View Full Version : 1941 Trawler in Germany | introducing myself and the trawler

01-24-2018, 06:08 PM
Dear Wooden Boat Lovers,

my name is Philipp and i live in Germany. I am working as a Designer and Photographer. I was regularly reading here and am a subscriber at off center harbour. I have been restoring three old steel boats before my real dream came true and i bought a wooden trawler built in 1941.He is nearly 50 ft long and a width of 15 ft. It's carvel planked oak on oak and there seems to be a lot of work necessary - anyway - finally I hope it's worth it. I just wanted to post that for getting some encouragement, please :confused: . A lot of planks have to be renewed and hopefully the frames are okay. I know the traditional way of caulking should be with hemp and tar and a lot of sweat. I read sometimes about a solution with Sikaflex 291 - if anybody has some experiences with that - i would be happy - what ever they might sound like...

Regards from stormy Germany, Philipp1007410070100711007210073

Peerie Maa
01-24-2018, 06:15 PM
Hi and welcome to the forum.
There are no shortcuts to looking after boats. If you want to take her to sea, rather than just live on her in a mud berth you must caulk her with either oakum or cotton. Then pay the seams with either putty or linseed oil and Portland cement. The caulking adds strength to the hull by binding the planks together.

Have you had her surveyed by some one who knows wooden boats?

01-24-2018, 06:18 PM
She looks like a lovely boat, Philipp. Will this be a live-aboard? I will let the guys here who have spent time restoring old boats give you advice - I work pretty much exclusively with new-builds, so my solutions are usually expensive. I hope that she treats you well and keeps you safe and dry.

01-24-2018, 06:20 PM
That's a beautiful boat Philipp! Congratulations. Two comments. One, you can get plenty of encouragement here. I'll give you mine right now. That's a fantastic project and one well worth taking on. And two... you should know that the subject of caulking techniques and various goop-in-a-tube solutions is a debate fraught with misinformation and generally questionable advice. For that boat there is absolutely no substitute for oakum, sweat and skill. You will need all three in large quantities. Please, please do not go down the road of looking for some shortcut. That way lies madness, penury and possibly the watery depths that await incautious mariners. But I've said my piece on the subject and will cease. Welcome to the forum and I wish you the best with your boat.

01-24-2018, 06:43 PM
Oh, thank you very much Gentlemen - lovely - your replies were faster than expected.

Okay so we go the traditional way with oakum and endurance - to be honest I prefer always traditional way of repairing - but the sika method sounded maybe to good to be a substitute. Nick, yes there was a boat builder with me who can support me from time to time. He was, let's say amazed that I decided to start another project like this. Steel is much easier - I know. The idea was to make the hull waterproof again - there were obviously some leaks - 2 tons of water must have been in it, before it was taken out - that's now 2 years ago - so the hull has dried a lot - but please keep in mind it is in Germany - so temperatures are low and moisture is high. I have to plan the work on that boat pretty well - because it's around 400 miles away at the German Baltic Sea. Finally the boat should work for doing some trips at the sea but also for being a small holiday home... All the interior in the hull has to be renewed. But I guess we have to take it definitely out to survey the frames and construction. It was last maintained on a classic shipyard 20 years ago...

I will be at the boat again next week so I will take as much photos as i can from the frame and the planks I suspect to be scruffy. I will post and would be glad for your assessments :rolleyes:




01-24-2018, 07:10 PM
Very pretty! I have always liked the lines of Northern European traditional fishing craft.

I will also chime in about the virtues of a proper caulking job. Normal is to start with cotton in the bottom of the seam. For light planking, you use only cotton, brush on paint to lock it in place, then finish off with seam compound on top. For heavy planking, you start with cotton in the bottom of the seam, then change to oakum for the top of the seam (where it widens and opens up), brush on paint to lock it in place, and finish off with seam compound.

Cotton is a smaller and finer fiber, better suited for smaller seams (light planking), and the bottoms of the “V” shaped seam on larger seams (heavy planking).
oakum has larger and coarser fibers, better suited for the upper portion of the “V” shaped seams on larger seams (heavy planking).

A proper traditional caulking job can easily last 25 years or a lot more (do people think something in a tube will last that long?)

a proper caulking job is also completely ‘reversable’ and can be easily reefed out without damaging the planking.

ok, enough ranting. Welcome! I am looking forward to seeing what you do with her.

Ian McColgin
01-24-2018, 07:49 PM
Nick was on to it about proper caulking - oakum or cotton. A carvel hull is a tension structure with the planks pressing against each other and once swelled fairly hard pressing at that. If too hard, of course, the planks may buckle out. But if not properly firm, the planks are then holding on by their fastenings, and wiggling about will enlarge the holes leading to all sorts of problems.

Sikka Flex is used by many (was used on my new build of Meg Merrilies - look around for threads on LastBoat) but that's as the seam compound on top of the caulking, in Meg's case, cotton. The traditional seam compounds, regardless of manufacturer, have run red colored is for below the water line and white is for above. Modern products like Sikka Felx can go all over.

Test and check your products. The great project.

01-24-2018, 07:56 PM
Wonderful looking boat. Looking forward to seeing the work you accomplish.

01-24-2018, 08:16 PM
The others have all given you good advise Philipp , I'm sure.
My interest is in what powers her now , and what powered her originally , do you know?.
Once your boat is finished , it will be pretty special .
Regards Rob J.

01-24-2018, 09:45 PM
Welcome aboard. Nice boat, good luck with her. Caulking is not terribly hard, I taught myself by reading articles and books. You probably can find videos that will help. Best of all, your shipwright friend can teach you in person. Keep us posted, don't let her get you down.

01-24-2018, 09:56 PM
Thanks Ian, I will take photos / details of the planking and will show them here.
Good to hear different ideas and experiences.

Navydog, I really hope to accomplish - can't wait to start - but in my office there
is a lot of work...

Rob, the ship is now powered by a 5.88 Litre MWM 226-6 Turbo. It was installed in the mid 90's and has just low hours on it.
I don't know yet what was installed before but I guess, like many others built in these years, a slow running Deutz Diesel.
I would like the sound of it - but I remember from some trips at the north sea, that they were little "ship shakers"...

Regards, Philipp

Phil Y
01-24-2018, 10:07 PM
Absolutely gorgeous, beautiful boat. I've always loved that style. Wow!

400 miles is a long way. That's your biggest problem right there, unless you have really deep pockets and know some good boat builders who you trust implicitly. But I take it this is a do it yourself project. I'd say you need to find a way to be closer to the boat. Move the boat or move yourself.

Is is she in the water? Long periods out of the water are often the death of old boats. Things dry out, big structural timbers crack. Life in a dirty dusty boat yard doing heavy, hot, hard, slow, expensive work is nothing like the dream. Patience runs thin at home. Energy is lost.

Dont bite off more than you can chew. Too many people buy an old boat full of good intentions, tear out the interior, and then stall. 6 years and a divorce and mental breakdown later there's a chainsaw party. If she needs some new planks, maybe do those bit by bit. Don't rip out the interior unless you really, really have to. Attend to deck leaks early.

Shes a lovely boat, treat her well. But don't under estimate her needs. You are a lucky man.

Dave Hadfield
01-24-2018, 10:10 PM
As said, don't be scared of traditional caulking. It's not that hard. And it wedges the planks together to make a strong whole covering.

Your main concern is with the timbers underneath -- stem and stern and keel structure. These can generate considerable expense.

More than likely there will be deck problems, and perhaps the beams and carlins the decks are fastened to. Since these are just the "top of the box", don't be discouraged. They are fixable.

Good luck, and get it surveyed.


01-24-2018, 10:37 PM
Welcome to the forum! I too have a boat launched in 1941 - a few thousand miles away though. Your boat is beautiful & I hope worthy of restoration. You've gotten plenty of caulking advice (yes, do it properly), but I want to stress even more than maybe has been done to have someone knowledgeable look at all the framing, decks, etc. etc. A thorough survey will cost some money ($500 euro+?) - but will save you that & more down the road. I certainly that learned the hard way - which, given my past, seems to be the only way I know how to learn. ;)

Looking forward to more pics!

01-24-2018, 11:13 PM
Philipp , yes the old engines shook alright. Check this out , a similar boat https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=18QFJauSUfE .
But it sounds like propulsion is not an issue on your boat , for you.
Regards Rob J.
Rob, the ship is now powered by a 5.88 Litre MWM 226-6 Turbo. It was installed in the mid 90's and has just low hours on it.
I don't know yet what was installed before but I guess, like many others built in these years, a slow running Deutz Diesel.
I would like the sound of it - but I remember from some trips at the north sea, that they were little "ship shakers"...

Regards, Philipp[/QUOTE]

Max F
01-25-2018, 12:37 AM
Welcome to the forum Philipp
That is a lovely vessel.
Caulking isn´t that bad to do.
I could probably recommend some able boatbuilders to you if you like.
Where is your little ship situated?
Grüße Max

01-25-2018, 05:31 AM
Welcome Phillip, i looked at a similar vessel, a Swedish pilot boat some years ago, oak on oak. Having restored some smaller vessels, i understood the enormity of the task, the time and money involved, none of which i had at the time in the necessary abundance! Lovely wee ship. I echo all the above, regards caulking, there is much of the work you can do yourself given time and patience. Welcome.

willin woodworks
01-25-2018, 10:05 AM
Great looking boat! More pictures please.

01-26-2018, 04:26 AM
Great boat.
As for the caulking, I would suggest you get hold of "Black Pudding" (TBS in Bristol) for below the water line. Its based on a traditional Scandinavian recipe, after many trials of various sealants both modern and old, by myself and several friends with similar Oak on Oak fishing boats, it was the only stuff that worked well. It works on wet wood as well so can be used between tides easily. Prime the seam with neat product and then fill with the mixed.
No association etc other than a satisfied user

I would also re-emphsise the deck maintenance, these old girls die from the top down.