Dec 24, 201308:59 AM

Odduck: Adventures in Boat Restoration

Winding Down for Winter

Work on Odduck has pretty well stopped for the year. Besides the low temperatures, this is the time of year we put things together for an extended stay in the Florida Keys. This year's project involves crafting a rack for my inflatable boat's trailer to hold a kayak and two bicycles.

I am leaving Odduck with the mid-cabin finally framed, ready for skinning the interior and exterior with finish material and installing the 36- by 15-inch slider window. I have also roughed out the design for the motor cover and rear seating.

Because the main wall between the cabin and cockpit was badly hacked up, I had to re-create what had been there. That panel had an opening to crawl into the mid-cabin plus framing under the three doors, which are at two different heights off the floor.

To start the process, I attached a piece of 1/2-inch plywood to the cockpit side of the existing wall running from gunnel to gunnel that was cut to the approximate size of the openings. To make the precise determinations of those, I needed to have the three doors in place, but they first had to be completely re-done. The doors were nasty, cruddy, falling apart and the Plexiglas inserts were scratched. I deep-cleaned, then stripped, sanded, put on two coats of Cetol and re-glued the doors before putting on a third coat.

To remove the scratches from the Plexiglas, I tried a product that is used to remove scratches from aircraft windows. It is a wet/dry process that eventually took me to 12,000 grit. Then, I discovered I hadn't started coarse enough to remove all the scratches.  

Getting bolder, I put some 600 grit wet/dry in my palm sander and started over. This time going up to 2,000 did the trick.

After gluing wooden matchsticks into the holes for the hinge screws, I reattached the doors. Being shiny and fresh and looking new, they stood out like a sore thumb but let me make a determination how the panels needed to be cut.

I pieced in a section with the exact dimensions on the cabin side of the 1/2-inch ply, then had to put in another panel because the new plywood didn't match the thickness of the original plywood.

Enclosing Odduck for the winter

While that was going on, I enlisted a couple friends to help me enclose the end of the boat's storage structure. I have tried to do as much as possible by myself but simply needed more hands for this job. After attaching some metal framework and building a stud wall, I covered the end with used shrink wrap material. I also put another layer of that over the poly sheeting on part of the sidewalls. I earlier had used clear poly to cover another part of the walls on the theory the clear would let some light in. For now, the boat is covered top, sides and back but still open to the bow.


I also took some time to do some sample work on the exterior part of the hull. It has a lot of old striping, some of which had been painted over, which makes it tough to remove. I tried using a striping-removal eraser in an electric drill that auto-body people use, but I couldn't get it into the places where the metal had bends, was still consuming them fairly quickly and they are not real cheap. So, I tried a heat gun and a plastic scraper and if I was patient, that worked as well. But the edge of the scraper had to be re-beveled now and then because the heat would deform it. My thought was that a metal scraper in my hands probably would at least scratch the aluminum if not gouge it.

I also played with some 220 and 320 sandpaper in a random orbit sander to see how that would work to prep the hull for painting. I'm hoping that I don't have to take it all the way to bare metal, and after some experimenting, I think now I may not have to except for some places I have to remove deep hull rash.

Back at the mid-cabin, I finally got it framed after repeatedly re-doing it. One answer was to use 7/8- by 1 1/2-inch hickory to serve as floor joists to span the width of the cabin that will be covered with 3/4-inch plywood and be the base for the helm and passenger seats. Then, I started to cut and fit the 1/4-inch plywood panels that will be the interior skin. The ceiling gets white vinyl and will have a center light and wiring for a fan in the corner. The sidewalls get covered with carpeting.

Another fly in the ointment at this time is that when I ordered the slider I thought I was ordering one for a 1 7/8- to 2-inch wall, but what I bought was for a 1 3/8-inch wall. One option is to get an extender for the interior trim ring and the other is to trade this window back in on one that fits without the extender.

Framing in the mid cabin

Before I can cover the walls, there is another step. I'm putting in as many storage "cutouts" in the walls as possible, both in the cabin and under the gunnels further back. I cut a rectangular opening with radiused edges where I want the storage "box" and then build a three-sided box out of 1/4-inch plywood that is  wider and higher than the cutout. The box also has nailing flanges along the front sides and gets lined with vinyl and carpet.

Attaching it can go two ways. One is staple or screw the box on from the front of the panel, then try to wrap the covering into the hole and attach it. A better option seems to be putting the vinyl on first, then simply using face screws to go through the panel into the nailing flanges.

Now, I have a couple months to a) think about all this or b) not think about all this. As I mess about with this boat, I'm repeatedly reminded how great it is to have the time on my hands to fool with stuff like this. I guess this is part of the reward for putting in 35 years at work.

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About This Blog

Follow longtime HeartLand Boating contributor Gary Kramer on his latest undertaking: rebuilding a 1987, 24-foot, aluminum Crestliner Sabre Mid-Cabin Day Cruiser from the hull up.




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