Finishing the Riva: Out With the Old, In With the New

Removing the old deck using a router.

After the new deck pieces were fabricated and trimmed to final size, it was time to focus on removing the old deck.  It was a pretty lo-tech process actually.  I used a router to turn the old deck into a lot of sawdust, removing the same thickness as I had fabricated the new pieces to. Continue reading “Finishing the Riva: Out With the Old, In With the New”

Riva Iseo – Trimming to Patterns

The final pieces just about ready to glue to the boat.
The original patterns are made from cheap, pliable luan.

Remember long ago (by now it seems long ago to me) when I talked about the painstaking process of making patterns out of cheap 1/8″ luan?  My process was to use the 1/8″ luan to make my original patterns because it’s so pliable and easy to carve to shape.

But by now, you realize how much time and energy is invested in laying up the mahogany and holly blanks and laminating them to the backing board.  It’s too risky to use such a thin pattern to cut out those blanks.  One slip of the  router, and you’re starting over on those layups.   So I used the original patterns to first cut out new patterns of 1/2″ thick birch plywood.  The 1/2″ thick plywood, with no voids is much more secure for cutting the blanks. Continue reading “Riva Iseo – Trimming to Patterns”

Layup of the Riva Foredeck


Laying up the deck using packing tape, and checking alignment with the center panels.

Having settled on the option of hand laying the deck, it was time to start milling wood.  Take a look back at the first post in this series, Working on the Riva Foredeck.   Look closely at the picture of the overall deck.  See how the pinstripe holly lines are symmetrical about the centerline, and how they line up fore and aft from the outboard panels to the center panels?  That’s what is going to make this a beautiful deck. Continue reading “Layup of the Riva Foredeck”

Flipping the HiLiner

Boat flipping rig
This is my boat flipping rig. The boat always rotates easily to this sideways position. Getting it to finish turning over takes a little more pulling.

Having re-established the shape of the hull for the 1958 HiLiner, it’s time to flip the boat over so I can get to the outside of the bottom and remove the rotten spots and fix the leaks.   When I was in boat school, we assembled all the students in the school and manhandled the 22 ft. boat we were building to turn it over.  I think we had about 50 people to turn that boat over.  This contraption I have now allowed two men to flip this boat. Continue reading “Flipping the HiLiner”

Hull-Deck Joint Gelcoat Repair

Gelcoat repair after filling
After filling the damaged areas with epoxy, the next step is gelcoat.

In my last post I discussed the importance of the hull-deck joint and how I repaired it on the Key West 1900 center console currently in my shop.  Now that the structural repair has been accomplished, let’s talk about cosmetics.  After all, we want the boat to look pretty again. Our goal is not just good-as-new structurally, but cosmetically as well!

You can see how much excavation was required to get down to solid material.

As you can see, quite a bit of excavation and filling was required to get rid of all the stressed and cracked fiberglass.  Now we have to cover that in gelcoat, the same material that was used in manufacturing the boat originally.  The trick is to get a good color match.  After 20 years, even if we had a batch of gelcoat from the original manufacturing run, it wouldn’t match the color of the boat now due to the fading effects of the intense sun here in South Carolina.  So you have to blend your own color.

A plywood dam recreates a smooth sheer line for the gelcoat.

Having done that, I just layered on coat after coat until it was a little bit proud of the surrounding area, knowing that I would have to sand it smooth.  In this case, it was worth it to construct a plywood dam that recreated the curve I wanted in order to define the sheer line (the line of the deck you see as you look at it from the side).  With the dam in place, I could load it up with gelcoat and scrape it off even with the top of the dam.

Cured gelcoat after removing the dam, ready for shaping and final polishing.

Next comes the process of sculpting the gelcoat to the final shape.  You have to take your time, being careful not to sand off too much.  Of course if you do, you can always add another layer. But you have to wait a day for it to cure.  Finally, polishing to a nice shine, and a coat of wax completes the repair.  Good as new in all respects!

Building a Hatch Opening

Framed hatch and opening, almost ready to be installed.

The water-tight bulkhead forward of the engine compartment needs a hatch opening so you can access the area forward of frame 3.  We have to cut an opening and frame it and the hatch.  We’ll have to design the frame for both pieces, determine proper placement of the hinges and opening hardware, and make it waterproof. Continue reading “Building a Hatch Opening”

Xantrex Freedom 20 Repair

Charred input connection for Xantrex Freedom 20 inverter-charger

I recently got a call to diagnose and repair a Xantrex Freedom 20 inverter-charger.  An inverter-charger is a dual purpose machine that can either charge your batteries using shore power, or create AC power from your batteries while you’re away from shore power.  What’s more, it can share your shore power feed between whatever you want to use it for on the boat and the battery charger, giving some power to each.  So you can charge your batteries and enjoy using your air conditioner while making margaritas with your blender! Continue reading “Xantrex Freedom 20 Repair”

Add A Windlass to a SeaRay Sundancer–part 2

Windlass for SeaRay Sundancer
The finished “bowsprit” with windlass, anchor and anchor roller.

In my last post I talked about the plan for adding a windlass to a medium sized powerboat, a 2008 SeaRay 240 Sundancer.  If you missed it, you can read more about it here.  When we left off, I was fabricating a platform to fit where the lid for the anchor locker is.  There’s a recessed gutter around the opening that’s ideal for a trapezoidal frame that supports the platform. Continue reading “Add A Windlass to a SeaRay Sundancer–part 2”

A Windlass for a 2008 SeaRay Sundancer-part 1

Fitting the frame for the bow pulpit.

Not too long ago, a customer came in needing a windlass installed on his SeaRay Sundancer.  Luckily, he had some excellent plans for how he wanted it done.  He wanted to take the lid off the anchor locker and fabricate a piece to fit over it that protrudes enough from the bow to stow the anchor.  Sort of like a mini-bow pulpit.  This was a great project for my shop because it encompasses a variety of skills, all of which I’m pretty good at, even if I do say so myself.   Continue reading “A Windlass for a 2008 SeaRay Sundancer-part 1”

Varnishing Stella

Varnish restores the luster of brightwork
Detail of the toe rail after the first full coat of varnish

This week I had the opportunity to meet one of the more attractive boats in the Charleston area.  “Stella” is a 2014 Chris Craft Launch 25, and she came in for some varnish on her brightwork.  Here you can see a detail of the port toe rail after the first of two refresher coats. Continue reading “Varnishing Stella”