View Full Version : Kunhardt's Scow Yacht

10-25-2000, 10:07 AM
Here's an example, ca 1885. I can't include the drawing but it's simple.

Text has not been proofed completely <chuckle>.

Small Yachts
C.P. Kunhardt

It is useless for the amateur to attempt the construction of regular round frame boats. Boat building is not a haphazard occupation, in which anyone with a little deftness in tools can engage. It is a profession, only to be mastered after apprenticeship at the trade.

Not even a capable carpenter can get out, erect and finish off a round bilged yacht and rig her with any approach to the fairness and nicety of the boat builder. Those who have already graduated in the art can learn nothing from descriptive instructions within book cover, and those whose sole stock in trade consists of a few tools and tolerable acquaintance with their use, should not attempt a task beyond their capacity. It would only lead up to a leaky, rough and unsatisfactory job, soon to be thrown aside as worthless.

There is no royal road to boat building. Anyone ambitious to turn out original work, had best pull off his coat, enter a reputable builder's shop and go through the entire operation of constructing one or more boats, the only way to obtain an insight into the practical side of an art which cannot be reduced to paper.

But it is possible for an amateur carpenter to knock together good work of simpler character, and to put up for himself a very respectable substitute for the round-bilged yacht, if the service is to be restricted to smooth waters. Flat bottoms are easily constructed, and after one or two successful ventures, something of the "skip-jack" order may be undertaken. Beyond this the amateur will not be likely to go, unless already so far along in his skill and familiarity with the subject as to benefit nothing by directions in a book. A few days hanging round a shop, or a helping hand once in a while, will contribute much more to his purpose.

The advice here laid down for putting up specific boats of ready construction, applies to all sorts of allied forms and proportions, covering a large range of possibilities in flat-bottom craft. As soon as depth is to be incorporated, flat bottom is no longer admissible, for it is next to impossible to obtain good delivery in the run, and serious wave-making is courted by driving large "mean beam" in proportion to displacement.

The principal objection to any flat bottom is the "pounding" in a chop, and, for sporting purposes, the lap underneath the bow, giving notice of approach. The sphere of a flat bottom is in smooth water. In rough water such boats are unsatisfactory, particularly if beam be given prominence. Without it, performance is rather better, but room is scant and safety placed in jeopardy, an exchange not advisable in small boats.

External weight may overcome the risks of capsizing, as in the SMALL SHARPIE, already described. With the keel, light draft and facility for beaching disappear, and cost of construction is somewhat enhanced.

Where these are not considered material drawbacks the ruling ideas in the SMALL SHARPIE may be followed to advantage. Care should be taken to give long horizontal entrance and improve the clearance by deadrise to the floors in the run. A short rise to a flat bottom aft is most certain to draw complete failure in its wake. As depth and displacement increase, good entrance, and, particularly, good clearance, demand increased solicitude to avoid sluggishness. In flat boats of fair beam, draft and displacement are kept at a minimum, and moderate fining and round up to floor will answer well enough without resorting to deadrise. Such boats, preserving the dead flat fore and aft, are the simplest to put up and will first receive attention, premising that they will do much better with centerboard than with keel, for reasons explained in previous chapters.

Before commencing, cut out a model to pleasing shape, square across it at intervals for "half breadths," to be kept in the actual boat across bottom and deck. This guarantees the intended flare, sheer, and appearance on full scale, and takes but half an hour to execute. For a "scow model," the most primitive of forms, no such provision is necessary, though even in such an elementary concern there is room for the exercise of judgment and taste. Without these, an uncouth, lumbering box is brought forth ; but with aptness, even a scow may have agreeable outline and considerable smartness imparted. In the skiff model, virtually the scow, with sides brought in to a rabbeted stem, instead of the "square-toed" ending, there is actually opportunity for display. A skiff may not only be passable in appearance, but a thing of beauty, in whose shaping even delicacy of mold and jaunty pose afloat need not be wanting.

To build a scow yacht, 15 ft. long, obtain from the nearest mill two dressed boards, say 19 ft. long, 1 in. thick and 15 to 20 in. wide, according to the depth of side wanted. If not to be had of sufficient width, the sides may be built up of two streaks united by cross cleats 1x1 -1/2 in., spaced about 15 in. apart. The streaks must be planed true on the edge before joining. Also procure enough 3/4 in. stuff for bottom, thwarts and decking.

Cut out a temporary cross piece or "molding board" for the midship section, around which the sides are to be sprung. Let this be, say, 7 ft. across top and 6 ft. across bottom, giving 6 in. flare to each side.

Trim off the ends of the side boards as follows: Saw down from top 3 in. at forward end and 4 in. at after end. From the termination of these cuts with a line and pencil sweep an arc of 6 ft. diameter, to which the sides will be cut for the round up of bottom. This arc may be laid out on a pattern board and from it transferred to the sides, as more convenient. Ten feet from the bow place the midship mold and screw the sides up to it.

Pass a rope strap around the ends, and with a toggle through both bights, "Spanish windlass" the ends of the sideboards together, until, say, 4 to 4-1/2 ft. apart forward and 5 ft. at stern. Cut end boards 3 and 4 in. wide and nail across the square ends of the side boards. Staylath the whole to a middle line, so that the boat shall be "out of wind," and not lopsided.

The convex bend which the sides have assumed supplies suitable sheer. The bottom edge is to be trimmed down nearly flat for half the length amidships. Then plank across the bottom with 3/4 in. boards, being sure that equal depth has been given to the sides, and after having planed the lower edges level to receive the bottom.

Fit a pair of natural crook knees in each end where the round up commences. The knees should be stout in the throat, as the strain is brought across that part. Rivet with copper, screw, or clench with wrought iron nails.

The centerboard may be 5 ft. long. The casing is simply a narrow box nailed to the bottom. Sides to be, say, 1-1/2 in. thick, of requisite length and the depth of the boat, or built up of two breadths cleated together and the seam caulked. To keep the sides of the casing apart, insert at each end a "headpiece" 2 in. by 1-1/4 or 1-1/2 in., and screw or rivet the sides thereto, laying strips of cotton cloth well steeped in thick white lead between to make watertight work.

Remove the temporary midship mold, plugging the screw holes in the side boards, and draw a middle line on the bottom fore and aft.

Place the centerboard casing in position, say 6 ft. 6 in. from bow. Scribe a pencil mark all round. Withdraw the casing and on the inside of the pencil lines draw others to represent the inner faces of the casing and therefore the slot to be cut through the bottom for the board to drop through.

Then lay two keelson boards fore and aft, their inner edges coming up to the outside pencil lines. These keelsons may be 8 in. wide and 1 in. thick. At the round up towards bow and stern cross cut 1/4 in. deep to facilitate springing the keelsons to the bottom. Rivet or clench nail from outside through bottom and keelsons.

The casing will just fit in snugly between the keelsons. Before fastening in place, fit the board itself. This should be of 3/4 or 1 in. stuff, built up to the full depth of the casing at forward end and to one foot more at after end. The latter end is cut to a sweep having the pivoting pin as a centre. This pin is located about 3 in. up and aft of forward end of board. Also dub off the corner the pin to allow the board to drop without catching. There should be at least at 1/2 in. play to the board at each end. The breadths composing the board are united by vertical pins or “dowels" and strapped across sides or ends with light iron 3/4 x 1/8 in.

An eyebolt is screwed in the after end on top, or a shackle of strap iron may be pinned to the board, to which the pennant for hoisting is attached with an eye splice. Ship the board in the casing and bore through with a 1/4 in. auger for the pin. This is set up by a nut and rubber washers under iron washers to prevent leaking when drawn up tight. Light iron chafing plates may be screwed to each face of the board in wake of the pin hole to take the wear.

Cut out the slot in bottom boards, step the casing, and nail or screw up from the bottom, with cloth steeped in white lead, for a watertight job. Additional pieces 1-1/2 x 1-1/2 in. may be nailed down to the keelsons alongside the casing. and then nailed through into the latter. The top is best steadied by a thwart, notched so as to take the casing.

A "skag" or after deadwood is next cut out of thick stuff to fit the bottom, to which it is nailed up, and further secured by a strap iron aft with a T head to take the square stern ending.

A stout eyebolt is screwed into the skag through a hole in the strap iron four inches up from bottom. The eye should be 1/2 in. diameter and is to take a pintle screwed into the rudder or strapping it. These can be bought at hardware stores.

The rudder is put together of 1-1/2 in. hard wood, with the forward piece or stock 6 in. wide and 2-1/2 in. thick, rounded into a head, through which cut a mortise to receive an iron or wooden tiller. If the stock be only 1-1/2 in. thick, a cheek piece may be screwed to the head, set out by small pieces 1 in. thick at top and bottom, leaving an intervening space into which the tiller can be shipped.

The rudder head passes up through a hole in the bottom, and may be boxed in to prevent making water through the hole. The blade is 2 ft. long, the pieces composing it being strapped with iron or connected by hard wood cleats on top and bottom. The heel of the stock is notched for the pintle, as shown in the diagram.

A deck can be supplied by shaping beams 2-1/2 in. deep out of 1-1/4 or 1 in. stuff, giving them slight crown and spreading them 15 to 18 in. apart. They may be simply nailed to the sides, or, better, to a clamp 2 in. deep and 1 in. thick, run round the inside of boat. Deck over with 1/4 in. plank, and caulk or cover with canvas and paint.

Along the middle line work a thicker “king plank" of perhaps 1-1/4 in., beveling the edges for appearance's sake. Mast beams may be stouter, and kneed to the side either by natural crooks or simply large triangular brackets, cut from 1 in. oak. About 3 ft. 6 in. from bow cut 4-1/2 in. hole for mast, and below it nail a block of wood to the keelsons for the step. Mortise out to receive the tenon in heel of mast.

For cockpit, carry the deck plank along the sides and cover in the stern to suit. A square cockpit is all that is needed, surrounded with a coaming 4 to 6 in. high, made of 3/4 stuff. A floor is best made of cleats athwartships, and fore and aft strips on top, say 2 to 3 in. wide and 1/4 in. thick.

Thwarts, as desired, are supported by cleats nailed to the side. One across after end of cockpit and another across centerboard casing will suffice. A screw bolt in after deck will answer for securing the mainsheet, unless an iron traveler is preferred. For this reeve a bar of 1/2 in. iron through two eyebolts, spaced 3 ft. apart. Knot the end of centerboard pennant to prevent it slipping through the casing, and to keep the board lifted, run a hardwood pin through a hole in the board, the pin resting on the casing.

Chafing battens, 2 x 3/4 in., are run round the outside of boat at gunwale and dubbed away at the ends.

Caulking is done with cotton wick and a blunt chisel or like tool. Drive the wick in far enough to pay the seams with stiff mixture of white lead and oil. Lead color for a ground, and anything over that to suit the fancy.

Outfit and rig are altogether a matter of choice, and can be simple or complete. A fair rig is shown in the diagram [a small gaff sail], the sail being made of stout drilling or the lightest duck, edges being hemmed, and the breadths bighted in 8 to 10 in. widths, the bights or doubling of the duck upon itself being intended to strengthen the material and do away with too much stretching. Seams and bights run parallel to the leech of the sail.

To cut a sail, sketch out with chalk on a floor, lay the canvas down and tack it, edges overlapping an inch, and a similar lap in the middle of each cloth. Sew with hard laid twine well waxed, and palm and needle same as for hemming a handkerchief, stitches about 1/4 in. apart. Border the sail with an extra thickness of stout canvas and run in a couple of seams, when no bolt rope will be necessary.

Patches strengthen the corners and reef earing eyelets. Stitch eyelets in all four corners, and smaller ones a foot apart along head luff and foot for passing a lacing. If hoops are used on the mast, then an eyelet in the seam of each breadth. Brass eyelets can be bought to be stamped into the canvas.

Mast is 4-1/2 in. diameter at deck [19ft 6in from deck to masthead]. Boom [18ft long] is 3-1/2 in. at centre, and ships to the mast with common jaws cut from oak and screwed on each side. Gaff [9ft 3in long] 2 in. at centre, with taper towards ends. Two rows of reef knittles, 3 ft. apart, for reefing. Lead of gear as per diagram.

Any amount of elaboration on the plan sketched out can be indulged in, and information may be gleaned from the PLATES in this volume, or by a visit to any small yacht.

Amateur mechanics will suggest to themselves greater nicety and accuracy in fitting the various parts according to their skill. Sometimes a skag is fitted to scows at forward end and a keel strip 1 in. deep to steady them on their helm. Rowlocks can be shipped in blocks nailed to cockput coaming.


Art Read
10-25-2000, 11:37 AM
<<It is useless for the amateur to attempt the construction of regular round frame boats. Boat building is not a haphazard occupation, in which anyone with a little deftness in tools can engage. It is a profession, only to be mastered after apprenticeship at the trade.>>

Jeeeze, Dada.... Glad I didn't read THAT before starting my project! ;-}

10-25-2000, 09:58 PM
Good not to take it to heart. The old appreticeships are gone, but any one who takes up a tool, learns step by step to use it, is keeping wooden boats alive.

No pictures? Darned long winded for no pictures.