A Report From The Great White North – Some Say This Winter Was A Rascal

His first wooden boat – Chris Bullen started building “Sam’s Smile” in February 2000.

TODAY WE ARE MAKING A QUICK TRIP up to the Great White North (Ontario, Canada) with fellow Woody Boater Sean Conroy. On Saturday Sean attended a Trent Severn Antique & Classic Boat Association (TSACBA) club workshop in Havelock, Ontario and also stopped in to a few local boat shops, and a classic eatery along the way. A classic road-trip through Southern Ontario can reveal some interesting projects. – Texx

A Report From The Great White North
by Sean Conroy

This weekend we lost an hour of winter and my fingers are thawing out just enough, to let the Woody Boater community know that things in the Great White North have been warmer than absolute zero.

Even for hardy Canadians in the heart of a true four-season climate, this winter has been a long and difficult one. Further compounded by a disastrous season from the Toronto Maple Leafs, many of us can’t wait to get Woody Boatin’ no matter what the weather! Sure, in early January there were signs of life at the Toronto International Boat Show (covered here on Woody Boater). However, when that was over the calendar was pretty thin as far as “official” events.

Well, thank goodness for Woody Boater friends, as I got an invite from (fellow Woody Boater & contributor) Chris Bullen to tag along on Super Bowl Sunday to the shop of more fellow Woody Boaters – Rich and Linda Hughes.

In the shop, Rich has been giving some attention to the Bullen’s boathouse sibling to RIOT (their beautiful CLARION Gold CUP 25). The boat in question is a homebuilt RASCAL. Chris tells me the RASCAL was his first build and what started him down this oh, so familiar path of wooden boat addiction.


Chris Bullen’s Ken Bassett Rascal design wooden boat – May 2001.

The Rascal design has beautiful lines and has been a true user’s boat. Clearly, there have been miles of smiles created by this boat over the years. But, now (14 years later) she’s in for a facelift and if you have ever seen Rich’s work well, let me tell you… it’s impressive. Rich is also the Past President of the TSACBA and remains active within the organization.


The Hughes’ and Bullens’ discuss the Rascals progress.

With a new deck and a strengthened transom this little boat will turn heads. It was great puttering around Rich’s personal workshop checking out the improvements they made and discussing some of the work yet to be done. But, all too soon our visit was over; homeward bound to watch an exciting New England Super Bowl Victory.

Chris Bullen started building SAM’S SMILE in February 2000. This model is a 14’8 x 5’6″ Ken Bassett Rascal design. Launched in May 2001, he named it SAM’S SMILE as he could not “keep the grin off his face” whenever he went into the garage to work on it. The boat has a 4-stroke 60 hp Mercury engine, and it was used extensively on Lake Muskoka, Ontario.

Rich Hughes noted:

The original decking was varnished plywood but the top veneer was damaged (slightly delaminated) during a winter storage. Since it was only cosmetic, the plywood was kept as a sub decking.

1. Installing covering, cockpit and king planks

Installing new covering, cockpit and king planks.

There were a few high and low spots to correct, so after that the entire deck was covered in a fibreglass cloth and epoxy to strengthen and bond the entire structure.

2. Deck strips installed.

New deck strips installed.


Another shot of the new deck strips.

The new solid mahogany deck you see is milled to ¼” thick and epoxied onto the sub-deck. Screws and fender washers hold the mahogany in place until the epoxy cures. After curing overnight the screws and washers are removed and the holes plugged.

3. Deck fairing complete.

Deck fairing complete.

The end result looks like a traditional build deck, but everything is epoxied into place to make a stronger structure that isn’t prone to shrinking and swelling.

4. Fitting new spray rails.

Fitting the new spray rails.

5. First of three black coats.

And the first of three black coats of paint.

Once the woodwork is completed, then the interior and upholstery will be upgraded by my wife at Linrich Upholstery. We are planning to have the Rascal completed in time for her re-launch at the 2015 Toronto Chapter ACBS show in Gravenhurst in early July. – Rich and Linda Hughes

With a constant arctic blast for the rest of February, we were getting quite excited about the first Trent Severn Antique & Classic Boat Association (TSACBA) club workshop of the year, happening on March 7th. This event was held at Ronny’s Marine in Havelock, Ontario.

Ronny is a new member to the TSACBA and is a FIBERGLASS man. (We embrace all classic boats). Inspired to join up with Woody Boaters through contact with fellow Woody Boaters Murray Parnell and John Gullick – Ronny has his roots in wooden boats through those made by his father. And, he is no stranger to the boating world. Ronny’s day job is fixing new boats for insurance and warranty contracts. I’ll not go into the specifics he relayed during the workshop but, the lesson is that Ronny knows his stuff.


Ronny’s still kickin’ (OUAT Ronny almost lost everything to fire) OUAT= Once Upon A Time

We started with general questions from our woody familiar members about fiberglass construction issues (like osmosis), causes, cures and a little background history on the progression of fiberglass construction methods. We looked at the different types of damage that can be seen in the surface of a fiberglassic and some analysis as to their causes (mechanical stress, seamanship inflicted, exposure to the elements…etc).


In Ronnie’s shop was a beautiful 1971 DONZI 16 Baby o/b (in restoration) – just 169 of these made between 1970 – 78. A rare breed.

The topics progressed through restoration of fiberglass boats to polishing, and upkeep. A couple of demonstrations showed us how a surface could be brought back to a beautiful shine with the skillful use of the right products and how to clear up a less than clear windscreen. Before lunch there was a draw for some fiberglass care products donated by Ronnie.

It was quite fitting to have lunch at a local Havelock, Ontario restaurant WOODY BURGER! (Bacon was available {m.fine} but, I did not see anything served on a stick… chicken or otherwise).


The new unofficial restaurant of TSACBA?

Attending the workshop and of special interest to me was fellow Woody Boater Randy Milligan. Randy is a wood boat enthusiast but, more so a vintage hydroplane aficionado who has recently purchased MISS TIMEX (U-75) from THE LEGENDARY Bill Muncey. (We contacted the folks at the Unlimiteds Detroit website and received permission to publish a few rare photos of MISS TIMEX U-75 for our story today. They have a very impressive photo database – Texx)

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Miss Timex U-75 in the pit area at Owensboro in 1971 – Photo by Hank Kosciuszko / Courtesy of Unlimitedsdetroit.com

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A vintage photo of Miss Timex, Pride of Pay ‘N Pak, Notre Dame, Hallmark Homes in the pit area at Owensboro in 1971 – Photo by Hank Kosciuszko / Courtesy of Unlimitedsdetroit.com

U-75 is a 30’ Unlimited Class Hydroplane built by Les Staduacher in 1971, powered by an Allison V-12 WWII era aircraft engine. This racer competed between 1971 and 1984 under several numbers including U-75, U-56, U-70, U-66, U-100 and U-11.

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Miss Timex U-75 arriving back to the pit area at Owensboro in 1971 – Photo by Hank Kosciuszko / Courtesy of Unlimitedsdetroit.com

The boat has just completed its long journey from Washington State to Ontario and has begun an extensive restoration. “Bringing back MISS TIMEX” is a project that should keep us interested and busy for quite some time.

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The Bringing Back Miss TIMEX U-75 campaign poster.

Randy is partially funding this 100K + restoration project through sponsorship, donations and the sale of apparel (cool Miss Timex U-75 hats). During the restoration, MISS TIMEX will still be making show appearances as a display to further promote the wooden boat restoration and excitement in vintage hydroplanes.


The future of funding personal restoration?

Starting this week the thermometer is supposed to be on the “plus” side of the freezing point in this neck of the woods so, spirits are high (with some heading to Lake Dora) and many of us Canadians stepping up our boating activities wherever we are.

Sean Conroy – Great White North Reporter

Special thanks to Sean for this report today, and to Rich Hughes & Ronnie’s Marine for inviting us into their workshops.

Also thanks to the Trent Severn Antique & Classic Boat Association for their ongoing dedication to the hobby. The TSACBA is a very active group – their 2015 Event Schedule is full of interesting events. You can check out their great website HERE.


29 replies
  1. Bill Hammond
    Bill Hammond says:

    What year is that fabulous Allison V-12 from? Is he keeping that engine? Love to hear it running sometime.

    • Sean
      Sean says:

      Yes, the Allison is staying. Although, she’s been in the boat for 25 years and not run since 1988. It turns over manually and will undergo a refurb to make her growl tick again.

      I don’t know the year (or the exact model) but these engines date from 1930-ish through the early ’50’s and in decent supply post WWII.

  2. Texx
    Texx says:

    Not sure what year the V-12 Allison is from, but hopefully Sean will chime in with some further information Bill. Hearing the Thunder Boats run is fantastic. Riding in one at speed is spectacular!

  3. Dave Richardson
    Dave Richardson says:

    we will be at the Tavares Spring Thunder Vintage Race Boat Regatta with our 2 Lauterbachs the Lauterbach Special GP200 and Big Chief A11. Look us up.

  4. m-fine
    m-fine says:

    At first, Woody Burger (with bacon!) sounded real appealing. The place is only about 60 miles from here…except someone dropped a large body of water in the way, turning it into a 285 mile drive. Also, while it is 35 and rising here, it appears to be -2 up there in Ontario. Add in the issues with crossing the border and paying for your meal with funny colored plastic money and I think I will find a local burger place for lunch today.

  5. m-fine
    m-fine says:

    Oh dayem! They have deep fried Twinkies and Toonie milkshakes on Mondays! Where did I put my passport?

  6. Rabbit
    Rabbit says:

    How to improve the look of Rascal in fifteen minutes or less: 1. Remove cowling from the modern Mercury. 2. Aim hair dryer at adhesive graphics. 3. Peel off adhesive graphics.

    The result won’t look like a vintage two-stroke, but at least it won’t clash with the beautiful vintage lines of the boat. The same applies to any modern outboard on any vintage craft.

    (I’m somewhat ashamed to admit that I own both a deckboat/pontoon-like craft and a PWC and the hair dryer treatment made both of those clash considerably less at the dock with our Woody and vintage boathouse.)

    • Matt
      Matt says:

      You’re right, I have done that a bunch of times, you can also still get the graphics from the past.. I did try and knock it down in the shot, here it is without any graphics

        • Walt
          Walt says:

          Ya’ know, I’ll bet one could get a vinyl wrap made that resembles the stainless and black parts of the vintage Merc cowl. And that would look good on the existing phantom black cowling or a repainted cowling.

        • Cobourg Kid
          Cobourg Kid says:

          As you can see below the old switcheroo has been done before. Check out the vintage tower of power pairing that appeared at Dora three years ago …. Turns out the only thing vintage about these mercs was the cowling . Sure fooled me.

      • Chris B
        Chris B says:

        I agree 100%. Now that the engine is long past its warranty I have stripped the cowling of all its decals and have ready to go a fresh batch of 1968 ones to put on. The boat is going to be very different this time as i have learned a lot in 15 years and Rich is way better builder then I.

  7. Dennis Mykols
    Dennis Mykols says:

    West Michigan also saw above freezing temps over the weekend, for the first time since January! Sorry, Alex had Snow up his way. We went out to the Grand Haven State Park and had to wait in a traffic jam to get in. Everyone was out and about walking on the ice and pier head. Yes, Ronnie and I even stopped in town for some ice cream as we walked the waterfront…

  8. Jerome Emery
    Jerome Emery says:

    Rich & Linda Beautiful work on that little speedster. Glad to here that your not frozen. By the way put that dog to work! Your friends from the Michigan Chapter.

  9. Briant
    Briant says:

    What is that white stuff? It was 70 here yesterday. Trees and flowers are in bloom. Mowed the grass for the second time in a week. The top is still off of the car….

    • Rich
      Rich says:

      The bottom colour was changed from bronze to red, and the new interior coulours are red and tan. Aside from the new deck the interior will be the biggest change. The green is a nice hull colour, but in this case it just wouldn’t work with the rest of the colours.

  10. Tuobanur
    Tuobanur says:

    Like that Rascal,, now I don’t feel so bad about the length of time my project has taken, started mind in 2000 also.
    Working hard to try and finish for Tavares,,, don’t know if I’m going to make it.

  11. Cobourg kid
    Cobourg kid says:

    Many thanks to Sean , Rich and Linda for the great summary of the kawartha club’s recent arctic adventures and great news about Miss Timex …. When Randy gets her into an operational state she will definitely be a hit on the vintage race boat circuit!

    While I missed out on the Havelock event I’m definitely looking forward to the club’s annual spring workshop….. Not too far away now!

  12. Steve Moreau
    Steve Moreau says:

    Great stories, Great boats, and I’m more than sure Great bunch of folks. However I believe it would be a happier time up there if not for all the white stuff that you guys and been under. I think you should employ Zip to have a one on one talk with that groundhog! If that don’t do the trick send him a note that the coonass eats anything and I’ll be heading north!

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