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