1954 Penn Yan Captivator Aristocrat Bleaching Milestone

1954 penn yan captivator bleaching

With her bottom repaired and having received two coats of Clear Penetrating Epoxy Sealer, we sealed her below-waterline seams using TotalBoat Thixo Flex, sanded the entire surface fair and applied four additional coats of Clear Penetrating Epoxy Sealer.

Why so many coats of CPES? Once stripped bare, her bottom planking was, to invoke the cliché, dry as a cork. The CPES simply all but disappeared as it was applied, which does not contribute to adhesion.

Once the splash rails were installed imbedded in 3M 5200 and their bottom sides sealed with CPES, we applied three coats of Pettit Tie Coat Primer, followed by four more of JD Select shark white antifouling paint.

While some folks varnish splash rail undersides, we always prime and bottom paint them, thereby better-protecting wood that so often comes into the shop rotted into the rail and sometimes well into the hullside planking.

We then stripped and sanded her hullsides fair with 80 grit, and now have flipped her upright so we can focus on bleaching, staining, sealing and varnishing the hullsides, decks and gunwales.

Almost immediately we encountered a major issue. The coaming strips that encircle both cockpits had been released and then installed bedded in gobs and ribbons of 3M 5200. Since finishing the decks would be all but impossible with their grain running into the coamings. (The latter stand almost 3.8” proud of the decks.)

Not a problem. We will simply release the screws and off they will come. NOT! We had to literally slice them off using our FEIN MultiMaster, and eventually off they came. We will clean the residue 5200 using Circa 1850 Heavy Body Paint and Varnish Remover, scrapers and, yes, likely the FEIN tool.

Joe and RJ stripped the decks and most everything attached to them and then reached for reefing hooks, which are available from Jamestown Distributors.

We have half a dozen or more of them, each one of which has been ground to a different thickness, which we use to remove the “white stuff” from deck seams. (This video we shot in 2016 shows RJ cleaning seams with a reefing hook). Be sure to read the write-up that accompanies the clip for more guidance and information.

Bleaching begins now, and we should be leaving this milestone on our wake by tomorrow morning. Then her elegance begins reemerging once we’ve scuffed the bleached surfaces to remove the hairs that the bleach stands up, and stain her.

Yes, we will keep on keeping you in the loop!

1954 Penn Yan Captivator Aristocrat Transom Bottom Preservation

1954 penn yan captivator transom bottom preservation

Penn Yan Striptite hulls’ below-waterline plank seams are notoriously difficult to render watertight. We have used Interlux Seam Compound For Underwater Applications in the past. No longer. Once in place, the Seam Compound is pretty good at 3M 5200 is not. In fact, because it becomes increasingly hard and inelastic post-curing, 5200 tends to tear the wood fibers along the seams, or at least lose adhesion. This earlier video on the Captivator Aristocrat illustrates why 5200 is NOT the answer. Henceforth we will reach for TotalBoat Thixo Flex, which pays easily, adheres tenaciously and remains flexible when cured.

Here is the video I shot while paying the Thixo Flex.

We use a piston-driven pneumatic caulking gun for this purpose, and not one that is air-driven.

Why? The Thixo Flex is packaged in two compartments in its tube to which a mixing tip supplied with the product has been attached. Since one component is much more viscous than the other, an air-driven gun tends to dispense the lighter component first, and therefore in proportions that keep it from curing.

A piston-driven gun, much like an hand-activated gun, dispenses the two components in precisely the correct proportions, such that the payed material is semi-cured in 24 hours or less, depending upon the ambient temperature.

Bottom line. If you will use a pneumatic caulking gun for dispensing Thixo Flex, be sure it is piston-driven.

One additional caution. Because it remains flexible post-curing, Thixo Flex is hellish difficult to sand and tends to load sandpaper quite quickly. RJ and Joe spent the afternoon sanding the bottom with six-inch random-orbit sanders and 80 grit paper, and went through one-and-a-half boxes to reach a clean, fair surface.

Not surprisingly, we discovered multiple holidays – air bubbles, mostly – that we will fill in a final pass across the bottom.

Transplanting a new transom into the hull has also passed a major milestone. The new transom and its interior framing have been fabricated. Its interior surfaces have been sealed, stained and varnished, and it is ready for mounting on the hull.

First, however, we had to deal with the thin strip of mahogany that is attached to and runs along the interior surface of the planking tails. Much of it was rotted and came out with the failed transom. We had to excise the rest of it using a MultiMaster, followed by fabricating, steam bending and inserting a new strip in place.

Once the 3M 5200 has cured, probably several days from now, we will release the forest of clamps and mount the new transom.

With her topsides already stripped and ready for sanding, staining, sealing with Clear Penetrating Epoxy Sealer and varnishing, the pace should pick up over the coming weeks.SHOW LESS

1937 Lyman Cruisette – How-to Strip Varnish & Stain

1967 lyman cruisette how-to stain varnish

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
  • BAHCO 449 L-inch Triple-Edge Triangle Scraper Blade

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!

1967 Lyman Cruisette – Rot Unveiled When Varnish Stripped

1967 lyman cruisette rot under varnish

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.

Additionally, as I strip the foredeck using a DeWalt LCD heat gun (https://www.amazon.com/DEWALT-D26960-…), Sandvik Ergonomic scraper and BAHCO blade (https://www.jamestowndistributors.com…) . I have been exposing more of that paste filler under what appears to be precious few coats of varnish.

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.

1954 Penn Yan Captivator Aristocrat Post Stripping Findings

1954 penn yan captivator stripped hull

Yesterday we stripped her transom, flipped her, released her splash rails and stripped her bottom. Happily the splash rails are in excellent condition. They only want to be stripped, have some minor “bodywork” executed and refinished.

Today we released the keel and began releasing the keelson and the transom framing.

While the keel is in excellent shape, both in terms of being straight and sound, it has been off the boat at least once and sealant was given short shrift when it was last installed. As a result there is some rot, not so much that it cannot be repaired, on the garboards where they lie beneath the keel and the keelson.

Her owner informs me that the keel was not released by the shop that worked on her in 2007-08, but the myriad of plugged mounting holes tell us that it was released sometime prior to that work being done.

The paucity of sealant means that water will find its way into the bilge.

It will also sit in the bilge. That there is not more rot is testimony to the care given her by her current owner.

The rot we did find beneath the keel is far forward, and at the joint between the keel and the lower portion of the stem. That curved section runs from its joint with the keel up to the splash rails.

Once we have the keelson and garboards out of the hull, everything, garboards, keelson and keel, will be cleaned to absolutely bare wood. Once the components have been sealed and receive three coats of Clear Penetrating Epoxy Sealer, they will be set aside.

Next comes the most fun. The failed transom, which we must replace, must be released from the hull. That it is secured with many, many copper nails, and not wood screws, makes this task particularly challenging, but doable using a FEIN MultiMaster and the thinnest, narrowest blade we have. (That they are copper, and therefore quite soft, should translate into the MultiMaster zipping right through the nails leaving a clean surface behind.

1940 Lyman 16′ Yacht Tender Staining Update

1940 lyman yacht tender staining

With nineteen coats of Pettit Easypoxy Hi-Build varnish applied to her topsides, transom; and engine box, seating and windshield components; it is time to turn our focus to the decks, coamings and rub rails of our 1940 16’ Lyman Custom Yacht Tender with aft-facing aft cockpit.

Lyman offered this basic hull configuration as a yacht tender like mine, but also as a runabout. Whether the aft cockpit faced forward or aft was the buyer’s choice. He or she could also order a windshield that folded down or one that was fixed. Mine is fixed.

My research also suggest that the fore and aft deck seams were sealed with a mahogany caulking material that only filled the seam channels about two-thirds, with the rest left open so she presents herself with strong lines, lines that help offset the reality that she is quite beamy for her length. (We wull use Sikaflex 291 LOT in mahogany.)

Today we are applying Sandusky Chris-Craft red mahogany filler stain? Why not the somewhat browner Lyman mahogany stain? Again what few period photos I can find and the several of these vessels built between 1938 and 1940 tended to have a somewhat red cast, which in this case will complement the blonde Cypress topsides rather nicely.

Additionally, in our experience, the red morphs toward red-brown as we apply the three coats of CPES and the Pettit Hi-Build that will follow.

CPES is next, and will be applied on Monday, the first two coats with the second following the first immediately per Danenberg, with a third coat applied Tuesday morning.

Filling the seams will be next, followed by the initial coats of varnish, a process that will continue until we reach twenty-two or so coats.

1957 Lyman Runabout – How to Bleach

1957 lyman runabout how to bleach

We have released the 1957 23’ Lyman Runabout’s aft seating, both of the jump seats that John designed and fabricated, and all but the three floor panels beneath the helm station.

Joe D’Avignon, our latest crew member addition, who is also RJ’s brother-in-law, brings years of custom designing cabinets and architectural components, trim and moldings for a firm that executed all tasks using hand tools. Nary a C & C Machine was ever in the shop.

Asked why he wanted to work and grow preserving antique and classic wooden boats, Joe replied, “Unlike windows, doors moldings and the like, where it’s mostly a production process once I designed the piece, with these wooden boats, no two challenges are alike. There are no plans to be reached for, and damn few straight lines. Working at Snake Mountain Boatworks involves everything I love doing in wood without the drudgery of repetition day after day. I can grow here in ways that are just not possible in precision woodworking situations.”

Joe disassembled and sanded all surfaces with 80 grit in a straight line Festool Detail Linear Sander. Each piece in each of the jump seats is unique. Nothing is interchangeable, so Joe’s first question was, “How can do you keep everything straight through the sanding, bleaching, staining and varnishing process?”

A combination of painter’s tape and Sharpies?

Joe, “There must be a better, more permanent but invisible way to do this.

Demonstrating how quickly Joe is becoming an asset for Snake Mountain Boatworks, he found a set of HimaPro wood/metal number and letter stamps on a shelf. Armed with these he proceeded to stamp each piece into the end grain after he sanded it. Voila! Amazon offers this boxed set of stamps. We, as well as folks working on this Lyman in the future will appreciate and benefit from this innovation.

Bleaching with Dalys Wood Finishes A&B Bleach begins this morning. Yes, Dalys is available from Amazon, but we source ours from the company, where you will also find a wealth of useful information.

Among the company’s most critically useful recommendations is, always start from the bottom up, lest you create a sea of white stalactites running down your hullsides and transom that are virtually impossible to erase.

RJ engaged some final helm station component fitting this morning. Next comes releasing the entirety of the new helm station seating and lockers, and then all of the ceilings for final sanding, bleaching, staining, sealing with CPES and varnishing. Welcome aboard Joe!

1957 Lyman Runabout Endless Staining Begins

1957 lyman runabout staining

We’ve just blasted through a major milestone in our 1957 23’ Lyman Runabout preservation! ALL parts destined for her cockpit have been stripped, fabricated where needed, test-installed, sanded and bleached.

If you watch one of her recent videos again, you might conclude, as others have, that there were very few parts involved.

And I’ve received multiple emails suggesting we were just exaggerating what was involved in creating and fabricating a pair of jump seats and entirely reconceived helm station seating and lockers.

Well, all I can tell you is that RJ, Joe and I were shocked this morning after we had laid all these parts out in preparation for launching into staining them on Monday. Who would have thought!? Staining is next and, as is detailed in the clip, we will use Wood Kote Jel’d stain for this task. (Available from Super F Paint and elsewhere).

From Wood Kote:

Basic Use
Jel’d Stain is formulated for interior wood surfaces such as casework, doors, trim, paneling and cabinets. It matches the corresponding colors of Jel’d Stain 550 & 250 and Liquid Stain 550 & 250. Jel’d Stain may be applied to bare or bleached wood. It is compatible with a variety of other Wood Kote products. Please refer to the Wood Kote Schedule of Product Compatibility and Recommended Dry Times. Jel’d Stain DOES NOT comply with the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Volatile Organic Compound (VOC) emission requirements for Architectural and Industrial Maintenance coatings (effective 13Sep99).


  • Matches Jel’d Stain 550 & 250 and Liquid Stain 550 & 250
  • Easy to apply
  • Fast-drying
  • 2-3 times more coverage than liquid stains
  • No stirring required

One application of Jel’d Stain will cover approximately 1250-1500 sq. ft./gal (30,6-36,8 m2/L).

Composition & Properties
Jel’d Stain is a fast-drying semitransparent pigment wood stain. It is intended for application without thinning. If thinning is desired, PolySolvent (mineral spirits) should be used or, if regulations require a VOC-exempt thinner, use AceThin (acetone).

Depending upon the boat you own or are preserving, contacting Mike Mayer, Lake Oswego Boat Company ([email protected]) will likely satisfy all of your staining needs. Working with Wood Kote, Mike offers roster of Jel’d stains that match original stains for Pre- and Post-WWII Chris-Crafts, Gar Wood, and many more.

If you are after superior quality and consistent stain, and preserving your vessel as correctly as is possible, Mike is your go-to source. Yes, you can mix stain colors yourself and maybe even save a dollar or ten, but you will also suffer the consequences.

1938 Chris Craft – How-to Strip INT 200E Barrier Coat using Circa 1850

1938 chris craft circa 1850 interlux 200e stripping

Yes, once again, no matter how long I’ve been preserving wood boats, seldom does a day go by that I do not learn something new.

Long ago Don Danenberg did his best to sell me on the absolute necessity of applying five coats of 2000E to achieve a True 5200 Bottom. Yes, we are standardized on this practice, primarily because I so respect Don’s wisdom and experience, but I must say, I’ve always wondered, “Is it really that tough? Is it really the tenaciously adhering and true barrier coat, one that combats water infiltration to the fullest extent possible?”

Don makes his argument most forcefully in his seminal article, “What is a True 5200 Bottom?” that he published in the Sept-Oct 2014 issue of Classic Boating magazine. Here is a link to PDF copy.​

Any doubts I may have harbored evaporated over learning firsthand what it takes to remove this stuff from mahogany planking.

My lessons for today:

  1. Allow the Circa 1850 Heavy Body Paint and Varnish Remover enough dwell time to do its work, but not so long that it begins drying out.
  2. Use a SHARP scraper, bonehead! I began stripping Flyin’ By’s bottom on November 2, which is when I shot the previous video that chronicles the epic battle between five full coats of Interlux Interprotect 2000E Barrier Coat Epoxy Primer and Circa 1850 stripper.

Both products are available from Jamestown Distributors. (copy the links into your browser.)

  1. Interlux 2000E
  2. Circa 1850

You will sense my frustration in the November 2, 2018 clip. Well, having learned how best to utilize Circa 1850’s prodigious stripping qualities, today’s clip chronicles the victory of Circa 1850 over Interlux 2000E.

To be clear I misspeak on this clip. The first coat of stripper was followed with a second one about an hour later. I then allowed about one hour of dwell time, during which I sharpened the BAHCO scraper blade and reinserted it into my Sandvik scraper.

Then I went after the paint using two hands with long, and I hope fluid strokes. After several strokes, the 2000E just rolled off the surface leaving smooth mahogany behind it.

As I began shooting this clip, I had progressed about half way from the transom to the bow on the starboard side, and believe that I’ll need about two hours to reach my goal, a clean starboard face of her bottom.

Time to return and work towards reaching the bow today!

1957 Lyman Runabout Bleach & Stain Part II

1957 lyman runabout bleach stain

Here is Part II of the crew blasting through the bleach-stain milestones as we apply Wood Kote Products Jel’d Wood Stain on our 1957 23-foot Old Style Lyman Runabout.

Part I’s narrative focused on the how, why and advantages of jel’d over filler stain in these applications. Yes, it is far easier to apply and delivers an incredibly uniform color. It, goes an incredibly long way; we used about 12 ounces to stain everything we stained today. But it is not a filler stain, which translates into a surface that retains most of its cross-sectional declivities – hills and valleys – post staining, especially compared to a filler stain, which is designed, well, to fill these selfsame valleys.

Bottom line even following three full coats of Clear Penetrating Epoxy Sealer, filling these valleys and thereby achieving the truly flat surface we thirst for requires at least 3-5 additional coats of varnish.

We are not ready to jettison our Interlux Interstain Wood Filler Stain yet, but the ease with which we achieved an absolutely uniform color across all these surfaces makes it truly difficult to hide the Wood Kote in a deep corner of a dark cabinet!