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Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Kingfisher Drift Boat Build - Preparing to Stitch the Panels Together

The excitement has been building, the bottom is glassed, the sides have been glassed and flow coated. The side panels have been finish sanded. Now it's time to make the parts come together into the shape of the hull. This means it's "Stichin' Time".They say that this is one of the most exciting steps in the construction of a drift boat. The flat panels will morph into the actual shape of a boat.

This step will involve literally stitching the panels together with mild steel bailing wire. The bailing wire will hold the boat together until the joints can be fiberglassed. I've heard of people using plastic zip ties or copper wire to "Stitch" the boat together too. My instructions say to use the bailing wire so that's what I'll use. I'm going to ask for help from a couple of my fishing buddies when the time comes. The big panels will need to wrestled with and having extra hands will make it a lot easier.

From what it sounds like there will be a lot of groaning and creaking of the panels as they are bent into shape.

Here's the list of stuff I'll need to get arranged before I get started;

  • Two saw horses that are about 24" tall.
  • 40 - 50 pieces of 6" strips of 16 gauge mild steel bailing wire.
  • Wax to pre-wax the strips of bailing wire
  • Vise Grips for twisting and pulling on the wire
  • Drill with 1/8" bit
  • Wire snips
  • Hammer
  • 5 gallon Buckets with sand or other weight
  • 2 1/2" and 1 1/4" deck screws or sheet metal screws
  • 8 - washers for screws
  • 16 - rubber washers made from rubber gasket material

Cutting Out the Stem

The stem must be cut to shape prior to stitching the panels together. I followed the pattern provided with the plans for the Kingfisher.

  • Once I cut the stem profile, I had to bevel the stem to about a 35 degree angle to enable the side panels to come together at the bow. 
  • Make sure that the bevel is placed on the inside of the panel, the non-fiberglassed side. I used a light 3x21 belt sander to do the job.
  • I scribed a mark about 5/16" back from the curve and  used it for a reference to sand the bevel. I took my time and they came out perfect.

Preparation the Panels for Stitching

  • Clean up the panels after the glassing process. The side panels and the bottom panels probably have some glass hanging off the edge.  Use scissors or a sharper razor knife to cut any un-epoxied glass that may be hanging over the edges. A random orbital sander will grind away the edge nicely. Grind or sand the edges until they are smooth and clean.
  • Sand around the side panel edges on the inside to within 8" to 10" This will allow the new epoxy to stick to the old epoxy once the boat is stitched.
  • Sand the bottom on the inside within 8" to 10" so the epoxy will stick after the panels are stitched.

Laying Out and Drilling Holes in the Side Panels

  • Scribe a line on the inside of the panels along the length of the chine and stem
  • I'm using a 3/4" Plascore bottom so I'll need to mark the line about 1 1/4" from the edge. I'm rationalizing this as my instructions are for a 1/2" thick bottom and calls for a 1" offset.
  • From the mark and drill an 1/8" hole about 1" from the corner of the chine and stem.
  • Continue marking the full length of the chine at 12" centers to the transom.
  • Come back and drill additional holes at 6" center for roughly 2 feet from the stem and the transom.
  • Drill holes at about 6" o.c. along the stem. These holes should be about 1" back.
  • I'm building a rounded transom so I'm cutting a standard transom to temporarily hold the hull in position. This will be discarded when I construct the rounded transom.
  • The last bit of prep for the side panels is to screw small 1" x 1" blocks of plywood to the inside of the side panels. they will be placed about 1 1/4" above the bottom of the side panels. These will keep the Plascore from riding up the side panels too much. Install about 12 per side.

Preparing the Bottom for Stitching

  • Set up two sawhorse that are about 24" tall. Place the sawhorses to within a foot of each end of the bottom.
  • Place two 5 gallon buckets with sand or weight in them to help the bottom flex downwards.

Coming Up - Stitching the Panels Together

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Have any Questions or Comments? Let me know, Clay.