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Ski King Build in the UK

On April 23, 2012, in Builder Blogs, Inboard Powered, by thekarter

April 20 2012 Ski King Build in the UK Update

I collected the engine and gearbox from a beautiful boat yard on the River Thames yesterday. The thatched cottage with river frontage next to the yard used to be where the actress Dora Brian lived.

Ski King Build in the UK

Like many people I am limited to the size of boat I can build by the size of my garage. Once I had decided the 16ft is about the maximum I looked around the plans that are available. I wanted to build a boat with inboard engine driving through a marine gearbox and shaft to the propeller and NOT through a LEG which I think looks TERRIBLE, others may disagree!

Eventually I decided on the Ski King, yes on the drawings it’s only 15ft long but it can be stretched.
Having ordered the drawings I set off to my local wood yard ‘English Woodland Timbers’ a super and most helpful company. They had recently decided to stop selling Utile Mahogany so I did a deal with them to clear all that they had in stock some 21cu ft.Glen-L Ski King as built by Alan Harding, UK

This was transported home in five trips on the roof of my Citroen estate car. Being square sided and rough sawn I set about running each board through the planer so that I could expose the grain making it easier to choose the correct board for each part of the boat as building progressed.
When the plans were delivered I set up an 8ft x 4ft MDF sheet on the work bench and used that to draw each frame full sized one at a time then constructing the frame on the MDF. I know how big the boat will be because I have the plans but as I constructed the first


frame I thought WOW this is big, bigger than I had imagined!Glen-L Ski King as built by Alan Harding, UK

Glen-L Ski King as built by Alan Harding, UK

The rule was run over the garage again just to check there is enough room to build the Ski King. With all the frames built I set about constructing the engine bearers, at that time I had to make the decision how much length I was going to add because the engine bearers are notched to accept each frame. I added 3″ between each of the frames: Transom – frame 1, frame 1 – frame 2, frame 2 – frame 3. frame 3 – frame 4 thereby adding 1ft to the total length. I hoped that this would help later in the build as some people have had a problem fitting the engine and gearbox due to the restricted length. I also don’t intend building in the rear cockpit, I want a long stern deck which I think will look terrific.

I have hunted for some time for a donor boat and eventually found one on which was 16ft long and had a Ford Essex V6 Engine and was shaft driven, it also had a trailer. This was exactly what I wanted so was less than delighted when I logged on one day only to find it had been withdrawn. I contacted the seller and asked if it had been sold? He said ‘how much were you going to bid then’? I told him a lot more that he had sold it for!!!!

Glen-L Ski King as built by Alan Harding, UK


Glen-L Ski King as built by Alan Harding, UK


I kept looking on eBay and found listed a Ford Essex V6 and a Velvet drive gearbox which I have now bought and it awaits my collection later this week.

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3 Responses to Ski King Build in the UK

  1. John Herd says:

    Great choice – i just recently completed my own “Ski King” here in New Zealand. I stuck to the standard length and still managed to install a Ford “Grenada” 3 Litre V6 coupled to a Paragon gear box – was a tight fit but it all came out OK.
    The Ford V6 units are still reasonably available in this country as they were extensively utilised in Hamilton jet boats, fully marinised with wet exhausts, heat exchangers etc.
    The Ski King operates well with this installation – very responsive with great acceleration.
    I changed the rear deck configuration by closing it over with a separate rear cockpit and an engine hatch fitted flush with the deck – turned out OK . The deck is fully planked with mahogany. Good luck with your project – cheers JH

    • thekarter says:

      Hi John

      I can’t tell you how pleased I was to view your post. I have been in contact with other builder of Ski Kings and some have had a problem with space to fit the engine, that fact that you have used the same engine that I have bought proves I should have no problem fitting it especially as I have an extra 1ft (30cm) in the length of the engine bay. Also good news as to the performance I can expect. Do you have any photographs?

      • Typhoon says:

        Hi Alan
        Recent pics have been posted on the gallery which may be of interest to you – shows finished product and in particular the somewhat tight fit at the front of the engine installation. I had to move the back of the seat forward a couple of inches but it still left plenty of cockpit space. You should be OK with respect to having lengthened the hull by an extra ft.
        With respect to the engine installation I had to utilise a bell housing for an auto transmission and make an adapter plate up to fit the Paragon gear box – this tended to make the whole package somewhat long (could’nt find a suitable adapter housing in this country). Engine set up is at 12 degrees – all works well.
        John H.

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