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 preserving 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.
Having emptied her innards and flipped her, we are hard at removing decades of paint, some sort of Bondo-like material, West epoxy and more from our 1959 16.5’ Lyman runabout hull’s exterior. The image is anything but pretty, as you should have noticed by the thumbnail at the front end of this clip.
Much of what is on the hull is over 3/16” thick with some sort of West Epoxy layers between layers of paint. As of shooting this clip, we have consumed six gallons of industrial paint stripper. She is severely hogged. Her failed keel, keelson and multiple ribs must be replaced. Multiple strakes’ aft tails are rotted through and through. Her keel is gone and must be replaced. The spray rails are gone, having been poorly repaired and partially replaced at some time. Her strakes are fastened with an array of screws and clench nails.
We will aim at de-hogging her, if that is a word, and repairing/replacing much more. In my world, this little runabout is among Lyman’s most iconic family models. We must save her, but the hill we must climb doing so will be steep and long.
Now that is a Milestone! Susan, who is a 1940 16-foot Lyman Yacht Tender with an rear cockpit that faces aft.
Other than having been stripped of all her finishes and preserved to our Snake Mountain Boatworks standard, and some repairs to her windshield and garboards, her hull is completely original.
Extensive research throughout Lyman World convinced us that her topsides had been finished brite at Sandusky, and have stayed that way since.
While she was flipped over, I spent way too many weeks beneath her removing decades of dirt, scuzz and old finishes, but I did so while preserving the fact that she’s been in service for some 80 years. Once cleaned, I stained all surfaces with Sandusky natural stain and applied four coats of Sikkens Cetol Marine – not Gloss.
After setting all of her clench nails through mahogany strakes below the waterline and cypress strakes above, we sanded her fair.
(The fact that, even though she’s not floated for over 20 years, and we expected some infiltration during her sea trial, neither bilge pump activated even once. Was there any water in the bilge other than that leaking in while we adjusted the prop shaft and rudder stuffing box? Yes, but so little that nothing came out when we opened the bilge drain.
Her topsides were stained with Sandusky natural stain. Her mahogany elements were stained using Sandusky Lyman stain.
All surfaces were sealed with four heavy coats of CPES, and then varnishing began and continued until we had applied 40 coats to her topsides and 30 coats to everything else using Pettit High Build varnish, which is now Pettit Flagship High Build.
Mickey Dupuis and his team transformed tired, pitted, and just awful into the jewelry you see here.
Robert Henkel, Peter Henkel, Inc., Marine City, MI, completely disassembled and then rebuilt her original Nordberg four-cylinder 60 HP engine and everything bolted to it.
Shauna Whiting, Kocian Instruments, executed an historically-correct preservation of her original gauge panel.
Loadmaster Trailer Co, Ltd, outdid themselves once again designing and fabricating a trailer that not only supports Susan completely, but almost hugs Susan during retrieval. Never before have we experienced such a smooth, effortless loading!
Now she can come home to Susie and Dana, longtime Lyman aficionados, But perhaps the best part is that, since her new stewards live on northern Lake Champlain, we have good reason to hope we will see much of them and of Susan.
She was Christened SUSAN in 1940 as she left Sandusky, Ohio, and now, for the first time in 20-plus years, we put fire to her totally-rebuilt, original, 60-HP, four-cylinder Nordberg engine.
OMG! Who ever thought a 4-banger would have such a voice! She fired almost immediately after we hit her starter. Initially, the idle was set a bit low, but, once Anthony turned the screw a bit, she idled along, producing 50 pounds of oil pressure while idling as smoothly as can be. We were a bit taken aback as she pumped the exhaust pipe full of water.
Once again, Robert Henkel, Peter Henkel, Inc. in Marine City, MI transformed a tired-and-worse marine engine into a power plant the both runs incredibly well, but also sits like a piece of jewelry in her engine bay.
Her original Cyprus strakes, every one of which is original, simply glisten behind the 30-plus coats of varnish we applied, but you will really see what she presents when we have her in the water, which we hope will happen tomorrow, as long as the launch ramp is not crowded by Memorial Day revelers refusing to practice social distancing or even wearing masks.
Starting with Voodoo Child, my 1953 22’ Model 110S Shepherd Runabout, we now install specific safety elements in every boat we do.
As is so often the case with antique and classic wooden boat preservation, vessels tend to keep secrets. Our 1956 19′ Chris-Craft Capri Runabout gave no hint of what previous butchers had done to her and the horrific water trap they created in the process.
She let us in on this secret yesterday as Joe was finishing sanding her topsides fair. “We are almost to bleaching! I have only the last four or so feet to do on each side and I will be at the bow.” Right. Then his inline sanded started throwing up chunks, and suddenly, he had broken through a plank just aft of the bullnose bow.
Careful probing told the story. Our Capri’s bullnose is severely rotted along its starboard margin, as are the forward ends of the top three planks. One plank on port is rotted through as well. All of it is because the butchers were too lazy to address foredeck framing issues properly, by releasing planks rather than reaching for a circular saw and simply making an athwart cut through them all the way across the deck.
A sloppy athwart seam butt joint “repair” failed, of course. The seam opened at some point, allowing water to infiltrate and keep the planks and bow wet. Talk about a perfect storm for rot! As I explain in the clip, Joe will address the bullnose rot using a Dutchman repair. Then the offending planks will be replaced, which is both best for the boat and likely also best for her owner as it’s a least-cost path relative to trying to scab new planking onto the ends of the existing and rotted planks.
Now that I have released the damaged planks, I am tooth-picking, filling each and every screw hole in the frames and battens with three white ash toothpicks and Gorilla Glue. It is a tedious, gooey task, but is the only right way to go. (Toothpick source: https://cibowares.com/products/plain-round-toothpicks)
Replacing the #8 with #10 screws is absolutely the wrong way to go. The holding power of that aged wood is compromised, and, since the #10’s have larger heads than the #8’s, larger countersinks must be driven, which, in turn requires inserting larger bungs, if you can find them. Go the lazy way and you “earn” weak fastening and wood bungs that are noticeably larger than all the others on your boat. UGHHHHH!
Susan is now a fully-preserved 1940 16-FT Lyman Yacht Tender with her telltale aft-facing aft cockpit.
We spared no expense while investing ourselves completely in executing a museum-quality preservation of this quite unusual and completely-original Lyman.
Yes, we did execute a few very minor Dutchman repairs, but that was it. Her old-growth Cyprus topsides are both original and gleam under 30+ coats of Pettit Hi-Build varnish.
Pulling her out of the shop and into the sun today is all the reward I need for ll those hours I spent beneath the hull stripping way too many layers of crud, paint and varnish; and then applying four coats of Sikkens Cetol Marine varnish. As a result, while her bilge and hullsides glisten, they retain all their evidence of being a well-used vessel for almost 80 years. Shauna Whiting, Kocian Instruments, invested herself incredibly in researching and then restoring Susan’s quite unique dash panel to both the highest possible standard and precisely as it was when Susan left Sandusky, OH in 1940.
Once again Robert Henkel transformed her original Nordberg engine from a rusty pile of cast iron into a unit that runs like a watch.
Mickey Dupuis, D&S Custom Metal Restoration, Holyoke, MA, cringed when I delivered Susan’s hardware. As always, he returned a collection of jewelry to us.
Megan Meisler and her family, who own and operated Loadmaster Trailer Co. Ltd. Did it again. Susan’s trailer fits like a glove, as she rides on a generous bunk system that both support her in every possible way and will be a dream for launching and retrieving her.
Maybe best of all, save for a brief hiatus decades and decades ago, Susan has lived on Lake Champlain. That her new stewards live among the islands of northern Lake Champlain means that she will live on her home waters for many decades to come.
Our 1956 19-FT Chris-Craft Capri has had a tough life, what with being assaulted by inept and worse “restorers” a decade or so ago.
We have recently reported on the travesties visited upon her decks, stem and engine hatch. Now that she’s been flipped, are we surprised to discover additional assaults perpetrated against her bottom?
The good news is that, save for needing refastening and a few minor repairs, her bottom planking is in excellent condition.
That said, and other things equal, she still needs a True 5200 bottom. However, as so often happens in life, other things are not equal. While her owner agrees that there is a True 5200 bottom in her future, given all we must preserve elsewhere on her hull and engine, it will not happen now, a decision we agree with based on our detailed and extensive examination of her bilge and its inner bottom planking.
The real issue in the bilge is lots of grease, oil and grime. Yes, that layer is pretty much gone directly beneath the engine, so we will release and execute repairs there. After we remove endless strings of useless cotton roving in some seams, roving that was not sealed with any sort of caulking compound, and yards and yards and yards of failed 5200 in others, we will refasten large parts of the bottom and then apply four coasts of Clear Penetrating Epoxy Sealer – CPES. We will then pay the seams with Jamestown Distributors’ TotalBoat ThixoFlex and sand the bottom fair.
Following applying three more coats of CPES we will prime with Pettit Tie Coat Primer and then apply three coats of Pettit Copper Bronze Hard Racing Bottom Paint.
Now that Methyl Chloride has been banned, and we can no longer source “good” paint stripper, we have turned to TotalBoat TotalStrip Paint Stripper. No, it is not what Circa 1850 was, but it is user friendly and we are adjusting to applying it and then coming back 24 – 48 hours later. It is still wet and has liquefied many layers of paint, even bottom paint, by then.
Finally, we’ve all faced challenges stripping concave hullsides. Using a standard, straight-bladed scraper risks leaving skid marks at each end of the blade while the center floats above the wood. A good friend suggested we try an Allway Tools 2-1/2-Inch 4-Edge Metal Tubular Wood Scraper, the blade edges of which are slightly convex. At only about $8 for a handle and 4-edge blade, why not? Bingo! It works beautifully … nary a skid mark appears behind each stroke.
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.
Susan is a Pre-WWII 16’ Lyman yacht tender with solid Cypress narrow strakes and coaming, mahogany transom and decks, aft-facing aft seating compartment, a fixed windshield and a wonderful tumblehome.
She is powered by a Nordberg Gasoline Marine Engine 4-cylinder flathead, 60 horse power, engine, which is mated to a Paragon transmission. Robert Henkel, Peter Henkel Inc. in Michigan, who executed a comprehensive engine and transmission rebuild, reports that Nordberg “dressed” Hercules engines, in this case a Model B. The Nordberg engine plate includes its own serial number, 130R – 4951.
The person from whom I purchased Susan has owned her twice, the first time for decades ending in 1989, and a second time in spring 2015. She was banished to barn queen status for 25 years by the in- between owners. I bought her from her original owner in June 2015.
Thankfully, my biggest fear, that years in a barn would grow a nice crop of dry rot proved to be completely unfounded. My plastic hammer returned solid, crisp reports everywhere on the boat.
How about the ribs? There simply is no wear, rot or fractures to be found. Indeed, the in-between owner left her outdoors during our recent deluge. The hull is so tight that it held water that had to be vacuumed out.
She has a five-digit hull number, 10151, which renowned Lyman expert, Tom Koroknay, (Lyman Boats – Legends of the Lake), suggests that she may be one of the few 16’, narrow-strake, yacht tenders Lyman introduced in 1931. He places Susan as built in 1940, just before WWII.
Mickey Dupuis and his crew at D&S Custom Metal Restoration in Holyoke, MA, once again transformed tired, pitted hardware into beyond-show-ready jewelry.
Shauna Whiting, Kocian Instruments in Stacy, MN, after much research, preserved Susan’s original gauge panel cosmetically and mechanically with spectacular, historically-correct results.
Megan Meisler, her dad, brother and crew at Loadmaster Ltd. In Port Clinton, OH, once again worked with me remotely and delivered another perfectly-fitting, super-elegant Vermont green trailer.
If only winter was not nigh! We’d have her out on Lake Champlain today!
We continue with the most unpleasant elements of wood boat preservation, stripping, sanding sealing and varnishing the hull’s interior – so many ribs! And doing the same with the myriad of parts released during deconstruction.
Joe has fabricated and steam-bent the new transom’s mounting strip. He has fabricated the new transom blank along with framing elements we could not save. All of it has now been stripped (saved elements), sanded, bleached, stained, sealed and received all but it final coat of varnish. Anthony, helped by RJ, spent a tortuous week stripping the hull’s entire interior. By today he and RJ have sanded all surfaces of every rib and interior hull planking. The entire area has received two coats of Smith’s Clear Penetrating Epoxy Sealer and its initial coat of Sikkens Cetol Marine. By early next week, it will be all hands on deck as we install the mounting strip and the fully assembled transom. The latter will be bedded in 3M 5200.
Soon, we can flip her upright and get on with the most enjoyable part, bleaching, staining, sealing, varnishing and painting.