Build Your Own Iceboat

Build Your Own Iceboat

On this cold, snowy March 23rd, iceboating comes to mind.........

You can build your own iceboat, or you can order one built by a pro.  A surprising number of people build their own boats.  If you plan to iceboat next winter, starting your build right now is pretty good timing.

Jim Nordhaus is one of the more prolific ice boat builders around.  He has built Renegades, DNs, and others.  Everyone has a choice to: build their own, buy a used one, or buy a new one from a builder.  You'll find the right fit for you.  I interviewed Jim learn what it is like to build your own ice boat?

GM: WHERE DO YOU GET PLANS?

Jim: Get the Renegade plans from the Class Secretary or Treasurer.  Get the plans for the other boats from the class.  Checkout their websites.

GM: HOW MUCH SPACE IS NEEDED TO BUILD A BOAT?

Jim: Renegades are 17-1/2' long, and needs a 20' jig, and a foot to walk around the end so a 22' long room, and at least 6' wide should do the trick.  Then if you are building a Skeeter, those are more than 10' longer.

GM: WHAT TYPE OF TOOLS ARE NEEDED?

Jim: Specialty tools - oscillating cut off tool helps greatly, air files.  Regular tools - grinders, clamps - never enough, basic tools, jig saw and circular saw, drill, and many generic hand tools.

GM: HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO MAKE A JIG

Jim: It is quite a feat made of wood, leveling every which way, and some have used a new aluminum ladder that is flat.  It ends up all made of plywood, all butt jointed, 5 cross members, on legs, 2X4 going across it where a bulkhead will go.  With a DN, just bend things to the pencil drawing on the plywood.

Renegade has bulkheads every 12" and is built more like an airplane.  The chines and parts are all glued together with West Epoxy, no fasteners.

GM: WHAT MATERIALS ARE USED IN FABRICATION?

Jim: Sitka Spruce sides, aircraft plywood decking top and bottom out of okoume which is out of the mahogany family.

GM: WHERE DO YOU BUY MATERIALS?

Jim: Woods are purchased from McCormick s Fuel and Lumber (they are ice boaters) in Madison, WI.  Sift through aircraft catalogs and get the Sitka Spruce shipped out of Alaska.

GM: WHERE DO YOU BUY PARTS AND FITTINGS?

Jim: For the Runners, I go to Continental Steel in Chicago for the Renegade.  The blades hold their edge for a 3 day regatta, runners are the hardest things to make.  Sharpening takes a specialty tool.

For pulleys, lines, etc. I buy Harken or West Marine products.  For masts and booms I go to Jeff Kent out east.  Ron Sherry builds carbon fiber masts.  I get the sails from North and deal with Jim Glick.

GM: HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO BUILD YOUR OWN ICEBOAT?

Jim: The Renegade will take about 1,000 hours.  All are handmade.  All boats are group projects, they're best to build with friends. There's gauges or tools needed for aligning, some you can buy, others you'll borrow.  A boat like the DN could take a couple hundred hours for the plank, hull and tiller handle, everything else purchased.

GM: DO YOU BUILD FOR YOUR OWN USE OR FOR SALE?

Jim: I build for myself sometimes, and sell boats to others.   Then help build friends boats at their shops for fun.

GM: HOW MUCH DOES IT COST?

Jim: A Renegade all up is about $9,500 if you DIY.  A DN, though smaller will also run about $9,500 because you buy the mast and boom from others rather than build them yourself.

GM: WHAT WORLDLY ADVICE DO YOU HAVE FOR SOMEONE BUILDING THEIR OWN?

Jim: It takes a lot of time, you have to have your personal life in order in order to complete the project.  I've done a complete build in 65 days, but nothing else in the world existed!  If you don't buy green bananas, don't think about building one, most people take 5 years to build one (Renegade).  You want to do it right, because someday you'll be going 100 miles an hour in it, so there's no cutting corners.

GM:  THANKS FOR THE INSIGHT JIM!

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