Yesterday in Part I of the Sleepy Scott story, Canadian contributor Cobourg Kid describes the “barn find” discovery and remarkable history of a rare wooden Scott Triple Cockpit Runabout from the 1930’s. Today in Part II of the story, we learn of the impressive restoration by her new owner Doug Potts, as well as some unique manufacturing methods developed by the J.C. Scott Company of Toronto, Canada back in the day.
In case you missed it, here is a link to Part I of the Sleepy Scott story on Woody Boater. – Texx
The Saga of the Sleepy Scott – Part II
by Cobourg Kid
In yesterday’s column we brought you up to speed on a spring 2010 barn find and took you along on the subsequent recovery of a rare 1930s Scott Boats triple cockpit Ranger runabout. We also provided detailed information about the obscure Toronto manufacturer that built the boat as well as its chief designer and employees, many of which had close connections to the legendary Ditchburn Boat Company of Gravenhurst, Ontario.
In today’s installment we will outline Doug Pott’s painstaking three year effort to resurrect what is quite possibly the only remaining documented example of a Scott Boat.
Doug’s general philosophy when restoring boats seems to be “do it yourself, if you can do it well”. As a skilled woodworker and mechanic it’s not surprising then, that the majority of the thousands of hours of work spent on the Ranger thus far was accomplished by Doug himself; either beavering away in his small shop alone, or with occasional assistance from his son Rick and a few friends.
At the outset of this massive project, one of the things Doug did was to strip the hardware off the boat – bag it, label it and send it out for re-chroming. The steering wheel, which Doug believes to be a Dodge product, was also forwarded to a specialist in Orillia, Ontario for refinishing while the instrument panel was dispatched to our old friend Dale Kocian of De Pere Wisconsin for repair and restoration.
The next job was accomplished by Doug’s son Rick, who is a gifted draftsperson. First Rick pulled all of the lines off the Boat and used a CAD (Computer Aided Design) program to re-create plans for the Ranger. He then embarked on his own challenging project, building a highly detailed 1/6th scale remote control model of the original using re-sawn 1930s mahogany salvaged from the Ranger’s restoration.
Next the boat was stripped of finishes and interior components and flipped (a job that required chain falls and a Rube Goldberg device). Doug then proceeded to peel the bottom off. As reported yesterday, it was remarkably composed of two seamless (no butt or scarf joints) 20 foot sheets of plywood on each side of the hull, a length that even today is difficult to procure. Doug is adamant that during the removal of the bottom he could find no evidence that the boat had ever had a single or double plank traditional bottom. Accordingly it appears that Scott was definitely experimenting with new and untried technology, possibly before any of its rivals.
Once the boat had been flipped, Doug got busy inspecting and replacing deteriorated frames with select white oak using the originals for patterns. Similarly deteriorated stringers were removed and replaced and the transom framing and covering boards, all of which were badly deteriorated, (possibly due to rainwater ponding during storage) was completely reframed and re-skinned using two wide mahogany planks rather than the original three. As part of this work, all of the original fasteners in the framework were removed (surprisingly they were all steel instead of brass), and all existing screw holes were bunged with dowel and epoxy. All original wood components that were in decent shape were inspected, cleaned up, treated and retained.
Once the frames, stringers and other bottom components were installed Doug rigged up another Rube Goldberg device designed to jack down the new half inch marine plywood bottom until it conformed to the frames. One might call the procedure extreme cold molding!
Once the bottom was screwed in place, bunged and sanded, work began on the planks which had been removed entirely and inspected. Doug found that most were in very good condition, a testament to the quality of mahogany that was originally selected by Scott. The chine planks had, however, unfortunately suffered some damage on the bottom edges due to mishandling over the years.
Always the innovator, Doug resolved the problem by sawing a quarter inch strip off the chine plank bottoms. Once all of the boards had been cleaned up, sealed and original screw holes in the framework bunged, Doug reinstalled all of the old planks 1/4 inch lower than there original placement using a quarter inch filet strip below the covering board to make up for the chine plank reduction. This filet would ultimately be hidden by the original deck banding.
It should be noted that one of the more uncommon features of the Ranger is the manner in which Scott fastened its planks. On the outside, screws were driven into all the frames and the holes bunged in the traditional manner. Conversely, on the inside of the hull, additional screws were inserted at regular intervals through all of the outside stringers and into the back side of the planks creating a strong rigid hull. In his work Doug was careful to replicate this technique.
While all of this was going on, Doug was also thinking about what motive power should be installed in the Ranger. At the same time realized that he would need a trailer. Always practical, he solved the problem in a round-about manner. First he acquired a beat up 1967 Gravette lapstreak inboard/outboard (which came with a trailer) at a good price. He then traded the Greavette (keeping the trailer) for a 1970s 327 Buchanan Marine engine.
Subsequently he began having misgivings about the appropriateness of putting a relatively modern Buchanan 327 engine in the Ranger. After discussing this with friends and family, he decided to start looking for an older Grey Marine engine primarily because such an engine would have been a logical replacement for an aging 1930s motor. Soon after that decision he just happened to run into a vendor at a flea market near Barrie, Ontario who just happened to have a 100 HP Grey Marine engine from the late 1940s that he wanted to sell. A deal was consummated and the Grey Marine soon found itself being restored in the other half of Doug’s shop.
Alas the 100 HP Grey Marine engine had come with a reduction drive system which was not suitable for the Scott, however, once again serendipity eventually stepped in. During the Spring Toronto ACBS tour Doug visited Matt Fairbrass’ shop near Port Carling, Ontario and discovered a busted 100 HP Gray Marine engine lying in the scrap pile. Turned out it had a cracked block, but it wasn’t the engine that Doug was interested in – it was the direct drive transmission attached to it. In true Doug fashion, a deal was quickly negotiated that involved him swapping an old Chrysler Ace engine for the Grey Marine Transmission and some parts off the block.
Parallel to all of this activity, Doug continued his work on the rare Scott hull.
After completing the bottom and plank work, painting the bottom and applying multiple coats of varnish, Doug flipped the hull right side up and began working on the decks, which were in remarkably good condition, with the exception of the stern king plank which had to be replaced.
As part of this phase of reconstruction the individual deck planks and covering boards were carefully removed, cleaned-up, sealed and reinstalled using toed nails which was the same way as the originals had been installed. Similar methodology was used to restore and reinstall the deck hatches, the ceiling boards on the inside of the hull, the three seat frames, the dash, footboard and the firewalls.
After repairing and refinishing the Ranger’s three seat frames they were sent to Linda Hughes of Linrich Upholstery and Marine in Hampton, Ontario. Linda fabricated new padding and installed high quality hunter green leather with a pleated design. The results are spectacular.
While throughout his restoration, Doug has attempted to retain as much of the original design and components as possible. The floors were a different matter. They had originally been planks. In this instance Doug opted to upgrade the original components by fabricating and installing an intricate grated wooden floor to mimic that found in Ditchburn boats.
Doug is rightly proud of the fact that with the exception of the oak frames, the Ranger retains all of its original planking and decking with the exception of the transom planks, the rear deck king plank, floor planks and two seat backs. In fact he estimates that about 90% of the original mahogany remains in service, a testament to the high standard J.C. Scott Co. applied when it picked material for its production line.
As mentioned in Part I – the Ranger’s original windshield was long gone even when it was in service on Lake Joseph. Available photos of the Ranger in contemporary magazines, such as Power Boating, do not clearly show the original design. To solve the problem Rick Potts stepped in and drafted digital plans for a frame that generally followed the contours that were visible in the Scott ads. Once complete a custom frame was fabricated out of mahogany using a CNC machining service.
So what’s left? As you can see from the photographs the Scott Ranger’s hull is almost ready to splash. With eight coats of varnish already on and only four left to go the finish line is nearing. Recent installation of a new aluminum gas tank herald’s the start of systems and hardware installation.
In the coming weeks the electrical harness will be fitted (probably using reproduction 1930s wire), deck and mechanical hardware, instrument panel, steering and control systems and windshield glass will be mounted and ultimately the mid-century Gray Marine engine and drive train components will find a new home in the Ranger’s belly. Once that’s all done, there remains the question of name. I asked Doug about that but he has not decided yet, however, “Scottie” (a fitting name) is apparently on the list.
Doug had originally hoped to be complete by mid-summer 2013, however he admits in might be longer, “I guess it will take as long as it takes to do it right” he says.
Personally I am looking forward to launch day. As Scott Boats proclaimed in 1932 “What a boat to drive over the sparkling waves!”
Many thanks to Cobourg Kid and Doug Potts for sharing this great story with us. Proof once again that there are still a few old wooden boats tucked away in barns and boat houses around the country, sleeping under tarps just waiting to be brought back to life.
Keep that in mind during your next summer road trip through the countryside, and before you knock on the guys door, make sure his dog is tied up.