Building the Tokyo Express

Starting out in the small shed, built from the trees in the bush on my parents property I built the port hull of the cat and the bridge deck section, one after the other. But it was small and the idea to put it all together somewhere else was messy.

I decided I could get the boat out of here in one piece, so I sat down and designed myself a new shed. I built this one from steel and strong enough to incorporate a gantry to be able to lift complete boat hull sections and move them around the shed. It was an overkill, I had visions of going into production building boats after this. But in the end I was so exhausted from the 3 years of “hard labour” building this boat that I never followed through with building more.

But despite the overkill, after finishing the shed and moving in, it was awesome! To have all this room and no longer worry about the rain coming in or the wind blowing my house down.. On this page is the building of the boat, right up until launch day.


Video – 3

Some old footage inside the first hull. The building of the bridge deck.

This video also covers the building of the shed and the assembly of the first hull and bridge deck inside the new shed.

The bridge deck floor

After removing the port hull from the shed I started building the bridge deck, starting with the floor.

It was planked with the cedar strips like the hull but they were all flat and parallel so it went fast.

The bridge deck

Room was tight working in this original shed. And it was a little breezy too. It was at this time I really started thinking about a better shed.

Here the bridge deck was progressing. Making it as a module added extra time and work though, instead of making the boat in one piece.

Building a new shed

The small shed was too small. I needed more room and also I wanted to build the boat in one piece.

So the decision was made – to down tools on the boat and design and build myself a shed..

Building the new shed

I had visions of going into “production” building cats. So I designed the shed with a roller gantry to be able to lift and move entire pieces of boat around.

So I ordered in the steel and began welding it up. I chose brown colour-bond to blend in with the bush and zinc on top to reflect the heat.

Inside the new shed

It took about 3 months before I could move into the shed. Here is a picture of the 2 sections of the boat I had already built assembled side by side.

This was luxury! Having so much space and being able to close it up too..

The second hull

I had the temporary frames and strong back from the first hull. I assembled them in the space remaining and built the second hull.

This went much quicker than the first hull. I knew what I was doing this time too..

Video – 4

This video looks at turning the second hull. The building of the rudders, fore-beam and centreboard.

There is some more rare live VHS footage inside the boat at this stage, with my Dad showing us around. And a look at steering.

Planking the 2nd hull

Planking the 2nd hull went much faster this time. I had already scarfed wood ready on the rack. And the knowledge from doing it already.

Just that working alone I could only do one thing at a time. So while I was working on the hull the rest of the boat stood still waiting for me.

Ready to turn the 2nd hull

This time turning was easy! With the gantry I could do it almost single handed.

I applied the antifouling before I turned it this time too. A copper epoxy antifouling. It didn’t have any problems being out of the water so there was no time stress to get the boat in the water after applying it.

Completing the 2nd hull

Again, the steps to finishing the starboard hull were identical to the first hull. Here you can see the transom steps in plywood ready to be bonded onto the hull. The rudder shaft can be seen sitting in place, checking the alignment of the nylon bearings. The rudder shaft tube was installed between the bearings before bonding everything in place.


The rudders were made from plywood skin over ply frames. Then laminated with fibreglass. Metal tangs were welded to the shaft and were cast in place.

It was pre computer days for me, so the profiles were hand plotted with graph paper and transferred on to the ply frames. Getting an accurate as possible foil shape is important.


Nearly ready for painting

Here it was almost ready to paint. All of the hull surfaces had been primed and spot faired. It was time now to bond and tape the 3 sections of the hull together – creating the complete boat as one piece. The joins have the same strength as the rest of the boat. The main bulkhead was made of 2 laminations of plywood. The second layer overlapped at the joins. There is more detail in the coming ebook.

Video – 5

Here in video 5 we take a look at the engines – 2x yamaha 9.9hp four stroke outboard motors. Power generation and how I carried my water in the hulls.

The painting of the boat is also covered and a look at bringing the 15m mast home behind my car.

Painting finished – Sanding the antifouling

Painting finished – Ready for launching


Tim Weston Boats

This website is all about boats, home boat building and other DIY projects.  A place for the do it yourself builder and anyone interested in boats and making things.

© 2016-2019

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