Here is the completed restoration. A test run was made on Scott’s Flat lake to great success.
The restorer of the 1959 Century Resorter, “Last Resort,” Mr. Jay L. Thelin enjoys the maiden voyage.
For a few weeks I’ve been building up the coats of varnish (now at seven) with one more to go. I have also been addressing the other major concerns: the restoration of the engine, the plating of the chrome hardware and the acquisition of new replica upholstery matching the original 1959 design. I am happy to report all three things have been completed. Here are some comments and pictures of the boat at present. First the boat with seven coats of varnish:
The secret of the varnish is to follow each coat with a series of careful sandings, using a finer and finer grit of sandpaper on each pass. I put all coats of varnish on by hand with a brush (old school.) I make sure my varnish brush is clean (hint: never let your brush dry out – I keep my brushes in mineral spirits from the time they are new until I replace them.) After each coat of varnish, once the varnish dries, I sand the boat with 220 grit, wait two or three days and then use 280 grit, then 320 and finally 400. This allows for a high gloss finish. As I move to coats seven and eight I start taking every precaution to keep the finish coats dust free. You must consider every possible aspect of a clean environment. I start by blowing off the boat with an air compressor. Using a tack cloth I wipe the boat down several times. Next, I water down the floor of the shop several hours before I start. Then, I change all my clothes so there is no possibility that dust can fall of my shirt, pants, etc. and ruin the varnish job. I usually varnish in the evening when there is no wind and things are calm all around….a sea of calm!
For the upholstery I found a great company in Michigan (A&A Marine and Classic Boating) These guys (Dave and Chet) were great helping me find much needed parts and providing an upholstery kit that matched perfectly the original upholstery that Century used when the boat was new. Here are some before and after pictures of the upholstery:
Here is a picture with the new seats in the boat:
Next is the engine restoration. This is being done by Mr. William Bates of Newcastle, California. He is an excellent mechanic and an exacting perfectionist. Here are some pics of the engine restoration underway:
And here is one of the engine restored:
Next time we will almost be finished and I”ll be sending some pictures of the engine in the boat, the deck hardware installed and the boat ready for a test run.
Repairing and fiberglassing the bottom requires rolling the boat over:
After being rolled, the old fiberglass is removed, the bottom is re-fastened as necessary and then imperfections are filled with epoxy putty and sanded smooth. There can be no air gaps between the bottom and the new glass.
Once the old glass is removed and the bottom of the boat is sanded and sealed, the next step is to lay on the first layer of the new glass. For this boat I used a 12″ wide strip down the middle of the keel (middle of bottom) and then overlapped two 36″ pieces of glass from the water line, up the side and laid it over the bottom.
The final step requires sanding, painting and restoring the water line on the bottom.
To begin the deck reconstruction the old planks will be used as patterns for the new planks. I use clamps to hold the old and new planks together which will enable you to draw a pencil line around the old plank thus creating a pattern on the new mahogany. You can either use a saber saw or band saw to cut out the new piece. Be aware that you must keep your cut outside the pencil line so that you can shape and fit the new plank to the boat deck. Many times the old planks are worn and have shrunk so you need some forgiveness on the cut. Remember to paint the back side of the new plank with bilge coat for protection and durability.
Also the new deck planks need groves sawed into them that will later be used for the white stripes on the finished deck. The grooves are done with a table saw and what is critical here is the distance between each groove must be the same. Every fourth groove begins a new plank so you must make a cut on the facing edge of one of the abutting planks to simulate a groove. I do this by using the fence on my table saw and lowering the saw blade so that it only protrudes about 1/8″:
Here are some pictures of the tools required for counter sinking the screw holes, cutting the plugs (bungs):
And finally a picture of the planks installed on the deck with the bungs glued into the counter sunk holes and the new deck planks sanded:
Once all defective planks are removed and the bilge has been thoroughly cleaned the next step is to paint the bilge and begin the restoration. Because the boat needs repair on the bottom I am going to sand, stain and varnish the sides first and then install the new deck planks and make structural repairs before I roll the boat over to repair the bottom. By doing this first the hull will be strong enough to roll over without damaging the sides or deck.
Sanding is, perhaps, the most critical element in preparing the hull for stain. It is extremely important to use the right grit sand paper and use sanding equipment that won’t leave sanding marks in the wood and distort the grain. I normally start with 80 grit and then use 120 grit and finish with 150 grit on the bare wood. An orbital sander works best and the last sanding should be done by hand moving with the grain thus eliminating any sanding marks left by the orbital sander etc. If you use a disk sander be aware that you can disfigure the wood very easily by applying too much pressure and make rough surfaces in the grain of the wood. I use a “soft” pad on my sander to ensure I don’t dig into the wood too deeply. Practice on some old wood before starting to sand the sides if you have never done this before.
The beginning of the restoration requires removing all thru hull hardware, fittings and planks that are to be replaced.
Step two requires removing all the planks that need to be replaced. The Century project requires removing most of the deck planks and cover boards. You must save the old planks which will be used as patterns when cutting the new pieces.
Welcome to my blog. Over the next year or so I am going to restore a 1959 Century Resorter from its present derelict condition to good as new. I’ll document the steps I take and post them here. I hope you enjoy watching the transformation as I much as I will performing it. Feel free to leave a comment below. Thanks. –Jay
First Steps: The beginning requires completely stripping the boat of all hardware, removing the engine, seats, floor boards, dash board, and all the through-hull fittings (i.e., rudder, prop shaft, water intake, drain plug, siphon bailer, etc). Everything that can come out should be removed. The next post will show pictures of this completed.
What is important with this first step: everything should be marked and labeled. Every wire going to the engine should have a label. I use masking tape and a black marker and tape each label to the part. Don’t assume you will remember where anything goes…you won’t! Take particular care to legibly mark each wire to every dash board instrument. Make sure you indicate which side of the instrument the wire goes to. For example, the amp gauge will have five or six wires connecting to it and it is extremely important to mark the wires so you know which side of the instrument they go on. You can use right or left but then you have to remember whether you were looking at from the front or rear. I use port and starboard because on a boat the starboard is the right side as you face the bow. This way you won’t forget which side the wires go on.
Next Time: Let the games begin……