CHOOSING YOUR RESTORATION PROJECT...SOME THINGS TO CONSIDER
There are a number of considerations when choosing a ‘restoration/renovation’ project. Here are my thoughts on this:
Experience level: this really is the most important aspect as it is what stops most people giving it a try.
There’s no quick fix, experience is built with each successful project. You can come from a balsa-wood model building background or jump straight in. Fine carpentery skills would be an advantage, but are not an entry level requirement.
There are many excellent books available on the subject of boat building and free information on-line eg: The Gougeon Brothers on Boat Construction. U-tube has brilliant documentaries, the best of which is ‘The Tally Ho’ project dealing with traditional boatbuilding on a grand scale. For smaller boat projects ‘The Wooden Boat Experience’ is more applicable; search under “Glass Goat”. Reading is helpful to build some background knowledge, but I found a passage most relevant once I’d already completed the task, only to learn what I’d done wrong.
Budget and time: these are equally important as this is the reason most boat building projects don’t get finished. You need both.
Doing a bit here and there when money is available is a recipe for frustration and poor results. Wood working skills develop with continuous doing/learning. If you take a lengthy break you loose that edge and some of the skill you’ve picked up.
Tools and Venue: how much space do you have and how much useful equipment do you own.
Covered space is essential; a double garage is ideal for a boat under 5 metres. One half for the boat, the other for your tools, wood and floor space to prepare. You don’t need many tools to start a project, just the basics; each new purchase instantly becomes a considerable help. Consider getting what you have got professionally sharpened at the Sawman, in the Industrial Area. Also don’t underestimate the help skilled people in the restoration business will give you and the tools you can borrow from a friend. If you break it you replace it, however, so get your own once you’ve found how indispensable it is. This helps to find the best weight/power/price combination of that tool type before you waste your money on the cheapest one.
Condition of the prospective boat: so you don’t have much experience and your space and tool collection is limited....
You could choose a fibreglass rowboat (like I did) or, if you find that elusive 1950s ‘barnfind’ wooden speedboat, make sure you take along an expert to assess the condition of the wood on the boat. Ask what they are looking for. Try to pick up what’s important and what’s not. Additional problem areas will come up as you take back the years, so have some idea upfront of the major work that needs doing before you decide to buy.
Original equipment: this is what makes the difference between an average find and an awesome find.
That’s if you appreciate the historical significance of the boat. Chrome parts (hardware) are available from overseas websites and local collectors, but these are not the original parts the boat came with and the difference will become clear. Windscreen condition, gauges and steeringwheel all combine to make a great cockpit. Not so relevant is the engine, unless it works, in which case you’ve saved yourself a lot of money. Old engines can be beautiful money pits and are notoriously unreliable. A replacement engine will double your project cost, excluding labour.
Provenance: this is a very important element, especially when it comes to selling the fruits of your labour.
A potential buyer can be swayed by a really interesting history; who owned the boat before, what did it partake in or who rode in her. Documented history is useful to have, but nothing sticks better than a really good story.