Drift Boat Restoration Project Underway


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One of the things that many people who live in the boonies have in common is that we enjoy doing things ourselves. Many of us also enjoy recreational activities such as fishing.

My husband has been a long time fly fishing enthusiasts and a few years ago we were fortunate enough to move really close to a world-class fly fishing river.

As amazing as this would seem to be for someone who enjoys fly fishing, there was a catch (no pun intended). Most of the banks of the river are privately owned which means that it’s quite a difficult river to gain access to. Unless you own a drift boat, or you are really good friends with someone who happens to own property along the river, there aren’t many places that you can gain access to it if you want to fish.

Well, sometimes opportunity knocks and if you’re ready and willing to open the door, good things can happen. Recently, while making a routine trip to town, we happen to drive by a yard sale and there was an old wooden Mackenzie River drift boat with a for sale sign on it.

Of course, my husband had us do a quick U-turn so that we could go check it out. To his surprise, for the first time ever, he found a drift boat that we could actually afford! It needed to be refinished and have a few minor repairs made but other than that, it was a pretty good boat and the price was unbelievably cheap.

This started our latest project which is a full restoration of this classic piece of American fly fishing history. Because we were fortunate enough to buy it at a really cheap price, we’ve got some money in the budget to restore it properly. Here’s a list of the things that we’ve done so far.

  • Removed the outer chine caps and strippd the finish from them.
  • Completely stripped all the old varnish using a heat gun and an old dull chisel.
  • Lightly sanded the majority of the boat with 120 grit sandpaper using a rubber sanding block.
  • We turned the boat over and sanded the bottom to clean plywood.
  • We applied a coat of West System epoxy.
  • We covered the bottom with fiberglass cloth and wet it in with more West System epoxy.
  • Then we applied three coats of epoxy that had a special graphite additive blended into the mixture.

We had to special order primer and paint which should be arriving any day now. The boat will be a green color and we’re looking forward to seeing it with paint on it.

This really has been a labor of love for my husband and we’ve enjoyed helping him. Below is a photo of the boat as it appeared when we brought it home. Be sure and check back in a few weeks to see a picture of the completed project.

McKenzie River Drift Boat


2 Responses to “Drift Boat Restoration Project Underway”

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  1. EH says:

    Am enjoying your site . I bought some timber land property about 30 odd miles north of Bly,Oregon, are you familiar with that area? It was a plan of mine to do this when I got it in 2006. Still is, but I ran into unfortunate health issues and am soon to be 60. So very happy for you guys to have found the true meaning of living. Keep up the great work on both the site and your family life.

    • Patty Hahne says:

      Hi EH,

      I’m glad you’re enjoying my site and thank you for the kind words. Yes, I am familiar with that area! I hope your health improves so you can enjoy your property!

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