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Chick's Micro Power Cruiser Project

Chick Ludwig

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Well Boys and Girls. Summer Breeze has moved on to her new home. It's time now to start planning and scheming my next project. The boat building disease has a firm hold on me, so I gotta BUILD! It's still too cold to work out in the factory. I mean, garage, and when it warms up, I've got an old 18 foot Starcraft "family boat" that I gotta fix up to keep Miss Debbie happy. But I thought maybe y'all would like to help me out as we work together to come up with my ideal micro power cruiser. I would consider a design/plan from someone else, but so far have not found one suitable, so will probably design it myself. This will be my first non-B&B design in a LONG time, but I don't thing that the Master and Young Master would be interested in designing this one. (If you two are listening in, and WOULD be interested in whipping out a set of hull panel patterns like ya did for the Motor Canoe, then please chime in here!!!)


So here are a few design parameters:

   1. Gotta be small, easy to store, tow, and handle. 14 ft. or less.

   2. Light weight and able to plane with a 15 horse power, old John-rude motor. Tiller steer.

   3. Have a permanent cuddy cabin, large enough to sleep one, privacy for the porta-potty, room for enough "stuff" for two or three day trips. 36 inch sitting headroom.

   4. A cockpit big enough to spread my legs, carry two 6 gallon fuel tanks, lockers for life jackets, etc. May be self bailing, but maybe not. The seats would be high enough to see over the cabin, so a       high,  self bailing floor could help with that.

   5. Pram, garvey, jon style hull to provide room below, increase stability, and allow a longer planing waterline. It would need a wide bottom to provide enough "lift" to plane with the small motor.

   6. The mountain lakes I'll be exploring don't get rough, so a flat bottom is probably desired. It would provide more room, increase stability at rest, and be easier to power. A shallow "V" would be acceptable, too---maybe.

   7. It (she?) needs to be good looking in a "cute" sorta way. No slab sides and straight sheer line.

   8. Easily built with stitch and glue, W.E.S.T. construction techniques.


Golly, nuttin' to it, y'all. so, let's hear it from ya. Speak your minds. I won't be offended. Probably. (I bet Action Tiger will have some great comments! He's an independent thinker like me.)

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There are a few conflicting issues you'll need to contend with Chick. A cabin with enough room for a berth (6' 6" minimum) leaves 7' 6" left for maximum length. A flat bottom will help with stability and getting you up on plane quickly, though any extra beam also adds to frictional resistance and weight, making a 15 HP outboard at least a hardworking one. I'd recommend a shallow V bottom, so occasional chop isn't as much a bother, so look at the Garvey style, rather than a jon. I don't think a self bailing cockpit is practical in a 14' LOD boat, but you can try it. I suspect by the time you've got the sole 4" - 6" above the LWL to self bail, freeboard and the CG will tend to be uncomfortably high. Weight will be a constant evil you'll fight, so keep a good track of it in the design process, so you have a chance of getting her up on plane. If you can keep the hull less than 200 pounds, before equipment, you'd do well. A 3/8" bottom and 1/4" sides will do, no frames, just a few bulkheads and athwart partitions gets it done.

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PAR, that's the fun of designing these things---working out the best compromises. I'll have to have a high sheer line on the hull to keep the cabin from looking "like a tower". Kinda adds to the cute look. I'm not concerned about the high VCG on this boat as I would on a sail boat. A high self bailing sole won't weigh more than a non self bailing low sole. Good circulation is a must, though. Yeah, I know, poxy saturated doesn't care. It ain't gonna rot. Ha! I still want good ventilation under there. The berth at 6'-8" is what I look for. It can go all the way to the bow transom.


You're right about fighting the weight. I'll be careful. I'm thinking of 4 longitudinal, vertical "webs" as floor stringers in the cockpit area, made from 1/4" ply well cut out with lightening holes. The two innermost of these will carry all the way forward and become the settee/berth sides. There will be transverse bulkheads under the settees. I'll have an inner and external keel batten to stiffen the center line. Your recommendations for 1/4" sides and 3/3" bottom seem just right. I'll try building the cabin with 4mm. I won't be climbing on top, and it will have a good crown. If I can, I'll shorten the boat to reduce some weight, too. I like the longitudinal stringers for trailer support. I keep the bunk boards directly under the stringers.


I rarely actually sit up below. I prefer to lie down when I'm in there. But gotta have room to sit on the w/c, and to change clothes. a mockup on the actual hull will help decide this. A lower cabin will look better and save a bit of weight. But so would a higher crown to raise the center, but lower the house sides.


I'm thinking a minimum bottom width of 58 inches. What do you recommend? I don't know how to trade off the lift against the drag. Back-in-the-day, I had some bigger and heavier boats with 10 hp Mercuries (Mark 20), and they planed just fine. Slow. But fine. A low pitch 3-blade prop seems to be the thing here.


I know some of you other guys are looking, so hop right in. Don't leave all the fun to just Paul and me! Oh, by-the-way, we need a good name for this creation. Appalachian Laker, Mickey's Cruiser. (Gonna be kinda a Mickey Mouse style boat, after-all.), Chick's Folly. Impossible Dreamer. Mountain Messer...............


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I think that Jim Michalak's AF4 Breve would be a good place to start


This is so simple and straightforward to build, I think it will do everything you want, and the slot top is way better for my old tired bones than crawling into a cabin. If you tilt the engine under as far as it will go to hold the bow down, it should handle rough water as well or better than something with a bow transom.

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Jim Michalak recommends 10 hp max, but with your experience I don't think you would have any problems with a 15. At the bottom of the page in the link above there are articles by Rene Vidmer who ran his 8000 miles circumnavigating eastern North America, then shipped her to Finland and cruised to Spain and beyond. He uses a 9.8 Merc.

Here is a Michalak article where he discusses speed of the AF4 Breve

http://www.jimsboats.com/webarchives/2007/15feb07.htm#Figuring Power 4

Bottom line: you should see 15 to maybe 20 knots with your 15 Johnrude.

The beam is 5' and I'm almost positive the bottom beam is 4' (one sheet of ply)

Look at the page for the AF4 (the original 18 footer from which the Breve was shortened)


There are 4 videos and 5 articles which should give you a good feel for what she is like.

BTW, if you are a bluegrass music fan, I'll tell you what AF means.


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   If you're going to go for the self-bailing cockpit you might be able to arrange enough room under the cockpit seats for your legs while you're sleeping.  That will shorten the cabin a bit and you can keep gear, food, anchor, etc. in the forepeak under a hatch that can be used to make loading/unloading of supplies easier while on land. 

   And if you just want sitting headroom for changing and w/c you could build an extra-large companionway and put a folding (or removable) dodger over it. If you include a narrow bridge deck at the companionway you'll have a comfy place to eat Vienna sausages under the dodger.

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Ken, the self bailing cockpit wouldn't be high enough, but a bridge deck certainly would be. Good suggestion on the c'way. Thanks for the reminder about a place to eat my Vienna sausages---and Real Southern sweet tea. That shoulda been in my specifications from the start!


Here are a couple of options for a design. http://www.duckworksmagazine.com/14/designs/searover/index.htm#.WmyE43xOnIU

Also the B&B power version of the 15 ft. Bay River Skiff, called the Bay River Runner. It is not shown on their website other than under price for the plan.

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  The floor of the cockpit wouldn't be high enough but if the foot-well is narrow you might be able to get your legs under the cockpit seats (quarter-berth).  With your lower body resting comfortably under the cockpit seat on one side of the boat, your upper body would be in the main cabin so it wouldn't be too claustrophobic.  That would allow you to have a shorter cabin.

   I'm just thinking that if you sleep with your feet stuck up in the bow you'll have your gear stowed under the cockpit so CG will be pretty far aft when moving, but if you sleep with your feet under one of the cockpit seats you'll have your gear stowed forward which will help balance out your weight as well as the weight of mister John-Rude.

   Maybe I'll find the time to make a little sketch on graph paper to see if it would work.  Or maybe I'll get distracted by something shiny and forget what I was thinking. :)

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Have you seen Paul Thiel's boats?  If you built it lighter and flattened the run aft it would just be a big ol' box o' Jon Boat.  There's undoubtedly a good Bolger candidate somewhere, too.  A moto-brick or something.  I'll have a look around (Oooh!  Shiny!) :)



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Many years ago Mister Moon built one, AF4 and used it when his kids were very young. I have attempted to contact him thru the site and email in the past year but with no reply. I hope he is okay.  If anyone has his contact number you may get some great feedback from him. I know he was active around the EC races. I think it would be an easy build to quickly get on the water.

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Well, I am not at all a motor boat guy. I have owned exactly one in my life, and it’s still awaiting a refurbishment, so I really can’t offer any advice.


That AF4 seems about like all the rest of his boats, though, which is to say, slightly odd, sometimes, but dang good sense.


That AF4, for example, may be the best all around type of motorboat, What with a big cockpit, a neat and useable cuddly area, and that slot top. The slot top is cool.


That said, one of those cool ramp type front ends on a scow type hull would be cool, like a landing craft! 




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   That's probably not micro but it is pretty nice.  I'd like one if we had flatter water around here.

   Whatever design Chick selects I think he should paint it yellow to compensate for the re-coloring of Clementine and Southbound.  We can't let the ratio of non-yellow to yellow boats get too high.  After all, wasn't there a famous designer who pointed out that the only proper colors for a yacht are yellow and off-yellow?  I might be mis-remembering the actual words but I'm pretty sure that's what he meant. :)

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Ken. I think that Thrillsbe would not want another yeller boat so close to his Local Honey. Ken, seems that the quote had something to do with black and white colored boats, but I get the drift.

Sott, that goes WAAAAYYY beyond micro, but I like the general design. I would just have to cut about 8 feet off. Graham had started a 16 ft. garvey design for me a few years ago that had a similar hull shape. Maybe he could finish it up to for me. Guess I should ask the Master if he'd finish it and cut me some hull panels.

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