We offer this article for your entertainment only.
It was done as a proposal and apparently no plans
were ever completed.
The Nipigon boats are tough
customers. On any map of the North American continent
Lake Superior resembles the head of a wolf that has eaten
its way westward from the seaboard. Having relished its
repast, this wolf's head will appear as slavering of jowl
in jolly anticipation of swallowing more mountain, river
and timber. At the nose of this wolf is Duluth. the jugular
locates Sault Sainte Marie, the eye will be Isle Royale
of fabulous legend, and where the wolf's brow falls is
Thunder Cape. Higher on the forehead is the Nipigon country,
and the heart of the Nipigon is the Nipigon River.
region of behemoth porphyry folds is the Nipigon, of naked
spruce forests, fish full cataracts and amethyst vistas.
It is peopled by Canucks, Frenchmen, Newfies, a polyglot
mixture of muscular men who love their land and who whip
from its rawness great wealth in timber and fish. It is
a beautiful though demanding land any way you look at
it, though it would be well not to look too closely less
some of the local blokes "mistake yer fer a Stateside
uranium hunter and toss ya inta t'irty faddom."
A collection of false fronts
and red paper shacks called Nipigon is the city of the
region. Bare in promise, still rarer of odor. it is raw
of setting and raucously tooled for timbering. There at
Nipigon. a few miles from Lake Superior, is built a rugged
breed of boat which is one of the tools of timbering and
the like of which I have seen nowhere else in a half world
Now boats that are tools
of trade in the various locales of the world can be counted
on to be masters of local conditions. They evolve out
of local use to achieve just such mastery. The Nipigon
boats therefore thrive on hitting things, rocks for instance,
and up on the Nipigon River, under the high span that
bridges the automobile road, these Nipigon craft, very
short in length, highly powered, highly maneuverable and
practically logproof (what with the basket of pipes shrouding
their wheels, are actually used for the world's toughest
They are used to bump,
push. subdue, overtake and generally cowboy the rushing
poles of pine that tumble from rapids to rapids down to
It is a shocking, then
amusing, and finally fascinating thing lo see a little
boat edging a whirlpool of timber, like a collie dog with
a herd of sheep, and to see her climb right over the logs
as though they were not there, or at most were an inconsequential
nuisance to be overlooked, and to watch her worm her snorting
way to an offending key log that has upended and barn
said pole into motion and docility.
I said the Nipigon boats
are tough' When the log boom is made up, down on Superior,
the mighty midgets are found there in the big water knocking
tar out of both boom and lake. They can take it.
The possibility of making
a stout cheap cruiser based on these Nipigon-Superior
toughies has wanted doing for a long time. Here she is:
click to enlarge
Mini Max is only nineteen
feet and fractional inches long, but like most Nipigon
craft she seems to have as much room as a twenty-six footer.
She is no experimental design for. while I have reached
elsewhere for the arrangement plan (to the old Eico Marinettes
designed by Bill Fleming) the hull of Mini Max is an evolution
of several Nipigon pine pummelers overlaid as to features
of deadrise by one Thor, a boat I designed in 1927 and
which, having eaten up four or five engines in the pulping
business, including a Ford. a Universal and a Red Wing,
is still knocking hell out of log and lake and seems to
be always yelling "Gimme more iron."
You can have a good cruiser
on small inches. The chief thing I have learned in doing
quite a number of tabloid shippies is to keep them weighty.
Then they act more like boats. This is particularly true
of the bulky kind of boat, which Mini Max unashamedly
is. Weight takes a lot of the objectionable wallow out
of the craft's sea behavior, something you cannot get
with plywood. So she is beefy and will stay together.
Her hull is of optimum deadrise, her topsides have a nice
flowing batten, and she will build cheaply, cheaply, cheaply.
I do not know what Minnie's
general coefficients are and I dinna care. I guarantee
you can build her from the thumbnail design accompanying
this yarn, that she will float as shown if you use the
scantlings I recommend and show. Further, I guarantee
she has moments that are teeming with inertia and that
her prismatic is very coefficient. Hell, you can't design
a boat with tables. It takes art to integrate such an
assemblage of compromises. I bet a 1903 Wright airplane
against a transparent Bikini that Min Max will stay right
side up when Superior, or any lesser body. is standing
If you like her you can
build her for about $300 lumber, and perhaps another hundred
for hardware and fitments (1950s, remember. Ed.),
The power plant?
Tops for my money would be a Universal Utility Four. I
also like a Chris Craft Model B, a Gray or a Kermath of
about forty-five horsepower, and I like also the water
pump feature on the Atlas Skipper, which is not as large
an engine. A single cylinder two cycle four to five horsepower
will give six to seven miles, which will gel you there
and back on time if you know when to turn around. If you
want eight or nine miles, a buffed up model T will serve
you until you can ford the real mills first mentioned,
which will give from ten to fifteen miles.