1954 Penn Yan Captivator Aristocrat: How to replace the Transom

1954 penn yan captivator replace transom

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.

1954 Penn Yan Captivator Aristocrat: How to Fabricate a new Transom

1954 penn yan captivator fabricating transom

Happily for her and her owner, we have been saving the last Pattern Grade Honduran mahogany plank from an order I made ten years ago for just the right application. It had been held in inventory for over two decade at the many small furniture shops that fell victim to the Great Recession of 2008-2009. The planks had been sawed, stickered and begun air drying a decade or so when purchased by the shop’s owner.

While our 1954 Penn Yan Captivator Aristocrat is losing her original transom, her “new” one will be fabricated using wood that is almost as old as she is.

It took a bit less than a nanosecond for us to agree that we will use that plank for Captivator’s transom planks and center frame member.

The original transom planks were glued up employing a splined joint – grooves cut in the two mating surfaces are joined by a thin strip of mahogany, aka the spline. However, we will mate the two boards using a tongue and groove joint.

Why? Joe, who spent years managing a commercial precision woodworking – custom window and door design and fabrication, has experience with, and has tested, both mating systems. His experience argues for the tongue-and-groove rather than the splined joint as stronger and better able to survive flexing and expansion/contraction cycles.

Joe cut the tongue in one and groove in the other soon-to-be transom plank using a table saw. Two pieces of scrap from the same planks were used for setup.

Finally, once they had been run through the jointer, Joe and RJ will set up a half-dozen pipe clamps, with three spaced along each side of the plank. Wax paper will be laid beneath the joint and copious amounts of Titebond III Ultimate Wood Glue will be applied to all surfaces. (https://www.amazon.com/Franklin-Titeb…)

Even though Titebond stipulates an 8-hour dry time, we will wait a full 24 hours before breaking the clamps down.

We will focus on her bottom once we’ve installed her new transom and its associated framing.

Happily, our worst fears, that we’d discover extensive garboard rot beneath the keel, did not happen. Despite the open seam along both sides of the keel-garboard joint, there was nothing but a tiny bit of rot way forward where the keel and stem join.

That said, once we have tightened fasteners where needed, sanded the bottom fair and applied three full coats of Clear Penetrating Epoxy Sealer to both the keel and bottom planking, keel installation will be upon us.

We will treat the keel installation exactly as we do when installing external bottom planks in a True 5200 Bottom. Fifty-Two-Hundred will be troweled into the entire area beneath the keel, and to an about 1/8″ thickness. Then, as we sink the fasteners from the inside out,, we will be certain that the entirety of the mating surfaces are entombed in 5200.

We will clean the squeeze-out with Interlux Brushing Liquid 333 and then wipe the seam down with acetone, which will accelerated the curing process.

Then the real fun begins as all the seams between Striptite planks must be caulked using Interlux Seam Compound For Underwater Applications.

Why not 5200? Once cured it will not compress. Any drying and shrinking of the planks either breaks the adhesion, as we saw with this bottom initially. Any soaking-up and subsequent plank expansion threatens crushing the planks.

1954 Penn Yan Captivator Aristocrat Releasing the Transom (pt 2)

1954 penn yan captivator releasing transom

Part II continues chronicling our woeful discoveries.

Not only were our worst fears, implicitly expressed in Part I of this pair of clips, confirmed, I was blown away by the fact that the bottom “bow,” pronounced “beau,” were not only severely rotted, they were also quite wet. Honest! She has not been in the water since last fall, has been in dry cold storage since then and, yet, the bottom bow pegged our moisture meter and more.

As soon as we release the bottom transom plank and the framing, RJ will begin fabricating a new one. Replacing the transom’s interior framing was not in our scope of work, as we hoped against hope that the dark wood we observed during our initial observations might “only” be a bit of surface rot.

Not! This situation adds complexity to our project elsewhere as well. The two transom frames running behind the topsides are secured by copper nails driven from outside through the topside planking and into these frames.

Sadly the forward of the two courses of fasteners run through topside planking that is finished bright. We will do our best, but now fear that stripping and finishing the topsides anew has been added to the SOW.

RJ will fabricate and then he and I will temporarily install the bottom plank, the one we have just released, first, which will ensure the hull retains its proper shape.

1954 Penn Yan Captivator Aristocrat: How to Release the Transom

1954 penn yan captivator release transom

With the keel, outer stem and splash rails released, and having cleaned all of the 5200-like material out of the bottom plank seams, our attention turns to the transom.

The transom is two planks that have been fixed to both the topside and bottom planking, but also to a series of frames. Individual frames run along the bottom, sitting on the bottom planks, across the top and down the sides of the transom. A pair of inverted “V” frames stiffen the transom’s center.

Upon initial inspection RJ and I were troubled by what appeared to be very poorly conceived and executed repairs to the center and port frames. The “Dutchman” attempted at the bottom of the pair of center frames not only created a powerful water trap, the rot growing there propagated and destroyed the bottom bow – “beau”.

Part II continues chronicling our woeful discoveries.

1957 Lyman Runabout Decking Time

1957 lyman runabout decking

We’ve just begun, but even laying the ribbon-cut mahogany foredeck panels in place foreshadows just how elegant this old style, narrow strake 23’ 1957 Lyman Runabout will be at the end of her conservation.

RJ jokingly predicts that we will have the fore and aft deck panels anchored down by tomorrow afternoon. What he means is temporarily anchored while we complete the final fitting and sanding in around the perimeters of both decks.

We have stabilized the foredeck’s crown with temporary bracing placed vertically in the V-berth. Once both panels are fastened down along all three sides, the curvature of each panel is secure. Bowing them over the framing also shrinks their width. Once there are secured on both sides, there is no way to force either one flat since the edges cannot spread out. Yes, there will be a very slight bit of settling, maybe an eighth of an inch, which is why the crown is currently exaggerated to that same degree.

The perimeters of the foredeck panels will be bedded in 3M 5200 that we spread on the framing and then secured with #6 Frearson head silicon bronze wood screws along both edges and ring shank nails across the dash. We will not sink any fasteners through the body of either panel, which frees us from filing the surface with puttied fastener countersinks.

Doing so is superfluous as bowing the panels over the framing creates ample down pressure, which forces the panels and frames together. (RJ wins the prize: climbing into the V-berth and cleaning all of the 5200 squeeze-out around the frame members.)

I am getting ahead of my skis, however. Once all four panels have been fitted and secured temporally, they will be released. The edges and undersides will be sealed with three coats of Clear Penetrating Epoxy Sealer (CPES), and their undersides will receive multiple coats of Sandusky Paint Company Lyman Sand Tan bilge paint.

The toe rails will follow. After being sanding in to perfect inside and outside contours and their bottom sides are sealed with CPES, they will be installed with ring shank nails.

The aft deck panels and aft end of the king plank will be treated similarly.

Sealing and installing the covering boards, also bedded in 3M5200 will follow.

Once she is fully decked, all of her horizontal surfaces will be bleached, stained and sealed.

Varnishing is next … can’t wait!

1957 Lyman Runabout How to Mock Up Helm Station Seating

1957 lyman runabout helm station seating mockup

Our 1957 23’ Lyman Runabout’s owners asked us to replace the unworkable, basic helm station seating and storage she was originally fitted out with in Sandusky, OH, with the optional center pass-through alternative.

It will offer a flat floor from the engine box to the firewall, two storage lockers, one behind each “bucket” seat, and additional storage beneath them.

Where to begin? Fortunately the two seating configurations share interior seating pedestals. John began there, shaping and fitting each seat and locker, including the shelves within and the door he will fabricate and install. That door will be fitted out with the traditional Lyman anchor cutout.

John’s ability to imagine and then translate his ideas into a concrete, three-dimensional reality is at least inspiring, if not just a bit intimidating!

1957 Lyman Runabout: How to Fabricate and Install Ceilings

1957 lyman runabout how to fabricate ceilings

Ceilings – hull-side mahogany planking – and helm seating with a center pass-through and storage lockers fixed to the aft side of the forward seatbacks were available options on the 1957 23-foot Lyman Runabouts.

Her original owners opted for the stripped-down configuration, no ceilings and basic seating. The latter included a wide, solid seatback centered in the helm station with two short hinged wings at each end.

Her owners are opting for the upgrades, including a pair of lockers, complete with silhouetted anchors in the doors. Even better, once finished, our optional seating configuration will include a flat floor from stern to firewall, and a small step-up to each helm station seat.

We will fabricate and install the ceilings and mock-up the seating and lockers while her owners are on the east coast. Presenting our concept to them in person helps us reach a joint decision, which must translate into a superior results for all.

1959 Chris Craft 17′ Sportsman Engine Install Alignment is Cricital!!!

1959 chris craft sportsman engine install align

Frustration dominates the shop this afternoon. Why? Whoever last stuffed this 283 into her bilge failed to align the engine and driveline properly, or even at all.

As is clearly evident in the video, we now understand why her original prop shaft was so badly scored and had actual, almost inch-wide grooves worn into it. The shaft log is worn completely out of round as well.

The shaft log can be used, but the prop shaft will be replaced with a stainless one.

You simply cannot just drop the engine onto its mounting wedges, crank down the mounting bolts and then bolt the mating faces of the transmission and prop shaft couplers together with a long ratchet handle. Yes, you can force – distort – them until they appear to mate by reefing on the coupler bolts.

But all you have really accomplished is initiating destruction of the strut bushing, the prop shaft, and the shaft log, while also visiting potentially high-wear forces onto the transmission and engine.

Once properly aligned, and before any bolting begins, alignment is a hands-only process, with the wedges being tapped this way and that, and the engine being teased laterally back and forth until it is impossible to insert a 4 mm feeler gauge between the coupler plate faces when the latter are held in place by hand.

Repeat all the way around 360 degrees while holding the plates in place. If the feeler gauge can be inserted anywhere, the engine is not properly aligned.

Spin the prop shaft and its coupler. When correctly aligned, inserting that gauge remains impossible.

That the original prop shaft was polished along the section passing through the shaft bore as well tells us the latter was bored slightly too small, so we cleaned it out using a Forstner bit on the drilling shaft John fabricated to open the bore until the prop runs without touching any wood once the engine is aligned.

Yes, alignment is a slow and at times incredibly frustrating process, but oh is executing it properly critical to achieving rated horsepower output as well as to the long run viability of your engine and driveline.

John, who spent decades building high-performance engines for mud racers, knows of what he speaks on this front.

1957 Lyman Runabout Paint & Stain Update

1957 lyman runabout paint stain

What a difference a bit of attention makes!

  • She is sporting her red boot stripe.
  • Her topsides were sanded to 80 grit, faired with 3M Marine Premium Filler, final sanded with 80 grit, and then received two coats of Interlux PreKote primer.
  • Her transom received two Dutchman repairs, was sanded fair using 40-, 6- and 80-grit paper, stained and sealed with three coats of CPES.
  • Her remaining mechanical components were released and readied for preservation.
  • All interior hull surfaces and all framing were cleaned, sealed with CPES and received an initial initial coat of Sandusky Lyman Sand Tan Bilge paint.
  • Her new foredeck and aft deck panels and her king plank were fabricated using correct ribbon-cut mahogany marine plywood.
  • Most of her hardware was packed and sent to chrome.
  • Her Iva-Lite returned fully preserved.

Once John reaches for surface putty and repairs a series of dings that the primer revealed, we will be applying Interlux Premium Yacht Enamel to her topsides.

We will shortly seal her deck and gunwale framing with CPES, and then we can move to installing her decks and covering boards bedded in 3M5200.

This update affords us an opportunity to remind one and all of us to take great care when we tighten lifting ring assemblies. You fail to do so at your peril, as is clear from this clip. Someone must have trotted out a long bar to have extra leverage while securing the assembly. The result is a concavity around the deck’s center rather than Lyman’s characteristic and elegant crown.

We will address the issue using vertical bracing between the keel and the two deck frame members just forward and aft of the lifting assembly. Carefully applying upward pressure removes the hollow, but we will go slightly beyond fair so that the deck is properly convex once the panels are installed, the bracing is removed and the surface settles slightly.

From now to her post-conservation review sometime in May, she will blossom, becoming ever so much more elegant day-by-day and week-by-week. Yes!

1957 Lyman Runabout Foredeck Off!

1957 lyman runabout foredeck removal

With only applying SANPACO Lyman Copper Bronze Antifouling paint to the jack stand paddle areas ahead of us, RJ and I lowered the 1957 23’ Old Style Lyman Runabout onto a pair of boat dollies this morning.

He’s totally cleaned the interior of the topsides and bilge of all old paint, varnish and what have you. Now it is time to attack replacing the foredeck, toe rails and aft deck, and to release and refinish the covering boards between them.

The starboard foredeck panel was replaced at some time, along with the toe rails on both sides. Rather than use ribbon cut mahogany plywood, which is correct, the new panel is what we call totally incorrect swirl-grain plywood. That it is thicker than the portside panel does not help at all. I express the hope that we can save the toe rail material in the video, but, having released both of rails now, it is clear that major plywood delamination has assaulted both of them. I quickly stripped a section of the king plank, only to discover that it too is fabricated from swirl-grain plywood. The one positive is that whoever did this work was super lazy, or just did not know. Nothing is sealed on the back sides. Nowhere is there any evidence of adhesive having been applied between the decking material and the frames. All of the delamination we have discovered is the “reward” for taking such shortcuts. We will seal aggressively, and will set everything bedded in adhesive. We have no choice but to replace the king plank and both toe rails using correct, and likely slightly thicker ribbon cut plywood.

The aft deck plywood panels will be replaced as well thereby allowing her to present uniformly from stem to stern.

Once the deck and gunwale framing is exposed, it will be cleaned and then sealed on all sides with three coats of CPES. Why?

We spend incredible money and time staining, sealing and varnishing exterior surfaces, but so many of the boats arriving in our shop present completely raw interior surfaces. That raw wood is like a sponge that continually takes on and releases moisture, causing the wood to expand and contract beneath the wonderful varnish we have so lovingly applied.

For a while the varnish is elastic enough to expand and contract with the wood, but as it continues curing, it also loses elasticity, begins breaking down and ultimately fails.

We seal every piece of wood on every side we can get to. Bilges receive three coats of CPES and then three coats of the best bilge paint we can buy. If the boat is outfitted with ceilings, that bilge paint is applied from keel to gunwales.

The framing is doused with CPES, as are the underside surfaces of all deck and covering boards. Once sealed, the wood becomes very stable and finishes survive much, much longer.

Yes, all this sealing costs money and time, but once again, price and cost diverge. Just think of how much you save if your woody’s varnish fails in 3-5 years instead of 5 – 8 years!