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Lewis Boat Works: Custom Boat building and Plans



Tom's LilJon8

Update 1.21.03

Tom is doing some very fine work here. Under the pics are his comments.















Hi Steve,

Started the boat a few days ago so I thought I would share my progress so far. I did decide to go a full 48" width to get maximum stability, but kept it at 7"6" so it won't overhang the tailgate on the Ranger.
Pic1: I wanted my log chines upright, so I cut the curved parts out of 1x4 hemlock. Will lap-joint them to straight sections. I have access to a power hand plane and belt sander, which sure cuts down on the work.
Pic2: Sides cut with log chines attached. Glued and screwed every 3". I used a fishing pole for a batten.
Pic 3: Installing cross braces. Used hemlock for better strength than pine. A little piece of wood clamped to the chine for a support sure helps when you are working alone.
Pic 4: All cross braces in place ready for sand edges and joints smooth and even. I gave lot of thought to flotation. Since I am not installing fixed seats, that avenue was out. I gave some consideration to the boxes you suggested in back, but hated to give up the valuable floor space. I finally hit on doing a full flotation floor. I am going to put 1 1/2" x 2' x4' foam insulation between the upright cross braces. I will then attach another layer of 1/4" plywood on top of the foam. The result should be a strong sandwich, a smooth floor and no wasted space. The downside is a little added weight with the extra plywood, but I think it will be worth it.
Pic 5: Trying to impart some "memory" in the floor prior to pre-fitting.
Will keep you posted as work continues.


Pic 6: To most people, a shelf bracket. To me, a gusset. $1.75 each at Home Depot.
Pic 7: The bottom is on! Got real frustrated trying to keep things in line starting from the front as you suggest. Clamps trying to hold at an angle tend to slip real easily. Decided to start from the rear instead and things went real well from there. Sure gave the old Makita driver a workout. As I left the garage, I thought I heard a small voice coming from the direction of the boat saying "Boy! I've been screwed good."
Pic 8: Pre-fitting the center bottom skid. Decided to run this one full length.
Pic 9: Skids all in place.

Next: Sealing the wood in the cavity where the flotation will go, installing the flotation foam, and then the floor.


Pic 10: If you don't have a table saw to rip, improvise. A straight board and a couple of clamps makes a good temporary fence.
Pic 11: If you are going to build a Lil Jon with a foam-filled floor, remember to seal all the hidden surfaces prior to assembly.
Pic 12: Foam boards trimmed to size and laid in place.
Pic 13: The false floor installed. Besides having the smooth floor and no wasted space, a couple of other hoped-for benefits materialized better than expected. The torsional stiffness of the boat went up dramatically. The floor is also very firm to walk on, with no noticeable flexing. Well worth the weight penalty of the additional plywood. Next step is the front deck.


Pic 14: Spent a LOT of time the last few days planing, sanding and filling screw holes. Then I started on the front deck. I figured I had sufficient flotation in the floor, so I decided to to make a storage area. The holes on the side are to keep fishing poles and oars from being strewn all over. Took a picture before I covered the deck to show the extra support I put in. The boards on the side are for attaching cleats, or other gear. The board in the center if for the bow mounted trolling motor I hope to use. Will seal the interior before I attach the top.
Pic 16: Got sidetracked after thinking about how I was going to launch the boat since I fish alone a lot and sometimes it's a ways from parking to water. Came up with this system for a cost of about $18.50. The brackets just slip over #14 screws by means of keyhole slots. The spring clamps just keep the brackets from falling off when the weight is taken off the wheels. On and off in a few seconds.
Pic 15: A closer look at the brackets. Notice the keyhole slots. I had to make the brackets with the same orientation rather than left and right because of the way the holes were spaced. They are interchangeable side to side. If conditions are frequently too soft and the wheels sink, I can always go to duals. The wheels were $3.19 each at Ace Hardware.

Next: Attach the top of the deck and start applying sealant and finishes.


Pic 16: Ready for sea trials. Did the outside of the hull with Gluvit resin and painted with spar enamel. The inside is done in spar varnish. The seat is from my old inflatable, just a fishing seat mounted on a box. Oars are from the inflatable too, with lengthened handles.
Pic 17: Installed 1" x 1/8" aluminum to protect against those gravel landings.
Pic 18: Storage turned out to be no problem. Had an old creeper laying around. Took the head rest off and had instant roll-around vertical storage.
Pic 19: Loading was easy too. All set to head to the lake for sea trials.
Pic 20: One of my favorite small water fishing areas. Boat handled great with oars. Now to find a source of power. Leaning toward a 40 lb. thrust Minn Kota Maxxum, but maybe a turbo-charged, intercooled 427 cu. in. I/O would be nice too. Will keep you posted on that, LOL. Next project is to build a car-top carrier for the Windstar so I can take the pop-up camper too.

Pic 21: I really didn't like the perforated metal on the wheel struts, so I replaced them with 1" square aluminum. Cut keyholes in the back and used the same screws. Dropped the clamps in favor of mini-bungee cords attached to screw eyes on the inside of the transom. I like it much better.

Pic 22: This is what I designed to carry the jon boat on the existing roof rack of my Windstar. It still needs sanding and finishing.
It is made of three pieces of 2x2, the two cross pieces and the side loader bar. Total cost was less than $18.
Pic 23: The cross bars bolt to the captive nuts in the existing rack. Due to the curvature of the roof the 1x2's are notched to match the curvature and then screwed and glued to the 2x2's. The L-shaped bracket slips over the rub rail on the boat and is clamped down by the bolt and wing nut. The side loader bar is also held on by wing nuts so that when dismantled it stores in a small space.