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Alucraft has been established since 1989 and specialize in aluminum design and construction of commercial boats with waterject and other forms of propulsion. Alucraft is located in the Western Australian boat building industrial complex of Henderson. Whether you require a fishing boat, pearl cleaning, workboat, research vessel, offshore supply, house boat, mussel picking and processing, long lining, fast patrol boat, charter, fire fighting, barge or passenger ferry; Alucraft can design, build and outfit your next vessel. Repairs, modifications and maintenance of aluminium vessels, it's equipment, systems and propulsion are also catered for, so you can rest assured of after sales service when required.
We like our clients to have a long lasting relationship with us, and the confidence to return with their next project. The latest production welding equipment in MIG and TIG welding is used to weld aluminium plate and sections together as well as stainless steel. Hydra-bending, guillotining, in house CNC plasma cutting to 10 metre long sheets and manual power sawing is utilised to process sections to be later assembled and welded. All engine installation is carried out on the premises as well as other system installations and internal fit-outs.
Alucraft are the most versatile, flexible and organised company in the 40 metre range offering a tailor made package from design to delivery utilising the latest available technology and techniques. Our toolbox visit for June was to one of the boatsheds adjacent to Royal Freshwater Bay Yacht Club which are heritage in themselves.
She was built by the Lawrence yard at the foot of William Street to a design by John Easton, and represents typical Amercan dayboat design of the early 1920′s.
Repairs to the foc’sle and after cabin bulkheads, after cockpit, and the addition of intermediate ribs in the stern (ie between the existing ribs, not to be confused with sister ribbing) was relatively straightforward because of the accessibility of these parts. The foc’sle also required intermediate ribs, but here it was a different story, and one which challenges the wisdom received about old wooden boats. Moreover, Nokomis appeared to have been painted and varnished only upon completion and only then to parts that could easily be seen or reached with a brush. And more unforeseen challenges – adding ribs changes the shape of a hull, and consequently furniture that was close fitting on construction may require modifications to fit the new shape. The half bulkheads at the foot of the bunks in the sleeping cabin were replaced by routered plywood to imitate the original tongue and groove jarrah. The other problem with a refit such as this is that once an item has been repaired or refurbished everything else around it has to be brought up to the same standard. Newly reconditioned and plated portholes, for example, meant that deck fittings in the vicinity also required plating, as did the stanchions in the midships cockpit. The original engine was a 572 cubic inch 6 cylinder side valve petrol engine manufactured by the Scripps company of Detroit, and produced 60 HP at 950 RPM. The problem was that the new ribs could only be fed between plank and stringer from above, which entailed removing not only the covering board at the perimeter of the foredeck, but also all the after deck fittings, rubbing stakes, canvas sheath and securing beads etc. Access to the inside of the hull necessitated removal of all the internal furniture and fittings. The nails are the restorer’s first problem, since the galvanising fails with time, and the nails rust and grow in their apertures, making clean removal from the timber problematic.
By then the bezels on the 40 odd year old engine instruments were starting to look shabby, so they too had to be plated or replaced – ad infinitum!
And then the three door locks to the cabins, which were removed unmemorable years ago needed to be sourced from somewhere. In 1842 a town jetty was opened at the bottom of William Street and the area from William to Mill Streets along Bazaar Terrace became Perth’s port. The area grew quickly with the establishment of boat building, bulk stores, shipping company offices, boat sheds, workshops as well as customs facilities.
The River lightering trade declined with the growth in the number of cars in Perth and disappeared completely in the late 1930s.
Evolution Boats pride themselves on producing hand crafted, custom designed aluminium boats of exceptional quality and perfomance, for both personal and Commercial use. On Wednesday, Nov 25 we were addressed by David Lugg from the Dept of Transport on the subject of safety registrations for recreational boats. As David pointed out, Australia had no regulations governing registration and safety until November, 2006. The ABP (samples above and below) has to be firmly attached to the boat with accurate information supplied by a qualified person, presumably in a signed statement. The Australian Builders Plate (ABP) system eventually devised for Australia, unlike the US and European models, specifies outcomes rather than inputs and is managed by the Dept of Commerce, rather than the Dept of Transport! Of most interest was the detail involving flotation testing which, as outlined earlier, is only applicable for boats up to six metres. I have been asked by President Paul to write something about my biggest ever boatbuilding project, about a third of a century ago. At first we were living in a government house in Rangeway so I set up the building jig, digging the legs into the sand, beside the house, levelling it with strings, spirit levels and plumb bobs. Some deck beams had to be added, the inside painted, (a real pain), the cockpit installed and the deck and cabin added. Somewhere around this time I delivered the keel pattern to Vaughan’s Castings in Hamilton Hill and they poured it in cast iron (800 kg), Dimet coated it and had the studs fitted before railing it back to me.
In 1976, following a year off from teaching with long service leave, we migrated to Geraldton, largely because it looked like a good place to go sailing. Just to complicate matters, we’d bought a house of our own by this time and needed to shift. Fitting out is all a bit of a blur but it actually took longer than the process so far described.
The sails were made by one, Vin Cooper, a pharmacist and part-time sailmaker in Applecross, recommended by someone in the yacht club. Following a survey for insurance, launch day finally arrived, about late January as I recall, halfway through the sailing season, rather than at the beginning but the whole building time was still only eleven months (I don’t think I slept much in that period).


On Saturday, 12th December we were able to visit the MV Perth at her current resting place at Henderson. She was built at A E Brown’s yard at North Fremantle in 1913 and commissioned in the following year. The Perth has two complete decks above the waterline (the Duchess has only one) and these were originally open and probably breezy especially in summer. Mike has a huge restoration job ahead of him and admits to some interest from the Eastern States in acquiring the ferry but he is adamant that a piece of Perth and Fremantle heritage so important should remain here.
Since its foundation it has been involved in many different vessel design and construction, enabling a wide range of experience. We are 10 kilometres south of Fremantle and a 20-minute drive from Perth on the Kwinana freeway. We can also provide you with the help and technology shipyards to build and maintain your boats. The two parties also collaborated to build Kiewa in 1913 and Winnilya for department store proprietor Frank Boan in 1938. The type of construction described earlier gives, say, 20 years service before money needs to be spent.
On re fitting, it was found that the old bulkheads were notplumb, and that filler pieces had been added to the bunk framing to disguise the gap.
The Scripps E?-6 was replaced by a Thorneycroft marinisation of the ?eflathead?f Ford V8 when she was requisitioned by the navy in 1942, and this engine itself was replaced by a 4.236 Perkins in the late 1960?fs. Ceilings, bunks, bulkheads, shelves, lockers and floors and bearers were all removed to permit clenching of the copper nails. Fortunately, locks, toilet and galley pumps, cabin hooks, and sundry other chandlery items were obtained from Davey & Co in the UK. Probably not, an elusive specialist opinion (which cannot be confirmed at the time of writing) suggests that a restored building is good for another sixty years, but a restored wooden boat is good for twelve – which will take Nokomis to 101 and into her second century.
Early markets were held around the jetties and Bazaar Terrace became a bustling trading centre before stores were opened in St Georges Terrace, William and Hay streets.
Land was leased from the government with businesses such the Swan Shipping Company and Messrs Lawrence Bros boat builders reclaiming river to create space for their facilities. With the exception of coats of arms, emblems, images, other third party material or devices protected by a trademark, the content of this website is licensed under a Creative Commons Australia Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike 3.0 Licence. Unfortunately, the attendance wasn’t one of our best, but those of us who came all learned something useful. Somewhat earlier both Europe and the US had regulations on the subject, mainly stipulating design parameters and so on. As was pointed out on the night, if building a boat close to 6m it might be easiest to stretch it to, say, 6.1m to avoid the test. In many ways it amounts only to a Statutory Declaration but with significant legal responsibilities attached. It was only a quick drive down to the waterfront for boat chandlers, the Geraldton Building and Plumbing Company and so on and Perth could be reached by telephone and letter and the purchases sent up, at that time, by rail, although that required advance planning by a couple of weeks each time.
The plywood was purchased from Gibbs Bright in Perth, mainly 12mm for the frames and bulkheads, 9mm for the skin. But there were still a few professional wooden builders around at that time and I was able to hire one of them for assistance. When doing the rigging I managed to crew one race on an MB24 (an almost identical boat) at that year’s Cockburn Sound Regatta to find out what mast section was best and ended up investing in a Sheerline S150, together with an appropriate boom and spinnaker pole. I had meant to sail Moths, as before, but the previously strong Geraldton class had died in 1975 and no cruiser owners were keen to have me skipper their boats, so I determined to build my own.
Fortunately the boat was at the right stage for coming off the jig and this was done with a crane using rolling slings. Only through Vin could I afford a full wardrobe of three headsails, a main and two spinnakers.
I’d had the keel delivered direct to the waterfront near the fishing boat harbour and it was supported in a vertical frame I made. We were hosted by the current owner, Mike Beanland of the Perth Boat School, a group which qualifies people for skippers certificates, etc. Until 1970 she was powered by a largish double expansion steam engine, currently exhibited in the MM. Now they’re both closed in and perhaps more comfortable but visibility is reduced a little and windage greatly increased. Our host on the day was Mark Donati who has been actively involved at the sharp end throughout this project. The decks are of oregan pine nailed to their beams, and the super structure is Queensland maple. Then we had the National Assessment into Boating Fatalities in Australia – 1999 to 2004. This may sound a bit flippant, but the signatory will remain legally liable for any faults evermore!
Under 6m, however, one is almost certainly going to include buoyancy foam in the construction. Besides, I needed at least one extra pair of hands to manage the 24′ scarffed sheets of ply.
I also injured myself falling through the forward hatch one night causing my left knee and leg to stiffen up something painful for a while – an extra problem.
The VW Kombi we had must have looked pretty comical roof-topping thirty feet of mast section from the railway station. The plans called for the adjacent panels to meet at mitre joints near the bow and to convert to overlapping ones further along. The operator simply hoisted the hull, complete with the whole jig, out of the sand and rolled it in the process.


Likewise, I cut costs on winches, fitting single speed Barlow 20s rather than anything more powerful – they turned out to be adequate. The hull was then craned out over the house, trucked to the water and craned down over the keel.
The boiler was off to one side of the engine, probably to avoid the centre-line running prop shaft.
She’s double-ended (two counter sterns, actually) with a rudder and single propeller at each end. They leak rainwater into the bilge from dozens of places and there is much dry rot around as a result. As promised, Paul had snaggers and buns on hand and these he cooked on the Perth’s barbecue on the upper deck, while Peter Leggatt brought the urn along for a cuppa as well. Air-filled cavities are not counted because they can be breeched, and the right (polyethelene) foam is expensive and needs to be budgeted for.
I don’t like the thought of being responsible for a second or third owner’s demise, twenty years down the track! Anyway, the frames were set up on the jig using the abovementioned tools and chines (all six of them) and sheer stringers fitted.
I had been writing to Van der Stadt with queries about minor modifications, to which they replied, in English, within two weeks each time, and also sending them some photos.
This was then stepped temporarily on the hull so that shroud lengths could be measured before splicing up with fittings at a firm on the waterfront. I felt that the angles at the chines were so broad that 9mm, overlapped, would give joints of up to about double that and so decided to continue the mitre joints down the whole length of the hull, although this would lead to spiling and shaping both sides of each 24′ panel, a task so tedious I think I could have built a round bilge hull quicker. It was trucked to the new house and installed at the end of a narrow driveway using the same crane to lift it over the house. Even where decking has been relayed over ply subdecks Mike is not happy as this only encourages pockets of water between ply and deck planks and hence, more dry rot. The Perth had a 1kva generator on board, enough for some lights or power but not both together. Some of the factors were overpowering of some boats, alcohol, no lifejackets and many involved older people. Fortunately I was going to sheath the yacht in fibreglass at a later stage so we went ahead.
I also made up all the major deck hardware such as the pulpit, etc, first getting stainless tube bent at the Plumbing Company, cutting to length back at the boat, before getting welding done back at the plumbers’. This was used first to drill the hull for the !” keel studs, and somewhat later for the Perth engineers to tap in the studs in the finished cast iron keel. Now Denny Bros’ parent company was on the Clyde near Glasgow, where they built large ships, and I presume they had a Perth agency which handled supply of the engine. He has found a couple of chemicals which can be injected into such areas and one of which, at least, is very effective at restoring such dryrotted timber.
So we were able to look at the old Kelvin by lights for a while, then Peter was able to heat up the urn. A remarkable number involved smaller boats, such as dinghies and this probably led to the adoption of 6m loa as the cut-off point for flotation testing.
You will probably be the first one in the world finished.” And I had thought I was building an established design! The Denny name is also allied with A E Brown as the boat builder on an engraved nameplate on the vessel.
At the time of our visit Mike was unable to recall the exact brand, but it sounds like magic. As Robert Ayliffe wrote in AABB, more than a year ago, a restored vintage speedboat gets off scot-free; a modern replica does not. It was a bit tedious but I later found out from the foundry that I’d saved about $400 by making my own pattern, whereas the cost of actually casting it was only $250. McKie and Baxter also supplied the engine room telegraph and no doubt much other hardware besides.
Anyway, the Jefkem didn’t stick to it very well and when I bent the sheers around, the joints just exploded.
We were up to the May school holidays by this stage and so we went off on a short camping trip while a contractor sheathed the hull in fibreglass using polyester resin as epoxy was rare then, and expensive. In 1970 the steam plant was removed and replaced with a Kelvin T6 diesel of 180 hp, which is still in her. In either case such ferries can operate in either direction by having both propellers on a long, single shaft and locking off the forward rudder into a central position.
So the kapur came off to be replaced with nyatoh, glued with old-fashioned Resorcinol, which my own workshop tests showed to be far superior. Originally this isolation and locking was achieved with a mechanical mechanism but this was later replaced with an hydraulic one. Unfortunately the DPI can produce no plans for the vessel, despite being in survey, and this is going to make restoration even more difficult. The two propellers turn at the same speed, in the same direction, but the one at the forward end is effectively operating in astern mode, which means only about 25% efficiency. Doubleenders which need no room to turn or manoeuvre at all were ideal for the shuttle runs between Barrack St and either Mends St or Coode St jetties in South Perth.



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