One Person Water Scooter

You can open up a whole new world of summer fun with this easy, do-it-yourself bumper boat/water scooter.

| May/June 1981

I can't speak for anybody else, but there's been many a time when — while fishing in the river near my home — I'd dream of trading in my waders on a tidy little dinghy that'd carry me and my tackle out to where I knew the big ones lurked.

This season, though, I don't have to daydream (well, not about boats, at any rate), because I've recently built — for a grand total of $44.75 — a nifty little craft that suits both my fishing and frolicking needs, and stows away easily in the trunk of my car when the fun's over.

The idea came to me after I'd noticed an amusement park that offered a "bumper boat" attraction using small commercial boats instead of cars. The little craft were made of custom-molded vinyl and sported gasoline-fueled outboard engines — along with, I discovered, big price tags!

My homemade water scooter, on the other hand, consists of a used 16.9-by-28-inch tractor inner tube, three pieces of 1/2-inch exterior (CDX) plywood trimmed to shape, two lengths of electrical conduit, an assortment of threaded hardware, a 1 1/4-inch floor flange, and a 1 1/4-inch E.M.T.-to-junction-box connector. The boat's power source — which I chose to incorporate simply because I couldn't pass up a $15 bargain — is a used electric trolling motor that's hooked to an old car battery. However, for extended jaunts, I'd recommend employing a deep-cycle RV or marine powerpack instead. (Gasoline-driven outboards shouldn't be used with an inflatable boat, as the fuel might melt the inner tube's rubber skin.)

Build It in an Hour or Two

After I'd gathered my materials and tools (screwdriver, adjustable wrench, mallet, C-clamps, saber saw and a drill with an assortment of bits), it didn't take me much more than an hour to trim, assemble and paint my vessel. And, if you're as handy with tools as I am (and Lord knows I'm no workshop wonder), building your own pneumatic cruiser ought to be a snap!

Start by placing a 4-by8-foot sheet of 1/2-inch plywood across a pair of sawhorses and scribing out a circle, close to one corner of the board, that's exactly 33 inches in diameter. (This is easily accomplished by cutting a strip of cardboard about 18 inches long, then punching a hole at each end — making certain the openings are 16 1/2 inches apart. Drive a nail lightly into the plywood to serve as a pivot, slip your corrugated compass over this central stub, place a pencil in the other hole, and rotate the "beam" 360 degrees to mark a ring.) Next, adjust the saber saw to a 45-degree angle and cut out the circle with the blade leaning toward the center of the disk.

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