures of several boats that have been built from those plans you can tell that no two boats from the same plan are alike:smile2: One may have a high proud bow and another having droopy bow syndrome. Leaves you wondering who screwed up and if your calculations that put you somewhere in the middle of the two is indeed correct. Might as well have designed it myself at that point.

    Measure twice, cut once.
     
  9. redneck-j

    redneck-j New Member

    Messages:
    13
    State:
    North Carolina
    Iwould be very interested in one of these boat, either to build myself or to purchase. Sounds like exactly what i have been looking for. Looking forward to your progress
     
  10. Mark J

    Mark J New Member

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    9,407
    State:
    Four Oaks, NC
    I have the plans and am shopping the materials.
    I found a pretty nice outdoor luan in 5.2 mm at Lowes for about 20 a sheet but I'm shopping locally for a high grade Okoume marine plywood as well.
    If I can find it locally It should be around 60 a sheet for 1/4". What I want is 3/16" Okoume since I'm glassing inside and out. It should keep the weight around 45 pounds.

    I'll probally go with RAKA epoxy on these 2. RAKA isnt a bad product.
    I want to try a new hardner they have anyway. RAKA has good prices too plus I can get a discount from them as well.

    I'm going to try to keep a running tab on what I spend and how much time I have in both of them as I progress.
    I could knock these things out for as little as 200 bucks a shot but I'm willing to spend more to insure it will last for many years of use.

    As far as paint. I may go so far as to spray it with Imron which is a hard auto paint but works well on boats as well. Many yachts have been painted with Imron. I would rather use Awlgrip but its in a whole different league cost wise at around 350 a gallon and the safety required to shoot it.

    I'll probally do some fairing with a great product put out by System 3 called quick fair. It adds some cost but you can make it back up in labor.
    I get into the fairing part. Alot of people despise fairing but the fairing process is where you really get to know your boat and if you fair to perfection like I do it gives you plenty of time to expand on the design in your head. You can do all sorts of things with a design such as rod holders, beer holders, imbedding a cooler so only the top is visible, custom seating, etc. Anything is possible within reason.

    This weekend I'll be rounding up my consumables and may go ahead and cut out all of the pieces in a cheaper plywood to save as a pattern.
    If I pattern these things I can use a router and the pattern to zip the actual parts out quick. When I'm through with the boats I'll still have the patterns to keep because I'm positive I'll play with this design by building more. All I will have to do is pay to relicense my plans to use them again.
    A manufacturer's license isn't out of the question yet.
     
  11. Mark J

    Mark J New Member

    Messages:
    9,407
    State:
    Four Oaks, NC
    I started getting ready to build the canoes today.
    You can build this canoe without a strongback but I prefer working off a strongback rather then flipping the hull over and over and a I can keep things straighter easier with a strongback and a piece of string.

    So I worked on my strongback today and cut my frames which will be fastened to the strongback and squared to one another. Makes a straight boat.
    Not really nothing to show yet but imagine the strongback as a back bone and the frames as the rib cage. The frames are what will give the shape to the canoe.

    As far the plywood I'll use I dont know yet.
    I can have Okoume delivered at no freight charge to the farm or locally I can get an exterior luan in 5.2 MM.
    I'll probally go with the luan for a couple of reasons. Number one is cost. I can get it for 10 bucks a sheet and I'm glassing inside and out. At that point it being a non planing vessel the core really doesnt matter other then what you can save on weight provided it has the exterior glue.

    I've put my order together for epoxy, glass, fillers, etc. and it comes to 288.00. There is some extras in that , that aren't necessary like 5 pounds of wood flour and I ordered several different hardners for the epoxy. I also ordered a new laminating tool. Sometimess you want epoxy to kick hard and fast, other times you want it to take its time so you have time to do what you are trying to do. I want to be able to go either or and have the capabilty to combine hardners to customize my work time.
    I already had a gallon can of microballoons which in weight is less then a pound. The stuff looks like dust but in reality its microscopic size round spheres. I use this primarily to fair. Fill in the weave after my glass cures or clean up transition lines.
    Dries purple. It'll look like the Barney boat.
     
  12. redneck-j

    redneck-j New Member

    Messages:
    13
    State:
    North Carolina
    Do you know of any good books or other resources thet would be helpful for someone trying to do this for the frst time. I think I will soon try one for myself. Thanks
     
  13. Mark J

    Mark J New Member

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    9,407
    State:
    Four Oaks, NC
    Most any book dealing with stitch and glue method but some of the best information is right on the internet learning from other amateurs and first timers.
    Seeing where they screwed up and where they succeeded.
    The method itself is simple. So simple you dont need a shop full of tools.
    You can produce a nice boat with a cordless drill, saber saw or skilsaw, and a palm sander. I cut all my stations with a cordless skilsaw. I'm building the strongback with a cordless skilsaw.
    None of the cuts are precise like they have to be in furniture making because you want gaps between the panels. Very seldom are you required to cut an angle or bevel on a panel.
    In fact to maintain gaps popsickle sticks are often used as spacers between the panels. I use them.
    As you get your panels sewn together with tie wraps you leave them loose.
    When you get them positioned like you want them you stick some popsickle sticks in the gaps and tighten the tie wraps.
    You'll do your filleting and filling around these sticks initially.
    When it cures you come back and cut the tie wraps, remove the sticks, and fill in the gaps and holes you made drilling the panels for the tie wraps.
    Then you start taping the seams and fiberglassing the hull.

    In my build the wood is basicly the mold. A mold that stays within the hull forever.
    It's called composite construction. The core of the composite is wood or boat building foam core.
    Probally one of the biggest questions that arises from a first timer is where do I get plywood that is as long as my boat. You dont need it nor do you need to use time robbing scarf joints.
    Lay the cut panels on the floor, match them up, mix your epoxy and some thickener and place it on the mating surfaces. Slide them together and put something just heavy enough to hold the pieces flat on it.
    When it cures you come back and glue a plywood butt block over joint or lay a piece of glass over the joint.
    When it cures you have something strong enough to get it positioned on the hull and filleted and glassed in.

    The actual method is pretty crude but the end results can be at a professional boat building level.
    It's a strong method of building too.

    I wish I was video capable I would video laying fillets and glassing seams.

    Your biggest learning curve is the epoxy. A beginner will use more epoxy then necessary because he is working in the curve. Thats why its always advisable to build a small boat first before going to the larger 18-28 foot boats. The waste factor on an 18 foot boat for a beginner with epoxy could easily equate to 4-6 gallons of epoxy over whats specified.
    A small boat like a canoe your extra would be a minimal loss.

    Where epoxy gets tricky is working in varying temperatures.
    If you are working in an ambient air temperature enviroment it may kick slow today but tomorrow is 10 degrees warmer. The epoxy kicks faster allowing you less time to work with a batch.
    Thats where different speed hardners come into play. You have slow, medium, and fast hardners. Most epoxies you can mix hardners to "customize" your working times. Then there is tricks like keeping your unmixed epoxy in the refrigerator.
    Or when you mix a 8 ounce batch to laminate with dont leave it in the mixing container. Pour it on the hull and spread it around with a squeegie. Keeping it all bunched up together in a cup allows it to generate heat which accelerates the reaction.
    The stuff gets hot. Mix a half gallon and leave it in a container. You'll have an expensive smoking door stop.
    I rarely mix larger then 8-10 ounces at the time and thats when I'm laminating.

    Sounds complicated but its not. I've known people that couldnt hold a screw driver correctly build an 18 foot center console as a first boat and it turn out just as nice or more nice then store bought. They aren't the exception, they are the norm.
    You get into it and build your confidence and skill right from the start by building a strongback, laying out and cutting the panels, and joining the panels. So you are introducing yourself little by little to the point that when the time comes to really get into the build part of it, you've acclimated yourself to the epoxy and procedure.
    The biggest key I learned to dealing with epoxy is preperation. Always be thinking 2 steps ahead. Have glass precut and fit. Have everything you need including some white vinegar close by for accidents or clean up. You dont have time to have to go look for something you forgot.
    Something else I do is premeasure batches of epoxy. When I finish putting down one batch all I have to do is turn around, pour one cup into another and stir and get right back at it. If your batches are thickened epoxy go ahead and mix the thickener in the resin then all you have to do is add the hardener and stir.

    The best time to do your big laminations are on a cooling cycle. Late afternoon or during the night when temperatures are falling. Laminating on a rising temperature you often deal with outgassing. Rising heat will cause the wood to outgas. Outgas can cause bubbling in your laminations. You'll be running around the hull mashing them down like trying to plug a dike with a finger.
     
  14. Mark J

    Mark J New Member

    Messages:
    9,407
    State:
    Four Oaks, NC
    My epoxy and other materials are supposed to arrive tomorrow.
    In the mean time I've been piddling around and have some pictures to show.

    I broke my other camera and just bought a new one Friday so I've skipped a few steps like how easy it is to lay out the panels and those curves.
    I'll go back and pick that back up and take some pictures before this is over.
    If I get a chance maybe today.

    These first two pictures are of the whole canoe cut.
     

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  15. Mark J

    Mark J New Member

    Messages:
    9,407
    State:
    Four Oaks, NC
    What you saw in the above picture took me about an hour and half to lay out and cut them out with a jigsaw using a 24 TPI metal cutting blade.
    It wouldn't take someone that has never done it much longer.
    I'll say this a hundred times before I'm through. This was easy. Thats what makes a good set of plans.

    These photos are of the strong back and mounting the first of 5 stations.
    You cant see it in the photo but I have a piece of power pro running the length of the strongback in the center.
    Pulled tight, this gives me a center line to match to the center line marked on the frames.
    Marking and cutting the 5 frames took me about an hour maybe a a little more counting the 12 oz curls. Again, real simple.

    Before I forget. I couldnt build this boat with a tape measure without going to the liquor store first. I'm not kidding.
    A cheap must have tool is a sheetrock T-square that is 4 Ft long and has the ruler printed its length down to the 1/16th of an inch. I think I paid around 14 dollars for mine at Lowes. With this square you'll fly through the layouts. I was laying out 2 panels at the time with it.
     

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  16. Mark J

    Mark J New Member

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    9,407
    State:
    Four Oaks, NC
    The frames make it look like the boat is going to be real deep. Its not.
    What you cant see is the curvature in the bottom. There is a couple of inches worth. I had to allow for this because If I start in the center and work to the outer frames the outer fram my wind up imbedded into the strongback.
    So we raise the center station and that fixes that problem.
    Another reason is working height.
    When you have this thing on a strong back you dont want to be looking down at it. Your neck and back will suffer.The way I worked out my working height was to make it so I had to lean over to look into the seam on the hull bottom. I had to put a little effort forth to look in that seam.
    That puts the rest of the boat at a height thats easy to work on without bending over too much.

    The next pictures are showing how to square the frames.
     

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  17. Mark J

    Mark J New Member

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    Now for all of the frames.
     

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  18. Mark J

    Mark J New Member

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    The next pictures show taping the frames.
    I use a painter's tape first then a packing tape over that tape.
    The painter's tape sticks to plywood and the packing tape wont very well but it will stick to the painter's tape.
    The reason is simple. As you are filling seams with thickened glue if some glue were to come into contact with a frame you got a mess.
    Epoxy wont stick to the clear packing tape which prevents it from welding your frame to the canoe.
     

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  19. Mark J

    Mark J New Member

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    9,407
    State:
    Four Oaks, NC
    These pictures show a test fit of the bottom panels on the port side.
    This checking to make sure that the frames are positioned properly.
    The frame location is marked on the bottom panel from the plans.
    You actually take your measurement for fram placement directly from the bottom panel.
    Just checking to make sure they all got planted where the marks on the bottom panel are.
     

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  20. Mark J

    Mark J New Member

    Messages:
    9,407
    State:
    Four Oaks, NC
    As I mentioned before I'm using a strongback. It's not necessary.
    I could stitch this boat together in the living room floor watching TV.
    I just prefer working off a strongback.

    I had to do some creative math to use a strongback. If I didnt the bottom of the canoe would be curved the wrong way.
    Figuring it out wasn't hard. Just start with the center frame and add about 4 inches to it's height. Then you can look at the drawings and see the difference in the frame heights and apply them as needed.
    The plans are made to stitch this thing together on the floor keeping it simple.

    I have one more picture. I bought me a new to me toy yesterday at the flea market. Been wanting one for a long time and new prices are steep.
    You rarely find a used one for sale. I guess folks just dont like getting rid of them.
    I didnt get a mega deal on it. I think I got it for a fair price. A little less then 1/2 of what a new one would cost.
    I spent about 2 hours disassembling parts of it and cleaning it up real good with some degreaser and a small paint brush.
    She cleaned up real nice. They would have wanted more for it if they saw it today.
    I'll go ahead and order a set of brushes for the motor and there is a couple of thumbed set screws that are missing as well but she works great as is.
    I've had a miter saw for years, just not a sliding compound miter.
     

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