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Rod Muller builds a Dillon Mini Vee

Rod, from Goolwa, South Australia, is a former patternmaker who now builds steam engines. See strathsteam.com.

Some years back he attempted to set the world speed record for a steam-powered boat, but came up short. He hopes to try again with an inboard version of the Dillon Mini Vee.

Rod has stretched his Mini Vee a bit. Note the extra bulkhead.

Besides installing in inboard steam engine, he also hopes to try both electric and gasoline inboards as well as outboard power.

I had to ask: What's with the colored epoxy?

"...it is just ordinary epoxy," Rod says, "but every time I mix a batch I put a little drop of pigment and some talc in it for 3 reasons.

"Firstly it tells me it is mixed properly.... Second it shows me where I have put resin, how heavy handed I have been, and 'what is what' on a time basis as I always use a different color to the last batch."

"And finally it is much easier to see if you have scuffed the shiny surface off it when you are recoating or gluing something to and existing place.... It is also good to pigment any sealing coats the same colour as what your final paint job color is."

The bottom is almost fully installed.

And with the bottom planking in place it's time to install the pad.

Blending in the pad.

The boat is turned over. It's a very long Mini Vee indeed.

The boat is almost ready for its deck.

Rod has included lots of flotation to account for his various engine possibilities. He used foam blocks cut to fit into the hull's spaces.

"[The foam blocks] are actually epoxied to the bottom ply as I figured it would make it very strong and rigid along with the fact if it did get a hole punched in it I would not finish up with a gaping hole as it would only penetrate into the foam...."

And now the deck is on.

Another look. The sander stands poised for a full workout.

When the time comes, transportation to the waterfront. Rod made this trailer especially for "Peggy."

Rod designed his own forward cowling, part of which is removable.

The forward, fixed section is a foam/glass/epoxy sandwich, while the removable part is chopped strand glass and polyester resin.

A similar cowling will cover the aft part of the cockpit.

'Glassing the deck.

A test float with a 30hp Yamaha, a full tank of gas and some other ballast to account for equipment not yet installed.

The extra length really shows here. And the extra buoyancy it imparts is evident.

"Here she is for the first time under her own power," says Rod, "being coaxed along by a couple old boys with a new toy."

Motor troubles hampered the test, but it was a start.

"I was just beside myself with joy I turned the corners very quietly and was not too fussed about the fact we were running on 2 cylinders...."

"Truly you could have dropped a rock on my foot and I would have still been smiling."

A look at the dash, including... "digital temp meter, digital tacho, digital volt meter and water pressure gage."

All painted and looking beautiful.

"I spent a heap of time over this period of 3 months with finishing things off and doing a heap of primer surfacing preparation for the final paint job which I left to an auto painter for the white polyuerathane but did the marroon bits myself...."

And brand new power, a two-cylinder Tohatsu 40C.

"I had to buy it in Singapore as they are not sold in Australia anymore and being the lightest 2 cylinder 2 stroke outboard available in the world today that I was aware of I had no choice."

Not available in the US either, sad to say. These motors will push a Sport C tunnel boat to near 60 mph.

"I am taking it quietly for the first 10 hours as I want to be sure it is well run in and at present it has only got an 11 inch pitch factory fitted prop so is only good for about 30 mph."

A few months later....

Not happy with his boat's performance, Rod got together with Ralph Johnson to see if they could figure out the needed changes. One of the principle ones was to move some significant weight aft. That means the driver. Some metal rod and a u-joint helped with that.

"He... brought his race boat... down for me to have a try and WOW what a difference. Admitedley it is very light and runs a race motor but it goes like a rocket... he tells me I would have been doing around 100 kilometeres per hour [~60 mph] and I dont think my adrenaline level went back to normal until about 4:00 in the afternoon."

See Ralph's page to see the picture of Rod's test run.

Engine height was also addressed, and a nosecone added. This is a little higher than I dare run my motors. You've got to make sure you're pumping cooling water.

"It made a huge difference in that she takes a little while to get the prop to grip but once she takes off we picked up another 10 kph so now on still water and very little wind she will do 71.5 kph [~43 mph]."

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The Evolution of the original Dillon Mini Vee
Building the new Mini Vee, 2009
Bringing back Mini GT racing, 2010
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