Spare Time has been gnawing at my reason. I have about 47 other things I should have done today but I could no longer put off doing an assessment of her condition...which is how I justified spending the day goofing around with her.
You may recall from my first post that she was apparently built from a William Jackson plan - Voyageur - published in Science and Mechanics Boat Builders Handbook in 1960. There's a small propane tank mounted in the rear that's dated 1963 so that could be the year she was built...or finished.
One of the initial questions was regarding the drivetrain. She was designed for outboard power but the builder instead installed a V8 and Sterndrive. The Sterndrive is indeed a Muncie FlexiDrive. I'm searching for information and thus far have found very little. I do know that Muncie introduced their drive in 1956 - but I don't know when this drive was built. The motor is a 1954 Ford 239 which should develop 130 Hp. This is the first Overhead Valve V8 Ford introduced. It's well thought of in Ford V8 circles. It's somewhat marinized. For instance it has cooled exhaust manifolds but a regular open alternator - which itself could be a later addition since a generator would have been stock. It's cooled with a closed system that includes a car radiator! There's an ancillary pump - driven by a belt off the front pulley - that moves cooling water for the exhaust manifolds.
Ok - but my big concern has been whether or not she was in sufficiently solid condition for a person of meager skills - me - to rescue. I'm happy to say - I think she is!
I took up the floor boards which was pretty easy. Whoever painted her last didn't install all the screws in the floor sections and those he did install were....black drywall screws. Yep. Even left the box to prove it. So it was easy to get the floor up using my power driver :~)
Under the floorboards I found surprisingly solid structure. There are some spots that are less than great but they're pretty minor. Up front there was standing water - I think from a small leak in the fresh water system but the plywood - while wet - is quite solid.
As for the exterior...as I mentioned in the first post - the fiberglass is sloughing off like sunburned skin. At least low on the hull. Higher up there's better adhesion - but I assume it all has to come off.
I've found a few spots for which I'll need consulation...places where the plywood side is pushed out from the plywood bottom. One is low on the transom near a drain tube - the other would appear to have been original construction as there was a thin filler strip in the space that allowed the fiberglass to roll over the edge smoothly.
I'm sure most all here will look askance at the time and money to restore her, but I think she represents a special time and the work of some pretty darn special guys :~)
Please take a look at the photos and let me know if I'm missing something. I'm still in the beer goggles stage.
Well said lar. Peter, being the master purveyor of rare and unique watercraft we've come to know and love, kinda hope you do the project. I mean, how many of THOSE have you seen redone?!?! I gotta tell you though, initially I thought "what is he thinking" when I first saw it. Guess that's what separates the masters from the grasshoppers, vision.
Looks good to me Peter. Keep at it. My own experience with wood unprofessionally covered with glass is that the glass eventually sloughs off. May be years, may be decades, but you'd be better rid of it, caulk seams and paint. Best of luck with it.
I have owned both a Radial Arm Saw and a Shop Mate in my life..that I now own neither says it all :~)
Apparently the problem with early glass over wood was the use of Polyesther resins. Epoxy is the way to go but man is it expensive!
I found a set of plans in a copy of Science and Mechanics Boat Builders Handbook from 1957. What it tells me - among many things - is that Spare Time has a number of mods from the original plans aside from the drivetrain. Originally it calls for bench seats in the cockpit - which had to be omitted for the motor - but also bunks up front. The plans don't call for a head or galley which mine has. It also appears that the roof line is higher - a plus for me as I hit my head enough areound here :~)
Interesting stuff. In the issue there are numerous companies offering marine conversion goods for auto and truck motors which explains the Ford motor...but there's no advertising for the FlexIdrive.
Another interesting thing is the Sun Fish Variation - basically the same hull with a different top deck.
I'm going to chime in here because I am a lover of wood boats and have built several myself, all from plywood. There will be many out there who will extol the useless nature of plywood itself, much less for use as a boat building material. I for one think it is by far the most cost effective material pound for pound of any other material available.
Now with that said, my experience has shown that when cared for, a plywood boat will last MANY years as evidenced by the amazing condition of that hull your showing us. I am amazed at the condition of the stringers, and quite honestly the plywood damage you have shown is minor.
One rule of thumb I have found with plywood is, if it is wet, as it appears a few spots are, get rid of it with sound dry plywood. There is of course a practical side that says in some areas, if it can be dried out and sealed with a good preservative, it will hang in there just fine. This boat will never see 50 MPH and the chances of a structural failure with the great condition of the stringers is a null point.
Depending on what you decide to do with the powering of the boat, the transom can be dealt with several ways. Since the motor and out drive don't bear heavily on a transom like an outboard does, your fix may be easier. The rotted spot near the corner can easily be cut out and patched. This begs the question of how to secure the patch into place. The best method would be to patch the new wood in, and epoxy/glass the exterior back over.
I don't know if you intend to re-glass the exterior again, but as your seeing, polyester was never a good adhesive to attach well to plywood. When plywood gets wet, the polyester delaminates quickly and peels off as you have seen. Epoxy resin has a much more tenacious hold on plywood, even when wet. The cost is a hard pill to swallow but the benefits are there.
I suppose if it were me, based on the great condition of the hull and stringers, I would re-glass the bottom and about 4-6 inches up the sides with new glass and epoxy. Remember that polyester will not adhere to epoxy, but epoxy will adhere to polyester. The trick will be finding the start and stop point on that hull side. I have literally pulled up 8 foot long sheets of polyester and glass from wet plywood. It may pull off easier than you think. One boat I repaired, I used a hand held power planer to strip off the old glass and resin. I then sanded the hull back to bare wood and then glassed with epoxy and fiberglass.
The planer allowed me to use a straight edge and then run the plane along the hull to create a nice straight line. I set the plane depth just deep enough to take off the glass, but barely any wood. This worked well. It's just a thought. The planer can be purchased at the standard home improvement stores. I would peel as much by hand as I could first. Keep the dust masks handy.
I for one love the idea that your going to keep this old girl alive. I believe based on the condition of the hull, she is worth saving. It really is quite a piece of history. I am more than happy to give any info I might have to help you. I don't claim to be an expert on anything, but I have dabbled in plywood boats for years, and can possibly give some insight.