Posts Tagged ‘1955 Feather Craft Vagabond

26
Apr
09

Feather Craft Vagabond Part Seven: A Caulking We Will Go!

The previous owner of our little vessel did “clue me in” to the fact that this Vagabond does, or did leak and take on a bit of water.  “Not much!” he said.

After putting water in the boat with a garden hose when first beginning work, there were no major leaks.  That being said, what was observed was the fact that the original “caulking” from the Feather Craft factory seemed to be failing.  It was very dried out and brittle, and flaking or even missing in some areas.

I became concerned about this “little potential problem”, and visited Clyde at Bi-State Marine in Erie, Michigan.  Clyde is fairly well versed in all things boats…and he suggested I give a new product from West Systems a go.  It is an epoxy that is strong and yet flexible.  It is said to be able to take movement, shock and vibration.  This sounds ideal for an aluminum boat.

After buying a small “kit” from Clyde that includes one bottle each of  resin and catylist, a couple of syringes for injecting the epoxy…into the boat seams, not yourself, gloves, and mixing cups with stir-sticks.  Nice kit.

To remove the old caulking was not very tough, as it was at the end of its life.

The caulking is fragile and missing in some areas between the plates at the stern.

The caulking is fragile and missing in some areas between the plates at the stern.

Clearly the spray-rail at the stern has stretched the rivets after years of battering the docks.

Clearly the spray-rail at the stern has stretched the rivets after years of battering the docks.This area is the worst on the boat. Clearly the rivets are pulled a tad, and the epoxy is goign to have to be applied in many layers.

feather-craft-boat-4-25-09-0032

This is the worst area of damage. Perhaps I should reset the rivets, but I'm curious if this epoxy will hold up. It will have to be applied in layers.

 

 

 

The keel will need looking after as well!

The keel will need looking after as well!

Here’s the secret to this epoxy.  You’ll want to heat the metal with either a propane torch or heat gun to get the metal warm, but don’t scorch or melt the aluminum!  Then using the syringe, simply lay a bead of epoxy down along the joint and then re-heat the epoxy.  When you reheat the surface the epoxy is on, it will “sweat” into the joints, around rivets, and “flow” much as solder does when soldering two copper pipes together.  This gives a nice sealed joint.
Since our problem areas are in conspicuous areas, I tinted the epoxy with West Systems Aluminum pigment, which also resists UV damage.  It also gives a close appearance to the original caulking.
This is the first of several layers of epoxy that will be laid into this open area at the stern.

This is the first of several layers of epoxy that will be laid into this open area at the stern.Here is a fresh fillet of epoxy laid into the bottom side of the spray-rail.

Here is a fresh fillet of epoxy on the bottom of the spray-rail.

Here is a fresh fillet of epoxy on the bottom of the spray-rail.

You can see after heating, the fillet of epoxy tends to "sweat" down into the voids where it is needed most.

You can see after heating, the fillet of epoxy tends to "sweat" down into the voids where it is needed most.In this photo the epoxy will have to have another "dose" to fill the area that sunk in. A layer or two may bee needed before doing cosmetic finishing.

When the G/Flex epoxy has dried, a wire brush was used to cosmetically dress up the fillet of epoxy.  This seam looks almost like the original caulking at the seam or the side sheets.

When the G/Flex epoxy has dried, a wire brush on a drill was used to cosmetically dress up the fillet of epoxy. This seam looks almost like the original caulking at the seam or the side sheets.

This seam will be sanded and once the buffing of the boats sides is finished, this should look very original to boat.
I’m not sure what direction this project will take next…so stay tuned!
29
Mar
09

Feather Craft Vagabond Part Six: Our Shining Hour! Buffing, buffing, and more buffing!

There was a problem with my last post, so I deleted it and am now going to update things a bit.

The Feather Craft Vagabond has been buffed and the aluminum compounded using a big fluffy wool bonnet and 3M buffing compound. The results are below.

"Swirls" from the compound and polisher are evident in the photo.

"Swirls" from the compound and polisher are evident in the photo.

Here is a 3/4 shot from the stern.  The buffing is obvious.

Here is a 3/4 shot from the stern. The buffing is obvious.

The shine is giving hope that this vessel may look nice...with enough elbow grease.  Compare the look of the bow.

The shine is giving hope that this vessel may look nice...with enough elbow grease. Compare the look of the bow.

 
Never satisfied, I still found the numerous “battle scars” and scrapes unacceptable.  So I blew the whole thing up and started over.  Sanding is the only way to get rid of the bothersome areas I found to be problematic.

I started with 220 grit wet/dry sandpaper and worked up through 400, 600, 1200 grit.  This got rid of the “dimples”.  The problem is this, when aluminum has a scrape or gouge, it is not like wood as it does not just “crush” the fibers, but rather it either “stretches” the aluminum or “drags” the aluminum into a nice little lump at the end of the scrape.  This leaves the lump sticking out like a sore thumb after the polishing has been done.

What to do!?!?  Sand it down smooth and TRY to “feather” the scratches in to the good areas.

The photo shows the acid wash on the left and original buffing on the right.  Notice how cloudy it is?

The photo shows the acid wash on the left and original buffing on the right. Notice how cloudy it is?

After sanding the aluminum is smooth, but dull.  However many of the scrapes have been "feathered out" on this Feather Craft.

After sanding the aluminum is smooth, but dull. However many of the scrapes have been "feathered out" on this Feather Craft.

A few minutes with a Cyclo 5 Buffer and some fine buffing compound applied by way of a micro-fiber rag...PRESTO!  The Captains fat carcass is able to be seen!  Harumph...

A few minutes with a Cyclo 5 Buffer and some fine buffing compound applied by way of a micro-fiber rag...PRESTO! The Captain's fat carcass is able to be seen! Harumph...

Remember, whatever deficiencies there are left in the aluminum sheets need to be dealt with.  Once the aluminum is polished, those problem spots become mighty obvious!

The buffing will continue for the next week or so.  However I may stop buffing and begin work on another issue.  The caulking used between the aluminum sheets is cracked and failing.  A new West Systems G/Flex epoxy will be used with aluminum powder to recreate the look of the original caulking and seal all the seams below the water line.

I’ve never done this kind of work with epoxy, so we’ll see how it goes.

23
Mar
09

Feather Craft Vagabond Part Five: In the buff…Part Duex…

The buffing continues…on and on…and on…

I am using the Nuvit Grade 9 coarse compound to get rid of most of the corrosion that has been laid upon this old vessel over the last 50-plus years.  Some of it is deep rooted.  Some is just not going to go away.  I am fairly certain that this boat had been left in the water at some point, thus causing permenant corrosion to the sides of the stern below the spray rail.

She also has many “beauty marks” and scars that may never be gotten rid of.  Some call it character. Some other things.  I just find it annoying…so I will try to minimize its appearance as much as possible.

That brings us to today’s work.  More buffing.

I decided to try out a 3M wool compounding bonnet.  Very chic..

I decided to try out a 3M wool compounding bonnet. Very chic..

 

 

 

 

After a little jig...off to the backyard to buff the boat.

After a little jig...off to the backyard to buff the boat.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The bottom and side from the bow to two thirds of the way back to the stern is now compounded using coarse compound.

The bottom and side, from the bow to two thirds of the way back to the stern, is now compounded using coarse compound.In this photo, it is obvious how compounding the aluminum makes a difference.

Coumpounding the aluminum is done to get rid of the corrosion.  However if this were a new vessel, the aluminum would have to handled in much the same way straight from the mill before polishing.
A closer look at the aluminum.  You can see the swirls left behind by the coarse grit.

A closer look at the aluminum. You can see the swirls left behind by the coarse grit.

This side view show what a dramatic difference there is between the acid washed aluminum and the buffed and polished aluminum.

This side view show what a dramatic difference there is between the acid washed aluminum and the buffed and polished aluminum.

Finally a split view of the before and after fromthe bow-on perspective.

Finally a split view of the before and after fromthe bow-on perspective. Look at all those swirls in the aluminum!!

And that is where the 1955 Feather Craft sits today.  More buffing tomorrow, followed by a rainy forecast for Wednesday, and hopefully more buffing later in the week.

Thanks for checking in!

09
Mar
09

Feather Craft Vagabond Part Four: The work begins…

Today 3-9-09 the work began in earnest on the restoration of the 1955 Feathercraft Vagabond.  Saturday evening I had a little time to begin stripping off all the hardware and windshield.  The steering components and helm were removed to allow for easier access to the cockpit.

This afternoon, the plywood flooring was removed.  Oh the nasty things I found were many!  A wide assortment of nuts, bolts, screws, dirt, leaves, and general rubbish was lurking under the flooring.  The drain plug was put in the bilge and the garden hose unrolled to fill the boat for both cleaning, and to identify any leaks.

Leaks were minimal if any, dirt was plentiful.  I would swear a plow and horse were needed to break the sod up enough to wash it out the bilge drain

 

feather-craft-bilge1

The bilge filled with water to let the “debris field” drain.

In order to get a nice mirror shine on the hull, an acid cleaner must be used to clean and etch the aluminum to rid it of impurities and grime from the last 50 years.  The boat had been used for the original “stern-cell research” over the years.

I found the chemical 5  miles from my house at a place that supplies car washes and detailing shops with chemicals.  20 bucks well spent.  This stuff got rid of a lot of dirt and grime. 

feather-craft-boat-3-9-09-001

The boat has been cleansed with an “environmentally friendly” brightener.  For once something that is touted as not being harmful for the environment…WORKED!  The appearance of streaks is water that has not dried yet.

feather-craft-boat-3-9-09-0021

Again the streaks are water.  The hose is filling theboat to check for leaks and do a bit of tidying-up.

Next is the joy of using an angle grinder and wool bonnet to “compound” the aluminum before buffing and polishing.

All the hardware has been removed and will be cleaned and reconditioned before placing it back in the boat.  this included the bow light, stern light, all stern handles, the bow handles, and the windshield will be back dated to an older style dog-leg bracket style such as our Thompson TVT Lake has, but slightly larger.

A new steering wheel will replace the old one owing to the fact it was cracked beyond repair.  An original 1956/57 Johnson electric start control plate and solenoid box and Ship Master simplex control was bought at the local boat bone-yard.  This will match our 1956 RD 18 30 Hp outboard.

Next…out comes the buffing compound…so more to follow.

Greg

27
Feb
09

Feather Craft Vagabond Part Three: In the beginning…

As I described in a previous post, this vessel came to me from a gentleman who used it for he and his sons to share some time with one another.  The boys have grown up, and the man decided that the time was now to find a new home for this vessel, where it would be used instead of laid up in the backyard.

The man and I talked about it briefly after I saw photos at an Antique Outboard Swap Meet in Detroit.  I had not real intentions of buying it, but wanted to look at it since I’d only read about Feather Craft’s on-line.  I called the gentleman up and we set a date for a look-see.  We also talked about price.  he was willing to deal.

I drove up to his home in Michigan with cash in hand, just in case.  Well the rest is history.

feather-craft-boat

The Feather Craft is a 1955 Vagabond with a divided cockpit, and it cam complete with it’s original Piper Trailer.

The boat itself is in good shape with all new seat cushions and a recently installed Taylor-Made windshield.  New marine-grade plywood flooring, though it needs a coat of paint.

feather-craft-boat-cockpitfeather-craft-boat-transom

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo above is of the cockpit, complete with glovebox.                   In this photo the transom is shown to be well built.

I was impressed that the vessel had all of its original hardware still intact, including cletes, bow handle, and stern handles.

 feather-craft-boat-bow-light

The bow light is very reminiscent of a by-gone era of class and elegance in boating.  A bit of buffing, and this little item should shine right up!

The Trailer leaves a bit to be desired.  It has been repainted at least once.  The trailer has rust, and is of the Tilt-Type which are no longer made.  It is restorable, but that will have to come at a later date.

piper-trailer-tag

 

 

 

 

 

Above is the Piper Trailer Tag.piper-trailer-tongue

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The pin that holds the trailer in place is shown on the tongue of the trailer in the photo above.

New tire will have to be bought before she travels very far.  The tires on the trailer are fairly rotted.

piper-trailer-dry-rotted-tires

That’s all for now.  As the project progresses…more is sure to follow.

25
Feb
09

Feather Craft Vagabond Part Two: From the Boathouse to the Doghouse Part Duex!!

The night before leaving for vacation the Gods exacted a toll on my wife’s behalf for my indiscretion of this “little purchase”.

I decided to drive up to Michigan and pick up this vessel and get it home so restoration can begin as spring approaches.  I got to the sellers home, and he was readying the vessel for its 8 mile trip south.  Upon hooking up the trailer hitch, I found the trailer plug had been replace, and did not match my current wiring.

With some effort I was able to modify the plug in hopes of getting the brake lights to operate, but upon plugging the cables together…no dice!  No lights either.

Oh well says I.

Off to Toledo.

Two miles into the trek the voltage gage on  the truck begins to drop off drastically.  Fearing the trailer lighting was shorted to ground somehow, I pulled into a filling station and unplugged the harness.

No good.

I began to trek south and the damage was done!  The meter continued to drop radically.  Unlike my outboards with magneto ignition systems, the truck requires a battery to run it.  finally as the truck sputtered to an untimely end, we rolled into a church parking lot.

I called my wife, who immediately gave me a towing company number.  The only question was…what to do with the boat?

Upon talking to the driver via cell phone, and explaining my situation, he convinced a friend into coming along behind him with his personal vehicle and towed the boat to our house. 

The first expense for our new vessel was a 125 dollar tow bill.

My wife suggested to me as we talked while I was waiting on the tow truck…”Perhaps this is someones way of giving you time to think about what you’ve done.  Perhaps this is an OMEN!”

As she said these word, I would swear there was ominous music from an orchestra of cellos playing in the background.

We will see how the whole thing turns out this summer.

Greg

21
Feb
09

Feather Craft Vagabond Part One: From the boathouse to the doghouse…

Much is written about how women are pressured to act in a certain way, look a certain way, and generally live up to the pressure presented them in the media.

Well, it has long been my contention that the male of the species is never portrayed in a positive light in the media.  For example, how many commercials do you see on TV where the woman is always smarter than the male counterpart?  Cellular ads?  Breakfast foods?  Household cleaners?  The list is pretty much endless!

I have now done my part to support this theory by the ad agencies, and the media.  I have lived up the the vision of the male by heading from the BOATHOUSE to the DOGHOUSE in a very scant few seconds by purchasing a second vintage boat to restore.

This all began last summer when we bought a 1950 Thompson Lake TVT Cedar Strip 14 footer and restored it.  What a thrill to see this boat go from ugly duckling to noble vessel plowing the waters of the Mighty Muddy Maumee in 60 days.

I was so pleased with the outcome, I decided to try my hand repairing two 1956 Johnson RD18 30hp outboards to go with it.  Not being much of a motorhead, I found this to be enjoyable as well.(Much to my surprise!)   I then joined the Antique Outboard Motor Collectors ( aomci.com) to gain more knowledge about these old motors.  This is a national organization of people who gather monthly in various areas of the country and show their lastest classic motor, and the run them in a 55 gallon drum of water, or on their boats on a lake in the summer, etc.

I went to my first ever outboard swap meet in January.  My loving wife gave me “marching orders” not to come home with any more outboards.  After all I have seven to work on now.  I dutifully agreed.

Of course when I arrived at the swap meet I found a friend from Michigan had haul a 1955 Johnson 25 hp RD-17 down from his farm.  He knew I liked Johnson outboards for their style in the 1950’s.  I had seen this motor at his home and expressed interest in it, but passed on it at that time.  Well this time its stylish beauty got to me. 

Perhaps it was the cold weather…or more likely I was just being a male.  But I bought it and loaded it into the truck so he could have space to take home the six motors he purchased that day.  I rationalized I was doing him a favor since he liked Mercury outboards.  I also rationalized I was doing a service to this motor, as it would otherwise sit outside his workshop and probably not ever be a “runner” again.

I wandered inside the shop where the event was held, and looked over the many classics being displayed.  Then while wandering past a folding table I noticed a plastic sleeve with photos of a Feather Craft aluminum boat that was for sale.  I’d noticed these boats on the web and thought they were very stylish as aluminum boats go.  I wanted to eventually get one, but had not expected to find one so close to home.

img_0568b     mbibr05-37a

 

 

 

 

 

 

A set of photos of a restored 1955 Feather Craft Vagabond from http://www.feathercraft.net/index.html.  dig the sleek styling and that “barrel-back” transom.  The class of wood cruisers with the durability of aluminum.

I was introduced to the owner who stated he wanted 2000.00 with the original trailer and a Mercury outboard, but would take less.  He and his sons had used the boat, but the boys are now grown up and he hasn’t used the boat since 1999 or so.  He would be willing to talk price…he just wants to see it used by someone who will enjoy it.

Again living up to media expectations of being male, I thanked him and decided now was not the time to buy the boat…BUT!!!

I mulled the thought of this boat over for a while, a few weeks any way, and did some research on the website above, and elsewhere.  These boats were really built like an aircraft with riveted construction, and rated for 40hp before that “high horsepower motor” even existed!  The twin semi-enclosed cockpits wer a real “turn on”, and I thought it was just plain damned stylish!

I called the owner a few weeks later and we talked over price and came to terms minus the motor…which I certainly didn’t need.  I had decided to divest myself of several trombones I wasn’t playing, and had a few extra sheckles to toy with.  The thing was I forgot one important ingredient.

MY WIFE!!

I had mentioned the boat to her, and was met with the equivalent of “You don’t need another boat.  You’ll shoot your eye out kid!”

Arrrgh!  The old “You’ll shoot your eye out kid” strategy!!

I lived up to the media portrayal of males by buying the boat…with the intention of telling her about it.  However after the purchase was made, I just plain lacked the 16 pound bowling ball sized testicles to tell her we owned a new vintage boat.

Oh how I tried!  But couldn’t do it.  The longer you wait the worse it’ll be.  I was right!

I told her.  She was mad, hurt, pissed.  Can’t blame her.  This is the stuff television writes about all the time.  However the laugh track was missing during our discussion.

Friendly advice…

I would advise anyone not to try this at home!  I am not a professional stunt person, so I’m certain I won’t try this method again.

Revenge from the Gods would be found on my wife’s behalf.  But you’ll have to tune in for that story in the next edition.

For now…remember…NOBODY REALLY LIKED RAYMOND!  Or those who act like that guy on televison.

Greg




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