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Thread: Large jon boat to be made from fallen historic tree

  1. #1
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    Default Large jon boat to be made from fallen historic tree

    Recently an enormous white pine and a moderately large oak tree fell in a storm almost imediately next to the shores of the Shawsheen river near the Tewksbury/Andover border

    It was a popular meeting place for parties, recently some were definitely not of the little kid's picknic sort. These partiers inadvertently doomed it by setting bonfires way to close to it's base, weakening the bottom so it didn't make it through a mighty blow in early july.

    The pine grew near other large trees so has a clear 100 foot bole and it is over 4 feet in diameter where it split over 6 feet up off the ground.
    Most of the bole is not touching soil and a brief fire scorched the bottom end grain so much of it is probably not rotten.
    It must be gotten rid of because there are invasive insects in nearby areas who live just under the bark of living or recently dead pines and often kill living trees.

    The Shawsheen is a small, shallow slow moving river that in severe low water is a pain to canoe through in some areas.
    It is said to be an excellent river for poling on.

    I have long thought about building a large jon boat for use on the local rivers and now have a good picture of what I want.
    It would be 20 or 22 feet long, have a roughly 6 foot beam and a 4 foot floor, 5 to 7 inches aft rocker, the rocker profile having a flat midsection and a relatively straight aft run. Like the spira skiffs the frames would be left inside permanently. The rocker profile and wide transoms hopefully will make it less sensitive to weight distribution, easy to maneuver in tight spaces, and, if lightly loaded and trimmed bow heavy, able to go faster than hull speed without making a large wake. The bow would curve to the top without a front transom and the sides would have substantial flare and freeboard in response to powerboat wakes on the Merrimack.

    The initial plan was for 3/4 inch doug fir mdo floors and sides alike, delaying the build to more than 3 years from now, but now that the tree has fallen and is getting the attention of the watershed council perhaps it would be a good idea to get cracking and build the whole thing out of that tree.

    In honor of tradition, longevity, and common sense and the great tree it would be planked simplified carvel with scantlings so thick as to make it even heavier than the plywood initial idea, with both internal and external chine logs. The end grain pieces of wood would be wetted for hours in Boron DOT. No modern glue and no fiberglass, instead deck screws and tar. The outside would get several coats of premium exterior latex, the first couple coats heavily thinned to soak the rubber into the wood. The inside would get a mix of linseed oil, pine turpentine, and a little wintergreen oil.

    Propulsion would depend upon where and when it was being used.
    For the Shawsheen it would be poled and rowed
    For the rivers Concord, Assabet and Sudbury it would be a choice between oars and a 5 hp slow turning fourstroke (the block was rated for over 6 hp at 2800 rpm, is typically run at 2500, and has a 4000 rpm electrically restricted redline)
    Not CARB 3 star compliant but no dirtier or thirstier than a well cared for 100/1 mix looper yamaha and it has above water exhaust.
    For the Merrimack river it would be urged along by a typical 15 to 20 hp outboard. For the foreseeable future this job will be filled by my '66 fastwin with a slow 3 blade prop, mostly because I already have it.

    The watershed council is interested not only in the river but in recreation, historic/aesthetic value, community outreach to improve awareness and opinion, and there are understandably people in the council who like wooden boats.
    Indeed the president of the association likes wood boats, has been to the wooden boat museum in newfoundland, and complained in the newsletter about modern canoes.
    The shallow water and coarse gravel bottom are horrible on aluminum because it grabs the rocks.
    I'm thinking very small oak protective rails and sacrificial pine runners bedded in tar (try telling the watershed council you want to put red or white lead in their river that they have spent enormous sums to clean up)

    Does anyone have any ideas or suggestions for this kind of project?
    I hope to get the involvement of the council or failing that help from some of the council members.
    Any advice for how to write to them as I am bad at imbedded messages and subtext both in reading and writing?

    I have made a non epoxy skiff before and learned a lot from my (admittedly sometimes terrible) mistakes on that boat.
    http://forum.woodenboat.com/showthre...-Weston-Farmer
    http://forum.woodenboat.com/showthre...t-wood-boat%29
    http://forum.woodenboat.com/showthre...e-Ugly-Phoenix

    It handled surprisingly well for a badly lopsided boat, but ended up with much more rocker than originally planned (still could go surprisingly fast for its waterline length if you didn't put excessive weight in the stern) and worst of all suffered horrible leaks, partly from defective caulk that after days in the sun was nowhere near dry on the inside but had a misleading cured skin, mostly from the sides mysteriously pulling in instead of out (later revealed to have been the result of removing part of the midship frame too early), and somewhat from imperfect fairing of the chine logs on my first build.
    Last edited by DanSkorupka; 10-01-2012 at 04:29 PM.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Large jon boat to be made from fallen historic tree

    Since first post I have sent a proposal to the Shawsheen Watershed Association.
    I got a response in under two and a half hours telling me he had already forwarded my proposal to the entire board.

    Today I presented to members of the UMass Lowell Society of Environmental Scientists.
    The two people I talked to in person had relevant experience: Both had worked cleanup and water sampling on local rivers in small boats and both had operated jon boats, both had some understanding of wood boats and poling. One had taken water samples and poled on the Shawsheen itself for the exact same watershed association I am proposing my design to with the very canoes my design is slated to take the place of for heavy work. He is also friends with the president of the Association.

    Both people saw nothing seriously wrong with the design or the deal I offered, and liked the design and its features.
    Issues of weight, transportation, storage, wear, engine pollution, and the merits of wooden and semi displacement hulls were brought up and I had good answers for all of them and everyone seemed happy.

    Is there anyone out there with something to say?

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
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    Southern Missouri
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    Default Re: Large jon boat to be made from fallen historic tree

    The way I read this, you found a downed tree you want to make a boat out of it and you are working with an organization asking permission or blessings, but I don't understand why. Is it thier tree? I don't see what the committee has to do with this unless they are getting the boat and perhaps flipping the costs of the build, but that's not clear to me.

    What's the mission here besides building a boat? Why are you involving them?

    I always thought you could take a really large tree and cut away everthing that was not a boat....

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Large jon boat to be made from fallen historic tree

    The committee is getting the boat, full ownership. Their use of the boat will preempt mine.
    They provide the materials, I provide the large majority of the labor and the workspace, turning the wood into a boat without direct monetary payment in exchange for the privilege of being able to use it when they aren't busy with it.
    I thought of doing this sort of thing before, I originally planned on using plywood, the idea of using the historic tree as the materials was a recent opportunistic change.
    They found and seem to own the tree and were talking about it in their newsletter.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Sep 2012
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    Van Isle
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    Default Re: Large jon boat to be made from fallen historic tree

    My technique for getting politicians interested in a community project is to learn each individuals motivations and priorities. Then talk with each one in person and somehow twist the story so it somehow benefits them personally. Some wont care one way or the other. Some will be against it because it will conflict with some hidden agenda. Some will use it as a way to bolster their image. Some will just go with the flow. Some will be worried about money. Lots will be worried about liability. If you can somehow make your project help them reach their own goals, you will have a better chance of success.

    I had to do that out here with trying to get a wilderness park established. It took years to get it to happen. Much bigger initiative than hauling away a tree and making a community boat, but the same polical principles are involved.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Large jon boat to be made from fallen historic tree

    My "hidden agenda" is to have a better boat than I could afford to go alone building that I don't have to trailer.

    The deal I proposed is a win-win situation:
    The Association gets a one of a kind work boat that is purpose designed for the needs of that river for a good price.
    I get access to a large boat of my own creation without the typical hassles of owning a plank on frame boat.

    Wondering If it should be registered as a commercial work boat or a recreational craft.
    It will be owned by an organization rather than an individual, and will be used more as a tool than a toy.
    It will serve as a platform for teaching, research, cleanups, and a means of transporting items too large for a large canoe (say an Old Town Stillwater 17 or Grumman 19) to safely carry in waters that a broad beamed deep vee hull can't get to.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Large jon boat to be made from fallen historic tree

    I think it's a great idea. You are generous to build a boat for others to use. Stick close to traditional proportions and you'll be fine. I built a pine flatiron skiff a few years back, fastened with galvanized common nails. It was crossplanked without caulking, worked fine, lasted years.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Large jon boat to be made from fallen historic tree

    I think it's a great idea.
    Do you get to keep the extra material?
    R
    "Now Ron,don't you do anything stupid!" - Grandma B.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Large jon boat to be made from fallen historic tree

    I sense something; a presence I have not felt since . . .
    Last edited by chuckt; 10-11-2012 at 07:16 PM.
    Chuck Thompson

    1955 18' Chris Craft Continental
    1950 30' Chris Craft Express
    1955 Concordia Yawl #26 (under restoration)

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Large jon boat to be made from fallen historic tree

    So now the next step is removing the trees and getting them to a sawyer for cutting? Is one of the questions who's to pay for that?
    "Now and then we had a hope that if we lived and were good, God would permit us to be pirates." ~ Mark Twain


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