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Thread: Gibbs molded plywood boat - Rocket?

  1. #1
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    Default Gibbs molded plywood boat - Rocket?

    Have a bead on a used / project boat - advertised as a Gibbs 15 ft 1956 runabout - good deal with boat + trailer - no outboard

    From a quickie online search, not turning up much about Gibbs Boats - originally out of Toledo OH, then moved to MI and they started making fg sailboats

    Looks similar to a molded ply Yellow Jacket, but needs work

    I think it may be a Gibbs Rocket - 14' 4" x 62"

    Anyone have any experience with Gibbs plywood boats?

    Some pics below....

    Gibbs boat.jpg

    Gibbs2.jpg

    Gibbs3.jpg

    Gibbs4.jpg

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Gibbs molded plywood boat - Rocket?

    Looks cold moulded, not ply.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Gibbs molded plywood boat - Rocket?

    Quote Originally Posted by Andrew2 View Post
    Looks cold moulded, not ply.
    Yes, it is - I meant to include that - cold molded ply from the mid-1950's

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    Default Re: Gibbs molded plywood boat - Rocket?

    Not cold molded. Molded Plywood, a very different process.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X6hgRQuvg60

    There were a number of companies in the 50's that build hulls like this and sold them to lots of "boat building companies" for the finishing and branding.

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    Default Re: Gibbs molded plywood boat - Rocket?

    Hmmm.....little more digging suggest these hulls were built by Industrial Shipping Co of Nova Scotia (same co that made the Yellow Jacket hulls and Thistle hulls for Douglass & McLeod in NE Ohio, among others)
    Pretty cool!

    Gibbsa58001.jpg

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    Default Re: Gibbs molded plywood boat - Rocket?

    Quote Originally Posted by nedL View Post
    Not cold molded. Molded Plywood, a very different process.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X6hgRQuvg60

    There were a number of companies in the 50's that build hulls like this and sold them to lots of "boat building companies" for the finishing and branding.
    Yes, hot moulding as opposed to cold, still not ply, but were the Gibbs built that way?

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    Default Re: Gibbs molded plywood boat - Rocket?

    So, I am going to go take a look at this "project boat" later this evening - owner says previous owner tried to patch some rot in the floor / transom area, with plywood.....otherwise from the pics it looks pretty decent overall - anything else I should be on the lookout for?

    There was a similar (if not the same model) 14.5 ft Gibbs runabout on Wooden FB and Launchings section last July - a gentleman had worked at Gibbs Boats in Toledo back in the 1950's as a young man, and acquired a similar vintage boat that he restored (picture below of his) - name was John Greiner

    115973285_10164003093300603_8977998329294548667_o.jpg

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    Default Re: Gibbs molded plywood boat - Rocket?

    So, I took the 45 minute drive last evening to look at this boat - and I pulled the trigger - $200 for boat and Tee Nee trailer - small hole in transom will need patched, otherwise some sanding and varnishing should have her looking decent. I made contact with the grandson of John Greiner (whose Gibb's boat is pictured above) at Greiner Sailmakers in Toledo - hope to chat with John soon about his boat and restoration.....so, another spring project boat in the works! Will be looking for similar vintage (1956) smallish outboard to go with ......

    20210202_195741.jpg

    20210202_195741.jpg

    20210202_195800.jpg

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    Default Re: Gibbs molded plywood boat - Rocket?

    Now that you have the boat, you need the tee-shirt...



    'Mahone Plycraft' was the name of the boats completed in-house at Industrial Shipping Co. They produced thousands of the hulls that were shipped all over North America (and beyond) to be finished by local companies under their own name, such as the Gibbs that you now own. The hulls were hot-molded in an industrial autoclave. Materials were birch (the majority of hulls) and mahogany (about 10% of the hulls produced, AFAIK). I have a 17-ft mahogany hull stored away, awaiting time & money for restoration.

    Here is a photo of inventory at Industrial Marine:

    Hope for the best, but plan for the worst.

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    Default Re: Gibbs molded plywood boat - Rocket?

    Cool boat and a great buy! I'd have gone for that package and I'm not even looking.

    Jeff

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    Default Re: Gibbs molded plywood boat - Rocket?

    Good buy! The Tee-Nee trailer alone is worth more than that. Repairing, though more complicated than a boat built with dimensional lumber is possible. Repair is the same as for cold molded I would think.

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    Default Re: Gibbs molded plywood boat - Rocket?

    Quote Originally Posted by nedL View Post
    Good buy! The Tee-Nee trailer alone is worth more than that. Repairing, though more complicated than a boat built with dimensional lumber is possible. Repair is the same as for cold molded I would think.
    Yep - for $200, I could not pass it up! I was thinking to just use similar thickness plywood (5/16" I believe) and just scarf it in place and cover with fiberglass cloth and epoxy on both sides - is there a better way to do this? There is a square hole where previous owner cut out rot - approx 4" high x 8" wide at bottom of transom....

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    Default Re: Gibbs molded plywood boat - Rocket?

    Looks like a fun project. Can't beat it for $200. Good thing I didn't see it first!
    Check Craigslist Cleveland for the old outboard.... one guy - I think he's in Chesterland, had some.... I was looking at a 30 hp Evinrude for like 300 bucks, but decided to buy new instead.
    Good luck with the restoration.

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    Default Re: Gibbs molded plywood boat - Rocket?

    If repairing the molded hull, I would try to stay with the original method as much as possible and laminate individual veneers in the same orientations as the original hull, with an overlap of about an inch on the laminates below. Epoxy rather than hot glue, though. I know that this is pretty fussy, but merely scabbing in a chunk of plywood with butted edges will be considerably weaker than the original hull.

    If repairing the plywood transom, if only a small spot (a few inches in any direction) I would cut away the bad wood until comfortably into solid ply, bevel the edges, and fit a new piece of ply to close tolerance. Epoxy the edges together, then 'glass both sides.

    A problem area of the hulls is the top outboard edges of the transom under the covering board. Moisture gets under the board and into the ply laminates, causing them to separate. I spoke with a former employee of Industrial Shipping - a boatbuilder - about this, and his opinion was that once the plywood delamination begins, it is very difficult to arrest, and that the best solution would be to replace the entire transom. This is where I am at with mine...
    Hope for the best, but plan for the worst.

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    Default Re: Gibbs molded plywood boat - Rocket?

    As for repairing, .......... What Michael said. Build the repair up with individual veneers (backed up appropriately to achieve the correct shape (curve)).

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    Default Re: Gibbs molded plywood boat - Rocket?

    Quote Originally Posted by nedL View Post
    As for repairing, .......... What Michael said. Build the repair up with individual veneers (backed up appropriately to achieve the correct shape (curve)).
    man, this sounds like a PIA to do.....anyone have insights on getting 1/16" thick birch veneer? Obviously only need a very small amount, as the hole is not large....(and there is no curve, flat spot on the back edge of hull bottom, that butts against the transom)
    Last edited by WBViking; 02-04-2021 at 01:59 PM.

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    Default Re: Gibbs molded plywood boat - Rocket?

    Quote Originally Posted by WBViking View Post
    man, this sounds like a PIA to do.....anyone have insights on getting 1/16" thick birch veneer? Obviously only need a very small amount, as the hole is not large....(and there is no curve, flat spot on the back edge of hull bottom, that butts against the transom)
    Get a thick, short block of clear birch the proper width, construct a temporary fence on your bandsaw, and resaw the birch block into the veneers that you need. Lay them on a non-slip surface and block-sand the saw marks out.

    Nobody ever said that boat restoration was easy... <grin>
    Hope for the best, but plan for the worst.

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    Default Re: Gibbs molded plywood boat - Rocket?

    Quickie update on the bargain Gibbs boat I brought home last weekend.....she is safely tucked into her winter / garage (sadly - unheated) until warmer weather in a month or 2, so I can begin work on the restoration. I also spoke with John Greiner (of Greiner Sails in Toledo) last Sunday - great guy and font of info on Gibbs Boats - he worked there as a teen in the mid-1950's, and restored one like mine a year or so ago too....very cool!

    20210206_100012.jpg

    20210206_101801.jpg

    20210206_101852.jpg

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    Default Re: Gibbs molded plywood boat - Rocket?

    very nice! Enjoy rebuilding her.

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    Default Re: Gibbs molded plywood boat - Rocket?

    Don't know if you are this far ahead in your planning yet, but here's some hard-earned owner info: Don't plan on a motor bigger than 35 hp; that will move you along at a comfortably quick pace, any more (my boat was at one time before I owned it fitted with a 50 hp) and at full wail it will become rather squirrely and difficult to handle. Fine with a full load of people, but solo or two-up it will carry too much hull out of the water and will become difficult to steer. Second thing, carry nice thick cushions for the seats; at speed in a decent chop it will pound the fillings out of your teeth. Both issues related to the shape of the hull, so there are no fixes.
    Hope for the best, but plan for the worst.

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    Default Re: Gibbs molded plywood boat - Rocket?

    Quote Originally Posted by nedL View Post
    very nice! Enjoy rebuilding her.
    Thanks! Not so much "rebuilding" as - "re-finishing" her! Only needs some stripping / sanding for the most part, and repairing the small square hole in lower transom previous owner cut out.....I have too many boat projects to spend too much time on just one of them! Ha!

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    Default Re: Gibbs molded plywood boat - Rocket?

    Quote Originally Posted by mmd View Post
    Don't know if you are this far ahead in your planning yet, but here's some hard-earned owner info: Don't plan on a motor bigger than 35 hp; that will move you along at a comfortably quick pace, any more (my boat was at one time before I owned it fitted with a 50 hp) and at full wail it will become rather squirrely and difficult to handle. Fine with a full load of people, but solo or two-up it will carry too much hull out of the water and will become difficult to steer. Second thing, carry nice thick cushions for the seats; at speed in a decent chop it will pound the fillings out of your teeth. Both issues related to the shape of the hull, so there are no fixes.
    Thanks for that! Nope, was not planning to stick a very large outboard on this boat - as it will be used mostly solo with me (and my pup Emma) as passenger....good point though on the seat cushions, that sounds like a good thing for any size outboard! The guy from Toledo I mentioned above (John Greiner) who worked at Gibbs as a teen, also mentioned the 2 floor stringers have a tendency to crack with a bigger outboard and the subsequent hull pounding....he said the stringers were only attached to the hull with 3 bolts each.....I may beef that up a bit and make up some narrow grate type of floor slats to attach to the stop of the floor stringers; we will see! Excited to get working on this one soon though!

  23. #23
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    Default Re: Gibbs molded plywood boat - Rocket?

    Both stringers on my boat were broken, but not from a large motor. The former owner before me carried the boat - with motor, starting battery and full fuel tank in place at the stern - for about a dozen miles on a pickup truck with the stern hanging out over the tailgate about five feet. Idjit...
    Hope for the best, but plan for the worst.

  24. #24
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    Default Re: Gibbs molded plywood boat - Rocket?

    Couple more Gibbs Rocket questions relative to this bargain boat....
    I noticed this week, while looking it over more completely in the un-heated garage I have her tucked in, that there are a few places, both on the outside and on inside, where there appear to be very small worm looking boring holes....not extensive, but in a few spots.....I was planning to CPES the inside after stripping / sanding, should I try to fill these tiny holes before the CPES, or let it do its thing?
    Also, does anyone know of any good used vintage windscreen / shields I could possibly check? (other than eBay) The vintage ad I have show this model with a short windshield - but mine does not appear to ever have had one installed (no mounting holes etc)
    Thanks for any advise on the above!
    Cheers....

    Gibbsa58001.jpg

    20210223_170557.jpg

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    Default Re: Gibbs molded plywood boat - Rocket?

    The windshields that Mahone Plycraft fitted up until they stopped production in the late 'sixties looked like the one shown below. Unfortunately, I do not believe that anybody is making them like that anymore, so e-bay may be your only option if you want your boat to have that "vintage" look. You may be able to fabricate one with a mold you build, a piece of plexi and a heater gun, but I have not done that process (seen it done, but that doesn't count for much) so cannot offer much guidance. You might be able to find one at a boat junkyard, but I think that finding one with the plexi still in good, clear condition will be pretty much of a miracle. Building a 2-pane v-shaped wooden frame with flat plexi 'windows' may be your best bet. Google pictures of Albury runabouts for inspiration.

    Hope for the best, but plan for the worst.

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    Default Re: Gibbs molded plywood boat - Rocket?

    Quote Originally Posted by mmd View Post
    The windshields that Mahone Plycraft fitted up until they stopped production in the late 'sixties looked like the one shown below. Unfortunately, I do not believe that anybody is making them like that anymore, so e-bay may be your only option if you want your boat to have that "vintage" look. You may be able to fabricate one with a mold you build, a piece of plexi and a heater gun, but I have not done that process (seen it done, but that doesn't count for much) so cannot offer much guidance. You might be able to find one at a boat junkyard, but I think that finding one with the plexi still in good, clear condition will be pretty much of a miracle. Building a 2-pane v-shaped wooden frame with flat plexi 'windows' may be your best bet. Google pictures of Albury runabouts for inspiration.

    Hard to tell for certain - but the profile on this windshield above looks different from the Gibbs Rocket advert
    - lower and different shape and frame - but perhaps they did them differently for PlyCraft boats versus the hulls they shipped to other companies to finish - like Gibbs
    Would prefer to - if I am even going to attempt - to keep the shield as original looking as possible - the wooden frame examples are not even close to what Gibbs did....
    Hmmmm....

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    Default Re: Gibbs molded plywood boat - Rocket?

    Back in the day there were many manufacturers of such windshields, each slightly different in form. PlyCraft only supplied the bare hull; boat finishers such as Gibbs were responsible for sourcing the outfit bits, so they would likely change from that done by PlyCraft just to be different in the marketplace. I do not know of any modern supplier who makes these old-style windscreens, so you have some hunting to do. Good luck.
    Hope for the best, but plan for the worst.

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    Default Re: Gibbs molded plywood boat - Rocket?

    If that screen is acrylic it isn't hard to get one formed.The catch is you have to supply the former.Virtually any sign company can do the job and at a surprisingly reasonable cost.It helps to provide both the former and the acrylic a bit oversize.A modest discrepancy in the shape of the former isn't a disaster as a bit of tweaking is possible .A mylar,or even brown paper,template of the old screen is a handy aid to have.

  29. #29
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    Default Re: Gibbs molded plywood boat - Rocket?

    The real pain in the process, John, is forming the aluminum windscreen frame.
    Hope for the best, but plan for the worst.

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