Friday, September 20, 2013

Under the Covers

The first steps in classic small boat restoration usually involve a lot of taking things apart in order to see what's bad and what's good.  That process has been underway this week at WoW with regard to the new old Beetle Cat number 1564.  First, all the deck hardware was removed and stored.  As always, that task involved contortions and manipulations not suited to the human body, or at least to the specific human bodies involved in the project. One always marvels at the dexterity of the people who originally fastened that nut in a space 10 inches high and 6 feet forward of the cockpit under the foredeck.  Perhaps people were smaller and thinner (and certainly younger) "back in the old days."

The next obvious step was the removal of the deteriorated canvas decking. This process entailed the disassembly of the oak cockpit coaming as well as the removal of the oak rubrails in order to expose the staples holding the canvas in place.  The goal was to remove all the woodwork without damaging it, so that it could be reused.  For the most part, this was possible,the only exception being the aft coaming which had cracked at some point and was repaired by gluing and screwing a teak board to its inner surface.  The screws came out but the adhesive, not so much.  This piece will need to be replaced.

Aft coaming had been repaired with the addition of a teak board.
  The coaming was in very good condition, and could be removed by drilling out the bungs (plugs) over the screws, and backing out the screws where possible. Where the screws could not be removed, wedges were hammered between the deck and the coaming, and a Sawzall used to cut the screw.

Wedges are used to make room for the Sawzall to cut recalcitrant screws.
The coaming was removed with no damage to either the deck or the coaming itself -- a very happy outcome -- and it will be cleaned up, revarnished, and reinstalled after the deck is repaired.

Out comes the portside coaming.
Next up was the removal of the rubrail.  This task was also accomplished with the use of a drill (to remove bungs,) a screwdriver, and wedges.  The rubrail was also successfully removed without cracking, gouging, or splitting, and can be reused if we choose to do so.

The rubrail comes off.  Previously removed coaming rests on the deck.
Finally, we could pull the canvas, which was held securely in place by hundreds of monel staples.  This revealed a cedar plank deck in surprisingly good condition.  Most, if not all of it can be retained, as it is fair and solid -- a credit to those old Beetle boatbuilders.

The big reveal -- not too shabby!
Aft deck shows the swiss cheese pattern of many traveler removals/reinstallations.

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