This is a story of a Restoration

I restored this boat from April 2006 to October 2008. You will need to go to the very bottom, October 2008, to find the biginning. See blog archive on the right side.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Disassembly. 29 April 2006 #3

Here are some more pictures of the poor condition of the boat.

This boat is now 59 years old. It was built in Newport News, Virginia. The boat was delivered new on 4 March 1947 to a dealer in a city just 13 miles from where I now live. It was used quit regular for 24 years. It has stayed here in this area all it’s life. I am the 7th owner.

I laid the boat on it’s side and stripped fiberglass cloth off the hull.

Then I started removing the screws. These screws had putty over them and putty in the screwdriver slots. I had to chip the screw head clean of putty with a screwdriver and hammer, and then remove the screw, sometimes by hand, sometimes with my power drill. Look at the next picture and you can see the screw holes filled with putty.

Here you see the bottom off, and the plank "patterns" laid on the floor for future reference, which didn’t come until December.

The inside of this boat was so dirty, even greasy dirty, I had it sand blasted. Before and after.

You can see the white putty between the planks.

After years of soaking and drying out, the planks swell and then contract, letting in lots of water. A former owner put in the putty.

The bottom had two layers of planks, one set ran diagonal and a set running fore to aft attached to the diagonal ones, with an oil soaked canvass between them. This canvass would soak up the water that came thru, but after years of exposure it finally became ineffective. These boats were only expected to last 6 to 8 years, about the same as the automobiles of that era. You can see the diagonal planks in the picture above, and the one below.

So they put the putty in the cracks, and when the planks got wet and swelled again, it put stress on the frame joints and pushed them apart. In the first picture you can see space on the left where it is pusshed apart. You can see in the second picture the half round holes. They are not lined up like they were when it was new. These are things I had to correct when I put it back together. The stress also broke about 25% of the brass screws and 75% of the brass bolts.

YAWNNNNN. Boring, huh, Crash.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The Beginning

It all started in late May of 1973. I was driving thru a small town close to my home and I saw this old wooden boat setting by a service station. I was a mechanic for a farmer out in the country, and I went to the larger town to get parts often, so I drove by this boat quite a few times. After about two weeks, I stopped and inquired about the boat. It was in poor shape. Spaces between the planks, and a small hole in the side. But he said the engine had been rebuilt 2 years ago, and ran well. I had known the man for years, he had owned it for 4 years and he would sell it for $300. I wrote him out a check on June 13, 1973 and pulled it home.

Now look at this picture, imagine the boat with out the white, just ugly brown wood. That’s the way it looked. But it did have wood covering the deck and chrome hardware. The trailer was and is pathetic.

I had two teenage sons 18 and 17 and a teenage daughter 15 still at home.. They were excited about the boat, and the boys each gave me $100, so now we were partners. I had space in the shop where I worked, so in our spare time we took the engine out, and flipped it up-side-down, and cleaned and sanded the hull, and repaired several places. Then we applied fiber glass cloth and painted it white with a red bottom. We got it in the water in late August and started having fun. It was under powered at our altitude (4500 ft.), but we still had fun. One in the boat and one water skiing. It was OK to have no observer back then.

When Christmas came, I gave my share of the boat (I had paid for all the repairs) to my sons. They used it hard thru 1977, it developed zip cracks in the fiberglass along every plank joint and started leaking. It got worse each year and they installed two bilge pumps. And they wanted "More Power", you know, Tim Taylor of "Home Improvement". So in the spring of 1978, they bought their own boat and gave the oldie back to me.

One nice day the summer of 1978, I took my 20 year old daughter and her girlfriends water skiing. After the picnic, which lasted too long, the boat had water above the floor boards. The bilge pumps had failed! The girls started bailing water and I removed the seats to reduce weight. Then I got it started and slowly the self bailer removed the water. We took it home and I put it in the shed, and there it sat for 28 years.

I tried to sell it several times, with no takers. In 1982 I pulled it out and did some work on it, hoping I could get it ready so I could teach my youngest daughter, now 13, to water ski. I removed the deck wood and did some patching, but the loss of my job put the boat back in the shed. It never saw the light of day again until February of 2006.

I was now retired, and I wanted to clean things up and sell the boat. I went on the internet and did some research, and found out that this Gar Wood boat was rare. Out of about 3000 built from 1921 thru 1947, only 300 have survived. You have all heard of the name of Chris Craft, there are thousands of Chris Craft boats out there.

So I found a boat restoration company in Ohio, sent him pictures, and he replied that the boat was worth $1000 to $2000 as a "pattern" boat. You take a plank off and use it for a pattern for a new plank. He said he would restore it for $50,000 to $60,000! But suggested I could buy a good one for $25,000. I checked prices of wood and other materials and I figured I could restore it for $10,000. Of course my labor would be free. I bought the Bible of boat restoring, "How To Restore Your Wooden Runabout" by Don Danenberg and started the project.

I removed the first screw on 15 April 2006 (the first of 3500), rented a shop from my neighbor next door and moved the boat in on 29 April 2006 and started to work. No, not work, but play. I have had so much fun on this project. I could hardly wait to get started each morning.

Now, my profession is in the automotive mechanical world. Forty-three years. But I have learned to do wiring, plumbing, I even built our garage and other buildings and many wood projects for my wife. But I am not a cabinet maker, and that is what this boat was going to be like. I had to buy many special tools. I already had a nice radial arm saw, but I needed a router, table saw, band saw, planner, etc. I spent $3,000 on tools over the next 12 months!

See you later.
The Beginnig of a Love Affair

I am the OLDBOATGUY. This will not aways be a humorous blog. I'll try to infuse some funny stuff. But it is a narrative with pictures of my/our boat. It will be downright boring for some, and highly interesting for others. It will take me though 2 ½ years of boat restoration. Actually, more than 35 years from the purchase to the finishing of the restoring.
I had owned 2 boats before this one. An old wooden inboard boat I shared with a friend in Salt Lake City before I got married, and which I left with him, and a fiberglass outboard I bought in 1967, in which I taught my children to water ski. I had to sell it because I started selling insurance, and needed the money.
So now I will start my love affair with this old time. (I hope this will work, I don’t know what I am doing.)