Have you ever heard the phrase Ride With A Legend? During the 2005 Ultimate Bass Club Shoot Out, Randy Qualls (Owner) and Deryl Janzen (Marketing Rep) of Legend boats brought two boats from their line up for everyone to test drive and comb over. After that day, it was obvious that Legend Boats are built to a level that benchmarks the quality and performance all bass boat should be able to achieve. Randy invited everyone from the Ultimate Bass Club Shoot Out to the Legend Boats factory in Midway Arkansas to see how they build their boats step by step. And this past July Laurie and I took Randy up on his offer!
Impressive!! Legend Boats are build one at a time, literally. There are hundreds of steps that the members of the Legend Boat Team take pain staking and time-consuming pride in making sure each and every aspect, corner and detail are perfect. Everything from the split-second timing required of the spectacular paint jobs, the flawless precision molding of the hull and stringer components, to the meticulous installation of the carpet and electrical components; each and every member of the Legend Boats team puts extreme pride in a job well done.
Here is a quick rundown of what we got to see……….
The very first step in the process is making sure the boat molds are perfect; they are inspected meticulously before each and every boat is made. After it passes the quality check, it’s time to spray the gel coat; boats are made from the inside out so the very first step in making your boat is to paint it! Every line or color change is taped off; this is done by hand to ensure perfection. After the Gel Coats are sprayed in, now is when the actual hull is built.
The resin used in the Legend boat is a two resin that set very quickly. First the resin is rolled in then glass fiber sheets are laid and then more resin, most areas of the boat have 5 applications while the pad and transom area have 6. After each layer the whole Legend team gathers around the boat to roll out the resin and glass combination to ensure a smooth even product, but the biggest benefit is that this rolling process removes any air bubbles that might make an area weak.
The transoms and transom mounts are build with a vacuum process that eliminates excess resign making them as light as possible and preventing trapped air between the layers of material making them as strong as possible. I can testify that after this process is completed these components are as strong as steel but are nowhere near the weight. While we were there, they were working on a boat that had hit a stump at 72 MPH and it was still intact, the lower unit of the motor was gone but the boat and transom were still in very good shape, no structural damage what so every, impressive!!
Next the stringer system is put into place and glassed in. Absolutely no corners are cut in the production of Legend Boats! Every possible detail has been taken into consideration, analyzed and improved. Take for instance the floatation foam – after the hull has been laid and the stringer system installed, ½ inch holes are drilled in the flat portions of the stringer system so that foam can be injected threw out the hull, making sure there is not a single space or air pocket left with out floatation. Once this process is complete they go back over the stringer system and re-glass all the holes, this in turn ensures the strength of the stringer system and seals the foam. Although they use the highest grade of foam, one that will not absorb water after being submersed completely for up to 100 years, it is one of the hundreds of steps that are very important to Legend Boats. Randy Qualls says, “We hope that no one would do it but, if you wanted to leave your plug in the boat and let it sit in the rain for 5 years, we can guarantee that the hull and foam flotation in your boat will not retain any moisture”
Boats are made in two separate pieces, you have the hull, transom and stringer system in the bottom half, and then everything you see when you are looking at a boat in the top half.
The beginning stages of building the top half are basically the same, spray the gel coat and mold the fiberglass; but before the top half can come out of the mold all the compartments have to be glassed in, the boats wiring system has to be installed and clamped down, the lighting system is installed and every possible square inch is covered in floatation foam.
By the time the two halves are put together it is completely filled up with foam, if there is an air space the Legend Boat Team has found a way to get floatation foam into it. Not only does this process provide a boat that can’t possible sink, but it also insulates the under the seat and back deck coolers completely. This process also ensures the live well and all the compartments are completely supported preventing cracking from the pounding that we give our boats and insulating them making it easier to keep our fish cool in the summer time heat not to mention our soda’s!
Once the two halves are put together, they first install a silicone seal between the two halves and then screws are used every 3-4 inches along the hull and top cap, when they install the rub rail and it is attached with rivets that go threw both the top cap and hull in between the screws. This process not only ensures integrity but also guarantees there will not be any leaks.
Now comes the amazing part to watch, carpeting the aluminum deck lids and the rest of the boat. The meticulous detail of carpeting this boat is incredible. Every inch is covered and secured. The main deck carpet is held in place by aluminum strips that are riveted over the carpet to ensure the edges never come up.
Finally the boat is built and carpeted, now comes the easy part, installation of components. This is a 4-5 man/women team that completely combs over the boat making sure every last detail is perfect.
Before any boat built by Legend is delivered to it’s new owner, they take it to the local launch ramp and put it in the Bull Shoals Lake for a water test. Every system on the boat is operationally checked from the electronics to the ease of loading and unloading on the trailer. Deryl Janzen says, “We want to make sure that, those new boat [bugs] you always hear about from other manufactures products don’t find their way into our factory. When a customer receives their new boat we want it to work perfectly and we water test each and every boat that comes out of our factory to make sure that happens”.
Laurie and I were very impressed with our experience at the Legend Boat Factory. Randy and Deryl were outstanding hosts and took the time to walk us through the factory explaining every detailed step in the boat building process. Although we asked hundreds of questions Randy and Deryl never hesitated to give an in-depth answer. After our tour of the factory, Deryl took us out for a test drive. I always thought that my current boat was the best handling and most responsive boat on the water, but that has all change. The Legend boat is a treat to drive, the cornering was phenomenal, acceleration would set you back in your seat from any speed, and rough water or large wakes-not an issue, this is a very smooth riding boat. We left there with a completely new understanding and respect of the boat building process. If you can find the time, go visit with Randy and Deryl at the Legend Boats’ Factory, you won’t be sorry you did. But, I must warn you, be prepared to be impressed and think just a little bit less of your current boat.