Monday, December 28, 2009

Gemmer steering.

Started the work on restoring the Gemmer steering for the boat. An incorrect 1950's white "Sheller" wheel was installed at some point in time, together with some late 50's deck hardware. A plexi glass wrap-around windshield was put on as well. I guess they tried to modernize the look to keep up with the times.

The gears and bearing, though dirty, are in very good shape with very little wear. The grease inside the housing was all dried up, to a thick tar consistency.

The steering rod have severe pit-rust though, more or less 1/2 the thickness of the pipe. So, the search have started on replacement parts. I've read that Ford Model A used the same steering, but the parts are not the same. Both the worm gear and steering rod use on Mod. A's (1928-31) have a larger diameter. Looking into the use for model year 1932-34, to see if these are the same.

If you have any parts information, please let me know.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

More parts.

Again, thanks to eBay, I'm getting more of the missing parts needed. This time the top part of the self bailer. I got out-bid on the thru-hull pieces on an auction from another seller. Well, next time.....

The self bailer was mounted in front on the fuel tank. I have heard that the insurance companies want them removed from the boat, since they allegedly fill the boat with water when backing up or if the boat is docked in a current.

Anyway, it's needed for a correct boat. Here is a picture supplied by Don Ayers of the correct placement.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

My lucky day?

Here's the story:

I am fortunate to have great car mechanics, brothers Wade and Tom Marston. Old school - can do guys, that work on any model car, from early Model T's to our Audi and Honda Minivan (though I think they enjoy the old stuff the most). These are the guys that are putting our 1969 MGB back together after a body up restoration. They are doing all the mechanical stuff and the engine rebuild.

I stopped by their shop a few weeks ago to check on the MG, and we started taking boat work. Tommy then said "I have a couple sticks of mahogany". I looked at him a little strange and said "OK" (like in I need way more than a few sticks.....)

He continues, "I bought them about 30 years ago when a lumberyard in town when bankrupt. they are about 4" thick". "You have what", I said, well aware that 16/4 (4") thick Philippine Mahogany has not been available for the last 8-10 years. "I have two pieces" he continued, "about 12 feet long and 20" wide". I could not believe what I heard. Though he thinks they might be Honduran, I needed to check them out.

He said, "well, that's easier said than done. They are stored in the back of my shed, with 30 years of car parts, including a couple of MGA's and a few motor cycles on top and in front. To get to them we have to cut a hole in the outside wall, but I'll do that for you".

I went to see him today, and with the end wall open up I could see the two slabs. One is 21" wide and the other is 24" wide.

He had three pieces at one point, and from the 4" x 4" pieces that's left of the last, I took this picture with my cell phone. From this cut made 15-20 years ago, it is hard to see what type of Mahogany it is. Let me know if you have a suggestion or want to guess. I'm sending a sample to USDA Forest Service tomorrow. They should be able to determine the correct specie.

Again, let me know if you can help me out.

Friday, December 11, 2009

New (old) parts.

A lot of parts are needed and finding the correct parts take some searching and help from the classic boating community. Found the correct Autolite 6V horn on eBay, from a guy in NC restoring parts to be used on Hot Rod's. Chris Craft used some of the same parts that was used in the cars of the time.

The old horn, completely rusted out.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Tight cheeks??

Started on the transom work, and completed the cheeks. Cut out of 12" wide White Oak. Between the two old deteriorated ones, I was able to trace a set of good set of templates. The angle on the outside changes every 2 inches, so a lot of adjustments on the band saw.

And after 20+ years in woodworking, I clearly has a lot to learn about wood. Steam bending is all new to me, and I have spent a lot of time reading up on it. One prerequisite is straight grained, knot free wood. So I carefully chose the lower transom piece with this is mind (I thought). Well, after 4 days of soaking in a 4" PVC pipe. This is how it looked when it came out...... Damn it......

Schedule for tomorrow: Out buying more White Oak.........

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Got steam?

A day of labor, two trips to Home Depot, about $200 in plumbing pipe, 3500W heater element and a 25' for cord, we're making steam. Used the well described Dannenberg version, except used a 5 gallon plastic can instead of a sight tube and stabilizer pipe. I got this idea from an article in The Brass Bell, called "Bending wood at Fahrenheit 212". Much less labor-, parts- and cost intensive.

It works very well, steam in less than 5 minutes.

During my 30 minute test run, it used less than 1 gallon of the water, so I should be good for a 2 hour run for steaming 7/8 Oak (1 3/4") without refilling. If I need to cook anything longer than that, I could just slowly add more water to the tank.

I will move the can 3" higher though, so I'll get about 4 gallon of "water height" above the top of the heater element.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

No end to "it".

The transom framing is off, and I can't understand how it kept the boat together no less the shape of a barrelback. Cheeks broken in several pieces, the parts not having red paint is "dry" rot.

As stated many times, I want to keep the boat original. However, I will improve slightly the transom framing. The cheeks are 7/4 (1 3/4") thickness, the lower bow and vertical supports are 6/4, the top bow is 5/4, and a two-piece construction. Both White Oak and Mahogany is used in a mix as well. I will make all the parts in 7/4 White Oak.

With tape and screws I guess I have enough for tracing.....

Not being sure what would happen with the outside shape of the boat with the transom removed, I screwed a 2"x4" to the between the battens and used a strap to hold the shape.

White Oak is soaking, and a steam generator must be built.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009


I'm framed, that's what they all say. Well, I'm all done with the topside- and bottom framed. And as always, things takes alot longer than expected. I am however, happy with the result. Spent a lot of time with levels, straight edges and battens to find the "sweet" lines, especially on the forward 1/3 of the boat. Most of the frames were rotten with missing sections, barely good enough to trace onto cardboard.

I may have one or two frames that are a little high, but I'll wait with the final fairing until the transom, keel and chines are in place.

Now I'm ready for the transom cheeks and bow.

Friday, November 27, 2009

New Stem and Forefoot.

When planning this restoration, I knew that reproducing a new Stem-Forefoot assembly would be one of the most challenging things. The original was broken in several pieces, with parts missing. I got it screwed and taped together enough to use as a template. Some of the shapes had to be drawn by hand.

Hull without Stem-Forefoot:

I followed Dannenberg's method with a clear plastic and a tracing wheel. This worked very well, however I took a shortcut when I used a thin stencil type, sticky back plastic. I would recommend to use the thicker Mylar plastic described in his book.

I am very happy with the end result. As described, I used a 1/8" router bit make the first "center" cut for the depth of the rabbet. Then using my Fein Multimaster with a 1 1/8" wide blade to carve out down to correct depth. Some light chisel work and final sanding.

Old and new, side by side:

Test fit:

The last two bottom- and topside frames to do, and then the transom.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Drawings from Mariners Museum

The ordered drawings for the 17' Deluxe arrived from the Mariners Museum this week. Not much details on them, but the drawing for the 1941 model year show the placement of some of the trim pieces.

Still pretty cool that all this documentation is saved and available.

Note the steering wheel drawn on the 1940 model. Banjo..... Hmmmmm.... Banjo or not to banjo, that's another decision to make. Down the line though......



More wood, and my wife is.....

...not exactly as exited about a nice piece of wood as I am. Especially when it we talking $1500 for a few boards of wood.....

Went to the Woodery yesterday to pick up two 18' long Douglas Fir stock for the new engine stringer (aka keelsons). Not easy or cheap to find wood that was abundant 70 years ago. They were able to locate some decent 8/4 SVG (straight vertical grain) Doug. Fir that they planed down to the proper 1 5/8". I also picked up a 7/4 x 12" x 10' White Oak for the stem, forefoot, transom bow and cheeks. And some 1 3/4" x 5 1/2" by 16' Philippine Mahogany for the keel. This should keep me plenty busy over the winter.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Cutting wood, finally!

I'm now happy with straightness of the hull, and have finally started cutting out new bottom- and topside frames from my Philippine Mahogany frame stock. The new Grizzly bandsaw works very well, though it take some practice to get the ever changing angle on the outside edge of the topside frame just right. Found it to be much easier to pattern onto some poster board, cut out, and use this to template new topsides.

Aft bottom frames done:

And on to the topsides:

Nice, tight fit, though it took one to "practice"

7/4 White Oak for transom bow, cheeks, stem/forefoot on order, ready to pick up this week. Chine and keel stock as well.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Still at it.

Still working on getting the planning surface flat and straight. After hours with battens and straight edges, I have a 6 foot flat planning surface.

When I strung a line from the transom forward, I can see that the bow and topside frame station # 1 is "leaning" about 1 inch to the port. First I thought this was a result of the bow being bend down, as described earlier (and poked fun of by Mr. Woodyboater himself). However, when I measured both sides of the topsides, the port side plank # 2 is 1/2" shorter than the starboard. The boat was planked crocked. I guess I got the "Monday AM" boat. With all the small errors I've seen so far, it is pretty clear that these boats were made with "assembly line" speed. Not with a craftsman's skill.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Bent frames?

The bow has bent down several inches over the years, and the keel has a significant bulge in the engine area. Either the weight of the bow and improper storage or the weight of the engine over the frames is the probable cause. After the I removed the keel, some cement blocks did the trick. Blocking with the correct thickness between the floor and sheer line.

The boat was assembled from pre-cut parts back in the days, and frames was supposed to be assembled tight. I guess 1/4" - 3/8" gap was close enough. I also think the half-round holes was drilled after frame was assembled and bolted in. They have different placement and size from frame to frame. This one is is also drilled at an angle.

I'm also waiting for the profile drawing of the hull from the Mariners Museum. I hope this will tell me if and how much concave shape the frames have, especially the aft 3 or 4 on the planning surface. Can't seem to get it to look right with battens and straightedges.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009


Over the last days, I've been leveling and straightening the hull. A lot of work is needed. Like all gray boats, the hull is "hogged" and the keel has a bulge were it's supposed to have a 8' flat section. The RotoLaser comes in handy.

After the bottom frames are moved back tight to the keel and secured, the topside frames are pulled together with ratchet straps. Wood brazing will hold them in place when propperly aligned.

New Grizzly bandsaw is purchased, and a new 22oV circuit is added to the shop.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

I got wood!

After debating using White Oak or Philippine mahogany for my frames, I had set my sights on White Oak mainly due to the rot resistance of the White Oak. However, after some soul searching and my dedication to restore this boat back to original specs, I had to fine some deep red, rift sawn and dense Philippine mahogany. The Woodery in Lunenburg MA just got a shipment that fit the bill. 5/4" stock which they planed down to the correct 15/16" thickness.

Enough for both bottom-, topside and deck framing.

Bare bones!

Here we go! No turning back now. The bottom and the 1st. stake topside plank is removed. And for one short, little second, the dreaded thought was there.... What in the hell have I put my self into, but only for one short, little second though....... Then I got back into my dreams of shiny mahogany and flathead six sound over a mirror lake.

No big surprises, just a confirmation that all bottom frames and most topside frames must be replaced. There will be much work in straightening the hull, Improper storage and the bow being exposed to weather for many years has made the bow bend down.

"Dry rot" and frame movement. The chines are totally gone.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

And the patient is.......

.....resting comfortably on her back. Ready for bottom removal and hours of leveling and straightening before fabrication of new bottom- and most topside frames.

The entire bottom - transom corner is wrapped in copper flashing, nailed in with hundreds of copper brads. Some kind of window glazing or putty was put into rot voids.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Roll-over day!

After much planning, the day had come for my first antique boat roll-over. I've made lift frames, made my own "Dannenberg light" rollers, brazed the hull and was ready to go. And it went as smooth as can be. With help from my neighbor, it was done in 1 1/2 hour, including setup of frames and rigging.

1/3 of the way around. I could have tighten the 4" straps a little, but just enough clearance.

Everything held up just fine. and ready to roll back into the shop for bottom removal and straightening.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Brazed for success?

The old crocked hull need to be supported before attempting to roll her over. Cross brazing with tie-inn to the keel is installed.

Since I don't have enough roof height in my shop, the boat needs to be moved outside for the roll-over. I installed built inn dollies that will work as support when moved inside again. Take the wheels off, unscrew from the engine stringers and start leveling and straightening.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Boat works, finally!

Most of the other projects are finally done, so now it's time for boat work! Remaining hardware is now out of the boat, ready for some structural brazing for the turn-over.

The "wiring harness" is out, complete with Homer boxes and all. I will save it for future reference use.

Are getting things moving along now. installing brazing tomorrow, and turn-over in the next few days. Ordering White Oak for the frames, and a new bandsaw is already on order. Check back for updates!