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Thread: Restoring - 25' Wooden Motor Boat from Poole England

  1. #1
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    Default Restoring - 25' Wooden Motor Boat from Poole England

    Hello All,


    I have been lurking about on the site and learning as I restore my boat. I have named her La Enchanted. She is dry-docked on our farm in Sebastopol, CA and when she is ready, she will be in the waters of San Francisco Bay. I haven’t posted, on the mere, fact that progress is slow and nothing truly interesting has happened. But things have changed and I see enough progress to share my story.


    I was a journeyman carpenter and restored many Victorians here in SF. I always had dreamed of restoring an old wooden boat and regret I did not choose a career involving maritime industries on the SF Bay. That being said, I am not afraid of technical challenges that come with restoration work. I know how to keep water out of an old house and hope on my new journey those skills will translate well.


    I purchased the boat from a U.S. Marine (Wounded Warrior) that was more than gracious in pointing me in the right direction to start this odyssey. He, in turn, told me he had purchased the boat in San Diego from an older gentleman who told him she once patrolled the harbor in San Diego for the U.S. Navy. He could not prove it but was told as much.


    I believe I have found a sister ship online that has links to the evacuation of Dunkirk and I am excited to start that research once she is underway. As for now, I am painstakingly going through the process of saving what I can to keep as much of the original woodwork.


    When I purchased her, she had a layer of glassing apply to the hull below the waterline. It ran from the water to the keel. Much of it was separating which made removing it an easy decision and task. I intend to clean up the planks and re-caulk the seams. I found however that the seams had been splined to accept the glassing was my guess.


    Attempting to remove the splines, pieces of the planking would splinter almost convincing me repairing the splines would be better than cotton and sealing compound. Luckily, my wonderful daughter gave me a sideways look and put an end to much vacillating about it. I began removing the splines to the point of no return.


    However, upon removing the splines I found the planking has battens all along the inside of the hull. I was a bit worried that the battens might prevent the boards from expanding and closing the 3/8” gap between the planks. I considered the fact that the transom had not been splined and had cotton (most likely oakum) and Sikaflex over the seams and deduced it would be alright to keep going. I have also spoken to a few folks familiar with this type of work and they told me it should be fine. Any comments on this would be greatly appreciated.


    There are a few tough spots where the splining has been done beautifully (almost hate to remove it) and I will router those sections out to preserve the plank edges.


    I am excited to join the community and look forward to learning, arguing and hopefully providing advice to someone on their maiden restoration voyage.

    Cheers!
    Attached Images Attached Images
    Last edited by Calin; 08-13-2019 at 11:03 PM.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Restoring - 25' Wooden Motor Boat from Poole England

    Nice hull. I like it. I hope that nothing big jumps up to bite you. There are lots of experienced folks here to lend advice, and to suggest pertinent reading material. Good luck, and welcome to the Forum.
    Hope for the best, but plan for the worst.

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    Default Re: Restoring - 25' Wooden Motor Boat from Poole England

    Thank mmd!

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    Default Re: Restoring - 25' Wooden Motor Boat from Poole England

    Batten-seam construction is very common in runabouts. I have never seen seams that open. You need to get the moisture content of the planking back to normal range. You could do this by putting the boat in a plastic shelter with moist medium on the ground, wet planer chips for example.
    Since the seams are so very wide, I wonder if the boat has sunk at sometime. This would compress the wood in the way of the seams. When the boat dried out, the seams open up.

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    Default Re: Restoring - 25' Wooden Motor Boat from Poole England

    Quote Originally Posted by pcford View Post
    Batten-seam construction is very common in runabouts. I have never seen seams that open. You need to get the moisture content of the planking back to normal range. You could do this by putting the boat in a plastic shelter with moist medium on the ground, wet planer chips for example.
    Since the seams are so very wide, I wonder if the boat has sunk at sometime. This would compress the wood in the way of the seams. When the boat dried out, the seams open up.
    Just so. Battened seams on a boat of that style and size are not uncommon. A good way to build a light weight boat.

    That vertically staved cabin trunk does not look British. As she has a nicely laid deck with nibbed covering board, I would have expected to see a margin plank around the cabin as well.
    It really is quite difficult to build an ugly wooden boat.

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    Default Re: Restoring - 25' Wooden Motor Boat from Poole England

    Quote Originally Posted by pcford View Post
    Batten-seam construction is very common in runabouts. I have never seen seams that open. You need to get the moisture content of the planking back to normal range. You could do this by putting the boat in a plastic shelter with moist medium on the ground, wet planer chips for example.
    Since the seams are so very wide, I wonder if the boat has sunk at sometime. This would compress the wood in the way of the seams. When the boat dried out, the seams open up.
    pcford - I am planning on caulking her dry as she is. Is that not recommended?

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    Default Re: Restoring - 25' Wooden Motor Boat from Poole England

    Quote Originally Posted by Peerie Maa View Post
    Just so. Battened seams on a boat of that style and size are not uncommon. A good way to build a light weight boat.

    That vertically staved cabin trunk does not look British. As she has a nicely laid deck with nibbed covering board, I would have expected to see a margin plank around the cabin as well.
    Peerie Maa - I never made the connection in the different cabin finishes. You are correct, the British boat is different.

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    Default Re: Restoring - 25' Wooden Motor Boat from Poole England

    Quote Originally Posted by Calin View Post
    pcford - I am planning on caulking her dry as she is. Is that not recommended?
    Batten seam is not caulked. Sounds like you need to do some background reading...sorry not being a wiseguy.

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    Default Re: Restoring - 25' Wooden Motor Boat from Poole England

    Quote Originally Posted by pcford View Post
    Batten seam is not caulked. Sounds like you need to do some background reading...sorry not being a wiseguy.
    Here is the book I read. Unfortunately, it did not mention the situation I found where the seams are splined and the there are battens on the inside of the hull.

    20190814_212725.jpg

    What I am trying to determine is if I can caulk the seams or if I should repair/replace the splines.

    20190810_095028.jpg20190810_095040.jpg

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    Default Re: Restoring - 25' Wooden Motor Boat from Poole England

    It appears that only the bottom has splines, correct?

    Your use of "caulk" makes me think that you believe caulking is a matter of putting some goo in the seams. Batten seam hulls were never caulked in the true sense of the term.
    Last edited by pcford; 08-15-2019 at 01:43 AM.

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    Default Re: Restoring - 25' Wooden Motor Boat from Poole England

    Restoring batten seam respecting the original construction method is a bitch. It involves rebuilding the plank edges to again meet in the middle of the batten, and that means glueing splines on the edge of the planks while avoiding glueing them to the batten or to each other. This of course assumes the planking, battens and frames are sound, and that the fasteners all hold well.

    I would start by wooding the boat inside out to identify rott. Then replace all rotten or suspect parts. Depending on the condition of the planking, battens and fasteners a decision can be made. Either go on as above or go to a more radical thing like splining and cold molding over the whole affair. Then there is the deck and cabin to be done.
    It really depends on what her condition is and how much work you are willing to do. If she was splined and glassed in the past it is safe to asume she was leaking at the time. Structural integrity was definetly compromised then, and it did not get better since.
    This has the potential to be a great thread.

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    Default Re: Restoring - 25' Wooden Motor Boat from Poole England

    Good points. The original poster needs to clean out the inside of boat to allow a careful inspection. Then get a professional acquainted with batten seam construction to inspect it. It is possible that a misguided soul routed out the plank seams and splines inserted. This was done in the 60s and 70s; it did not work well.

    Quote Originally Posted by Rumars View Post
    Restoring batten seam respecting the original construction method is a bitch. It involves rebuilding the plank edges to again meet in the middle of the batten, and that means glueing splines on the edge of the planks while avoiding glueing them to the batten or to each other. This of course assumes the planking, battens and frames are sound, and that the fasteners all hold well.

    I would start by wooding the boat inside out to identify rott. Then replace all rotten or suspect parts. Depending on the condition of the planking, battens and fasteners a decision can be made. Either go on as above or go to a more radical thing like splining and cold molding over the whole affair. Then there is the deck and cabin to be done.
    It really depends on what her condition is and how much work you are willing to do. If she was splined and glassed in the past it is safe to asume she was leaking at the time. Structural integrity was definetly compromised then, and it did not get better since.
    This has the potential to be a great thread.

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    Default Re: Restoring - 25' Wooden Motor Boat from Poole England

    Quote Originally Posted by pcford View Post
    It appears that only the bottom has splines, correct?

    Your use of "caulk" makes me think that you believe caulking is a matter of putting some goo in the seams. Batten seam hulls were never caulked in the true sense of the term.
    I did mention I was going to caulk her using cotton and seam compound and not "Goo" as you described it. Also, I did purchased a set of caulking irons from The Wooden Boat Store as well. Since I already have mallets from doing custom finish work on stain grade wood work on old Victorians I got that covered.

    In any case I have a well experienced surveyor, who is the only remaining surveyor in the area that does old wooden boats, coming out to give me the skinny. He is quite the historian as well.

    But I thank you for the input and advice.

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    Default Re: Restoring - 25' Wooden Motor Boat from Poole England

    Quote Originally Posted by Calin View Post
    I did mention I was going to caulk her using cotton and seam compound and not "Goo" as you described it. Also, I did purchased a set of caulking irons from The Wooden Boat Store as well. Since I already have mallets from doing custom finish work on stain grade wood work on old Victorians I got that covered.

    In any case I have a well experienced surveyor, who is the only remaining surveyor in the area that does old wooden boats, coming out to give me the skinny. He is quite the historian as well.

    But I thank you for the input and advice.
    You cannot drive cotton into a 1/4 inch ish square bottomed seam. To drive cotton the seam needs to be 2-3 /16ths wide at the outside, tapering to nothing part way through.
    Good that you are consulting a surveyor. To make him really like you, clear as much out of the hull as you possibly can to give him easy access everywhere.
    It really is quite difficult to build an ugly wooden boat.

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    Default Re: Restoring - 25' Wooden Motor Boat from Poole England

    Quote Originally Posted by Peerie Maa View Post
    You cannot drive cotton into a 1/4 inch ish square bottomed seam. To drive cotton the seam needs to be 2-3 /16ths wide at the outside, tapering to nothing part way through.
    Good that you are consulting a surveyor. To make him really like you, clear as much out of the hull as you possibly can to give him easy access everywhere.
    Emptied and ready!

    I'll let you know what he says.

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    Default Re: Restoring - 25' Wooden Motor Boat from Poole England

    The easiest and fastest to take care of the seams may well be to replank this boat. I don't know what happened to this boat, extreme drying cycles or a goof with a router. Likely the latter. In any case, recaulking ain't the answer.
    Last edited by pcford; 08-16-2019 at 12:01 AM.

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    Default Re: Restoring - 25' Wooden Motor Boat from Poole England

    Quote Originally Posted by pcford View Post
    The easiest and fastest to take care of the seams may well be to replank this boat. I don't know what happened to this boat, extreme drying cycles or a goof with a router. Likely the latter. In any case, recaulking ain't the answer.
    True words indeed. Not to mention batten seam tends to rot the battens first, and those can only be accessed by removing the planking. Even if he wants to save as much of the original planking stock as he can simplest way would be to remove every second plank. Then one has access for easy glueing of the needed splines.

    Calin, batten seam is not intended to be caulked, doing so will break the chines. On top of that batten seam planking is usually not thick enough to hold caulking anyway. How thick is your planking and how is it fastened to the battens? On an english buildt boat I would expect rivets and planking under 1/2". A few photos from the inside showing the battens and at least one frame would be good.
    In the mean time you can research how much it would cost you to have the hull dry ice or soda blasted inside.

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    Default Re: Restoring - 25' Wooden Motor Boat from Poole England

    Original poster does not mention if bottom is batten seam or not. Chris Craft runabouts had batten seam sides and double planked bottom. Century had batten seam sides and bottom. The battens in the bottom hindered water from limbering down to the lowest part of bilge. Therefore it is not uncommon for Centurys to require a new bottom.

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    Default Re: Restoring - 25' Wooden Motor Boat from Poole England

    Quote Originally Posted by pcford View Post
    Original poster does not mention if bottom is batten seam or not. Chris Craft runabouts had batten seam sides and double planked bottom. Century had batten seam sides and bottom. The battens in the bottom hindered water from limbering down to the lowest part of bilge. Therefore it is not uncommon for Centurys to require a new bottom.
    Re-reading the OP I think that the reference to splining for the GRP, and what was found removing those splines means that she is batten seamed bottom as well. The photos of the bow suggest no splines in the topsides.
    It really is quite difficult to build an ugly wooden boat.

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    Default Re: Restoring - 25' Wooden Motor Boat from Poole England

    Agreed, but the topsides are so uniform. Usually when a boat dries out to an extreme, some area will be wider (drier) than others. These are very uniform...suggesting router work...this was also done with a special circular saw. (?)

    Quote Originally Posted by Peerie Maa View Post
    Re-reading the OP I think that the reference to splining for the GRP, and what was found removing those splines means that she is batten seamed bottom as well. The photos of the bow suggest no splines in the topsides.

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    Default Re: Restoring - 25' Wooden Motor Boat from Poole England

    Quote Originally Posted by pcford View Post
    Agreed, but the topsides are so uniform. Usually when a boat dries out to an extreme, some area will be wider (drier) than others. These are very uniform...suggesting router work...this was also done with a special circular saw. (?)
    Ah, but
    The topsides should not have become so saturated as to cause so much shrinkage. There is one split hood end where some shrinkage did occur and caused a short split, but otherwise not so bad.

    This is effectively a clinker built boat. Clinker built boats do not shrink their topsides much at all.
    It really is quite difficult to build an ugly wooden boat.

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    Default Re: Restoring - 25' Wooden Motor Boat from Poole England

    I think I understand your point. Batten seam topsides do indeed dry out. I doubt however, that they would dry out to the extent they have. The only proper way to deal with this boat is to replank it.

    Quote Originally Posted by Peerie Maa View Post
    Ah, but
    The topsides should not have become so saturated as to cause so much shrinkage. There is one split hood end where some shrinkage did occur and caused a short split, but otherwise not so bad.

    This is effectively a clinker built boat. Clinker built boats do not shrink their topsides much at all.

  23. #23

    Default Re: Restoring - 25' Wooden Motor Boat from Poole England

    You can replace every other plank to close the seams or glue a piece of plank to one side of each plank which closes the seam to then caulk it, and seam battens behind will help
    Boat Designer. Boatbuilder

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    Default Re: Restoring - 25' Wooden Motor Boat from Poole England

    I agree, Peter.
    But I find replacing the whole side of the boat can be faster, because you have to fit to mainly one mating edge. Letting in a strip in the way of the seam would work but one might have trouble with matching if finished bright. As one also would have with replacing alternate planks.

    Quote Originally Posted by peter radclyffe View Post
    You can replace every other plank to close the seams or glue a piece of plank to one side of each plank which closes the seam to then caulk it, and seam battens behind will help

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