Complete Plan Set for 35 Foot Trailerable Sternwheel Boat's finished!  I now have a complete 'Plan Package' for a smaller Sternwheeler which can be pulled out of the water in the winter, and even be transported on most highways.  The design is for a 35 foot long hull that is 12 feet wide on the deck.  The overall length of the vessel is 45 feet and it has an 8 foot diameter by 5 foot, 9 inch wide paddlewheel.  This vessel incorporates all the features normally found in the larger versions including sleeping facilities for four adults, bathroom with a 32 inch shower, complete kitchen plus upper and lower deck areas along with side walkways.  Also included is a generator, tanks for 70 gallons of water and 80 gallons of fuel plus storage space for other 'necessary items'.  It has nice lines, a good 'slenderness ratio', low angle bow rake, and both main and monkey rudders.  It's intended to be driven by a small, four-cylinder engine and automatic transmission such as that used in either the Chevy, S-10 or the Ford, Ranger trucks.  The engine cooling system is 'closed'; using an air cooled radiator thus eliminating the need for additional pumps or heat exchangers.  This also eliminates the need for problematic river water pickups and the need for 'winterizing' anything in the engine room.  There are no 'thru-hull' fittings except for waste water discharge and these are above the waterline.  The design handles and performs well, is durable and retains the economy Sternwheelers are known for.  It's just smaller.  It's a true 'Sternwheel Riverboat' and not just a 'toy' or 'novelty' boat to play around with in your 'local pool'.   It's truly designed for safety, long range cruising and extended time aboard. 

Now, with a fair amount of work and about the same amount of money required to buy a new 'ski boat', you can have a 'unique vessel' that's roomy, comfortable, totally self sufficient and you can become a real 'river person'; not just a 'weekend boater'.

I've chosen to call this design the 'Turtle'.  Not because it's'll cruise a respectable 7 to 8 miles per hour while consuming less than a gallon of fuel per hour.....but  because, when you're aboard, you'll be traveling with your 'entire house'; much as a turtle does.

I'll not try to minimize the fact that building this, or any boat, is a sizable undertaking and should not be considered lightly.  However, I've made every effort to make this project easy, enjoyable, and as trouble free as possible.  My approach was to develop a package for those who are not experienced boat builders, or even experienced steel fabricators.  I've drawn on my own building experience and that of others whom I've assisted over the past twenty-five or so years.  And, I offer my continued assistance to you until your vessel is finished and operating.

The 'Plan Package' consists of 53 drawings; 18 by 24 inch.  These are Xerox copies not 'blue-line' prints.  They are also 'board drawn' and not CAD generated 'plottings'.  The package includes 'assembly' and 'detail' drawings of the hull, paddlewheel, gear reduction unit, rudders, steering, cabin framing, decks, and miscellaneous other details along with electrical and plumbing arrangements.  The full listing is shown below. 

    M. V.  ‘TURTLE’----Drawing List

   NO.   DWG. NO.                           TITLE                                                             TYPE           


  1. MS 500                        Outboard Profile                                                       Arrangement
  2. MS 502                        Mid-Ship Section & Cabin Layout                          Arrangement
  3. MS 504                        Main Body                                                                  Assembly
  4. MSD 30                       Main Body                                                                     Details
  5. MSD 31                       Bulkheads & Frames                                                    Details
  6. MSD 32                       Main Body-Side Deck & Braces                                  Details
  7. MS 505                        Bow                                                                             Assembly
  8. MSD 33                       Bow-Bottom, Side, Skid Plate                                       Details
  9. MSD 34                       Bow-Foredeck & Gussets                                             Details
  10. MS 506                        Stern                                                                            Assembly
  11. MSD 23                       Water Chute                                                         Assembly & Details
  12. MSD 24                       Splash Bulkhead & Support Frame                              Details
  13. MSD 25                       Wheel Shaft Bearing Support                              Assembly & Details
  14. MSD 35                       Stern-Bottom, Side & Deck                                         Details
  15. MSD 36                       Wheel Arm & Spreader Bar                                         Details
  16. MS 507                        Deck Bracing                                                      Assembly & Details
  17. MS 508                        Wheel Arm & Walkway                                     Assembly & Details
  18. MS 509                        Paddlewheel                                                              Assembly
  19. MSD 38                       Paddlewheel                                                                 Details
  20. MSD 39                       Paddlewheel                                                                 Details
  21. MS 510                        Gearbox                                                                    Assembly
  22. MS 511                        Gearbox Housing                                                  Sub-Assembly
  23. MSD 20                       Gearbox                                                                       Details
  24. MSD 21                       Gearbox                                                                       Details
  25. MSD 22                       Gearbox Lid                                                                 Details
  26. MS 512                        Steering                                                                     Arrangement
  27. MS 513                        Main Steering                                                             Assembly
  28. MS 514                        Main Steering                                                          Sub-Assembly
  29. MSD 40                       Main Steering                                                               Details
  30. MSD 41                       Main Steering                                                               Details
  31. MSD 42                       Main Steering                                                               Details
  32. MS 515                        Monkey Rudder                                                         Assembly
  33. MSD 43                       Monkey Rudder                                                           Details
  34. MS 516                        Helm                                                                           Assembly
  35. MS 530                        Instrument Console                                              Assembly & Details
  36. MS 531                        Control Panel                                                        Assembly & Details
  37. MSD 44                       Steering Shaft                                                               Details
  38. MS 520                        Wall Framing-Sides                                              Assembly & Details
  39. MS 521                        Wall Framing-  Forward & Aft Walls                  Assembly & Details
  40. MS 522                        Framing-Decks                                                     Assembly & Details
  41. MS 523                        Framing-Interior Walls                                        Assembly & Details
  42. MS 524                        Framing-Misc. Walls                                           Assembly & Details
  43. MS 525                        Framing-Roof (s)                                                  Assembly & Details
  44. MS 532                        Aft Bunks & Storage                                           Assembly & Details
  45. MS 533                        Doors & Upper Hatch                                         Assembly & Details
  46. MS 534                        Fold Down Bunk, Cab. & Steps                          Assembly & Details
  47. MS 535                        Hatch & Gen. Storage Door                               Assembly & Details
  48. MS 536                        Plumbing                                                                  Arrangement
  49. MS 537                        Electrical                                                                  Arrangement
  50. MSD 45                       Fuel Tank                                                            Arrangement & Details
  51. MS 538                        Safety Railing                                                          Arrangement
  52. MSD 46                       Safety Railings-Upper Deck                                         Details
  53. MSD 47                       Safety Railings                                                              Details

Included with the drawings are Step-by-Step Instructions for constructing the hull, paddlewheel, and gear reduction unit.  These instructions are especially helpful for those who are 'less than experienced' steel fabricators.  They can also help steel fabricators who are 'not experienced boat builders'.

Also included are General Instructions.  These will help you get started by explaining a proper 'building platform', listing the tools and equipment needed, and explaining 'proper building procedures'.  There is also a List of Materials.  This list includes all of the 'major materials' needed, but does not include items like screws, bolts, hinges or other similar 'minor items'.  There is a Glossary of Terms and a printout of Draft vs Vessel Weight.  The latter will enable you to determine your boat's final weight by measuring its draft after launching.  The draft, as designed, is about 16 inches, however, this can vary according to how the vessel is finished out and equipped.

This 'Plan Package' is like no other I've seen.  It's made up of 'fully dimensioned drawings'; not just some 'tissue paper patterns' or a few pages of 'plotted' lines showing a general layout with key dimensions; leaving most of the details of construction up to the 'builders experience'.  Knowledge in reading blueprints is helpful but not necessary.  A few hours of studying the drawings and reading the instructions is usually sufficient to understand the procedures involved.  However, if you so desire, most any steel fabricating shop can construct the hull and drive components; later, you, or a building contractor, can complete the remainder of the vessel.

The only 'pertinent' drawing I have not included in the 'Plan Set' is that of the 'support frame' for the engine and transmission.  The reason; I leave the choice of engines up to you.  Even if you follow my suggestion of S-10 or Ranger engines, mounting dimensions vary by make and year model.  Also, this frame should support a radiator such as used on V-8 dump trucks and I don't know the model you'll choose.  This radiator must be larger than the selected engine would normally use because it does not face forward but must have its cooling air pulled in from the side of the vessel.  The only 'key requirement' for the support frame is that the output of the transmission should be approximately the same level as the input shaft of the 'gear reduction unit'.  Also, it should be installed to allow a 7 degree 'mis-alignment' of the drive shaft to prevent the universal joints from beating their needles into both the cross and caps.  I remind you of this in the General Instructions.

I've done a 'cost of construction analysis' based on prices of materials and contract labor in my area.  My figures show that 16 to 18,000 dollars will purchase all of the 'major items'.  Allowing 4 to 5,000 dollars for 'contract work' such as plate shearing and bending, and machine shop work plus 11 to 12,000 dollars for items like interior finishing, plumbing and electrical, generator, and drive motor, you end up with 31 to 35,000 dollars in 'out-of-pocket' expenses.  This design also minimizes the need for 'specialized components'; items like heat exchangers, water-cooled manifolds, marine transmissions, or even marine alternators and starters.  Everyone knows that items for boats or RV's are expensive, but only a few will have to be purchased for this vessel; items like a marine head, RV cook stove, 12 volt water pump and automatic shower pump-out.  Of course, the cost of everything can vary; depending, primarily, on your 'sources' and things like 'friends in the right places'.

As I stated earlier, with a fair amount of work and the price of a ski boat, you can have a most unique and wonderful vessel.  One that few others in the world have; one that is 'specially suited' for travel on the inland waterways and, most important, you'll have the pride and sense of accomplishment of having built it yourself.  There's no feeling quite like it.  Also, you should be prepared to meet some of the nicest people around when you become a real 'river rat'.

I've spent hundreds, probably thousands, of hours and my 25 plus years of experience, both as an engineer and boat builder, developing this 'Plan Set'.  I embarked on this task because of the many requests I've received over the years for such a vessel.  It has been quite a challenge to incorporate all the necessary criteria for a proper functioning vessel into one of this size.  To recoup my investment of time, I'll have to sell many sets of plans and perhaps I never will.  That really doesn't matter.  I do hope to supplement my social security, but my main goal is to help those who wish to enjoy the rivers as many of us are already a Sternwheel Riverboat.

Another circumstance I needed to consider is that not everyone will need or want the entire plan set.  If you have some building experience, you may want only the portion pertaining to building the 'Hull' or you may want the 'Hull', 'Paddlewheel' and, perhaps, the 'Drive System'.  Although I recommend purchasing the entire set, I've tried to accommodate you, the builder.  Therefore, I've broken the 'Complete Package' into 5 sub-packages.  First, is drawings 1 thru 17 which covers the Hull; this includes the wheel arms, all support bracing and decking along with instructions.  Second, is drawings 18 thru 20 for the Paddlewheel along with instructions.  Third, is drawings 21 thru 25 for the Mechanical Drive System along with instructions.  Forth, is drawings 26 thru 37 which covers Steering and Rudders.  Fifth, is drawings 38 thru 53 which covers all of the Superstructure and other Miscellaneous items.

Setting the price of this 'Plan Set' has been difficult because there are no others comparable to 'gauge by'.  Comparing this 'Plan Set' to other 'boat plans' is like comparing apples to oranges.  Therefore, after much consideration, I've decided to set the price at $950.00 plus $25.00 for UPS ground shipping.  If, however, you wish to purchase only portions of the complete set, the price for each section, along with shipping, is listed below.

  1. Section one--The Hull (17 drawings plus instructions): $400.00 $12.00 S&H

  2. Section two--The Paddlewheel (3 drawings plus instructions): $150.00 $5.00 S&H

  3. Section three--Mechanical Drive (5 drawings plus instructions): $150.00 $5.00 S&H

  4. Section four--Steering and Rudders (12 drawings): $200.00 $10.00 S&H

  5. Section five--Superstructure & Misc. (16 drawings): $ 250.00 $12.00 S&H

If you wish to purchase only 'selected sections', be sure to specify which sections you want!

Payment must be in U.S. dollars and shipment to other countries will be handled on a 'per case' basis.  It's best if payment is in the form of a Bank Check or Money Order.  Personal checks will delay delivery until the check clears.

Any questions will be answered by phone (740) 859-4100 or by clicking the link below:

I'd like to know more about the 'Plan Set'


It stands to reason that many of you would like to see a sample of what you'd be purchasing and I don't blame you.  Therefore, I've selected 5 drawings and put together a 'Sample Packet'.  Included will be numbers 1, 2, 7, 17 and 22 from the list above (shown in red).  I'll also include the General Instructions and the page of Assembly Instructions pertaining to the Bow drawing (number 7).  This will give you a good idea of the kind of drawings that are in the package and how the instructions work with them.  The price for this 'Sample Packet' is $35.00 including shipping via US mail.   Payment must be in U.S. dollars.  Again, it's best if payment is in the form of a Bank Check or Money Order.  Personal checks will delay delivery until the check clears.

Any questions will be answered by phone (740) 859-4100 or clicking the link below:

I'd like to know more about the 'Sample Packet'


Send any orders with payment to:        Captain Gary E. Morton

                                                               P.O. Box 155

                                                               Rayland, Ohio 43943


SPECIAL NOTE:  I've said many times that "Sternwheel Riverboats are the best kept secret in America".  I say this because currently the only way to have one is to build it yourself.  Why?  Well, I believe, it's because there are no manufacturers producing them or dealers selling them.  Image this: a dealership where you could look over several models, kick the wheels, turn the rudders and take one for a test drive; then, come back and close a deal.  If such a dealership existed, I believe there would be Sternwheelers all up and down the rivers and on the lakes.  But, alas, there is no such dealership so, for now, the only way to have one of these marvelous boats is to build it yourself.  In the meantime, I'll continue to do what I can to help those who want to build.