Phase 1 - Phase 2 - Phase 3 - Phase 4

Phase 1 of Restoration - Demolition

"Do, or do not, there is no 'try'" - Yoda


In April 2001, I rigged a block and tackle and managed to get the boat off the trailer and onto the garage floor safely. It's a very strange sight seeing a boat hanging from the garage rafters! (Don't worry, as I had a big eye-bolt into a landscape timber in the attic area above the 2x12 ceiling beams. The timber was perpendicular to the beams to spread the weight out.)

The big moment came when I used a Sawzall to cut the two halves of the boat apart. The deck and hull were originally created as two separate pieces, and were once again.

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Next the fun part was tearing out the old floor. A circular saw set at " depth right down the middle let me get a pry bar in and then I could just yank most of it out by hand. The old floor was just " plywood with a layer of fiberglass top and bottom, and the fiberglass had almost totally delaminated from the plywood. Under the plywood were three stringers running the length of the boat. There were some small cross pieces of " plywood to help stabilize the stringers and reinforce the floor. One way to tell your stringers are rotted, is if they pull out of their fiberglass casings like meat from a crab leg! I filled a couple of garbage cans with stuff, much of which was still damp, and all black with rot. It was the end of April at this point.

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Bottom row of photos showing the plywood floor ripped out, and the fiberglass encased rotted stringers. It was very dirty down there.

The photo below shows more detail of the area under the floor. At this point, most of the stringers are out, and what's left will but chiseled off the floor.  I've also removed the wood in the transom. It doesn't show up in the photo, but it's the width of the transom, and was 1" thick. And even after being inside since the previous fall, the wood transom was still saturated with water.

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Now it's time to spend some money.  I picked up some exterior plywood from Seigle's Building Center in Elgin, and " thick white oak boards from Owl Hardwood in Des Plaines. I'm using white oak instead of red oak as it is rot resistant, holds screws well, and is strong. They're 10 and 14 feet long so that I won't have to worry about making joints.  I also bought fiberglass mat, resin, brushes, a roller, acetone, gloves, etc. from the local Boat US store.  In order to save some costs, I decided to use the Boatyard brand of polyester resin at approx $17/gallon.  I just couldn't bring myself to bear the cost of the epoxy resins, which work with cloth and not mat.  And when the "kid" at the store says "2 gallons is a lot of fiberglass for a 14' boat" don't believe him.  I've used almost 5 gallons to date.

Updated December 20, 2001   Copyright Dan Kruitz

Phase 2 of Restoration - Reconstruction

"Obstacles are those frightening things that become visible
when we take our eyes off our goals." - Henry Ford


May 15:  By now I have finished gutting the hull and have also finished preparing it for the new wood.  In the photo below, the transom is built up from the outer layer with, a layer of fiberglass mat, " plywood, resin, and 3/8" plywood.  I did the plywood layers in two separate steps only because I felt it was going to be too difficult to get both pieces, mat & resin all secured at once.  Before I applied the final inner layer of fiberglass I used thickened resin to fill any little voids between the transom and the hull.

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May 19:  The photo below shows the finished transom, three white oak stringers cut to shape, and the two outer ones bedded to the hull with thickened resin.  Trailer tires and 50 pound bags of potting soil make great stringer weights.  I cut the stringers out about " oversized in the vertical dimension.  I shaped them to fit the hull contour, and after all three were bedded in resin, I used a 24" level to make sure all three were at the same height.  A layer of fiberglass was applied over these to further strengthen them.

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Tool Notes:  Throughout this phase one of the most useful tools I had is a fairly inexpensive Black & Decker power planer I bought specifically for this task.  I used it to contour the edge of the new transom to fit as closely as possible to the existing fiberglass.  I also used it to fit the stringers to the contour of the hull both longitudinally and laterally.

I found my old cartridge respirator is much better as a dust mask than those cheapie disposable ones.  I highly recommend using a good one as there is LOTS of dust created when using the grinder or sander with a 36 grit disk while roughing up the inside of hull.  And I recommend using full goggles as opposed to safety glasses when grinding because the dust gets everywhere.

June 2-3:  I cut out and laid the floor consisting of 3/8" plywood. I used #8 1" stainless steel sheet metal screws, to attach the floor into the oak stringers, and found out they have to be predrilled and countersunk, since they are so brittle that heads snap off easily. Although Jim Anderson's "Runabout Renovation" book is a terrific resource, I think he's wrong in recommending sheet metal screws for this step.  Take the extra time to track down stainless steel wood screws or use the silicon bronze screws available through online resources like Glen-L Marine.  I ground the sides of the hull to get ready for the fiberglass mat which will protect the floor.

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June 7: Started laying fiberglass strips around the floor perimeter to fill any gaps and add strength to the floor/hull joint.

June 9: Attended Fiberglassics 2001 Nationals! Very good gathering!

June 17: Finished laying fiberglass strips around perimeter of floor, and reinforced a couple of areas where the span was large. Cut a hole for the bilge pump through hull fitting.

June 18: Sanded the perimeter of where the floor is fiberglassed to the hull so the final piece of fiberglass will adhere.  I purchased 12' of large 52" wide fiberglass mat from VFN Fiberglass in Addison.  VFN makes race car bodies and have good prices on mat compared to Boat US, who didn't have mat available in 52" widths.  The 52" width will allow me to make the floor without seams.

June 19: My brother-in-law Jon helped out by grinding the top of the hull where the deck will attach.  I recommend getting others to help out whenever possible!  :-)

June 23: Fiberglassed the floor in fully. I used almost 2 gallons of resin. There is so much uncured resin that you should be outside possibly even WITH a big fan to keep a clear head because of the fumes! It's starting to look a lot more like a boat!

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Before and after laying of fiberglass layer on floor

From July through August I had to suspend work on the boat as Chicago and the midwest were hit with unusually hot weather all summer.  Even with extra ventilation it was just too hot to work in a the garage.  Additionally, I found resin tended to cure very quickly if you weren't careful, and was very difficult with which to work.  Much of the summer was spent on work around the house.

In August I placed the top back onto the hull.  I didn't secure it, I just wanted to minimize space and get it ready for the inevitable winter storage.  I bought a jack wheel for the trailer - it makes life much easier.  More work around the house and yard...

October 20:  Where has all the time gone?  I raised boat off it's construction dolly and back onto the trailer; the first time it's been on the trailer in six months.  This time I had the pulley from before along with a new ratcheting come-along. It worked out better, supported the boat at both ends and I had no problems getting it back on the trailer myself.  I also took the opportunity to replace the bunks with new carpeted 2x4s and hardware, and adjusted the bunks and rollers to fit the hull better.

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Getting back onto the trailer & Sheridan (the other Li'l Miss Chiff) all ready to go boating - next year.

I'm awaiting the weather to get back above freezing next spring to finish.


Click here to go to Phase 3.

Updated Jan. 1, 2001   Copyright Dan Kruitz

Phase 3  - Reconstruction 2002

"Everything should be made as simple as possible,
but not simpler." - Albert Einstien


April 2002

Hurray!  Chicago has finally started warming up from a cold and wet spring, which is funny since the winter was incredibly warm.  I've moved the boat from it's winter storage spot alongside my garage, kicked my wife's car out of the garage (Sorry Hon!) and am getting ready to finish this big project.

The major problem I've run into from last summer, is that the hull sides have spread out from a combination of removing all the interior support (floor, stringers & transom) and just from sitting without the top for so long.  The sides won't be a problem to push back into place, but the bow area has curvature and is more difficult to bring in.  To accomplish that I've rigged a series of turnbuckles to eye-bolts mounted through the hull just below the deck/hull seam.  Tightened in combination I've been able to bring the bow back into shape.

I'll be using 3M 5200 Adhesive Sealant at the joint, then two layers of fiberglass mat all around the inside circumference of the seam.  I also took this opportunity to redo the grinding I had on the hull for the rejoin.  It turned out I could use a rubber mallet to wedge a putty knife between the original fiberglass tape and hull.  I decided I wanted a seam as solid as possible, and didn't want the old join under the new one.  So I removed the fiberglass tape and reground the circumference of the hull with a 24 grit sanding disk.  Dusty work, but peace of mind.

Speaking of dusty work, while I was waiting for things to warm up a bit more, I did some detail cutting on the transom.  When I installed it I made it oversized, and with the top hanging by the garage roof just over the hull now, I was able to custom fit it to the underside of the deck.  My neighbor's reciprocating saw was the tool of choice for this task; it's powerful and fast.

April 24

If all goes well, I'll have the deck reattached this weekend.  It will be above 50 degrees Fahrenheit and the basic spring yard work has been done.  (No my boat restoration is not the only thing going on around here!)

OK - the weather has sucked this spring - we had a couple of high 80 degree days in the middle of one week, then it was back to the 30s through low 50s again for a couple of weeks.  The resin says curing may not take place below 60 degrees F.  So I wait...

Weekend of May 4th

Alright!  The weather is back on track, and I'm ready to go!  I was able to reattach the top by using home-made wire "staples".  I drilled a set of holes 1" apart every few inches, and inserted copper wire in and twisted the ends tight.  This is very similar to the "stich-and-glue" technique used to make some types of plywood boats.  With all the wiring in and the turnbuckles removed it's starting to look like a boat.  I skipped the 3M 5200 mentioned above at the seam, and went with just the double layer of fiberglass matting.

Get a helper or do it yourself - the speed seems about the same.  I had my wife helping initially, but I can wet out mat pretty fast as I know it's on it's way to being solid soon.  Prep by cutting as many strips as you think you'll need before you start with the resin.  Messing with scissors and mat with resin sticky gloves should be avoided at all cost.  Also keep a small container or two with acetone ready for cleanup.  Clean the surface area with acetone too.  I used tinfoil spread out and taped to the deck as a work surface to wet the mat first, then roll it into place.  Be sure to wet it thoroughly, as resin doesn't like being applied "uphill" with a brush once you already have a strip in place.  I used pairs of strips in height of 4" and 6", with widths varying from 6" to 12".  The smaller pieces are easier to work into place without the whole mess falling back on you.  For comparison, imagine wallpaper that just doesn't want to stay up.  I overlapped each strip with the previous one for about half an inch or so.  This step actually goes fairly quickly.  I found a fan in the boat with me helped tremendously with the fumes and heat that occur in the bow area.

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It's not pretty yet, but it is solid!

I did end up using the 5200 sealant to seal the brass bilge drain tube into the transom.  I cut it 1/8" oversized, spread the sealant all around the hole, and inserted the tube from inside the boat.  I wouldn't be able to flare the ends of the tube from inside the boat, so the tube sticks out the back initially.  After a couple of days to let it set, I spread a little more 5200 around the part that sticks out, and use a ball pein hammer to carefully, and slowly flare the end and tap it back flush with the hull.  The scary part is now that "This Old Hull" should now float!  I do have to finish the motor well, but I really feel like it's all downhill from here.   Famous last words.

OK well, I'm a little remiss in keeping this page up-to-date, so here goes.

June 4

I finished the body work on the hull and deck, and have applied a coating of Brightside primer. I brushed the first coat onto the topsides according the the instructions from the clerk, and am not happy with the results.  I ended up sanding most of the primer back off as it was laden with brush strokes.

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June 12

By now I flipped the hull over (Thanks Jake!) and finished the body work on the bottom of the hull.  I decided to spray the primer with a spray gun and my compressor instead of with a brush.  The results were 100% better than before.

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June 16

I have finished the first finish coat of Brightside Polyurethane white.  What a difference, it looks so much better and went on fairly easily.

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June 18

I've sprayed the second coat on the hull and it's filling in micro scratches nicely, and has a great gloss to it.  Between coats I sand with 220-grit wet/dry paper, and it seems to work better with lots of water.

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June 22

The hull was flipped right-side up (Thanks Paul!)  Instead of using the brute force approach to flipping the boat I decided to rig what amounts to two hanging points from which I can suspend the boat.  An eye-bolt in the bow-eye location, and a pair of C-clamps on the transom do the trick, then I simply raise and rotate her over.

 I've re-coated the topsides with primer, but this time I sprayed it and am much happier with the results.  I wet sanded the primer coat with 180-grit wet/dry paper.

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June 28

I've sprayed the first of the finish coats onto the topsides.

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I'm hoping just one more coat will be all I need, then I plan on adding the color accent stripes as were originally put on by Larson in 1960.  Note, that between each of the finish coats, I have to wet sand with 220 grit.  It adds a lot of time to the project, but makes the finished job nicer.

July 8

Well, just 12 days to go until the Nationals, and I'm running around like a chicken with my head cut off!  Did I mention I bought a "new" motor?  It's a 1959 Evinrude Lark Golden Jubilee model.  It's a 35HP Electric start and I got it because I feel I can get it up and running faster than the '55 Mercury Mark 55E I'm planning on eventually using.  Even though it turned out it was a non-running motor, I got it going fairly quickly.

The starter worked, but the upper cylinder had zero compression.  A quick inspection showed part of the aluminum block had flaked away where the steel cylinder sleeve was pressed in.  I believe this is a fairly common problem, and if you run across it it can be fixed.  I took my motor to a shop with aluminum welding experience (Leroy's Welding in Wheeling, Illinois 847-215-6151).  They ran a couple of beads to build up the area again, and at $50 wasn't cheap but wasn't expensive either.  I filed the weld down as flush as I could to the block surface, and smoothed it out with emery cloth.  Using the existing head gasket and torqued down, I was able to get about 97lbs/in on the upper, and about 105lbs/in on the lower cylinder.

I replaced the water pump impellor - don't even think twice about reusing an old impellor - even though my "old" one looked like new.  Brought out the 50-gallon barrel added water, and added gas and oil to the motor (don't use your vintage motors at 50:1 or 100:1!), and with just a few cranks was able to get the motor running!  A very happy time, as this was my first electric start, and only my second "rebuilt" motor.  Now I no longer had to worry about whether I'd have any propulsion for the show!

Oh, and I added the final coats of white paint!

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Click here to go the Launch - phase 4.

Updated Sep.9, 2002   Copyright Dan Kruitz

Phase 4  - Launch time!

"If you don't make a total commitment to whatever you're doing, then you start looking to bail out the first time the boat starts leaking. It's tough enough getting that boat to shore with everybody rowing, let alone when a guy stands up and starts putting his jacket on."
--Lou Holtz, College football coach



OK, with one week to go to Launch at the Nationals, it was crunch time, and things were happing fast, and not fast enough if you know what I mean.  I thank my wife Tami for bearing with me at this time, and for pushing meals and drinks out to me in the garage! :-)

One week before the show I taped and sprayed the Larson color stripes.  Taping off the stripes alone took two hours!  Spraying took about 10 minutes, and cleanup another 20 - why does it always work out like that?  I thinned the mixture a bit, and sprayed a couple of light coats back to back as I did not want runs at this stage of the game, and I was successful.  After cleanup, and letting the paint set a bit, I peeled off all the masking tape and plastic I had, being careful not to drag it through the wet paint.  What a difference some color made - it looked great!

A day later I had carefully raised the boat back onto the trailer, and mounted the engine.  This is the first time in over 5 years this boat has had an engine on it.  And hey, the transom didn't fall off (yet!)  I must be doing something right. I made custom transom guards of aluminum on the transom cap and laminate flooring painted white to protect the outside of the transom.

Next I was starting on the seats.  I was fortunate enough to have the templates for the 3/4" plywood seat bases, and I fiberglassed them in place.  I guesstimated sizes for seat bottoms from 3/4" ply and customized the backs to fit into place.  Upholstery for now consist of a high-density foam camping pad.  Holes were drilled through my new transom(!) and handles mounted.  The steering wheel was mounted, and 1/4" coated aircraft cable was installed.  I made custom aluminum brackets to mount the pulleys on the transom using the transom handle bolts as mounting points.  I didn't get to install the rubrail or windshield - shhh, don't tell anyone.

I had a Signs by Tomorrow in Elgin make up custom vinyl registration numbers and name.  These are the way to go, there was no way I was putting cheap hardware store stickers on my boat at this stage.  And cost is very reasonable, about $30, and it's paper backed; so you hang it on the boat like wallpaper, peel off the backing paper, and voila!

Bought new control cables as the ones I had were too short.  Reworked the control box, added the cables and new ends, installed the control box, battery, gas can, bow handle & light, checked trailer, tires, bearings, lights, chains, hitch, and it was time to go to the Nationals...

July 20

The morning of the show I finished all the little last minute things, well most of the last minute things, and headed out to Rockford about an hour away.  I realized when I was almost there, that this was the furthest I'd ever moved the boat!  I got there without incident, pulled in to the SportScore park, found the whole gang and parked "Li'l Miss Chiff".  Whew!  Time to kick back meet the folks, and see the boats!

Oh, and here's a photo of "Li'l Miss Chiff" I took in the morning as I left for the show.

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After probably 10 years since seeing water, and two summers under construction - She floats!

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More on the launching, and subsequent events later...


Playboy Home

Updated Sept. 9, 2002   Copyright Dan Kruitz