Classic Boatworks of  Maine

Questions and Answers

We have received many questions about wood boats and all those things which concern them. Paint, varnish, fasteners, etc. On this page we are going to try and answer some of those questions for you. If you have a question which is not addressed here, e-mail it to us and we will post it as soon as possible.

It has been my life long dream to restore and revive an old 1930’s Chris Craft. I saw your web page and was wondering if you had any information regarding where I can get a hold of a vintage Chris Craft that needs a little work. Thank you for your help.
-Michael W.

There are a lot of websites where people have listed Chris Crafts. Go to and do a search using just the words “Chris Craft” (in quotes).
 You’ll be amazed at what turns up! Also keep an eye on your local papers.
 Often people do not realize that the “old wood boat” out back is a CC!
 Seems amazing to me in this day and age but that is the way it is!
Good luck in your search. If you are diligent you will find what you are
looking for.

I am the owner of a 1947 mohagony 21Ft lapstrake classic boat.
I have just completed in removing all the old varnish and finish also I
have cleaned out all the deck striping, down to the bare wood.
I wood like to finish it by staining medium red mahagony with the center part
of the deck a bit lighter almost like a two tone effect.
Also I need to fill in the deck grooves I would like to do this almost
like a John Deere green with a touch of gold sparkle added in to the green to give it
a sparkle after varnishing.  How do I go go about this and what materials
do I need to obtain, that has a UV protection and will last.
What type of stain do I need to obtain and will the stain also need it need to have a UV additive.
I would appreciate if you could get back to me soon since I would like
to cover the bare wood ASAP.

It is extremetly important that you cover the bare wood as soon as possible.
Stain is just a coloring, it does not need UV protection.
Use a good grade marine varnish with UV protectants (it will say it on the
can). We recommend either Z-Spar Captain’s varnish or Epiphanes High Gloss.
 Sand it between coats. Do not use anything except Marine grade varnish. 
Use 6-8 coats as a minimum.
There is no marine deck filler in John Deere green. You need to fill the
strips with seam compound. We usually do it with white. There is no reason
you can’t paint over them with John Deere paint. If you intend to enter
competitions for antique and classic boats, you are better off with the white.
Hope this helps. Good luck with your project!

total fiber glass bottom for wood Chris Craft Sportsman?             Most likely will be shot, but I have had it with leaking wood bottoms, bad fasteners and broken frames. Has anyone ever removed the bottom planking, and installed a new laminated fiber glass bottom directly to the existing frames. The entire skin, up to the waterline, would be FG.

In answer to your bottom problem, usually leaky bottoms in the older CC runabouts are due to the canvas membrane between the planks needing replacement. This can be done fairly simply by taking off the outer planking and replacing the canvas. Bed the canvas in bedding compound then replace the outer planks also bedded against the canvas with new fasteners. As long as your power is of the proper size this repair will last for a   good many years (10-15 yrs.) If the boat has been overpowered there will be a need to go to a new style of bottom. This can be done by removing both layers of planking and laying in a cold molded bottom with 3-4 thin layers well saturated with epoxy.     4 layers would be best … the inner layer is put on in a fore and aft direction, the 2 intermediate layers lay diagonally and the outer layer is again fore and aft.

At this time you should probably put in new chines and keel timber, as well as any ribs which need replacing.

How do I sister ribs? I have a 1967- 45 ft Mathews yacht. While having her surveyed the surveyor said that in order to obtain open water insurance that I would need to sister the first three ribs on the starboard side. Please give me a step by step on sistering ribs- what kind of material should I use and so forth. Thanks for any help you folks can give me.

Sistering ribs is not a complicated process. Although sometimes the amount of interior you need to remove to get at the ribs is. There are 2 methods of sistering ribs. The best method is to steam a piece of white oak to the proper shape and lay it in next to the rib. Then fasten the planking to it from the outside using the same type of fasteners which are used on the rest of the boat. (ie if the rest of the boat is fastened with bronze or copper riveted then use bronze or copper.                                                                                                                                                   The other method is to laminate a rib in place. Use thin layers of red oak and epoxy. The reason for using red oak for laminating is because it has a more porous cell structure and the epoxy will penetrate the pores forming a better bond and filling them. This type is best fastened with thru fasteners such as rivets or bolts and nuts with the bolt peened over.

How do I varnish teak? Thanks, JC

The best way to do the job is to start from bare wood.                                                            1st coat on teak … 25% varnish 75% thinner This allows for good penetration.                 2nd coat on teak … 50/50 varnish/thinner.   3rd coat thru 6 th coat… full strength.                 It is very important that you sand and tack thoroughly between coats. This will ensure good adhesion and the tacking (with commercial tack cloths) will pick up all the little particles which make your finish rough. Be sure you use a good marine varnish like z-spar captain’s varnish. It has the u-v protectants that you need. To keep your varnish looking good … you then have another option … keep the varnish work covered when you are not on the boat. If you use canvas covers this  will increase the life of your varnish work.                               If all this is too much you could just leave the teak to weather.

Varnish below the water line? Is it ok? If not, what should I use?

Varnish below the waterline is fine, assuming the boat will be drysailed. Boats which are left in the water need to have an anti-fouling paint applied below the waterline. The varnish to use would be a good grade, polyurethane marine varnish with uv inhibitors.

I am rebuilding a wood windshield for a cruiser – what should I use to bed the glass? Is regular hardware store glazing compound ok?

NO! The glazing compound dries hard and will works its way out under way. Windows must be bedded in marine grade rubber bedding compound which allows for the pounding and twisting that a boat takes.

How do I steam bend ribs?

Start with quarter sawn white oak or ash. Cut to the size ribs your plan specifies or the same size as the one you are replacing. Plane it smooth; radius the corners to help prevent splitting; steam 1 hour for every inch of thickness, after the wood has come to up to temperature. Steaming can be done in any container in which you can boil water. For small ribs we have used a turkey roaster! Steam from a kettle blown into PVC pipe large enough to accommodate the ribs will also work well. Bend the steamed wood over a premade form or directly into the boat – immediately – do not allow the wood to cool. And wear protection on your hands … don’t forget steam is over 212*f. (100*C) !!

What causes bubbles in varnish- I didn’t shake the varnish or use the brush wrong- could it be temperature. Thanks R.G.

Little bubbles, ie: entrapped air, can be caused even with apparent properbrushing if the varnish is too thick or it is drying too fast. If your varnish is too thick you can thin it with the appropriate solvent so that it flows out better. This will also help if it is a hot, dry day and the varnish is tending to dry to fast (which doesn’t allow the bubbles to come out before drying). Also, sometimes, if you are working overhead, gravity causes the bubbles to go up rather than out. also … if the varnish is not well strained, you might have little specks, right out of the can which appear to be bubbles.

The only thing you can do if you already have the problem is to sand and recoat.

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Contact: Marshall and Jo Duhaime, Jr.
3 Duhaime Drive
Hancock, Me.04640

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