Honey, have you finished fixing Elude yet? 1937 35' Cruiser

Framing, planking and fairing. Repair, or reconstruction. If it's hull related, you'll find it here.

Honey, have you finished fixing Elude yet? 1937 35' Cruiser

Postby robertpaul » Thu Feb 04, 2016 9:58 am

I am delighted to once again belong to the Club. I have benefitted greatly from my past membership and found the advice and experiences of others has assisted me immeasurably with my own project. That being the complete restoration of Elude, our 1937, 35' Double Stateroom Enclosed cruiser. I say 'complete' because when I started in 2012, I was convinced that she was in pretty good shape and that the deterioration was limited to the usual hot spots found in these boats. I knew the bow and transom were shot and so were parts of the inner planking. I invested about two years in getting these areas in order. In the end though, it became apparent to me that I would be dissatisfied with a piecemeal approach to the refit. I bit the bullet in 2014 and decided that to do this job properly I would have to remove the entire bottom, which I did. This fulfilled two important objectives. First, I now know exactly how much rot (nasty ring to that word) there is/was in the planking, frames, chines and keel. Second, I now know what approximately 4,000 brass screws, all individually removed, look like all in one place. It was the right decision but maybe I wasn't ready (or lacked the courage) to make it at the beginning. What I did do correctly right from the start was to put Elude in a Dome Shelter manufactured by a firm here in Toronto.

So, as it stands now I have replaced the transom bow, 22' of each of the chines, all the frames and floors from the transmissions to the stern, and the big knee at the bow. New keelsons have been installed and the all the running gear test fitted. I have dry fitted the new marine 1088 plywood inner bottom except for 7' or so at the stbd bow (winter interfered with that). I have a plan on replacing several more frames from midships forward, but most of the original ones are ok. I will remove all the floors to make sure they are and replace as necessary. The bottom will be done by the end of this year, probably.

I have noticed a few really interesting threads on this site over the last month that speak to some issues I have encountered. The questionable quality of dark red meranti, 5200, fasteners, and other things. I will get my records organized so that I can present a coherent story, but I will warn everyone that I have made decisions on these matters that may go against convention, but will ensure that I get to enjoy many years with this wonderful boat that we have used so well since 1989.

The coolest thing is that my dome shelter shows up on google maps satellite, and my van is parked directly in front! This affords me proof for my wife that I am, in fact, 'fixing the boat'.

And, here we go.....
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Re: Honey, have you finished fixing Elude yet? 1937 35' Crus

Postby joanroy » Thu Feb 04, 2016 8:53 pm

Best of Luck to you, and as a fellow old cruiser owner I am looking forward to following your progress. It'd be great to see lots of photos as you go along. Have Fun!
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Re: Honey, have you finished fixing Elude yet? 1937 35' Crus

Postby jfrprops » Thu Feb 04, 2016 9:57 pm

Great project and you are going about it correctly if at time painfully....carry on and post some pix.....thanks for saving a classic CRUISER...rare thing.

John in Va.
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Re: Honey, have you finished fixing Elude yet? 1937 35' Crus

Postby robertpaul » Fri Feb 05, 2016 9:53 am

Thanks for the encouraging words. Here are a smattering of pics that show what can hide in a hull that was working well, leaking only 'moderately', and in my own words "in great shape". However, I am still amazed as I carefully dissected and replaced structural pieces one at a time (to keep the shape of the boat), of how much wonderful wood remains perfect. These pics are three or four years old. I will upload some more recent 'happy' pics later.
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Re: Honey, have you finished fixing Elude yet? 1937 35' Crus

Postby Peter M Jardine » Fri Feb 05, 2016 11:09 am

Robert, good to see you again. I am in the same situation.... a number of family issues interrupted my work before I got done, and I am just finishing up Vanora. I hope to be in the water this year, after three years :cry:
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Re: Honey, have you finished fixing Elude yet? 1937 35' Crus

Postby Al Benton » Fri Feb 05, 2016 12:10 pm

Thanks for posting the beginning of your story and pics of the "before" condition showing areas of the original diagonal inner planking. Interesting to say the least how some is almost completely gone and other areas survived the almost 80 years.

I look forward to seeing and reading of your progress this year and wish you well. Thanks for saving this wonderful cruiser. Not many of them receive the labor of love that you are giving to her.
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Re: Honey, have you finished fixing Elude yet? 1937 35' Crus

Postby robertpaul » Fri Feb 05, 2016 2:14 pm

Hi Peter. The restoration is going well, but in 2014 I slowed down because I was allowing myself to be overwhelmed with the project scope. Once I decided to remove the bottom and started to actually reassemble the structure of Elude, my spirits picked up. 2015 was a banner year and I made up for time lost. We hope to launch in 2017, but I am getting very picky and things that I may have 'let be' before, I am fixing. This boat may never be opened up again, certainly not by me, so leaving a cracked frame or other problem unattended bugs me. Let me know when you are going to launch and I will bring an extra battery for the bilge pump! By the way, the dome shelter continues to be the best investment I have made for this hobby.
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Re: Honey, have you finished fixing Elude yet? 1937 35' Crus

Postby robertpaul » Fri Feb 05, 2016 2:39 pm

Thanks Al. Probably 50% of the inner planking seems totally unaffected by age and use. Unfortunately they have lots of holes in them from the fasteners so they are not much use....... or are they? I need a ton of dowels to plug the fastener holes in the original frames that will remain in place because they are in excellent condition. I cleaned up a nice piece of inner planking and checked it for metal... nails were used to fasten them to the frames at the factory and tacks were used to keep the canvas layer in place. Once I was sure it was ok, I planed it down to just proud of 1/4" and cut it into 5" lengths on my bandsaw. Then I set the bandsaw guide to the same dimension and cut a bunch of blanks.... about 12 per piece. I sharpen one end in a pencil sharpener, put the square end into my drill chuck, and pass the spinning blank through a 1/4" cutter I fabricated. Out comes the most beautiful dowel you will ever see (that may be puffery). I do the same with scraps of the best meranti I can buy and must say the reused material is much nicer. I like the fact that there will be some of the old inner planks in the hull no matter what. Here is pic that shows some sticking out of frames.

Do I have an illness?
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Re: Honey, have you finished fixing Elude yet? 1937 35' Crus

Postby jfrprops » Fri Feb 05, 2016 5:07 pm

just over the top devotion!

thanks for that.

John in Va.
1980 Fairchild Scout 30
19?? custom Argentine Runabout 16'
1954 Whirlwind deluxe dual ckpt 16'
1921 Old Town Charles River 17' (founding Captain, James River Batteau Festival)
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Re: Honey, have you finished fixing Elude yet? 1937 35' Crus

Postby joanroy » Fri Feb 05, 2016 5:11 pm

The materials used to build these old cruisers were far superior to most of what's available today. Old growth lumber before it was all logged out and regulated was real nice tight grain stuff. Just out of curiosity, is she a salt or fresh water boat and how was she used and stored? Pretty rare to have lasted for so long.
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Re: Honey, have you finished fixing Elude yet? 1937 35' Crus

Postby Peter M Jardine » Fri Feb 05, 2016 5:20 pm

robertpaul wrote:Hi Peter. The restoration is going well, but in 2014 I slowed down because I was allowing myself to be overwhelmed with the project scope. Once I decided to remove the bottom and started to actually reassemble the structure of Elude, my spirits picked up. 2015 was a banner year and I made up for time lost. We hope to launch in 2017, but I am getting very picky and things that I may have 'let be' before, I am fixing. This boat may never be opened up again, certainly not by me, so leaving a cracked frame or other problem unattended bugs me. Let me know when you are going to launch and I will bring an extra battery for the bilge pump! By the way, the dome shelter continues to be the best investment I have made for this hobby.


I agree, I still have the deck vinyl to replace, and it involves taking up the dollboards of course... but what the hey, I have gone this far, might as well finish. Yes, I love that dome shelter. It is on my want list.
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Re: Honey, have you finished fixing Elude yet? 1937 35' Crus

Postby robertpaul » Fri Feb 05, 2016 5:52 pm

Joanroy

Elude has been in the Great Lakes since the beginning. She was originally shipped to a small place on the Bay of Quinte, Ontario, called Northport. It is just across the bay from Belleville, Peter's home. We got her in 1989, and kept her in a covered slip from 1994 on. In the winters she was stored inside an unheated building that was open at one end, so plenty of air. She was hauled out 5 years ago for this refit. But I must add that she went directly into a dome shelter, so the elements are not a factor. I can tell you that I had the engines rebuilt in 1990 and we ran Elude relentlessly every summer. This is a user boat that remained in original condition (except for a few planks and spot repairs) until now. Your comment about the old growth wood these boats were built from is so true. I cannot bear to throw away any piece or part that is still 'useable'. But, she had reached the end of her usable original life. There was so much structural redundancy built in that despite some seriously weak areas, she never showed any effects of being lifted, blocked or transported. and she hardly leaked at all. When I re-canvassed the roof and deck I had only to sweep away dust and install new canvas. I could go on but it might get a little boring for folks, except to say the salon roof consists of cedar or redwood planks. I removed a piece of the ceiling tile to check them and they seem to glow gold..... truly.
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Re: Honey, have you finished fixing Elude yet? 1937 35' Crus

Postby robertpaul » Fri Feb 05, 2016 6:47 pm

I have not been able to load some recent pics of my dowel making operation so this was an experiment. The difference in tone on the bottom (which is only dry fit for now) is due to the forward ply sheets not being treated with cps yet. As an aside, the maximum width from keel to chine is a hair more than 48", the maximum width of the plywood. I danced around for 20 minutes when I discovered that.
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Re: Honey, have you finished fixing Elude yet? 1937 35' Crus

Postby robertpaul » Sat Feb 06, 2016 12:21 am

The long dowels are from original inner planking, the short one from scrap drm.
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Re: Honey, have you finished fixing Elude yet? 1937 35' Crus

Postby joanroy » Sat Feb 06, 2016 12:58 pm

I love your pre-war cruiser. I may be a little biased because I own the post war version 1948 36 Double Stateroom Enclosed. In my opinion their the best designed and laid out cruiser in that size range ever built. Great family boat, sleeps 6, comfortable, built like brick s...t houses. Best bad investment I ever made. Thanks for her brief history. I'm always curious about their past and how they have managed to survive the ravages of time. It's really quite amazing any of them are still around and I feel fortunate to own one. Says something about the quality of materials and workmanship back then.

I see from your photos a lot of the frame and main keel look to be in fine condition. Did you replace both keelsons and have you figured out a strategy on how you'll go about installing the outer planking?
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Re: Honey, have you finished fixing Elude yet? 1937 35' Crus

Postby robertpaul » Sat Feb 06, 2016 1:57 pm

Joanroy

Thank you. Personally, I love my round port holes! I just got back from the boat (18 minutes from the house) to check on things and to take more photos so i can better plan my work for this year. From the transmissions back I did replace all the bottom frames, both keelsons, chines, and the transom bow. I also replaced the strut blocks. I thought I could repair the port keelson because it looked good except for a few spots near and under frames. Once I took it out i could see that deterioration had reached out along the inside of the piece. After I decided to replace it, I took my router and cut away a bit of the surface to a depth of about 3/8" to see what was inside. The attached picture shows how rot can travel along the inside, unseen and beyond the depth of normal probing with an awl. I practiced boring the shaft hole on one of the old keelsons and that picture shows the inside of what was the 'best' part. Yikes! From that point on I have been very careful about what can be saved and what must be replaced. When I started I though that I could fix the chines around the factory scarfs, but with the bottom off and a merciless approach to testing, off came 22' of them as well. That said, many of the frames forward of the transmissions only need cleaning and plugging as I have shown on previous posts. There are several which I will pull out (I will replace the floors... the pieces that join the frames at the centre), but their condition is astounding to me. I will add that the keel has a bit of surface checking in spots but is otherwise as fine and the edges as crisp as the day it was built. I drilled a few 1/4" test holes and am satisfied i don't need to touch it. Of the original fasteners I removed from the planks attached to the keel, maybe one in ten was broken. The others were perfect and very tight. The nails holding the inner planking squeeked when I removed them. Lovely!

Outer planking! I have been worried about that for some time and now that I am likely to do it this year I am close to a decision which may seem odd or scandalous to some. I have been unable to save the original planks beyond using them as templates. They are old of course but for the most part the wood is quite fine. However many have localized rot and long splits from years of torture. I am not happy with the quality of the new materials available to me, whatever the price. DRM, Honduran, African..... all have issues and I need a lot of it. Combine that with planing 3/4" (often more like 7/8") down to 5/8" and I can't justify it. However, I can get as much top quality 1088 marine plywood as I need, and within a hair of the thickness (15mm) I require. I have scarfed some 8' lengths into 15' (11 to 1 joint) and cut a few planks to test the bending at the bow and I can report that it goes in beautifully. I am going to think about it more, but the material is lovely to work with, won't split or warp, and is crazy strong. Whatever material I use, I am not yet committed to a sealant layer between the inner and outer planking. I will seek advice on that and all opinions are welcome. Sorry for the long reply but it is winter and I have too much time.
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Re: Honey, have you finished fixing Elude yet? 1937 35' Crus

Postby robertpaul » Sat Feb 06, 2016 2:15 pm

Joanroy

I meant to tell you about where we did our boating and what conditions Elude easily handled. We kept her at Kingston, Ontario, which is at the confluence of Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River. Kingston hosted the 1976 Summer Olympics sailing events because of the reliable and strong south-westerly winds that come up every afternoon at about 12:27pm. Give or take 47 seconds. It is big water and it gets plenty rough. Naturally we would head to the islands for the day (my avatar shows elude at anchor on the north side of Milton Island which is part of the National Park Island system. Nine days out of ten we would confront a rough sea heading home. I would dial in the right speed for the day (maybe 5, 6, 7 mph) and we would happily chug along with the boat seemingly unperturbed. Knowing what I know about her condition at the end of her service, I possibly should have been more concerned. As I said, and as you eloquently confirmed in your reply, these boats have incredible structural redundancy built in and the materials from the era were superb. When I get under Elude on my crawler and get a close look at how she was put together and how well she has aged, I cannot imagine letting her go to ruin.
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Re: Honey, have you finished fixing Elude yet? 1937 35' Crus

Postby tkhersom » Sun Feb 07, 2016 5:53 pm

Wow! Lots of info in a couple of days. Nice project and great work!

Do you have a picture of the "Dome Shelter"?
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Re: Honey, have you finished fixing Elude yet? 1937 35' Crus

Postby Doug P » Sun Feb 07, 2016 7:09 pm

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Re: Honey, have you finished fixing Elude yet? 1937 35' Crus

Postby robertpaul » Mon Feb 08, 2016 12:34 am

Doug P

Holy smoke! I'm going to have nightmares tonight! I'm pretty sure that boat refit is way beyond any issues I have with mine..... and it is a VERY big boat at that. Thanks for the link.... I feel much better now.
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Re: Honey, have you finished fixing Elude yet? 1937 35' Crus

Postby robertpaul » Mon Feb 08, 2016 12:41 am

tk

Here it is, when new.... a lot dirtier now but still a good structure to work inside.
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Re: Honey, have you finished fixing Elude yet? 1937 35' Crus

Postby robertpaul » Mon Feb 08, 2016 12:44 am

tk

The first picture in my previous post illustrates how bright it is inside with natural light, although it is a uv shield.
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Re: Honey, have you finished fixing Elude yet? 1937 35' Crui

Postby robertpaul » Tue Feb 09, 2016 12:01 pm

The following is a chronology of this project over the last three and a half years. To re-iterate, I started with the assumption that I could deal with specific problems in the lower hull that I knew existed. I was also seized with the desire to keep Elude as original as possible. The latter fact acted as a constraint in that I spent a lot of time trying to work around 'good' wood and piecing in repairs. I will show that, and admit some embarrassment of my early efforts. I became increasingly aware, particularly when I opened the stern, that this strategy was not going to work.

As I removed the bottom and surveyed frames and planks, I realized that after 72 years of use, many components were just plain worn out. That said, there remain plenty of original frames from the shaft coupling forward, that are in sweet condition and will be left in place. However, conclusions about what stays and what is replaced or repaired could only be made by removal of the entire bottom and, if necessary, extraction of each piece for inspection. This yielded surprises that justified my caution. I did try to repair some frames, and went to some lengths to do so, only to decide to replace them instead. I always dealt with one frame at a time, completing and installing so that I could align it with the existing shape of the hull. As I said in a previous post, despite carefully removing each screw so as to minimize damage to the plank, subsequent inspection and hand-wringing (literally) precipitated my decision to not reuse any of them.

Before I start, I will say that I am not a professional by any stretch of the imagination. I have had wooden cruisers for nearly forty years now and Elude since 1989. The hardest part of this project was deciding to open her up and not be too discouraged by mission creep.

These need to be viewed from the bottom up... like how I have spent the last three years. I have a few more to bring this up to date but I am at the post limit for pictures in one go.

I knew the stbd chine scarf was a big problem... so after stripping the interior I started there. In retrospect, if I had started at the stern I probably would have decided for the full monty before I wasted so much time doing things piecemeal.
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Re: Honey, have you finished fixing Elude yet? 1937 35' Crui

Postby robertpaul » Tue Feb 09, 2016 12:43 pm

Here are the last few pictures that bring us up to date. When the weather warms up in March I will redo the forward frames first thing. I also have to fix the bottom of the skeg from the bow back about five feet where she was rudely grounded in the ancient past.... not by me!

Rob
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Re: Honey, have you finished fixing Elude yet? 1937 35' Crui

Postby robertpaul » Tue Feb 09, 2016 1:05 pm

Forgot this one.
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Re: Honey, have you finished fixing Elude yet? 1937 35' Crui

Postby jfrprops » Tue Feb 09, 2016 6:26 pm

There is a special place for you in Heaven my friends....because you have done your time in purgatory! What a daunting task....unbelievable.....

John in Va.
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Re: Honey, have you finished fixing Elude yet? 1937 35' Crui

Postby joanroy » Wed Feb 10, 2016 6:11 am

Rob, having the best time viewing the photos of your fine work. Great wintertime entertainment! Documenting the process is very helpful to present and future restorers, including myself. There's always more than one way to go at it and ultimately the important thing is that another Great and Rare Woody is saved. Thanks for sharing your adventure and keep your eye on the prize. Have Fun!

Looking forward to a lively debate on cruiser bottom planking replacement when you get to that point.
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Re: Honey, have you finished fixing Elude yet? 1937 35' Crui

Postby robertpaul » Fri Mar 04, 2016 10:01 am

We are in the last throes of winter here in Toronto and I have been thinking (worrying is more accurate) about the bow knee that you see in one of the pics I have already posted. I have some fiddling to do to get a nice flush fit with the keel and the stem, but I am not concerned about that at all. I would like to hear opinions on how, or whether, I should use adhesives in the final assembly. I will treat the pieces appropriately beforehand. CC assembled the structure exclusively with bolts, but had the advantage of much more precise interfacing between the parts than I am capable of achieving. My choices seem to be to assemble dry (as original), use an adhesive sealant such as 5200, or epoxy glue thickened with filler. I am very pleased with how well the new knee fits and there are only minor gaps to fill, but to reiterate, I would really appreciate any advice. I should add that the assembly will be through bolted as well regardless of the final approach per the original design.
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Re: Honey, have you finished fixing Elude yet? 1937 35' Crui

Postby dag55 » Fri Mar 04, 2016 12:32 pm

If you are giong to glue and there is gaps, go epoxy. Then you have full strenght in the bond and do not have to worry about adeshive aging, wich indeed is a problem with polyurethan products like 5200.
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Re: Honey, have you finished fixing Elude yet? 1937 35' Crui

Postby robertpaul » Tue Mar 15, 2016 10:59 pm

The weather has been quite pleasant here in Toronto, which has enabled me to get cracking on the bow framing. I had done some work on this before but I am going to work back frame by frame, starting at the stem and bow knee. At this time I thought some might find it interesting to see what I uncovered a few years ago, and what I found just this week. I have pretty much addressed these 'issues', but the following pictures show that what looks like a solid piece of wood may be hiding something nasty. Removing the entire bottom was the hardest, but soundest decision I think that I have made on this project. Not only does it expose everything, it makes things much easier to repair and to do a good job (as best as I can do anyway). The following pics show the bow knee from different angles after removal. In a previous post there is a picture of the area with the old knee in place and the new knee. I have that fitting nicely now, but I had to trim about 8 inches off the end of the stem as it was punky from being in contact with the knee. Fortunately the the oak stem above the at the cut is in fabulous condition and the repair will be straightforward.

Please start with the bottom picture and work your way up. Next time I will remember to reverse the order myself.

Rob
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