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 Cottonmouth 1448 XLR8 review 
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Post Cottonmouth 1448 XLR8 review
I commissioned this build in early spring 2014 and received it some time around New Year 2015. Over the time that passed since I commissioned it, I both lost my home and blind and switched to hunting an area where I do not need a mud motor. As a result, I have not used this boat much and it has mostly been gathering dust in my father's shed who has been kind enough to temporarily house it for me.

The boat is 14' long with 48" wide smooth mud hull type bottom with a tapered chine which is my preferred chine style because it turns a little better than square chine and it helps with stability. If you don't believe me on how tapered chines can add stability, go get in a skinny little 36" Phowler sneak boat with a tapered chine which has no business having that much stability for the width of hull and you will see what I mean. How the taper is executed will determine how much of an effect it has though. The hull thickness of this boat is 0.125 which is a double edged sword being very good for durability but bad for weight.

It has a hunt deck included standard as well as the two sets of movable seat bases and seats included. The seat bases are bolted into bolt inserts in the deck, with 2 sets in back and two sets in front. If you have one built, make sure you tell him where you want them or you may not get them where you want them. The floor is set up in a grid pattern so more inserts could be installed if you wanted them, but I have both seats bolted in the back side by side because the weight distribution is actually better this way unlike both of my other boats which work better with a person in front to keep the bow down. This means it is easier to hold a conversation with the passenger and it also means that the boat runs completely flat with only one person. The boat was designed to run very flat and the included fuel tank is hidden inside the front deck with the fuel line run through one of the protected wire chases. You can put too much weight forward in this boat if you are not careful, but any boat works better if you distribute the weight properly.

The boat can be driven standing or sitting down and the grab handle is adjustable up or down a couple notches. I would have preferred if it was mounted a little further back but others may disagree. The little mini console for the grab bar also has a switch console for the standard bilge pump, navigation lights, etc and a cup holder. Rubber storage mounts for the stern light pole are found under the hunt deck when you are not using it (I tend to break them really fast if I leave them mounted so better to remove it when not in use). Also standard are the obstruction free gutters on each side of the side which lead to oversized plugs on each side making it much easier to wash than any of my other boats.

(hull ID photoshopped out for privacy)


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Thu Jul 14, 2016 7:09 pm
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Post Re: Cottonmouth 1448 XLR8 review
Options added to the base hull were
1) I opted for shark eye bow navigation lights so no more hunting for the bow light in the storage area and I don't have to worry about kicking it, breaking it, or getting it tangled in the rope.
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2) Rigid 10" combo light bar. It throws pretty far, but despite not being the spot version, I still feel like I have tunnel vision at times so I would be curious to try one of the spread beams next time. I can see why others have gone the route of installing 3 separate lights with the two on the sides angled outward. It is still much better than holding a spotlight and my arm wanting to fall off on long rides.
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3) bow rails which give me something to tie to which won't interfere with the light bar and gives me something to grab onto when dragging off sand bars I have parked on. Also had another small one added in the back because you can't really grab onto the trailer tie-downs.
Attachment:
IMAG0515.jpg


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Thu Jul 14, 2016 7:28 pm
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Post Re: Cottonmouth 1448 XLR8 review
4) had the front deck enclosed and a hatch added so I would have some dry storage. The gas tank is in there as well but it is still a pretty good amount of storage for my purposes.
Attachment:
FuelTankInFrontDeck.jpg

5) T handle aluminum spud poles and mounts in the front and back to hold the boat still when hunting out of it. I would have preferred the spud poles to be longer, but if the water is too deep spud poles are probably not the right tool for the job. I still would have preferred them a little longer. I sanded them and put gatorglide on them in an attempt to make them easier to clean but the gator glide just wears off where it gets slid through the mounts.
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IMAG0456.jpg

6) removable pivoting winch mount which drops into the spud pole mount. Allows you to store your winch out of the weather and also means the winch is always facing the right direction if you need to use it. Since I have not been hunting the same hard bottom areas, I have not gotten around to buying a winch to bolt to it yet.
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IMAG0629.jpg

7) Swamp hydroturf installed. I ended up taking the hydroturf which they had already cut without having them install it though I had paid for it, because I opted to paint the boat myself after they switched to a third party professional painter and I did not want to shell out another $1200 or whatever it was for paint which would get worn as soon as you start using it. When I finally got around to installing the hydroturf a year later, the hunt deck and main deck were no problem but one of the pieces for the bow deck was cut wrong so I have not installed it on the bow. I just need one little piece.


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Thu Jul 14, 2016 7:32 pm
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Post Re: Cottonmouth 1448 XLR8 review
Options I added myself:
1) Gatorbase and Gatorglide to help it slide. This stuff takes forever to dry in the winter. I put a blast heater to it for a while but it still took forever. On the last boat, I had done SteelFlex in the summer, which had its own set of challenges (never do it outside on a windy day or EVERYTHING sticks to it). Both seem to work very well to reduce friction. The Steelflex is so much thicker it may wear longer, but the problem with the SteelFlex is that it can come off in chunks when you rub it against stuff you hit and especially parking on rubble that exists at many ramps which is probably more detrimental to performance than not having it at all once it is in bad shape, so I decided to give the Gator Glide a try this time.
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2) 3 stage paint - metal primer, and 2 camo colors of FME paint all from Lock, Stock, and Barrell preceded by washing, sanding, and etch with PPG Alumiprep. Ended up having to switch guns partway through because the tip size was too small even with the paint thinned a lot. I don't remember for sure but I think I switched from a 1.2 tip to a 1.8 tip which sprayed it much better. The colors and pattern seemed to have worked since we hunted out of it with it just tied to the back of the blind with no cover and it did not seem to flare birds. Pic shown with the birds - all Gadwall and teal that day. I will be curious to hear what you guys think about the paint job. I have shadowgrass stencils but decided not to use them and just did it freehand with grass from a nearby field. Started with Johnson grass but found the pattern to be too large so I switched to a finer blade of grass that I do not know the name of.
Attachment:
side.jpg


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Thu Jul 14, 2016 8:04 pm
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Post Re: Cottonmouth 1448 XLR8 review
My Impressions: The construction is a work of art. Super attention to detail. I much prefer the tapered chine design to round or square chine. The hunt deck gives a little protection from waves coming over the transom and helps get the dog in the boat, but I don't have to have one. As so many others have noticed Hydroturf is so nice and soft and quiet but stupid expensive.

I have mixed feelings about the inset transom. The positives are that it moves the center of gravity on the boat a little forward so the boat sits and runs very flat which does not matter in mud but can help over hard bottom. It was also intended to help with jumping logs, but I don't hunt in an area with a lot of logs so I don't care about that. The negatives are that if you have a motor with reverse you probably won't like it because it is shaped like a scoop, but I don't have reverse so it does not matter to me. It also, along with the weight of the hull, seems to make it more sensitive to prop selection.

The hull is 0.125 and has double the amount of stringers/supports of my other boats so it is built like a veritable fortress and will last way longer than I will be around, but on the other hand the weight has an impact on performance. I also found out through several runs testing prop modifications that this boat absolutely needs a larger prop to perform correctly. I did all my prop testing with (5) 80-lb concrete blocks (one not in pic) which I weighed on a scale plus me (205) for consistency across runs.
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IMAG0688.jpg

It would not perform properly with a 10" diameter or stock 10.25" diameter prop on a Copperhead 23. The engine would just hit max rpm's almost instantly and not go anywhere. Since it was a larger diameter than the 23 prop I have, I took the old 11" Hopkins prop which was from my 18 Copperhead and had it reworked to have similar cup and pitch to the 23 prop (but with more diameter) and the performance improved on this boat by great leaps and bounds. I was getting impatient with all the trips to the prop shop because I did not know what pitch the Hopkins was to start with, so I was guessing. I ended up going too high in pitch (cup drops rpm's also but can still increase speed as long as you do not add too much due to reduction in slipping so you have to keep that in mind). As a result, I am a little overpitched and lugging the engine now because I was having them make too many changes at one time, but even overpropped (think of this like starting a stick shift car from a stop in 2nd gear), it still accelerates orders of magnitude better than it did with the smaller diameter prop. I still have yet at this point to bring the prop back for that one last tweak to bring the pitch back down an inch. It will step 3 people now, which it would not do with the stock 10.25" prop on the 23. The last hunt I had 3 people, dog, 100+ decoys, icechest, stove, cooking gear, and some junk to make repairs to the blind and we got up on step in deep water though it was very slow going, but dropping back down in pitch to get my rpm's back where they are supposed to be should help with that. At the same time, I think this boat would work best with a modded 23 (I have no mods) and a larger prop is a requirement. The extra wide bottom(for this size boat anyway), helps it slide over mud, but without mods you do feel the weight at times. With my housing situation, I should have sold it months ago, but it is such a nice boat I am having trouble letting go of it even without a hunting place that requires a mud boat. If my financial situation changes, I will get my engine modded and then see what I can really get out of it.

I can pretty effortlessly destroy 0.05-0.08 factory boats and had wiped out several when I was a kid. My 0.1 hull has been to the welder for some cracks welded. This 0.125 with all the extra bracing will be able to take whatever I can throw at it, but there is always a tradeoff with weight and performance. Basically this is a nice boat if you add mods to your 23. If you don't have mods, I would stick to a lighter hull.

On the maiden voyage in January, I scared up a few million ducks in a bay. I am not sure you will be able to see them once uploaded except for the few higher in the foreground. The pic only shows a small portion of them but all of the dots are ducks. I went back with a shotgun and some decoys and decided to try visqueen as an open water camo which some people in the frozen north use, but it was an terrible failure. The ducks could see the visqueen for miles. I decided to try bare shiny metal with no camo or cover since the boat was not painted yet and shot a limit pretty quickly. The glare is almost unbelievable on open water with the sun low in the sky so apparently by the time they could tell the glare on the water from the glare on the shiny metal, I had already shot them. Late in the season millions of ducks sit out in the gulf to get away from the hunters and they are not all diving ducks when they are there en masse. Most days though it is mostly diving ducks which don't taste that good so I have not been back.
Attachment:
IMAG0426.jpg


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Thu Jul 14, 2016 8:27 pm
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