Rainy Days Don’t Stop Eric Zelman From Getting His Fix.


25′ Sportsman

Fellow Woody Boater and neighbor Eric Zelman used a drizzly day to get his Varnish fix at George Hazards shop with the Chesapeake Bay Chapter. Here is Eric’s report. Take it away Mr Zelman.


Thanks Woody,
Saturday morning in the mid-Atlantic started cold and rainy. Fortunately the Chesapeake Bay chapter of the ACBS Had scheduled a gathering/ open house at George Hazard’s, Wooden Boat Restoration, LLC in Millington. I loaded into the truck and off to MD to see some classic boats, meet some folks and maybe learn something! Approx. 50 classic boat enthusiast showed up. We toured around the facility to see the projects on hand.


Naked Sportsman #111

Right up front was a rare 25’ Sportsman. This is hull #111, owned by Ralph Cattaneo. Ralph is working in the shop alongside George during the restoration process, a true “hands on” experience. The bottom has been done, Ralph chose to go the fiberglass route.


More Sportsman

There will surely be debate regarding that choice! It is now right-side up in the cradles getting the battens and various other pieces of woodwork replaced.




More Hacker goodness

A great assortment of other projects in various states of the restoration process can be seen throughout the 8,000 sq. ft. facility. They include; a Whirlwind, Riviera, Hacker, Cobra, and Holiday along with a few others.


Cobra. Cool trailer

overhead shot

Large workshop

After a nice lunch and chance to socialize with the chapter members. George led the way through the polishing process once the varnish build up is complete. Even with the best paint booth he explained, you can walk out thinking the finish is perfect only to come back the next morning to find that dust has settled into the varnish. Using a varnished hatch from the Whirlwind, George demonstrated the wet sanding process using 1500, 2000 & 3000 grit paper and a spray applicator with water and a touch of soap.

george clean between sanding

George cleaning between sanding

george pneumatic farecla cream

Pneumatic farecla cream

The surface is cleaned between each step with micro fiber cloth. Next comes the pneumatic polisher with a 3M egg crate type pad and 2 grades of cream. He prefers to use Farecla Profile 300 & then 500 rapid cut compound as it cleans up with water making it easy to get out of seams and clean up spray on the boat from “spin off”. The 3M cream will work as well but being a petroleum based product they tend to stick in the crevices and are harder to remove the spin off spray. If needed, Nu Finish can be used for a final hand buffing or quick touch up before a show. The end result is a nice mirror finish.

Thanks to George for hosting the open house! The Chesapeake Chapter will be hosting the 29th annual antique & classic boat festival Father’s Day weekend, June 17-19th. Registration forms are available on the web site at http://www.chesapeakebayacbs.org

12 replies
  1. Kentucky Wonder
    Kentucky Wonder says:

    Before we get to the debate over fiberglass vs. wood bottoms, may I ask a question? Is there a practical difference between a properly-done 5200 bottom and a properly-done WEST system bottom? What I mean, is to the end user. Will one last longer? Ride better? Resist rot better? Hold resale value higher?

    Are there any other acceptable methods of making a no-soak wooden bottom?

  2. m-fine
    m-fine says:

    In my opinion, there are definitely differences.

    The West bottom will be stiffer and likely stronger, but stiffer will impact ride quality, especially on a longer hull. There is also the risk with any encapsulation method that a crack or scrape could let water get in and and up trapped to rot the wood from the inside.

    From what I have observed, a documented 5200 bottom has the best resale value. I would pay more for a boat with a leaky original bottom than one that has been fiber glassed over old wood. Those are a safety risk I wouldn’t touch without planning a full bottom replacement before putting it in the water.

  3. Alex
    Alex says:

    My dearly departed friend, Tommy Mertaugh always advised me to do a bottom in 5200, not West, and certainly not fiberglass. It mostly had to do with ride quality, as per m-fine’s comment above. For the record, I would never buy a wooden boat with a glassed bottom or hull side. I’ve nothing against glass, as I own several classic glass boats. I just don’t believe in mixing the materials. To the degree that a wooden boat for sale with glass in its restoration is an automatic “pass” for me.

    • Troy in ANE
      Troy in ANE says:

      Wait a minute, there seems to be a slight contradiction here as I quote your story about Training Wheels from less that a week ago. I assume the word “ORIGINAL” is the key here.

      “The boat I bought was a 1959 Chris-Craft 15ʼ Cavalier, weighing in at around 1,300 lbs, with its original fiberglassed bottom (an option in 1959)”

  4. Alex
    Alex says:

    No contradiction Troy. That boat came with it. Factory original. I’d never apply glass to a boat that didn’t come with it, and when the time comes to replace the bottom on “Training Wheels,” probably won’t do glass. If anything, because Tommy, whose judgment and expertise I trusted implicitly, wouldn’t have done it.

    Rides pretty decent for a little ply vessel. But it still feels a tad hard. Might be all in my head. These days, that’s usually it.

  5. Dan T
    Dan T says:

    A glassed bottom, if done correctly, will last a long time over new plywood. The Cavalier.is proof of that. Too often glass is done over old planked bottoms a last resort.

  6. Clay
    Clay says:

    OK. This is my first post on Woodyboater or any other website for that matter. I have thoroughly enjoyed reading regularly for the last two years since I bought my first woody- a 1974 24′ Skiff Craft. That boat has been fully restored including a 5200 and epoxy bottom and will hit the water this month at its home on the Whitefish chain in MN.
    The project I am just starting is a 1956 14′ Wagemaker Wolverine that is starting out in good condition. I’m prompted to write as my main issue is related to today’s conversation. The boat is molded plywood with a factory fiberglass bottom. It has several minor leaks which are likely coming from the unglassed wood keel and some through hull screws fastening the seat mounts to the floor of the hull. These were puttied because of the relatively thin ply hull and the putty is suspect.
    I have been planning to strip and sand the keel, clean out all screw holes, and sand enough of the bottom to be able to bond epoxy to everything that was originally glass and use 5200 along the keel and in the fastener holes.
    My question is whether this plan is sound and to what layer should I sand the red painted bottom(the paint is practically gone). On this short boat, I do not worry about too much stiffness, I just want it to be dry and to not do anything that would compromise the hull long term. By the way, the inside is the varnished plywood and I will just be preserving the interior.
    Lastly, if Brian Fogarty is reading, were the transoms usually painted? I would like to do it bright if it strips and sands well.
    Helpful thoughts from anyone would be welcome.

    • Eric
      Eric says:

      Hi Clay,
      My first project boat was a ’56 Wagemaker as well. I had just the molded ply bottom to work with and there was only a thin layer of paint that I easily removed by soaking it with a soy based paint and varnish remover. I then tightened the keel and stringer bolts, fared the bottom and then applied 3 coats of Kirby’s paint. I would be happy to share or answer any questions. You can google my video, wagemaker wolverine restoration or try this link that was previously posted on Woody Boater. My email is ericzelman@verizon.net https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kbwM0T4xlO8

    • Eric
      Eric says:

      Clay, text me your email to 571 437 7406 I finished a ’56 molded ply Wagemaker Wolverine last year and can send you some info. I tried to post a video link for you but Matt will need to release it.

  7. Tommyholm
    Tommyholm says:

    Clay, let me respond to your first post with some ideas for you to consider. 1. It always amazes me how people want to sand off the bottom material/paint in order to add bottom material/paint. If it ain’t loose leave it.2. If you Epoxy the bottom add a fairing compound so you can sand it fair. 3. 5200 in the keel seam works but consider slick seam. 4. If you put 5200 in your screw holes, it is very difficult to remove. Consider Boat Life or Famowood . 5. Fiberglass=stiff ride is a myth. Lots of luck.

    • Clay
      Clay says:

      Thank you Tommyholm for your good ideas. Eric, I viewed the fabulous video of your restoration just a few weeks before I stumbled across my Wolverine. Seeing the potential I bought the boat immediately. I’ve texted my email and look forward to communicating.

  8. floyd r turbo
    floyd r turbo says:

    2 comments regarding epoxy vs 5200 – there is another and its a hybrid with a laminated epoxy port and starboard bottom “skin” that is “5200 to the frames. Antique Boat Center restorers are doing this type bottom which is a takeoff of what Riva’s do I believe. If you went to their seminar at ABC you can learn the process. Point 2 – an epoxy bottom can be glassed over (if the epoxy bottom was laminated per West System specs) and it will minimize if not prevent the so called “cracking” M Fine mentions. It can also be prevented by using veneers laminated in the thicknesses recommended by Gougeon Brothers and their West System epoxy guide.

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