by Sherwood Heggen
It is refreshing to see the beginning of a restoration of another old wooden runabout. Last summer, BSLOLer Jerry Klopp got the bug to restore an old wooden boat. He wanted something different, something good looking, and a project he could successfully complete. Jerry has a woodworking background and isnt afraid of a new challenge. He is O.K. with buying a wooden boat that needs a lot of work. Then, there is no excuse for not tearing it all apart and replacing all of the doubtful parts while its convenient.
Jerry heard that an 18 Century Sea Maid was available. He went for it and he hasnt looked back since. The boat is in poor condition. Viewing it from the outside, the rotted decks are immediately noticed. The topsides also display rot at the seams. The bottom appears intact except for a big hole punched in it on the forward port side. Looking inside is a little scary. The bottom ties and bottom frames below the front cockpit area are badly broken and the keel deformed. Though it is not really known what happened, the damage to the bottom appears to be a result of the boat being dropped or run onto the rocks at high speed. Whatever the case, there must have been a loud noise when it happened. But, it doesnt matter, because the bottom will be completely rebuilt. Who cares whether parts are rotted or broken?
Jerry started his restoration project by turning the boat over onto a framework which he attached to the stringers and side frames of the hull. The bottom planks were then removed to reveal even more problems. The transom base had delaminated, which is a typical Century malady. With that condition, the bottom planks can come loose at the transom because the screws loose their hold and the boat will continually leak. The only way to fix it is to replace the transom base with a single piece of steam-bent oak; not with another laminated transom base. The bottom frames were oil soaked and soft on the ends. Since there was doubt about the condition of these parts, they were replaced with new wood. The chines and keel were also questionable and will also be replaced.
So far, Jerry has replaced nearly all of the bottom ribs with new oak. New seam battens will be installed and sub-planking of plywood will be bonded to the frame with 3M 5200. New bottom planking will be bedded in 3M 5200 and screwed to the frames. As you may know, Centurys had a reputation for leaking because of their single plank bottoms. With this improved method of construction, Jerry will be assured of a tough bottom that should let the inside of the boat stay quite dry.
Jerrys boat is a great find because virtually all of the hardware is with the boat. The benefit of not having to chase down rare hardware is a big plus. Also, the 1950 18Century Sea Maid is fairly rare. Take your time, Jerry, and do the work well. You have a real diamond in the rough.
Steam-bending was mentioned as a way to form the transom base on Jerrys Century Sea Maid. This topic is rarely discussed in detail and remains a mystery to many. Coming up in the next offering of Gadgets and Kinks, there will be an attempt at describing steam-bending to hopefully clear away some of the mystery. If anyone has had success with this process, why dont you give me a call. It would be interesting to hear about the various steamers and steam boxes used successfully. Lets pass the information on to those who want and need it.
Until then, remember: Dont destroy it; restore it.