Boatbuilding news, building tips, and builder feedback

WebLetter 9

An Occasional Publication for the Home Boat Builder

Glen-L Marine Designs - 9152 Rosecrans Ave. - Bellflower, CA 90706

In this issue

Glen-L Update
  • Web site: It may not always be obvious, but every day we are working on the web site; updating or adding. Some longer term projects may not show up for a while, but keep checking, they will.
    • The METHODS pages have been re-formatted and the Strip Planking section has been added.
    • We have also revamped and added to the BOOKS and VIDEOS pages.
    • There have been numerous updates and additions in the MISC pages, including more about Mr Pearsall's 3rd grade boat builders.
    • In the NEW pages we have added additional photos of our latest project, the PowerYak. We are presently at a standstill on this project because of an increased demand for frame kits, but I guess that's not something to complain about.
    • If you would like to communicate with others building the same design you are, keep an eye on the PROJECT REGISTRY, we add several new entries each week.
    • In the works are additions to the SUPPLIES pages, with additional pages on our POXY-SHIELD epoxy resin. Our revamp of the BOAT DESIGNS pages is behind schedule. Our schedule has changed in response to e-mail requests and what we feel is an important review of what we have done in the past. Our site is now one of the largest on our service provider's server, but we have a lot more to add... when we can find the time.
  • The second of Dick Koepp's articles, "The Virgin Boat builder", shares his experience with new boat builders.
  • The second of Matt Green's articles, "Building the Tunnel King - Introduction to high-performance outboard boats" will appear in WebLetter 10.
  • We have others who have expressed an interest in sharing in writing articles; we hope to see them in future WebLetters.

Barry Witt      

Old Boat Club: Thunderbolt


Subject: Thunderbolt "Blue Bye U"
Date: Wed, 10 Feb 1999
From: Bill Fisk

I've enclosed pictures of my 1964 Glen-L Thunderbolt.

"Blue Bye U" is a 17 ft purchased from your factory and assembled by Steve Pitchard of Owego,NY in the early sixties. Bill Vargason of Vestal NY then acquired the bare hull with only the engine installed and completed the project over a 6 year period.

Powered by a 1964 Pontiac 421 "Super Duty" V-8 that originally ran dual Carter AFB's switched to a single Holly, McKeller solid-lifters, Vertex Mag,Thunderbolt Mickey Thompson pistons,"Ram Air 4" GTO camshaft, forged steel crank, 4 bolt mains and developing now closed to 550 hp. Power is applied through a Dwight dog clutch to a water cooled Halibrand V-Drive B-260 "Crash Box".

In 1993 "Blue Bye U" SK-421 was purchased by Bill Fisk of Williamson NY to run at Vintage Raceboat Regattas and flat water "Blasts" on Sodus Bay with his co-pilot Judy.

Additional photos

Plywood Boat building for Virgin Builders Part II

by Dick Koepp

Part II - Introduction and recap

Okay, so I can assume you have read the vital information from Part-I, right? (see WebLetter 7) One thing up front: all of these comments are aimed at wooden boat building with plywood hulls. I have never built a steel boat or all fiberglass. So are you ready to have fun? Now armed with your new power equipment, tools, plans, fasteners, a place to build, a load of lumber, and a whole lot of enthusiasm, here we go!

NOTE: It is not my intention to "reinvent the wheel" on boat building. I highly recommend GlenL's excellent book called "Boat building with Plywood" to take you thoroughly through the following steps. Glen Witt covers all of these steps with photos and text, it is a must for any amateur. With this in mind, I will only offer below my opinions of possible problem areas, short cuts and/or better ways to do something (based on personal experience).


Builder feedback: Riviera

Building the Riviera

First I must say this boat is being built as time and money allow. I started building in July 1997 after receiving my set of plans which cost $NZ164.00. I adhered strictly to the patterns and had no trouble with them apart from there must be an easier way of getting the pattern onto the timber you are using than pricking through the pattern and joining up the dots. (at Glen-L we use Transfer Paper) If anyone has a better idea please let me know before I start the next one! Anyway I have used Macrocarpa(Monterey Cypress.) for the frames and motor stringers. The motor stringers were set up as instructed and frames bolted on with aluminium angle section as directed. I then used cedar laminations for all longitudinals. Macrocarpa was again used for cold moulding the hull.


I glued and stapled all laminations with HT 9000 which is an Epiglass epoxy system very similar to your West system and stainless steel staples and electric staple gun. The outside lamination is sapele mahogany again glued and stapled. The only drawback to stapling the outside veneer is removing the staples prior to sanding. Also each staple has to have a cardboard backing so the veneer is tight to the underneath layer but the staple doesn't mark the timber. The outside gluing was also rather time consuming in that the joins between the planks were glued with HT 9000 thickened with mahogany dust where as the planks were glued to the underneath lamination with HT 9000 mixed with the proper white glue powder. The whole outside was then sanded smooth, then sealed with Everdure(another Epiglass product with better UV protection than thinned down HT 9000) prior to further sanding with 320 grit paper and five coats of Epiglass Epivar which is a two pack varnish.

The top is not completed yet but is to be finished as the hull. The hull which I have finished from the inside out, eg. stained, sealed and varnished has taken me 480 hours to complete. I estimate there is another 140 hours to finish the boat. The cost of materials here in New Zealand was $6400.00 which I guess is about $US3000. The proposed power plant is a new Chevrolet 350cu high spec motor and Borg Warner marine gearbox all supplied by Wasp Marine of Lake Tekapo here in New Zealand. I am planning to have the boat finished by the end of April at which time this boat is reluctantly but definitely for sale.

Regards Wayne Cox.

P.S. Sorry but I don't have a scanner so I am unable to send any photo's but will send some as soon as I locate someone with one.So if a photo or two arrive without warning on your computer you know where they have come from.

Mr. Cox's photos

Book review: How to Fiberglass Boats

To most first-time boat builders, fiberglassing is probably the most intimidating procedure in their boat building project. I usually assure concerned builders that fiberglassing is really very easy... "if you do it right". I don't know how many builders I have talked to who were instructed by people experienced in fiberglass layup, only to find that what should has been easy, turned into a very difficult job and had adverse effects on performance. The first thing to realize is that on the typical plywood boat, fiberglass is non-structural. Mats and woven roving are not used. Tools and techniques that are necessary for hand layup are not required when fiberglassing a wooden boat. That's why we published How to Fiberglass Boats and later added our video, "How to Fiberglass a Boat".

The book explains the various materials used in fiberglassing, the correct procedures, and what to look out for. The video adds Allyn's hands to the picture. Something that doesn't come across well in written text, is how an experienced glass worker uses his hands.

If you find the prospect of fiberglassing intimidating, we recommend our book and video. They could end up saving you a lot of money in inappropriate or ruined materials. For additional information see our Books and Videos pages.

Recent e-mail:

Subject: Restoring a early 1960's Mist Miss
Date: Mon, 1 Mar 1999
From: Mike Reagan

First of all , You guys have a great Web Page.
I'm Restoring a early 1960's Mist Miss. I bought the boat out of the L.A. Recycler in spring of 98" for $140.00 W/trailer. And it has a Chrysler Crown Model M-7 and all the Chrome.
The boat was originally built by Mr.Trombley, of Trombley Wood working Lomita, Cal. The boat was in very poor shape. Rot everywhere. Half the Keel was gone, Transom, Bearer Beams and Hull. Lots to Do. The boat has a great shape to it and when I'm done I'll send you Photos. I finished the bearer beams and all the frames,now I'm ready for a new bottom.

Yaa Hoo,
Mike Reagan


Subject: Re: BoJest
Date: Mon, 1 Mar 1999
From: Leigh Knickerbocker

Thanks for your interest in our Bo-Jest project. We still have the hull upside down and were just about to do our second layer of plywood on the bottom when winter in upstate New York arrived and work stopped. When I get something worth showing, I'll send you some photos. In the meanwhile, we are enjoying building this boat and are finding your plans and instructions a pleasure to work with.
Best Regards,
Barry Knickerbocker

Date: Fri, 5 Mar 1999
From: jdallmann

I bought some plans from Glen-L and I built a canoe and I was very satisfied with the results. I then built another boat and I cheaped out. I bought some plans from another place thinking these plans were just as good as yours. But when l started to build the boat, cut the wood, spent some money, I took the plans and threw the plans in the garbage and finished the boat on my own. The next boat l build l will only get plans from Glen-L thanks .

Subject: guest book entry
Date: Fri, 12 Mar 1999


comments = I have been enjoying my SEA KNIGHT for three seasons now. I had purchased a 20 foot fiberglass cuddy cabin while I was building the SEA KNIGHT, but no one in my family(wife,son 14,daughter 9)liked it much. But now I cannot keep them off "the boat that my dad built". Your tech service was excellent anytime I had one of those "first time boat builder questions". Thanks again! I am sure that we will continue to enjoy the boat for many seasons to come.
Sincerely, Dave Phillips

username = Ron Weiss
citystate = Alberta/CANADA
comments = I have purchased your plans for the "FANCY FREE". It is my desire, to work on her, as time permits. Everything, sent to me is clear and to the point. Love what I've gotten out of this project, so far.
keywords = Company Name / boat name. I think every one has "dog-eared" at least one of your catalogs. Thanks keep up the great work.

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