There is a special place reserved in boatbuilder’s hell–I am quite certain of this– for people who glue their outer gunwales to the side of the boat. Yeah, yeah, I know it seems like a good idea at the time–makes ’em strong and clean and fair and fine. But for god’s sake, doesn’t anyone think the boat may someday need to be taken part to be worked on? And when you try to get the damned gunwales off, what fails? The side of the boat, that’s what. That poor, sad, tired 1/4″ plywood just wants to fly to bits.
Argghhh. So wherever you are, Keith Steele, I am sending you to detention for the day. Thank heaven the gunwales were a bit rotten or I’d still be down there cursing you.
Okay. Enough venting. I cut all the rot out of the gunwales today, scarfed back the clean ends, and cleaned up the tortured sides of the boat. Then I milled new gunwale parts out of delicious clear Port Orford cedar, making my boat smell like the other place–boatbuilder’s heaven.
I might have considered replacing the entire front ends of the gunwales, but the aforementioned boatbuilder not only glued the outer gunwales on, but screwed them from the inside out. Which is an interesting technique. Another oddity is that the bolts that hold the two gunwales together at the ribs are not the standard 1/4″ bolts, but eeeny teeeny 1/8 inch machine screws, which are now quite rusted and will be replaced with 1/4″ stainless steel. Maybe that’s how things worked in 1967.
Then I impregnated the tortured plywood walls with resin and filled in the divots, covered that with waxed paper (I don’t want to go to boatbuilder’s hell) and glued on the new outer gunwales. Mañana the inner gunwales.
Folks drop by to visit now and then and gawk at the rotted wreck of the Betty Boop, shaking their heads. “Hopeless” is the usual verdict. This makes me smile. Maybe it’s my eternal optimism, or maybe it’s just boneheadedness, but I really don’t think it’s that bad. But I may change my tune in a week or so…
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