1946 Gar Wood Ensign Deck Planking Update

We are nearing a major milestone on the 1946 Gar Wood Ensign deck replanking portion of this preservation project.

Fabricating two small sections of planking, fastening them bedded in 3M5200, bunging the countersinks and sawing the excess away, and we will be ready for sanding and fairing the decks and covering boards.

Bleaching and staining will be next, followed by rolling, tipping and sanding coats of varnish.

We will be using Epifanes Gloss Clear Varnish on the decks and transom at the request of the owner.

1946 Gar Wood Ensign Project Re Launch One Year Later

A community member dinged us for apparently abandoning keeping all of you updated on the ’46 Gar Wood Ensign since we last presented her in February 2014. Well, the fact is that there was nothing to update. Yes, we replaced many topside fasteners and filled a myriad of bung holes before we faired, primed and applied the first coat of Interlux Premium Yacht Enamel – semi-gloss whit, #202. At that, and having exhausted his preservation fund, her owner asked us to put her in storage until now.
We’ve applied three more coats of the Interlux Premium to the topsides and finished laying out the boot stripe.

Now comes the deck planking and covering boards. RJ and I worked and worked to release the planking without harming it so we could clean, seal and then install it again with new silicon fasteners. (We also had to release the planking to get at the broken framing at the four corners of the cockpit.)
Try as we may, even the slightest pressure revealed through-and-through cracks and splitting in all but four planks. Gluing them together, save for the covering boards, which will remain on the boat, proved impossible, as applying the slightest amount of clamp pressure produced new cracks. The mahogany has simply lost its integrity, so, with heavy hearts, we are replanking all but the covering boards, the center plank on the aft deck, and possibly the king plank.

1946 Gar Wood Ensign Please Do NOT Fiberglass Wood Boats!

1946 gar wood ensign fiberglass hull

Here is the next installment on our 1946 GarWood Ensign restoration project. With everything removed from the hull, we have flipped her onto boat dollies in preparation for removing the planking, repairing all the failed, rotted and broken framework beneath them and then installing a 5200 bottom.

This boat spent most of her life on Squam Lake or Little Squam Lake in New Hamspire.

That these lakes have a well-earned reputation for unforgiving, rocky bottoms is evidenced by all the damage that this hull has suffered below the waterline. Indeed, the previous owner(s) installed iron strapping along the stem and forward sections of the keel. Then there is the through-and-through fracture of the keel just forward of the prop shaft tunnel.

Removing the fasteners and these straps was simple.

But then comes the fiberglass. Yes, someone fiberglassed the entire bottom, the chines and up the topsides as much as 8 inches. We “get” to remove all of it. Not doing so makes removing bungs and bottom plank fasteners all but impossible, never mind the fact that we are doing our utmost to preserve the original planks.

We have tried using chisels, which worked well along the keel and garboards, where sheets of fiberglass peeled off with relative ease.

However, the fabric-infused resin remained, and presents us with a challenge of much greater magnitude. It will be incredibly tedious and time-consuming, but using a combination of heat guns and sharpened putty knives seems to be the best solution. The challenge here is not gouging 60 year-old wood with the hot, sharp putty knife. We are also running into large areas of rot where water managed to breach the fiberglass skin and soaked the wood in a largely anaerobic environment.

We will soldier onward, but want to make a plea to all woody owners and preservationists, “Please, please do not fiberglass your wood boats!” Doing so is a lose-lose proposition, especially for these irreplaceable artifacts of the past.

How to Bore a New Prop Shaft Hole – 1946 Gar Wood Ensign

1946 gar wood bore prop shaft hole

The original keel in this 1946 16′ Gar Wood Ensign had failed completely as we have chronicled in earlier clips on this project. Drilling new rudder shank and propeller shaft holes, and especially the latter, represent a particularly daunting task. If the prop hole is misplaced and/or misaligned, the shaft log will not receive the prop shaft symmetrically, and only bad things follow there from.

Today John and RJ decided that the moment had come, and, with John narrating, this clip introduces you to how we meet these challenges at Snake Mountain Boatworks.

What you will not see in the video is John’s rather ingenious solution to the reality that the Forstner bit tends to cut a tunnel having somewhat ragged and rough walls. John produced silky smooth walls by wrapping the prop shaft, first in progressively finer grits of sandpaper, beginning with 40 and ending with 100

The keel blank is now ready for shaping and fitting to the hull, which we will share with you in the coming days and weeks.