A chance encounter with a Chris Craft replica in Noosa, Queensland, which awakened a long held interest in these beautiful mahogany creations and the sound of a big V8 engine, along with the end of an unrelated 10 year build project which freed up the time to build something else, led to a scouring of the Internet, the discovery of the Glen-L Riviera design, the dispatching of various moneys, and the delivery of said Riviera plans to my Perth, Australia doorstep in April 2012. A rapid budgeting exercise, leading to numerous heart palpitations when the final number came up, frequent measuring of space in my garage to determine whether 20 feet of boat would be able to live there for some period, resulted in the development of a resolve that, yes, my life (and long suffering family) could indeed accommodate this new obsession.
In the interests of full disclosure, it needs to be said that a significant part of the cost equation was going to be the acquisition of the various wood-working tools that would be required for the project. While my workshop is well equipped for metal (the previous 10 year project) only a small number of wood related tools existed. Indeed, contemplating the Glen-L advice that "...these boats are not for slap-dash woodworkers..." did cause an element of nervousness but, hey, how hard could it be?
Moving quickly (to avoid doubts overwhelming the process), a layout table scavenged from an old melamine wardrobe door suddenly appeared in a space in my garage in late April - surrounded by the inevitable junk that accumulates in garages (and was going to have to un-accumulate if the boat was ever going to fit).
Having the plans and a layout table, the next concern became wood for the build. The availability of wood species is a highly localized issue and Perth does not seem to have easy access to a number of the preferred types. After much investigation, it was decided to use a mixture of Tasmanian Oak/Victorian Ash (the names are used interchangeably) and Fiji Mahogany. The mixture being determined by the cost - Fiji Mahogany being much cheaper for large sections. In retrospect, the use of Tasmanian Oak was a problem with tearout being a common problem.
A pile of wood arrived in mid May 2012 and after putting the new thicknesser through its paces, it was all turned into the necessary pieces to construct the frames and an immense pile of wood shavings. Frame construction could begin.The general arrangement of frame building is shown here. The great thing about a scavenged piece of wood for the layout table is the ability to drill many holes without issue. This allows a good rigid clamping system to be used to hold everything stable during gluing and nailing/screwing. Rather than tracing out the full lines of the frame on the table, only 5 key control points were marked out - indicating the center of the keel, the chines and the sheer. These were carefully checked to ensure a square and symmetrical frame.
By the end of May 2012, a pile of frames had emerged from the construction process and were proudly hung up to admire. Once you get into the swing of the process, they do appear quite quickly.
The final pieces of the frame - the bow section components - were straightforward pieces to handle with bandsaw and jigsaw. They were then pieced together (left) in order to admire the emerging size of the thing!
The transom (right), on the other hand, is quite a complex piece. Thanks to Mark Bronkalla's excellent web-site on his Riviera build (www.bronkalla.com) which really is a must for any newbie, I was forewarned about this aspect so at least knew to expect pain.
The next step was going to require finally cleaning out the garage and, more nervously, finding out whether the frames really had come out of the construction process square, mounting the frames on the motor stringers.