Restoring "saving" a 1937 37' cabin cruiser

Discussion in 'Wooden Boat Building and Restoration' started by shannon thorson, Jun 1, 2007.

  1. shannon thorson
    Joined: Jun 2007
    Posts: 2
    Likes: 0, Points: 0, Legacy Rep: 10
    Location: Orcas Island, Wa

    shannon thorson New Member

    Greetings guys,

    "John" if you're still out there I hope you chime in along with you others that seem to have great insight.

    I'll be attempt to be brief although I have a million questions. I really know little to nothing about boats. I do have an aluminum pontoon boat and restore homes so I love to work with wood and am not afraid of hard work, otherwise I am in over my head!!

    The story is that I saw this terrribly sad 37' foot wood cabin cruiser floating on a buoy by the ferry landing on Orcas Island in Washington. ..broken out windows, trashed exterior, you name it. I ended up finding out who owns it and the guy said he'd give it to me if I promised to "get her back in shape".

    So here I am. She is all fir, probably old growth judging by the year she was built. I do see some plywood of some sort around the cabin and think the window frames and doors might be teak or mahogony? Right now she's being kept afloat with the assistance of a solar powered pump. The old owner said she never leaked "much at all" until last winter when she broke free and hit the rocks. He says she hasn't been out of water at all that he knows of. I am fairly familiar with fir from my home restoration work and know it typically likes to stay wet or stay dry so I guess the fact that she;'s been kept floating is a good thing?

    She is all gutted. There is no motor or interior furnishings to think of. I'm really not worried about "using" her immediately, as the bouy is in a convenient location for me, but I do want to get started fixing her.

    I'm not afraid to put money into her, but don't want to get taken down the road. WHERE DO I START? I was thinking having her towed and getting someone to pull her out of the water real quick and fix the leaks? Or, should I spend the money to have someone knowledgeable come look her over top to bottom and help me understand the full scope of what I'm dealing with? If so, does anyone have good contacts in the San Juan Island area?

    Thanks in advance! Shannon
     
  2. PAR
    Joined: Nov 2003
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    Location: Eustis, FL

    PAR Yacht Designer/Builder

    I build and restore wooden boats every day and I can honestly tell you to run as fast as you can, away from the old girl. I see hundreds of boats each year, most in sad shape. 99% of these, though worth something to someone, aren't worth saving, unfortunately.

    I know this sounds harsh, it is, but frankly it's the truth.

    Hire a surveyor, if you really what to know how bad it is, but expect to pay a few to several hundred, just to be told she's not worth saving.

    Most every powerboat is a container, which holds what it's worth. Engine(s), drives, steering, hydraulics, electrical, plumbing, electronics, etc. are what provides them any value. A gutted power boat is usually land fill material (sadly), unless it has a particularly desirable pedigree, previous owner of some note or other issue, that can increase the prospect of tossing tens of thousands of dollars into her, getting her "in shape" again, without you feeling terribly ill after it's all said and done.

    As a rule, it's generally cheaper to build a new version of these old gals then to make them whole again. Have her looked over and maybe you'll get lucky.
     
  3. marshmat
    Joined: Apr 2005
    Posts: 4,127
    Likes: 149, Points: 63, Legacy Rep: 2043
    Location: Ontario

    marshmat Senior Member

    Ever the pragmatist, aren't you PAR..... ;)
    Shannon, while I agree with PAR that you're looking at a lot of work to restore a boat that will probably never be worth what you put into it, I must say that money's not the reason we go boating. If you like this boat and like the prospect of a fun, challenging long-term project, I wouldn't worry about what you could sell it for, and concentrate instead on enjoying and restoring what you have. Provided that's possible, which it may not be, but we'll see about that.....
    If you could post any photos it would help us identify your boat and get a better idea of her condition.
     
  4. PAR
    Joined: Nov 2003
    Posts: 19,133
    Likes: 489, Points: 93, Legacy Rep: 3967
    Location: Eustis, FL

    PAR Yacht Designer/Builder

    I agree that resale value isn't necessarily the reason we restore boats, Matt. Hanging a few new planks, caulk, paint and a fresh outboard on an 18' runabout's stern, is one thing, but a 70 year old 37' power cruiser hulk, is another entirely.

    Just the cost of repowering, a craft of this size, will shy all but the most determined (I hope Shannon is one of these determined people) away from the project.

    Most folks can muddle through the wood working elements, maybe the plumbing and electrical systems too, but these size/age boats have a lot of systems and a nasty habit of sucking up funds like mobile home park attracts tornados.

    Shannon, contact a good boat carpenter or surveyor and have her gone over. You may have a rare piece or a lost jewel that needs to be polished back to her old glory. Get some re-powering estimates and establish a budget, maybe even a fund raiser. We need to save as many of these beauties as possible, there aren't many left.

    Please, post some pictures, now that you have more then one of us, very interested in knowing what you have.
     
  5. shannon thorson
    Joined: Jun 2007
    Posts: 2
    Likes: 0, Points: 0, Legacy Rep: 10
    Location: Orcas Island, Wa

    shannon thorson New Member

    Thanks for the input guys. I do know the project probably won't "pencil" but do have some emotional attachment to her...attachment that could be redirected though. The boat does have some notoriety, everyone on the island knows the "all right" and remembers a little old lady (retired school teacher) who lived on her for many years, eventually losing her mental capacity and cruising around willy-nilly. One day they found her floating next to the boat.

    I do restore homes and often see 2,000 SQFT of similar conditions, however, these are always money making ventures and after 8-10 months of work there is a very healthy pay-day at the end. I do know from your comments and my own logic that I'd be more than lucky to ever get back 75% of what I put into her.

    I'm atempting to post some pictures now, but this is a new operation for me ....how do I do it? or send me your email address and I'll send directly. Thanks so much!
     
  6. marshmat
    Joined: Apr 2005
    Posts: 4,127
    Likes: 149, Points: 63, Legacy Rep: 2043
    Location: Ontario

    marshmat Senior Member

    Rather than using the quick-reply box, click "go advanced". In the "additional options" box under the typing area, there's a button that says "manage attachments", you upload photos from here.
     
  7. mmd
    Joined: Mar 2002
    Posts: 378
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    Location: Bridgewater NS Canada

    mmd Senior Member

    Shannon, you may want to visit the WoodenBoat Forum (www.woodenboat.com), Build & Repair section. There are plenty of grizzled veterans of the boat restoration wars there.

    But stay out of the Bilge ...
     
  8. CaptScot
    Joined: Aug 2004
    Posts: 45
    Likes: 1, Points: 0, Legacy Rep: 27
    Location: New Jersey

    CaptScot Junior Member

    Shannon, I have known and worked with wood plank on frame boats all my life. My best advice is to get complete control of your boat's situation so you can work on any part of her at any time and to stop the ravages of the weather to her by continued exposure to rain water, leaks etc. The answer is drydock her and cover her. Make sure that the keel is blocked every couple of feet and especially that the bow does not hang. Yard people are cavaleer when drydocking a wood boat. It is not fiberglass which can get away with 2 or 3 blocks. It will take you several years to restore this boat. I have seen many a wood boat drydocked for several years, improperly blocked and the keels break as the weight of the boat pushes down.

    Also, by remaining covered and dry you can proceed each day were you left off, work with wood that is dry, and not have the boat continue to deteriorate or rot. A wood boat is like a piece of furniture out to the weather. Could you really restore a dining room table out in your driveway if it was getting rained on every other day? You'll also be able to work inside on colder days and when it rains.

    Lastly, I never met a wood boat I didn't like or couldn't save, but with so much missing from this boat are you up to the challenge of being committed and not giving up? Wood boats get a bad rap. There's nothing wrong with wood, but too many people, like your boat's previous owner, give up and the boat suffers. You might be better off with another old boat which is complete, yet needing lots of TLC and sadly waiting to be saved by someone. My advice will still be the same: drydock - cover - and don't give up. Note, blue plastic tarps last about one year then leak; change them.

    You might also want to join "BackyardBoatbuilder2". Go to yahoo.com, and find "groups" from the list on the left, and search "backyard boat builder". Its free and one of the millions of yahoogroups listed. Some are saving old boats, but most are building boats from scratch. Many are amatures and some seasoned pros. Both practical/inexpensive and traditional methods are discussed and shared.
    Good luck, Scott
     
  9. thudpucker
    Joined: Jul 2007
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    Location: Al.

    thudpucker Senior Member

    I've had to cut three of those old queens up and finished them off in the burn barrel.
    Learn a new term. "Nail Sick" and associated with that is "Blowing a plank"!
    The Coasties have developed a method of testing any wooden boat that carries passengers for hire or a Hired crew.
    They make the owner pull a Fastener from some of the Bow planks.
    On a floating queen the planks just at the water line. On a working boat its the planks just below the water line.

    Another place to look for an almost sure failure is under the engine and the bottom just over the Strut. Back around the Rudder stem too.
    Get your ice pick and start checking the bottom and under water stuff for density.
    Soon enough, you will see the value in the already posted advice.
     

  10. CaptScot
    Joined: Aug 2004
    Posts: 45
    Likes: 1, Points: 0, Legacy Rep: 27
    Location: New Jersey

    CaptScot Junior Member

    Its probably a good idea to inspect fastenings. On a 1939 Elco 53 I just finished replacing 9,000 bronze screws and adding 80 steam bent white oak sister ribs. Actually no new ribs were needed under the mid/engine section since ribs there were oil soaked and it protected the wood. The hull was not leaking before I began, but for most of the original fasteners not much metal was left. If a screw's head didn't break off it would come out looking like a wood screw, but it was really just solid corrosion. The only bit of bronze left was a thin needle of metal at the center. As new screws went in I could see each plank pull up tight showing how loose the hull real was. When replacing screws you always replace with a larger size. If you take out a 2-1/2 #12 screw then replace with a 2-1/2 #14. Using the same size will just spin in the hole. Jamestown Distributors give a price break when ordering over 1,000screws per order. Scott
     
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