Today dawned bright, brisk and windy. The roads are dry for Blind Date as she begins her trek home to Texas under the care, control and custody of Frank Mole’, Franke Mole’ Transport Service.
We have been working with Frank for three years now, as he prices fairly, is absolutely professional and cares for each boat as if it is his own. He is worthy of your consideration the next time you need a vessel transported. Her transport cover was designed and fabricated by Chris Hanson, Marine Canvas, Shelburne, VT.
Chris chose a varnish-friendly fabric comprised of a Sunbrella outer layer and an inner, soft layer that will not mar varnished services as she makes her way to Texas.
Shauna Whiting, Kocian Instruments, Stacy, MN performed what were little short of miracles with Blind Date’s rusty gauge panel.
Robert Henkel, Peter Henkel, Inc., Marine City, MI, executed a complete tear-down and rebuild of her Chrysler M47 engine.
Mickey Dupuis, D&S Custom Metal Restoration, Holyoke, MA, took on the challenge of restoring all her hardware, bow light, etc.
We did the rest during her almost three years with us, in what has turned out to be both a highly challenging and super rewarding preservation project.
Today we blast through another milestone, well two, actually.
Our 1957 23’ Lyman Runabout helm seat reconfiguration challenge is behind us, and we are ready to disassemble her interior, ceilings, seating and lockers for final sanding followed by staining, sealing and varnishing.
That’s all well and very good, but what is far more worth celebrating is that RJ stepped into his Dad’s shoes and proved himself equal to the challenge of fabricating the port side of our new pair of helm seats and lockers. Knowing him as I do, I was absolutely confident he’d cross this personal milestone and prove to himself in the process that he’s ready to tackle our fabrication challenges. And all on the day before Thanksgiving! He and we have much to be thankful for, especially when it involves personal growth,, as this challenge has for RJ.
Congratulations RJ! We could not be prouder of your personal accomplishment. You’ve always been a can-do guy around here, but now you know you can contribute mightily to Snake Mountain Boatwork’s quest to deliver only the highest standards of craftsmanship.
She’s been in storage over the late winter, through spring and until now. Finally, Lake Champlain is below flood stage and heavy winds over recent weeks have driven floating logs and debris to shore. But, with rising north winds in the forecast and beginning now, we will likely choose another day this week to float her.
She fired and barked a few times, but now is running beautifully … love that Hercules grumble and growl!
We found a couple of leaky stopcocks, which we are switching out, and the thermostat is being a pain, but we will continue fighting with the engine.
As I hope is evident in the clip, we could not be happier with the final result.
Mickey Dupuis and his crew at D&S Custom Metal Restoration in Holyoke, MA, once again transformed pitted and pocked plating into jewelry.
Shauna Whiting, Kocian Instruments in Forest Lake, MN, once again masterfully restored her gauges.
Robert Henkel, Peter Henkel, Inc. in Marine City, MI, tore the engine down and rebuilt it, the transmission, and everything bolted onto it.
Joanie Alden, Vital Signs hand painted her registration lettering.
There’s nothing quite as rewarding is seeing over a year of blood, sweat and, yes, sometimes tears than watching our 1957 23-FT Lyman Runabout splash and cavort across the water. We spend many hours late yesterday afternoon sorting that #$%@+ carb out, but Blind Date shows everyone today that we finally did so. She’s so beautiful roaring across the water, growling all the way. Guess there’s not much else to say!
It “only” took us a bit over a year to reach today’s milestone, but it is here, and the engine run test went, well, pretty well, given that the engine sat for so long post-rebuild.
As you see in the clip, it ran beautifully and strongly, albeit with some stumbling, for about half an hour.
Then it began behaving like it was starving for gas, and finally was clearly in some distress. The carb was out prime suspect, so we pulled and disassembled it, only to find that, over the last year plus sitting in the shop, where temps and humidity rise and fall daily. The combination of the condensation and the carb sitting gunked it up, simply put. The jets were clogged and the float was sticking. (I guess I needn’t share our faux pas with the community, but am doing so to share the education we experienced today.)
Joe and RJ broke it down completely, cleaned it thoroughly to the point that it and all its components are now squeezy clean.
We bolted it back on, hooked all the linkages and choke up, and hit the key. That’s all and a bit of tuning was what she wanted.
She now roars to life, idles smoothly and accelerates without stumbling. Now she is running like a Swiss watch for sure!
We’ll have her on the water tomorrow, which will be her first time in well over 20 years.
Sorry about the behemoth compressor firing up in the “background.” With five preservation projects fully engaged right now, I cannot simply shut the shop down when I shoot a video.
Finally, I am confident we have solved a chronic wood boat preservation conundrum, “My boat has an original bottom with open seams. I do not wish to, or in the case of a Striptite hull cannot, install a True 5200 Bottom. Nor do I typically drop her in the water where she lives all season. What are my options short of waiting for her to swell each time we launch and hope to use her?”
Hmmm …. Our stock answer has been, “Use Interlux Seam Compound for below water applications. It will remain elastic, compressible and able to withstand the swell-shrink cycle, even if the movement is miniscule, without overly compressing the wood on each side of the seam.” Save for two cases where a boat came back for new bottom paint and we found that some of the Seam Compound had become hard and brittle, I am still comfortable with it as a product that solves the problem. However….
OMG! Even when heated, it pays very, very poorly, and will fight you every inch of the way. What’s worse than all the time involved, Interlux recommends three applications.
There must be something better, especially in terms of ease and time cost of application.
I recently answered a query about the best material to use when sealing lapstrake topside strake seams with a small fillet. Our practice to date has been 3M5200, as long as the fillet is tiny, tiny in cross section, and any feathers beyond it are removed. One of you answered simply, “Use West G-Flex and you will be good.”
Hours and hours of subsequent research tells me that this person is correct. However, while two-part G-Flex is supplied in squeeze bottles and quart cans, Jamestown Distributors offers Thixo Flex, a TotalBoat brand version that is also two-part, satisfies G-Flex’s criteria for adhesion and lasting elasticity and is packaged in 10 oz. caulking tubes along with a mixing tip that delivers material in a fine stream that comes out having been mixed precisely.
Our tests, albeit only over several weeks rather than several years, and painfully small sampled, delivered a bond that is flexible and simply cannot be torn apart unless the wood fibers fail. After paying a seam’s worth, I use a super flexible putty knife to drive the material into the seam. (A plastic spreader may work as well, but I prefer the putty knife.)
The waste is scooped and spread into the next seam.
I should be able to finish the Captivator’s bottom spending about 2+ hours per side. Paying Seam Compound would take time measured in days, by contrast.
Once the Thixo Flex has cured, and after we’ve checked for any pin holes or holidays, we will sand the cured residue off the planks and seal the entire bottom with three full coats of Smith’s Clear Penetrating Epoxy Sealer.
Priming it with three coats of Pettit Tie Coat Primer 6627 will follow.
We must install the new transom bracing and transom before we can finish paying TotalBoat Thixo Flex into the bottom seams, however.
But with 90 percent of the varnishing behind us, we have focused on assembly.
A word of caution when you attack saving one of these wonderful Lymans. Consistent with Lyman practice, we installed Nautolex Marine Vinyl Flooring in Natural to all of the floor panels. The results are simply spectacular, as this rich mixture of hues compliments that the mahogany ceilings, engine box and seating in a manner that delivers coherence.
However, Nautolex sheets are almost one-sixteenth inch thick. Once you apply it to the face and wrap it around the edges, you have added almost one-eighth inch to each panel’s thickness. And, since these panels run beneath the helm seating, if John had, not accounted for that extra thickness, none of the components would have fit. John did and they do fit. Phew!
Even the varnish’s film thickness makes a difference when reassembly begins.
Bottom line, all of us must think and plan for how various coatings will alter dimensions.
Altering the floor levels at the helm so that they are level with the rest of the floor did give us a surprise. This alteration also changed the position of the shift lever pivot relative to the floor such that the lever could not be installed on the original mounting block.
RJ and Joe once again demonstrated their resourcefulness by simply installing the floor panel beneath the mounting block after they wrapped the latter in Nautolex, which renders the block almost invisible. Here is a great example of less is more.
The coaming is secured with screws passing vertically and countersinks plugged with mahogany bungs. I suspect it is more personal choice than anything else, but we applied the first ten coats of varnish to the covering boards first, and now have installed, stained and sealed the coamings. (Yes, they are bedded in 5200.)
We will complete the final varnishing of the decks, covering boards, coaming, transom and firewall, and continue assembling her over the next week or so, at which time her hardware will be installed. Then she will be off to upholstery, canvas and lettering.
With 59 degrees Fahrenheit today – and back to the twenties next week, it’s sure difficult not to at least dream about seeing her floating. But with Lake Champlain frozen solid from shore to shore, I fear we’d be insulting her terribly by dragging her down there now!
Stripping paint and varnish from antique and classic wood hulls must be the least rewarding element of their preservation. It’s all about getting it off.
That it is a cliché’ is immaterial. Preparation is 95%+ of great wood boat preservation. Cleaning the wood completely, until all traces of penetrating stain or surface coatings have vanished, is the cornerstone of thorough and complete preparation.
And, what with grain typically running in multiple directions, great care must be taken that the scrubbing involved here does not raise a forest of cross-grain scratches in the process. While we do sometimes reach for the heat gun when stripping paint, chemical stripping is our go-to method, especially when stripping bottom paint. The chemical stripper encapsulates any lead that might be released by the stripper, where there is danger in using a heat gun that exceeds 1,100 degrees Fahrenheit, the temperature at which lead vaporizes.
Stripping varnish with a heat gun has advantages, not the least of which is that the waste flakes off in a dry state, which obviates the need for taping areas off lest dribs and drops of chemical stripper fall on them. But, as is evident in the clop, and RJ’s implicit expressed disdain for heat, it is both slower and potentially more damaging to wood, especially those portions of the hull that will be finished bright.
Burning the wood or dissolving the glue in plywood strakes of a lapstrake hull is the major risk when going the heat gun rout. Indeed, the blackened mahogany tells us that someone must have stripped our 1937 20’ Lyman Runabout’s hull sides with heat. What we found beneath the many, many layers of black paint and primer is a veritable sea of blackened leopard spots.
Fortunately, Eagle’s strakes will be painted. Even more fortunately, the same person did not strip the decks, covering boards, windshield and coamings, for sanding through the singed areas would require major thinning of the planks.
We are standardized on three BAHCO-Sandvik ergonomic scrapers and the wide variety of BAHCO carbide blades. Both are available from JamestownDistributors.com and Amazon.com.
BAHCO-Sandvik 650 Premium Ergonomic Carbide Scraper, 1”, 2” and 2.5” – a one-handed scraper
BAHCO-Sandvik 650 Premium Ergonomic Carbide Scraper, 1”, 2”, 2.5” – a “big dog” two-handed scraper with a knob just behind the blade.
BAHCO-Sandvik Premium Ergonomic Carbide Scraper, 1” – a small detail scraper
BAHCO Heavy Duty 2-Inch Replacement Scraper Blade #442
While we do occasionally give competing brands a chance to outperform it, nothing we’ve tried holds a candle to Jamestown Distributors’ Circa 1850 Heavy Body Paint and Varnish Remover. Period., at least during our nine months of winter when cold temperatures, snow and ice make stripping hulls outdoors with one of the spray-on strippers at best impractical.
Finally, after trying a dozen or so brands, we have settled on New Star Foodservice 54460 Extra Large Stainless Steel Sponges Scrubbers sold by Amazon.com. (https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00…)
RJ takes you through the steps needed to arrive at you clean wood goal.
Strip the surface material – varnish or paint – using the chemical stripper of your choice.
The Chemical Rout
Apply the stripper three times, allowing about 20 minutes working time between each of the coats.
Scrape with the wood grain using the two-hand scraper and long strokes.
Apply another coat of scraper. Let it work for five minutes or so and repeat the long-stroke, two-handed scraping.
Apply the stripper again, wait a minute or so, reach for the stainless-steel sponge scrubber and scrub the surface briskly with the grain until the wood is dry.
Avoiding produce long, deep scratches that result if excessive down pressure is applied. While we continue using the same sponge for job after job after job, reaching for a new one, which will be less aggressive on the wood, might be a good “first-time-through” strategy.
Congratulations! You have reached the clean-wood goal and are ready to bleach!
We truly believed we’d found any and all rot existing on Eagle’s hull, but forgot a major reality. Some sort of stained paste filler and varnish, which is what was used on parts of the foredeck and elsewhere on her hull, can hide all manner of deterioration.
In the Eagle’s case it hid rotted foredeck planks on both port and starboard along the seam between the covering boards and deck planks.
We now face releasing the coamings and dashboard if we wish to address these issues, and the required plank replacement properly.
This rot strengthens our resolve that the deck, coaming, windshield and covering boards be stripped to bare wood.
As I will amplify in our next update, just releasing varnish, whether chemically or using a heat gun, is only the first step in cleaning the wood. As is clear in the clip, scraping away the varnish leaves a residual-stain-mottled surface behind.
All of that stain must be scrubbed and bled out of the wood using Circa 1850 Heavy Bodied Paint & Varnish Remover (https://www.jamestowndistributors.com…), stainless steel pot scrubbers and lots of elbow grease. How clean is clean? You will know when you get there.
I will go into these last topics in greater depth later today.
We are almost there. Beginning with two raw boards yesterday morning, Joe and RJ have fabricated all the parts to Captivator’s new transom.
We allowed the glue in the tongue-and groove joint between the two transom planks to cure for 24 hours before removing the clamps.
Today they fabricated the interior transom frame using oak for the bottom bow and two side frames and Honduran mahogany for the center frame.
The individual oak components and the transom blank were cut to shape using the old material as patterns.
What cannot be patterned simply are the bevels and continuously-changing radii of the transom blank’s ends and the oak framing that runs up the hull sides. Sanding in with a belt sander is both tedious and exacting, and requires continual test fitting.
With the individual components fitting well, RJ and Joe assembled the new transom temporarily before final fitting ensues.
Once we have an excellent fit, the components will be released, final sanded, bleached, stained with Jel’d stain and sealed with three coats of CPES.
Sometime early next week Captivator’s new transom will be in place, bedded in 3M5200.