Thursday, April 19, 2012

Wianno Senior Restoration Part Two

In my last post, I wrote that I hoped that we'd have the hull replanked in a week. With restoration, things don't always work out as planned. 
The Wianno Seniors were originally planked upside down, starting with the garboard. Now Seth had the awkward task of spiling, fitting and fairing upside down. Except that this time he'd be on the bottom. 

The first step we took was to ask Dan Gould, a seasoned boat builder and friend, to give us a lesson in the Ring Anderson spiling method. It's a remarkably straightforward and common sense method that trumps the way most of us learned to spile. Seth had to be accurate because we were going to try to squeeze two planks out of one piece of Wana.

Wana, or ocotea rubra is known by many names such as Determa or Grignon rouge and originates in Suriname. I had mistakenly thought it was Guanacaste from Costa Rica. They look similar but in fact are not. Wana is a wonderful planking wood, which works well in our situation since the original planks were mahogany. 

 Seth was able to get the two planks out of one piece of Wana. That gave us the extra piece we'd need to replace the second plank on the port side. The challenge of fitting the garboard was compounded by the squirrelly shape of that adjacent plank. The choice was to fight it or remove it. There were several rotten patches along it's length so it made the decision a bit easier. 
The rabbet needed to be faired, and holes filled before the garboard could be installed, and stop waters replaced with new wood. It seemed like every day brought a new problem to deal with. Three of the frames near the transom on the starboard side were cracked, so patterns were made, oak frames were cut and steamed, then fastened in place. So much to do before we closed her up.

We also had the opportunity to caulk the centerboard bed logs before the hull was closed up. The boat has dried out even more during the stay in the shop, making it even more critical to get this work completed so she can be moved outside, and closer to her watery world. 
On Thursday of Week Two the whole crew got to work helping Seth get things ready for the permanent installation the following day. Doug made and installed butt blocks. Brian, Jim and Seth prepped planks and hull.

The photos show the work sequence: the planks were dry fitted, caulking bevels planed to the correct angle, then sanded and primed with red lead. Once all the prep was completed the plank was screwed in place. 
On Friday morning, the crew got to work, each focused on their respective tasks, ready to pitch in when needed, while Seth orchestrated the complex procedure. I was so impressed by their craftsmanship and composure. Seth was leaving for his vacation in a matter of hours and had to make sure it all went together correctly!
By 12:30, Bettawin was back together, stronger than she'd been in years, good as new.
There's still so much work to do but it's different. It's not so gut-wrenchingly exposed. 
Next phase: fair the new planks and caulk the seams, fair the whole hull, refasten where possible and prime, paint and launch.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Restoration of a Wianno Senior Bettawin

Pleasant Bay Boat and Spar has restored hundreds of boats over the years, but never a Wianno Senior. A few years ago, owner Jim Hardman had mentioned having us do some work on his Wianno, and so in January the boat was brought to the shop for what we  thought was to be some straight forward caulking and replacing a few planks. Jim and friends were going to strip the hull.
Iron sick bolts
It almost never works out the way you plan. Once we got it in the shop and up high enough, we realized that the centerboard wouldn't move! Bad problem to have on a gaff rigged hull. Going to windward must have been frustrating. The problem seemed to be the steel ballast: the corrosion in the centerboard slot was significant and obviously prevented the board from dropping. We hemmed and hawed about whether to drop the shoe or not. Actually, we were warned against it. It could open up a can of worms. Being fearless and also curious, Seth started cutting the bolts. It didn't take long. In fact the corrosion was so significant that there was very little material holding the shoe on. In the picture (above right), the caliper measures a typical drift rod at 3/8" but the original diameter was 1/2". This is all the gap that water needs to get into the hull and cause further damage. The photo (below left) shows one of the three bolts holding the ballast to the deadwood. They were well on their way to not holding.

Bettawinn Wianno SeniorThe other more deadly consequence to this phenomenon is the toll it takes on the surrounding wood. It's called iron sickness, due to the corrosive properties of the steel drifts and bolts.  Bettawin was laid up by Crosby Boat Yard in 1968 as hull # 141, and built for Ross Richards, who wanted a fast Senior. Bettawin did turn out to be a winner by the way. Richards had a remarkable racing records in the 1969-1970 seasons, winning many regattas including the Scudder Cup in 1969.

Dropping steel ballastWhy use steel? Class rules dictated that the shoe be steel or iron. I'm assuming that since the first keel was laid in 1914, iron was the sensible choice, and less costly. The first year fourteen boats were built, a remarkable feat that was never again to be matched. In all, over 170 wooden Seniors were built, all with the dreaded iron ballast and steel drifts and bolts holding it all together. In the photo on the right the rust is evident. We decided to drop as much of the deadwood as we could without destroying the whole boat. Another more obvious issue was the garboards: they had sprung. The 600 lbs of lead had been left stacked on them for several years out of the water and the weight had taken its toll. But removing them made all the difference in the world. We now had access to many vital parts: stopwaters, centerboard ledger posts, Wianno Senior Bettawinnframes, and the centerboard trunk bed logs. The garboards themselves were shot. Jim Hardman was able to secure several huge pieces of Guanacaste, a species similar to mahogany, and ideal planking stock from Gannon and Benjamin on Martha's Vinyard. The beautiful piece of oak for the deadwood came from Newport Nautical Timbers.
Wianno Senior BettawinnSeth and Brian cut all the deadwood from one piece of 6" X 14"  X 18' white oak. Cuts had to be precise, because we were working around the original rabbeted oak  section. This was in reasonably good shape. We determined that all the rot could be bored out and filled with oak dowels. Only one piece needed to have a new rabbet cut in, saving a lot of time and money. Seth did a remarkable job fitting all the pieces together, just like a puzzle.
Wianno Senior BettawinnThe real challenge would be to get them all together with bolts, drifts, bedding compound all in one go! The ledger posts in the trunk were rotted, so before all the pieces were put back together, they had to be scarfed, fitted, bedded and fastened. Once all the old holes were bunged, then Seth and Brian began the very patient job of putting them in permanently. Drifts had to be set in the iron shoe, which had been remarkably transformed during the week: old rust was chipped oof, and the whole shoe attacked with a grinder then coated in a rust inhibitor. You can see the original condition in the photo on the right (top).

Seth is contemplating his next move in the photo on the left. Everything went together beautifully. It took two men all day but they did it! The next step, shape the aft edges for the rudder post, then fit the iron shoe. The last step was completed on Friday: cutting a 2 foot long rabbet on port and starboard, drilling the stopwaters, and calling it a day. You can see the beautiful mahoagny planking, now stripped of all paint by the owner and some wonderful friends.Wianno Senior Bettawinn                           Rudder post installed
Plank for garboardDriving drifts and steel shoe

The next week will be devoted to the garboards. The "wana" is massive and Seth should be able to get both planks out of one board. Our goal: to float the boat by late spring!
Stay tuned. I'll keep you posted.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

A Lyman Runabout Restoration

Restored bow 1955 Lyman runabout
Pleasant Bay Boat and Spar Company has restored hundreds of boats, sail and power, wood and fiberglass, old sentimental boats and ones with fabulous pedigrees. The CG36500 is one of our finest restoration projects.
(See for the boat’s history, and for the restoration story).

Before restoration of Lyman runabout
Last fall we were contracted by owner Dick Boonisar to restore his 1955 15 foot Lyman runabout. When we first surveyed the boat, it was obviously in excellent shape. The frames were all original and intact. The plywood lapstrakes were in near perfect condition. The rivets were sound and showed no evidence of corrosion. It was remarkable that for once we were getting an opportunity to restore a boat without the necessity of rebuilding it.
In any restoration project, it is important to establish a project schedule. We work with the owner on budget as well as restoration goals. We bring into the equation the history of the boat. If it was a yacht then every attempt should be made to restore it accordingly. In this case the boats designers had other intensions.

 In 1951, at the peak of productivity, Lyman runabouts were being manufactured at an incredible rate of 1 boat every 35 minutes. The targeted market: returning GIs. Lyman’s war manufacturing experience had lead to a much more refined production sequence. Otherwise, building 5,000 boats a year would have been impossible. They became the “everyman’s boat”, and everyone wanted one. At the time there were 225 workers manufacturing 6 different models. The 15 foot runabout with outboard was one of the more popular ones.

”Lyman Boats have a long and rich history. Founded by Bernard and Herman Lyman in 1875 as The Lyman Brothers Boat Builders of Cleveland, Ohio, the company quickly became well known for building high quality "Clinker Built" skiffs. Early production centered on small sailing and rowing skiffs. By the early 20th Century the company, known by then as The Lyman Boat Works, was building custom sail and power boats in all sizes.

World War I forced the company to be moved off the waterfront in 1916 and away from the water, the Lyman's reverted to building small skiffs. The idea was to promote a quality craft that was affordable to more than just the wealthy.

During the Second World War, Lyman focused its resources on wartime production. The Boat Works produced several different military craft including pontoons to be used to support floating bridges. Following WWII from 1952 to the early 1960s were the most prosperous for the Lyman Boat Works. However, as other materials became popular, the market for wooden boats evaporated. By mid 1973 the production line fell silent. There were several attempts and owners trying to revive the company but after more than 60,000 boats and nearly 100 years, new Lyman Boats were no longer available.

As we learn the history of the company and this particular boat, it is important to drive the restoration accordingly. This was not a yacht! In fact, as you read the owner’s description below, you can appreciate how it was lovingly used.

"My father bought the boat in 1958 used from a marine dealer on the Bass River in Yarmouth. At that time it had a 1957 35 HP Johnson electric start outboard. The boat was used at Gurnet Pt. in Plymouth. We used it to haul our lobster pots, fish and fun. The Coast Guard even used on occasion to go Duxbury Pier Light.
In the mid 1990's I took it to Virginia re-powered it with a 25 HP Johnson.
I used it go out to the Barrier Islands. I brought it back to the Cape in late 2000 and stored it in my barn until I brought it to Pleasant Bay Boat and Spar for restoration. The boat has never been modified and all hardware controls etc. are original. The only thing that was replaced was one piece of side glass in the windshield. It was built for lake use but it never failed us on the ocean. It got up to plane quickly and could pull a water skier with no difficulty. It was fast and as a teenager I took full advantage of its speed. It took a lot of pounding in a south west wind in Plymouth Bay but was very forgiving."
Dick Boonisar, Owner

Before restoration
The existing interior was in great condition
  So we approached the restoration with the understanding that the boat would continue to be used by Dick and his family, just maybe not pulling those pots.

The boat was stripped of all paint and varnish, scraped and sanded for days, and then sealed. The inside, seats and windshield were sprayed with 6-7 coats of Alwspar M3131 varnish, and then sanded down again. The two final coats of Epiphanes were brushed on. The results are exquisite without being too fussy.

Interior fully restored
After varnishing

One of the stumbling blocks with any restoration is replacing vintage hardware. Fortunately this boat had all its original hardware, which is being re-chromed before we reinstall it.

Windshiel before restoration
There were some parts that we did have to fabricate. Here you can see the before/after windshield. The aluminum trim was not salvageable. We fabricated new stock from 3/8” square aluminum that was milled down to ¼” X 3/8’ in order to match the existing trim, and then bent on a jig that matched the window pattern. Finally it was dry fitted in place, pre-drilled for brass escutcheon nails, then removed, bedded and installed: a two man 16 hour process. The outcome was phenomenal.  I think those guys at the Lyman plant would have approved the outcome but wondered why it took so long.

Windshield after restoration
New windshield trim installed
 By 1951, the Lyman plant was set up for mass production. Jigs and machinery replaced talented boat builders. These were not the days of custom built Lymans that preceded the war. They were in full assembly line mode where every man knew his job and did just that.

Today we work in a different environment when we restore a classic wooden boat. One of the first challenges we have is to understand how it was built. It makes our job so interesting. It also teaches us how different builders solved the same problem, whether it’s about speed or efficiency or construction methods of the time. It would be impossible to match their production times, and as a result, this affects our productivity as we make every attempt to replicate the original work.

We are waiting on the re-chromed hardware, steering wheel and the new 1957 Johnson OB to complete the restoration.

"Helping keep the passion surrounding these "clinker-built" at a high level is the Lyman Boat Owners Association. Founded by Fred Jackson in upstate New York was the original organization, the Lyman Owners Group. The group was short-lived and fell dormant. In the early 1980s Dale Hooper brought the organization back to prominence as the Lyman Boat Owners Association based in Northern Ohio.

Today the LBOA is a nationwide group with over 550 members. The organization is 501c3 classified and dedicated to the preservation of Lyman boats and the history behind them. It promotes and stages over 12 events during the boating season and sponsors "Best Lyman" awards at shows across the country. Most events are fun filled family affairs with activities for all ages. The highlights of the season are the All Wooden Boat Festival and the Annual Regatta featuring a reunion of former Lyman employees and their families. The association publishes "The Clinker", a quarterly magazine full of event updates, restoration stories and tips, historical information, archives, and classified advertisements. The group also produces an all Lyman calendar featuring a different boat each month and maintains a full featured website. The website has up to date information about organization events, historical information, classified ads, and an active discussion forum. The association is run by a group six officers and directed by a board of trustees which are elected at a winter season annual meeting. For more information contact the Lyman Boat Owners Association via the internet at, by phone at (440) 954-4005, or by mail at 3511 Center Rd. Brunswick, OH 44212.”(Extracted from the Lyman Boat Owners Association web site.)

Dick will show the boat at the 13th Annual New England Lyman Show, June 2, 2012

We’ll show it at the Wooden Boat Show in Mystic, CT June 30-July1 and at the Cape Cod Maritime Days June 9-10 in Hyannis.

Here are some photos taken this weekend pre hardware:

Cockpit restored

Restored 1955 runabout
Restored 1955 Lyman runabout
Windshiled and forward deck restored

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Spar Thoughts

Mast, boo and gaff
Complicated intersection
Spar making is an art. There is so much more to it beyond whittling a square piece of stock into a round stick. Spars are the parts that hold the sails and rigging that propel a boat forward. They can be simple, such as those found in working boats like our indigenous sharpies. Or they can be very complex like the rig on the catboat Sarah or the Sparkman Stephens schooner Brilliant. Whatever the rig or vessel, things don’t work if they are not properly conceived and constructed. That has been our
focus: build the best spars and rig the boat properly. The outcome should be well executed, functional, safe, smart, and sail well!

Looking back at the history of sailing rigs, one gains an appreciation of the form/function principle: the smaller the vessel the simpler the rig. The obvious function of the spars was to hold the sail in place. Another very important function was to balance the boat. Many of our working boats developed their rigs by trial and error and we have benefited from this rich history so that today, most of the innovation with spars and rigging has more to do with materials than design. In fact some of the world class racing sleds are resorting to a semi gaff headed sail! That may be a broad generalization but the concept is pretty accurate.

Baybird fore deck
Baybird Foredeck
Spars are the basis for rigging. Rigging is not only functional but beautiful if thought out carefully and executed with an eye to detail. The rigger’s job can be very complex, and if the craftsmanship of the splices or bending on of the sails or serving of the standing rigging is not done well, then the entire ship is at risk. This holds true for any vessel large or small. Lines unravel if they’re not whipped. Knots come loose if they’re not properly tied. And if you choose the wrong knot for the job then that could haunt you later.

56 foot mast for 41 foot ketch Leah
Mastheads are the pinnacle of rigging: everything meets at the top. The mast on the left is 56 feet, so everything had better work. A fractional rig is so dependant on standing rigging and all the accompanying hardware, most of which must be fabricated to fit properly. The box section itself is not strong enough to carry the load of a full mainsail and jib. Internal blocking must be carefully conceived, and properly shaped.

Glue up of box section mast
Once the box is assembled and glued, there is no chance of making adjustments. All the standing and running rigging issues need to be  addressed beforehand. Any elecrical plans should be drawn out on paper then installed before assembly. The fractional rig offers so may challenges but the catboat rig is by far our favorite, offering its own set of critera and problems to solve.
Perhaps its the appearance of simplicity that draws boat owners to this very American rig. To the spar maker, the challenge is in making it perform well but safely. With new fibers on the market we can now rig these boats using some time worn traditions, such as strops in place of through bolts. 
Two Classic Ca catboats under sail
 What a sight to see beautifully rigged boats tracking on course, sails trimmed right, spars shapely and strong, but not too heavy. Proportions are just right. All the rigging works as it should. The sail goes up and down with ease and sheets nicely too. Speed and the ablilty to point well were never atributable to catboats but that has all changed today. Boats can be built to high performance standards without looking too modern. Just look at these two!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Catboats big and small

Cockpit of catboat
People assume that a 14 foot catboat is  small compared to its 18 foot cousin. Catboats increase exponentially in all dimensions when you lengthen the waterline. Suddenly an 18 footer becomes a really big boat. The 14 foot Classic Cat is an incredibly roomy boat that can actually accommodate two adults for an overnight or four comfortably for a day sail. What strikes me is the versatility of the boat at this length. The shallow draft allows for some serious gunk holing. The rig is easily stepped by one person. Our hollow birds mouth mast typically weighs 45 lbs or so.
The displacement is 650lbs compared to the 2,200lbs of the 18 footer. Pushing it off a sandbar is never a problem. Getting the Classic Cat ready to go takes minutes, and is easily single handed. Going out for a quick sail after work is never an issue. For many of us that's what it's all about, with our busy schedule: getting out there and enjoying a wonderful sail without all the hassle.  

Cold molded catboat
When we get calls about our boats we try to listen to the type of sailing being described. More and more, the appeal of the small catboat stands up against the romance of a bigger boat. What kind of sailor are you? Solo? Racer? Family boat? These little catboats handle the variety of sailors with ease.
In our world on Pleasant Bay, cruising has taken on a whole new meaning. It can be a moonlight sail, or a picnic with friends or just the dog. It can be a challenge with a double reef or a near walk about from lack of wind. But whatever the circumstances these little boats offer so much more for so little cost and effort.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Pleasant Bay Boat and Spar launches their first Hurricane

Meander sailing downwind
Our first Hurricane, Meander was launched the week before Christmas on a cold gusty day. On board were owner Jim Moir, builder Seth Ahrenholz and Suzanne Leahy, owner of Pleasant Bay Boat and Spar Company. After three days of test sailing, we were finally able to celebrate. Not only did Meander look incredibly good, she handled superbly.

The Hurricane is a keel/centerboard version of a retake on Carl Alberg's Typhoon. The most striking difference above the waterline is the traditional gaff rig. This boat rides lower in the water thanks to the removal of four inches of freeboard. The combination of reduced freeboard and a small centerboard makes this a very trailerable boat. The biggest plus is the handling at the helm and on the sheets. I love a big boat thrill and this boat has all of it without the hassle. The roomy cockpit was comfortable and dry (!) in spite of the breeze and the wintry water temperature.

Merv Hammatt conceived this boat, knowing the popularity of the Typhoon, and the benefits of a more manageable package. In a few short years he had built twelve Hurricanes. Pleasant Bay Boat and Spar was busy for the first few years after taking over from Merv building the Baybird and making a new plug for the Classic Cat. Last February the Moirs commissioned us to build our first Hurricane. Jim was the dream customer, with a font of knowledge and knowing exactly what he wanted, working with Brian Porter, Seth set out to build a custom sloop, rigged by Doug Ingram using innovative materials on our signature hollow spars.
 Jim wanted and electric outboard and chose a Torqueedo with battery storage inside a bridge deck. The O/B weighs 15 lbs making removal a snap.
You can see from all the activity on deck that removing an outboard would have been awkward, but with a light electric motor storing it was so easy. It moved along at 4 knots with hardly any effort or noise.

We can't wait to sail it in warmer weather. Meander's homeport is Stuart, Florida, so hopefully we'll get that chance.

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