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Thread: Wooden Lightning Sailboat

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
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    Stayton, Oregon
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    I recently aquired an old wooden lightning. It looks to be ceder on oak construction.
    It has been covered with what I believe is old poly fiberglass. I am not sure if the
    glass was done during original construction, or if it was done at some later date to
    fix leaks. At any rate, it is coming loose in several areas and needs to be dealt with.
    As it is used as a daysailer, the planks swelling and shrinking is an issue. If I strip off
    all of the glass and go with traditional methods, will the bilge always be full of water
    because the planks won't have time to swell. Or should I reglass outside the hull using
    modern methods and just try to keep the inside as dry as possible. The inside of
    the boat was never glassed, just painted with many layers of paint. I realize there
    are many schools of thought regarding fiberglassing plank hulls. However, I have
    also noticed the opionions vary with regard to the type of boat and how it will be used.
    Any opinions, experiences or words of wisdom would be greatly appreciated!!!

  2. #2
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    Sep 2002
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    Kalamazoo MI
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    I too acquired an old lightning in the state of rebuild. My hull is double planked cedar on mahogany. I've been told that after the first layer of planking goes on a layer of canvas saturated in paint is layed on. After this the final layer of planking is installed and caulked. Seems like the canvas should keep most of the water out. Anyone have thoughts on this, this is my first project?

  3. #3
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    Double planked hulls shouldn't leak much, if any, upon launching. Anyway, cedar takes up pretty fast, so the leaking won't last long in any event.

    If I were looking to cover the hull in something waterproof, I'd cover it with cold-molded strips set in epoxy rather than glass. It would be lighter and stronger. You'd have to figure something for the chines, but that shouldn't be too hard to work out.

  4. #4
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    Apr 2002
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    On a double planked hull, is the second planking layer attached to the frames, or only to the first layer of planking?
    Berryville, VA: A quaint little drinking community with a farming problem.

  5. #5
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    Feb 2001
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    Seattle, WA USA
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    Originally posted by Garrett Lowell:
    On a double planked hull, is the second planking layer attached to the frames, or only to the first layer of planking?
    To the frames. In the frame bays, the inside planking is usually backscrewed to the outer layer.
    You would not enjoy Nietzsche, sir. He is fundamentally unsound. P.G. Wodehouse (Carry On, Jeeves)

  6. #6
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    Apr 2002
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    Thanks Nicholas.
    Berryville, VA: A quaint little drinking community with a farming problem.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Sep 2002
    Location
    Minden, Ontario, Canada
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    Hello John,

    Glad to hear about another Lightning being restored. I am restoring Lightning #7147 and it is all new to me as well. I had a look at the end grain of the planking on mine and found out from the people here I have glued seam tongue-and-groove planks. If you have the same construction (i.e. no caulking in the seams) I would imagine it was meant to be dry-sailed without waiting for swelling. I guess someone had a reason for applying 'glass at some point. Scott's idea sounds good in my non-expert opinion.

    Cheers,

    Jana

  8. #8
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    Mar 2003
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    Stayton, Oregon
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    Thanks for all the input. I forgot to specify the boat is single planked
    with caulking between the seams. Does this new information change
    any opions?
    Thanks Again!!!!
    John Iverson

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Feb 2002
    Location
    Hoffman Estates IL
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    I have a Snipe project of probably similar vintage. The construction is single-layer, 5/8 (maybe 3/4) cedar with battened seams. The promise is that battens will provide a better seal as the planks cycle wet and dry. These are internal battens.

    I'll toss up the idea of routing external rabetts for battens (and gobs of sealant), as a remedy if you find out that there is too much lake comming into the boat.

  10. #10
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    Grosse Pointe, Michigan, USA
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    Thisis a bit second-hand, but a friend a few years ago had a lightning with the original glued planking. He attempted to glass and epoxy the bottom, which caused problems when water swelled the planking from the inside, cupping the planks. Maybe something more flexible, such as Dynel, would work.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Nov 2002
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    Great Lake State
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    Welcome to the world of wooden lightnings. Mine is #2345 built in 1946.

    Go to the Lightning Association web site and there is a section on woodies.

    www.lightningclass.org
    steve

  12. #12
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    Sep 2000
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    Block island RI USA
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    Years ago, when all boats like the Lightning were wood, I worked at a club where we had a fleet of Lightnings with double planked bottoms. They all leaked and we never succeeded in getting them really tight.
    My guess is that the solution for you is to take your hull back to bare wood, then check to see if there is rot in there. If so you have a big problem. If not, get someone in the Lightning assn to advise you on how to redo the bottom and chine. In no case do I think you would want to put glass cloth on that bottom, because that large arc-shaped panel is bound to flex, and keeping glass bonded to it is going to be very difficult. Also, you would be adding weight, and especialy with a boat like a Lightning, lighter is better.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Sep 2010
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    Default Re: Wooden Lightning Sailboat

    I too recently acquired an older wooden lightning. It has 5/8" thick mahogany planks on it. There is a lot of rot, and there have been various attempts to repair it with a variety of glues, caulkings, screws and bolts, but it will still leak like a sieve. The mast, rigging, sails, centerboard, rudder and boom are in fine shape as is the trailer. So my thinking is to redo the hull with 3/8" African mahogany plywood impregnated with CPES. The ribs and other frame members are in reasonable shape, but I will replace some and paint them all with CPES. The challenge will be to keep the shape of the hull while doing this. So I will replace 1/2 of the hull at a time then the sides, etc. The deck I'll do in 1/4" mahogany plywood. On top of all of this, I'll use epoxy and a thin fiberglass cloth in the attempt to achieve a clear finish.
    I am an experienced woodworker, mostly furniture, fine woodworking. But I would like the opinion of others.... am I crazy?

  14. #14
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    May 2004
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    Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio
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    Default Re: Wooden Lightning Sailboat

    As Steve said above, go to the Lightning class assn.
    Glassing a planked hull is asking for more trouble - the sort of thing done to get the last few seasons out of a boat before burning her.
    What a waste. Lightnings deserve better than that.
    There's always a possibility that she may be raced as a Lightning and will need to fit their rules.

  15. #15
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    Dec 2010
    Location
    Vancouver Island
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    Default Re: Wooden Lightning Sailboat

    My first wooden boat was lighting #6627, lots of fond memories there, she was in fine shape. But later I had another unregistered lightning hull, that I aquired in poor condition, the topsides were splined and in fine shape, however the edge glued bottom was separating along the seams. the solution was to route out a 3/8'' groove over each seam and epoxy in a red cedar spline. The idea being that that the larger sized spline would move with the 5/8" red cedar planking. It worked pretty good for 2 seasons of dry sailing. ( that's hauled out between use) After that, I sold that boat to a 16 year old kid in cowichan bay, wonder where it is now.

  16. #16
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    Dec 2010
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    Vancouver Island
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    Default Re: Wooden Lightning Sailboat

    I should mention that an overlay of fibreglass, epoxy, polyester or dynel is never a long term solution for any carvel or glued seam hull

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Sep 2010
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    Default Re: Wooden Lightning Sailboat

    Quote Originally Posted by sealrock View Post
    I should mention that an overlay of fibreglass, epoxy, polyester or dynel is never a long term solution for any carvel or glued seam hull
    If I were leaving my hull with the original planks, I certainly would not fiberglass it. But it is in such poor shape that I have to start over again, basically rebuild the boat. This is why I chose to use mahogany plywood with a thin glass coating using epoxy. I also have to replace several ribs and deck struts. My biggest worry is maintaining the shape of the hull as I strip the old rotten planks off. Thanks for the feedback.

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