A huge thanks to Ryan Nagel for keeping the passion going, and sending us in a story about it. Better yet, it’s spelled right.. at least I think it is. I wouldn’t know. Love this passion! Take it away Ryan.
As Commodore of the Lyman Boat Owners Association I am always trying to find ways to engage with membership and fulfill our mission which is to promote, preserve and foster the common interest in Lyman boats and all types of classic watercraft. It can be difficult during the winter months since typically outside of the Cleveland Boat Show and our Annual Meeting & Party, we don’t have many winter events. For a few years now, Vice Commodore Tom Michaels and I had the idea of organizing a regular hands-on restoration class to help us fulfill our mission and give members something fun and educational to do in the off season.
We needed a few things to get these classes off the ground, a facility, a professional instructor and project boats to work on. Easy, right? We knew where the right place was – the Sandusky Maritime Museum, just down the street from the original Lyman factory. They have a wonderful workshop but had not utilized it for these kinds of classes since the early 2000’s when they had a local instructor teach a night class once a week for a 6-week period. Soon after we had the idea to start a fresh version of those classes, the Sandusky Maritime Museum hired a new Executive Director – John May. He is a Sandusky local, former US Marine and has a great energy and passion for Lyman boats. He loved the idea and his board agreed to allow us to use the facility.
The next step was to find an instructor, someone who’s not only an expert restorer but can teach a group with a variety of experience levels. There are several excellent Lyman restorers in northern Ohio but how many would want to let students (and potential customers) learn their tricks of the trade? If they were interested and we picked one restorer over the other would they feel offended? Ugh, boat politics! Jake Piechocki was selected as lead instructor, a local restorer who has worked for many of the best shops in town and worked for himself before embarking on a career in an unrelated field. Tom Michaels and I were in attendance to answer specific technical questions and Joel Gundlach has been added as assistant instructor – a Lyman enthusiast and 30-year Professor of Industrial Design at the Columbus College of Art and Design.
The LBOA was able to secure a donated boat in Syracuse, NY and Tom Michaels and I made a road trip to flat bed it back to Sandusky. It is a 1957 15’ runabout which was one of Lyman’s most popular boats and many people still own them. The boat was perfect for the class, in relatively decent shape but in need of all the typical things a 60-year-old original Lyman might require such as a new transom, some planks, ribs, rub rails, decking and finishes.
We decided to do structure the classes as biannual Saturday-Sunday sessions from 9AM-5PM each day. The class size is limited to +/- 15 participants to maximize the participatory experience. Breakfast, coffee, lunch and a grab bag with a class T-shirt is provided. We held the first weekend class late February 2019 and held a second weekend of classes in late November. A third class is scheduled for February 2020 and is sold out. We have found that over half of the participants for the classes so far are from out of state which is very exciting and confirms that the interest and desire to learn this dying art is alive and well nationwide.
Proceeds go toward materials, instructor fee and food with remaining profits being split between the LBOA and Sandusky Maritime Museum, both 501c3 non-profit organizations with complimentary missions.
In the first year of classes, participants have learned the basics of Lyman lapstrake clinker-built construction/restoration including the opportunity to get hands on experience making a transom, replacing planks, steam bending ribs, making rub rails and installing decks. Each day ended with a +/- 20 minute “shop talk” session to answer all questions and share sourcing information. The next class will cover some of the same material and include a day on finishes.
Once the donated boat is complete, the plan is to sell it and bring in a different model Lyman to start on, likely a small inboard. I want to thank Homestead Hardwoods for providing much of the wood materials and the Sandusky Paint Co. for providing paints and varnish along with the LBOA volunteers, instructors and Sandusky Maritime Museum for being a terrific host and supporter. If anyone is interested in attending future classes, please reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org or check out our website, HERE