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  1. #1
    Petty Officer 2nd Class biglurr54's Avatar
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    Default How much work are Wooden Boats?

    I live on a small lake and have been looking for a unique boat to have for Sunday afternoon putts around the lake. I have always loved old wooden boats. I faithfully go to the Clayton Boat show which is the largest collection of antique boats in NY. No that i have a place on the lake, I have been looking into them. I have a power boat and jet ski on the lake but its a small lake and its crazy to fire up a 120 hp motor to putt around at 2-3 mph. A few years back my father and i came across a 1930's Syracuse Electric Launch. It needed a few pieces of wood replaced because they were getting soft but it was 100% complete. It has been stored in a barn for most of its life. It would be the perfect boat for the lake. I don't have a ton of spare time as I work a lot at my job and I am in the middle of restoring my 1830 post and beam house. Are these wooden boats a lot of work? I know the initial restoration would be a large undertaking but once that is completed would it be a lot to keep up. Its a small 16 footer and it would be in fresh water. I would get a lift for it so it would be out of the water when not in use as well.
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  2. #2
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    Default Re: How much work are Wooden Boats?

    Can be very intensive and expensive! Also depends on the construction type and the state of repair the boat is in to begin with. There are basically 4 types of construction. Rib and plank, rib and lapstrake, rib and plywood and molded plywood.

    After I got out of the military in 1975 I worked for a year at a marina that also did wood restos. The last one they had in the shop before I left was a 1950s 20' Hackercraft that was rib and plank. There were planks on the bottom that needed replacing and they required to be steamed and bent to fit. A lot of work! Also just stripping and refinishing this 20 footer was a ton of work.

    A finished wood boat I believe isn't much more difficult to keep up than a glass boat on a day to day basis. Over time though they many be a bit more work.
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  3. #3
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    Default Re: How much work are Wooden Boats?

    I told my wife to never let me buy a Wood boat. No matter what. Almost everyone who likes boats likes wood boats. Unless your ultra wealthy and patient or an expert woodworker with massive amounts of time to spare... dont do it.

  4. #4
    Moderator Bob_VT's Avatar
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    Default Re: How much work are Wooden Boats?

    There is a place up near Lake George that builds wooden boats and there is a guy in Ferrisberg VT that also restores mahogany boats. I am sure if you call around you can find out their supply sources.

    I have seen many older Thompson wooden boats for sale and some real classics pop up in the VT craigslist.

    They are more work but, they have character.

    Good luck.
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  5. #5
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    Default Re: How much work are Wooden Boats?

    Wooden Boats=Time Sink Love Affair. There are many up where we are, and they are spectacular. Yet, I already spend too much time on boating DIY, preparation, and the act itself, at least according to Mrs. Moose.

    Food for thought here: http://civpro.blogs.com/civil_proced...f_tirade_.html
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  6. #6

    Default Re: How much work are Wooden Boats?

    Its all a matter of storage and maintenance. Do it right the first time, then keep it garage stored and you'll have less maintenance than a metal or plastic boat. (I wax those annually, but not my woodie).

    If you keep it in a slip, plan on painting the bottom annually. Might need some caulking as well, depending on the construction.

    What sets wooden boats apart from their cousins is the outstanding ride and handling. Plus, you just can't get over the smell of a varnished interior.

    For what you want to do, a woodie would be the ideal toy.

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  7. #7
    Ensign Ned L's Avatar
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    Default Re: How much work are Wooden Boats?

    “How much work are wooden boats.” I would say that it all depends. Certainly fiberglass will withstand more abuse and neglect than a wooden boat. That being said, I think that if you take two identical boats, one wood and one glass, there will be a surprisingly similar amount of work required in keeping them both in first rate condition. - I have two ‘identical’ boats, a wooden Jersey speed skiff (cir. 1940) and a fiberglass one (1969), so I do have a pretty good idea. When the amount of time I spend working on the glass one is commented on I reply with “but you and your father tell me that fiberglass boats are a lot less work.”
    Certainly there is a different kind of work required for a wooden boat and it does require more skill and patience to sand and apply nice coats of paint and varnish than it does to clean, wax and buff, but the time isn’t much different if done properly.
    What JimS123 said is also good. One concern I have with what you have said is the idea of storing her on a lift out of the water when not in use. A 1930’s launch isn’t going to like being stored out of the water for extended periods and put in for just periodic use. She may end up staying too dried out and always leak too much for your enjoyment. There is absolutely nothing wrong with some water in the bilge of a wooden boat, but you don’t want the bilge pump running nonstop when you using the boat either. – And don’t let someone talk you into the idea of fiberglassing the bottom as the ‘forever’ solution. That has brought an end to more good wooden boats.

  8. #8
    Petty Officer 1st Class INJUN's Avatar
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    Default Re: How much work are Wooden Boats?

    All my Dad would buy were used wooden boats (except the first 2, which he built from bought plans). When we would go looking to buy or see one, it was often said to look for the worst boat in the yard and that would be it. I spent many a summer helping him getting them back in shape. They were all plank on frame 'Baybuilt' boats. Countless hours spent burning and scraping old paint off and caulking with something resembeling cotton (can't recall the name of the stuff). They were all in the 30 to 40 foot range. Bottom painting was real rough, none of them had smooth bottoms. To save cash on bottom paint he would buy the cheap stuff and add red pepper powder to each gallon. It must have worked because I don't ever remembering scraping the bottom. Each boat he bought was a little larger than the one before and in better shape. He ended up with a 43 footer (after about of 6 or 7) and it was a sucessful 6 pac charter. I could go on and on . . .

    I sure miss him and those days.

    Good luck with yours.

    I'll stay with fiberglass.
    There is nothing more worthwhile doing than messing 'round with boats.

  9. #9
    Master Chief Petty Officer royal0014's Avatar
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    Default Re: How much work are Wooden Boats?

    [QUOTE=biglurr54;3799551 I faithfully go to the Clayton Boat show which is the largest collection of antique boats in NY. [/QUOTE]


    Hmm, gee, I wonder who could give you a straight answer to your questions.........




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  10. #10
    Petty Officer 1st Class INJUN's Avatar
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    Default Re: How much work are Wooden Boats?

    I must agree with NedL, it's not good to keep it out of the water. You will gain leaks if the wood dries out.
    If you do keep it out of the water, you might want to fill the boat with water to keep the hull wet (swelled).
    There is nothing more worthwhile doing than messing 'round with boats.

  11. #11
    Petty Officer 1st Class INJUN's Avatar
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    Default Re: How much work are Wooden Boats?

    Sorry, posted twice.
    There is nothing more worthwhile doing than messing 'round with boats.

  12. #12

    Default Re: How much work are Wooden Boats?

    Quote Originally Posted by INJUN View Post
    I must agree with NedL, it's not good to keep it out of the water. You will gain leaks if the wood dries out.
    If you do keep it out of the water, you might want to fill the boat with water to keep the hull wet (swelled).
    Yes and no. An old cedar strip boat surely needed soak time or it would leak like a seive...ask me how I know....LOL. However, later model lapstrake boats were sealed with 5200 between the planks and they made quite good trailer boats. The same for most plywood construction that was put together with a good marine resin glue at the seams.

    Another factor is the ambient conditions. I live in an area with about 50% humidity year round. I would imagine that any wood boat would dry out almost to be unusable in places like Nevada or New Mexico.

    PS - Clayton isn't only the biggest in NY, I believe its about the 2nd biggst in the whole USA. I've been there every year since 1977!
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  13. #13
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    Default Re: How much work are Wooden Boats?

    My experience with wooden boats is from my youth and living on the east coast. I owned one when I was 15 and most boats around were wooden. Currently, a few relatives where I keep my boat have wooden models. I would love to have one and, as previously stated, after the restoration is done, they are likely no more work than any other. BUT, wooden boats need to be IN THE WATER. The best and easiest way to keep it useable is to have a boat house or covered slip, and take it out of the water at seasons end. At the beginning of the season it would need to be kept in slings in the water or on a lift for a few days until it tightens up.
    Ray

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