Boat Building Restoration Projects

Written by john willis
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Boat Building Restoration Projects
Some restorations require all the skill of a boat builder. (Photos.com/AbleStock.com/Getty Images)

Some boat restorations are straightforward: some cosmetics and a few functional items are replaced. Other boat restoration projects blur the line between boat builder and restorer. The replacement of certain types of hulls, like lapstrake-planked, is beyond the skill level of many restorers. Still other restoration projects, particularly conversions, go far beyond restoration skills, into the realm of boat builder.

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Wooden-Planked Hulls

Most modern hulls are designed with sophisticated software and built with metal or composites. Older boats were often built with processes that relied on hand-fitting methods. Caravel planking and lapstrake planking each involve custom fitting blanks around a boat's ribs. Replacing a rotted or damaged plank isn't as easy as replacing interchangeable parts. Each piece was custom fit when the boat was built and each piece will need to be custom fit during replacement.

Trawler Conversions

Classic motor-yachts, especially those made by well-known and boat makers, can be very expensive. But the functionality of the hull, engine and pilot house in an older commercial fishing troller can be every bit as good and far less expensive. Converting a trawler to a motor yacht can be a great value. It usually involves removing all the commercial rigging (which may still have value), then building an addition to the superstructure --- usually a larger pilot house or salon.

Tug Conversions

Tug boat conversions can offer the same appeal as trawlers and some other former commercial vessels: a good, strong boat at an affordable price. Like trawlers, tugs often have a sparse aft deck, where a new superstructure may be built. Though tugs tend to be even more utilitarian than fishing vessels, they are more likely to be gutted just like a building. Non-structural, interior elements are removed, and a live-aboard layout is built for the tug's new life as a pleasure craft.

Glassing Wooden Boats

It's easy to shudder when thinking of maintaining a wooden hull in the water --- especially salt water. Wood, however, can last an extremely long time, if cared for properly. To make a wooden boat functionally more like a modern boat, the hull (as well as some of the trim) can be glassed. The hull is prepped. It is covered in fibreglass mesh, then coated in polyester resin, which becomes translucent. When the process is finished, the exposed surface is the same kind of gelcoat found on newer boats, but the boat maintains its vintage appeal.

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