View Full Version : Cruiser Rebuild

05-02-2001, 10:15 AM
Anybody have any comments on acquiring and having delivered to my backyard, like maybe, a Matthews 40, or 42 Sedan Cruiser in need of some TLC with the intent from the start of doing a cold molded overlay? The overlay would consist of stripping the paint, replacing any rotted planks, air drying to an acceptable moisture content, and applying the first layer of diagonal plywood strips not with epoxy but with roofing patch compound and mechanical fasteners. The second layer would be epoxied with Dynel and epoxy over that. The interior would not be epoxy saturated, just redleaded. This has been a method recommended by George Buehler.

The boat would initially live in the Chesapeake region and eventually make its way down to Florida, and hopefully end its days - and mine, island hoping the Bahamas and Caribbean.

Am I an idiot for even contemplating this?

Alan D. Hyde
05-02-2001, 11:27 AM
No, you're not.


bob goeckel
05-02-2001, 12:59 PM
yes, you are!! http://media5.hypernet.com/~dick/ubb/biggrin.gif

bob goeckel
05-02-2001, 01:00 PM
but then all us woody people are a little idiotic about woodenboats

Scott Rosen
05-02-2001, 02:22 PM
If you are going to the trouble of replacing rotted planks (and hopefully rotted frames if you find any), why do you need to apply a cold-molded overlay? You should end up with a sound hull, true to the design. I'm no expert on this, but I think radical measures like sheathing a 42 foot hull should be taken only when they are needed to solve some major existing problem that can't be solved any other way. It would probably be better than sheathing with fiberglass, but unless you are doing it to solve some existing problem, I think you will be wasting your time and creating the potential for future problems that you can't even anticipate now.

Plus, think of all the work and money you'll save by not having to buy all of those 55 gallon drums of epoxy and that eighteen-wheeler full of veneer.

Alan D. Hyde
05-02-2001, 02:50 PM
To amplify: I don't always agree with Buehler, but think his ideas generally seem to make practical sense, and reflect some good thought and experience on the water.


05-02-2001, 03:11 PM

Good questions.

The idea is to avoid a restoration of the likes outlined here;


which is what most likely would be required for any boat in the price range I am contemplating.

In the method outlined above, bad planking could be replaced with any construction grade lumber. Just something to fill the hole to provide a shape to mold over. In addition, any broken/rotted frames would not have to be replaced for any structural reasons. The completed carvel plank/ply/ply/dynel laminate would be stronger, longer lasting, and require less maintenance than the original plank on frame construction. I'd replace any rotted frame sections, more for aesthetic reasons than any other.

For the veneers I was thinking of MDO. SkiffCraft has been using it for years in their lapstrake designs.


ken mcclure
05-02-2001, 06:34 PM
I've looked at Matthews pretty extensively, and don't think you're crazy at all. There is a Matthews owners association http://www.geocities.com/mboaglc/ with regional chapters who can give you lots of info on the boats.

There are a few places to look out for that are common to the line, and any of the owners can give you the list.

Pay particular attention to the frames aft of amidships as they tend to break and if not attended to, the breakage spreads up and down the line to adjacent ribs. Also watch on the side decks where the "step" is. There is a spot there that apparently commonly rots.

I guess my main question is that if you are going to go to that much work, why not just repair the original planking and maintain her as originally built?

And my last comment is go for the 42. The two extra feet seem to make more than 2 feet difference!

Phil Young
05-02-2001, 09:20 PM
A boat in that condition is probably going to have a dud engine, rusted fuel and water tanks, corroded electrical system, dud plumbing, old and unserviceable electonic/nav gear, worn out/mouldy uphostery and carpet, water damaged interior, rot under windows, leaky decks and deck/cabin joins, hogging might have affected engine/shaft alignment, structural integrity may be such that she'll work in a seaway and come loose from your new exterior. The sheathing is going to be a big expensive job. Thru hulls and the hull/deck join will all cause trouble. You'll end up with fresh water (rot) between the old and the new. To end up with a boat worth having will still cost a lot, and it'll have minimal resale value. I guess if you want a wooden boat for the love of wood, you've got to do it properly. If you just want a cheap viable cruiser you'll probably be better off with plastic. If you find a half way viable wooden one maybe sister some ribs, replace some rotten planks and recaulk, rather than the full monty.

Dale Harvey
05-02-2001, 09:32 PM
I have worked on several Matthews. They are good boats for their intended purpose. They are one of the few Northern built vessels that can be kept alive in the tropics. They are also terrible rollers, and I would not wish to be caught out in much weather with those big salon windows, although many have and survived. The repairs you describe would be sufficent to carefully crawl down the Intercoastal Waterway and hide up some river or creek. They will likely get you killed in the Bahamas or Carribean. Please do not inflict those good folks with the responsibility of fishing your sorry behind from the briney deep. You would be much better off to build one of Mr. Buehler's designs from scratch.

05-03-2001, 07:37 AM
OK, say if I can find a boat in halfway decent structural shape, steam in a few ribs, replace some planks, re-fasten, and re-calk. What kind of maintenance schedule would be expected to keep the boat in good shape in southern waters?

Also, are there any truly effective ways to keep the worms out of the hull?

Allen Foote
05-03-2001, 09:53 AM
The only true way to keep worms out is to copper sheath.

05-03-2001, 10:31 AM
Here's a question,

Since there seems to be a bias against covering carvel planking in any way on this forum....

Has anybody ever heard of removing the bottom planks up to the waterline and replacing them with strips and glass/epoxy? This would give you a watertight hull outside and inside, be long lasting, low in maintenance, and worm resistant.

Any thoughts?

Ed Harrow
05-03-2001, 11:33 AM
Steve, have you read Jim Trefethian (Not quite certain of the spelling) book Renovating Wooden Boats?

05-03-2001, 01:02 PM

I'll check it out.

05-03-2001, 01:21 PM
"Wooden Boat Renovation: New Life for Old Boats Using Modern Methods" by Jim Trefethen.

My local Borders has it. I am picking it up tonight.

Thanks Ed!

Scott Rosen
05-03-2001, 05:26 PM

I've HEARD of boats that were cold molded below the waterline and carvel planked above. And I've also heard that the method can work well. I think the trick is that you want a genuine cold molded hull, not just slapping veneer on top of the existing planking. My impression is that it would be less work to redo it as a carvel hull. You're right about worms and cold molded hulls.

I have first hand experience with an epoxy coat over the outer surfaces of carvel planking--being carefull not to epoxy over the seams. It is effective for keeping out worms and it doesn't have any negative effect on the qualities of the carvel hull. But a good anti-fouling paint will also keep out worms, as long as you don't allow any bare spots to develop.

Jim H
05-03-2001, 05:49 PM
O.K., I'll bite. I was re-reading Dave Gerr's "Elements of Boat Strength" ($34.95 at the WoodenBoat Store BTW) last night. He advises against sheathing or encapsulation of a carvel hull, with the exception of precoating every plank prior to installation (including fastner holes) and using glued splines instead of traditional caulking methods. It seems really labor intensive to do it that way and I'm sure that there are many owners and builders of carvel planked boats on this forum who can explain the "whys" better than I.

If we had a vote on this I would vote "build from scratch", will anyone second that??


05-03-2001, 08:16 PM
There's a old wood power cruiser sitting on the hard in the corner of a nearby (Hilton Head, SC) boatyard that has been sheathed using the methods you are contemplating. It's been there for about ten years in its unfinished state and you would probably benefit from looking at it . It is one sorry sight. I doubt that the current owners (unless it's abandoned) could even give it away, and they've clearly invested a good deal of time in something that 's unusable in its current state.

Phil Young
05-03-2001, 08:26 PM
Maintenance of aa boat repaired as you outline rather than sheathed will be about the same, except that you won't have to burn it when the sheathing fails. Haulout and antifoul once a year. Maybe firm up some caulking while its out, and reputty, only needed if a localised leak has developed, possibly where garboards meet keel, along the stem etc. You'll get some cracking in the topsides paint where seams dry out a little, but so what? That's one of the things that makes wooden boats look nicer than plastic ones. Maintenence of brightwork will be greater in the tropics, but sheathing the hull won't fix that. You can always paint it. The idea that carvel hulls are a lot of work is BS really. The bad news is there are no quick fixes. The good news is you don't need them.