Editor's note: This is a loosely assembled bunch of e-mails from Bruce Hector about his latest obsession. Please forgive me for not getting it posted before now. TIMS (The Infinite Modular Sharpie) is an idea that has been around for a couple of years: Basically the idea is someone builds a bow and stern unit, then at a messabout, a number of people bring "middle" sections, and the whole thing is strung into a single boat.

June 28:

Hi Guys, I'm just taking a little break from building the TIMS now. I'm about half way through slamming a centre section together. Started 3 hours ago. Ran out of 2 by 2s, for chine logs, gunwales, frame edging, etc. So I'm off to home depot for more.

Yes, Peter, three sheets of 1/2" ply builds her bottom, sides, ends, and leaves enough for a centre bulkhead or two and a thwart top of about 11" width. Will this sucker row, or what?

If you want to slap one together, just make her ends 4' beam, by 2' height. Cut out a 16" wide by 12" deep door on the centre line of the ends (transom and bow) Make the door hinge inward, or leave it off, if you dare. Put a good strong gusset in every corner and a 4" cleat for the lash up. I'm adding a 2 by 4 keel, and probably a 2 by 4 rubrail 12" off the bottom. On trials, I'll see if a cleat is needed at the ends of the rubrails for a lower lash point.

Finnish the interior any way you wish. Ditto the sides, and top too, if you want, as long as you can leave a flat gusset with a strong cleat at all 4 corners with knuckle clearance for lashing.

June 29

TIMS, The Infinite Modular Sharpie, is rapidly taking shape.

I uploaded some building shots to my boat swap groups photo files and changed the membership rules to make it open to anyone, just click on the link below, they're in the folder titled TIMS. That way I wouldn't be duplicating the shots all over and taking up valuable storage room at the dozen or so boating groups I belong too.

The idea is to join an indefinite number of these modules together by lashing, as in a Mississippi River towboat, and see if the whole smozzle will work. Anyone coming is invited to build a section and bring it to the Messabout, we'll see if we can break a record for the longest boat assembled in one day, or at least an hour or so!

I'll be building the push boat and a sharpie like bow unit next. Official test "push" will be at the Kingston Messabout in September, 2003. I guarantee there'll be some un-official testing first. This is a proof of concept for a larger modular craft, with an 8 foot beam, that would be a better replica of a towboat and be a changeable size houseboat.

Details of the Messabout are at myboating site below.

June 30

The Infinite Modular Sharpie, TIMS was launched yesterday at 3 pm EST
in the Great Cataraqui River, Kingston Ontario. I christened her "Use No Hooks" due to her strong resemblance to a packing crate. A certain, no nonsence work boat look, to say nothing of the fine unsanded "Work Boat Finish" that I'm so fond of, yet looks strangely appropriate on "Use No Hooks"

Cheap yes!, but it floats, doesn't leak, and was actually controllable under oar power (but no fun to row). I'm pretty sure that the cast bronze oar sockets double her value!

The hull of the towboat, at 11' 6" is well underway, and I'm aiming for a launch tomorrow, Canada Day! A fitting time to launch the world's first TIMS Towboat! Gotta' scare up a Canadian flag somewhere.

TIMS will be assembled with all the TIMS barge units at the Amateur Boat Messabout in Kingston on September 6, 2003. Details of the Messabout are at: http;//

Hope to see you and your 8 foot TIMS unit there! Someone has to see if Guiness has a record for the longest boat assembled in a single day we can go for!

Bruce Hector
Washing, picking, sanding at my fingers trying to get yesterday's
dried, danged PL Premium off. If it sticks to wood half as good as it
does to skin the TIMS Towboat will last forever!

July 1

The TIMS stern power unit is almost ready for her July 1, Canada Day launch. Still to do in the morning are: attach gussets and cleats, attach roof, find a motor, attach motor board to transom, paint her red and white (what other colour scheme would be appropriate for a Canada Day launch, and get the cap off the truck to I can load the sucker. She does have 6' 1" headroom, so she won't fit in the Chev without taking the cap off.

The entire house lifts off, like a truck cap, when not wanted. It will attach with 4 C-clamps when needed. Well maybe six. The house is framed with 1 by 2s and skinned with 1/8" mahogany door skins to keep the superstructure light. The roof will be 1/8"o, so don't even THINK of walking on it!

My darling Elaine, who also brought me a hot supper at 7 pm EST, came and rescued me from manic boatbuilding at midnight. Now I'm showered and shaved, covered in cured PL Premium, that just will NOT come off.

The bow unit is coming along nicely, a bit of a hybrid (but then, so is the whole concept) she's glued and screwed on 2 by 2 chine logs for the first 4 feet looking forward from the transom, morphing to tack and tape epoxy at the stemless bow. I couldn't get 2 by 2s to take the curve to be chine logs past the second bulkhead from the transom, so the forward 8 feet will all be epoxy and taped seams.

She'll be stemless. I screwed the bow together with 3 inch screws to get the fasteners back from the stem. Then I laid in three layers of FG cloth wetted out with epoxy and a great big fillet of epoxy thickened with wood flour on the inside of the "stem" (I gotta' buy shares in West Sys. if I'm gonna' keep doing these stunts) which I pray will hold when I pull the screws tomorrow morning.

The bottom line: A TIMS Mini Towboat WILL be launched tomorrow, probably without a mill, as my friend whose hobby is restoring old motors is away for the holiday. But if the persistant clinging to my hands of PL is any indicator, the sucker will never leak!

August 13

Who doesn't love a tugboat? Or by extension a Mississippi Towboat? Or any purposeful, dirty, ugly workboat?

Well, "Timmy The Tiniest Towboat" certainly fits all three categories. And she's a ton of fun.

With Timmy pushing, and a sharpie bow unit lashed to the front to cleave the waves, and an indeterminate number of 4' by 8' TIMS units lashed in between, we are going to set the first ever world's record for the "Longest Wooden Boat Assembled and Launched in a Single Day" at the Kingston Amateur Boat Messabout on the weekend of September 5, 6 and 7, 2003.

Of course we'll have a great time doing it to.

Timmy, the sharpie bow unit and a single 8 foot barge unit were all slapped together on the July 1st, Canada Day long weekend.

The barge took less than 3 hours, and went together from 3 sheets of bargain basement Home Depot plywood, 3 eight foot 2 by 4s (keel and rub rails), 5 eight foot 2 by 2s (out wales, chine logs and bow and transom framing), screws and cheap bathroom caulk to keep it watertight. This construction was chosen to allow for disassembly later, for a more noble use of the wood, if desired. And so I could work fast, not waiting for any glues or epoxy to dry. Since all the barge units could be built in similar time, we'll qualify for the one day rule. She would float and run without the towboat or the bow fairing, but what the heck, it's kinda' cute.

Timmy, the towboat is all squared sides and ends, except I rockered up the bottom 3 inches at the transom to make her run easier, it wasn't my intention to make her a planing boat, just to be easily driven by small engines. I added a towboat profile 7 foot cabin because I thought it looked neat. That's big enough for two settees that make into a double berth with a port-ta-pottie under one end. Not bad on an 11 foot boat with only 4 foot of beam!

The sharpie bow unit is also 11 feet (or 10 foot six), and has increased freeboard forward for that tramp steamer look. She has 6 cubic feet of flotation chambers built into her bow and two seats at the transom. Under her centre thwart is a storage space that just magically happens to hold an old steel cooler we had kicking around the shop.


Well, I first launched the barge unit, which due to a strong family resemblance to a shipping crate I named "Used No Hooks". She was powered solely by a pair of seven foot oars, and surprisingly, she wasn't helpless with them. She rowed about as well as a typical fiberglass or aluminum fishing boat. That is she stopped between strokes, having very little glide between them.

With an old Evinrude 9.9 on the stern Timmy and the bow unit performed FAR better than I had hoped. Lashed together at the two mating cleats with 3/8" dock lines, frapped to tighten, there was very little movement. It was quite possible to walk from stern to bow with little concern, and steering from a standing position felt very stable.

I didn't have a GPS, so the speeds are only my guesstimate, but at half throttle she seemed faster than my houseboat at full speed, which is 5 and 1/2 knots. So I'd say she'd cruise all day at about 7 knots. At full throttle, you can see she's planing, 80% of the bow unit is out of the water, and I guess her speed at 12-15 knots. Seemed pretty fast to a houseboater like me!

Current sponsors of more TIMS units include, Duckworks Magazine (the reading room), The United Nation's World Food Program (galley unit of course) and the Kingston Red Cross (first aid/sleeper unit), plus Ben's Pub (the bar unit!). Several Messabouters have confirmed and several more are maybes, so we have every reason to believe TIMS will cruise the Rideau Canal at a length of over 60 feet, and may even get to 100.

Hope you can all make the Messabout and have a ride in The Infinite Modular Sharpie!