The Online Magazine For Amateur Boat Builders














design by Jim Michalak


AF4 is a simple low powered cuddy cruiser intended for protected waters. Kilburn Adams of St. Louis brought a boat similar in spirit to AF4 to our Midwest Messabouts and it was easy to see what a good idea this is. Kiburn's boat was a modified Sturdee Amesbury power dory with a small cuddy added and a new 4 stroke Yamaha 10. He thought the empty boat weighed about 600 pounds ready to go. It planed quite well with two men on board at about 13 knots. He made a 60 mile trip on the Mississippi (above the Alton dam where the current is small) burning about 4 gallons of fuel. It's quiet and cheap to operate. It's a good idea now that smaller 4 stroke motors are more common.

Here is an AF4 by Barry Targan. I think he is using a new 8 hp 4 cycle:

AF4 is supposed to do about the same job. Its simple hull shape won't handle rough going like the dory, but it's very easy to build and roomier. This boat has an open bow well for anchors and junk. The cabin is 8' long and 3' deep and 4' wide for minimal camping. It should be comfy for one and snug for two. it has a slot top to allow stand up boating in good weather. You cover it with a snap on fabric piece in the rain and cold. The cockpit is a full 6' long and 4' wide and totally open. You could lounge there too with a folding chaise. Aft of the cockpit is a draining motor well which will take the standard 6 gallon fuel tank and then some.

For power I used to say 10 horsepower maximum but now I would say 15 or 20. My boat has gained gear and weight over the past years and is more comfortable with the extra power. This past year I picked up a early 60's Johnson 20 at an antique outboard meet where no one is interested in such things because they are so common. The owner had $80 marked on the tag and I took a long look at it. Guru Max said to look over the lower unit really hard before buying anything and sure enough there was a crack in the casting below the prop, a sure sign that the unit leaked water and froze hard during the winter. So I told the owner I wasn't interested and that I didn't need another motor anyway. I asked him if it ran. "Sputters and leaks fuel out of the carb," says he. "Make me an offer," says he, "I don't want to take it home again." "I don't want to take it home either," says I. "$30," says he. I paid him and took it home. A mighty rap on the carb float bowl with the handle of a big screwdriver fixed the leak no doubt caused by a sticking float. A new spark plug fixed the sputtering and she was quickly purring in the test tank. I patched the crack in the lower unit casting with epoxy but she still leaked like crazy if the water level was above the prop so I'm convinced the seals are shot in the top of the casting. I swapped the drive unit from the Buccaneer 12 that I got two years ago (never did get that one to run on two cylinders) and was off to the lake. Put about ten hours on it and it ran perfectly the whole time. Slightly faster than the 15, burns more fuel and is noisier. At the end of the season I decided the 15 was a better all around motor in my case where I am almost always solo so I reinstalled the 15. A light AF4 planes with an old Sears 7-1/2 horse (single cylinder, air cooled, for $50 at a yard sale) as you can see here:

Here is John Bell & co. in his AF4. I think John is using a 20 hp four stroke having tested the boat first with 25 hp and found it too much:

Here is one by Rhett Davis at the last Rend Lake meet:

And here is another by the motor guru Max W at sunrise during our last campout:

Bayard Cook built this delux AF4 in Florida:

AF4 uses the simplest nail and glue construction. It takes five sheets of 1/4" plywood and four sheets of 1/2" plywood.

There is also a shorter 15' version called AF4Breve, the prototype shown here built by Bruce Given:

Plans for either AF4 or AF4Breve are $32.50.