Lil’ Toot – The Almost Lost Barn Find

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Love us a barnfind!

A huge thanks to Dennis Ryan from Motor Boat Garage for this fun teaser story to remind us that not all the boats coming to Port Huron are fancy pants show boats. mmmm too bad we didn’t think about bringing Stinky earlier and register her. Lil Toot and Stinky would have been fun Sisters! Take it away Dennis.

Barn finds are what we all live for

In August of 2014, I received a call that every obsessed wood boater hopes to get. It was a call from Mount Gilead, Ohio, from a woman who had a boat in a barn on a family farm where the land was being sold. She said the barn was collapsing, it had been her dad’s boat and it had not been out of the barn since 1961. All she knew was that it was a Canadian boat and it was part of her childhood on Lake Erie. Maybe it could be restored?

The re-birth

Love the deck and red details

Off I went to Mount Gilead to see this boat find. Well, it was in a collapsing barn…the kind you are not sure should be touched for fear of being buried with the boat and the many animal skeletons residing there. I had never seen a boat of this kind; the hull design was unique, 7/8ths mahogany, square nails, cotton caulking, steel fasteners, a wooden trailer dissolved in the mud, and thousand and thousands of walnuts. The bilge was filled with 53 years of walnuts! There was an ancient Chris Craft engine and Kermath gauges.



As it turns out, the Coast Guard title says it is an Undocumented Vessel; hand built at a factory or boundary water utility?
The boat was used on Lake Erie for fishing. The sisters had a photo of them in the boat in the 1950’s. The family came to realize that restoring this boat was going to be expensive and decided to sell it to me with the understanding that I would be a good steward of this vessel. Back I went to Mount Gilead. After many, many hours with an old high school buddy, John Love, we were able to finally extract the boat from the barn (after shoring up the barn with many supports).

I have replaced the engine, added a new fuel tank, and a good bit of caulking so that she is water worthy. She cleaned up respectably, although the walnut removal was a pretty amazing accomplishment. We named her Lil’ Toot because she looks so much like a cartoon instead of a boat. Now she is off to the “BOAT THE BLUE” ACBS International Boat Show in Port Huron, Michigan, to be shown as a true barn find.

Toot toot!

You can see more about Motor Boat Garage by clicking HERE.

13 replies
  1. Bilge Rat
    Bilge Rat says:

    Nice story. Proves that not all of the “old girls” have to be perfect and pretty to be appreciated.

    • m-fine
      m-fine says:

      I think it might have been a countdown until Matt’s next engine failure? Or maybe it was a countdown until the super secret boat show I have heard rumors about.

  2. floyd r turbo
    floyd r turbo says:

    That’s a pretty sturdy windshield bracket. It might make me a little claustrophobic though while under way. Save those walnuts, they’re omega 3 content is Keto diet approved, and might even double as flotation material.

  3. Duster
    Duster says:

    Love that humble little tub. Could have a lot of fun with a name for her. Nut Cracker. Walnut Wonder or just Walnut. Nice to see you still messing about with boats Dennis.

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