One Year In The Making Last Gasp!

Not Bob! But sure likes his lapstrakes!

A huge thanks to fellow Woody Boater Bob Rosenquist for sending in a fun story that started with a Last gasp ride in 2016! Bobs 1963 Cruiser Inc. preservation story started last year with a “last gasp” ride with Mom in November 2016.

Also not Bob, it’s Bobs Mom, Last years Last Gasp!

Towards the end of the ride, I noticed some water in the bilge. This was of some concern because through all the years the Cruiser Inc. had always been a splash- and-go boat. The dimensional stable Douglas fir plywood sealed with an early version of 5200 sealant had insured a dry bilge. My parents bought the boat new and have always carefully stored it indoors.

Not Bob, but it is his Keel

Fast forward to late summer 2017. I decided to fill the boat with water and try and figure out where the water was coming from. The picture shows water leaking all along the external keel. I started researching and found a possible explanation.

Andreas Jordahl Rhude had written an article in 2006 on Thompson and Cruiser Inc. external keels and was also kind enough to visit with me by phone,also giving me permission to reprint a portion of that article in this story.

“The following sketch shows the basic details of a 1950s and 1960s Thompson: One of the most susceptible places for these boats to leak is at the outer keel and outer stem. These are separate pieces of wood from the keelson (inner keel) and inner stem. These exterior pieces are screw-fastened from the bottom of the boat in to the hull planking and inner keelson/inner stem.”

Bob didnt draw this, its from the BSOL site. Link below.

“The sheets of plywood on the boat’s bottom either side of the centerline are called the garboard planks. They come together at the centerline and are nailed and screwed into the keelson and ribs.
“Often times, there is a small gap where the two garboards join side to side. At the factory, a flexible marine caulk was run into this gap. This, in turn, was covered by the outer keel and stem. None of the wood was pre-primed or sealed prior to assembly. Over time, this caulk under the outer keel and stem gets dry and brittle and it loses its ability to seal out water. The inevitable swelling and shrinking of the wood through changes in moisture content also contributes to the failure of the caulk.”

You can read all about this on the BSOL page HERE

Because the overall condition of the boat was so good, I hoped that it was a bedding issue and not some other more serious problem. Dad and I decided to bring the boat to Tom Sweeney, owner of Boat Art, in Afton, Minnesota. Tom has worked on all kinds of boats including the famous Edmund Fitzgerald. One of the first wood boats he worked on was as a member of the Coast Guard in 1965 – a 1939 36’ Motor Lifeboat (MLB).

One of Tom’s assistants met us at the door.

Some of Tom’s other projects. 1939 Hacker Craft; 1947 Ventor, blue hull; and 1959 Chris Craft Capri

A Caulkins Bartender.

Tom agreed with our assessment, and Dad, Mom, Tom and I quickly removed the windshield and motor so Tom and his crew could flip the boat Monday morning and pull the external keel.

Tom and Mom removing the engine.

To our great relief Tom found no rot – just a very dried out bedding compound that he replaced along with a coat of a CPES.

Thanks to Tom and his crew for a great job! A week later we picked up the boat and took it for a 20 mile test run on Lake Pepin. The problem was fixed and the soft ride in following chop reminded me again how special these old wooden boats are. Hopefully we’re set for the next 50 years of fun on the water.

One final thought: When I unscrewed the deck to inspect the bilge and keel, I found large mouse nests that were not visible from the easily removed inspection hatches. It illustrated for me how important it is to keep a clean bilge that does not accumulate leaves and other debris that can molder and destroy a wood hull.

Bob! Three generations of Rosenquists out on the fall waters!

Here is the original story from a year ago.Story Here

9 replies
  1. Bilge Rat
    Bilge Rat says:

    The dog in an office chair next to a pile of cribbing. You know you’ve just entered a classic boat shop.

  2. Floyd r turbo
    Floyd r turbo says:

    How many boat owners have come away from a restorers shop with news that the problem is exactly as we thought and we can have it ready next week said no woodyboater ever. Lol

  3. Ron in Seattle
    Ron in Seattle says:

    That Caulkins 22′ bartender was used in the Coast Guard also. I spent time at the helm of that, tje MLB 36 footers, the 40 foot utility boats, the 44 foot MLBs and a 52 foot MLB the Triumph, which is still in use and stationed at Cape Disappointment for search and rescue at the mouth of the Columbia river.

  4. John Rothert
    John Rothert says:

    this is a very timely post for me….I have a whirlwind leaking in exactly the same spot….sure, I have a molded boat and the construction is a bit different at the keel…but this has been a very interesting post for me…many thanks,

    John in Va.

  5. Andreas Jordahl Rhude
    Andreas Jordahl Rhude says:

    That sketch was drawn by lil ol me! Cruisers, Inc. of Oconto, WI (they still exist and they are called Cruisers Yachts) is a spin-off that came out of Thompson Bros. Boat Mfg. Co. of Peshtigo, WI. I am sitting in my office in Peshtigo, WI right now as I type. The old Thompson Boat factory is about 300 feet over my right shoulder, empty and abandoned and falling apart.

  6. Bob in Mazeppa
    Bob in Mazeppa says:

    Thank you Matt for a great job of formatting the pictures and text!!! The winter would be so much longer without Woody Boater stories.

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