1948 Truscott Barrelback Runabout True 5200 Bottom Update

1948 Truscott Barrelback Runabout True 5200 Bottom Update

Our 1948 20’ Truscott Barrelback Runabout “graduated” from Danenberg pre-soaking with flying colors. We, well, Joe, trimmed the 5200 squeeze-out from the seams as we waited for the planking to exude excess moisture until it reached 15-17 percent when metered.

After applying four full coats of CPES, with the second one applied immediately after the first, and allowing it to cure fo0r 48 hours, we began priming her bottom using Interlux InterProtect 2000E Barrier Coat primer.

Then, beginning last Friday with gray, I applied five thin coats, alternating between gray and white, and thereby finishing with a fifth gray coats yesterday afternoon. Alternating colors helps identify holidays, and finishing with gray, which covers more easily, delivers a uniformly gray surface.

Following a quick scuffing with medium Scott pads and wiping down with a microfiber cloth dampened in acetone, it was time to begin applying Pettit VIVID Antifouling Bottom Paint this morning. You are viewing her after I applied the first coat this morning. The minimum recoating interval at 90 degrees F is four hours, and it is eight hours at 70 degrees F according to Pettit’s product information included on this page. It is 80 degrees F in here today, so I will apply a second coat later today.

Please visit our Materials & Sources page for a roster of and sources for most of the materials we use.

1948 Truscott Barrelback Runabout Danenberg Pre-Soaking Results

1948 truscott barrelback runabout-danenberg pre-soaking results

Our 1948 19.5-foot Truscott barrelback deluxe runabout survived Don Danenberg’s “Pre-Soaking” step in the process of installing what her terms a True 5200 Bottom.

We thoroughly wetted down her hull and left it soaking beneath a layer of .15 mil plastic sheeting, and then did our utmost to wiped out all of the air bubbles, per Don’s guidance.

We then repeated this step yesterday. This video presents the results after having removed the plastic film this morning, July 18. As Don predicts, there is now 3M5200 squeeze out standing proud of virtually all of the bottom plank seams.

Next, as Joe illustrates here, we are using a multi-purpose razor blade scraper with its angled handle to slice the 5200 fair with the bottom planks.

The result? The bottom is tight, tight, tight! The topsides, which we kept wet under the plastic film as well, have also swelled and closed the intra-plank seams noticeably.

After the moisture content gets down to 15%-18%, we will make one final pass with our longboard sanders, and apply multiple coats of CPES, with the first two applied one immediately after the other and allow it to cure for 24 hours before we apply the final two coats.

Five coats on Interlux InterProtect 2000E Barrier Coat Epoxy Primer, with a goal of reaching a 10 mil film thickness. Finally, she will receive three coats of Rochelle Red Interlux Perfection 2-Part Polyurethane paint. Yes, this is a topside paint. However, since she will be dry sailed and therefore remain dry when she’s not in the water, this topside paint, which Jamestown carries and is available in many colors, will serve the purpose nicely.

All that said, given what we see as very positive results, Danenberg-Pre-Soaking will henceforth be a regular component of Sanke Mountain Boatworks’ True 5200 bottoms.

Here for those of you who did not click on the “SHOW MORE” link in the last two videos on the subject, is the excerpt included therein:

Don has just published yet another incredible how-to article, Using Common Sense Is Allowed, pp. 44-55, Classic Boating, July/August 2022, which is a must-read for anyone serious about wooden boat preservation. (To the fellow who savaged me, claiming “Don Danenberg is my friend, and I know he would never wet a hull down and cover it with plastic sheeting,” please pay attention …) “…The outside bottom of the hull can now be … be hosed down with fresh water. “The next procedure I call pre-soaking. After the bottom planks are thoroughly wetted out, I cover the entire bottom with a very thin plastic sheet (.35 mil) and rub out all of the air bubbles as if the plastic were Saran Wrap. The thinner the plastic, the better this works. Cheap painters’ drop cloths work well. For the next two days peel up edges of the plastic to wet it and again rub out the air bubbles. This procedure changes the moisture content of the wood and causes it to swell, forcing out all excess rubber and, hopefully any trapped air. “The equilibrium moisture content for the wood in your boat is dictated by the average relative humidity and temperature of the environment your boat lives in. For example, in most of the United States with lakes, it is in the 18% range, while in Arizona, it is 11%. “Kiln dried mahogany from my suppliers is in the 6-10% range. Changes in overall moisture content of the wood can be retarded by protective coatings, not prevented. I know if this boat is to be kept in Michigan, this wood will eventually learn to exist at roughly 18% moisture content. Personally, I feel it wise to set it to this level before sealing it. (Claudon note: I received precisely the same advice from Don about the rest of the hull’s exterior planking.) … “When properly sealed against seasonal variations in relative humidity, this type of construction exhibits little or no expansion or contra traction great enough to crack the enamel paint at the plank seams. In order for this to work, of course, the bottom must be well sealed from excessive moisture absorption from extensive periods in the water. “After two days of wetting the bottom, allow it to set for two more days until the moisture is noticeably absorbed and the surface appear dry. Remove the plastic and allow the surface to become completely dry. Now you must quickly cut off all the excess rubber, fill in all the screw holes, grind and fair the bottom, and get it sealed before it dries too much.” (pp 51, 55)

1948 Truscott Barrelback Runabout Danenberg Pre-Soaking Experiment

1948 truscott barrelback-runabout danenberg pre-soaking experiment

The extensive write-up accompanying our July 8, 2022, update on my pair of 1948 Truscotts introduced you to Don Danenberg’s “Pre-Soaking” step in the process of installing what her terms a True 5200 Bottom.

So … here she is, thoroughly wetted down and soaking beneath a layer of .15 mil plastic sheeting. Don stipulates that all bubbles be wiped out, a task we discovered is easier to speak about than execute.

We will now leave our lab rat for 2-3 days. If there is significant squeeze out, as Don predicts, we will shave strips off the seams until they are fair. If we have yet to see significant squeeze out, she will be soaked anew and again swaddled in plastic film.

Our one departure here is that Rick had already filled and faired the countersinks using 3M Premium Marine Filler. Don advises holding off doing so until we are on the other side of pre-soaking, something we will surely do when my other Truscott, the 18.5-foot utility, gets pre-soaked. Here is the link to that video.

That write-up includes the following excerpts from Don’s latest Classic Boating magazine article” It was all provisionally sanded fair. Rick is now almost finished filling countersinks and declivities 3M Premium Marine Filler. He will then sand the bottom, chines, hullsides and transoms fair a final time. However, we will then use her as a Don-Danenberg-inspired lab rat. Don has just published yet another incredible how-to article, Using Common Sense Is Allowed, pp. 44-55, Classic Boating, July/August 2022, which is a must-read for anyone serious about wooden boat preservation. (To the fellow who savaged me, claiming “Don Danenberg is my friend, and I know he would never wet a hull down and cover it with plastic sheeting,” please pay attention …) “…The outside bottom of the hull can now be … be hosed down with fresh water. “The next procedure I call pre-soaking. After the bottom planks are thoroughly wetted out, I cover the entire bottom with a very thin plastic sheet (.35 mil) and rub out all of the air bubbles as if the plastic were Saran Wrap. The thinner the plastic, the better this works. Cheap painters’ drop cloths work well. For the next two days peel up edges of the plastic to wet it and again rub out the air bubbles. This procedure changes the moisture content of the wood and causes it to swell, forcing out all excess rubber and, hopefully any trapped air. “The equilibrium moisture content for the wood in your boat is dictated by the average relative humidity and temperature of the environment your boat lives in. For example, in most of the United States with lakes, it is in the 18% range, while in Arizona, it is 11%. “Kiln dried mahogany from my suppliers is in the 6-10% range. Changes in overall moisture content of the wood can be retarded by protective coatings, not prevented. I know if this boat is to be kept in Michigan, this wood will eventually learn to exist at roughly 18% moisture content. Personally, I feel it wise to set it to this level before sealing it. (Claudon note: I received precisely the same advice from Don about the rest of the hull’s exterior planking.) … “When properly sealed against seasonal variations in relative humidity, this type of construction exhibits little or no expansion or contra traction great enough to crack the enamel paint at the plank seams. In order for this to work, of course, the bottom must be well sealed from excessive moisture absorption from extensive periods in the water. “After two days of wetting the bottom, allow it to set for two more days until the moisture is noticeably absorbed and the surface appear dry. Remove the plastic and allow the surface to become completely dry. Now you must quickly cut off all the excess rubber, fill in all the screw holes, grind and fair the bottom, and get it sealed before it dries too much.” (pp 51, 55)

1948 Truscott Barrelback Runabout True 5200 Bottom

1948 truscotts barrelback runabout 5200 bottom

Our 1948 Truscott Barrelback Runabout has almost blasted through her True 5200 Bottom milestone! Her cousin, our 1948 Truscott utility’s stripping milestone is behind her.

I am now comfortable with having consigned both Truscotts to be fully preserved and resting on their identical Loadmaster custom trailers sitting on the green at the 2022 ACBS International Show in Burlington, VT, September 9 and 10. We hope to see you there!

After replacing a couple of the runabout’s rotted bottom frames and installing a new inner skin comprised of 4 mm Meranti mahogany marine plywood six-inch-wide planks laid at an approximately 45 degree angle with respect to the chines and keel, all of which was bedded in 3M5200, we fabricated and installed outer planking using three-eighths FAS-grade Meranti mahogany plywood, also bedded in 3M5200.

It was all provisionally sanded fair. Rick is now almost finished filling countersinks and declivities 3M Premium Marine Filler. He will then sand the bottom, chines, hullsides and transoms fair a final time. However, we will then use her as a Don-Danenberg-inspired lab rat.

Don has just published yet another incredible how-to article, Using Common Sense Is Allowed, pp. 44-55, Classic Boating, July/August 2022, which is a must-read for anyone serious about wooden boat preservation. (To the fellow who savaged me, claiming “Don Danenberg is my friend, and I know he would never wet a hull down and cover it with plastic sheeting,” please pay attention …) “…The outside bottom of the hull can now be … be hosed down with fresh water.

“The next procedure I call pre-soaking. After the bottom planks are thoroughly wetted out, I cover the entire bottom with a very thin plastic sheet (.35 mil) and rub out all of the air bubbles as if the plastic were Saran Wrap. The thinner the plastic, the better this works. Cheap painters’ drop cloths work well. For the next two days peel up edges of the plastic to wet it and again rub out the air bubbles. This procedure changes the moisture content of the wood and causes it to swell, forcing out all excess rubber and, hopefully any trapped air.

“The equilibrium moisture content for the wood in your boat is dictated by the average relative humidity and temperature of the environment your boat lives in. For example, in most of the United States with lakes, it is in the 18% range, while in Arizona, it is 11%.

“Kiln dried mahogany from my suppliers is in the 6-10% range. Changes in overall moisture content of the wood can be retarded by protective coatings, not prevented. I know if this boat is to be kept in Michigan, this wood will eventually learn to exist at roughly 18% moisture content. Personally, I feel it wise to set it to this level before sealing it. (Claudon note: I received precisely the same advice from Don about the rest of the hull’s exterior planking.)

“When properly sealed against seasonal variations in relative humidity, this type of construction exhibits little or no expansion or contra traction great enough to crack the enamel paint at the plank seams. In order for this to work, of course, the bottom must be well sealed from excessive moisture absorption from extensive periods in the water.

“After two days of wetting the bottom, allow it to set for two more days until the moisture is noticeably absorbed and the surface appear dry. Remove the plastic and allow the surface to become completely dry. Now you must quickly cut off all the excess rubber, fill in all the screw holes, grind and fair the bottom, and get it sealed before it dries too much.” (pp 51, 55)

Unfortunately, we received Classic Boating and read Don’s piece after we began fairing the countersinks in our runabout’s bottom.

We will execute Don’s Pre-wetting procedure completely on the utility.

Priming – five coats of Interlux 2000E Barrier Coat Primer Will be followed followed by applying multiple coats of red hard antifoul paint.

1940 Chris Craft Barrelback True 5200 Bottom Milestone

1940 chris craft barrelback 5200 bottom

Priscilla, our 1940 seventeen-foot Chris-Craft Runabout has blasted through her True 5200 Bottom milestone!

After replacing nearly half of her rotted bottom framing and installing a new inner skin comprised of 4 mm Meranti mahogany marine plywood six-inch-wide planks laid at an approximately 45 degree angle with respect to the chines and keel, all of which was bedded in 3M5200, we fabricated and installed outer planking using three-eighths FAS-grade Meranti mahogany plywood, also bedded in 3M5200.

It was all sanded fair with countersinks and declivities filled using 3M Premium Marine Filler before being faired and sealed with CPES a final time.

Priming – five coats of Interlux 2000E Barrier Coat Primer – was followed by applying multiple coats of dark green Interlux Ultra-Coat hard antifoul paint.

We will now flip her upright, repair several dings and gouges and then hand block sand her using 250 and 600 grit. Finally, she will receive upwards of ten coats of Pettit Captain’s Ultra Clear varnish and buffed.

Once she is reassembled, she will be ready for her final milestone, returning home to Delaware, OH.

How to Stain and Varnish

lake oswego boat co.
Guest post by Mike Mayer of Lake Oswego Boat Co.

“Here’s how I do it, thanks for asking”… This was a section in Classic Boating written by Don Danenberg years ago and my dad and I used to always say that before a conversation. We thought it was funny…

SURFACE PREP

Once all of the woodwork is done, or if you are just stripping for a re-stain, you need to make sure the hull is perfectly fair and that there are no cross grain scratches.

If I am fairing a newly planked boat I may start with 36G on a grinder to fair the hull. Once the hull is rough faired I move on to a smaller random orbital sander (RO) starting with 40G and working up to 100G. Once I get to 100G on the RO I go back to 60G with a long board or some other device to sand with the grain, by hand. Be careful not to sand sideways or sand into the coverboards or any other opposing grain. I sand all the way to 100G and then stop. Some guys go higher but I don’t. The stain and varnish need some “tooth” to bite into. Plus, by the time I’ve gone this far I’m tired of sanding!

Once you are done… or THINK you are done, it is a good idea to wipe the boat with Methanol. Methanol will show the grain and any cross grain scratch without raising the grain. Plus it evaporates quickly so you can keep moving along.

Be careful not to “re-sand” one specific area for too long because this will show at the end. If you have scratches in one small 4” area… sand that but then stretch it out to 16”-24” until it is all blended together.

I always re sand the whole boat once all the cross grain scratches are gone with 100G. It is so important to make sure that the last time you sand you have sanded the entire boat, not just a section.

If you should find some minor scratches while you are staining you can actually sand them out while the stain is wet. Keep some good paper handy and just sand it out. Re-stain, move on and pretend it never even happened. No one will know and it will blend. If you were using filler stain you will not enjoy this luxury. Trust me!

STAIN APPLICATION

Apply the stain right out of the can. No mixing or thinning required. If you have purchased more than one can of the same color for the same project it’s a good idea to mix both cans together so you are assured the same exact color throughout. I mix these by hand so there is potential for slight differences between batches. It may be easier to transfer the stain to a less deep container with a larger opening. I use a Tupperware container.

If your decks are two-tone it is best to do the larger space first, seal it and then tape it off to do the smaller area. For dark cover boards I first stain them red and then go over the red with the dark cover board stain. Make sure the red is dry before going over with the dark color. Once the dark coat is dry it is OK to seal.

  1. Apply stain with a white T-shirt rag. Apply in a circular motion. Remove the same way… I use two rags for removal. A first pass rag and then a final pass rag when I’m done. When applying I “Scrub” the stain into the grain. It’s important to fill all of the grain. (In full disclosure… I actually use a chip brush to apply. It uses more stain but it’s easier on my finger tips)
  2. Removal. Removing the stain is important but not nearly as difficult as it is with filler stain. It is always good to be consistent with the process. The same person should apply consistently the whole time and if you have a helper they should remove stain in the same way. Eventually the “first pass” rag becomes saturated so promote the “second pass” rag to first position and get a clean one for final wipe. When you are done wipe the whole boat with a clean rag, with the grain.
  3. Let the stain dry for at least 24 hours. You do NOT want to seal stain that isn’t fully dried. Longer is better. Especially in cooler or higher humidity
  4. DO NOT PILE THE RAGS!!! When you are done open them up on the shop floor or take them outside and open them up to dry. This stain is not very combustible but we don’t take any chances with this.

SEALING

There are many different ways to do this… ask five restorers and you will get five answers. Maybe six… you can seal with sealer, CPES or thin the varnish you will be using. There are probably more theories but these are the most common.

  1. I am an Epifanes guy. I seal with Epifanes Wood Finish Gloss and I thin it according to the can for application over bare wood. I put two coats on, quickly, right over each other. I do the deck first…start at starboard bow and work back and around. Then I do it again. I then start at the starboard bow and hit the sides. I go around the boat twice. I use a 4” chip brush because I’m cheap. And yes… I spend some time pulling bristles out. But they come out the next day and after a few coats of varnish you’re fine. You will never know they were there.
  2. Varnish – My first coat of varnish is thinned as instructed on the can. Again, I am using Epifanes WF Gloss for all of my build coats. I apply varnish with a foam roller and a foam brush, employing the “roll and tipl” method. I have found that the Epifanes rollers and tray work best. I use Red Tree foam brushes. I usually go through two or three brushes per coat. One roller is fine for one coat but multiple brushes are usually necessary because they “load” with varnish. As odd as it seems, I used to use Home Depot rollers but something changed and I was getting bubbles and all sorts of stuff I couldn’t control. I spoke with Epifanes tech assist and he told me to try the Epifanes roller and tray. I tried their roller and I had better but not perfect results. I called back and he asked if I was using their tray. I thought he was crazy but I started using their tray and it is definitely an improvement.
  3. More Varnish. I started using Epi WF Gloss because you don’t have to sand between coats if you re-coat within 72 hours. I put on 4-5 coats and then sand with a random orbital sander and 220G. Be careful… 4-5 coats isn’t that much and you can sand through easily.
  4. After sanding I vacuum and wipe the boat down. I use blue shop towels and Windex for this. You can use thinner or whatever you want to get the residual dust off`. This works for me…it’s cheap and does the job and it doesn’t stink. These build coats are important but not critical. A little dust in the 6th coat is not a big deal.
  5. Build coats. All of these build coats are just dress rehearsals for the money coat(s). Practice your technique now so when it’s show time you are comfortable with the process.
  6. Final coats. I stop with Wood Finish at about 10 coats and then start with wiring, installing fuel tank, motor, floorboards, seam compound etc. Once I’m done climbing in and out and ready for final coats I sand again with the RO and 320G
  7. Final coats. I use Epifanes Clear Varnish for my final coats. This is compatible with the Wood Finish but does require sanding between coats. This is when I start wet sanding and try to get the finish perfectly smooth.

SUMMARY

At the end of the day….have fun with this.

In the worst case scenario you will have to sand off all of your hard work and start over. But that won’t happen.

If you have questions give me a call.

Thanks again! 

Mike Mayer of Lake Oswego Boat Co.

1940 17 Chris Craft Barrelback 5200 Bottom Planking Update

1940 chris craft barrelback bottom planking

Priscilla, our 1940 17-foot Barrelback “lab rat” experiment is progressing rapidly now that we finally took delivery and milled the Meranti mahogany planking needed to complete her True 5200 bottom. As we shared in our last update, rather than install her inner skin using 6 mm plywood panels, we are reverting to what is a truly very old school alternative: replacing the inner skin using strips of planking laid at approximately 45 degrees to the keel.

In so doing, we will deliver a bottom, the inner skin of which precisely matches that installed in Algonac in 1940.

Once we dry-fitted each, approximately 5-3/4”-wide plank, everything was sealed with four coats of Smith’s CPES, after which we have applied three coats of Chris-Craft mahogany bilge paint to their inner surfaces. Next, we installed these planks bedded in mahogany 5200 using #6×1” Frearson-drive, flathead silicon bronze wood screws.

Happily, her bilge now presents exactly as it did when Priscilla left Algonac in 1940.

Planking the inner skin produces a tighter, more rigid skin that follows the bottom’s contours precisely. Any interior squeeze-out will be removed using nylon putty knives before it, too, receives three full coats of Chris-Craft mahogany bilge paint.

Post this experiment, SMB will make individually planking inner skins our standard for SMB True 5200 bottoms.

With the Meranti planking in-hand, and having milled it to land fair with the chines, and began dry fitting it to her bottom. Our first step involves measuring both bottom faces at their widest point between the keel and the chine.

Here, and as we’ve shared with you earlier, we once again confirmed that Chris-Craft’s rule-of-thumb was operating at Algonac when her hull was being laid out. She is 7/8” wider on port than she is on starboard at the widest point between her keel and chines. And, at the transom, she is a 1/2” wider on starboard than she is on port.

Joe will dry fit and fasten the outer planks temporarily, working from her keel to her chines. Once laid out completely, the planks will be released and sealed on all sides with four coats of Smith’s CPES. We will also apply one final “insurance” coat of CPES to her inner skin’s bottom.

The final assembly step involves bedding each outer plank in an at least one-eight-inch-thick bed of white 3M5200, before fastening them with #8×1-1/4” flathead silicon bronze wood screws. Finally, and that’s when she really begins looking good, we apply five coats of Interlux InterProtect 2000E Barrier Coat Epoxy Primer, with alternating gray and white coats, which helps expose any holidays. Per Interlux’s instructions, 2000E should be applied in thin coats.

1940 Chris Craft Barrelback 5200 Bottom Planking

1940 chris craft barrelback 5200 bottom

Priscilla, our 1940 17-foot Barrelback became our lab rat today as we tested what we are calling a New Day at Snake Mountain Boatworks when installing a truly True 5200 bottom.

Rather than install her inner skin using 6 mm plywood panels, we are reverting to what is a truly very old school alternative: replacing the inner skin using 6mm strips of planking laid at approximately 45 degrees to the keel.

In so doing, we are able to deliver a bottom, the inner skin of which precisely matches that installed in Algonac in 1940.

Once we have dry-fitted each, approximately 5-3/4”-wide plank, everything will be sealed with four coats of Smith’s CPES, and we have applied three coats of Chris-Craft mahogany bilge paint to the inner surfaces, we will then install these planks bedded in mahogany 5200 using #6×1” Frearson-drive, flathead silicon bronze wood screws.

Once finished, the bilge will present exactly as it did when Priscilla left Algonac in 1940.

We will then proceed as we do with all SMB True 5200 bottoms, installing the outer mahogany planks bedded in white 5200 using #8×1-1/4” Frearson drive, flathead, silicon bronze wood screws.

Planking the inner skin produces a tighter, more rigid skin that follows the bottom’s contours precisely. Any interior squeeze-out will be removed using nylon putty knives before it, too, receives three full coats of Chris-Craft mahogany bilge paint.

Post this new day, SMB will make individually planking inner skins our standard for SMB True 5200 bottoms.

1948 Century Seamaid Bottom Disaster Update

Oh my lord! Some weeks back I shared our first two-boat intake video – two iconic, super rare 1948 18’ Century Seamaids, Winnie and Songbird.

After receiving ten coats of Pettit Flagship Varnish and then being sanded absolutely flat using 500 grit, Winnie will go to Joanie Alden’s lettering shop, Vital Signs and Silk Painting, in Colchester, VT for her transom and registration lettering. 

All is good with Winnie, so much so that she might even be home for Thanksgiving.

Would that we can be equally excited for Songbird, who we flipped yesterday and began releasing bottom planks today.

Before us is a truly sad, sad antique runabout, one that is incredibly rare and truly iconic. I apologize for my rude language, but, as the clip chronicles, she has been raped in every way a wooden hull can be assaulted.

Folks! Automotive products have their place and can produce magical results …. On cars and trucks, NOT, NOT, NOT on boats of any sort, wooden, fiberglass, steel, aluminum or even Titanium.

And the worst of the worst other than cheap, Chinese engine parts – automotive fuel pumps, solenoids, oil filters and on and on – is BONDO!

Sure, some hack going the cheap route might get away with a little “repairing rot” using automotive Bondo for a little while. 

However, automotive Bondo absorbs and retains moisture. Use it in place of a marine filler or fairing compound like 3M Marine Premium Filler, and all you are “achieving” is sounding the death knell of your wooden boat.

OK, what do I know? I’m not sure, but I have eyes. You have eyes. Pay attention to the destruction that using cantaloupe-sized gobs of Bondo has visited on this poor hull. 

The Bondo plus gallons and gallons of leaking oil has created a perfect storm for destroying virtually every piece of structural wood from the waterline down to and including the keel.

The Bondo’s most aggressive destruction has occurred in the stem, gripe and keel where some complete buffoon thought she/he could glob in huge gobs of Bondo in place of wood.

Pay attention! In an earlier clip, I wondered at the line of about 7/16”-diameter circles along the stem that secured the screws driven through the cutwater. Hello?

After shooting the video, where we again wondered about these plugs again, Joe and I went at one of them with an awl. You got it …. Bondo! In fact, vast areas of the stem and what is left of the forward ends of the topside planks – particularly on starboard – are nothing but Bondo that is surrounded by rotting wood.

Can we save her? Yes. Just think of what we call our skeleton project, the 1950 18’ RIV that arrived in pieces, but now is sporting an almost-finished True 5200 bottom.

Yes, we can save her, but, other than the bilge stringers, virtually all the framing and planking below the waterline must be replaced. It looks to us now that the stem, gripe and keel must be replaced along with the transom framing at and below the waterline. 

However, working on the stem requires that all of the topside planks’ forward extremities, at least back to the third or fourth hullside frame must be released. Releasing them means stripping varnish to bare wood.

But we also face the reality that most of the hullside frames’ lower extremities are rotted and floating, which is in part the result of some fool “sistering” the knees with random chunks of hard and soft wood, all of which is now oil-sodden and no longer attached to anything.

My final lament. Folks!!!!!! DO NOT EVER, EVER, EVER, EVER use anything but silicon bronze, Forstner, flathead screws in a wooden hull! This bottom was “fastened” with a random mixture of sheet rock, stainless, common steel, and, yes, a few original brass screws here and there.Thank God Don Danenberg just published what I consider to be the seminal article on repairing below-waterline framing in the November/December issue of Classic Boating, which I have scanned and printed, and insisted that I, Joe and Rick digest completely. Several copies are in the shop, and I’ll like be reaching out to Don as we try to save Songbird.

1951 18′ Stern Drive Penn Yan President Inboard

1951 penn yan president sea trial

My 1951 18’ Penn Yan President finally got her sea trial, which she blasted through, but, just as we reversed her away from the dock and Joe hit the throttle, my GoPro shut itself down. Then my iPhone said, “I can do that, too, and did. So we have a disappointingly short sea trial video to which I spliced her debut video.

With so much super-generous guidance from renowned 1000 Island boat collector and restorer, Charlie Santi of Horseheads, NY, we have been able to return her to as close as we possibly could to the finishes, materials and color pallet she boasted the day she left the Penn Yan, NY factory in 1951. Thank you for both your generosity and patience, Charlie! I will allow the clip tell you the rest of the story, but, first, here is a bit of history I dug up researching this oh-so unusual Penn Yan inboard…

German-native Charles A. Herrman founded the Penn Yan Boat Company in 1921, with Headquarters in Penn Yan, NY. Penn Yan produced a wide range of wooden powerboats, rowboats, canoes and sailboats at its founding, but switched to all fiberglass vessels in the early 1960s. No records are known to survive. The name Penn Yan is synonymous with the Car Topper, which it introduced in 1936. Designed to be light and narrow enough to fit on top of most cars of that era, Penn Yan marketed it as being easily lifted by two people Herrman was an innovator as well. Among his most notable inventions is the Tunnel Drive, which Penn Yan patented. Using a cavity that partially enclosed the propeller and drive shaft, Penn Yan’s tunnel drive system delivered higher boat speeds and hull stability.

According to Bob Speltz (Real Runabouts), “A Penn Yan inboard could take the tightest turns, either way with a perfect “gravity” bank. There was no skidding whatsoever. Running down wind in a heavy sea will find a Penn Yan being able to run wide open because it is light in the bow and heavy in the stern. “Many of the smaller length inboards built back in the 1930s through ’50s had the habit of nosediving when the throttle was cut way back. Penn Yan inboards with the front seat loaded to capacity and the stern seat empty, and ignition switched off at full speed to drag the propeller, will instantly lift its nose and settle into the water like a duck. A Penn Yan takes a wide-open throttle from a standing start. It lifts its nose instantly and “gets up and out of the wet” in a hurry. Penn Yans were also easy to steer; with the engine and rudder mounted so far aft, the constant fight of the rudder just disappeared. “The stern engine arrangement used by Penn Yan was used ever since 1932 and enjoyed great acceptance by all who owned such boats. Each Penn Yan inboard came equipped with a safety strut which was one-piece bronze casting attached to the transom carrying both the prop shaft and rudder stock. It was so rugged it could hardly be destroyed. “It has the effect of boat length behind the motor without hull buoyancy in that position, and that produced running characteristics we have already mentioned that were hard to believe. A safety feature lies in the fact that the prop is not under the bottom of the boat, and in any collision or grounding could not be driven up through the bottom of the boat, thus resulting in a sinking. The prop and rudder could be inspected, freed of weeds, or changed with the boat afloat. No stuffing box is required on the rudder stock, thus eliminating a possible source of leakage”

Well, I can tell you that this Penn Yan performed precisely as Speltz describes. She was on plane already at 1,000 RPM, and by 2,000, she was kicking up a rooster’s tail. Joe cranked the wheel and she simply carved a turn without any slippage.

What an incredible design, one that is both iconic and a joy to use for romping across the water.