Diesel Duck 382

Diesel Duck 382
Diesel Duck 382 with the "get home" steadying sails up.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Base Camp

It's like a real boat shed now!  I've moved in some cabinets, tools and lumber and space is quickly becoming at a premium.  I through bolted two threaded eyes to the ridge beam and attached a block and tackle to both.  Once again some ancient tools from my grandfather find new life in this build. I'm not quite sure how much load I can pull with them or how much weight is safe to put on the ridge beam but I believe they'll come in handy maneuvering the keel and the associated keel timbers.  If anyone has any knowledge on calculating loads or link for same please let me know.


I changed my mind on the setup for the building cradle.  Originally you saw me setting some leveled timbers on blocking partially buried in the stone.  After re-reading George's book (I honestly don't know how many times I've read it now) and reviewing how he suggest the building the cradle, I ripped out my previous set up.

The new cradle is made by partially burying parallel timber stringers about five feet apart and running the length of the boat shed.  They are but jointed and secured to each other with solid white oak gussets. For now they are just screwed on with 3 inch wood screws.  In the event we use the cradle as a sled when the boat is done, the gussets will be through bolted to the timbers.

From there we laid some 5 foot sections on top of the base timbers running perpendicular to the stringers.  For now they will be secured with several long deck screws.  I started with only for cross pieces but I believe I'll be adding a few more.


I calculated the location for the first and last cross timbers to coincide with specific points on the keel so hopefully the complete boat, with rudder, will fit inside the boat shed.  As George works on updating the 41' duck plans he sends me CAD files with his progress.  I use a free app on my iPad, Autocad 360, that can read the files.  It also allows me to take measurements so I can get relatively accurate data on where everything should be.  

I completed my first YouTube video in the series that will document the entire build.  I go into further explanation of how I used the auto CAD app to get the appropriate measurements.  I think it's easier to understand if you watch it then me trying to explain it with words.  You can check it out here:

Essentially, I wanted to ensure I had cross pieces near the end of the keel just below the dead wood and another one near the bow just at the point where the keel begins to sweep up into the curved bow section.  I will fill in the area in between with additional cross pieces as necessary.  These sections will also provide a place for blocking to raise the keel up as it slightly rises towards the bow as specified in the design plans.

Special Thanks and other news:

The Sea Dreamer Project received our first sponsorship donation from our PayPal link.  I originally didn't think PayPal provided the name of the sponsor and my small brain didn't think to check further into my account to find the information.  However after looking I found it and wanted to make it a point to thank you Jonathan!  It really means a lot to have a total stranger believe in your project and actually take the extra step to help make it happen.  So thanks again and please know it was very much appreciated.  I immediately put your contribution to work and if you check out the video above you can see where.

Finally, as we close in on 6000 site views I wanted to thank everyone again, but I also wanted to ask a favor.  It would be an honor if people would click on the "follow" link located in the column to the right of this posting near my Google badge.  If I can get this site to a point where it generates enough views and followers I could add some small banner ad's that would help fund the build.  If I can do that, then people could just follow along and I wouldn't have to feel guilty asking for sponsorship's!

Additionally I would very much appreciate if people would click on my YouTube link below and subscribe to my channel.  Again, I need to reach a certain number of subscribers in order to to qualify to generate some ad revenue to help fund our project. Click the link below:

These are all of course, just humble requests. If you would rather not subscribe or follow and just want to follow along anonymously that's fine to.  I'm certainly happy enough just to have you here!

Coming soon!

I have ordered my lumber for the keel, floor timbers and frames.  I found an Amish sawmill near the Pennsylvania border that had some beautiful Larch for .60 cents a board foot.  Larch is a very close cousin of Douglas Fir and this Eastern Larch is a very traditional boat building wood.  It has excellent rot resistance, strength and flexibility.  I ordered just over 1000 board feet in various dimensions that should be ready by mid January.  So we will be moving forward with some actual boat building very soon.  

Additionally I have some of the materials for the framing table that will be used to lay out the frames from the table of offsets.  I'll be buying the rest of the materials this weekend with some Christmas gift cards from Home Depot.  Hopefully I'll have that documented in a new post next week.

I hope everyone had a great holiday and I wish you all the happiest of New Years!

Wednesday, December 14, 2016


We just went over 4000 site views!  I'm so grateful for the comments and emails I have received and I'm honored that people have stopped in to check out our project.

I just wanted to let everyone know that besides what you've already seen on this page, many changes are occurring. We had a custom logo created for our project.  I love how it came out and I believe it captures the essence of what we are trying to accomplish.

With that new logo comes our official title and a new web address for this blog.  I'm sending this out now under our blogspot address for all those who are subscribers or followers. I'm not really sure what's going to happen to the existing links and email notifications once I make the changes.  So going forward you can keep up with our diesel duck build at:


As many of you have mentioned, YouTube is a powerful way for the average person to tell their story. We all know that if a picture tells a thousand words, video tells a million!  I've been checking out some great boat builds on YouTube like SV Seeker and Salt & Tar. They have been a great inspiration as well as an excellent teaching tool for what and what not to do when creating a video series.

Because we've had so many requests,  I am happy to announce that we are now in the process of shooting the initial video's for season #1, episode #1 of the Sea Dreamer Project.  We will continue with this blog of course, but we hope the YouTube series will provide a deeper connection and understanding of what it takes to build a 41 foot Diesel Duck in your backyard.  

We hope to create something that you use to be able to find on the Discovery, Science, Learning and History channels before reality TV.  I'm no cinematographer or producer so I hope people are patient while we work through the entire process of filming and editing.  I've worked with Imovie for home movie stuff before but it's been a long time.  You can find our YouTube channel here:

Right now there are only a couple of time lapse videos of the boat shed build that readers have already seen.  Hopefully we'll have more to follow soon.

We really enjoy hearing from our readers, so you can see along the side bar we've added a quick CONTACT form to make it easier for you connect with us.  Please let us know what you think, we are always eager for feedback, advice and words of encouragement.  

I don't want to pressure anyone or make them feel like they are being scammed.  I've worked in law enforcement for nearly 19 years and the last thing I want is for someone to feel taken advantage of. I also would not want any sponsorship donations to take away from someones discretionary funds that would otherwise go to some worthy charity.  

However the biggest obstacle to faster progress on this project is funding.  The funding to buy lumber, plywood, epoxy and fastener's comes from our normal family budget.  Just like everyone else, the families needs comes first!  What's left over at the end of the month is then devoted to this crazy project.  So if you would like to see more building, more progress and more blog and video posts, please consider joining our team and sponsoring us.  Any level is greatly appreciated and you can sponsor as many times or as often as you like.  

You can find the SPONSORSHIP PayPal button just above the contact form in the side bar.  Just select the amount you would like donate and click the "pay now" button.  All payments will be securely processed by PayPal.  I will never receive or have access to any of your financial or personal information.

Merry Christmas and happy new year to all!  Thanks for your continued support.

Thursday, December 8, 2016


When I bought my current home in 2007, one of the major selling points was the fact that it had a 24x32 barn on the property.  It was perfect for my woodshop and it had an attic for lumber storage.  My father was equally excited because he planned to secretly unload all the "junk" he had been holding onto for the last 50 years.

Every few weeks something new would show up in my barn.  Most of the things I could not even identify.  They must have been from my grandfather, who like many from his generation, fixed what was broken with his own hands.  He worked as a foreman for the local utility company and had amassed a collection of industrial tools that I still cannot identify.  He never threw anything out and when he passed back in the 80's my father took custody of all these items.  My father followed right in his footsteps and when he saw something being discarded that he thought might be useful someday he took it.  I'm starting to learn that his strategy is now paying off.

Back in the 80's when the city of Rochester was remodeling one of the firehouses they replaced the large bay doors.  The old doors had very large, industrial hinges that were going to be thrown away.  My father took them and held onto them.  A few years ago they found their way into my barn.  A couple days ago they had a new purpose as hinges for the doors on my boat shed.

The doors are a simple frame with a diagonal support and skinned with plywood.  The industrial style hinges required that we add some blocking to keep them flat across the door opening plane.  We predrilled the hinge side and the arm side and bolted them into place making sure they were level.  The hinge side was just going through 3/8" plywood so some backer blocks of 3/4" plywood were added on the inside of the building to provide some "meat" for the bolts to hold on to.  These doors are heavy but these hinges are obviously overkill. However, they work well and the doors swing easily.

I used some oak that I had to fashion a sliding latch to hold the doors closed.  You can see that they are very simple but perform just as intended.

If you've read my previous entry in the "no regrets" column you know that my wife's grandfather was a boat guy and WWII Navy veteran.  She recently made a trip to see her grandmother in Maryland and I asked her to look for something nautical that I could add to the boat shed to give it some boat "bling".  She came home with an old bronze prop from one of her grandfathers boats.  I hung it over the newly installed doors. I love the look and I'm proud to have something from her family watching over our project.  The place really looks like a boat shed now!

I have continued to keep my eye on craigslist for items that I need.  I feel like I got lucky again with my latest find.  I found an ad from a rigging company that specializes in train derailment recovery.  They are located just west of Buffalo, NY which is about and hour and half away from me.  They recently recovered some 6x6 yellow pine timbers on their way to being pressure treated.  As part of the repayment for the recovery the rigging company took the timbers.  They had 8, 10, 12, 14 and 16 footers and several hundred of them.  The 8, 10 and 12 footers were $10 a piece and the 14 and 16 footers were $20.  I made the trip out and bought 20 ten footers and 2 14 footers. 

I wasn't sure what I would use them for but the price was just to good to pass up.  At the very least I could use them for the cradle.  After a little research I learned that yellow pine is just as strong as doug fir and is an excellent boat building wood.  I consulted with Mr. Buehler and he said I could use them for the keel but being only 5 1/2" inches wide it may be a little thin for the shaft tunnel.  I could have sistered something on and then faired them in but that sounded like more trouble than it was worth.  So now I am thinking I may buy some more and use them for the frames.  After sawing them in half that will leave  some pretty stout timbers (2 1/2 x 5 1/2) for the frames. 

In the meantime I used some old cherry heartwood timbers that were badly warped and some of the new yellow pine timbers to begin assembling a base line to build off of.  I learned that the site work was very well done and leveling all the blocking was fairly easy.  I dug down into the stone in order to again maximize the boat shed headroom and leveled in each piece of blocking to the previous one.

I then laid some 8 footers and some 5 footers across the blocking as a base for the keel to be built upon.  I haven't worked out all the details yet but the reason for the 8 footers is to hopefully come up with a plan to add some kind of wheel assembly to them.  I hope to be able to roll the completed boat right out the front wall when it is completed.  I figure I should be able to jack up the 8 foot sections a bit and fashion some kind of wheel unit to allow it to roll fifty feet or so and become accessible to a crane that can hoist it up on to the tractor trailer for it's trip to Lake Ontario.

So that's where we stand for now.  The cold winter is approaching and the keel assembly will require some warmer temperatures for the resorcinol glue to work properly.  I am pretty much tapped out with regards to the budget so it may be a few weeks before finances allow the purchase of any more lumber for the keel.  In the meantime I hope that Mr. Buehler finishes his changes on the boat soon and gets me the final plans.  With those in hands I can get started on the frames.  The frames require a large assembly table, so I figure this may be a good time to at least get them started before the big keel gets in the way.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Diamonds and stones

My father use to say all the time that, "Some days are diamonds and some days are stones".  Well I had a big stone of a day last week.  I got a call from my neighbor just after I got into work.  He left a message for me asking me if I was aware that the roof on my new building was blowing around. I was not aware!

I raced home thinking the worse and wondering how it could have failed.  It was a relatively windy day but nothing to intense.  When I got home I found that the tape seam had failed along the entire length of the ridge.  All the mechanical connections were rock solid and even though the center of the roof was billowed up like a sail in a full gale, the plastic held tough and did not tear.  I wish I had time to take some pictures but I was slightly panicked and went right to work.

Luckily I had overlapped the seams by a foot and then centered the seamed up roof properly directly centered on the ridge.  This gave me a little material to work with in order to temporarily secure it.  Starting at the West end I pulled the plastic in, wrapped it a couple turns in a small batten then screwed it to the inside of the ridge with a couple screws and cap washers.  I followed this procedure every other joist bay for the north side roof section and then followed the same procedure in the empty joist bays for the southern roof section.

This took the strain off of the roof from blowing in the wind so the plastic would not tear on the end wall.  However it left a gap in the roof the entire length of the ridge.  It was good enough for the moment and the equipment I had since moved in to the boat shed along the perimeter was safe from the weather.  I went back to work licking my wounds and contemplating my options.

When I got home later that night I went back out to see if I could figure it out.  The good thing I learned was that my halogen work light provides ample illumination to fill the entire building.  It looks cools to!

I came up with what I believe was a pretty simple fix.  I planned to buy another section of 20 foot wide 6 mil plastic and basically put it over the ridge as a really wide ridge cap.  My father and I went to work this past weekend when the winds were low.  We draped the new roof plastic over the roof, leaving it much longer than needed and temporarily screwed it in place.

I bolted a 4 foot piece of 2x4 on to my ladder perpendicular to the rails so I could lean it up against the arches to cover the span in between them in order to reach the bottom of the new roof section. I then used wooden battens again and rolled them up a few turns in the plastic and secured them to the arches with some screws and cap washers.  We secured the new roof section to the end walls the same way we did with the other roof sections previously.

All's well that ends well and it certainly cant hurt having another layer of protection.  The lesson learned is that the sheathing tape which is designed to work with this material and has UV resistance and exterior grade adhesive is just not designed for the wind loads it was subjected to in this application.  However we are all dry inside and now and the next job is building and installing the doors.  I'll have the details on that posted in a few days.

In other news; I started researching how to document this boat build with a YouTube channel.  There are very few blogs that document the building of wooden Diesel Ducks and I can't find any documented with a YouTube channel.  Through the forums and through the comments and emails from the readers of this blog there seems to be genuine interest in seeing this build through a video series.  For me personally, I know it's something I would like to watch so hopefully others will enjoy it as well.

I'm certainly no producer, cinematographer or camera man.  While I have muttled my way through the editing of some home movies with IMovie I'm certainly no expert with that program either.  Research continues but I think it's something I want to do.

As always if you have any tips or comments please feel free to post them up here.  I'm shocked to see that this site has had nearly 3000 views.  I'm honored that people have taken the time to check out my project.