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Kudzu

1962 Sea Skiff restoration

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The 283 came with as much as 185 HP (back then) which is plenty for this boat. In fact, driving that hull type much faster than 40 MPH (about what she'll do with a fresh 283) will likely introduce you to longitudinal instability. This is common for your hull form and drive arrangement (straight shaft, warped bottom). You could push her to 50 MPH, but she will not like it much and it'll require huge jumps in HP to get there. Lastly, asking 50 year old iron to produce lots of power is pretty much a guarantee for a blown motor. Even if you repower with a new second gen small block, you'll struggle to get much over 50 MPH with the drag associated with that hull and gear, even with the 40% HP increase it offers.

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Ashamed to look back and realize I started on this project 6 years ago. But it overwhelmed me a bit and I finally decided I had to get serious. Decided that if I could work on it at least 2-4 hours most days it was better to killing myself in one long day and then not wanting to work on it for a week. 

 

Plugging along for a while and finally turned a corner. Starting to repair and replace instead of just tearing it apart. Plus I am motivated now. I want my shop back!!  Plus I am dying to get back on the water.

 

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Have removed all the bad planking on the Starboard side and have replacements cut and fitting them. This is the worse side by far. Only have a 4' section on Port side to replace as far as I can tell.  I had to replace nearly 8" of the garboar(?). 4'+ of the adjoining plank and still have numerous ribs on that side to replace.  

 

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Since I had the garboard out I could stand inside the bow and decided it was good time to sand and paint this area. Miserable job!  I used my Bosch vibrating saw with the sanding pad and man! I am impressed!  I can think of a better tool for sanding in here. Still a pain but it was 3 time faster than doing it by hand and it could reach most of the nooks and crannies.

 

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One coat on and it feels like I am making some progress and I am. 

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What did you use in the laps? Given the age of your skiff, Chris Craft used polysulfide (3M-101), which is ideal for underwater seams on non-encapsulated timber or plywood. If you did encapsulate the replacement planking, polyurethane will do (3M-5200) if the boat will be trailer borne and not spend extended time in the water (a week or more). If it's to be berthed for extended periods, polysulfide is the choice.

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Planks are just dry fitted but everything I read and tearing it apart backs this up,  the planks were 'caulked' with Thiokol which is the predecessor of 5200.  Joints were not easy to open up without damaging the planking either.  I will be putting strakes in permanently next week and will use 5200.

 

It will be trailered or hang from a lift in a boathouse. It will not stay in the water. Actually, never has as far as I know.

 

Yesterday I found a bow seam that apparently was never caulked from the factory. From the windshield to the just a foot from the stem there is nothing. The seam had opened up, the copper nails in the laps had pulled loose and there is a gap all along the lap. It was full of debris but once I cleaned it up it became apparent what was going on. The screws into the ribs were all that were secure. I am sure that is because the laps were not 'glued' together with thiokol allowing stress over the hears to open the seam. Aggravating it is to repair I am impressed with out strong and how well that stuff has lasted.

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Yeah, Thiokol was the first generation of polysulfide and worked pretty good, especially in continuous immersion applications on raw wood. 3M-5200 is a polyurethane and though used by many, I don't recommend it in this application (long term immersion), unless the seam can be continuously compressed during the full cure process (a few weeks). I've seen the polyurethanes peel or easily pulled from a seam that had a bead applied by a caulk gun (no pressure).

 

You should have mentioned it. I have a good way to open up the seams and cut the rivets or clenches at the same time. A fine tooth hacksaw blade, maybe with some tape around one end to make it more comfortable is the ticket. You wedge open a seam just enough to slide the blade it, then, using the lap as a guide, slowly cut through the goo, until you find a fastener, which of course you quickly hack though, just to continue on to the next. Some of these used screws into the frames, so you'd switch to digging out the putty and backing it out. The nice thing is the lap is also cleaned up in the process and it helps to use a slightly dull blade (interestingly enough), as it's easy to get too aggressive with a sharp one and dig into the laps.

 

With just a portion of one seam missing the goo, you still have lots of friction and moisture gain to keep things fairly tight, from surrounding goo and fasteners, so not as much of a surprise to me. Repairs on these old laps is where I cut my teeth, as no one in this area wanted to touch them, because they didn't know or understand how and why things were done the way there were, along with the perception they were tough to redo. The goo wasn't a glue so much as a sealant, to absorb plank movement with moisture gain/lose cycling. It's still a traditional lap method, with the fasteners and lap friction making it tight. The goo just helped longevity and the perception they leaked more than other methods.

 

Plank end landings on the stem are a common area of trouble with these puppies as are the garboards, which get worked more than all the rest of the planking, plus get oil soaked under the engine(s). The broad strakes (next out from the garboards) also work loose, though not at the rate of the garboard. Lastly is the sheer strake, which gets moisture trapped behind it from the clamp and side deck, causing rot.

 

It took me years to figure out all the nuances of these old lap strakes, but once you understand the why and how, repairs become much easier. If doing a more extensive repair (the whole bottom for example), I'd epoxy the seams, but for repairs it's better to just do it the way it was originally. Lastly, you should find a thin string of cotton, buried in the bottom of the rabbet on the stem and keel. It's pretty important it goes back in.

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I have been terrible about keeping this up to date.  For a while I decided I was STORING rather than RESTORING this boat.

 

But I have been working most every day on the boat for a few weeks and making good progress. Try to put in at least a couple of hours every day and latterly I have been putting in some pretty long days. My joints ache after this past couple of weeks so I need to take a few days and do some easy things.

 

Big thing is the past few weeks I installed 90% of the ribs I needed too. I did a lot of sister framing and I now have the proper hull shape back. 

 

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I had to do the ribs in two pieces. Tthey would need to been nearly 8' long and there was simple no way to get them in place before they cooled.  Second, my oak was not good enough to take the tight bend at the chine.  To much run out in the grain. So way to much breakage.

 

So I steamed some shorter lengths and drove them in under the motor stringers up the chine a ways.  Then I made a few molds and laminated the ends with the curve and up the sides.  Tied them all together with a block or white oak. Took me a bit to get the steaming down right and found it a bit temperamental, but now I can steam and install very quickly working alone.

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Now I have finished the Starboard side repairs which needed the major work.  I have 4(?) ribs left on that side to install. I had to wait till I removed the port side side planking.  I can drive them in from underneath MUCH easier than from the top. 

 

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I now have the those planks removed and some additional repairs to make while I have access. Just a bit more work and then I can install the ribs, the planking and I have all the major repairs made. Still a lot of work left to do but it feels so good to nearly have all the stuff done that had me so intimidated. Also wonderful watching how much easier the repairs get and how much better my skills are too.

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