Boat Building Forum

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Strip pickup topper
By:Pete Roszyk
Date: 10/25/1998, 8:47 am

I bought a Pygmy Coho two months ago. It's still in the box. I didn't have the guts to assemble it right away; after months of checking out this website it became clear there is a big learning curve involved with getting the desired, 'proper' finish, whichever one a person decides upon. Maybe I was needlessly intimidated by the display of experience and skill I see here, but there you are.

I guess my fragile ego would have been embarrassed to paddle around in a self-assembled craft showing all the flaws of a beginner. Also, I hesitated to put myself at risk if there was a built-in flaw to my methods.

So after messing about with some small panels, I decided on an introductory project first: a shell for my pickup truck, also known in other parts of this country as a topper. Nothing elaborate, just a roof-high enclosure, but made using the stripper method. I figured it'd be better to have a wet truck in case of failure than attempt a self-rescue in the Great Wet.

The project contains many if not all of the elements of boat building: figuring a design, building a form, milling strips, assembly methods, glass cloth and epoxy, sanding, etc. Make that a LOT of sanding, which I take to be the #1 indicator of a beginner.

Some aspects turned out to be good beginner learning points: As the topper is just under 7' long, readily available 8' lumber was convenient. Most all the curves are gentle, so I just used 1/4" strips ripped out of 2X4s, and after bead and cove milling, I had 1 + 3/8" strips. The size of the project is also less demanding of precious shop space.

So it's on the truck now while I wait a few weeks to varnish. I haven't yet figured out the rear end panel so it's simply open at the back, but it doesn't look too bad at all, and now that we're at the beginning of the rainy season up here near Seattle I'm glad I can keep most of the rain out.

One of my secret hopes is that someone else with the same model pickup will buy it right off the truck, then I can do it again with the benefits of prior experience. Seems to be the kind of thing that one gets better at with every project.

So anyway, if you're one of those folks out there like me who want to craft and build a boat someday but are somewhat unsure of your skills, consider trying something else first that uses those skills. I'm no George Roberts (yet!), but I can aspire along those lines, and there is enough room in this field to keep a person interested for a lifetime.

Thanks to all you folks, regulars or not, who contribute their thoughts and experience to this website. I've stolen as many ideas as I can, so I thought I'd toss this one out there.

Anyone else do something similar?

I laid out the Pygmy parts on the shop floor last night... .

Messages In This Thread

Strip pickup topper
Pete Roszyk -- 10/25/1998, 8:47 am
Or even stranger projects
Pete Ford -- 10/27/1998, 4:49 pm
Re: Or even stranger projects
Mark Kanzler -- 10/29/1998, 1:33 pm
boat coffins
Brian C. -- 10/27/1998, 4:55 pm
Re: boat coffins
Nolan Penney -- 10/28/1998, 6:58 am
Re: Strip pickup topper
peakbagger -- 10/26/1998, 9:29 pm
the cartop _was_ the boat
Brian C. -- 10/26/1998, 2:50 pm
Re: Fisher-Price thought of it first!
Roger Tulk -- 10/26/1998, 11:46 pm
Re: Build the boat
Don Beale -- 10/26/1998, 1:44 pm
Build the Boat
Wesley Gross -- 10/26/1998, 1:20 pm
Re: Strip pickup topper
Jeff Warrick -- 10/26/1998, 10:29 am
Re: Strip pickup topper
Paul Jacobson -- 10/25/1998, 10:41 pm