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Totch Brown's "Pit Pan" build.

FlaMike

Well-Known Member
Jun 20, 2007
624
2
Spring Hill, FL
www.ptponds.com
After too much procrastinating, I have started building a close-as-I-can-get-it replica of Totch Brown's Pit Pan. It was basically a small utility boat that could be hauled overland from one body of water to another when needed, by one man. This means it was good for exploring and hunting (legal and otherwise.) Totch said too many asked how fast a boat could go, when they should have been asking how fast could you build it.

Near as I can tell, what makes this different from a jon boat is the bottom curves up at both ends. The jon boat typically curves up a bit at the bow, with the stern being plumb. This works well for outboard motors. But this boat was meant to be poled when possible, and paddled in deeper water. So it has that "rocker" at each end. In this case, 3 inches at the bow, 2 inches at the stern. But the rest of the bottom is flat as a pancake.

Not a good pic, but it is Totch in a Pit Pan.



Got started earlier this week, beginning with some new saw horses. Been needing these for quite a while!


Got a little too clever, decided not to waste any wood, and rather follow the instructions I'd found, I cut each of my 2X4's into 3 equal pieces. Once I got the first one put together, I found out that 32in legs make for one tall saw horse! I cut the first one down to size, and shortened up the legs on the second one before putting it together. The cut pieces on the ground show how much I shortened the legs.

Next, I cut out the bottom and the sides. In the pic below, one of the sides is laying on the bottom panel, and you can see the chine has been clamped in to place, so I could check the bends and mark it to cut the ends.



The chine logs have a bend near each end, and I had to make a saw cut 3/4ths the way through the chine at the bend, so I could make the bend without breaking the chine. When the hull gets turned over, those saw cuts will be filled with thickened epoxy.

The chines were laid down on the side pieces, buttered up with epoxy and put into place. A few finishing nails held the chine in position so I could turn the side over and drive in the ring nails through the plywood and into the chine. Once done, those finishing nails were removed. This is how I saw seedtick and Friend Keith attach the chine logs in their Marsh Pirogue build pictures. Thanks, guys!



In the pic above, you can see I've also fitted the bow and stern ends. And guess who thought he had 12in wide cypress planks? Turns out what I have on-hand is a nominal 10in width. So, I'll have to piece the rest together, later on. No real problem, the way the boat goes together and gets finished, you'll never see it.

Have to let this go for now and get back on it, next Tuesday. Just too much other stuff I have to get done. (Such as mowing that grass!

So for now, I'm just pre-bending the bottom panel and figuring out how I'm going to get this back into the garage.



This should have been a fast, easy build. But I'm finding myself moving very slowing in the 92*F heat! Not complainin', just explainin'! :D

Mike S.
Spring Hill, FL
 

FlaMike

Well-Known Member
Jun 20, 2007
624
2
Spring Hill, FL
www.ptponds.com
Glad you found something interesting in this!

At some point, I should have mentioned the size of this little boat. It's right about 8 ft long, 27 1/2 inches across the bottom, and 30 inches across the gunnels. That seems to work out to about 6* of flair. The sides are 12 1/2 inches high.

I'm not sure the term "rocker" really applies here, as most of the bottom is quite flat. 25 inches back from the bow, the bottom angles up, rising a total of 3 inches. And the last 16 inches of the bottom angles up 2 inches. The part between those to points is perfectly flat.

I'm liking the fact that I'll be able to toss this one in the back of the truck and not need a bed extender. :D

Mike S.
Spring Hill, FL
 

FlaMike

Well-Known Member
Jun 20, 2007
624
2
Spring Hill, FL
www.ptponds.com
It's just a box. . . Do you think its finished yet?

Oh no, not yet! :shock:

Here's what I decided to deal with before doing any more building:



It's a foot and a half deep or so. . . Should have mowed it last week but, well. . . Anyway, I decided in the interest of domestic tranquility, I'd better get that taken care of, first. :oops:

But at the end of the day, I took one more picture:



As you can see, the bottom is in place, nailed and glued. Also got the rub rails cut out of a 2X4 ready to go on, and some trim pieces rough cut for tomorrow. And that's what should happen tomorrow. All the building should be done, and ready for paint and varnish. I know it shouldn't get launched for a couple of days after painting, so I'm guessing that will have to happen next week.

The closer I get to being finished, the smaller this thing looks! :D

Mike S.
Spring Hill, FL
 

oldsparkey

Well-Known Member
Aug 25, 2003
10,153
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76
Central , Florida
www.southernpaddler.com
The closer I get to being finished, the smaller this thing looks! :D
Just wait til you get in it and that is without gators swimming around you like they did to Totch when he was poaching them. It was not real big since he transported it in his normal boat a lot of the time to get to where he was going to slip in and hunt.
 

FlaMike

Well-Known Member
Jun 20, 2007
624
2
Spring Hill, FL
www.ptponds.com
Ole Sparkley One,

I took a long look at the picture on the cover of Totch's book, just to make sure he really was standing in this little thing, poling along. Unless that boat was actually sitting on a sand bar, it looks like he really was doing it. . . Who knows?

For me, the whole idea behind building this one, other than the history thing, is that this would be something I could easily throw in the back of the truck, get it to the water and with or without any kind of ramp or launch site, put it in the water and go. No muss, no fuss! :) Something that could be done on the spur of the moment, maybe just to check out a place to see if it would be worth loading up the "big boat" for some more serious fun.

Right now I'm debating whether or not to build the push pole as specified in the plans, it's only 8 ft long, with a "gator hook" on one end. For the history angle, its almost a "must," but with my luck, I'd run into a fish & game guy who was old enough to recognize it for what it is! :roll:

Perry,

I know. It kind of sounds like some sort of heresy doesn't it? There is a little bit of epoxy, as that's the glue I'm using between the chines and the plywood, along with a hole bunch of boat nails. (Annular ring nails.) But there's actually sub-culture, right here on this very Forum, who routinely do not cover their hulls with glass cloth and epoxy! :shock:

But, you didn't hear that from me! :D

Mike S.
Spring Hill, FL
 

oldsparkey

Well-Known Member
Aug 25, 2003
10,153
68
76
Central , Florida
www.southernpaddler.com
Right now I'm debating whether or not to build the push pole as specified in the plans, it's only 8 ft long, with a "gator hook" on one end. For the history angle, its almost a "must," but with my luck, I'd run into a fish & game guy who was old enough to recognize it for what it is! :roll:
Just don't have a 22 cal rifle , a skinning knife , the large bag of salt or any tied up Gator hides in the pan with you and you should be safe. Or a fresh ( shot ) Gator in there as a seat.
It's only a Gator hook if you are hooking Gators with it. :roll: :lol:

Chuck.
PS. Leave the Thermos of the Alligator Sauce Piqante at home since the Warden might look a little harder if he knew what you have with you for lunch.
 

FlaMike

Well-Known Member
Jun 20, 2007
624
2
Spring Hill, FL
www.ptponds.com


Good thing I got the grass cut yesterday, otherwise I'd have been outside today, baking my brains out! Oh wait. I was outside baking my brains out. Or I would have been, if I had any to bake. . .

It was seriously hot, though. I did manage to stay ahead of the hydration game by sucking down cold Gatorade just as if I liked the stuff. (Actually, I'm begining to.) Pictured getting more done today, but I'm satisfied with getting as far as I did, working in that heat.

Here's how it went today:



What turned out to be the hardest part of this build was that plank going across the bow and the stern, with the three holes drilled in it. The design calls for just the center hole as a place to attach a rope for lifting, but I added two smaller ones on each side as a tie point. Either to tie down cargo, or a handy place to tie off a stringer or anchor, or whatever. Same idea, at both ends of the boat.

The hard part? Well, that plank isn't a nice, simple rectangular board. one face of it is cut at an angle to match up with the bow plate, the two short sides are at an angle because the bow is a little narrower that the rest of the boat, and those side are also cut to match the flare of the sides. (Compound angle cut!) If you've done it before, pretty easy to do again. If you haven't, it can get very frustrating, very quickly! The key is to take it slowy, think each cut through, and be prepared to scrap one try and start again with another piece.

Did I mention there are two of those little buggers? The second one was a lot easier.

Next:



One of the rub rails has been clamped into place. For the benifit of those who haven't built with epoxy as a glue, both surfaces to be joined got a coating of thin boat building epoxy. While that coating soaks in and starts to "kick off," a second batch was mixed up and enough very fine wood flour was added to thicken it to a mustard-like consistancy, and then applied to one of the two surfaces. (In this case, I put it on the rub rail.)

This time, I started in the middle of the rail, and clamped the rail where I wanted it. One done, I started nailing the rail in place. Most people do not do that. They use a lot more clamps, and let them do all the work. Once the epoxy has cured, the clamps come off, the rail stay right where you left it. Me? I like the nails.

The clamps see here are about half of what I have, and I'd be considered seriously short of clamps by many people's standard. And I'd certainly agree with them.



At this point, I've finished the actual build. Every thing has been trimmed to shape, and this one is now ready for paint and varnish!
And this one will have some of both. The outside, sides and bottom, will get at least two coats of a primer, and two color coats of paint. The rub rail and the entire inside of the boat will be varnished. The varnish will get scratched and dirty, and when the scratches get too deep, or too numerous, it will get a very light sanding, swept out, and another coat added. I've found that this gives a durable finish that is easy to upkeep, since I'm not going for a showroom finish, just protecting the wood, and it's a pretty good non-skid when wet, particularly with bare feet.

I was concerned with the size of the boat, as it kept getting smaller every time I looked at it. So, I put one of my Uncle John's seats in it, for size reference:



This made me feel a lot better! So, I decided to go one step further with providing a size perspective:



It's that same model I've used before! No idea why the agency keeps sending him around, he ain't the one I asked for. Judging from the look on his face, if you can call it that, I'd say he knows I asked for a different model.

But since he's here, I decided to put the seat in the boat had told him to park it. (Maybe he just needs a laxative or something. . . )



Although I've been seriously wrong before, I'm pretty sure I should have this thing painted and in the water next week. Pictures will be posted, and maybe a video, too. (Yeah, I'm gonna try standing up in it, and pole the thing around.)

And Chuck, thanks for the advice on the not-a-gator hook. Think I'll follow it. :D

Mike S.
Spring Hill, FL
 

FlaMike

Well-Known Member
Jun 20, 2007
624
2
Spring Hill, FL
www.ptponds.com
For once I've gotten just a little ahead of the game. :) Since I work nights, 7P to 7A, every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, Mondays have always been mostly a write-off, only used for plotting and planning, while I re-adjust to a day time schedule for the rest of the week. But this time, I managed to move right into a day mode when I got home and got busy.



Actually, I got a little further than this picture shows. Got two coats of primer on in the morning, and late in the afternoon, the first color coat went on as well. So, if the weather continues to cooperate, I can get the rest of the finish done tomorrow! This makes a first launch as soon as Wednesday, very possible. I know that's really too soon, but I'm willing to indulge my impatience and willing to spend some time later on repairing the finish.

Besides, if I can get the launch done Wednesday, I can also drop a couple of test traps for mudbugs while I'm at it, and pick them up the following morning.

In the mean time, here's some stuff I forgot to mention earlier:

No, I didn't use marine ply on this one. Went "quick & dirty" with it, something called Plytanium from the local Lowe's. Looks much better than my other "local choice," CDX. And there's no epoxy coating, glass cloth or glass tape, just epoxy as a glue and half a box of ring nails.

Because of the materials I did use, it came in a little on the heavy side. Near as I can tell 56 or 57 pounds. Marine ply would bring that down a bit, as would using 3/4 in cypress for the bow and stern plates, instead of the 1 in. I did use. (Had it handy!) This boat, while reasonably historically accurate, it is still pretty much a knock-about, as was most likely the original. I'll watch the finish and be ready to repair whatever and whenever, and if for some reason I decide I want a Pit Pan to be more durable, I'll build another one. For me, for now, I think this one will do nicely!

I will come up with a materials list and a total build cost when I can. This one was not an expensive project!

When I do build again, I WILL be driving up the road and bringing back marine ply. But I probably won't be making that trip for a couple of weeks, anyway. I want to get some "water time" with the Glade Skiff and the Pit Pan, and work on a few other projects at the same time.

Besides, I'm waiting for Keith to get finished with his web site rebuild! :D

Mike S.
Spring Hill, FL
 

Kayak Jack

Well-Known Member
Aug 26, 2003
13,573
101
82
Okemos / East Lansing Michigan
Observations:
1. Your model looks a bit like our own, lovabe Piper San. His appearance has benefited many a lonely paddle craft.
2. You could test it in a swimming pool. Preferably, one not populated with gators, snakes, or critters that eat viennie snausages.
3. Wear a PFD whilst poling this craft.
 

jdupre'

Well-Known Member
Sep 9, 2007
2,139
7
South Louisiana
Looking good, Mike. That's a handy design for general short distance fishing, trapping, hunting, etc.

One little bit of advice. Most of the grief I've had ( and others too) is water intrusion at the ply edges. Really concentrate on getting and keeping those edges sealed up. I've not read much of water seeping into the broad faces of the ply.

Joey
 

FlaMike

Well-Known Member
Jun 20, 2007
624
2
Spring Hill, FL
www.ptponds.com
Jack, I appreciate the advice!

1. Your model looks a bit like our own, lovabe Piper San. His appearance has benefited many a lonely paddle craft.
Yes, he does have a lovely smile, doesn't he? But I really was hoping for Vanna White, and I kind of figured she could probably use the work about now. . . But NO, they sent HIM again! With this guy in the boat, it may be doomed to be a "lonely paddle craft."

2. You could test it in a swimming pool. Preferably, one not populated with gators, snakes, or critters that eat viennie snausages.
No, I really want to make it a fair test. If I tried it out in a pool, I'd probably fall out of the boat and hit my noggin on the side of the pool. Now if I go to where the chart says "Here there be Dragons!" I'd have the usual incentive NOT to fall out of the boat. It's that whole Everglades thing again. "If you can stay IN the boat, its easier to stay OUT of the 'gator!"

3. Wear a PFD whilst poling this craft.
Its funny you should mention that. The very first time I actually wore my PFD was on my 1st Green Swamp trip. The water level was was past flood stage and they had all the gates in the downstream dam open to try to lower the water level, which is why the water was boiling past the cypress knees, snags, and whatever else was hidden just below the surface. With me being out there by myself as usual, I was for once, nervous enough about conditions to put the darned thing on. And I was surprised to find out it was not the PITA I thought it was going to be. So, yessir! I'll be wearing it!

Joey,

I know what you are saying about the edge sealing! And I appreciate the reminder. That is what pretty much did in my UJ pirogue. :oops: While I was gluing this one up, I had some left overs so I went around and applied it to every exposed plywood end grain that I could find. I really worked it in, too. And while painting, I paid attention to those end grains and did the same thing.

One my next build, which I've already said will be marine ply, I will plan on sealing all the end grains with epoxy, as I go along. I will also give some thought to maybe adding some glass tape to those edges, but I'm thinking the external chines might make that a little difficult. Maybe not, but I'll look at it.

I'll have plenty of left over paint and varnish from the Pit Pan build, so anytime I see anything that needs it, I'll touch up any damage before it goes back in the water.

Oh, I just got a Hennesy Hex rain fly for my hammock. The fly is a hex pattern, 10X12 feet. I'm thinking that could turn the Pit Pan into a nice little camper! :D

Mike S.
Spring Hill, FL
 

oldsparkey

Well-Known Member
Aug 25, 2003
10,153
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76
Central , Florida
www.southernpaddler.com
Oh, I just got a Hennesy Hex rain fly for my hammock. The fly is a hex pattern, 10X12 feet. I'm thinking that could turn the Pit Pan into a nice little camper! :D
Not to get off subject but you will notice the hex pattern, 10X12 foot rain fly is 100% better then the original rain ( asymmetric ) fly you have been using with the hammock.
I liked my hex fly so much that now I have a 12 x 12 Silnylon Tarp to use over the hammocks. :D I use a set of snake skins to slip over the tarp for packing it and a small stuff sack for the hammock. The stuff sack is attached to rope at one end of the hammock so when it comes down I start at one tree stuffing the hammock in the sack and walk it to the other tree , the hammock never touches the ground. and I always know which end is the head end of the hammock.

Chuck.
 

Kayak Jack

Well-Known Member
Aug 26, 2003
13,573
101
82
Okemos / East Lansing Michigan
Mike, a thought. If you are in a muddy swamp, in and out of the pit pot, your shoes will get slippery. Would it be handy if the final coat of paint in the inside floor had some sand in it? Could save a slip into murky waters.
 

FlaMike

Well-Known Member
Jun 20, 2007
624
2
Spring Hill, FL
www.ptponds.com
Chuck, you might find this one pic I'm posting today, kind of "interesting." :D

Jack, I get what you are saying, but what I did with my Glade Skiff worked out so well for me, I'm doing it again with the PIt Pan. That is, I'm not painting the inside, I'm varnishing it. I got the idea for doing that from Jim Michalak (Duckworks.) He wrote a good deal about using varnish on the deck of his Piccup Pram. I found that for me, particularly with bare feet, to be a pretty good non-skid surface. It isn't being done to make it a "show boat," its done for its function.

Boots or bare feet, I did not find it to be the least bit slippery. And when it needs it, you just wipe it down to get any dirt out, and apply another coat. The only time you might want to do any sanding would be if the deck wasn't getting scuffed up from the normal wear and tear. And if that's the case, I wouldn't be laying on another coat anyway.

I find it makes a reasonable non-skid without feeling like I'm standing on sand paper.

So, that one pic I mentioned. It will take a little explaining, but here it is:



Well, there you see it! Take a close look at the back, right corner of the concrete pad. Actually there are two of them! See them? The short, squat little things?

Japanese snow lanterns! 8)

I may be a little slow sometimes, but I'm nobody's fool! I'm surprised they have not gotten much mention on this forum. . . I mean, what if I'm out camping, and, well, it snows? I don't know about you, but I'll be ready!

A portable hammock stand, aka: the Turtle Dog Stand, is not normally part of my boat building routine. But I'd been thinking lately that this little boat might be fun for some overnight trips and that 10X12 hex fly might figure into this. And while thinking about this, I came to a stopping point where I needed to let the last coat of paint to dry so I could safely turn the boat over and start varnishing. That's when I set up the hammock stand and hung the rain fly.

And about that time, I noticed I was no longer working in direct sun, there was also a little drop in the temperature, and then I heard the rumble of thunder. There was just one thunderhead heading more-or-less my way and I really didn't want to break everything down and put the boat back in the garage. So I grabbed the varnish and a brush, ducked under the rain fly, and went back to work.

The cloud passed just off to one side and no rain fell at my house. But I was able to see that if I pulled the little boat out of the water, I could rig that rain fly over the boat, just high enough to have sitting headroom under it, and I'm pretty sure it would keep me and the boat nice and dry, even in a pretty good rain.

Kind of makes it a floating camper, of sorts. I've even had some thoughts about how I could rig the rain fly on the boat, while it's still floating. Not real sure if that's going to be practical, or even if it would be a good idea. But it will be something to play around with.

So long as I can have at least a couple of hours without rain Wednesday (tomorrow,) I plan on putting the boat in the water and taking some pics and maybe a video as well.

I still cannot believe nobody has talked about their snow lanterns! :roll:

Mike S.
Spring Hill, FL