1951 Penn Yan 18′ Stern Drive Transport – Steam Bending a New Stem

Once again, Don Danenberg’s bible of wood boat restoration more than pays for itself.

Unlike most “trade” book, which tend to be all true, but absolutely NOT actionable, Don’s The Complete Wooden Runabout Restoration Guide, has but one mission, teaching the rest of us the art of wooden boat preservation.

Page 73, for example, presents a step-by-step how-to guide for fabricating a simple, but highly powerful steam generator. We built ours from his plans and materials roster. It has served us well for ten years. (The heating coils do burn out from time to time, especially if we get distracted and the sight tube goes dry.)

Why not just fire up the big band saw and cut the new stem out of a wide, and in this case very wide, white oak plank? Hmmm … doing so means having end grain, which will fray and split over time, along the outer face of the stem.

Well, just read Danenberg for the details.

Sadly, the video camera had a brain freeze and I lost the footage I shot covering pulling the blank out of the steam box and racing with it to the form. The trick is starting from the “short” end, the one closest to the stem’s sharpest curve. Joe clamped the end in place and then added clamps as RJ slowly bent the blank around the form.

Finally, they reached the other end, and then worked back and forth tightening the clamps.

We will leave things be for a week while the wood dries in the desired shape.

Then we will stain and seal it with multiple coats of Clear Penetrating Epoxy Sealer (CPES). Milestone!