The Antique Boat Museum & The ACBS Had A Symposium To Start The Summer Off Right.

pic2We got a wonderful report in from fellow Woody Boater Tom Gruenauer on his trip to Clayton last weekend. We love events like this. The Antique Boat Museum is the perfect setting for an event. But living history and a workshop is perfect. You get to see all the history behind what you are doing and just bask in all the mahogany goodness up there. If you have never been. You must.. Do it now.. Turn off the computer, put down your Woody Boater coffee mug and go. Before its winter again. That could happen next week. All kidding aside, a long summer day up on the St Lawrence is a perfect reminder that Mother Nature truly a Woody Boater!

Take it away Tom!,

Thanks Woody,

Last weekend the Antique Boat Museum in Clayton NY teamed up with the Antique & Classic Boat Society to put on a boat restoration workshop.  This was a hands-on, get-dirty, make-sawdust, and hand-plane-shavings kind of workshop.

The weekend started Friday afternoon with complimentary speed boat rides.


A fantastic ride around the 1000 Islands in a 28’ Gar Wood.

After the rides we sat down and got to business


Kathy Muller of Muller Boat Works showed us different staining technique to “adjust” the color of the wood. She took an artistic approach to the color blending to achieve the perfect shade. A few brave souls got right in there with the filler stain.

Also dinner was included at the Clipper Inn, with lots of good food and meeting new boat friends. Breakfast Saturday morning on the second floor of the museum overlooking the St. Laurence River, then off to the Stone building for a lesson on Lapstrake Planking by Reuben Smith of Tumblehome Boatshop.


Love the shirt!

Reuben gave out some of his own tricks on spiling, planning bevels, and fastening planks


Reuben in the center. BTW, a very generous and nice guy.

The afternoon session consisted of Bo Muller of Muller Boat Works demonstrating “carvel planking” using the router technique. Many “students” took their turn under the patient eye of our instructor. His accuracy and speed were impressive to the entire group.

pic6The evening session was put on by author Tony Mollica, who gave a presentation on the discovery of the Fitzgerald and Lee records, spanning the company’s boat building history in the 1000 Islands in the early 1900s.

pic7Sunday started with steam bending in the St. Mary Street boat shop by Bo Muller, There was an open Q&A with Bo while we waited for the steam box to heat up. Very informative.

pic8 pic9Private tour of the Clayton Antique Boat Museum’s Doebler Storage Building

pic10 pic11Overall, a fantastic time was had by all 28 attendees. Cheers and happy boating!


14 replies
  1. Al Benton
    Al Benton says:

    Another opportunity to participate in a “hands-on” workshop symposium in a wonderful location. Wish I would have been able to be there. One to these days…

  2. Texx
    Texx says:

    Great report Tom – Looks like everyone had a fun / informative weekend in Clayton.

    I am curious to know what that grey triple is in the Doebler storage area. From the photos, it almost looks like an early Rochester triple. – Texx

    • Alan Frederick
      Alan Frederick says:

      Texx –
      I also attended the symposium with Tom and it was a very well run event and I certainly left with a ton more information than when I arrived. As mentioned, if you haven’t been to the ABM in a few years, it’s well worth the trip. They only have about 10% of their total boats on display at any one time but we got to see the “others” (boats and engines) in the storage facility.
      The boat you are asking about is a Stanley, built in Cape Vincent. It was the original barrel back from the late 20’s, earl;y 30’s and even though it’s in gray condition, it was the coolest boat in the bldg.
      Unbelievable lines. It looks fast just sitting there. The original power was a Hispano-Suiza V-8.

      • Texx
        Texx says:

        Thanks for the update Alan. I am hoping to get back to the museum in July – it’s been a few years since we were last there for the boat show.

      • Cobourg kid
        Cobourg kid says:

        Thanks for the comprehensive report Tom it’s much appreciated

        Have to say that the spring symposium has been on my bucket list for some time. Next year maybe.

        As for the “grey runabout” Texx was asking about , well it was profiled here in WB way back in 2013 during the ABM boat show. That article (written by me) was entitled “Magical Mystery Tour”; perhaps Texx could post a link?

        Speaking of that event, in addition to discovering the unrestored Stanley ( aka the FOX” ) in the ABM storage facility that weekend, serendipity stepped in when next day I caught sight of a beautifully restored 1923 Stanley named “Running Wild lolling at one of the boat show slips.

        For those that are interested in the Stanley Boat Co. a brief synopsis follows.

        Roy Stanley, was an obscure boat builder from Cape Vincent NY.

        While he may have been obscure his talents were considerable, in fact there is evidence that Stanley may have built the first ever barrel back runabout sometime in the very early 1920s

        That boat is rumoured to have been created from a custom set of plans penned by John L Hacker. plans that had been brought to Roy Stanley’s shop by one of his clients.

        Admittedly the facts of this story are a bit fuzzy but ACBs staff have told me that Gar Wood and the Smith’s had both tried to recruit Stanley on several occasions,

        Clearly those legends recognized his cutting edge work might be very useful to them, unfortunately he never took up there offers.

        Roy Stanley’s advanced boat building skills we’re most likely developed during World War 1 when he spent several years with the Curtiss Aeroplane and Motor Company.

        During that time Roy would have certainly been involved in building flying boats and very likely soaked up advanced aerodynamic and hydrodynamic principles and wood bending techniques that the company pioneered.

        Post war Stanley left Curtis and founded his own shop in Cape Vincent going in to bring to life quite a number of “fast” ( as the press then described) runabouts

        Some of those boats possibly “The Fox” included , were put to use by their new owners spiriting “hooch” from Canada to ports along the north east pocket of Lake Ontario

        At that time Runabouts like The Fox, or her sisters, with big engines stuffed in their bilges, would have been few in number , a small cadre that had the ability to quickly outdistance the US Coast Guard’s powerful new (in 1925) 75 foot”six bitter” patrol boats

        While the six bitters were not ultra fast they could keep up a quick pace in a pursuit and given that each of them carried a menacing long range deck gun (known to be used on a regular basis) Canadian and American Rum Runners increasingly opted for fast craft to ply there trade, something that Roy Stanley as well as other 1920s boat building shops ( such a Morris Boat Works of Hamilton Ontario) were happy to provide…….Running Wild indeed.

        • Texx
          Texx says:

          Thanks for this update CK. I forgot all about this boat. (#feelold&dumb)

          I am thinking we should do a short story just to focus on this boat, if I can get my hands on a few more photos. Great stuff…

  3. Frank Miklos
    Frank Miklos says:

    Many Chapters of the A.C.B.S. have worthwhile workshops. Our chapter (the Allegheny Chapter) have 2 – 4 a year. And are usually at members garages…

  4. gary
    gary says:

    That is a long way to go for us here in the PNW on short notice. The Bo Muller of Muller Boat Works demonstration “carvel planking” using the router technique could be a very interesting story in WB.

  5. floyd r turbo
    floyd r turbo says:

    Love to have been there myself. Cost of travel at my distance is problematic. These events could be podcast, webinars, videostreamed, even a dvd for later sale could help not only recover some cost of putting this on but give the rest of us access. I did do a video of one of our chapter workshops on using a trim router to make a dutchman and deck stripping. Sold one at $20 so I understand the risk/reward. Shots would have to be set up in advance, proper lighting, collaberation with presenter to “publish” or emphasize desired learning objectives. Video is getting much cheaper and easier to produce in case you haven’t been to Youtube yet, lol

  6. Wilson
    Wilson says:

    Museum is a great place…Regrettably my wife had plans in place to celebrate our 60th wedding anniversary here at home yesterday so my leaving for a boating experience might have lead to receiving notice to show up in divorce court.

    Have made that rip up & down the St. Lawrence from Clayton to AlexBay a couple of times and would love to do it again.

    I remember Kathy Mueller doing a varnishing symposium at Mariners one year…She really knows her stuff.

  7. Tom Gruenauer
    Tom Gruenauer says:

    There was a videographer at one of the sessions. I think he was brought in by the ACBS. Also the ACBS has a huge how to video library from past workshops. It is in the members section of their home page.

  8. m-fine
    m-fine says:

    I attended this event a couple years back. These symposiums are an excellent way to spend a weekend, and Clayton and the ABM are hard to beat even if it is a bit early for the main season.

Comments are closed.