View Full Version : 18' handy billy

Whiffle English
07-28-2003, 08:23 PM
just about finished with my 18' Handy Billy designed by Harry Bryan. Took delivery today of a new 15 hp Honda outboard as specified in the plans. It doesn't fit...not even close. The 10" wide outboard well designed by Harry needs to be at least 14" wide to accept the engine and allow it to turn. I know that the 15 hp Honda is now matched with a 20hp model, whereas in years past, it was matched with 9 HP unit. While no Honda dealer that I have been in touch with knows the exact dimensions of the motor where it counts, I assume that that there has been a major change.
Has anyone else run into this problem? any solutions that anyone has attempted?

Looks to me as though I am going to have to rip out the well I built two winters ago and make one that fits.

Any thoughts will be appreciated.

Liam English

07-29-2003, 02:52 AM
Ahh bugger! Don't ya just hate that?

This is why I'm a distrusting type, I'm looking around at motors right now to get the sizes needed for my outboard well. Not ready to cut out the transom yet until I get them.
The designers dimensions are way too small, probably lucky to fit an old Seagull air cooled job in it.

I feel for you, hope it all works out ok in the end.

07-29-2003, 07:38 AM
Hello Liam! Dave Tew here. Congratulations on your Handy Billy. I saw one at the WBShow and noticed that they require a short shaft engine (which Honda no longer makes in certain hp sizes) but was not aware of the width-steering limitations. Outboards are going through a lot of changes currently. I wish I could offer specific suggestions other than getting/swapping(plus cash) for an older model Honda 15. EBay in the eBaymotors.com section has an outboards category and Hondas seem to attract attention.

As you note, it may prove frustrating for Handy Billy builders of the future unless Harry Bryan redesigns the well or perhaps offers an 'open transom' option in his plans. Doug Hylan had a similar problem with his Top Hat design, when the size motor he designed the boat for no longer came in a short shaft model. Even professionals have this kind of problem so you're in good company if that's any consolation.

Our Sarah says she's enjoyed reconnecting with your Sarah in NYC this past year. Love to Judy and Hannah.

Good luck-

BTW- "Whiffle???" Whazzat?

[ 07-30-2003, 12:51 AM: Message edited by: rbgarr ]

07-29-2003, 07:56 AM
Did ya contact Harry Bryan and ask him what gives :confused: ? He is as close as your phone and in my experience able and willing to come to your aid. If you don't know his phone number write me an email and I'll look through my pile of papers for it.

Mike Vogdes
07-29-2003, 07:56 AM
Yes you are right about the older motors sharing the same dimensions, the 9.9 and 15 HP Johnson / Evinrude are actually the same block and probably what your designer intended for this boat. Honda motors are, in my opinion the only way to go, if I were in your shoes I would alter the opening to accomodate the Honda motor, it sucks to have to go through all that trouble but in the long run you would definetly be better off. The benifits of a 4 stroke motor are definetly worth the trouble. Keep in mind that the Honda motor weighs considerably more that its 2 stroke cousin.

Whiffle English
07-30-2003, 10:12 AM
many thanks for the various comments on the problem of fitting the new Honda 15hp outboard in the well of my Handy Billy. The most practical solution to the problem seems to be a reconstruction of the well to acomodate the increased size of the engine, which seems to have the approximate dimensions of the old 25 hp model. Talking with Harry Bryan, the designer, it seems clear that while some boyancy may be taken out of the stern area, general performance of the boat will not be adversly effected.

I should add that one nice thing about the situation is that it really does not bother me too much...thanks to WoodenBoat School and especially to instructors Bryan and Brion Reiff, my confidence level is such that it seems to be just another problem to be dealt with. And it won't be the first time that I have built something and then had to deconstruct it to make something work.

It's my understanding that Harry will be contacting people who have bought plans to let them know of the change in dimensions.

David...great to hear from you! I hope the fact that you are checking this bb means that you are getting back into building. I know that you were one of the early, early people in this business and as such we all owe you a lot for helping to preserve something that is giving so much pleasure to so many.

And Whiffle English was a dog who was a much loved part of my family for many years, until her death, hoary with age, on October 6, 1986. Because I never write down my passwords and often forget them, I have had to adopt her name as my pseudonym for this board. I'm not sure how many names I have used up here! One would think that one could call up WoodenBoat, explain the situation, and get one's own name back..but no luck there. Best to all the Tew family!

07-30-2003, 05:54 PM

The resurgence of interest in wooden boats since I first became involved has been a real source of amazement and pleasure for me. I had doubts about the claims (in the early 70's when I started building) about a 'renewed interest' in it, but lo and behold, it's really happened, hasn't it?!? I'm sure that looking back at the end of my years I will feel especially fortunate to have lived now.

I understand completely about the pet-name password connection. We do the same with the name for our cat, M***y ;)

Take care and good luck with the rebuild of your well.

[ 07-30-2003, 06:57 PM: Message edited by: rbgarr ]

07-30-2003, 08:01 PM
Liam, Good to hear your Handy Billy is about done, and I am certain you will work out the details with Harry.

Good to see you posting here, as I missed you and Judy this year, assuming you both made it to "summer camp" alumni week???

Drop a line when you have a chance.

Andy A

Mark T
07-31-2003, 04:42 PM
Hey Liam, good to hear you on the board. I usually lurk around the dark corners here. I didn't recognize the name until Abe spoke of work week. We refastened and painted the big Cat boat a few years back. arb and I are still at it .I haven't built my Handy Billy yet, but hope to start this Winter. We are just finishing a yearlong project to build a new shop.... Long contractor story for another day. Say hey to the missus for us.

08-14-2003, 02:01 PM
Liam- If you're having second thoughts about rebuilding the well to fit your new engine (but don't we fall in love with new things!), I've got a line on a '99 shortshaft Honda 15.

08-14-2003, 03:26 PM
Originally posted by rbgarr:
Liam- If you're having second thoughts about rebuilding the well to fit your new engine (but don't we fall in love with new things!), I've got a line on a '99 shortshaft Honda 15.Well, there you go. Lots of 4-stroke motors around. Check the dimensions and maybe one will work. I suppose the shop that sold you the Honda won't take it back.

I guess this proves a new rule: "Measure twice, order once."

Whiffle English
08-15-2003, 11:06 AM
I HAVE fallen in love with the new 15 hp honda, so am redoing the motorwell. That means that I likely won't get it in the water this year, but will have time over the winter to paint and finish the boat nicely.

Thanks for the interest in helping find a new (old) motor!

08-15-2003, 01:50 PM
I've seen a number of Handy Billys this summer and find that the all-painted (versus varnished trim and/or decks) appeal to me most. More workboaty and simple. What are your preferences, Liam?

[ 08-15-2003, 02:53 PM: Message edited by: rbgarr ]

Whiffle English
08-26-2003, 06:50 PM
I'm a work boat guy...that's what drew me to the Handy Billy in the first place. It looked like an honest boat.