Patiently awaiting restoration, this unrestored 19 foot boat was built by George & Bliss (Lake Placid, NY) in the late 1930s. Originally a utility she was later converted to a gentlemen’s racer. Wayne acquired the boat at an estate sale a couple years ago. Oddly the boat had been stashed in a barn for many years having been dropped on a highway.

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.


Photo © 2013 Dream Works Animation LLC.

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.

Image-2-Peterborough-85 - Copy

Restored cruisers and a pre-1910 motor launch mingle during the 1985 Peterborough Boat Show.

Old School Trent Severn

At the same time and place lovely old lapstrakes loll below the historic lift lock.

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.


Winter is vanquished, if only for a day.

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.


Just a small taste of Wayne’s nautical collection.

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.


“Wahweenga” is a very appealing 1946 – 22′ Richardson Sedan Cruiser. Built in Meaford, Ontario – she has spent all of her life in Georgian Bay waters. Completely restored and refinished by Woodwind Yachts in 2006 she is looking for a new owner to take her back home to the bay.


Fully restored last year, a 15′ 1959 Lakefield Chinook outboard runabout keeps an old Peterborough skiff company.


In business prior to 1910, the J. H Ross Motor Boat Company of Orillia, Ontario built a variety of inboard and outboard craft up to the 1960s. This lovely little 14 foot mahogany outboard runabout was crafted in 1956 and has been fully restored by Woodwind.

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.


A Boston Whaler shares space with assorted vintage outboards.


One of 226 Century Coronado’s manufactured in 1958 rests her chines on the side lines – but is she for sale?

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.


Rich Hughes answers a question during his wiring seminar.

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.


One of several mobile props put together by Rich illustrates the proper way to crimp connectors.

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.

Image-14-Wire Codec

Many of you know that there is an industry standard marine colour coding system for inboard wiring. For those that don’t this chart should make your life easier. – Courtesy West Marine.

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.

Image-15-Bad Wiring

Definitely not the way to wire a boat (or anything else for that matter).

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 Stevenson explains why outboards are particularly prone to ethanol /water phase separation in a marine environment and explains how to combat it.

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.


Phase separation is clearly evident in this fuel removed from an outboard fuel tank and water separator. – Photo courtesy Carolina Skiff

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 has a list of gas stations in Canada and the USA that sell ethanol free fuel.


Ron explains the proper painting procedures necessary to retrieve your outboard’s original factory appearance.

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.

Image-19- Masking

Painting outboards with multiple colour schemes requires excellent masking techniques and plenty of patience. – Photo courtesy Captain Jones Vintage Outboard Restoration.

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.


Since no one notices the contrast of white on white it would be relatively easy to find proper pre-mixed marine paint to restore this 1959 Royal Scott. It might, however, be difficult to find the other six oddball colours that Scott offered as factory options.

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.


To install vinyl self-stick decals test position them first then remove and mist the area with a mix of 75% distilled water, 25% alcohol and a drop of dish soap to enable repositioning. Remove the decal backing and carefully move it into position. Once it is in place cover the decal with its backing paper and squeegee the alcohol-water mix out from under it. – Photo courtesy Captain Jones Vintage Outboard Restoration.

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…”

Cobourg Kid

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16 Responses to “Small But Mighty – 2014 Trent Severn Spring Workshop (Part 1)”
  1. Dave Clyne

    Man ! Can this guy write ! Thank you, Cobourg Kid.
    Great details on Rich Hughes’ presentation. Once again proving Rich’s value to the hobby. BTW the Manotick club’s shop tour was a wonderful day too.

  2. Phillip Jones

    Small world! had a guy call me one tuesday last fall asking if I had a rare set of Canadian windshield brackets with the side light pockets, and the even more rare Curved glass windshield, and rare spot lights. He was having a 18′ Shepherd restored at Woodwind Yachts and had to have those parts. He showed at my door within 24 hours from Onterio to get them because he did not want to risk shipping the parts. See I meet people quite often as my wife states ” as crazy as you are” that’s ok I like my world.

  3. Jack Schneiberg

    That ethanol has forced me to take more darn boat rides I hadn’t planned just to burn up the gas in my Mark 55 tank. Can’t throw away gas – it’s too expensive and yet I’m concerned anytime it gets more than 2 weeks old. So….I just gotta take more boat rides and burn it up. Hmmmm! I think I smell a conspiracy here.

  4. Jack Schneiberg

    Great story by the way. Always enjoy the Coburn Kid.

  5. tuobanur

    Great story and good timing, will be wiring my boat soon and this will come in handy. 😀

  6. Gary

    The Kid really out did himself again!
    Of note though is the wiring/electrical: Lights are essentially fuses that feature about the same current to blow as fuses. But, protecting the wiring going to the light is an interesting thought and also the main power wire coming from the engine area to the dash distribution system. How should these be dealt with?

    • Cobourg Kid

      I will ask my electrical wizard and get an answer for you Gary. Stay tuned!

  7. Doug P

    Thanks Kid,
    brings back great memories as I was born and raised in the area. My Uncle worked for many years at Peterborough Canoe. And you identified my Dad’s first boat….by the way -on the Scugog River. That’s me in the back.

    Thanks again

  8. Ron Stevenson


    I did not know I lived back there! And my hair is more plentiful and darker!

    1953 35′ CC Commander


    • Doug P

      Ron. Didn’t see you back there…but maybe at the Roanoke on M.I.

  9. Juan J. Simon

    I am a amateur Wood boat restorer, actually I am restoring a 1956 cabin cruiser, unknown designer, home built with two Johnson RJE 18 35 hp Javelin outboards.

    Need parts for outboards, and also would like help to identify the designer of the boat.

  10. Texx

    Hi Juan – Thanks for chiming in. I will send you an e-mail with some information. – Texx