My 22’ 1953 Shepherd Model 110-S Runabout’s preservation is so, so close to the finish line!

But, with winter setting in, her sea trial must wait for spring 2017, which means May or later. I just cannot drop her into the water at the Sunnyland (Tavares, FL) ACBS show unless and until the sea trial, and all the final tweaks and adjustments that will almost certainly follow. (The show runs March 24-26, 2017, at which time Lake Champlain’s waters are still frozen hard.)

I have decided, therefore, to enter Flyin’ By, my 1938 19’ Chris-Craft double cockpit forward special runabout in her place.

Over the winter we will have Mickey Dupuis – D&S Custom Metal Restoration in Holyoke, MA – restore and plate all of her hardware anew.

While the hardware is at chrome, we will strip the bottom to bare wood, and refinish it as a traditional bottom. All surfaces will receive three coats of CPES, followed by the first of five coats of Interlux 2000E two-part barrier coat. The seams will then be filled with Interlux below-waterline seam compound before the subsequent four coats of 2000E are applied.

Next comes two coats of Pettit Tie Coat Primer, which will be followed by at least four coats of brilliant red Epifanes Monourethane.

The transom, topsides and decks will be carefully hand-sanded, starting out with 400 grit, before we apply 6 – 8 coats of Pettit Hi-Build varnish.

Once the varnish has cured for 30 days, we will buff it as we did Voodoo Child.

My betting is that we have some very late nights in our future!

Happy Hanukah and Merry Christmas!

 Offered at $16,750 – Fully & Professionally Restored 1964 25’ Lyman Sleeper, Eleonora & Tandem Axle Sea Lion Trailer

Eleonora, Hull Number K-1250, had languished in a shed on the shores of Lake George for years, when longtime Vermont TV journalist and WCAX TV (CBS) news anchor, Marselis Parsons, bought her and chose Snake Mountain Boatworks LLC to preserve her.

Save her we have! Watch Eleonora being launched and roaring back to life on Lake Champlain during her September 2012 Sea Trial. 

She moved to her new home at the Lake Champlain Yacht Club, LCYC, in Shelburne Bay, VT. From that port Marselis, his family and many friends enjoyed roaring at speeds approaching 40 knots across Lake Champlain. (She is powered by a 1984, 5.9 liter Chrysler V8 that produces 260 HP.)

She is now in cold inside storage, with all fees paid through May, 2017.

She offers you incredible originality, a dry bilge, all original and functioning gauges, throttle, shift lever, cushions and canvas. She has been updated with an Iva Lite, oiled teak swim platform and a Hummingbird depth sounder. She rides on a 2012, tandem axle, Disc Brake Sea Lion trailer

She is particularly turnkey.  She includes a color-coordinated set of green fenders and dock lines. Her full canvas is original, Lyman Customline, fabricated by Nielson Canvas Co., Sandusky, OH.

We lost Marselis to Cancer in 2015. At his family’s request, Snake Mountain Boatworks brought Eleonora into the shop in September 2016, and freshened her decks, topsides and bottom. She has been winterized and is waiting for her new stewards to own and launch her anew in 2017.

In preparation for offering her to new stewards, we freshened her bottom and topside paint, burnished and waxed her decks, windshield, covering boards and horizontal interior bright surfaces. (Several dings along her gunwale and foredeck edges were repaired and varnished anew.)

Her bottom was scraped, all dings and scrapes were repaired and inter-strake seams were sealed where needed, before she was spot primed with Pettit Tie Coat Primer. Her bottom then received three coats of Pettit Copper Bronze Antifouling paint.

Her topsides were sanded flat and then received three fresh coats of sea green Interlux Brightside Topside paint. (The new video errs in using “Wet Edge” instead of “Brightside.”)

Here are two new videos shot in November, 2016:

Meet Eleonora

2016 Engine Winterization

Following is a partial list of work we performed during the summer and fall of 2012, and thereafter.

  • Engine:
    • Compression test returned 150 PSI across all 8 cylinders
    • Cleaned and rebuilt the carburetor, water pump and distributor
    • Replaced the fuel pump, exhaust hoses and mufflers, coil, voltage regulator, belts and cooling system hoses
  • Bottom:
    • Repaired stem and knee
    • Stripped to bare wood and re-fastened
    • Sealed seams and applied three coats of Clear Penetrating Epoxy Sealer
    • Primed and painted – Pettit Tie Coat Primer and Copper Bronze Antifouling paint
  • Topsides (Note: Eleonora retains all of her original wood on her topsides, transom, decks and interior.)
    • Stripped to bare wood & refastened where necessary
    • Sealed seams and applied three coats of Clear Penetrating Epoxy Sealer
    • Primed with Interlux PreKote – three coats, sanding between coats
    • Applied three coats of Interlux Brightside Sea Green topside paint.
  • Transom – We were constrained by Marselis’ decision to leave her name unchanged, so could not strip the transom to bare wood. Fortunately, the lettering had already been varnished over.)
    • Sanded the surface flat
    • Applied four coats of Pettit Hi Build varnish
  • Decks, covering and coaming boards, and all horizontal surfaces in the cockpit and helm station
    • Stripped to bare wood, sanded, bleached and stained (Sandusky Paint Co., Lyman Mahogany Stain before applying three coats of Clear Penetrating Epoxy Sealer.
  • Running gear
    • The skeg, rudder and prop assembly, including the prop itself, were released. Their interior and exterior mounting surfaces were scraped to bare wood, after which they were sealed with Clear Penetrating Epoxy Sealer. All components were installed, bedded in 3M5200, and fastened using silicon bronze carriage bolts, flat and lock washers, and hex nuts.
  • Bilge – cleaned and scraped before applying two coats of Sandusky Lyman Sand Tan bilge paint.
  • Interior seating, cabinets, bulkhead and ceilings
    • Unfortunately, Marselis’ battle with Cancer began the same spring that we were scheduled to refinish the aft and helm station benches, seatbacks and bases, the bulkhead, and the two storage lockers situated behind the helm seats. As such, we did not address these issues. They remain as unfinished business for her next stewards to tackle, or have Snake Mountain Boatworks tackle on her behalf.

CONTACT: Michael Claudon by email: [email protected].


It was not without a bit of tension in the room as we raised the Hemi above Voodoo Child. That nobody was about armed with a blood pressure cuff was probably a good thing.

The lift rings do not fit beneath the carbs on the dual quad set-up. As we tossed alternate hook-up strategies back and forth, RJ asked, “Why don’t we just release the entire intake manifold and carbs?”

We did, and acquired a great deal of much needed flexibility in the process. Because of the V-drive, the engine cannot be dropped through the engine bay hatch. Rather it must be set on the engine logs ahead of the engine bay bridge and then teased aft, passing under the bridge.

Doing so requires that the lifting rings, which are initially fastened to two diagonally opposite corners of the intake manifold bolt holes, be repositioned several times.

Keeping the engine bay bridge protected, we lifted the engine and nudged the boat forward until the lift chain was almost touching the bridge, set the engine down and released the lifting chain.

With both rings attached at the aft corners of the intake bolt holes, we moved the boat further forward until the chain fall was above the hatch opening.

It took several reiterations of repositioning the rings, chain and chain fall, but finally, the engine sat in place on its mounts.

Next comes the tedious task of fine tuning the positioning so that the couplers on the transmission and prop shaft align perfectly.

Wow! Voodoo Child’s Dual Quad Four 331 Hemi V8 has a bark for sure… and torque.

She went through a comprehensive rebuild under the watchful eye of Robert Henkel, Peter Henkel Inc., Marine City, MI.

Robert now does all of our engines. I will not send them anywhere else. You can find him on the Web at, or email him at [email protected].

We will now winterize and fog the beast before we begin what will be a near Herculean task of installing the Hemi in Voodoo Child’s engine compartment.

Why Herculean? The engine and V-drive transmission will not fit through the engine hatch and must be dropped into the bilge ahead of the engine bay bridge, and then, using two chain falls, slowly teased under the bridge and onto the engine mounts.

The install can begin as soon as we’ve completed the engine’s winterization, as we have finished polishing her hull, which means all is go for reassembling her.

Arguments about how “best” to varnish a boat can become heated, and I am not taking sides here. We have experimented with buffing (polishing) varnish, most recently on the 1952 18’ Chris-Craft Riviera we preserved. Ridding the surface of haze was our nemesis with each effort.

Then I happened upon an intriguing article on “the practice of polishing varnish” that appeared in a recent copy of the Chris-Craft Antique Boat Club’s “The Brass Bell,” Here is a link to a scanned copy of the article in PDF format

Voodoo Child served as our lab rat for an experiment following the process described therein, one that began with allowing the varnish to cure for 30 days after the final coat was applied.

We were concerned about just how much varnish is polished away through this process, as sanding through would be a disaster, so we applied a full 20 coats of Pettit Easypoxy Hi-build varnish, let Voodoo Child sit for 30 days, and initiated the process November 2. We finished on November 7, having logged 42 hours from beginning to end.
Wet sanding begins with 1000 grit and sanding blocks, and proceeds through 1200 and 1500, all by hand. At that point we switched to a dual-action orbital sander, and proceeded wet sanding through progressively finer grits until we made one last pass with 5000 grit.

Even at this point it was clear that we are onto something special, as the surface was literally glowing.
Keeping the surface free of sanding residue is critical, lest that residue be ground back into the surface, creating scratches along the way.

Per the article’s guidance, we then switched to mechanical buffing, never exceeding 1,500 RPM. Several passes using Mequiar’s Mirror Glaze M101 Foam-cut Compound removed 1200 and finer scratches. We finished with Mequiar’s M205 Ultra Finishing Polish. The result is a deep and glossy, almost mirror-like surface.

Let’s get that engine in the bilge so we can begin the fun part, installing hardware, ceilings, seating, and the rest!

COWHIDE IIIOffered at $13,750: 1956 16-foot Century Cowhide Palomino & Tee Nee Trailer

With hull number “P5652” is still stamped on her transom, this completely preserved 1956 “Cowhide” Century Palomino is as original a boat as I have ever seen. We did not replace a single scrap of wood. 

She is a one-owner boat and among a tiny number, perhaps as few as 2-4, survivors of the cowhide-upholstered, black Palomino model that Century built for a single year.


  • Save for her burgee, stern flag and seat cushions, which we had fabricated using the same 1956 NOS cowhide fabric, from the same vendor that Century Boat Company used in 1956, every bit of her upholstery is original.
  • The bottom planking was stripped bare, received 3 coats of CPES, primed with 5 coats of Interlux 2000E Marine barrier coat, followed by 4 coats of Pettit hard racing bronze.COWHIDE I
  • The topsides, transom, decks and covering boards were stripped bare and sealed with 3 coats of CPES prior to applying 12 coats of Pettit High-Build varnish and 6 coats of JD Total Boat Wet Edge topside black paint.
  • The hardware, windshield, stainless trim strips, Century hull tags and windshield, are all original, and were fully restored by New England Chrome Plating, East Hartford, CT.
  • Fran Secor of Otego, NY, executed a comprehensive rebuild and cosmetic engine restoration.
  • The original 1956 Tee Nee trailer has been completely disassembled, sand blasted, re-painted and reassembled. The wiring and wheel bearings are new.


Offered at $21,500: 1956 17’ Chris-Craft Special Sportsman

This 1956 17’ Chris-Craft Special Sportsman is completely original. She is hull number C-17 3708, which, according to Conrad, makes her a 1957, but her build sheet identifies her as a 1956.

She has the blonde king plank and split helm seat, which is a 1957 treatment, but her straight windshield was typical of the 1956 model.

That she is identified as a “Special Sportsman” also points at 1956.

No, she is not a “marriage of convenience,” put-together boat. We purchased her from her second owner, who, in turn purchased her from the original owner, his son. Both father and son took and saved documentation, including her original build sheet. She stands before you now as she left Algonac.

The immediate prior owner, and electrical engineer, began restoring her at least 15 years ago. I purchased her as an empty hull with engine still installed, and with every part, piece, even the screws carefully sorted and tagged.

Upon arrival at the shop we did a complete inventory and realized that nothing was missing.


Engine Test:
Sea Trial:

Our comprehensive preservation included

  • Engine and transmission
    • Complete teardown and rebuild
    • Conversion to 12 volts
    • Generator replaced with a one-wire alternator, which enhances reliability hugely
    • Points ignition replaced with Pertronix for hotter spark and enhanced reliability
  • Gas tank – The previous owner provided a new, exact copy of the original tank, as well as the original one
  • Bilge – Painted with 3 coats of Sandusky Paint Company Chris-Craft red bilge paint
  • Floor panels – Covered with black small-ribbed rubber sheeting that is correct for Chris-Craft
  • Mickey Dupuis, D & S Custom Metal Restoration, Holyoke, MA, restored all of the hardware
  • Kocian Instruments executed a comprehensive mechanical and cosmetic restoration of the gauges
  • Roger Towle, Snake Mountain Boatworks, restored the wheel
  • Marks Upholstery, Middlebury, VT, fabricated new upholstery in Chris-Craft red
  • Hull – was stripped to bare wood inside and out. Every square inch of wood received 3 coats of CPES ahead of any finishing.
    • Bottom planking released, interior ½” plywood sheathing refastened. The sheathing and planks were sealed with 3 coats of CPES before being re-installed bedded in 3M 5200.
    • The topsides, decks, covering boards, ceilings, seating, seat boxes, engine box and dash were bleached, stained either blonde or mahogany as appropriate.
    • All bright surfaces received at least 16 coats of Pettit High-Build varnish
    • Below the waterline, the hull received 5 coats of Interlux 2000-E barrier coat, followed by 4 coats of Pettit hard racing bronze bottom paint
  • Sea Lion trailer
    • Galvanized box beam bunk trailer with electric disc brakes
    • Fewer than 150 miles since purchased new by Snake Mountain Boatworks.
    • Extended bow tower, which greatly eases retrieval from the water, and guarantees that the bow winch line never touches the boat
    • According to Conrad, the 17’ Special Sportsman weighs between 1,600 and 1,800 pounds. The trailer’s GVRW is 3,800 pounds, more than sufficient to carry the boat easily and smoothly.

1956 Chris-Craft Special Sportsman Information Sheet

Honest, the Shepherd has not been neglected. There is just so many time a video of her as the coats of Pettit Hi-Build varnish are applied.

However, with the 16th coat cured, we will sand her flat, apply three more coats, sand her again and then apply the 20th and final coat.

Finally she will have enough varnish on her that we can do a final sanding/buffing process, after which we can begin installing her components.

She WILL be in the water before snow flies! (I do not believe we had any snow until after the Holidays last year.)

No, we have not banished my 1953 22’ Shepherd Model 110-S to storage. As reported in a related clip, her 331 cubic inch V-drive Hemi is in storage awaiting its installation.

As of yesterday afternoon, John and RJ have rolled and tipped the first 6 foundational coats to her hull, seating and related components. Unfortunately, the humidity climbing and predicted to reach near 80% today and tomorrow, so all varnishing must cease for the time being.

We sanded the entire hull and all of the components flat using 100 and 220 before applying the 6th coat, something we will do again once 3 additional coats have been rolled and tipped.

As is evident in the clip, that Pettit Hi-Build varnish is almost completely clear, it does not change the color of the yellow Sikaflex.

We are not quite to 1/3 of our eventual goal, which is 20 coats, with sanding at ever finer grits between each set of 3 coats.

It is Monday, so must be seam-semi-filling day. John, RJ and I have been wrestling with how best to execute this task. The bottom of each seam must be filled completely – no voids allowed. Yet the mahogany Sikaflex 191 LOT must not intrude upon each seam’s top edges. They must remain crisp and uniformly sharp.

Our regular seaming technique, filling each seam to be even with the deck’s surface, and then removing the smallest bit to leave a uniformly curved concave surface using one of our shop-made spoons of the appropriate radius.

We tried using a reefing hook backwards, but it is quite heavy and cleaned too much Sikaflex out of the seam.
Then Vermont ingenuity kicked in, when John grabbed a paint stick and tested it in a seam. Perfect. We had our leveling-cleaning tool. But how best might we pay the material into the seam? The standard tip that comes with the 10 oz. tube is just too large, even at the very end. Enter a pair of plyers.

John squeezed the tip, which now fit down into the groove and tested an engine hatch seam. He typically needs two passes to ensure there are no voids or bubbles, but what we did not see was material pushing up and out of the seam.

Several passes with the stirring stick, making sure he was applying the lightest possible pleasure, followed by a wipe down with a cotton shop cloth and, voila, the seam is filled perfectly.

Added bonus: John did the entire engine hatch using less than an inch of the material in the 10 oz. Sikaflex 291 LOT tube!

Sure, we found a super low-rent solution to a vexing challenge, but it is quick, certain and delivers exactly the outcome we were seeking.

Bleaching is in our wake. Now the real fun begins. Bleaching is easy. Apply it over and over, keeping the surface wet. Let it dry. Lightly sand it with 320 grit. Call it good.

Staining? Get ready for exhausted shoulders, arms and especially hands and fingers! We used Interlux Interstain Wood Filler Stain, 2 parts of Chris Craft Red Mahogany (0573) to 1 part of Brown Mahogany (042), thinned to the consistency of thick house paint using Interlux Brushing Liquid 333

The 22-foot Shepherd’s seemingly endless expanses of mahogany presents two challenges when staining. The thinner tends to gas off, causing the working stain to become ever more viscous. We found ourselves thinning the “soup” anew multiple times as we applied stain.

The real challenge, however, is controlling the degree to which the stain is flashing in front of us as we worked, always cross-grain, rubbing the stain into the valleys while removing it. (We use cheese cloth here.) Getting anxious and scrubbing away too soon produces a very weak, almost totally transparent outcome.

Waiting too long and the stain flashes to being nearly dry to the touch, which renders that stain virtually impossible to scrub into the grain and off the surface.

Even though we had masked off all but three boards along ta seam on the topsides, we found ourselves racing against flashing …. and losing. (It was uncomfortably hot in the shop and we had a fan running, which only compounded the rate at which we were losing the race against excessive flashing,

No amount of swearing, scrubbing or sweating made any difference. What to do? In desperation I wet a new shop towel with 333 and went at if. Voila! The stain liquefied just enough so I could scrub it into and off the surface. (My shop towel was wetted to the point of being damp, not dripping with the 333. While I have not experimented doing so yet, my gut tells me that applying too much 333 risks washing the stain away prematurely and excessively.)

In any case, after a long, long day that ran well into the evening, she is stained.

What a great way to celebrate my birthday!