Wooden boat restoration, guidance needed

Discussion in 'Boat Design' started by Murphenzo, Mar 29, 2008.

  1. Murphenzo
    Joined: Mar 2008
    Posts: 2
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    Location: Brisbane, Australia

    Murphenzo New Member

    Hi all, great forum you have here!

    A friend of mine and I were recently given an old (maybe 1970s) 16' wooden speed boat that we are planning to restore. While both good with our hands, neither of us has an experience in building or restoring wooden boats, so I think we'll be needing plenty of guidance along the way! :)

    I might start with showing a few photos of the boat:

    Fairly simple plywood construction

    It originally had a canopy built as part of the boat, which the previous owner has gone and cut off. We're planning on rebuilding it without the canopy.


    The frame work inside the boat it all still really solid, no rot.



    Captain Bjorn on his maiden voyage. :)


    As can be seen in the last photo there is some rot in the boat. The top 1-2cm of plywood side panels are mostly rotten, as is the gunnel. The rest of the panels and the interior frame all seems pretty solid. One thing I don't like so much is that everything on this boat has been screwed together. Is this normal for a boat of that era?

    Speaking of era, an ideas just how old this boat would be, what it is, what it was intended for etc?

    So far we've just been working away stripping and sanding the boat. Probably a few more solid weekends work yet before we could start the process of rebuilding.

    I suppose one question that keeps bugging me, is it worth it? Any opinions or advice on how to go about this would be greatly appreciated!


  2. alan white
    Joined: Mar 2007
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    Location: maine

    alan white Senior Member

    Looks like a pretty fast (ski?) boat, and probably very much worth restoring. The build looks sophisticated----- light and stiff. There doesn't appear to be any strong stylistic effort on the design, which makes it hard to date. Are those fins gone missing? Or just some rotton decking?
    Nice find, and happy restoring.

  3. PAR
    Joined: Nov 2003
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    Location: Eustis, FL

    PAR Yacht Designer/Builder

    Her general shape looks about 50 years old, though could have been built from plans more recently.

    I agree with Alan, she's got some clever details and is lightly built for speed.

    The value of a redo is usually subjective. Some boats just beg for it, others have such a history it's required, but others, likely much like what you have, is the value you'll get from the process, not so much as the restored or refurbished puddle blaster she will be, but the enjoyment of the redo and bashing waves when you're finished.

    Yep, screws are the choice for plywood usually, unless you want more strength, then it's through bolts. Epoxy can replace screws for the most part in your boat, but repairs will be more difficult when they become necessary. Nails just don't hold as well as screws and are a pain to remove without damaging the surrounding wood.

    You'll become a professional screw remover by the time it's all said and done. Don't drive yourself nuts if they're giving you trouble (stripped heads, etc.), drill them and use a bolt extractor. I've removed literally tens of thousands of old screws over the years and I don't even bother trying much any more. I'll test it with a screw driver, to see if it'll turn and back out. As soon as it slips or gives me a hard time, I just mark it and move to the next screw, using a bolt extractor on all the trouble makers later.

  4. charmc
    Joined: Jan 2007
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    Location: FL, USA

    charmc Senior Member


    Regarding your question on whether a restoration is worth it, there are two aspects to an answer, I believe. The first is the boat itself. Overall, I'd say yours is worth it, because, while it does not appear to be a "great classic" with a remarkable history, it appears to be a well designed outboard runabout/skiboat from the late 50's to mid 60's era, in generally sound condition. The second aspect is one that only you can answer. If you want to do it for the experience, to learn some new skills, and for the sheer enjoyment of speeding around the water in something you made useable again through your own effort, then go for it. It will probably take longer and cost more than you think in advance, but there will be a well earned feeling of accomplishment when you're finished.

    For several reasons, including the simplicity of the design and the way all of the components were cut out, it's my guess that this boat was built by an amateur from a set of purchased plans. That has no meaning in the grand scheme of things, but it may be a clue as to why the boat is in such good condition. It appears to have been well maintained by someone who cared about it.

    You have two knowledgeable sources on the subject of wood boat construction and restoration already. PAR and Alan White may not know everything, but they have a wealth of knowledge on the subject of wooden boats.

    Good luck!
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