So, it begins. Yet, again.
I’ve been driving by this boat for the past 8 years. Every time I pull out onto the highway and head to Newport. There she sits. A pert bow. A cute little cabin.
Still pretty much as Bill Tritt made her—back in the late 50’s. Almost at the getgo, I stopped and asked her owner about her. He had plans. And, I do think he did. He even built a shed over her. One with a real roof, and painted trim. He even had her on a trailer for a time. And, then back to the shed. Hundreds and hundreds of times, I passed.
Every now and then, I’d stop and ask about her. I offered this and that, in trade. I didn’t really, ever, need another boat. I’ve given bigger and nicer ones away. But, this one probably needed me.
Just yesterday, I was driving past and the little Delmar’s owner was moving away. The for sale sign was down. There were trucks and trailers parked out front. Like so many of us who don’t live in the city, he had quite a few pieces of rolling stock to deal with. The little Delmar was still in her shed. No trailer. No motor.
She was going to be cut up and hauled to the dump. I think. I didn’t really get a clear answer to that question. But, I did say that I’d take her home if he was ready to part with the boat. “OK. You can have her. If anybody can save this boat. You can.” Wow. This ain’t my first rodeo, with that as the background music. But. No doubt, he’s right.
No doubt, she’ll need more than I think. But, I’ve done so many transom replacements. So many floor replacements. So many complete reconstructions. This one doesn’t even begin to scare me. We’ve eyed each other from afar, for so very long.
So, now she sits in my garage. My utility trailer is pretty badly torn up. It was a lot harder to load, than any of us realized. I’ll go out tomorrow and lift her off the trailer and square things away. We’ll start with a good scrub and a polish. I don’t even think this little girl will need paint on the hull or cabin. All the window glass in in place, and unbroken. Really, she appears to be in good shape.
No, the Frankenwerke certainly didn’t need another project.
But. I’m pretty sure this project needs us.
Nothing like a bath, to make a girl feel better. In this case, I suspect it’s been about 10 years since the last one. The moss was growing pretty much everyplace. The general levels of grime were pretty deep. I used a brush and toilet bowl cleaner. Not glamorous. Not fun. But, what a difference. And, what a time capsule. 1959.
Detroit’s flirtation with fins had all but run-to-ground. Cars were rapidly shifting from their nascent resemblance to aircraft and fletched projectiles, to squared-off, kinda’ boxy creatures. And, the neonatal fiberglass boat industry, that mimicked automotive fashions, followed suit almost lock step. There are elements here of a ’58 Ford sedan.
Maybe, you see that resemblance, too? Granted, you had to be a boy or young man in the 50’s to even have paid attention to such things. The average Craigslist ad for a used runabout, these days, starts with something like “…seats eight…350 cu in V-8…speeds to 45 mph…” and so forth. This little spit kit will scare you with a 50 hp outboard. She’ll terrify you with a 75. And, there will only be room for about one other full-sized person. But, what a memory machine, eh?
Nakomis Bob is already cautioning me to “stop and think, before you start cutting…” He’s 100% right. I’m not going to change, at least, the outward appearance from the original. Not too much, anyway. I suspect the hull stringers, the sole, the transom guts will have to be re-engineered. I’m pretty sure the original designers and builders of boats from this era would be absolutely flabbergasted to discover some of their progeny have lived to 60+. They really weren’t built all that robustly. They shiver and shake when pounding. Gel coat cracks abound from flexing decks and hull panels. Transoms were often little more than a very thin layer of chopper gun and gel coat over built-up layers of ½” plywood. Stringers were likely ¾” softwood and soles 3/8” ply. So, not everything from the factory-stock is necessarily worthy of preserving.
But, think back. Just a minute. Remember when you were, say, 13 or 15? Maybe it was your dad, or your uncle. Maybe the bachelor from across the alley. Remember that day he took you for a drive in the country? That day when he let you slide over behind the wheel. That day when you got to ram your right foot “all the way into the carb.” That day, when you learned what happens when you float the lifters. Of course, you remember! Like it was yesterday.
C’mon around, when I get this little refugee-from-a-Sawzall put back together. We’ll go out and scare ourselves, just a bit. We’ll make like we’re 15 all over again. Of course, I’ll let you drive!