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August 21, 2006 11:12PM
Keith Steele had a cabinet shop in Leaberg, Oregon. His shop was on the banks of the McKenzie River. One corner of the cabinet shop was dedicated to building boats and there was always a boat in progress. As far as I know he built one style of boat, the double ender with transom, in a 16'length.
Keith was old school and used resorsinal glue, ringshank nails and a plywood shoe to protect the bottom. His craftmanship and his boats were legendary. I purchased my first drift boat from Will Godfrey in 1978. It was a 16' double ender with transom, builder unknown. Dragging a woodie around Wyoming and Montana in those days always drew a crowd and I began hearing about the Keith Steele boat. Pat Barnes had one and the guy at Point of Rocks on the Yellowstone,I've forgotten his name now, had a small fleet of two or three. I always wanted a "Keith Steele". In the mid 80's a buddy of mine living in Seattle found a beauty and I drove out pulling an empty trailer to pick it up. My route was by way of Leaberg to meet the "man". Keith was in his shop which was a busy place but after introducing myself and telling him I was on my way to pick up a ten year old boat made by his hand he put aside what he was doing and took me on a tour. There was a boat in progress in the corner of the shop and several more in the yard. I got the now famous speach about how the pointed end was really the stern, "Son,you always row a boat with your back to the bow
and the bow is the upstream end". He showed me a fine line of driftboat trailers that were built by his son. When I asked him about maintenence he said "a boat is like your house, use the best paint you can afford and repaint it when it needs it. His approach was simple and straight forward.
Ray Heater knew that I had met Keith and had one of his boats. I learned of Keith's passing in 1995 in a letter from Ray who admired his craftmanship and joinery skills.
Keith's boats are still around and will become collectors items.
Subject Author Posted
Wood Drift Boat by Keith Steele Sandy August 21, 2006 03:34PM
Wood Drift Boat by Keith Steele Sandy August 21, 2006 06:12PM
Wood Drift Boat by Keith Steele Sandy August 21, 2006 06:19PM
Wood Drift Boat by Keith Steele Sandy August 21, 2006 11:12PM
Wood Drift Boat by Keith Steele Sandy August 22, 2006 03:56PM
Wood Drift Boat by Keith Steele Sandy November 26, 2006 08:29PM
trans trans trans

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