Boatbuilding Blog

August 18, 2010

The Perils of Owning a Character Boat

Filed under: Building - Considerations — tomlarkin @ 1:09 pm

The original Godzilla 25, the Donna B, is up for sale again. This boat was built by Devlin, but finished by the owner. It’s been for sale for most of the last 2.5 years or more. This time they are asking $125,000. The last time I saw it, they wanted $69,000. It was for sale originally 30 months ago for $137,500.

Donna B   Coot

I think the Donna B is too busy. There’s too much detail and too many items on the boat. I have trouble seeing the boat under the detailing.  I tried very hard to keep the finish on my boat very plain (except for the paint job anyway). The boat itself is inherently too cute enough without adding more. I’ve had a dozen people tell me I need bow pudding and rope fenders. I’m trying to fight the temptation of adding extraneous stuff.

This brings up a couple of interesting ideas about such specialized boats. One – how do you price something that’s so unique?  I think the temptation is to ask way too much because it would cost that much to replace. The other question is – who would buy this boat? It’s too slow for young people, too small to take kids aboard, and doesn’t have enough amenities for older people. The Donna B has no sink or stove, a porta-potty in the pilothouse, and the bed looks pretty small and hard to get into. My boat avoids some of those issues, but has others, like very little outside space. It would still be really hard to sell for anything like I think it’s worth.

July 17, 2010

Where I Got My Paint Colors

Filed under: Building - Considerations, Building - Painting — tomlarkin @ 1:09 pm

The W. O. Decker is a 1930 tug, now owned by the South Street Seaport in New York City. I would have stolen the colors verbatim, but Meryll said I couldn’t use the gray-green trim, and made me go with the cream trim instead. A good decision, as usual Smile


If you squint, you can hardly tell them apart!

March 13, 2009

Original Godzilla – Now $62,600 Off

Filed under: Building - Considerations — tomlarkin @ 1:01 pm

Edited August 24, 2009 – It looks like they’ve knocked another $5000 off the asking price, now $69,000. That’s about half their original asking price.

In early December I posted that the original Godzilla was for sale for $137,500. I just found a new listing, asking $74,900. They’ve dropped the asking price by nearly a third in four months, and it still hasn’t sold. Scary times. The new listing has some nice pictures, with details I haven’t seen before.  That Kirby green hull (Hull color-Kirby-1 part bronze green, 3 parts bottle green (satin)) still looks pretty good, after five years.


2015933_1[1]   2015933_5[1]   2015933_6[1]   2015933_9[1]   2015933_12[1]   2015933_29[1]

December 2, 2008

Original Godzilla for Sale

Filed under: Building - Considerations — tomlarkin @ 4:07 pm

I just saw what I assume is the original Godzilla 25 for sale, in Milwaukee, WI. As far as I know, mine will be only the second one of these built.

I grabbed all of the pictures from the ad because I assume they will disappear as soon as the boat is sold, and Sam’s site has no pictures of the finished boat. From Sam’s Godzilla page:

Russ has a woodworking company and planned on building the fore deck hatch, two side sliding pilothouse doors, pilothouse windows (which are all opening), and the pilothouse rooftop hatch, all constructed of teak. Russ also wanted the capability of doing some of the interior cabinetry himself and to respect his wishes, I let him turn his mind loose and was looking forward to his ideas and craftsmanship. All of the exterior of the Godzilla 25 would be finished and fully functional before shipping out to Wisconsin.

There’s a lot of nice detail here. I’ve never seen a cleaner engine outside of a showroom. They’re asking $137,500.

bow2 bow3 cleat under gunnel engine engine2 engine3 engine4 engine5 from bow head inside pilothouse inside pilothouse2 inside pilothouse3 inside pilothouse4 inside pilothouse5 inside pilothouse6 inside pilothouse7 inside pilothouse8 pilothouse storage under sole pilothouse top pilothouse top2 rub rail rudder & prop rudder & prop2 side view stern stern2 stern3 stern4 v berth2 v berth3 v berth & heater bow

26′ Devlin Harbor Tug

  • Year: 2004
  • Current Price: US$ 137,500
  • Located In Milwaukee, WI
  • Hull Material: Other
  • Engine/Fuel Type: Single Diesel
  • YW# 69111-1664499

This “Overbuilt” Devlin Harbor Tug, Custom Built for it’s current owner in 2004 is now up for sale! The owner has spared no expense in making this the nicest Devlin to appear on the Great Lakes. All of the woodwork is custom finished and the engine room is remarkable to say the least! This Devlin has always been winter stored in a heated indoor workshop. Included in the sale is the Tandem Bunk Trailer with Brakes.


  • Garmin 250C Depth
  • Garmin GPSMAP 276
  • Spring Cleats
  • Burgundy Anti-Foul Paint
  • Compass
  • Hourmeter
  • (4) Gunnel Mounted Chaffe Plates Port & Stbd.
  • CO2 Detector
  • (2) Batteries w/ Switch
  • Battery Charger
  • Cockpit Lights
  • Engine Room Lights
  • Remote Spotlight
  • Aft Removable Tiller
  • (2) Removable Deck Hatches Aft
  • (2) Rod Holders
  • Bronze Window & Hatch Hardware
  • Interior Color: Green
  • Tempurpedic Mattress in V Berth
  • Dicken’s Propane Heater in V Berth
  • (8) Removable Windows in Pilothouse
  • Teak & Holly Custom Sole
  • Custom Drapery in Pilothouse
  • (2) Opening Portlights V Berth
  • (2) Opening Portlights Engine Room
  • Shorepower w/ Cord
  • Pressurized Water System
  • Vacuflush Head w/ Holding Tank
  • Tandem Axle Galvanized Trailer with Brakes

June 5, 2008

Tire Fender Planning

Filed under: Building - After Flipping, Building - Considerations — tomlarkin @ 11:09 am

I’ve been thinking a lot about tire fenders for the boat. I went to the local airfield this afternoon and looked at airplane tires, but they’re really small. They might look funny, and wouldn’t cover as much area as I’d like. I picked up the junked car tire below on the way home. It fits pretty well, but is maybe a little oversized. The coverage is nice – about 4 inches above waterline to just below the rub strake, and it’s deep enough to provide a lot of padding.  Maybe a trailer tire would be a better fit. I wonder where I’d find eight of those?  I had assumed I’d put three tires on a side, but now I’m thinking four, and maybe five on a side. If you’re going to have permanent fenders, you might as well go all the way!

Car tire

Pictures of small tugs with tire fenders are hard to find on the web. Here are two of the better ones.



This is a detail from a tugboat model. I really like the idea of hanging each tire from 2 lines. They’ll be a lot more stable that way, and still be individually removable. Hanging the tires through hawse pipes is really nice, as opposed to running the lines over the gunnels.  I used this picture as a starting point for the mockup below.



Mock-up of Fender Hanger 

This is a bronze through-hole, mounted just below the gunnel rub-strake. Each of the lines would go to one side of a tire.  Tarnished dark against the black hull, it should be pretty subtle, but clean.   This is the view from the outside of the boat.

outside - bronze through-hull

Inside, looking up to the gunnel. A mocked-up wooden cleat is held on by the through-hull nut. The lines come through the fitting and cleat on. The whole thing fits below the 2 1/4 deep overhang of the gunnel.

inside cleat   inside cleat with line

I do worry that the tire fenders will just be the final nail in the cuteness ratio of the boat. I don’t want people to say “Oh, how precious!” when they see me coming, but it might be unavoidable. At the same time, the tires are really practical. Never having to set or store fenders will be really nice. Beware to the white plastic boat that rafts up to us though!

January 22, 2008

Visit To Devlin

Filed under: Building - Considerations — tomlarkin @ 2:53 pm

I went down to the Devlin boatbuilding shop, ostensibly to meet Joel and pick up a roll of glass, but really just to see the place. It was a great trip. Sam was in Mexico, but I met Joel Mill and two others in the crew (both of whose names I forgot – sorry guys!), all of whom were helpful and friendly. On the way out I stopped in Olympia and took a lot of detail pictures of some other Devlin boats in the water. I’ll make a page for them one of these days.

Here’s the shop in The large red-roofed building is the main shop.


Office The office – very nautical.


DSCN2076 I talked to this guy a while. He showed me around the shop and we discussed boats. He was really into boatbuilding and seemed like a real pro.

DSCN2078 Inside the shop. They use the upper decks to get into larger boats.

Godzilli They’ve got the original 16 foot Godzilli for sale. Here are some other pictures of this boat. There was some discussion of the shaggy fenders on the WoodenBoat forums. Here’s a picture of the back side of one showing the airplane tire used as a form for the baggywrinkle.


January 7, 2007

2-stroke vs. 4-stroke engines

Filed under: Building - Considerations — tomlarkin @ 8:14 am

I’d always heard that 4-stroke engines were always more environmentally friendly, quieter, and more robust than 2-stroke engines, but I was just reading a thread on the WoodenBoat Forum and they mentioned a new 2-stroke called ‘E-tec’ by Evenrude.  It turns out that the new generation of 2-strokes can compete with 4-strokes and surpass them in many ways.

Here’s a Yachting Magazine article comparing them:,24579,1169547,00.html

All things being equal, a DI motor costs less and accelerates noticeably quicker than a comparable four-stroke. As for sound quality, and contrary to perception, DI motors register a few decibels quieter.

Here’s Evenrude’s E-tec home page:

E-tec won an environmental award from the EPA:

2004 Clean Air Excellence Awards Recipients

Evinrude® E-TEC™ Clean Air Technology
Bombardier Recreational Products Inc.

In 2003, Bombardier Recreational Products Inc. (BRP) introduced Evinrude E-TEC, an outboard engine for marine recreational products, which is based on a two-stroke engine technology. Compared to a similar 2004 four-stroke engine, carbon monoxide emissions with Evinrude E-TEC are typically 30 to 50 percent lower; and at idle are lower by a factor of 50 to 100 times. In addition, Evinrude E-TEC emits 30 to 40 percent less total particulate matter on a weight basis than a similar “ultra-low emissions” four-stroke outboard. Furthermore, oxides of nitrogen and hydrocarbon emissions for Evinrude E-TEC are similar, if not lower, than a four-stroke outboard. There are no oil changes with this engine, as well as no belts, and no valve or throttle linkage adjustments. This makes Evinrude E-TEC engines easier to own than comparable four-stroke engines. In addition, numerous advancements combine to create the Evinrude E-TEC quiet signature sound including an exclusive idle air bypass circuit.

November 12, 2006

Godzilla Model

Filed under: Building - Considerations, Building - Shed and Prep — tomlarkin @ 11:08 pm

Home with a bad cold for the last few days, so I built a scale model of the Godzilla. It’s 1 inch: 1 foot, which is the same as the drawings.  So I just laid the birch model plywood (1/16 bottom, 1/32 sides) under the drawings and pricked holes using a steel awl.  Then connected the dots and cut out the parts. I used scissors for the thin stuff and an exacto knofe for the thicker parts.  Blue tape for the stitching and thick instant glue to hold it together.

It’s not a great model, but it’s square and to scale so I can use it to mock up the interior. The cardboard is the first mockup of the inside to help understand how the parts fit together.  The little guy is 6′ 1″ tall.

Bow. There will be a seat/chain locker just forward of the guy.

Note the sideways bed with the raised footwell. The hole aft will be the outboard motor well. I haven’t designed the well yet.

Shoebox construction! The pilothouse will have a sliding door on both sides.

View from the stern

Turn-over (3 images). The pins are in the balance points – the boat is relatively stable in both positions:

Need to drop the boat down after flipping… 

November 11, 2006

Bamboo Sole?

Filed under: Building - Considerations — tomlarkin @ 3:03 am


I was looking for teak prices on the Crosscut Hardwood site and noticed that they sell bamboo plywood for flooring. A quick Google search for ‘bamboo flooring boat cabin sole’ returned some interesting hits:

Marquis Yachts 55: “The bamboo sole becomes a design centerpiece for this highly trafficked area. Bamboo is an exotic hardwood with a textured look, and it’s very resistant to wear.”

Alden Yachts Brenton Reef 40:”[T]he cabin sole is pale yellowish white bamboo with teak edging. (No, I’d never heard of bamboo used this way, either, but it works very well: hard as maple and very moisture-resistant.)”

Rybovitch Express 42: “The Hawaiian koa joinery and bamboo sole aboard Buffett’s Margaritavich are unique.”

The light color, hardness, and varied texture of bamboo sounds like it might work well as a sole. I know it’s used in kitchens a lot. I’m concerned about the laminating glue and possible slipperiness when it’s wet.

It looks like vertical grain would be best:

A natural bamboo stock is hollow and the walls of the plant are fairly thin. Strips of bamboo are therefore laminated together to make our 5/8” flooring. The terms “horizontal” and “vertical” refer to the manner in which bamboo strips are laminated together. In the horizontal style, the strips are laid flat so the top surface shows the bamboo’s natural growth rings, or “knuckles.” In the vertical style, the strips are turned on their sides and laminated together in long, slender rows creating a different appearance.

Small Tug picture Page

Filed under: Building - Considerations — tomlarkin @ 12:39 am

I found a bunch of photos of small tugs online so I made a page to show them all. I want to have a place to work out the detailing and the layout of the boat.  After looking at the pictures for a couple of hours I’ve realized that people really like riding in the bow of the boat if it’s protected and comfortable.

A couple of my favorites:

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