1958 HiLiner – Reshaping the bottom

1958 HiLiner
The HiLiner was built in Massachusetts. It’s a light, fast boat that’s a lot of fun.
1958 HiLiner is a fast, light boat.
This boat is so light, it’s very easy to wheel around the shop. It’s a molded plywood boat–lightweight ant beautiful.

We recently got a new project in the boat shop.  A 1958 HiLiner came in with the complaint that it leaks badly.  I took a look and found the bottom had lost its original shape over the years.  The keel had compressed up into the boat, and some of the frames had separated.  It’s not unusual for this kind of thing to happen to these classic boats over the years.  After all, this boat is 63 years old.  That’s older than I am (not by much, but still).

Jacking the bottom into shape
With the help of a purpose built I-beam and some jacks, I was able to get the bottom shape back pretty close to the original design.

We first discussed just replacing the bottom, including the keel and the bottom frames.  But after close examination, and a little creative thinking, the wood is mostly in good shape.  I think we can get the large hook out of the bottom, glue some stiffeners in to hold the corrected shape, and maybe just patch the rotten parts.  There are always rotten parts.

Keel stiffeners
Keel stiffeners were added to each side of the original and glued in place to hold the shape of the keel after the jacks are removed.

After disassembly and cleanup, I stripped the red paint off the bilge interior and was able to fabricate some additional stiffeners to glue to the existing keel stiffener, which had separated from the keel.  I also fabricated a new gusset for a frame that had separated at the chine.  And there was a bottom frame that had separated from the chine due to the warping of the bottom.  I was able to make some knees to glue the frame ends back to the chine to re-establish this joint once we got the shape restored.

Now it’s time to flip the boat over and see what we can do to fix that leak and waterproof the bottom again.  Stay tuned.

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