View Full Version : 1926 Cabin top restoration

Kyle Leonard
09-05-2004, 02:03 PM
Iím restoring a 1926 Liggett 40-foot bridge deck cruiser and need to rebuild the flattop cabin top. I havenít found any surviving of its kind. I would imagine that it is very similar to an Elco top. Would the best material be Douglas Fir bead and cove, or would it be a V-jointed staving that was more traditional? The top needs to be light, but Iím not sure how thin I can go with the boards. The dimensions will be 15 feet by 8 feet, bent oak frames, and canvassed. Thanks for any help.

09-05-2004, 02:49 PM
Plank thickness will depend a lot on beam spacing and how much it will be walked on. If you are walking on it much I would think 3/4 inch planks (3" widths, t&g, beveled for a v on the underside or beaded one edge) with the beams on 9-10 inch centers. If it is more for shade, even if you get up there for painting once in a while, I would think 5/8 thickness with beams on 14-15" centers would be fine. I'd think pine, cedar, or cypress fine and lighter than DF.

Kyle Leonard
09-06-2004, 07:37 AM
Thanks Thad. I have an old black and white of the boat that shows dew lines on the top that are indicative of beams placed 30 inches on center - after I calculated the scale of the picture. Seems far apart. Only five beams over a roughly 14-foot top. Donít know if this is the way others were built. Seems it could be built lighter with closer set beams and thinner t&g. Without original plans it is tough to get it right.

Jack Heinlen
09-06-2004, 08:33 AM
My thought is that the top was likely designed to not be walked. I'm just guessing. Is there a flag staff that needs tending? A hatch to get at it?

Our Chris Sea Skiff(58, 26 foot) had a factory custom top that was light beams, slats not a solid deck, and canvas. It was clearly not made to walk on, and there was no need to.

A contact who might well know, and who used to post here, is Don Dannenberg. He's in Michigan and has a web site. A search here ought to turn it up, of a Google. He does a variety of power boat restoration from runabouts to commuters. He is very good, and if anyone would know, or know where to look, it'd be he. He's also a nice chap.

Good luck.

[ 09-06-2004, 06:54 PM: Message edited by: Jack Heinlen ]

Kyle Leonard
09-06-2004, 11:02 AM
Thanks Jack. This could be a great contact. The Liggett Company bought the Purdy building in Trenton, Michigan after Purdy moved to New York. Not much info is available due to fire. And you are correct; the top was not made to walk on. There is no real need to be up there.

09-06-2004, 03:27 PM
Photos - we need photos....

Kyle Leonard
09-06-2004, 04:26 PM
Man! I am so low-tech, I will post the photos this week. I hope this thread can hold your interest long enough to check back.

Jack Heinlen
09-06-2004, 05:18 PM
A phone number for Don. It's a year and a half old. He's in Manistee, MI(or was last I heard).

Dannenberg Boat Works, 231 723 9915. Have all your ducks in the row as he's a busy man.

Peter Malcolm Jardine
09-07-2004, 03:14 PM
They could have used western cedar or long leaf yellow pine too. I'm assuming the edges were larger slightly shaped pieces... but pictures would help. ;)

Jack Heinlen
09-07-2004, 04:22 PM
I'm thinking a light deck made of maybe cedar, covered in canvas. A modern upgrade might be a really light planked deck covered with ply and then dyneled or glassed. Getting the scantlings and the design so it works and at least looks right for the period will be the trick.

There may not have been a standard design. I've never seen another Chris Sea Skiff with the cabin top ours had. My grandfather made a special order that may not have been unique, but it was rare. It also worked well, and would fit here too, I think. It was light, weathertite and rugged, but definately not intended to be walked on. Another benefit is that it was easy to recover. When I was little we replaced the original canvas with a coated canvas(vinyl?) that held up beautifully, and was easier to keep clean.

09-08-2004, 02:32 PM
tongue and groove cedar...just like wanescotting. 3/4" thick, running the length of the cabin, no breaKS. Nailed into the cabin beams. cabin top exterior covered with canvass and paint.

Kyle Leonard
09-08-2004, 09:00 PM
Cedar seems the way to go. Did Elco leave the underside of their top bright? And, was the spacing of their beams as far apart as 28 to 30 inches? Trying to get pictures scanned to post. Would love to see picture of the Sea Skiff.

Jack Heinlen
09-08-2004, 09:30 PM
I don't have a pic of the Sea Skiff top, but can describe it.

The forward end of the cabin top was anchored by a fairly robust windshield and curved(in elevation) side window construction. The aft end was supported by chromed bronze pipes screwed to both the gunwales and the the longitudinal/aft beam corner of the top. The space in between(maybe seven foot long and nine wide) was filled with a framework of Phillipine mahogany. Longitudinals at the edges maybe inch by two and a half. Beams of the same thickness, but a little lighter molded dimension, on perhaps 18-20 inch centers. Fore and aft flat slats, perhaps half by two and a half, on twelve inch centers. The whole shebang covered with canvas. Memory, so it's an approximation.

Pics or drawings of you boat in profile would help here.

[ 09-08-2004, 10:35 PM: Message edited by: Jack Heinlen ]

09-13-2004, 05:38 PM
Undersides painted white, deck beams, cut to shape, wide spaced and the tops had a tendency to sag.