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”

Working on the Riva Foredeck

This is a detail of the deck damage that we were contending with.

I’m restoring the foredeck for a 2013 Riva Iseo.  I talked about working on the swim platform in my previous post, where I said we’d discuss options for the foredeck next.  I thought briefly about trying to repair those bad patches, but I decided against that option because I would have to strip the entire finish without sanding through the thin veneer of mahogany and holly.  At the time I thought it was about 1/16 inch thick.  It turned out to be much closer to 1/32 inch.  Then there was the problem of matching grain, joint lines that would show, etc.

So that left what looked like three options.  Here they are, in order of complexity and expense: Continue reading “Working on the Riva Foredeck”

Adding a Fresh Water Cooling System

Canadian Runabout
A 1957 Greavette, a Canadian built runabout.

Boat motors use the water they’re floating in to cool them.  Some, like most outboards, have what’s called a “raw water” system.  The water the boat is floating in circulates through the engine block, then exits with the exhaust.  Most modern inboards have a “fresh water” or “indirect” cooling system.  In this system, coolant like that in your automobile is pumped through a heat exchanger.  The coolant is circulated through the engine block rather than the raw water itself. Continue reading “Adding a Fresh Water Cooling System”

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”

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). Continue reading “1958 HiLiner – Reshaping the bottom”

Key West 1900 Sportsman Restore and Repower

1999 Key West 1900 cc Sportsman
1999 Key West 1900 Sportsman ready to roll into the shop to begin refurbishment.

I’m really excited about our newest project in the shop.  I’ve been asked to restore and repower a 1999 Key West 1900 center console Sportsman.  It’s currently powered by a 1999 Mercury Mariner 135hp Optimax 2 stroke engine.  We’ll be changing out the engine, replacing the push-pull cable steering with hydraulic, adding an automatic shallow water anchor, and updating the trolling motor.  Also adding a bimini top, refurbishing the dashboard, and checking all electrical and plumbing systems.

We’ll add a bimini top and update the trolling motor.

The first task after picking the boat up was to check it’s weight.  As you may know, Key West uses closed-cell foam to provide positive flotation for boating safety, filling almost every chamber in the hull.  After 20 years, the foam can become saturated if there has been water intrusion.  Happily, this boat weighed what it was supposed to–eliminating concern about water saturation.

1999 Mercury Mariner 135hp 2 stroke Optimax
1999 Mercury Mariner 135hp Optimax 2 stroke will be replaced with a new 4 stroke outboard.

So now we can turn to making her young again.  Stay tuned as we step through the process during the coming weeks.

Picking a Color for the Boat

Making a Stain Test Strip

It’s not too early to start thinking about the finishing program for this boat.  I know, it seems ridiculous to be thinking about this at such an early stage, but I want to test several different options for varnishes and urethane clear coats for durability.  Considering the effort that goes into finishing, it’s worth gathering a little empirical data to help make the decision. Continue reading “Picking a Color for the Boat”