1953 Shepherd Sportsman 22′ Varnish Stripping Update

1953 shepherd sportsman varnish stripping

My wife keeps asking, “Why is it taking you so long to just strip the varnish from that Shepherd?”

Well, 22 feet long, almost 3 feet from chine to gunwale translate into lots and lots of surface area. Lots!
And, whoever varnished her last made sure the stain penetrated the mahogany, and then must have applied something like 18-20 coats of varnish.

I have complete a first pass on port and about 40 percent on starboard. Once the balance of the starboard side and the transom are denuded of all varnish and bottom paint, I will begin another lap using the Circa 1850 Heavy Bodied Stripper and stainless pot scrubbers to pull the stain out of the wood.

I have exhausted 3 gallons of Circa 1850 to this point, and expect to go through at least another 2 gallons before I have the topsides and transom down to truly bare wood.

As you see in the clip, and as is our custom, the spray rails have been released. Doing so is the only way to inform ourselves about the condition of the topside planking behind them. We are also afforded an opportunity to examine the fasteners – stainless square drive here – and toothpick the fastener holes with waterproof Gorilla Glue so the new fasteners have something to bite on after we have drilled new pilot holes and countersinks.
Even though they appear to be fine, never, ever will we use stainless fasteners at or below the waterline, or anywhere else on a wood boat save for hardware installation. Stainless is completely unforgiving, and they weaken very quickly when exposed to water, especially in an anaerobic environment.

For the same reasons we will likely replace the chine fasteners as well, but first it is slop on, scrape off, slop on, scrape off… So much fun.

1953 Shepherd Sportsman 22′ Starboard Bottom Planking Update

1953 Shepherd Sportsman 22' Starboard Bottom Planking Update 11 27 2015

I am halfway home on the first step of installing a true 5200 bottom on my 1953 Shepherd Sportsman. As of a few minutes ago, all of the starboard side bottom planking has been removed, exposing the frame members to cleaning and careful inspection.

Simply put, the inner planking, which was fabricated with 3/8” mahogany will be useful for patterning, but not much else, which is fine. It will be replaced with Okoume’ marine plywood, which will impart substantial additional strength to the hull.

The outer planking by contrast is solid, easily cleaned and will be reinstalled.

I did encounter a repair of the plank running along the chine. Two short planks, each of which is about 30” long were installed one ahead of the other, and ahead of the cut-off remained of the aft-most plank. The latter plank is about 50” long. Honest!

Since that longer plank had to be released to have the damaged section cut out, why this person failed to execute the repair using a single new plank that began at the transom and extended forward about 9 feet is at least baffling. Must be he/she had a couple of short lengths of mahogany lying around, so why not just screw them in place?

We will replace this mess with a single plank.

Other than one cracked rib that we will replace, the frames are as solid as stone, and, save for one other frame, the fasteners are tight.

Tomorrow I “get” to begin on the port side. Yahoo!

Flipping Our 1953 22′ Shepherd Sportsman! OMG!

Even with her 331 cubic inch Hemi V8 out of her hull and on a cradle, this 1953 22’ Shepherd Sportsman hull (22-53-308) weighs something like 3,500 pounds, and possibly more. Our chain falls and rolling infrastructure is rated for 10 tons, so lifting her is not the challenge.

Given her volume, however, three guys must somehow roll her 180 degrees. Here is how we got there.

We quickly realized that rolling her to port was driving the aft strap off the roller, so we reversed course and began flipping her to starboard.

There is a moment of truth, just as the hull is hanging on edge – on one of the gunwales – in the straps. It still wants to come back, and we must overcome those forces and literally get the uppermost gunwale past the tipping point. Usually we can muscle it through this point, but, as is clear in the clip, the Shepherd easily resisted all we could muster, even when RJ is hanging on the hull.

As John can be heard worrying, setting her lower gunwale on the ground and allowing gravity to become our friend offers a solution, but one that risks distorting the hull or worse. These hulls are not designed to carry their weight over one small area of a gunwale.

Our strategy, as is evident in the clip was to slowly lower her until she began to roll past the tipping point. The straps continue carrying most of her weight, and the two-inch blue board cushions the wood.

Slowly, slowly, slowly over she came, quickly evidencing one main advantage of this strategy: We could control the amount and rate of roll.

Finally, over she goes, and momentarily threatens to keep going, but we catch her and settle her on the aft dolly, at which point all the tension leaves the room.

Next comes stripping all of the bottom paint and releasing all of the outer bottom planking, which appears to be in great shape and savable.

The inner planking will be another story given the many, many months she hung in her boathouse with her bilge full of water.

Once all the planking is released and we repair framing as needed, a new true 5200 bottom will be installed.
Happy Thanksgiving!

1953 Shepherd Sportsman Removing Bottom Plank Fasteners

1953 shepherd sportsman removing bottom plank fasteners 112015

There is no glory in removing fasteners from the bottom of my 1953 Shepherd Sportsman. It is all about being finished.

This clip responds to your several requests for a walk-through on how I am removing them, one by one by one.

The tools:
– The shop is well-stocked with cordless drill and impact guns. Today I will use four of them, with a different driver in each gun. Doing so saves me from endlessly removing and inserting drivers, which makes the drudgery pass by more quickly.
– The two impact guns hold the square drivers – a #2 and a #1 – I use to remove the #8 x 1-1/2” screws driven into the ribs and the #6 x ¾” screws driven into internal battens running between the ribs.
– One screw gun holds a 3/32” twist drill, and the other one holds #2 Pro Grabit screw extractor.

As stated in the narrative, I first stripped all of the paint down to bare wood on the starboard side, but doing so softened the putty used to fill the fastener countersinks. When I drilled through the putty and into the center of each fastener, I was left with a clean hole when I was hoping that the drill would also shatter the surrounding material.RJ suggested experimenting with removing the fasteners ahead of applying the Circa 1850

Heavy Bodied stripper to the planks. What a great suggestion. I had about 60 percent of the fasteners removed in the scant two hours I had been working when I shot this clip. Reaching the same point on the starboard side took me a bit over three and a half hours.

The process is pretty straightforward. Drill through the center of the filler and into the square drive hole.

Clear the debris with an air chuck set to run at 120 PSI. Then “simply” insert the requisite square driver and out comes the fastener.

Theory is truly remarkable!

In my experience, about 80 percent of the fasteners did simply back out, but the other 20 percent offered all sorts of impediments. Some of them broke, so only part of them released. Others simply spun in place and thus released with the plank when it was pried off the hull. But about 10 percent of them required reaching for the Pro Grabit.

But as I draft this description on December 1, the entire port side is free of fasteners, and the circa 1850 is now working on the forward third of the port side planks.

I cannot wait to get back on task…

1953 Hemi-331-Powered Shepherd Model 110s Sportsman Comes Home

1953 Hemi-331-Powered Shepherd Model 110s Sportsman Comes Home

UPDATE: I am well into her deconstruction today – Saturday, Nov 7, and just found her hull number: 22-53-308. She is a 1953 Model 110S, which makes her among the first of the first dual-quad, Hemi-331-powered Shepherd Sportsman. Wow!

This video and the actions it stems from are examples of one of my life truths, “Things happen for a reason.”

Selling the 1952 18’ Chris-Craft Riviera, the most original boat ever to come through our shop, was beyond painful. Shirley, my wife of 47 years, and I would finally own a boat we could enjoy as ours. But it was not to be, as has been chronicled in earlier videos.

Why? Well, if you peruse the “Our Story” tab, you will learn that, what was then no more than a semi-pipe dream of growing a wood boat preservation shop that delivers at only the highest standards of craftsmanship, was launched with the purchase of a disheveled 1949 Shepherd 22’ utility in Meredith, NH.

Yes, we preserved that boat, but someone wanted her more and she now spends her summers on Lake Winnipesauke’s Winter Harbor.

Then came the ’52 RIV. Perfect in every way and only cosmetically compromised. Once again, but this time driven in large part by an opportunity peeking over the horizon, someone wanted her more than us, and she is now luxuriating in Ohio, from which she will migrate to South Carolina in the spring.

Finally! A dear friend and fellow Shepherd boat addict pinged me from Virginia, “Michael, there is a largely original ’54, 22’, hemi-powered Sportsman available, but she is lying in Pointe au Basil, Ontario, Canada.” A quick Google exercise told me that we were close to 600 miles apart. No matter.

I sold the RIV without being sure I could buy the Shepherd, but things happen for a reason. One week I made a fast overnight out and back trip to deliver the RIV. Just two days ago, towing my new Sea Lion, a custom-made trailer purchased from and delivered by my go-to source of boat trailers, Trailer Outlet in Tilton, NH, I was on the road again.

At 10:00 last night, after driving over 1,200 miles in two days and loading my “new” Shepherd, we arrived home. Taking a longer northern route through Ottawa back meant escaping most of the fury that the remnants of Hurricane Patricia visited on southern Ontario.

Yes, she does have an issue or two, but is just so complete and so correct. Reflecting his about 6’6” height, Tim Simmonds, who agreed to pass her stewardship to me, had the helm seat lowered. At 6’3”, I can deal with returning it to its proper height.

The original gas tank, which we have, is beyond saving, and has been replaced with a plastic tank and “modern” filler spout. Fortunately, Tim had the folks at Desmasdons Boatworks in Pointe au Baril saved the original mounting brackets, filler spout, which will allow us to get very nearly back to original on this score.

The background of the gauge panel has been machined turned chrome on every Shepherd we have worked on to date, and this one is matte black. We will do some research here.

Bottom line: Do not ask. She is not for sale, will not be for sale. Period.

1953 Shepherd: How to Repair a Stem with a Dutchman (update)

1953 shepherd dutchman repair stem

What a nice way to end the week! John has continued working on the Dutchman repair to the 1953 Shepherd’s stem. I hope you will agree as you view this clip that he’s made some solid progress. We filled the cavities around the original carriage bolts with Jamestown Distributors Thixo Thickened Epoxy, which we will allow to cure over the weekend.

Then John will use the same adhesive to bond the stem and knee components of this Dutchman repair to the native surfaces, securing them temporarily in place with wood screws. 3M 5200 will be applied on the two elements’ joining faces.

Once the adhesive has cured and the screws have been removed, John will complete his final sanding-in process and drill new carriage bolt holes from the inside out.

Yes, surfaces will be sealed with CPES prior to being glued in place.

We are doing a Dutchman repair workshop this Saturday, and hope to have some interesting content uploaded next week.

1953 Shepherd: How to use a Dutchman to Repair a Stem

1953 shepherd dutchman repair stem

Our January 24, 2015 workshop included a clinic led by John La Fountain on using a Dutchman for repairing the stem of 1953 Shepherd 22’ utility we are preserving.

Following is the handout he prepared and distributed to workshop participants.

  1. Inspect stem and knee to determine if a Dutchman can solve the rotting and grain separation issues where the stem and knee meet.
  2. Remove the bad part by cutting away any rot or split-out wood. a. Always cut the top at an upward angle relative to the leading edge of the stem so that water runs off the Dutchman, not down inside it.
  3. Make a template using cardboard.
  4. Locate a straight-grained, clear piece of white oak – usually 8/4, as it was here. (Be sure to wear heavy gloves!) a. Using a band saw, rough-out the mating surfaces between the Dutchman and stem or knee, after transferring the templates to the blocks of wood. b. Rough out the abutting faces of the two Dutchmen.
  5. Sand the Dutchmen to shape
  6. Re-fasten the leading ends of the planking – or strakes in a lapstrake hull – bedded in 3M 5200.
  7. Repair any rot, cracks or over-sized holes with TotalBoat Thixo Thickened Epoxy adhesive now. (The above-waterline seams will be affixed with TotalBoat Wood Epoxy System.)
  8. Once epoxy has cured, do a final sanding and shaping of both Dutchmen and the surfaces they will mate to on the stem and knee.
  9. After a final check for fit, some final sanding, fit the Dutchmen in place and one fastener pilot hole into each.
  10. Glaze both surfaces with TotalBoat Thixo, and the abutting surfaces with 3M 5200, and fasten them in place with fasteners passing through the pilot holes.
  11. Wait 24-48 hours.
  12. Drill the carriage bolt holes from the inside of the stem and knew out, and insert silicon bronze carriage bolts – 4 in the case of the Shepherd.
  13. Do a final sanding and fairing.
  14. You are ready for paint!