This summer while visiting my friend and fellow Woody Boater Dane Anderson in Minnesota, one day we decided to take Dane’s 1959 Supreme Spitfire for a leisurely day cruise on the Whitefish Chain of Lakes north of Brainerd. After a wonderful (and adventurous) day of classic boating, we loaded up the mighty 14′ Spitfire and began to make our way back to Dane’s cabin on Bay Lake.
En route to the cabin we noticed an old wooden boat parked on a trailer adjacent to the highway with the typical hardware store “For Sale” sign attached, and we simply couldn’t pass by without further investigation. Armed with nothing more than my iPhone, what we discovered was very interesting (although my craigslist quality photos are borderline at best).
We quickly determined (and later confirmed) that this was a 1930/31 Chris-Craft 20′ Runabout – commonly known as a Model 100 in 1930 and Model 200 in 1931, one of only 291 built by Chris-Craft in those model years.
Although some of the wood looked a little rough, for an 80 year-old boat it appeared to have all it’s original hardware and running gear, except for the windshield frame and one gauge from the original instrument panel. Dane opened one of the engine hatches to confirm that it did have an engine, although we didn’t take the time to confirm if it was period correct. There was even some blue colored upholstery under the weathered seat covers (according to Jerry Conrad’s book, these boats were originally shipped with blue upholstery).
I often get confused about the meaning of the word “preserved” as it relates to the classic boating hobby. Over the last few years, the subject of “preserved” vs “restored” wooden boats has become a hot topic throughout the antique & classic boat hobby, because of the words definition and acceptance in the hobby. To me, the word “preservation” has taken on a wider definition than in other classic transportation hobbies.
However, I respectfully appreciate that organizations such as the ACBS put a great deal of emphasis on “preservation” – and features “preserved” boats as the pinnacle of the hobby each year at the annual ACBS International show. As we all know, it’s extremely important to preserve the history and fabric of the hobby for future generations, and thankfully that’s what the ACBS stands for. The annual ACBS International show in Skaneateles, NY is just a few weeks away and the preserved class boats will take center stage.
But is the word (or term) “preserved” becoming misused or misunderstood in the classic boating hobby? – I’m not sure, that’s why I am throwing this out for discussion today, so please don’t kill the messenger here. There are many other people within the hobby (and new to the hobby) that are asking the same questions, asking for clarification between “preserved” and “restored” and frankly, I don’t know how to answer that question properly.
For example, if what started out as an original wooden boat gets:
– A new 5200 bottom (and wood to the waterline);
– Some new hull side and deck planks where required;
– Some new frames or structural replacement / repairs;
– A completely rebuilt (period correct) engine, transmission and drive line;
– All the original hardware re-plated or replaced with period correct hardware;
– New upholstery and interior;
– New wiring and electrical;
– New fuel tank / lines;
– Rebuilt gauges and / or instrument panel;
– 20 coats of polished varnish, etc;
Does it just come down to how much original wood (or a pre-calculated percentage of wood) is still remaining on the boat to determine if it qualifies as a “preserved” or “restored” boat?
Is there a premium on “preserved” boats vs “restored” boats in terms of value, show presentation or marketability when it comes time to either show the boat at a premier competitive event or sell it to the next owner?
Are some boat owners intentionally directing their restorers to re-use aged, original wood that could be potentially unsafe and / or well beyond it’s intended service life simply to keep the boat as a “preserved” antique or classic boat? (Master boat restorer Don Danenberg did an extensive study / report on the estimated lifespan and reuse of aged wood related to classic wooden boats which was published in Classic Boating magazine a few years ago)
Or does this only make up a very small percentage of the hobby and the rest of the hobby really doesn’t care one way or the other?
Is The Word “Preserved” Used In The Vintage Aircraft Hobby?
This years Oshkosh event saw attendance exceed 500,000 people for the 7 day show, approximately 5% to 6% higher than last year.
– Total aircraft: More than 10,000 aircraft arriving at Wittman Regional Airport in Oshkosh and other airports in east-central Wisconsin.
– Total showplanes: 2,649 (308 more than in 2013) – including close to 1,000 homebuilts, 1,050 vintage airplanes, 303 warbirds, 122 ultralights and light-sport aircraft, 91 seaplanes, 40 rotorcraft, 38 aerobatic aircraft, and eight hot-air balloons.
Although I was a newcomer to the Oshkosh event, I did have the opportunity to see and talk to a lot of small, private aircraft owners, and learn about their particular restorations – it was amazing. But usually (at least what I experienced) they referred to their vintage planes as being “restored” or “original” and the term “preserved” was not commonly used in reference to their planes.
The term “preserved” is not that common in the vintage car hobby, and when it is used to describe a vintage collector car, it’s usually refers more to a car that is extremely original, and unchanged from the factory. But it’s also fair to say that cars are usually not made from wood and don’t rot like vintage boats subjected to water and the elements, cars just rust.
Another term that is starting to be used more in the antique & classic boat hobby to describe “preservation” or “restoration” projects these days is “as delivered from the factory” – that one needs some clarification too…
Let us know what you think on the subject of “preserved” vs “restored” – your opinion counts.
Tuesday, September 2/14.
For purposes of clarification, here is an excerpt from (courtesy of) the ACBS website. I probably should have posted this in the original story, as it offers some additional information on the subject of “preservation” vs “restoration” – at least from an ACBS perspective. – Texx
The basic standard of the ACBS judging System is to judge a boat in its present condition against what it was like when it was originally delivered by the manufacturer or builder (except Contemporary boats). Properly preserved and maintained originality is encouraged and will be rewarded. Points will not be deducted for high quality repairs to original wood. Restorations requiring major wood replacement are encouraged only when the original material is beyond repair.
Evaluated by this standard, three factors may be considered:
1. Authenticity: Components which came on the original craft as well as exact reproduction hardware and engine parts along with well maintained original wood is the highest standard.
2. Workmanship: A quality level that is equal to original.
3. Maintenance: A completely original vessel may score100% for authenticity and workmanship; however, there will be points deducted for poor maintenance as described in the judging sheets.
B. Preserved and Restored Boats
ACBS defines preserved boats as those containing at least 60% of their original deck and topsides material and are constructed using the same methods and materials as the original. Bottom replacement is expected in order for the boat to be serviceable but the method of replacement must duplicate the original. The use of plywood as the inner bottom when not used by the original builder will cause the boat to be classified as restored.
The choice of bedding compound or sealant between the plies of the bottom is immaterial; any suitable material is acceptable in preserved and restored boats—bedding compound and canvas, “5200”, epoxy or anything the restorer and owner select. Similarly, the use of plywood underlayment in decks or topsides will also result in the classification of the boat as restored. Boats with less than 60% of their original deck and topsides material or restored using non-traditional methods or materials are defined as restored. It is strongly recommended that there be a Best of Show award for both the best of the preserved and restored boats. It is further recommended that awards for the best of the preserved and restored boats be given in as many categories as practical.
For a boat to be considered restored, its owner must, at the request of the judges, provide photographic evidence of the existence of the original identifiable boat and of the various stages of the restoration demonstrating that the original boat was always together as a single entity, sufficiently to be clearly recognizable. At no point should two boats exist – i.e. a pattern boat and the new boat even if the pattern boat is subsequently destroyed. Building a new boat using some wood from an old one will not qualify as a restoration. Such a boat will be classified as a contemporary. The amount of original wood in a restored boat is not determinative. For example, the USS Constitution has essentially none of its original wood but we believe no one would consider it a replica. It is Old Ironsides.
Courtesy Antique & Classic Boat Society Website