When I first saw the boat it had just been shifted on to the road from its place, right side up (probably for years) full of dirt, leaves and little ngaio seedlings growing happily inside the hull. At least on second inspection it had been hosed out to reveal the interior, a sorry stained sight but without any evident rot; just lots of cracked planks and broken ribs and capping. Peter said “No way! “But we went to check out the gear, a good Dacron sail, original two piece mast, boom, rudder and centre plate. That sort of swung us. Peter went from “No way” to “OK” and after some haggling we bought it.
We started off water blasting the interior, something that needs some caution as we discovered, too much and the kauri planking starts getting stripped away leaving big gouges in the timber.. The boat was left to dry out for some time and work began on stripping the paint from the outside. Our most effective weapon was a heat gun and scraper which slowly took off the paint layers applied over 50 years or so. The planking was in remarkably good order, many longitudinal splits and about four planks needing replacement on the bilges. It was evident there had been many other repairs to planks over the years with short pieces scarped in .Most of the splits could be repaired by inserting timber pieces glued with epoxy glue. As these boats were built pre glue era, dismantling is relatively easy; when screws and nails are released it all comes to bits. So plank replacement can be done by grinding off the copper nail fastenings and slipping out the broken plank which can be used as pattern for a new one. The planks we replaced luckily did not require any steaming. These replacement planks were from 30 odd year old kawaka timber sourced by Graham Mander, very clean and dry. They were glued in place but to retain some integrity to the original has been nailed and copper roved as well.
Turned over the long process of cleaning up the badly stained interior began. Most of the ribs had been reduced to a Weetbix-like state and were taken out with various spreaders place across the hull to retain shape. The centre board case has been dismantled, cleaned up and glued back together. Any plans of retaining a varnished interior have vanished, too much dirt has got into the grain and even using the heat gun and scraper has not left the surface good enough for that. The heat also has revealed that the boat had probably been treated with linseed oil which no doubt kept rot at bay.
Much sanding has been necessary inside and the interior will be completely painted and then the new ribs (Southland beech) will be steamed and bent into the hull.
It is work in progress!
Grateful thanks to Graham Mander, Don Brooke (who Peter spent some time with in Auckland tracking down our boat’s history and restoration tips.), members of the Christchurch Model Yacht Club who have sourced kauri timber, photos of old Frostbites and Paul Pritchard who is also restoring a Frostbite !