The Quarantine is almost Transom.

A huge thanks to fellow Woody Boater Mark Schallip for giving me….and you the day off from my word butchering, and tasteless humor. Take it away Mr Schallip. No really take it, you can have it. Dims and babes.. All of it.

Quarantine Transom

When I bought “Little One” in the spring of 2019, I knew the boat needed some repaired. But, it was springtime and it was time to use her not work on her. After using her throughout the summer of 2919, I listed some of the things I had noticed when I purchased her. The hull and canvas were in good shape. The inside was in good enough shape to be put on the back burner. The transom however, needed some attention.
When fall arrived, I had other projects that needed my attention more. As I completed these other projects I never lost sight of what needed done on “little One”. Then, Covid 19 struck. As we all know, it brought quarantine. More time at home, with no place to go. Now was my opportunity.
As in any boat repair/restoration. I assessed the situation, then started taking it apart carefully.
Taking it apart revealed what every wooden boat project shows. There was more damage than I anticipated. But, I had all the time in the world, and some oak that needed to be milled and shaped.

Pieces disassembled and laid out for reproduction

After I disassembled the parts, I realized the transom itself was in good shape. However, the top rail showed some rot. The top braces were completely gone. The engine plate also showed signs of both rot and wear.

New engine plate completed and ready to install

After the engine plate was completed, I was ready to start on the top rails. Using the old ones as patterns, I was able to get all of the shoulder cuts exact, and the mounting holes drilled and countersunk in their correct places. All the while my hair and beard were getting longer and shaggier. But quarantine is not about keeping good personal appearance.

Top rails completed, and clamped in place, waiting for screws and finish

After the top plate was installed, It was time to paint the transom. Kirby Paints, a company that I learned about here on Woody Boater, was able match the sample that I sent in perfectly. Their daughter who was going to school remotely and helping out at the business, really knew her paint. She was very helpful and courteous.

Perfectly matched Kirby Paint

After everything was varnished, painted and installed, the next step was steaming and bending the transom braces. By this time it was getting to be boating season. As we all know, there is no better way to social distance.
Unfortunately, when the fall 2020 came around, quarantine was still in effect. There was still no place to go. It was time to get back to work on “Little One”. My next and final part of the project was tackling the transom braces. I took some careful measurements from the ones on “Backseat Driver”, the other Penn Yan in our family. I cut them out, steamed them, and then using a form I had made, I bent them into shape.

Steaming the braces. Yes, that’s a BRAND NEW gas can. It has never had or never will have gas in it.


LUCY, we need some more splaining.. Really, you toss a Gas Can grenade into the story and expect us all to just move on????/  Good luck reading on.

Clamping the brace

After much work, braces are clamped and fit to the boat

After much sanding, shaping, and fitting, the braces were ready to be stained and attached. Special thanks to Gill Kramer from the Wooden Canoe shop, in Bryan, Ohio. Gill not only restores canoes, but Penn Yan and other small wooden boats as well. He advised me through the bending process. He also gave me all the Penn Yan mounting hardware.

Braces and transom completed. Ready for the water

Now that this project is completed, it’s time to ask myself “what’s next? Am I ready for stripping and refinishing the inside? Let”s see what this pandemic is doing in the fall. Right now, I’m looking forward to boating season, and the chance to recapture my youth.

19 replies
  1. Steve Anderson from Michigan
    Steve Anderson from Michigan says:

    I absolutely love it! Great job. I have always wanted to do steam bending. Great setup.

    I’m going to hang out in 2919 for a while. 🙂

  2. Troy in ANE
    Troy in ANE says:

    Great story, great job, great paint!!

    Love the steamer!!

    I think A Watson found your next project for you.

  3. Syd
    Syd says:

    Nice job and if anyone is interested I have one of the Penn Yan car toppers for sale that needs restoration. It a small version of the boat restored here

  4. Bilge Rat
    Bilge Rat says:

    Maybe when you’re done steaming the wood pieces, you can steam some clams for a clambake.

  5. Alex
    Alex says:

    Nice story. But the gas can photo nearly gave me a heart attack. That’s dangerous. To be clear, ONLY use those for making ‘shine.

  6. Darren
    Darren says:

    Ha! Perfect timing for me with today’s post! I’m currently working on a Penn Yan cartopper. Same color. Was trying to color match. Now I see just what to order from Kirby. Great job Mark. Love the Penn Yans. Great steamer. I need one, and will try to copy from photo. Any tips on that Mark? Also, Syd, how can I get in touch with you about your cartopper?

  7. Dave
    Dave says:

    My first experience steaming was replacing the ribs on a cedar strip Chetek. I used an old 5 gallon blue diesel fuel can. The heat source was a 220 watt hot water heater element. Worked great.

  8. Mike Stevens
    Mike Stevens says:

    Lovely job. I have been looking for a small wood boat for years because a buddy of mine gave me a 1951 5hp Johnson outboard that needs a home. I’m only the second owner! Alas, there arn’t too many Penn Yans on the west coast. I’m in Oregon.

  9. Syd
    Syd says:

    Steaming is fun but you have to work fast when doing it. Dad and I have had to replace many ribs in the Dispros that we have restored. Our goal was to have the rib out of our steamer and fastened in place in 3 minutes

  10. Mark
    Mark says:

    Next time consider the modified turkey fryer setup.

    No turkeys were hurt during this process.

  11. Mark in Ohio (sometimes da UP)
    Mark in Ohio (sometimes da UP) says:

    Thanks for posting my story Matt. This was a fun project, and kept me from going Bat crap crazy during the pandemic. I have gotten alot of comments from people on my homemade steamer. I got the plans off the Internet. (I know you can get bomb plans there too). They recommended a BRAND NEW 5 gallon gas can, for holding a lot of water, and spout size. It will NEVER have gas in it. I have marked on the side in several places WATER ONLY. It is not stored anywhere near my gas cans. What can I say, it worked well and I didn’t blow myself or anyone else up.

  12. floyd r turbo
    floyd r turbo says:

    Make sure the wood you are steaming is green wood and not kiln dried. Any wood below 10% moisture content is not worth steaming because the lignin has taken a “set” and usually, no amount of steaming will “melt” it. When you steam wood, it “melts” the lignin between the cells which allows the cells to “slide” and bend. Lignin is like a glue that holds cells together. Oak will compress along the inside of the radius which is preferred. Minimize stretching of the outside radius if you can. Steam about an hour per inch of thickness regardless of width but don’t steam bend anything thicker than its width or it will split. Contrary to what you might think, steaming for longer periods of time does not add moisture and make it easier to bend, IT DRIES OUT THE LIGNIN. This is probably the most common misconception of steambending and we had to find out the hard way. You can resteam a piece if you have a severe bend and bend it in segments. And make sure your steam box elevates your material to surround it with steam, has a drain hold for condensed steam and is NOT A PRESSURIZED VESSEL.

  13. Mike K
    Mike K says:

    tips from a ship right on utube had a great hack for steaming.
    it was poly tubing that comes in a roll from amazon. you could steam in place and then clamp, worked out great on the chines where there was compound bend.

  14. floyd r turbo
    floyd r turbo says:

    Using the hull as a jig to bend. These ribs are thin enough to not have to over bend to allow for springback. They’ll be easy to slip under the keel rabbit and be clamped at the gunnel. After drying, they’ll be clench nailed after sealing with varnish and face sanded before nailing and final finish coats.

  15. Jeff
    Jeff says:

    Yup! Lots of steam bending …. really softening and then driving them in place in my Sea Skiff!

    Couldn’t get them in place fast enough. It was always hurry, hurry, hurry. Hammer, hammer, hammer before they cool down!

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