Songbird is a 1948 18-foot Century Sea Made who arrived in October 21. Now, some ten months later, and following a total, bow-to-stern, gunwale-to-keel preservation. This clip’s thumbnail photo offers a hint of the challenges she was hiding beneath her “skirts.” Over three inches of hated automobile Bondo graced her bow and foredeck. More of this stuff elsewhere, combined with disastrous “restoration” work elsewhere translated in a virtual wholesale replacement of her bottom framing, rerouting her deck seams, refastening most of her planking and on and on.
We persevered, and today we are celebrating as Songbird burst out of the shop riding her custom-built trailer, ready and oh so anxious to be homebound.
Her True 5200 bottom will keep everything dry, and her now show-ready finishes will turn heads among wooden boaters everywhere.
Just to provide a sense of her journey, here is a chronology of her preservation:
Songbird is progressing, despite curing still being severely hampered throughout the shop by chronic humidity levels of 80%-90%+ daily until yesterday. That we are “fully enjoying” monsoon rains and even higher humidity today is not helping.
However, Joe took advantage of yesterday’s low humidity, which allowed varnish applied last Sunday to finally cure fully, to pay mahogany Sikaflex 291 LOT into Songbird’s deck seams.
Now we are waiting again.
If the rest of this week’s low humidity levels holds, we should be able to apply another coat of Pettit Flagship Varnish on Friday, and finally the last of the amber varnish next Monday.
Painting the seams with high-gloss white Interlux Premium Yacht Enamel will follow. As soon as it cures, we will be able to do a final block sanding of the entire hull using 600 grit before applying the final two-three coats of Pettit Captains Ultra Clear Varnish.
Finally, it will be final buffing/waxing and reassembly time, after which Songbird will be homeward bound. We cannot wait, which pales by comparison to how anxious her owner-stewards are to have her on the water again!
No, the varnished surface on the decks is not flat …. Yet. Once we have applied her initial five build coats, we will sand the entire hull using 320 grit on one of our Hutchins manual longboards now, and progress towards 600 grit later in the process.
You may notice that we have corrected the seam lines on her decks, and that where Century wanted her blonde or dark and bereft of seam lines, she now is.
We will continue varnishing and be back to you about ten more down the road.
Ahhh…. The beginning of the end of preserving our 1959 16.5-foot Lyman runabout is just barely beginning to peek over the horizon.
Rick first wet sanded the varnished exterior and interior through six grits, starting with 600 and finishing with 1500.
Buffing using our go-to suite of Presta cremes followed. The result? Pure glass. While he was buffing, Joe was busy in our clean room transforming the sea of parts into a forest with each suspended from the ceiling. The result? More glass and no dust.
The suspended parts have yet to be final varnished on the reverse sides of what you see in the clip.
It has been almost exactly one year since we shot her intake video, and now, final assembly of all wooden components cannot be far off.
Our 1947 Chris-Craft cedar-planked U22 blew past a major milestone today. Her deck, gunwales and transom have been sanded fair, stained with Lake Oswego Boat Co. J’eld stain – Post-War Chris-Craft, and sealed with multiple coats of Smith’s CPES.
Next we will scuff sand these surfaces using medium Scotch Brite pads, clean them with Acetone-dampened shop towels and begin applying Pettit Flagship High-Build varnish.
After applying about 15 coats, and because they will be painted white, we will fill the deck seams using mahogany Sikaflex, paint them white Interlux Boottop and Striping Enamel and then apply the final five or so coats using Pettit Z-Spar Captain’s Ultra Clear varnish, thereby adding UV protection to the paint.
I walked around the house’s corner and there in the garage sat the most unusual inboard I have seen to date. The helm station seating looks as though it was borrowed from a local church as it is more like a pew than a helm station bench seat.
And it was perched way forward, which produced a truly tiny, all but out-of-proportion foredeck. What looked to be the engine box was attached to the amidships bench seat back.
Lifting this odd dog house exposed a Gray Marine Phantom SIX-112 with dual carbs.
And then the owner/seller said, “Actually, you haven’t seen the most unusual part yet,” as he led me around the stern and brought this huge, cast bronze thing – the Penn Yan trademark Safety Strut into view.
I left there with her behind me. Today, some two plus years later, her complete preservation is finished. I can hardly wait for the 2020 ABM Boat Show and Auction because 1000 Island boats is this year’s theme. Our eighteen-foot Penn Yan President is registered for and will be in a covered slip at the show.
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, followed by an excerpt from the Real Runabouts, by Bob Speltz.
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”
Here we are, with her preservation complete, and still we have failed to find either offensive aftermarket “stuff” that was added, or any evidence of any “woodwork” since this Penn Yan 12’ Swift, CZT-2351, left the factory in Penn Yan, NY in 1953.
She is original through-and-through, and elegantly so now, what with 24 coats of Pettit Hi-Build Varnish, and Total Boat Jade Green topside paint adorning her decks, seating and hull. No effort was spared in brining her back to as-new and absolutely show-ready condition.
We are sooo close to completing the varnishing of this incredibly original 1953 12’ Penn Yan Swift CZT!
Once today’s coats of varnish have cured, Joe will hand sand the decks, rub rails and coamings one more time using P500 grit paper. Then she will be moved to the paint booth’s dust-free interior for a final two coats of varnish using Pettit Hi Build, (which has now been replaced by Pettit Flagship High Build Varnish 2015)
Reassembly will be next, after which we will set her back on her Tee Nee trailer for a trip to Marine Canvas of Vermont, where Chris Hanson, working with her owners, will fabricate two sets of seat cushions.
While all these activities are proceeding, Fran Secor of Otego, NY, who consistently wins class Best of Show awards for his outboard engine restorations at the annual ACBS show in Clayton, NY, is working apace to restore her 18 HP Johnson Sea Horse to as-new and show-ready condition. We will finish this wonderful project by spring and be ready to transport her to her home waters in Seattle, WA.
We will not ship her before we can enjoy doing a thorough sea trial on Lake Champlain, so fingers are crossed that we get an early and warm spring!