View Full Version : 1959 14' plywood boat restoration

05-18-2010, 12:33 AM
Hello all! New member here...I'm Mike, 30 years old, from Buffalo, NY doing a restoration to a 1959 hand built 14' plywood boat. I acquired this back in October and spent a month or so stripping it down to bare wood. I spent the winter remodeling my kitchen, and am now getting back to the boat. I'll fill you in with the progress so far...mind you these photos date back to October-December or so, and from here on out these are copy/pastes from another forum I had posted this project up on:)

The boat had been in barn storage the past few years where a leaky roof filled the boat and caused some damage. Here's the last good picture of it in the water from a few years ago...


The barn where it was stored.


In it's new winter home.


The gorgeous Art Deco era inspired 55 HP Mercury outboard. Apparently this boat was capable of about 30mph and could pull skiers quite well.


Interior shot...before cleaning. The seat cushions were destroyed and thrown in the trash before I picked her up.


After a little cleanup, with the front seat bottom removed and the rear seat folded up. It's pretty cool to see how this was constructed once I start removing bits and pieces, amazing that it was built by hand.


And getting started with scraping the paint away...this was maybe 1.5 hours or so of putzing around.


Currently, my plans for the project look like this:

*Read up on as much literature as I can and learn, learn, learn about the right way to fix these things up.
*Remove bad paint on hull, prep, repaint in possibly a gloss black or navy blue finish to really set off the woodwork on top.
*Possibly a new wood top (depending on the condition of it once I start cleaning it up).
*Find a nice wood steering wheel.
*Rip out the front wood seat and replace with swiveling captain chairs.
*Upholster a new rear bench seat.
*Possibly chop the windshield down a few inches.
*Remove paint from all stainless trimware and polish that up.

End goal is to have a comfy little 4 person cruiser to putt around with on calm days. I've never been involved in a project like this, so I have a lot to learn...but I'm excited to revive this beauty and hit the water come spring!

05-18-2010, 12:34 AM
The boat was hand built by the father of a lady I work with. I don't know his name, but know that is was based off of drawings from Popular Science Magazine. He used it up until about 25 years ago...then it went into 10 years of storage...then 8 years under the ownership of my boss who had to refinish it, then the past 2 years in the barn.

Eventually this boat will end up in northern Minnesota at my parents cabin where it can be reunited with the '55 Chevy:) I'd really like to get a few years out of this and then hand it off to them...and then build another one for myself, something a little larger that could handle rougher water conditions and more people.

Got a few hours in tonight...I can't get over how relaxing this is, and how nice it is to not have grease and grime all over my body, not to mention a sore back.

The tools.


Removing the bumper.


I'm always amazed at the contours wood makes...so hot.


Shit...we got some rot to deal with:(


Note the form of the trim piece on the ground...


...and done for the night.


05-18-2010, 12:35 AM
Had a friend come over with some home brew to slow me down a bit...Bourbon Barrel Porter with Oak wood chips, seemed fitting right? I can't begin to explain how amazing this beer is. Anyway, the boat is getting pretty close to being naked at this point:) Obviously this is the easy monkey work...but it yields some gratification through quick results of progress.





05-18-2010, 12:36 AM
Pricking out all the putty from the many, many buried screws.


After 50 years of service...she's coming up!


The rot...


This is half of the top, and will be used as a template for the new wood top that will eventually be made.




05-18-2010, 12:37 AM
I'm either a genius...or incredibly stupid for even trying this out, but I'm stubborn and didn't want to wait for 5 friends to show up...so I took it upon myself to do the deed of flipping the boat.

First item to take care of was getting lumber for the stands I need to build. I really need a truck...


Then came removing the engine. Never thought I'd use the picker to do something like this. Here's the stand to ease with moving it around as well.



Now, onto flipping the boat...thanks to the picker, beams, and some clever use of ratchet straps, it was a fairly straightforward affair.



...and DONE.

05-18-2010, 12:37 AM
Took advantage of a 4 day holiday weekend and ended up getting all the stripping, scraping, and sanding done on the hull.

Once the hand tools reached the point of being worthless, I moved onto 40 grit DA duty.


This is what I look like when working...


And...after 12 hours, it's done.



Next steps have already begun. I've tracked down a local source for the most perfect ribbon cut mahogany veneer:) My next update will cover this and the application of it over the hull...but will probably be a few weeks as it will undoubtedly be a tedious process.

05-18-2010, 12:38 AM
Got a few renderings to share that I've been working on to get a design direction figured out. Here's some of the things that are set in stone:

*Chopped windshield with center spear that I'll have to build somehow
*Relocated light closer to front
*Trimmed rear 'fins'
*Expose the chrome trim that was painted over
*Mocked up an interior...2 captain chairs, rear bench covered in a light cream/tan material

Playing around with either a painted hull or a mahogany veneer...





...and all 4 together...


05-18-2010, 12:46 AM
Okay...so now I'm typing live as of 12:30am May 18, 2010:)

After much internal debate, I am planning on going with this look:


I'm at the point where I'm ready to get started with ordering up the paint, epoxies, fiberglass clotch, etc. that is needed. I'm new to this type of project, so want to be sure that the products I'm ordering are ideal.

My plan was to go something like this for the hull:

*epoxy and a layer or two of fiberglass cloth over entire hull
*then paint hull with polyurethane paint
*one more layer of epoxy and fiberglass. I was told 6 oz. cloth becomes clear when epoxied?
*after hull is painted and 'sealed' watertight with the epoxy/fiberglass cloth, I will more onto attaching the trim pieces...which will be simply stained. When screwing these in I will obviously be going through the fiberglass, do I need to worry about water seeping in here? There are also strips that run under the boat.

Moving onto the top side:

*PLanned for veneering Mahogany over 1/8" 4x8 sheets of plywood...adhered to the top of the boat.
*1 coat of epoxy and fiberglass???

I'm sure I will have a TON more questions...but to not overwhelm the post with these I will patiently wait for any and all feedback those more experience than I can offer:)

Thanks, Mike

05-20-2010, 09:29 PM
The important things first. How do I get some of that beer?
The hull is built with Fir Plywood, nice structurally, but finishing is a bitch. The grain gets lumpy and will check through the paint if not fibreglassed. After the paint is stripped and the hull sanded apply a thin coat of epoxy fairing compound, either something like Systems 3 Quick Fair or Microbaloon/3M Bubbles with whatever epoxy system you are using. You just want to fill the low spots in the grain of the Fir Plyplus about 1/8". Go over it quickly with a DA sander just to break the surface and take the high spots off of the epoxy but if you continue with a small pad sander you will probably develop some low spots. Try either a long board, or if you can find a ½ sheet random orbit sander it will go faster. Porter Cable used to make a nice one.
One layer of 6 oz glass will be adequate, but 10 oz will give you more abrasion resistance on the bottom if you are beaching it. Your paint scheme looks great but one caution on dark colors. They will be hotter in direct sun and you could get some print through from the Fir over time. This would be more of a problem in Florida than Minnesota.
For painting check the Epifanes Poly-urethane post on the Q&A section of this forum.
Use Sikaflex or 3M 5200 calking when attaching fittings, rub rails etc. These are permanent, but 3M 4200 FC will be easier if you ever want to take things apart.
While you have the deck off it would be a good idea to seal the inside of the hull with 2 or 3 coats of System 3 S1 Sealer. This is a low viscosity solvent reduced epoxy similar to CEPS. It is important to cover 100%, so be sure to work it under frames etc. If you epoxy inside and out you then have the advantages a wooden boat with the durability and maintenance of a Tupperware one.
For gluing veneer onto the deck it would be better if you used ¼” ply, 1/8” is a little flexi for a reliable bond. Another option would be rip ¼” strips off the edge of a 2” Mahogany plank and epoxy the ¼” x 1 ¾” strips down on a ¼” plywood sub deck. You could Tung and Groove with a V groove between the strips, edge butt or space ¼” apart and fill with white pigmented epoxy or 3M 295UV White. These are all very traditional decks for these boats. Varnish finish would be best, no epoxy or glass.

05-21-2010, 12:29 AM
Thank you so much for all that great info!!! Much of what you mentioned makes sense to me...but being so new to this I need to digest it all in with some research just so I know what products you're referring to:)

I'm assuming all of what you mentioned can be ordered through Noah's??? I'd prefer to be able to pick up at the Niagara Falls warehouse if possible...

I like the idea of 10oz cloth on the bottom as this will see beach landings at times. In regards to the dark color and the 'print through'...well, I can live with that I suppose as this boat will be stored in a garage for a majority of the time as my intended use is pretty much day trips on the trailer to random locations.

Again...thanks for your reply, and I look forward to doing some business with you very soon!


07-09-2011, 10:55 PM
Oh Hi....me again after a little hiatus from this project. Last summer turned into winter and I just didn't have the urge to be out in the garage working on this. Now, back at it:)

Picking up from the last time I posted, a few more layers of epoxy went down, along with fine sandpaper in between coats. Eventually got to a point where the surface was pretty smooth and the rails could all get secured. 3M sealant provided the water barrier between the rails and the hull. Also picked up all new brass hardware.


Sanding block to remove the excess sealant...and the marine grade bondo to fill over the screw heads.




Then...sanding and glazing putty to fill gaps and other small imperfections.



Another layer of primer went down after the chickn pox above were smoothed over. Then...final color! The paint is a two-part epoxy paint. The blue wasn't dark enough, so I went with 2 cans of blue and 1 black.


Paulo has really long arms, absolutely no body fat, and a handsome smile. I gave him the pleasure of conveniently reaching the areas I couldn't do as easily. Throughout this entire build, the area he painted was by far the most successful:tup:


Painted!!! I love the color...and even better is the changing hull surface from front to back goes from shadow to highlight, so there's a great transition of the colors.

http://i84.photobucket.com/albums/k21/deener50/59%20Wood%20boat/258509_2189335497022_1356146522_32768176_4346719_o .jpg

http://i84.photobucket.com/albums/k21/deener50/59%20Wood%20boat/258457_2190385563273_1356146522_32769252_4059687_o .jpg

07-09-2011, 10:56 PM
Then...had to get rid of the orange peel. Went aggressive here with 800 grit and a DA sander. In hindsight I would have started higher on the grit, or invested time/money into a better spray booth that was my garage, as it became a bitch to buff out and some of these scratches are still visible if you have a good eye.


For some reason, the dust of the paint was turquoise...


Note the level of orange peel


After the dry 800, went wet 800, wet 1500, and wet 3000. Here's the 1500 in action...


After the 3000 there is a slight gloss visible through the dullness...


What felt like a million hours of buffing were needed to bring out the shine. Also took a full quart of heavy cut compound to get it done.

http://i84.photobucket.com/albums/k21/deener50/59%20Wood%20boat/266278_2211100761140_1356146522_32798917_5717342_o .jpg

http://i84.photobucket.com/albums/k21/deener50/59%20Wood%20boat/265254_2211050759890_1356146522_32798832_5911547_o .jpg

After a few more stages of buffing, was time to polish up the metal hull trim and secure it down with new #6 stainless hardware:)

http://i84.photobucket.com/albums/k21/deener50/59%20Wood%20boat/272451_2252982168149_1356146522_32810583_6412275_o .jpg

Then the eyelet went back in...getting closer to flipping this thing back over so wood working on the top side can begin!

http://i84.photobucket.com/albums/k21/deener50/59%20Wood%20boat/257911_2252990288352_1356146522_32810586_4275807_o .jpg

07-09-2011, 10:57 PM
Tonight, got her flipped back over:) Used the same ratchet strap method, but had a friend help this time just in case...

http://i84.photobucket.com/albums/k21/deener50/59%20Wood%20boat/266676_2261132371899_1356146522_32821113_2625141_o .jpg

On the trailer...threw the old top back on just to get a better visual of a somewhat finished looking boat, this won't be used as it's pretty beat up. This is a really shitty picture...



07-12-2011, 08:47 PM
Looks great, but a lot of work.
One thing we usual recommend when using any hi gloss boat finish is don’t spray unless the boat is in a paint booth, the applicator has professional equipment and has experience painting boats. Cars have lots of curves and panels that help to hide orange peel, but boats generally have large flat panels so the painter has to be very good at laying material the on heavy enough to flow, but not run. It takes a lot of experience to get the right amount of thinner, the right gun setup and the right technique for the perfect finish.
It is far easier if you don’t have the above equipment and qualifications to roll and tip. Epifanes Polyurethane is designed for brush application so is thicker and will maintain a wet edge longer than paints designed for spray. In other word you can get a super smooth, glossy, no orange peel finish without the hassle of spray.