An intervention is necessary when the afflicted individual is past the point of being able to help himself.
There are a few needs for interventions in the classic boat community:
1.Your friend can’t stop buying more boats. Intervention
2.Your friend sidles up a bit too close to a basket case large cruiser. Intervention
3.Your friend thinks he knows how to make money in classic boats. Intervention
What prompted our intervention was less common. A friend with some back issues (Mike “No Relation” Watson) was facing some pretty heavy lifting (figuratively and literally) installing his engine and drive shaft in his mostly-restored 19’ Commander Super Sport, “Blue.”
OK, maybe intervention is not the right name for this case. How about “MikeAid?” Or “Compassion for Commander?”
To some degree, what we did is a bit like a barn raising. In a barn raising, members of a community gather to build a barn for another community member, unpaid.
Over time, the favor is eventually returned to each of the people who participate. There’s hard work, but there’s also great food and camaraderie. As a result, everyone benefits. In Mike’s case, there’s no need for, or expectation of, reciprocation. It just felt good to help a buddy.
Although, come to think of it, he does own a 1969 35’ Commander Sports Cruiser called “Original Six”…
Three of the four of us (including Mike) own 19’ Commander Super Sport V-Drives. Our love of this particular model played some small part in motivating us to do this.
Produced in 1969 only, the 19’ Commander SS is a striking boat — the marriage of Jim Wynne’s brilliant hull design, and Dick Avery’s topside artistry. Only Matt Byrne doesn’t own one (yet).
Mike bought his boat as a basket case. He is pretty meticulous in what he does, so has invested countless hours in his restoration. Like most of us, he’s not adding up the countless dollars he’s also invested. That’s all water out the wet exhaust anyway.
Though Mike owns two boats, engine trouble kept his 35’ Commander out of commission all last season. That meant he didn’t get out on the water at all. Life’s too short for another year like that, Mike. It’s also too short to deny a 19’ Commander its calling.
We gathered in Kalamazoo, MI, where Mike keeps his boat.
Work began Saturday morning. The biggest contributors were Matt and Chad who, having restored their own boats before, knew the steps to installing a motor and shaft. Beyond serving as the official WoodyBoater reporter and photographer, I was in charge of our music, and uncapping beer, though I loaned a hand when I could. (I’m one of those owners who writes checks for this sort of thing. I’d rather not write the checks. It’s just that ADDishness inhibits me from learning the trade and doing such painstaking work. Whereas these guys love it and are good at it.)
Watching Matt and Chad work on tasks that required a few thousands of an inch tolerance was pretty amazing. They were comfortable with all kinds of power tools and attachments. They were able to improvise solutions to problems which arose. And they were able to make do with what was available in the shop equipment- and materials-wise. I came to understand why their boats are award winners.
We stopped work late afternoon when we hit an obstacle. A flange which connected the shaft to the tranny was pretty badly scored and slightly bent, which could cause vibration and excess wear at speed.
So, we all drove to Chad’s cottage and scavenged the very part we needed off his own project 19’ Commander. How convenient was that. This gave us the opportunity to look at the condition of his boat and the pretty daunting scope of the work ahead.
Chad’s boat is every bit the project Mike’s was. But his excitement over it is very evident, especially as he had just picked up the boat’s freshly restored, original 327QA motor from Casey at CD’s Engine Service ( HYPERLINK “http://www.cdsengine.com” http://www.cdsengine.com) in Hudsonville, MI, one of Michigan’s best rebuilders.
Ok ok. That’s Chad’s venerable “B.” Just messin’ with ya. It’s for sale, btw.
Here’s Chad’s fresh QA.
Like Mike, Chad bought his boat for its great looks. Neither had ever ridden in one before. (Dang. I just realized neither had I. Now there is affirmation men are visual.)
That night, we were privileged to enjoy a home-cooked meal by Chad’s parents of baked white beans, cole slaw, and all-you-can-eat fresh lake perch and bluegill, which had been swimming that day in the lake his cottage overlooks.
We called it a night after looking at WoodyBoater, Bring a Trailer, and a slow mo video of Michelle Jenneke. And to think some women believe men have one thing on their minds. Sheesh. (There are three, actually.)
The next morning, we reconvened at Mike’s shop to complete the install. After some sanding and cleaning of minor corrosion, dirt, and grime, the part from Chad’s boat fit perfectly.
After that, the rest of the install went very smoothly. The motor was bolted in place, the shaft strut was epoxied and bolted too, and the rear lifting mechanism was assembled and positioned.
We wrapped up work mid-afternoon, each of us feeling pretty good. We’d helped a deserving friend and a deserving boat make a big leap forward. As Matt said, it now floats! It is now much more likely Mike’s boat will see completion this summer and he’ll get to enjoy the fruits of his labor (and wallet).
In parting company, we agreed to gather on the shore of Lake Michigan for Mike’s official launching, bringing our boats along to make the occasion even more fun.
I thought this was a story worth sharing with WoodyBoater readers for a few reasons. For starters, it’s cool to realize this friendship was born on the pages (pixels) of WoodyBoater. I also thought readers would find what we did heartwarming in the middle of a cold winter. I thought it might prompt some readers to stage similar interventions for their friends. I hoped it might prompt readers who self-restore to ask for a little more help when they face difficult tasks such as Mike’s. There’s no sense delaying a project because of a particularly difficult task, and there’s no shame in asking for help, even if your aim is to say you “did it yourself.” Lastly, I thought it might prompt WoodyBoater readers to share their own similar stories.
This is one of the best things about classic boating. People are always willing to lend a hand — even a big hand — to a fellow boater. This is a big part of what makes classic boating such a feel-good hobby.