The type of wood everyone at the boat restoration forums will tell you to use when repairing old fiberglass boats is Exterior Grade or Marine Grade plywood. The three "big box" lumber sellers here have neither. A while back a local boating shop had suggested asking Barn Door Lumber, a place at the other end of the county.
I checked out what they had. There were two 4x8' sheets of Marine grade 3/4" ply left and priced at almost $100 each. I talked to the guy working there about the different types of plywood. He was very knowledgable about his field and explained how it was getting harder to find fine quality plywood. The Marine Grade they had there had to be special ordered and getting harder to get.
At home, I thought it over and decided on the Marine grade and figured out the measurements it needed to be cut. There wasn't much choice. Barn Door was the only one who I found stocks it.
It is crucial that this wood is kept completely dry at all times before installing. However, when driving back to Barn Door Lumber for the plywood the next day, Thursday, June 26, it was in the worst rain storm I've ever been in. Visibility was no more than 10 feet ahead of my hood but the rain stopped by the time I got there.
The cut Marine Grade ply fit in my back seat with an inch to spare and, luckily, I was able to get it back home and in the house without a drop landing on it.
I have to stress that it is very important that this wood stays completely dry. After it is sealed in epoxy there is no way for moisture to get out, thus, starting the rotting process.
Later that night there was another downpour. The huge, heavy autographed Batboat fin I had carefully placed on the porch was starting to get hit with a mist. The outer layers were made of Tileboard that gets damaged when wet so the six foot long fin had to come in the house were I leaned it upright against the fridge. After the frustration of bumping into it several times, I took the autographed side off carefully and set the rest back outside.
The next day was Friday and a dry one. The pile of dismantled Batboat debris I left leaning against the pine tree days before was cut into pieces for firewood with the table saw. The two heavy, large boards originally used under the fin deck were set by the curb with "free plywood" sprayed in black letters and were gone the next day.
The center of the fin was stuffed with Detroit area newspapers dated April, 2006. I assume that must have been when this Batboat was built.
Monday, June 30, I shopped around a bunch of places for a Sawzall, or reciprocating saw. Found one on sale for $20 off. I need it to cut off the rotting deck that original to the boat to make room for the new, improved one.
Got it home and while getting used to how it works by cutting through the rotting deck I had another Oops! moment by misjudging the depth of the blade and the distance between the deck I was cutting through and the fiberglass hull, sawing a 10 inch cut through the bottom. It is an easy fix but I had no idea the two were so close together in that small spot!
I have to do fiberglass repair in that area anyway.
I am doing more demolition this July 4th weekend. By Monday or Tuesday I hope to have all of the original deck removed and work started on replacing the transome, or rear of the boat.
Lots of pictures of the mess, too.
Sascha Schneider (1870 - 1927)
3 weeks ago