After a long and brutal winter in Ontario, Canada – today we are pleased to welcome back contributor Cobourg Kid with an informative two-part report from the recent Trent Severn Spring Workshop, fresh from the shores of Lake Scugog. (and no, that’s not a typo) – Texx
Small But Mighty – 2014 Trent Severn Spring Workshop (Part 1)
Story & Photos by Cobourg Kid
Like most of our viewers who live in the northeast quadrant of North America, the first three months of 2014 found us engaged in daily battle with an unusually nasty winter.
While thinning snow, banks, mild temperatures, showers and mud eventually heralded winter’s capitulation and the leisurely arrival of spring, in my book the most important indicator that the seasons had actually changed came in the form of news from the Trent Severn Antique & Classic Boat Association (TSACBA) proclaiming that its annual Spring Workshop would be held on Saturday April 12.
Those viewers who have followed Woody Boater for a few years will recall that this sixth annual workshop has become a bit of a spring ritual for the 150 enthusiasts that comprise TSACBA. It’s also worth mentioning that this year will mark its 30th anniversary, having started way back in 1984, when Parks Canada encouraged local owners of heritage watercraft to organize impromptu boat shows in the downstream reach of the historic Peterborough Lift Lock. It’s also remarkable that the association has managed to survive, in fact thrive, without an affiliation with the Antique and Classic Boat Society.
That’s not to say that members of the TSACBA have an issue with the ACBS; fact is quite a few of the Trent-Severn folks also belong to the ACBS Toronto Chapter. There are, however, some differences between the two organizations. In my opinion the members of the Trent Severn fraternity tend to be a lot like the Dispro Owners Association.
In other words, they share a passion for small wooden boats, adore cedar strips and cypress planks, love fooling around with cranky inboards and ancient outboards, know how to use a paddle, are always happy to share their knowledge, like to re-engineer complicated mechanisms, don’t get overly excited by awards, and almost always have one or more “projects” that they are “messing around with” either in their basement, garage, shop or barn. In other words, although their boats (and budgets) may be small their enthusiasm, dedication and sweat equity is mighty impressive.
Wonderfully, unlike the soggy and cold conditions that greeted us at last year’s workshop, balmy temperatures and bright sunshine prevailed on our voyage to Wayne Robinson’s workshop which is snugly nestled overlooking the placid (but still frozen) shores of Lake Scugog (between the towns of Port Perry & Lindsay, Ontario).
While this is the fourth consecutive year that Wayne has generously offered to host the association’s spring event, a trip to his workshop is always an adventure on its own. An inveterate collector of all things nautical Wayne has transformed what on the outside appears to be a marine restoration, repair and storage facility into some kind of quasi Disneyesque museum featuring a second floor full of Interesting and unusual boats, (or should I say collections of boats) marine advertising and boat plans and whimsical displays that lurk everywhere, in the rafters, lofts and even in hidden recesses of the building.
A large portion of the rear area of Wayne’s building has been put to good use by nearby Woodwind Yacht Company to house part of its overflow of newly restored and consigned boats. Here’s is a very small sample of the treasures we discovered in the woodwind warehouse.
This year, many of the members of the Maple Leaf Chapter of the Antique Outboard Association were also in attendance at the workshop and not surprisingly, the parking lot was replete with a plethora of antique outboards and assorted parts as well as a few interesting craft that members of both organizations were willing to let go of.
After rummaging through the displays we snagged some coffee and muffins and then set off to browse the flea market.
At 10:15 AM all wandering boaters were summoned from the yard to the garage and the first of the three scheduled workshops got underway. First up, Rich Hughes of Hampton based Linrich Upholstery and Marine Supplies.
Those that know Rich also know he that he is an extremely thorough kind of guy, and as usual he did not disappoint. Rich’s chosen topic? “Marine Wiring”… a system that he pointed out is much like a sewer or water system in a city. It’s buried from view so you assume that it’s reliable until it overloads, at which point bad things happen.
According to Rich, the hidden areas of many older boats often conceal under gauged, cloth covered, chafed or non-corrosion resistant wiring, rather than approved (tinned) marine wire. Other commonplace finds include use of non-corrosion resistant terminals, over fusing or no fusing whatsoever, all of which can lead to complete failure of engines or safety systems when they are most needed, not to mention the ever present danger of an electrical fire.
To avoid possible injury to yourself, your passengers or your prized possession, Rich recommends that a complete inspection of the electrical system be part of, not only your buying decision, but your on-going maintenance plan. Upgrading your wiring is a priority second only to refurbishing a faulty fuel system.
Having taught us what to look for, Rich continued on to explain the “how to” of properly wiring your boat. Above and beyond stressing the need to use only top grade approved marine wire and terminals, Rich coached participants in the finer points of wire and gauge selection, use of standardized marine colour coding, the proper method of crimping terminals, selection and sizing of a fuse panel or breaker panel, the art of harness design and layout, and the proper method of using terminal blocks to speed installation.
Rich’s final tips
• When mapping out your new electrical harness, break up the boat’s electrical system into four areas consisting of 1) the engine, 2) accessories, 3) the fuse panel, and 4) the dashboard.
• Building this system will require assembly of three individual harnesses that will be joined via integrated terminal blocks to connect the four electrical zones of the boat.
• The integrated terminal block system allows for all three harnesses to be built individually on a bench (rather than fabricated in the dim, cramped and confined recesses of your boat) thus improving comfort, quality, and ease of construction and ultimately allowing simplified testing, and component replacement.
• For safety and security considerer installing a battery cut-off switch to enable rapid disconnection.
• If parts are available (and you are not a purist) take the opportunity to upgrade older point’s style ignition mechanisms with newer electronic ignition components to ensure reliability.
• As part of your renovation, consider converting traditional incandescent lighting to LED lights to reduce the drain on your vessel’s battery and charging system components.
• Consider the advantages of installing a marine DC breaker panel. Although a modern fused system is usually the better choice for circuit protection, breaker panels do offer convenience if a trip happens while underway.
• Finally, keeping all wiring neat, clean and labeled will make a relatively complex job go faster.
After a brief question and answer session, Rich relinquished the podium (or should I say trailer) to Ron Stevenson, president of the Maple Leaf Chapter of The Antique Outboard Motor Club. Ron is an automotive engineer and inveterate collector and restorer of outboard engines. His business, Mr. Motor Classic Outboards, offers parts and restoration services for old outboards.
Ron began his presentation with a caution about regular grade (87 octane) fuel in outboards. According to Ron, all automotive grade gasoline contains impurities but the major cause of trouble for marine engines, particularly outboards, is ethanol.
My own research subsequently revealed that Canada’s federal government mandates that refineries must add, on average, at least five per cent ethanol to their total automobile gasoline production. In application, this means that different grades have differing amounts of ethanol in them. Low octane fuel in Canada usually has the most ranging anywhere from 7 to 10 percent ethanol content.
So what’s the problem? Well ethanol is hygroscopic, which means it absorbs water more easily than gasoline. That leads to a process, called “phase separation” where moisture inside the tank bonds with the ethanol and sinks to the bottom of the fuel tank where ultimately the mix is sucked into the outboard’s fuel system clogging fuel filters and carburetor jets, corroding engine parts and damaging older rubber seals and hoses.
Once phase separation has occurred it can’t be reversed, so any bad fuel should be disposed of and the gas tank flushed out. According to Ron the best way to combat phase separation and protect your outboard is to ensure that your gas tank fittings and seals are tight and that you treat all of the fuel that you buy with a name brand stabilizer, such as STA-BIL® or Briggs and Stratton Fuel Treatment & Stabilizer.
For those who would rather avoid ethanol gas altogether Pure-Gas.org has a list of gas stations in Canada and the USA that sell ethanol free fuel.
Ron does quite a bit of restoration of older outboards and auxiliary tanks and has, as a result, learned the hard way how to paint aluminum. In general he recommends that before painting an old outboard its exterior surface must be absolutely free of grease grime and particulates; a process that is best done by taking the motor to pieces and stripping it down. Once done the pieces need to be washed down with acetone to eliminate all surface contamination then spayed with self-etching primer. His favorite is made by Dominion Sure Seal Ltd.
Once the parts are prepped and primed, Ron applies the base colour using Limco Supreme Plus Alkyd Enamel which is available pre-mixed in many original outboard colours from North York Marine .
For those who are restoring one of the more obscure outboard manufacturer’s products, BASF does have an archive in Pittsburgh which contains most of the paint formulas used on older power equipment and vehicles.
Ron concluded his presentation by teaching us how to properly mask the base colour and apply factory accent tones with crisp lines (a process that is not at all as straightforward as you might think), ultimately demonstrating the correct way to apply the finishing touches, reproduction decals and trim.
In the wake of a short-lived question period, we took a quick refreshment break then streamed outside into the welcome sunshine, only to find a crowd already gathered around a rare 15 foot Rice Lake Boat Co. cedar strip runabout.
Tune in to Woody Boater tomorrow for Part 2 of the 2014 Trent Severn Spring Workshop when Ken Lavalette (owner of Woodwind Yachts of Nestleton, Ontario) begins his presentation with this imaginary scenario…
You discover and follow up on an ad for a 15 foot cedar strip boat in the local paper which reads – “Rice Lake Cedar Strip runabout, in good shape on trailer, ready to go in the water just needs new varnish, motor not included $1000 takes her…”