Tunnel Mite by Gene Hall

2 January 2008

Having grown up on the water, and watching hyrdoplane races from our front yard, it has always been my desire to build one. Research brought me to the Glen L web-site where I found the Tunnel Mite. Being a first time builder, I thought this might be a good choice to start with. Having received the frame kit and plans, (and being retired) I jumped right in... well, after reading the contruction manual 50 times. Using marine plywood and mahogany, bronze fasteners (from Glen-L), I got started. I built a jig for the frames and attached it to a table that I put casters on, so I could move it around and at times roll it outside when sanding was required. This worked fine. The plans were pretty straight forward and easy to understand. I decided to use the Glen L Poxy-Grip for all the joints and this is some strong stuff. I forgot to mention I used all 5 x 10 sheets of plywood to avoid butt joints. A little extra money, but I figured it was worth the price for having not to go thru the labor of butts joints.
Things I have learned:

  1. Never lay a belt sander down while it is still running.
  2. The bronze fasteners are very soft, don't try to dive them in with one burst of your drill. Three short bursts work better.
  3. Pre-drill and contersink ALL fasterners (save you a lot of effort later on).
  4. Spacing of your fasteners is important, take a little more time and attention to that.
  5. Use a hack-saw blade in your jig-saw when cutting it makes for a better cut and easier to control.
  6. Take care in the amount of Poxy-Grip that you mix up... too much and you waste it.

I'm having a ball, can't wait to see if it floats.

Work is progessing nicely on the bottom. Had to have two hands laying in the tunnel runner and the tunnel sides. Made templates for the sheer and chine (along with the tunnel sides). I found that I have more than enough time to work with the Poxy-Grip, no problem there. It's starting to get cold here in Baltimore, so I'm having to use the garage heater (can't wait to see that electic bill). Oh well... I have found that for me it is better to over-cut everything by a quarter inch, fit and then resize. My rolling jig is working fine and really helps out when I am working by myself, which is most of the time. For any sanding or cutting I can roll it outside and then blow all the dust away with the leaf blower. Better to keep the work area clean.
Things I have learned:

  1. Have a pat answer as to why I just didn't buy a jet-ski.
  2. Under-estimated the amount of Poxy-Grip that I will need (I always coat both sides of anything I am fastening).
  3. Poxy-Grip is better to remove from garage floor AFTER it has cured. (comes up better in lumps them when it is smeared).

Moving along... Bending the chines and sheers demanded a little more attention to get it right, but after a little time and a little ingenuity with clamps it came together. Again spacing of the fasteners is important. After fitting and sanding and filling in countersinks, inperfections and goof-ups, is was time to primer. I used the System-Three from Glen-L. Three coats later, it was finaly starting to look like something that would actualy float.
Things I have learned:

  1. You NEVER have enough clamps
  2. Don't screw in a screw and hold you finger underneath to see if it comes through.
  3. Primer the tunnel and sides first, that way you don't have reach over wet primer.
  4. I used a three inch short-nap roller to apply, then drug a 4 inch brush lightly over to smoothe and remove air bubbles ( works great).
  5. Ripping a mahogany board makes a very fine saw dust, mixing a little with some Poxy-Grip makes a great filler.

I decided to completely finish the bottom before attaching the top. I attached the spray-rail. I am trying to decide on a color scheme, I researched vintage hydros on the Internet, and have come down to using Blue, Yellow and Red. I'm thinking of leaving the cowling natural... will decide that later. Anyway, after 3 coats of paint, using the same method I used for the primer, I applied the blue to the bottom, painted the spray-rail red and will add some yellow stripping later.
Things I have learned:

  1. Keep your dog out of the garage when painting.
  2. Open a door.
  3. Buy at least 10 one inch throw-away brushes.
  4. Wear clothes you are not attached too. I just noticed I have mis-spelled Tunnel-Mite in all my E-mails... really should use spell check.