Philip's boat

STEAM Project for One

The SS Stampycat Floats!

By appointment, the boat was inspected by a DNR officer and passed.  FWIW, blogging provided a great deal of the information he required. A check sent to the DNR with a registration form and we are legal.  A hull number and registration number will follow via snail mail. Just for fun, I put Philip’s name on the title…and he signed his first legal document.

Seeing a long weekend, we trailered the boat to Grandma’s farm in Michigan– a big lake and a nice public boat launch made for the perfect test. I bought a trolling motor so even if the 9.9 doesn’t fire up, the boys get the boat in action.20170902_093932

And there it is…floating, not leaking, and she even leaves a bit of a wake with the trolling motor at full throttle. And Philip?  He eventually stretched out on a seat using a cushion as a pillow…and took a nap in the sun. Philip found joy and contentment today.

What about the math scores? We are waiting on the initial scores this year, but last spring he was above average. And he was diligently doing math homework  the night before we left. without complaining.

The best part though is the smile…


Finish: Motor and Electrical

That’s an awesome looking boat! This post is just to explain some of the finishing tips.

Here’s the window from the inside. It still needs a little cleanup, but it is watertight. I know that because it filled with rainwater several times and didn’t leak a drop.


To anchor the fuel canister, we fabricated a bracket out of aluminum stock and threaded rod. It is glued to the side of the added flotation compartment and rides free of the bottom. Simply undo the nut on the threaded rod and the rod slides free and releases the canister.


And then there is the battery compartment.  The boat is using an old  9.9 HP Yamaha 2 cycle motor.  the electric only runs lights, pumps and eventually a trolling motor.  The last item is why I had to sort out a large battery installation.

I bought into a system for electricity in kayaks…Yak Power. It’s not cheap, but it is functional and safe. Remember, my young boys will be using this boat. I did not buy the battery box though as it would have been under-powered. That meant building something that would provide the initial connections and anchoring the battery. There are several YouTube videos that work from various boxes and I relied on those and the Yak parts to assemble something  from a Flambeau tackle box. It straps down with standard battery straps. The relay based Yak switching unit plugs into the box and gives me 5 circuits.


And then there is the stern. You can see two eye bolts for strapping to the trailer.  There are three handles, one set low to provide a step into the boat from the water. Oars are installed, the motor mounted, and the lights work.

And then their is the seat arrangement in orange…an unplanned “Block I”. I will enjoy floating this in Michigan State water.


Now, just admire the lines and the S.S. Stampycat decals.


Finishing…2 the live well

This is the live well under construction.  I set a piece of 3/4″ PVC in each corner and filled the middle with an inch of poured flotation foam. The PVC provides drainage flow and conduit for future electrical wiring or plumbing if needed.

The rest is essentially made of materials left over from building a Koi pond–rubber liner, backing pad, and aluminum channel.  I left a gap on each side with a flap of rubber to cover,  Wire is passed through the end corner to allow for a small pump to aerate the water.  Here’s the finished well in the front seat. It will hold about 9 or ten gallons. When not fishing, it’s a great cooler…

You can also see the latches I used in all of the opening seat tops. Standard fair flat latches, no locks, available online though a variety of sources. There are strips of  aluminum angle on the underside of the seats to keep them in place and weatherstripping to keep all three the compartments relatively waterproof.



The boat has been moved outside and there are some posts that went missing.  So there is a good deal of catching up to do.

There are seats to make. simply ripping remaining plywood into seat tops and easing the edges with a router…too straightforward.   So here is Philip sanding those tops. The stern seat will be sealed with foam inside.  The others will open, one to be a live well, with removable tops rather than hinged. and of course they need to be orange…


We added poured foam, three kits of 2# and a leftover kit of 6# foam, adding 4.5-5 cubic feet of flotation.  More than enough for a wooden boat that already floats when swamped.


Here you see the stern seat and an additional cubic foot added to the rear to compensate for the engine and motor weight distribution in the stern. Total here is about 3 cubic feet.


In the bow, we added 2 cubic feet and split it, leaving an access to the light wiring and small storage area.  We used a plastic bin to form it by cutting off the bottom. That’s the first update.

Trailer ready…

It has been awhile since the last post. We finished the trailer today.  I dropped the bunks to their lowest level and raised the rollers to ride underneath the center and only make contact if the boat drifts to either side. I moved the bunks inside the outer keel ribs. I may put a short second set in after moving the boat to the trailer.

The cost was pretty cheap.  Used trailer for $300, three tires, a quart of Rustoleum, less than $100 for new lights, Again less than $100 for new rollers and bunk carpet. End result, an awesome E load trailer that looks to be built for the boat.


After lots of fussing, the window is in.  Sanding a track for the glazing and the bottom for the aluminum to rest upon was a mess.  This is a hand built boat, not a CNC project so the thickness of fiberglass and epoxy isn’t perfectly even. But, it needed to get pretty close if the thing is going to seal.

The choice of sealant/bedding compound is a bit of an experiment. There are multiple videos and websites, even manufacturer’s charts for what marine sealant to use for a given purpose. What bonds to fiberglass and wood might not bond to Lexan. And the silicons aren’t very strong below the waterline. Apparently sticking a window in the bottom of a boat is really a weird thing. I debated the benefits of 3M 5200, 4200, or using a true silicone like Dow 795 or 3M.  I chose to bed it in 4200 which will keep the aluminum well-bonded to the boat and it is fit for below the waterline.  The last thing we need is for the bond to give out and send a piece of aluminum into the prop while on plane.  The 4200  may have slight adhesion issues with the glazing, so I will trim the frame/glazing edges inside and out with a silicone. This arrangement should be watertight when all is cured. If not, maybe I just stick a bilge pump in the window well.

We also got the drain plug fitting and the bow eye installed. That means the hull is done and we can begin fitting out the boat…stuff the boys can work on with less toxicity.


Of course, that means we have to turn the boat over again…Looking for three healthy backs to help with that step.

The Stripe

So there it is, the orange stripe that will give the boat its name…Stampy.  Philip and I masked off the shape after working through exactly what he wanted to see.  He seems to have a pretty good sense of design and even managed to improve on my suggestions.


The gel coat is FGCI Ultra Plus brushable gel coat.  Three coats–mostly to make sure it is thick enough to take a scuff or two.  I used the excess of each 1 cup mix to coat the inside of the seat compartments.  These will not be visible, but I figured a layer of gel would only serve as additional protection and sealer. Waste not, want not.

Unfortunately, they don’t make an orange tinted gel coat…so we bought a quart of canary yellow and a quart of vivid red and mixed the color.  I gave him a choice of mixes and he chose a simple 1:1 mix (Thanks. buddy!), though it is a touch redder than I thought he’d want.  It looks great though.

There are a couple of small bleed spots, but nothing that isn’t easily fixed.  I did use an automotive making tape that bent easier and sealed better. It did work well and I sealed the edge further with a thin layer of white gel before using the orange. I came over it with a standard green masking tape to anchor the plastic drop cloth.All of this did well in protecting the boat from dripping.  However, the masking tape did leave adhesive on the white coat…  If you look towards the bow in this photo, you can see the residual adhesive.


Cleaning that adhesive up will be a bit of a mess.  I tried a number of alternatives that I found on the Wooden Boat Forum. Most of these were less than effective and did affect the finish.  What seems to work best is  citric based adhesive remover (Krud cutter) followed by hot water and tsp (removes the oily residue).  However, the orange stripe isn’t fully cured yet and the adhesive remover does remove a slight bit of the surface.  It doesn’t seem to affect the white that has been cured for a week, so I shall work on the virtue of patience and settle for a day off and watch the Superbowl with Philip instead. Next weekend will suffice.

It looks a lot like a boat now.  After a little cleanup, the hull will be done.  We move on then to seats, flotation foam, and hardware.  We are waiting on delivery of a piece of stainless steel plate to make the window frame–that will be a days work by itself.



The interior and topside was lightly sanded today. One coat of white gel applied and that’s it–out of material.  This is only meant as a primer, but it went on even though with a little roller texture still on the first coat.

The open areas are either storage or flotation foam and so no reason to gel.  These have several coats of epoxy sealing the surface–perfectly water tight, just no reason to make them pretty.

The approved drawing…

Also ordered the topcoat gel– with another design change.  I introduced Philip to the concept of a change order and made him sign off on the final paint design.  Now it is a simple white boat with an orange stripe down the side and back. Ordered two gallons of white and a quart of red and a quart of yellow to get the orange. (Ultra Plus Brushable Gelcoat at

Given that a gallon covered two coats on the bottom and one interior topside, the two gallons should be just about right.

It is looking more like a boat every session.


Gel coat!

After a long lapse in posts and work, we’ve reached the point of gel coating. This is one coat on the underside of the hull.  Two coats should cover opaquely.  The white (a generous additional epoxy gift from my friend Daryl) is just intended as a base coat to determine coverage and surface quality.  The thing needs lots more sanding, but that is much easier to see in one light color. There is a lot to do yet…

Much of the past moth was consumed by holidays and travel. We did also make some significant progress on the interior of the boat before flipping it for a gel coat.


This is a photograph of my team–Jonny and Philip. The interior of the boat has three coats of epoxy over taped seams and filleted corners (Silver Tip E-Z Fillet). There are modifications to the Michalak Jonsboat plans evident in this picture. The additional box at the stern is to hold one more cubic foot of flotation foam as close to the rear as possible. Between the two middle seats is a box — that’s the frame for the window to the fish.  It is sealed with epoxy and fillet material and should be water tight. Even if the widow leaks, the hull won’t fill with water. It will be covered akin to the seats when not in use.


The outer edges of the seat thwarts are capped with a spacer. The seat tops will be hardwood/plywood with a lip sealed with foam or hinged and latched for storage. Along the gunwales there are two blocks on each side for oar locks. These are beveled to provide an optimal 11 degree angle with just enough thickness to keep the oars off of the gunwale rails.  Why two? Notice there are two boys in the photo…it does allow for two sets of oars and instead of arguing over who gets to row, they can learn to row in sync when the motor quits or they go out alone.

Philip hates the smell of epoxy, so his participation has been limited in this stage.  However, even he couldn’t resist helping with the white just to see that next step. It’s about time to order the topcoat colors–orange and white with apparently a blue bottom. Unusual choice of color, but an orange and white boat should be easy to spot half a mile away on the water and the blue bottom could just be anti-fouling paint. That, however, opens up another can of worms. Will Philip repaint the bottom of his boat every year or two?

For those who are keeping score: 6 gallons of epoxy, 36′ of fiberglass fabric (60″ width), 1 roll of seam tape, 1 1/2 quarts of Gorilla Glue, 1# of stainless steel screws in 1 1/2″, 1 1/4″, and 3/4″ sizes. I also relied upon stainless steel nails in a 16g nail gun to frequently tack things in place. The epoxy coverage on the exterior is about one quart per coat using chip brushes and a small (1″) diameter roller.

At this rate we will get this project in the water by summer. Great! Except that we went to the Chicago Boat, RV, and sailing show this weekend. Philip got on a sailboat and turned around with a look of glee…


Blog at

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: