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Wooden Boat Building and Restoration


The CC Dory owner drove away with his boat this past week to have the transom professionally lettered by Mike Sedivy of Aardvark Artwork. The Dory came here for new paint and varnish, and left with a new transom, a new bottom, new engine stringers, a new rear deck, a new front deck, new rub-rails, new floors, a restored console, a restored steering wheel, an engine refresh, and it was rewired to ABYC standards.

It will be back in my shop in two weeks for a few more days of final touch-up work.





The owner brought me his boat last summer. We quickly discovered it was in need of much more work than paint and I was feeling uneasy in tackling such a big project for my first professional project. If this was my own boat, I would have gone full speed ahead... but this was somebody else's pride and joy whom was entrusting me with the work... I did not want to mess it up. I went over some of the work with Patrick Mahon, my former wooden boat instructor. Pat encouraged me to tackle the project saying, "Kevin, if you can build a boat, you can restore a boat... and you can build a boat". While attending boat school, we learned how to build traditionally built wooden boats and modern composite boats (built of plywood, fiberglass sheathing, and epoxy), but there was not enough time in the program to learn the details of surveying and restoring wooden boats. So I was not feeling confident in tackling such a large restoration project. I took it slowly, one step at a time and it all went well, although it was far, far more time consuming than I figured. I'm quite pleased with the results, as is the owner, and am now feeling much more confident with my restoration skills. Here are some details of the various parts of the projects completed since painting of the exterior and interior of the boat was finished.

First, with painting of the interior of the hull completed, the bow deck was framed exactly as it had originally been framed and recovered. The original deck was covered with two pieces of plywood butted together over the center frame. It had rotted at the seam, rotting both pieces of plywood and the supporting frame under the seam. It had been repaired with body filler, making it impossible to get the deck apart apart without destroying it. So a new deck was built. The new deck was covered with two pieces of marine grade Okoume plywood that was scarf jointed together to form one seamless piece to prevent rot from developing again.



New engine stringers were installed next. They were built of Philippine Mahogany in exactly the same dimensions and construction method as the original stringers.



Then the engine was installed next. I aligned the engine coupler to the prop shaft coupler to 0.001" of tolerance on 4 points (12:00, 3:00, 6:00, and 9:00). The thru-hull exhaust system was hooked up next. The exhaust pipe holes in the transom were cut out and the exhaust pipes were sealed in the cut-outs following the traditional method of using bedding compound and cotton caulking.






Next up was the gas tank and transom deck. The inside of the gas tank was inspected and found to be in remarkable condition for a 50 year old tank. So it was put back into service.

The original transom deck and supporting frame had rotted on both sides where it butts up against the rails. I replaced the deck and the frame, repaired the rot in the rail edges, and epoxied the areas most vulnerable to rot.

New vinyl was applied to the deck.

We found that the boat's serial number had been imprinted on the transom deck's supporting frame which had to be replaced due to rot at each end. In order to keep the original imprinted serial number, I cut out the original serial number from the rotted frame and then carved out an area in the new frame and then laminated the original serial number to it.

Also new, Coast Guard approved, A1-Grade fuel line was run from the gas tank to the engine and a fuel/water separator was installed.



The console was rewired with marine grade tinned wire and the proper size shrink wrapped ring terminals were crimped on to the wire ends. A new blade style fuse box was added as well as new junction box.

A battery charger was installed, along with a new VHF radio and a new Chart Plotter.

The original gauges were sent out for repair, and broken switched were replaced. The steering wheel was cracked and faded and thus restored too.





Part of the restoration of the console involved restoring the steering wheel. It was cracked and faded. Not to mention that there were a couple of broken studs in the bolt holes used for pulling the steering wheel... that sure complicated the process of pulling the steering wheel off the console. I purchased a steering wheel restoration kit from Eastwood. It was a straight-forward process. It involved, cleaning up the steering wheel; carving deep-V grooves along all the cracks using a Dremel Rotary Tool; mixing and applying epoxy putty; shaping the cured putty using an Italian Riffler set; sanding; and then followed with the typical painting process of priming, topcoating, and clear coating.