Thanks to fellow Woody Boater Eric Zelman for reporting in from Smith Mountain Lake – Take it away Eric.
The Smith Mountain Lake gang put together another great workshop Saturday morning. Hosted this time by George Blosser at his beautiful lakefront home in Moneta, VA, folks started to arrive around 8:30 AM for coffee and homemade muffins.
George has a great collection of projects in his basement / garage workshop. A Chris Craft barrel back, a vintage Oldsmobile and a tractor.
The first presenter was Alan Frederick. He reviewed the tools of the trade for varnishing with emphasis on the proverbial “final coat”. We know there is no such thing but how do we get to the point of hanging up the brush and enjoying the boat. Alan explained the differences in tapes, types of sandpaper, brushes; foam vs. badger hair, and various types of rollers among other components needed for a great finish. One little tool of interest was the “Run Razor”. This little gem could save a correction coat and lots of aggravation. Simple in design, it gently shaves off a varnish or paint run once dry instead of having to sand it and the surrounding area.
A quick finish sand or scuff and you’re ready for the next coat. Another little trick that Alan shared was how to make a homemade grounding wire for use when varnishing to discharge static charge.
Using a length of wire, one end gets attached to a washer that is in turn connected to the strut, and the other end is connected to a plug end from the hardware store to ONLY the ground. Plug it in and the boat is now grounded. And yes the various brands of varnish were discussed. The consensus on brush type and varnish…..once again…..use the products that you are comfortable with and yield the desired results. It’s always a good day when you get a little whiff of varnish!
Next up was George Blosser. George continued with the varnish subject touching on wood repair and buffing out the dust monsters. Regarding the wood prep, he reviewed a piece of mahogany that had several cracks. George used this to demonstrate the use of Smith’s Fill It, 2 part filler. The product is mixed 50/50, can be tinted, sands well and takes stain. Key point when using Fill It for a small crack or area is to use some low tack painters tape immediately around the edge of the repair area. This will keep the Fill It from getting into the grain of the surrounding wood and once cured your sanding, prep and stain will not affect the surrounding area. George had an engine cover on hand that once had a crack down the center of top. Using the Fill It, stain and varnish it virtually disappeared. This was in part due to the next topic George touched on, polishing. Using the typical progression of wet sanding he got to the buffer. The noticeable difference to me here was that George prefers a wool pad on the buffer instead of foam for the cream like cutting compounds. I have seen the process done with two densities of foam pad and was warned to stay away from radius edges and getting too close to vertical boards where they meet horizontal surfaces so as not to “burn through” or “cut into” the verticals with the foam. Watching George work with the wool pad he was able to flow the buffer right over and around the corners. The wool pad seems more forgiving and produced that “piano like” deep clarity and gloss finish.
Roger Smith was up and he discussed the engineering techniques and hobby of “Half-Hull Modeling”. Roger loved the vintage schooner yacht Atlantic. The Atlantic was built in 1903 by Townsend and Downey shipyard, and designed by William Gardner, for Wilson Marshall. At a length of 228’ how could Roger enjoy the yacht in his home? Once available as a model the kit was no longer available but the company was willing to sell the enthusiast a set of plans. He made copies of the plans, cut out critical frame sections and used them as templates to cut his wood. A rough cut stack of these critical sections could then be carved to a smooth hull using the reverse cut of the templates as depth gauges as the hull is shaped. The discussion continued to how these models and sections of them can be used to calculate waterlines and other critical aspects of the boat. Roger did a great job on the Atlantic and finished it by making a nice mahogany display board with engraved plate.
Alan returned to discuss the trials and tribulations that some might encounter driving an in board. He reviewed the tendencies of the typical clockwise rotating prop when in reverse, the boat pulling to port, and how to make corrections. The model boat and chalkboard were a great way to demonstrate the maneuvering of the boat to a novice like me. It was also interesting to hear how the various classic boats will react based on the hull shape, rudder length, size and limit of rotation. I was happy to hear that my U22 will offer greater rotation and maneuverability!
The workshop ended with a nice lunch and some social time on the deck overlooking the lake. The next full workshop will be in Sat., Oct. 8th, and Steve Filarsky (GoldLeafMan) will be one of the presenters at Bill Garrecht’s shop.
You can visit the Smith Mountain Lake gang HERE. or in person if you want to visit the beauty of Virginia.