Archive for the 'Uncategorized' Category


Trailers for Sale or Rent: Reviving a well worn original back to road worthy.

Of course everyone knows the title of this post to be a part of the lyrics from Roger Miller’s “King of the Road”.  If you don’t know this song…you should.  It’s great when driving on vacation to just drive along and belt it out when it comes on the radio.

I digress..

When we last left the 1958 Lyman project, we had the hull coated in primer.  The project has moved along despite a looming, and thankfully now passed surgery.  So we needed to perform some surgery of our own on this old trailer.

The trailer is the same one the original owner purchased for this boat in 1958.  It was made by Gator Trailer and is the tubular steel, tilt-type found so commonly under such a craft.  There really wasn’t anything wrong with the trailer…except the springs had lost their springiness.  The springs also were in the 30 to 31 inch range from eye-to-eye…which are not common.  So they needed to be replaced.  To do that I turned to good friends Scott Parish and of course Sonny Clark.

Scott is a bit of an interesting guy.  He works for an auto parts manufacturer and he is very meticulous in his approach to such matters.  He does it everyday at work building rear axles and such.  Sonny is a retired machinist…so problem solving is his thing!  They are both brilliant when it comes to such issues as this trailer.  So we convened on a Saturday morning to do the work.

I was still post-op and hurting badly so I contributed NOTHING to this project.  In fact we arrived around 10am and by that time the guys had been at work and had the trailer pretty well torn down.

Now decisions have to be made.  There were two goals to be accomplished.  #1. Replace the springs.  #2. Extend the trailer tongue a couple of feet. (Scott had remembered a few other issues on my “wish list”…and he addressed those too!!)

So the issues with the springs is…the old spring hangers were not where we needed them to be to accommodate the new 27 inch off-the-shelf-springs.  We went to off-the-shelf so if there was a failure, they would be readily available on the road while traveling.

So the job is…either mount new spring hangers or Which are welded in place.  So either way there is a lot of work.  But after discussion it was decided to mount new hangers and abandon the old spring hardware entirely.

So here’s how Scott and Sonny did it with assist from Steve Shaltry and a tad from me.

Measure twice…cut once!!  We measured more than twice, and had long discussions about how to place the axle correctly to prevent the trailing from “crabbing” down the road which would wear bearings and tires out quickly.  (We actually found the original spring hangers to be off by a 1/2 inch or more!!)  So Scott marked the spot…ground paint away to bare steel…and we were ready to weld new hangers to the trailer tubing.

Scott is self-taught as a welder!  He does a great job though.  We were fortunate the original front spring hangers were about 3/8 of an inch from where we wanted the new spring hangers.  So with the help of a shim placed between the old and new hangers, Scott welded the new hanger in place.  Then he removed the old spring hanger and ground down the remains smooth.

The old tube had a spot that got our attention where it appears to have been welded…poorly…at some time previously.  Scott built this area back up, then chamfered the edges of the tubes to get a good solid bead between the old and new tubing.  He also inserted another tube inside the new tubes to add some strength at the joint.

One of the problems with a tubular trailer is a bow-stop and tongue jack are not easily mounted without concerns of them “swiveling” around the round tube.  In fact most trailers of this era didn’t have tongue jacks.  (That is why there was rot in the bow of this boat.  All the water would run to the lowest point when the trailer was at rest…in this case…sitting down on the trailer tongue.)

So Scott knew I wanted my tongue jack to be more secure and used the correct sized muffler clamps to make a pad for the jack to mount to. Smart!!

So after all that…8 to 10 hrs of work…Sonny hauled the trailer to a local man who will sandblast, prep, prime, and paint the trailer in fresh yellow paint. So she should be better than new when finished.  We’ll need to rewire the lights, re-carpet the bunks, and make some fine adjustments to accommodate the boat.  But it will make for a nice finished restoration package when done.

Next up…and update on the boat herself and how we painted and began some varnish work. So long for now!



I’m Just A Lucky So and So!: What is a survivor?

So the title is “I’m Just a Lucky So and So” written and performed by the Duke Ellington Orchestra in the 1940’s.  My personal favorite version is from much later and is sung by Ernie Andrews with the Phillip Morris Superband.  Ernie is a very underrated West Coast scene.  He is not really a blues shouter, but he is definitely a BLUE SINGER!  I also liked his work with the Frankie Capp/Nat Pierce Juggernaut Orchestra which is comprised of a who’s who of ex-Basie/Ellington sidemen who settled on the West Coast after leaving the road.

However this title popped in my head recently while I was receiving news I hoped I’d never have to get, but did anyway.

Back three years ago I was hit with a pretty major illness that caused me to blackout and pass out in the bathroom.  On my way to the floor I made sure to bash my head into anything available.  My wife heard me fall and came in yelling at me to see if I was alive or dead.  I couldn’t figure it all out.  I thought I was asleep for the first time in days…a deep peaceful slumber that was much needed.  Frankly I was sort of hacked she woke me up!  But then again…I didn’t know I’d passed out either.

So off to the ER for a forth trip.  They were concerned about a concussion and thusly scanned my body.  What they found was I was not busted or bruised, but they had noticed I had a strange nodule showing up on my left lung.  We were shocked.

We followed that little nodule for another 3 years to see if it was growing.  My wife was deeply concerned because she had lost her father to cancer, her mom had done battle twice with the disease, my mom had done battle 30 years ago with colon cancer. So Missy was mortified because I wasn’t really worried about it.  I had been told it could be a benign node (non-cancerous) and we’d just need to watch it.  So we did.

So this year it was found the little turd had grown by twice its original size…which to me meant it was time to stop testing and start cutting.  My feeling was it would be better to remove a golf ball sized thing than a basketball sized thing.  I could only imagine standing in line at the grocery with my picture on front of the National Enquirer holding my bouncing 7lb baby tumor.  NO THANKS!

So we met with doctors who agreed this was the thing to do.  And in fact we did the deed on  March 3rd.  I was not scared nor concerned.  I had an strange confidence in my surgeon.  He was the only one!  I don’t know why other than just a gut instinct.  The rest of the doctors had not made me feel very enthusiastic, or confident.  In fact I was seriously thinking “second opinion” until I met with the surgeon.

The surgeon explained things logically, had obviously been down this road numerous times and told me what to expect. GREAT!  When can we do it?  he said “Next Friday!”  “Great!!” I said.

The plan was they would do everything with robotic assist through small incisions in my side.  They would cut out the nodule (which was now a tumor by definition based on size.)…while I was still on the table it would be quickly biopsied and if the result was no cancer…stitch me up.  If the result was it was cancerous…they’d cut off the lower part of my lung.  This I was not wild about!  AT ALL!

So we agreed, and I went home to announce the plan to Missy that night.  She was visibly shaken.  I assured her I wasn’t dead yet.  Privately I was thinking that at least if I did “check out” during the procedure…at least I got to spend time with her again.  But that refers you back to the previous post about first true loves.  So I’ll let that alone for now.

We talked about it and knew what had to be done.  But it would put emotional and financial pressure on us.  I’d be out of work depending on the procedure for up to 6 weeks.  4 of those with no real paycheck once y PTO time was exhausted.

But I assured Missy we’d get through.  I’d survive.  It would be okay.

The day came and went.  I went in the operating room as scheduled.  The operation went well.  The news was delivered.  It was lung cancer.

Well…while not surprised, the surprises were yet to come.

The doctor went on to explain that the type of cancer I had was the most common cancer contracted in the lungs by non-smokers.  It just kind of appears.  No reason…it just does.  We asked all the obvious questions…cigars?  Nope!  Paint/solvent fumes?  Nope!  Genetics?  Nope!  It just happens.

The good news was then delivered that the surgeon was pretty confident they got all of it!  That was a relief, but we would not know for sure until several days later when the lab was done doing a complete looksee.

I left the hospital on the following Monday morning around 10am  Home by 10:30.  But while sitting in the hospital I began to ponder…would people start calling me a “SURVIVOR”?  God I hope not.  I had joked to the surgeon that this whole business from diagnosis to cure took less time than the last cold I fought off.  That got me thinking…what is a survivor.

So as I pondered this over the next few days, the call came from the surgeon while I was recovering at home.  My brother had come up from southwestern Ohio to babysit me for a couple of days.  On that Wednesday we were laughing…at great pain to me…about how badly we would screw up projects we’d been watching on “Tip from a Shipwright” via YouTube.  This guy Louis Salzedde is a genius.  He does brilliant things, that Jeff and I would watch and say…”Yeah!  But I’d have that thing cut into a million pieces…blah…blah…blah”.  We’d laugh about our ineptitude…and it was much needed after the recent events.

I digress.  So the phone rings and it’s the surgeon.  I could hear a bounce in his voice.  My brother muted the tv…and the news was delivered…”The lab found no cancer at a cellular level outside the main tumor.  None found in the lung tissue, or blood vessels leading to the tumor.”  The cancer was fortunately captive.  “The normal procedure is monitoring and check ups, but no need for Chemo or Rediation”. My brother was coming off the couch with excitement.  The doctor had the best of all possible out comes.  I was happy to be sure.  But after the excitement died down…that question kept nagging me.  God…are they going to call me a “survivor”?

Missy and I spoke about the issue some time later.  She explained by definition I was a survivor.  I don’t disagree.  But I didn’t do anything except show up for the surgery I pled!  What is the definition f a survivor.  Is it over used?

My thinking was that my mom fought a fairly long battle 30+ years ago again colon cancer they said she wouldn’t survive.  She did.  She fought mentally and physically.  Chemo…radiation…the removal of a large part of her colon.  My mother-in-law had battled the disease multiple times.  One of my dearest friends from high school…his mom (One of my surrogate mothers) was fighting cancer a second time…with all the trimmings.  These folks are survivors!  They worked hard and made a mental decision not to give up.  They fought and survived to continue living.

In my case I could make no such claim.  I did nothing heroic.  I only made a decision to do it now rather than later.  Much of that decision was based on financial basis of insurance.  Then I showed up at the time…got on the gurney…and had a surgery. That’s it!  I’m not being humble or self-effacing.  It was just the way it happened.  I confess I feel damned guilty about it.  I’ve watched people, including my ex-wife, experience this horrible disease.  It’s not fun and it can become a mind game for the rest of your life wondering if it will come hunt you down again some day!

Those people who are outlined above are survivors by definition, as am I.  But they fought a long hard battle.  I did not.  4 to 6 weeks of pain is not a battle by comparison…its a hang nail.

I finally arrived at this.  I am only a survivor by definition.  But the first person who calls me that with any regularity may open a can-ful-o-knuckles!  I am exactly what this post title says…I’m just a lucky so and so!

Oh yes!  I’m grateful!  I’m grateful for the outpouring of kindness and support from family and friends.  My wife has been amazing.  My mom n pop…and my brother for looking in on not just me, but allowing Missy to catch her breath by being here for her.  My Faux-Daughter Chelsea and her boyfriend who made me laugh at the hospital when I needed it.  Facebook friends who offered encouragement.  Those who called to check on me.  And those who didn’t so I could rest.  It has been amazing how people have rallied around us.

But there was no fight.  The circumstances could have been so much worse.  I am just a lucky so n so.  Nothing more.  Nothing less.

Now, I’ve got a wife, a boat, and two chins to support.  So it’s time to get on with it.


Never Say Never Again: Another boat project!!

It is said to be a thing of legend…the fights the Fabulous Dorsey’s had!  I’m talking about Jimmy and younger brother Tommy.  Both fiery Irishmen from Pennsylvania…they we’re brother’s who were musical geniuses.  But they had many, many disagreements…that by all accounts led to fights.  Drummer Ray McKinley who played for them confirmed this when I interviewed him years ago.  He stated when asked about the topic (in his Texas drawl)…”OH maaannnn.  Their fights were legendary!  They would start to argue and then the bus would pull over and out the door they’d gooooo!  They’d roll around in the dirt along the highway until it was resolved!!”

The brothers ran a combined jazz orchestra and one night when Tommy was conducting he counted off the tune “Never Say Never Again” at a tempo that Jimmy felt was wrong.  The older brother called the younger out on the bandstand…and Tommy stormed of to start his own big band.  History was made!

Yes many years later the brother reunited and had a really fine swing orchestra.  Tommy directed mostly, older brother Jimmy was featured.  Both had volumes of hit tunes to draw from.  But since they did reunite…they found out you can “Never Say Never”!

So after the last boat project…I swore I’d never restore another boat. I’ve done several and this is boat number 11 so far as ownership.  Everyone one of them needed work.  So I was through…I thought!  But as the Dorsey’s found out…you can “Never Say Never Again!”

In a previous post seen here we made mention of our purchase of a 1958 Lyman 15 runabout.  While she appeared to be in great shape and we had no real plans to do a full restoration…we are doing a full restoration.

Here the deal!

We noticed at the end of last season that she was taking on quite a bit of water when we were out running in October with the Maumee Marauders…a sub-group of friends from the Michiana Outboard Boating Chapter of AOMCI.  This is a group who goes out informally and works, on or just runs our old watercraft and motors.  The wives are involved in it.  We might go for a few hours…or the whole day.  Here is a video of the trip.  This concerned us a bit, but there had always been a slight leak at the bow near one of the garboard planks.  But it seemed to be getting worse.  The other issues with the boat were largely cosmetic, such as paint and varnish.  Hardly a reason to tear the whole boat down.

However after reflection and some discussion with Scott Ramsey of Ramsey Brothers Restoration and my friend and Lyman guru Sonny Clark…Missy n me discussed it and decided a full restoration made sense.  My fear was that we’d paint the exterior this year, then decided to do varnish next year and the stripper would seep out between a plank and louse up the new paint outside.  So we “pulled the trigger”.

Sonny offered to assist us and give us his knowledge by letting us use his big inside heated shop.  His knowledge is based on restoring four Lyman’s, including a 13 footer he split down the middle and replaced almost everything on the boat.  He calls her “Kindlin'” ’cause she wasn’t much more than that…ready for the burn pile.

Also my feeling was that if we had to basically take the hardware and windshield off anyway…might as well do the full boat!  And so we did!!  I also figured we’d get to the bottom of why the leak seemed to be getting worse.  We did!!!  More on that later!

And so we finished the season and took the boat to “Sonny’s Lyman Emporium” to rest and be refitted.  Nearly every weekend we make the early morning trip 101 miles west to Sonny’s where he is usually waiting with his coffee…and an update on what he has done through the week.  Sonny has largely done a lot of mind-numbing and time consuming tasks such as removing all the putty on screws and clinch nails and replacing the putty.  He did the keel work, and a lot of the stripping too.  I can’t possible be there every day.  So we stay in touch by phone and plan our next weekends activities.

So here is where we begin the restoration.

When we left Sonny’s all the hardware was stripped off the boat and stored.

When we came back the next week, Sonny had stripped her decks and removed all the furniture.

So we set about stripping her in the week following.  The varnish that had been applied by the previous owner came right off.  (At least he tried to maintain her!)  But the original varnish was tough!

Missy, Sonny and me worked for a full day stripping her inside.  We found one rib that looks suspicious, but not damaged, possibly from water that sat in the boat.

The forward seat planks were butt-jointed together.  needless to say they eventually will give out…and did.  So Sonny splined them and glued them up with epoxy.

While Sonny worked on the benches…I began sanding the inside of the hull.  This is a tedious task working around all the ribs and the remaining furniture.

The end result is pretty good for a cursory sanding.

The following week we rolled the boat over and were surprised that she was in really good shape.  There are some issues we knew about, and then some usual things, but we determined pretty quickly that we had a situation at the keel that was at the root of our leak.

First the good news.  This boat had some work done that is necessary in most Lyman’s.  Her knee was replaced at some point.  The knee is a structural member that connects from the stem to the keel.  It is a rather large timber with some complex joinery that also involves attachment of the bow planking.  If you look at a lapstrake boat, they seem pretty simple, but look closely at the bow and stern and you find that the planking “flattens” out on both ends via some pretty unique joints.  So they are complex in this way.

So while the knee and two planks had been replaced at some point (Again a sign the previous owner loved his boat and cared for her!!), she certainly had a problem just aft of that repair.

Now that the boat is upside down, we can see what I already knew was an issue.  The keel had something going on at the garboard planks.  What I wasn’t sure, but we needed to find out and make repairs.

In the top photo left…after removal of the caulking you can see there is dry rot at the keel.  Our only option was to cut this area out to see what was involved and then set about repairs.  Top right, we cut the keel out for about 12 inches and began probing the area.  Much to our amazement the timber was in pretty good shape, and the damage was somewhat superficial.  Fortunately the garboard planks were still rock solid!

Upon finding the dry rot, we discussed several options.  The most invasive would be cut the timber out which would involve springing lots of planking and making a new part.  However the timber was actually in pretty good shape.  So we decided to chemically stabilized it and keep it in place.  To repair the damage we used a rot killing epoxy which not only hardens the wood, but also would encapsulate and kill the rot spores.  Then we filled the area with wood (Oak) dust and epoxy.  Smoothed it all out and epoxied a new keel in place.

After splicing the new piece of oak in…Sonny profiled the keel to match the original.  It will certainly be as structurally strong as before…or better in this case since the rot is mitigated.

Now…here is the reason for the rot.  This boat sits on her original Gator Trailer.  The trailers of 1950’s vintage were not equipped with a dolly on the tongue.  So after a trip…whatever water is in the boat…bilge…if allowed to stay in the boat will run to the bow and settle in the area affected on our boat.  The water just sits in the dark humidity of the enclosed bow and eventually it will become a breeding ground for rot.  Had the boat trailer had a dolly on the tongue the water would have settled across the entire bilge or toward the transom and being in open air, would have had little affect.

So now the stripping begins.  This was a tedious and tough process.

The week between Christmas and New Years slows down for me at work, and Missy was off for a shut down, so we spent most of three days bunking in at Sonny’s place to start stripping the boat of her white paint.  Once again, it became obvious that the man who owned this boat must have loved her enough to take care of her.  He had painted and varnished her.  And while not  particularly neat job of it…he did it!  And that probably has prolonged the life of the boat.

You must remember that boats of this vintage were expected to sit out all summer with the sun beating down on them.  There were no UV protectants in paint and varnish really in those days.  So the sun was hard on them.  The rain sitting in the bilge.  Sitting in the water all summer long at the lake cottage, etc.  That’s hard service!  Thus they were expected to live 5 to 10 years…then off to the burn pile.  Our boat is nearing 60 years of age as of this writing!!  So her rotting keel is pretty minor!!

Of course of the lapstrake styled boats out there, Lyman’s were well respected as being well built…and maybe in our boat’s case…OVER-BUILT!  There were others who built good boats, but Lyman’s were, and are well respected.

So back to the stripping of the paint.  The original owner had painted her, and the stripper took that paint off fairly fast.  But the original paint from the factory was HARD as NAILS!!  Three and four coats of stripper were required.  In hindsight I should have simply stripped off what I could, sanded everything.  Feathered the edges and primed and painted over the original paint.  Two reasons for saying this!  1. If old paint is still sticking fast to the surface…work on top of it.  2. Lyman’s paint covered the grain of the plywood planks beautifully.  Its going to be tough to get the grain to not telegraph back through the paint.

But alas we did strip her down.  This also meant uncovering every screw and clinch nail by removing the putty that was placed over them.  Not a job for the faint at heart.  Sonny and Missy did most of this work…I’m glad to say!

What you see above is about a half a day of progress.  The original paint is very tough and the store-bought strippers hardly touched it until several applications had taken place.  Our pile of paint flakes would grow many times over the next few days.

So while Sonny n me went about the process of stripping paint, Missy was doing battle hunched over a workbench stripping varnish off all the furniture parts.

All the furniture and the windshield parts are piled up awaiting their turn at Missy’s table.  The residual varnish was collected in a bucket.  Several buckets!

The paint pile continued to grow…and grow.

So that was it!  23 hrs of time just spent stripping paint and sanding her hull.  I did most of the sanding with my Dewalt Orbital Sander.  It finally seized up in the last hour of work.  But we got the boat ready to go back the other direction toward the water.  We had a basically clean pallet from which to proceed.

Upon return to Sonny’s a week or so later…varnish was continuing to be stripped, and Sonny had stained the transom and gunnels in preparation for final sanding and prepping for primer.  He had also finished up work on the keel repair.

Sonny has worked on the boat as a winter project.

Somewhere along the line I had seen a Lyman with varnished oak spray rails adorning her flanks.  This gave me an idea to follow suit.  But remember the tough…HARD paint from above.  Well it was also covering those spray rails.  Oak is by nature more porous than mahogany.  So naturally this could present a challenge.  But my resident stripper…uh…that is…Missy seemed up to the challenge as seen below!


Now my wife has no hatred toward anyone or anything that I can identify.  But this day…I suspect she came close.  The paint was not only hard…but it was down deep inside every pore of the oak.  Sonny proclaimed…”I bet you end up painting those back.  There’s no way you’ll get that paint off there enough to varnish them!”


Missy did and outstanding job using coat after coat of stripper and then a small wire brush to get the paint out of the grain!

So…after another week went by…we started back to work…

And Sonny sucked and sealed.


Missy stripped…

I stained…


Cans stacked up.


I mentioned Sonny sealed…and he did…using a clear penetrating epoxy sealer…CPES.  We used a new product line from Jamestown Marine called Total Boat which is their house brand.  Sonny applied two coats or so.  What does it do?

It is a very watery…runny…epoxy that soaks deep into the wood and once the solvents flash out and evaporate, it leaves behind a cellulose fiber attached to the wood while sealing it in epoxy to protect it from future issues of rot…or at least minimizing it.


All the furniture and windshield parts are stained and will get varnish.

After a week of setup time, a thinned 50/50 mix of varnish/mineral spirits was applied to every piece to seal the stain.  next four or five build coats of varnish will be applied before sanding and starting to do finish work.  You can’t have enough room for everything.  We improvised!

In  the two weeks since our last visit (We celebrated Missy’s Birthday!) Sonny prepped the boat for primer.  The keel was caulked and he actually put one coat of primer on the wood following the CPES and faired the hull and filled all the screw and nail holes.  Again…not a job for the faint at heart.

Upon arrival I wanted to go over the boat/primer to try and knock down some of the grain from the plywood planking.  I had spoken to Dave Ramsey at Ramsey Brothers Restorations who was kind enough to offer some advice.  So while I doubt I’ll get all the grain out…and the planks smooth…sanding is a good start.

Sonny had masked off the gunnels and transom.  These things don’t seem hard…and they aren’t.  But prep is 90% of a good end product…and 90% of the work.  The primer and paint are easy!  So I block sanded the primer and removed much of it in the process.  But this will hopefully yield a smoother final finish.


Here Sonny has also meticulously taped of the transom which will be varnished and masked it to keep the primer off.


After block sanding the entire boat with 80 grit by hand, I took a break while Sonny vacuumed and Missy wiped the boat down with spirits.  You can see how much primer I actually removed from that undercoat.  Once this was done…it was time to prime the hull.  This is the first time I felt like we were going back toward the water!

The primer we used is a two part epoxy primer from West Marine.  It is their house brand which I think has been discontinued.  So why did I used it?  Simple!

We dropped in one day to look at paint prices.  I looked down and saw it was on sale for 69.99.  Primer of this type is normally around 129.99 for the gallon kit.  I asked the sales person who made it for them.  (Let’s face it…West Marine doesn’t have a factory where they make varnish, paint, and primer. Someone makes it for them.)  She said Pettit made it and they West Marine was dropping it from their line.

Great!  I’ll try it.

This stuff is made for steel, fiberglass, and aluminum boats…but is commonly used on wooden craft too!  It falls right in line with the CPES and other such products.  However this is not easy stuff to work with.  We were going to spray it rather than brush it.  I sensed Sonny was apprehensive about that idea, but I bought some epoxy #97 Thinner from Petit for dirt cheap and it laid down and flowed out very well.  Spraying also make short work of the entire boat.  I used a fairly inexpensive HVLP Paint gun.

Sonny mixed and stirred.  I sprayed.  Be sure to wear a suit and PPE.  Respirator for sure!!


I took my time and sprayed the whole boat in under an hour.  The toughest part is getting the bottom laps coated.  You have to reach over the boat from the opposite side to do it well.


Coat number 1 was done by 11am.  We started the day at 9-ish.

So the plan was that we’d let the primer dry for about three to four hours and in the meantime I could be working on varnishing the brightwork. Missy helped by bringing the parts to my work table I brought from home.  I varnished and moved the parts back to the storage tables.

All the brightwork/furniture got a quick coat of buildup varnish.

I hope to push and challenge myself on the varnish and paint for this boat.  I’d like to do it once and not have to mess with it again.  So there will be many more coats applied.  But right now I’m just concerned with building thickness so I can safely sand without “burning” through to the stain.


There are a number of parts made from plywood for seat supports and such.  These parts will get an oak stain…then varnish.  They were probably made from scrap pieces at the factory that otherwise would have been pitched or burned.  So while this is not beautiful wood (since it is made from the same plywood as the planking!)…it will still be seen.


So after a bit of down time and idle chit-chat…we did a second coat of primer.  It’s not easy because you’re shooting the same color over top of each other. If we hadn’t gotten such a great deal on this primer…I would recommend buying two different colors to overlap each other to more easily see the coverage.


After the primer was applied above we had lunch and then went out after the cloud of primer cleared and did another build coat of varnish.  Notice the gloss is starting to build up.


And with this bow-on shot, you can see we are done for the day.

So our plan right now is that Sonny will do a little more fairing and filling and sanding.  When Missy n me make the trip next weekend…we’ll prep the hull again and shoot a final coat of primer in the morning.  Then we’ll kill time a bit and within a few hours shoot the first color coat of white.  More on that later though.

So for now…that is where the project sits.  We’re hoping she’ll look nice when we’re finished.  I doubt she’ll be a “showstopper”, but I have hopes of her looking like the real lady she is.  She has been an excellent source of fun and we have certainly put some miles under her in our first season.  We are honored to be her stewards moving forward.

Until next time…so long.


Falling in Love Again: A story of Missy n Me…

The story of Missy n Me started more than 30 years ago.  30 years.  Where does it go?  It is a simple story about true love.  Does anyone ever forget their first true love?  I doubt it.  I never did.  In fact there have been studies about first true loves, and apparently it is something not too many ever get past.

Our story began innocently enough on a summer day around 1984 at a Civil Air Patrol encampment based at the airfield outside of Springfield, Ohio.  We were camping on the green right in front of the terminal building.  Squadrons from Xenia, Dayton/Kettering, and our scrappy bunch of cadets from Squadron 706.

I remember the damned searchlight going round and round all night.  Some of the cadets stayed up into the wee hours…talking…playing cards…and generally just trying to be as adult as our age would allow.  I was 16-ish years old, and had never dated…let along really been in love.

Then as the song says…”I was walking along minding my business…when out of an orange colored sky…FLASH…BANG…ALA KAZAM!”  Love came along and hit me right square in between the eyes!

That morning as we were preparing for the days training session…there she was.  I still remember it like yesterday.  Dressed in nothing but green military fatigues, the most adorable young female cadet I’d ever seen walked by.  I felt my heart pound…alternating pulses of hot and cold though my veins. It was far worse than the feeling of getting detention…interim reports…or bad grades…and knowing the punishment that was coming.  This was the same…but different.  It was amazing!

I watched her walk by, and later found out she was “dating” a guy who was a Master Sargent!  He was nearing completion of courses to Warrant Officer!  Oh God!  I was a lowly Airman!  How could I compete!?!?!?

I couldn’t!  She was beautiful…and was dating a guy with MORE STRIPES!!!  UGH!!!

I was sunk.

I watched her from afar.  Even clad in nothing but green she seemed to exude such warmth through her big smile, her eyes twinkled when she smiled.  She had a cute little nose that caught my attention.  Her face was gentle and kind.  But she was with another guy.  I’d never cross the line to try and steal another guy’s girl…and how could I?  He HAD MORE STRIPES!

At some point I was asked to take something to her where she was working in the terminal doing clerical stuff…I guess.  I approached and she smiled as I reached out to hand her whatever I’d been asked to deliver.  I swallowed hard…took in a big breath…and when she said “Thank you”…I mumbled something that undoubtedly sounded like I had gas from the can of Spaghetti-o’s and soda I’d eaten for breakfast.

That was the end of it!  I was done!  She’d never speak to me again…and god willing she’d never remember what had just happened.

So the timeline gets fuzzy here, but at the end of the year was our annual C.A.P. Banquet.  I had been asked to deejay the event since my buddy and I had started a business spinning records.  So we showed up…set up…and were ready to go.  Dressed in a tux…I was the front man…and Jimmy spun the records and attended to the technical stuff.

As things got underway…and folks began entering the room, alas I saw her walk in with a… friend.  Hey!  Wait!  Where was old what’s his name…the Warrant Officer?  Strange.

After the awards were passed out following dinner, Jimmy and I were introduced and began our shtick…which was “under development” still.  We were novices. As I stood nervous on stage back selling songs and trying to keep things going forward, my nerves were not owing to the performance.  It was “What if I fail in front of HER!?!?”.

As the evening wore on, my dreams were answered.  This young cadet I’d been watching from afar came up with an envelope from her “friend” of whom I’d been acquainted, yet disinterested in.  She introduced herself…as if I’d never noticed her…and handed me the note…which I believe I stuffed in a pocket or read quickly and dismissed.  I had something more important to do right then.  With every ounce of guts and determination I could muster…I blurted out “Would you like to dance?”.  She said “Sure!”…and there was that smile again.  Her “Pepsodent Smile”!  I could have passed out.

So I told Jimmy to keep playing slow stuff for a bit…and Missy n me…we did the “High School Hangs”.  My feet never touched the ground the whole time.  I was flying higher than anyone could imagine.  Me…dancing with HER!  WOW!

It nearly wrecked the gig as I wanted to keep going on slow music, but the other kids wanted something…well…more up-tempo.  Finally I had to succumb to their wishes.  It was a non-paying gig after all!!

The night went on…and I was in love!  Though I didn’t know how much so right then and there.

At the end of the evening she gave me her address or phone number, and we were going to stay in touch.  Problem was she lived in Springfield…me Englewood some 30 miles distant to the west.  I had no car…no drivers license…not a single luxury.

So thus began one of the great letter writing campaigns in history.

We wrote sweet innocent love notes by the mailbag full.  Back and forth the postal truck roared along I-70 carrying our precious cargo.  Some weeks there’d be 5 or so letters between us.  Sundays were pure hell!  Through rain, sleet and snow…but not on Sunday by God!

Everyday I would meet the post man…a grumpy old guy in a jeep…at our curbside mailbox in hopes of another letter from my long-distance sweetheart.  The mailman got on to what was up.  I suppose they see trends and back in those days they knew everyone on their route.  So he’d put all the mail in the box…rather than handing it to me.  Then I noticed he would sit in his jeep sorting the next batch of letters…while I perused our posts for “The LETTER!”.  He would see my face grow long if nothing was in the pile of junk mail…and like a genie out of a bottle…”Oops!  I musta missed this one!”…or “Hmmm…this was on my dashboard!”…or the old classic play “Darn it…I guess I dropped this one!”…as he handed me the LETTER of my dreams.

I would walk calmly into the house…but with a quicker step than normal…and head for my bedroom to read my latest post from Springfield.  The letter would usually go to school with me the next day and during study hall…a return letter drafted and sent back across I-70 to Springfield.  This is potentially why I was such a bad student with such lousy grades.

Finally it was my Senior Prom! 1986…theme…Sailing.  (Yes the Christopher Cross song!)  I asked Missy to accompany me…and she said okay.  But having no car…etc presented issues. So I enlisted a friend who had wheels to double date…then after-prom…then King’s Island the next day.  We were set.

We went to pick up Missy…all the way in Springfield and came back to my folks house to take photos, then off to prom.

Yup…same tux I wore for the Civil Air Patrol banquet.  Missy looked beautiful like a princess.  I looked more like an anemic Jimmy Stewart!

We danced…slow dances at prom.  Talked a bit.  I was still nervous and scared.  She was sweet as usual.  The next day we headed off to King’s Island where Mark’s date tried to get Missy to take off with some guys they met while waiting in line for a ride.

But alas, she stuck around with me.

However, eventually not having wheels to get back and forth got the better of us, and she called it quits.  I remember the letter telling me we don’t see enough of each other.  I remember going out to get the mail…and seeing the postman’s perplexed look when there WAS NO LETTER.  After a week or so…he got the picture and as grumpy as he was said “Sorry kid!  Nothing today.”  I think what he meant really…but didn’t know how to say was…he was sorry.  He no doubt saw the look of lost love on my face.

So what to do?  Get a license and a car! So over the summer I did.  Then fall rolled around.  And somehow I still couldn’t get Missy off my mind.

Again…mustering all the courage I had…I gassed up my trusty new/used Pontiac J2000 and drove all the way across I-70 to her high school.  I arrived as 7th period was wrapping up and waiting hoping to see her leaving so I could ask her to go get an ice cream or something.

My heart was pounding as class let out…and suddenly there she was…heading toward me.  She didn’t see me at first…but I stepped right out in front of her and said “Hello” or something equally romantic.  She greeted me looking perplexed, then a surprised look filled her face.  I wasn’t sure what to make of it!  It seemed odd and strained. Surprised was to be expected, but slightly shocked…or horrified was not.

I asked if she would like to take a ride in my car…and amazingly she said yes…but then she said “Just a minute…I need to talk to someone.”  She went over and spoke to some fella standing with his friends…and then returned, and away we went.

I guess never in a million years had it occurred to me that maybe…just maybe she might move on and start dating someone else.  It truly didn’t occur to me until a day or so later…that guy she spoke to…was her now ex-boyfriend.

Well we went to the mall and walked around.  We grabbed a snack…and shopped a bit….then I took her home.  We sat in the driveway talking for a time…then I had to go.  This is when a most uncharacteristic thing occurred…I leaned over the center console and gave her a kiss.  I was stunned.  I did that!?!?

She smiled sweetly…probably seeing the shock and embarrasement on my face…and then she got out and went inside.  I on the other hand had to drive home while suffering a near heart failure while asking myself…”What the hell did I do?  Do I have no self control!?!?  Was it good for her?  It was good for me…all 3 seconds of it…WOW!  Oh god…she’ll never want to see me again…WHAT HAVE I DONE!?!?!?!?”

But we did see each other again.  Often!  So much so over the next couple of years her father threatened to write me off his taxes as a dependent.

So this was the beginning of our real love story.


Missy’s Senior Prom was coming up too.  The theme was “Sailing”…it was 1987 and yes…it was still the Christopher Cross song by the same name.  My prom was held in a banquet hall…Missy’s in the high school gym.  We walked in and it was amazing.  The gym was decked out with a false tunnel of streamers leading to the tables and chairs and the dance floor.  She looked amazing.  Her strapless gown with gloves.  Me again in my white dinner jacket with black tie this time.  We danced the night away…slowly…then went out to the local reservoir and sat in my car.  We watched the stars and the water…then with all the romance of the day…I am told by her…I fell asleep…in my drivers seat.  She sat quietly until dawn.  Then we took off for King’s Island again.

Romance.  HA!

We stayed steady for what seemed like for ever.  But it must have been shorter than I thought.  As I look back though, her 1987 Prom pictures are the first time we looked like adults.  The first time we looked happy.  And as I look at the photos below…it is easy to see how in love we were.  And we were!  My first true love.

This must have been my birthday.  I’m perched on a new bike which Missy remembers us riding at the reservoir a lot. In the second photo, you can tell…we were so happy…and in love.

scan_20161225-7I love this picture.  We were building a new disc jockey set up to go on the road with.  I’m sure she’d rather have been doing something else, but she was always willing to help.  The reason I love this photo is this is the smile I fell in love with.  Big and warm…she looks like a rainbow could shine from behind her.

So after working all day…we finally got this new project done.  We set it up in the garage and she was a great sport through it all.

scan_20161225-11It’s Christmas time, and we have just arrived at my folks house.  I wore a leather flight jacket long before Tom Cruise and “Top Gun”…and yes I’m sure the fashionable headgear was inspired by a different movie.  But…here is Missy…with that smile!

scan_20161225-13We both are old souls.  I loved old music…big band and jazz…she is more of the 1950’s faith.  Thus Missy got me a replica Philco Model 90 and I got her a miniature Wurlitzer Jukebox that played little tiny tapes.

scan_20161225-17Yup…spring has sprung and we took a road trip to Indianapolis Union Station.  It had been converted into a shopping mall.  I guess there’s always a train around me somehow.

Standing on the back porch at my folks…we must have been ready to go boating.  I must be happy…as they say a happy man gains weight.  I must be happy here judging by the spare tire forming!  We used to go boating with my family.  Ironic since it is still a past time for us.

scan_20161225-20My second favorite photo of us.  This was kind of us in a nutshell.  I loved Missy deeply and intensely, which would present issues down he road.  But some good natured hamming nonetheless…and yet I would guess I was still being very sincere.

scan_20161225-24These are special photos.  This is my Grandma Stubblefield…mom’s mom.  She was a wonderful character.  Warm…and fun loving.  And that little Pontiac Fiero in the background was my undoing.

scan_20161225-25Grandma Stubblefield loved Missy.  Missy was very kind to her.  but Grandma had never driven a car in her life.  But being a fun loving person…I think she would have tried if we’d let her.  Simply a favorite photo for both Missy n me…Grandma with the keys in hand…ready to go cruisin’!


Possibly my favorite photo of us.  Stubblefield family get together…nearing the end of our run together.  I’m still in love…but Missy is nearing the end of “US”.

So all good things must come to an end.  The Fiero was perplexing to me…and came to be a symbol of Missy striking out on her own.  I was 19 or 20 and very much lacking in confidence under the surface.  She was growing and finding herself.  We had talked of marriage by this time.  It scared me to death.  We spoke about marriage and having children, which Missy very much wanted…and I did not.  I wanted to pursue a career in broadcasting which was not promising financially…especially starting out and raising a family.  And she was working full time.  Her father and I were beginning to have issues, as I was trying to get his daughter away from him, and he was trying not to lose her to someone he viewed had no future.  It’s an old story.

It finally ended…supposedly on, or around my birthday.  Missy came to the house.  We were talking. I knew things were not good…and hadn’t been for a while.  And she ended it despite my pleas for working it out.  Ultimately…she was right.  We were heading down different paths.

I died a little that day.

No more sweet smile.  No more twinkling eyes.  No more road trips in my pick up truck.  No more getting to hang out with her and her two sisters…her parents, whom had become part of my life.  I sobbed for hours.  It hurt.  Damn how it hurt.  My first true love had ended.  I had ruined it in large part…by being so insecure…so I blamed me mostly.

I lost track of Missy after that.  I was mad at her.  Years later I found out my mom, with whom she had bonded deeply as well…kept in contact with Missy for a while after we ended it.  Mom even sent Missy gifts when her first two children were born. When I found out, I was aghast.  It’s not like it hated her…really.  I was worried she was dead in a ditch or something.  It would have been nice to know she was okay.

But life moved on.  I dated…but no one came close to “the standard” set previously.  I married…and loved her too, but in a different way than a first true love.  It’s possible to love more than one person.

However over the years with the advent of the internet I had kind of “searched” for Missy on and off.  As the internet improved…the chances of finding out ow she was improved too.  One day I found her dad in my search.  The database said he was 55 years old.  I remember thinking how odd that was.  The math didn’t make sense.  Then the reality hit that he had passed away.  My heart sank.  I started thinking of her mom…sisters…and of course Missy. He was actually a smart and wise man.  He had a deadly sense of humor…and a laugh I can still hear in my head.  It was infectious!! So

I clicked away a bit and found Missy had married another guy from Civil Air Patrol who had been a life long friend with her family.  I felt relieved.  I remembered him as a decent and generally good guy.  They had 3 kids.  Missy got what she wanted and deserved and I was at peace with that.

But she never really left that special place in my heart for a first true love.  I carried her along with me.  For many years I was in radio, I thought our paths might cross as I did a number of 50’s/60’s formats.  Right up her alley.  But it wasn’t to be.

We came close though!  In fact closer than we imagined!!

I tired of radio.  I’d gone through several mergers.  I’d been in a management role a number of years…and decided to change careers.  I left and went to work for a Class 1 Railroad in Hillard, Ohio at a big hump yard.  One day while shoving a train out into the old yard tracks near Scioto-Darby Road…I was “flagging” a crossing to stop traffic.  Suddenly out of the string of cars approaching, a lady with some kids drives over my foot.  I remember it clearly as day!  I looked into the car and thought…”WOW!  That looked like Missy!”.  Well I had a train to put away and I did so.  Little did I know that Missy and her family were living in Hilliard at that time.

She denies it happened…or it was her.  I have my doubts.

So move ahead another decade plus and 2013 rolls around. Technology plays a role.  This time not the U.S. Postal Service…but the internet.  She came searching to see what I was up to.  She mustered all the courage she could to hit “send” and I received a message asking how I was.  It seemed pretty thinly veiled and it appeared to me her life wasn’t going well either…or why would she contact me?  I’d just be a faint memory if everything was “swell” with her.

I was honest.  “NOT GOOD!  Can’t find work…marriage is ending.  How are you?”

Her reply was honest too.  She’d been married to a police officer.  Thank god they do what they do…but it usually costs them personally.  She had 3 grown kids.  She was calling it quits too.

We sent messages back and forth for a bit and decided to meet and just go over old times I guess.  Besides…I was frankly still a little hacked she ended it almost 30 years ago!  I wanted to tell her so.  So we met.  We talked.  I told her I was older, grimmer, greyer, tired…and fatter.  She said she was felt alone.  I wanted to still be mad at her.  I tried being as frosty as I could, but I melted.  I was not surprised…at all

We talked so much we forgot Missy had packed lunch.  And we talked…and talked.

Eventually the writing was on the wall.  We still had that little spark between us.  It was just an ember.  But it was more than either of us had at home.

We kept in touch, and the emotional affair began.  The marriages had ended years before really. I think we were both deeply concerned about whether this was just two old fools trying to relive the past.  But it just didn’t feel like that to me.

My heart still pumped like the old days when she would smile, she still had that sparkle in her eyes.  I felt her warmth and sweetness when she talked of her kids.  All the old feelings were still there.

I went home and researched a bit about “First True Loves”.  It seems some psychologist had done a study on first true loves who get back together later in life.  Most fit our very profile.  Older, previously married…and know what they screwed up in prior relationships.  In fact…those who got back together had a more than 80% success rate.  That’s a helluva a lot better then most marriages.   Maybe there was something to this.

So we agreed to give it a go.  Fairly straight forward.

And we did.

We still have fun.  We still road trip.  We laugh…and despite being older and heavier, we are both less grim, grey, and tired since we got back together.  We enjoy spending our time together.  She still makes me laugh.  If I get riled up and start cussing or ranting…she just laughs.  I feel a little foolish…then laugh along.  She’s been wonderful for me.  I hope I am for her.

So we got married on September 19th,2014…at the courthouse in Columbus.  I was horribly sick in fact.  But we had set the date previously so there was no going back on it.  Besides…it looked like I may need a live in nurse.  We had a quick ceremony in the 3rd floor of a Bail Bonds building across from the courthouse.  And our wedding dinner was at Taco Bell.  Following that we loaded up the truck and boat and went to North Webster, Indiana to and Antique Outboard Motor meet. I drove as far as Wapakoneta, Ohio and nearly passed out.  Missy drove the rest of the way.  Amazingly our friends from the AOMCI heard what had transpired and threw us an impromptu reception.

There was cake, dinner, and champagne…none of which I could taste since I’d lost a sense of taste while sick.  But Missy took care of me.  She nursed me back to health.  And we take care of each other now.

She still makes me very happy.  It was amazing that no one really seemed surprised we were getting back together 30 years later.  Her family…my family…our mutual friends all kind of guessed it when we each broke the news.

We take time to enjoy each other…and look after one another.  She still has that twinkle…the warmth…the sweet smile.  She still sends my heart racing when I see her laugh.

So Falling in love again…it is possible.  It can be a most amazing adventure!  And so it is.

As a post script…the more things change…the more they stay the same.

Instead of disc-jockey gear…this time we’re working on restoring our 1958 Lyman 15 foot runabout.  We enjoy going to Classic Boat shows and just traveling local waterways in her.


20160427_184441So long for now.


The Summer Wind: The End of the season, and a new boat…

Well…it’s been a year.  Hard to believe really!  Much has been going on and I’ve wanted to get back to this business of blogging.  I hated that I’d left it on what some could consider a sour note…the last post…that is.

So in actuality things have been moving along rather nicely.  I’ve been working hard at work and was privileged to get a promotion.  That has kept me busy trying to get back into the swing of a management role.  I enjoy the job a great deal and have a pretty darn good team with which I work.

Missy and I had been in the market for a boat a bit bigger than my little Thompson Lake TVT that is featured elsewhere on this blog


Our 1949 Thompson left to make room for a new vessel.  She went north to Marblehead.

So here’s how this all came about.

We’d been looking for a slightly larger vessel…vintage of course.  We hadn’t found much, and in speaking to our friends at various times we’d let it be known to keep a look out.  Low and behold my friend Sonny Clark…a bit of a Lyman enthusiast…was perusing the Lyman Boat webpage and stumbled into a nice deal clear down near the bottom of the page.  It was a 1958 15 footer with her original 1957 Johnson 35hp and Gator trailer.  Sonny sent an e-mail along with a caption…”Will finance”.


Sonny knew we were trying to get back on our feet after the divorce…moving…taking a new job that paid okay, not great, and taking on expenses after a long illness.  But Missy and myself were plodding along and doing okay starting our lives over.  Still…I was perplexed at this “offer”.

Frankly when I got his e-mail I was swamped at work and forwarded it to Missy and didn’t even get to look at it until later in the day.  The boat looked decent.  Looked solid enough.  I was intrigued.  Missy sent back an e-mails saying…”WOW!!”

So I called Sonny that evening and he said…”Well…I might as well tell you that you’re under no obligation to me, but I all ready bought the boat and we’re driving up to get it this weekend.  But if you don’t want it, I can flip it and make money.”  I was stunned.  So we talked and he told me he was going to buy the boat (His 3rd Lyman) and if we wanted it, come look at it and we could pay him back as we were able.

Again…I was floored.  What an act of kindness.

I asked what the “ransom” was…to which he said bluntly…”2000.00…I’ll do the title work and get the State to give it a hull ID.  I’ll register it.  You can pay me for all of that too.  But it shouldn’t be too much more.”

Total: 2175.00  ALL IN!

So we went over on Memorial Day weekend and had a looksee.  I was shocked!  I’m not really a Lyman fan, but this was a really nice solid boat.  I was quite familiar with them since you can’t swing a dead cat without hitting one here in Ohio.  They were made in Sandusky after all.  Beside that, having worked closely with Ramsey Brothers Restorations in Toledo, I knew enough to be dangerous.

In fact after Sonny gave me the low down, I called Scott Ramsey and told him about the boat.  He told me the 1958’s were indeed great boats, if not over-built.  Earlier versions had a pattern of 3 small ribs and then a larger rib…then repeat.  Our boat had all 7/8″ (large) ribs, thus making it a really tough little boat.


This is out prospective Lyman sitting at “Sonny’s Lyman Emporium”.

Her original 1957 Johnson RDE19 was in AMAZING condition!  What a survivor!!

Lots of extras were included too!  Her original Wilcox Crittenden hardware was all present.  Her pennant staff an extra Michigan Wheel bronze prop, 3 OMC pressure tanks (2 were original to her) and a box of assorted goodies.


And one of the coolest features was side steering in the rear seat.  At first I thought this odd.  It was really a Lyman inboard thing.  But I conferred again with Scott Ramsey who said he had seen it on small runabouts occasionally.  It wasn’t rigged when we got the boat, but I just had to try it.  So we hooked it up when we re-rigged her.

Overall the boat needs cosmetic issues worked on, but structurally…she’s a creampuff.

Her story is along the lines of…Her original owner and his wife split at some point, and he had a daughter from the marriage.  So he purchased the boat to go fishing, and to take his daughter skiing.  This is what they did together.  (Thus the rear side steering…for fishing)  He babied the boat.  This was obvious by the paint and varnish that adorned her.  While not a professional job…at least he tried to keep her up!  He must have loved her too.  I’m told he had her stem and knee replaced at the bow (always an area of concern on a Lyman) and her motor had a new head gasket.

Upon his passing, his daughter held onto her Dad’s boat where it sat in a garage since 1991.  She decided that she and her husband of 50 years were not going to be able to use it, nor do much with it, so it went up for sale.  Sonny made a deal with her, and then with us.

We couldn’t be more grateful.  We’ve done little to her other than a few maintenance coats of varnish on her decks and a tune up of her motor.  And this summer, we put close to 4 or 500 miles under her.

Missy and I completed a round trip run on the Muskingum River from Zanesville to Marietta, Ohio.  The Zanesville Yacht Club sends along a lovely certificate for completing that run or 85 miles.  All you have to do is have the Lock Tenders sign a paper, mail it in and your certificate comes in the mail!

Last year Missy and Chelsea (Missy’s daughter) and I loaded up the Thompson and made part of the trip.  It’s an amazing chance to go back in time and traverse not only some lovely scenery, but also lock through 11 HAND OPERATED LOCKS to get from pool to pool as the river drops into the Ohio River Valley.  Here is a video from last years run!

Running on the Muskingum River

We also had some fun in other runs below:

Maumee Marauders at Alum Creek State Park

New Chief of the Boat…Meet Molly McGee

So then…that brings us to our new “Chief of the Boat” Molly McGee.  Molly is a black lab/Terrier mix we found waiting patiently for us to take her from the Franklin County Dog Pound.

I swore I’d never do another dog after Remy was put down.  He was my buddy, and was game for anything…as long as it was with me.  He made sales calls when I was working in Toledo.  But time heals us…and the time had come to consider a new companion.  I also swore I’d never own another black dog because of Remy.  He got so damned hot in the boat.  But…when you find the right one…what can you do

Molly is of course named after the wife of Fibber McGee (Which incidentally was the name of my Thompson that I’d just sold).  So we kept the theme running.  She is sweet, but we were sold a “bill of goods”!

They said she was 2 years old.  I’ve never had a puppy.  But we now think she is a shade over 1 year old!!  She’s a lot of puppy.  But I love her to death.

Most days I come home from work and I have to take a deep breath before entering the front door.  Some days are not too bad, but at least one day I came home to something resembling Bob Crane’s crime scene!  Only thing missing was blood splatters and a tripod!  Good lord!

But…I can’t resist her!

Then of course there is Missy.  I can’t say too much about her just now.  She makes me very happy.  I hope to blog about that story soon.  But she puts up with me.  When I start grumping (more often than not) she just laughs at me…then I start laughing at me.  It’s silly really.  But we have a good time! She likes to go out boating.  She has been quickly accepted and loved by my friends across the board, for which I’m very grateful!  We take little day trips.  We go antique shopping.  We hang out and do nothing much really at all other times.  But we enjoy each others company.

Aside from that…life is good and the election is over.

Hopefully the country can put aside differences and move ahead in a positive direction.  I can tell you I liked life better when I didn’t know my friends political leanings.  Thanks a helluva lot Facebook!

So with that…I’ll leave you.  I hope to be more active at blogging in the coming winter months.  We plan to do a lot of cosmetic work on our Lyman.  IE; Paint on her hull, some varnish, and maybe new electrical wiring.  So I’ll try to take pics and update if possible.

So long.  Have a great Holiday Season!!


D-I-V-O-R-C-E: It’s not just a song anymore…

Our musical title is an old Tammy Wynette tune from the 1970’s.  Its one I remember hearing on the radio often…and one that I remember not being very fond of.

But alas it is our theme for this post.

Over 60% of marriges in our country end in the “D” word.  It’s not a club many people care to join, and yet it happens.  I now am a part of that group…and frankly it bugs me a bit.  And since this blog was never meant to be about just boats and motors…but rather about life…my life…I feel compelled to write.

I married in 2001 to a woman I met through a friend.  We hit it off famously!  She was a lot of fun, had a warm personality, and we seemed well suited to be together.  Not long into the relationship…like the second date…we began discussing marriage.  She had a house and I moved in with her…then we married.

Like all brides…she was lovely on that cold October day.  She was stunning.  Our wedding was outside.  The weather was not cooperating, but with some space heaters we had a grand reception.  It was magic.  We honeymooned in southeastern Ohio’s Hocking Hills…and enjoyed relaxing…and just being together.

But time marched on…and life gets in the way.  We had everything thrown at us but the kitchen sink.  Job changes, job losses, moving for jobs, carrying two mortgages…then in 2003-ish…one month after we bought our home…life hit us and hard.

My wife was diagnosed with a major illness…that was life altering.  I remember it so well.  One night I had a dream I was decked out in a suit and being led into a church, for what I though was a wedding.  All the family was there.  Then I saw it.  A casket being wheeled past me.  I dreamed my wife had passed away.  I woke up, gasped some air and began to ball my eyes out.  My wife woke up and pulled me close to her.  I couldn’t tell her what I dreamed.  It scared hell out of me.  Worse yet it turned into a bit of a preminition.  Yes in 2003…when we thought our life was settling down…she was diagnosed with the Big “C”!

How could this be?  Our life was never going to be the same.  She was determined to fight it out and she was quite remarkable?  She was bookish by nature, and thus she went to the “books” and educated herself about every facet of this illness.  I was so amazed.  She would ask doctors questions about treatments that left them scrambling for answers to her questions.  It was amazing.

I found myself depressed and trying to protect her from everything that might harm her.  I could do nothing about the cancer, but let someone talk badly to her, and I was willing to start throwing punches. (Something I’m not prone to doing!)

But as she fought her way thogugh the treatments and chemo and doctors appointments, I tried to accompany her to nearly every one.  I wanted to support her.  In retrospect this may not have been best for us.  I’m sure she felt suffocated, and I was just wearing out working and trying to hold myself together.  She was working as much as she could too.  But the emotional and fiscal strains began taking their toll.  Frankly, had her father not assisted us finacially, we would have been wiped out.  Period.

Finally after many chemo treatments, radiation, and doctors appointments, she was on the road to a full recovery after surgery.  She has some complications, but she is well.

Then as that was winding down, it became appearent the company I was working for was also close to the end.  I jumped ship!  I had another offer and took it.  But I also took a sizable pay cut.  But she had gotten a better paying job, so it was a wash.  But then it happened again…just as we were catching our breath.

Due to the economic bust of 2008, her job was cut from full time to part time and she was forced into a lower paying job.  Not long afterward the company I went to also began to struggle and it was obvious it too would fold its tent after 58 years.  I was out of work…and we were trying to make it on one income.

I tried to find work in my area, but my resume was too much for most jobs, and not enough for what was left.  I was frankly too qualified to work at the jobs that were left after the Great Recession hit.  There were no management jobs in our area.

I tried launching my own business, but my wife and I disagreed on its viability.  She wanted the steady paycheck, I was tired of living and dying by other peoples decisions.  Thus we began to head off in different trajectories.

It happens, but we didn’t like it…neither of us.  It was appearent we were likely not going to make it.  We talked about counciling, she thought about getting a place of her own and trying a separation (Which I viewed as a preamble to the inevitable.), and we just kept trying to work it out.

I continued to try and find work, but the area we were in was not a “hotbed” of jobs!  She felt I wasn’t trying hard enough.  I couldn’t even get a big box to call me after putting in an application!  REALLY?

We grew further and further apart.  I grew more and more depressed.  I knew the marriage was in a bad way…and I felt less and less like a “man” owing to a lack of work.  I stayed busy trying to start my own business, but this became a big rub too.  I guess I should have sat endlessly trying to fill out on-line job apps that take 2 hours for an 8.00/hr job, but frankly I could make more money repairing outboards on the side. (I would add I never took a day of unemployment pay!  It was too much hassle!!)

So we grew apart.  She finished her Masters and went back to work full-time at a job she loved.  I still couldn’t find work I was qualified or not qualified for.  So we kept growing apart.  She began to resent me…and I don’t blame her!

I was more miserable than I’ve ever been in my life!  I couldn’t get a job, my marriage was failing, my wife had lost faith in me, and we were busted…BROKE!  Worse, we were quickly becoming only roommates.  We lived together and nothing more.

Finally she came home from work and announced what we both had been thinking.  It was obviously over.  It stung, but was not unexpected. I had been done for most  of a year frankly.  But the marriage really ended several years before.  Not because of her illness.  Not because of jobs or job losses.  Rather because of the sum of the parts equaling an amazing amount of stress on both of us.

Worse yet, we didn’t not like each other…we just had fallen out of love.

After “the conversation” I really plunged into a deep depression.  I cried a lot.  I started getting rid of “stuff”.  I had lost whatever emotional support I had in the marriage.  My friends and family were all out of town.  Still no job prospects.  And the marriage was over.  I was nearing the end.  I really mean the END of what I could endure.

I sat on the edge of the bed on my birthday in 2013 thinking for a long time.  I was thinking I was just through with everything.  Not mad at anyone, just disillusioned.  I had no where to go, but I didn’t want to stay where I was.  I had no income to speak of.  No support network nearby really.  I sat fondling some pain pills and thought about doing IT!  The big IT!!

IT was becoming more common for males in my age bracket during the Great Recession.  I had never seriously thought about IT.  But I was ready to end the pain, the hurt, the depression.  I was just tired and through.

At my wife’s urging I took a couple of road trips to visit family and friends.  That helped.  I visited the Miller’s who had been teachers at my High School…and we remained close after school.  Ed is a jokester and character.  He was trying to bring my spirits up, but I was so low, I don’t think I heard much of what he said on that visit.  His wife could see I was in pain…and she talked to me.  She held me while I disintegrated in her kitchen, and she showed me love as if I was one of her own.  In many ways I am.  They are wonderful folks who mean an awful lot to me.  But if it hadn’t been for her that day, I may not be here now.

I went home and then another event took place.  Through the wonder of Facebook I was contacted by a woman who had been my first true love.  Her message was transparent enough.  I knew her too well and could tell she too was in trouble with her marriage.  She wrote that she was great and everything was great..which in Facebook-ese means it was over for her too.

We corresponded a bit.  I did so begrudginly.  After all she kicked me to the curb almost 30 years ago.  I still hated her for that!  I was so hurt!  But I understood why she did it.

Meanwhile my wife/roommate bought herself and IKEA bed and moved into another room in the house.  How sad.  How awkward?  I was in limbo like a pile of trash at the curb waiting on the the damned trash truck.  It was miserable.  She sleeping in her room…me in mine…IN OUR BED!

The time came to end it.  She went to see an atttorney to draw up the dissolution papers.  We hung Post-it notes on stuff we wanted.  Yellow for her, blue for me…green for the scrap-pile.  We had friendly arguments about who would be stuck with what.  It was like those two annoying little chipmunks from the Old Warner Brother’s cartoons.  Just irritatingly gracious!

Then came a question I was not prepared for.  She came to me one day and asked “If I let you have the boats, tools in the garage, and your stuff…will you not ask for alimony?”  I’d never even thought about alimony!  I looked up and said “All I want is my clothes and whatever dignity I have left.”  It was true.  I was still in a dark place.  I was prepared to live in a rooming house, and box…or god forbid someone’s basement.  In fact I had offers from the afformentioned Miller’s and a friend from the Antique Outboard group.  But this was my issue…not theirs.

So that was it.  She put all the money in her new” account.  I was to survive however I had to.  “Sell your belongings” was basicallly the message.  I was hurt to say the least.

Look!  I’m no damned angel, but I did see her through a pretty tough time when she was sick  She wanted for nothing.  But evidently she did want something else…and I hadn’t given it to her.  I had failed her.

So now I had to get my shit together and move on.

Meanwhile my old flame and I got together so we could catch up.  We met in a park halfway between our cities.  This was a bad idea!  We were effectively cheating already.  Besides…I was still pissed about being dumped all those yeas ago.  But we did it anyway.

We met…it was warm and a beautiful day.  Yet there was frost coming off me.  I didn’t know what to say really.  What the hell do you say to someone who you were mad about nearly 30 years ago?  Mad at for 30 years…because they dumped you!?!?

Well the frost lifted pretty fast.  She was my first true love.  Nobody forgets their first true love!  I had, with the avent of the internet, looked for her over the years only to know she was okay.  I’d heard some rumors, but none proved to be true.  We walked around the park and reminisced…about the old days.  She told me about her life, her kids, and her parents.  Her father had passed away.  I had no kids…no real story to tell.  Just what I’d done professionally.  Then we began talking about the failing of our marriages.  The shortcomings in ourselves and our spouses.  We found oddly our geographic locations had nearly crossed a time or two, but never criss-crossed.  It was a pleasant visit.  But I also realized fairly quickly I’d never gotten over her.  I still missed her terribly and care deeply for her.  I had to get the hell out of there right now!

I went home feeling I’d broken a Commandment.  I guess I did.  It was quickly going to become an emotional affair if nothing else.  This is a danger!  When you’re not getting something at home, you seek it out.  It is not right in anyway, but it is human nature.

As our married lives were ending, an affair of the heart was reopening.  But we had complications.  From what she had told me I kept coming back to the fact she had three grown children and a husband who by any measure had simply tried to provide for his family.  But in her words…he was never there for her.  I cut her off.  I couldn’t do it to this guy.

But then another flurry of messages would go…and I cut her off again.  I just wanted to end my marriage first.  Then it would be easy to decide what to do.

But life ain’t easy sometimes.  Certainly not with matters of the heart!

So finally we decided to wrap up our marriages and at least move in together and help each other emotionally and finacially.  Of course my moving to her town would mean still no job, but prospects were better there.

So I pulled the trigger.  She got a place, we moved in, we survived as best we could.  My legal wife, and that’s all she was at this point, was staying in the house we shared…until it was sold, forclosed, or sold at shortsale.  She eventually got an apartment and the house sat empty…like so many other homes in the neighborhood.  My sister-in-law had moved to town a few months before our desision and I’m sure this was a calculated move so my “wife” would have someone there for her.  But as I look back, I guess it was more or less…let him fend for himself.  I was the “outsider” by this point.

So I got to my new town and found work within a month.  My legal wife and I stayed friendly for a time.  But I felt no need to broadcast I was “shacking up”.  Frankly after being “cut off” it was none of her damned business.  We talked occassionally about the houses disposition, the belongings I left behind…and general chit chat.  She eventually found out I had moved in with “another woman” and she confronted me when I drove home to retrieve some stuff.  I explained that I hadn’t much choice, and more importantly not much to loose by giving it a try.  She was hurt and no doubt felt betrayed.  But I felt betrayed too.  Where they hell was she when I was down and out.  She sure as hell wasn’t there emotionally.

So it was quiet for a time…if not cool for the most part.

But I wanted to move on.  My job was going well.  My new relationship was going well.  And in February of 2014 the marriage legally was ended.  We finalized the paperwork after the hearing.  We walked to the lobby…murmured some words and both of us held each other for the first time in three years…and we both sobbed.  It was tender, poignant, and sad.  12 years ended with the stroke of a judge’s pen.  I sobbed most of the way home.  Horrible, uncontrollable, howling sobs.  I never wanted to end it.  It should never have gone this way.  What happened!?!  Where did I fail?!  What could I have done differently.  It was just awful!  Terrible.

I got home, and my “companion” consoled me.  I felt guilty and yet I was happy it was over and I could move on.  I was happy in my new life.  But why couldn’t I just enjoy it?  This was maddening!!

But with all things, a grieving process has to take place.  I thought about it a lot, then one day I solved some of my issues by mistake.

While at work I was talking with a truck driver who seemed low.  I inquired if he was okay?  He looked at me and asked “You’re divorced!  Does it ever get easier?”  I responded with “Well…It’s a helluva lot easier if you hate the person you’re divorcing!!”

It was true.  I didn’t hate my new ex-wife.  I just grew apart from her.  I still cared…still do.  I hope she finds whatever it is I couldn’t give her.  Since I obviously don’t know what that is…I can’t help much, but I wish her all the best!

However, I had to move on.

I could only look at all of this as a chance to reinvent myself…ourselves. To do better in this relationship than I’d done in the past.

So things in my new relationship were going very well.  Sure we had to adjust to each other again.  But we fell into a natural groove fairly quickly.  Then I got sick!

Thankfully it was only 2 bacterial infections, 2 virsues, and a bad case of dehydration.  I lost 22 LBS in two weeks.  Was off work for 4 weeks with no pay.  We’re getting back on our feet though.  But during this time, my “companion” took care of me and nearly wore herself out.  I was puking every hour or so, hungry in the middle of the night, needed meds I couldn’t swallow.  We made 4 ER visits, the last after I passed out in the bathroom and hit my head.

After that 4th ER visit as I lay in bed, I said sweetly “Well…Looks like I’ll need a live-in nurse.  Will you marry me?”  She said yes.  We did the next week.

Down to the courthouse. (I could barely walk without being winded!)  Then across the street to a wedding chapel.  15 minutes later…we was hitched!  We went to Taco Bell for our wedding dinner where after a 30 minute wait in the drive thru we got the wrong food.  Then we went off to and Antique Outboard Meet in North Webster, IN where we honeymooned with our friends there who threw us an impromtu wedding reception with cake and champaign.

I was still weak, and the guys launched the boats for me.  I had trouble starting the motors.  Even a 5hp Johnson was a challenge.  But we had fun!

Then the grand finale with the “EX”.  I called to let her know I had a rebate check of some kind.  I wanted to do the right thing since it was in both our names, she would need to sign it and we could split the $$.  As I began to explain the situation…she stopped me in my tracks and asked “Why didn’t you at least call me to tell me you were getting remarried?  Didn’t the last 12 years mean anything to you!?!?  CLICK!!!”

That was it. I hate the rudeness of someone hangin up in my ear!  She knows it.  That was the last time I spoke to her.

The answer is yes…the last 12 years meant a lot to me.  But we ended it.  I have to move on.  The marriage will never be over though…for me.  Yes the house is sold.  I remarried.  But I’ll carry the failure of that marriage to my grave.  It is not something I ever thought I’d be part of.  I never entered the marriage lightly…it was a lifetime commitment to me and to her.  But sometimes life gets in the way.  But yes…that 12 years meant something to me.

As time has passed since that conversation I have reconciled much of what went wrong as two people who fell in love and out of love.  We ended it caring about each other, but not enough to be any more civil than we were during time of the marriage.  The marriage could be rough at times.  But I learned a lot…and for that I’m grateful.

So now I’m back to the girl who was my first true-love.  I tell people its because she likes to recycle.  We laugh…a lot.  We enjoy being together.  We do some of the things we used to do, but by and large we are different people today than we were all those 30 years ago.

At some point I’ll no doubt have a post about what it’s like getting back to someone after 30 years…but I’d leave you with a couple of thoughts on topic…

Marriage is a give n take.

It isn’t something to try on like a pair of jeans…and you can return if you don’t like it.

Don’t have an affair…emotional or otherwise until the marriage has ended!

If you can end it on good terms…do so.  But don’t be surprised if someone gets hurt when the other moves on.

And it really would have been easier if we’d hated each other.

I’m no scrubbed angel in the demise of my marriage to be sure, but I will always view it as a failing on my part.  I would add I am presenting my side of this event.  I would never presume to speak for my ex-wife.  She is a good person…and I wish her happiness forever.  Hopefully as much happiness as I have found.


Take me on a Sea Cruise…:A Passion for Fashionable Headgear.

Well…it’s only been two years since my last post.  So now something I have been contemplating as a topic for a while…Captain’s Hats!! I love nice hats, but in particular I have always had a thing for boats, water (even though i swim like a rock!) and Captain’s Hats…or more properly Yachting caps.  Almost every major retailer in the world sold them at some point.  Sears, J.C, Penny’s, K-Mart, most sporting goods stores, and even hardware stores.  My first Captain’s hat came from a small Army-Navy Surplus store in Beavercreek, Ohio called Sandy’s Surplus. I suppose the bug bit during the 1970’s when “Gilligan’s Island” was on constant rerun, The Captain and Tennille were popular, and a constant barrage of old war movies were shown on Saturday afternoon.  So what hope was there!?!  It seemed everyone wore an officers cap! In actuality my first hat was made of paper.  Notebook paper I think.  My folks wouldn’t buy a hat, so I cut up paper and colored it with ink and made a hatband, top…it was even contoured the crown…and drew the fouled anchors on.  With a bit of Scotch tape…I was ready for sea trials. Then the second hat was likely one from a discount chain like K-mart.  But my first REAL Yachting cap came at a price.  Dad took me into Sandy’s Surplus, and I saw the hat.  My folks probably decided it was better to succumb to my passion for such headgear by buying a nice hat, rather than having their son running around with a paper hat.  I was doing poorly in school, and the hat was purchased and held hostage high up on a shelf…where i could look, but not touch…until my grades improved.  Well  That never really happened as I recall it.  But eventually my folks gave me the hat, probably so they could have the shelf space.  I wore that hat out!  The headband was cardboard, there was a plastic rain cover sewn over the top to keep it dry and clean…until the plastic got hard and cracked.  So eventually the hat went away…to the trash I suppose. Many years later I still had been pinning for a nice quality cap, and finally found out…when the internet was new…that Lancaster Cap Company of Los Angeles, California made THE YACHTING CAP of the stars!  Alan Hale wore one as the Skipper  So did Jim Backus who was Thurston Howell III.  So I called and found out I could buy the hat through The Quartemaster Supply Co. or a store at Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco.  I called and found that the hats sold for the princely sum of 75.00 each.  They came in Midnight Blue…(Black), or White and Black.  Any size.  I ordered the “blue” one.  Wore it for a few years and then left it on top of my car…drove away and never saw it again! So again I called these places, but alas these caps had become poor movers in the retail environment, and were no longer available.  So I called Lancaster Cap to plead my case, and a nice lady there talked with the boss who then said they would sell a hat to me directly, but the price was 125.00.  Okay…okay…I’ll pay the extortion money,  After all it had been a number of years since I bought my first cap.  So I ordered one of each…”blue” and Black and White. Alas…I went to dinner with a friend before his wedding, and left the “Blue” cap at the restaurant.  By the time we got back…it was long gone! Once again it had been some years since my last purchase, so I called Lancaster Cap and the same lady answered.  She put me on hold and came back to announce that the current price was 325.00 each CAP!!  I nearly evacuated in my pants.  I protested that I’d long loved the hats, especially their caps, and paid 75 bucks for my first one, 125 for the last batch…and was left scratching my head trying to figure out in a dwindling market how they justified the cost increase. Well she put me on hold and came back and announced she talked with the owner or someone and they would indeed custom make whatever cap I needed for 150.00 each.  I ordered three I think.  One “blue”, one Black and White, but then a thought hit me. I asked if they would honor that price for ANY CAP? “Yes” was the answer. So I took a leap of faith and ordered on Black and White cap with the Admiral’s “scrambled egg” on the visor with not the nylon, but the actual gold wire bullion!  NO INSIGNIA please! The lady chuckled a bit and said it would be no problem, and then took my info, credit card and assured me the hats would be made and sent along in a few weeks.  They were!  I was glad I did this when I did as the company fell on hard times and closed a few years later after 85 years.  Their last run was for the folks at the Woody Boater blog, but due to a major illness in our household, I was not able to get in on the last order from this storied company.  I’d love to have had the Chris Craft Cap and a Khaki cap that Woody Boater folks spec’d out.  They looked amazing. It is my secret dream to reopen Lancaster Cap if I hit the lottery so I can make hats and go to boat shows and sell them a reasonable prices.  SIGH… After wearing these hats for as long as I can remember, and with the internet, auction sites, and on-line flea markets, I have assembled a collection of caps over the years.  Some are my size, some not.  But the amazing thing is the variations on each companies offerings, including variation on different generations.  I have several Lancaster Caps, and though there are similarities, there are some subtle differences too. So lets take a gander at Yachting Caps in popular culture and in person… Alan Hale-002 Undeniably the first face and person anyone thinks of when they see a Captain’s hat…Alan Hale Jr.  Mr Hale was one of the cast of Gilligan’s Island who really embraced his place amongst the cast of characters from the isle.  He continued to wear his headgear the remainder of his life.  The original he used for the series was bronzed and given to the creator of the show, Sherwood Schwartz. Captain & Tennile-002Yup!  Next person that comes to mind is The Captain.  Daryl Dragon was part of the musical family who made Hollywood.  His father Carman Dragon was a conductor and worked in the studios, as did young Daryl.  It is true, if you decide to wear a hat ingsuch as this, and you and your wife a walking into the store, there is a great likelihood of have a rather annoying parallel  drawn between “Us” and “Them”.  So be weary.  Be understanding!  The idiot who makes the comment usually thinks it is the first time you’ve heard such witticisms ringing in the air!  I haven’t had to be assaulted by this one in quite a while, but it’s coming.  I’m overdue! As a wannabe jazzer, it is not a shock that many members of the jazz community have adopted the Yachting cap as a moniker.  Bandleader/Composer/Arranger – Duke Ellington, Jon Hendricks – Scat singing extrodrinare, and a Who’s Who of others. One of my favorites is this guy…The Count, Splanky, The Chief…Count Basie! Basie-004Basie-002Basie-001The Count…William Basie is the epitome of cool…swing…and all that is great in jazz!  He is royalty!  Thus he should wear a hat fitting his station in life.  He was always in command of the swingin’-est band. I was told once by Bandleader/Trombonist Grover Mitchell that Mr. Basie never would buy an expensive cap.  He liked inexpensive caps.  Grover would know.  He was Mr. Basie’s lead trombonist from the 60’s and 80’s (the end of Basie’s life) and his “Lieutenant”.  He helped Mr. Basie get around toward the end of Basie’s life.  He also told me he was charged with buying these hats on occasion.  Mr. Mitchell later lead the Orchestra after The Chief’s passing, and brought the band back to its roots.  He also brought it to Grammy Prominence. Some others who wore the caps in life were…

Hefner-001 Mr. Playboy Magazine-Hugh Hefner

Bogart-002 kH_U9

Film noir icon Humphrey Bogart in “Key Largo” at left.

John Ford John Wayne-001

Director John Ford and his star John Wayne.


Jazz Hammond B-3 Organ master Jack McDuff


The Voice-Frank Sinatra


The Heir-apparent to the Voice-Bobby Darin



Clooney - Ferrer

And even Rosemary Clooney and Jose Ferrer…if only for this album.

Others were charged with wearing such headgear for various movie roles.

Joel McCrey & Rudy Valley-001Spencer Tracy

Joel McCrea and Rudy Vallee…and Spencer Tracy…

Cary Grant Charles McGraw-001

The rough looking Cary Grant in “Father Goose” and Charles McGraw in “The Birds”.

John Wayne-002 thurston howell-001

Again “the Duke” with Lana Turner in “The Sea Chase” and Jim Backus as Thurston Howell III in “Gilligan’s Island”.  For a three hour cruise…Mr. Howell packed a bunch of yachting caps…from Lancaster Cap, and Midway Cap Co, and maybe even a lesser priced Han-Kraft.  He’s seen here wearing an Midway Cap.

Yachting caps were used in advertising too!  Yes it seemed everyone on a boat or in a bar wore one.

Book cover-001

Book cover-002Javelin-001

Logically outboard motor ads would feature a cap.  Here both sporting a “flat-topper” style cap more common in the late 50’s through the 1970’s.


His-and Hers beer ads!

Ballentine-002 Ballantine-004 Ballantine-003

This guy can’t decide what to do…

But his cap is a dead ringer for my cap made by Worth & Worth of New York City!!

And then there is the sex angle.  Pin up girls! Pin-up-003

This is a throw-able life preserver with a pin-up sporting her Captain’s Hat!  What a way to be saved!!

Pin-up-002 Pin-up-001

I’m sorry!  I know they aren’t Politically Correct, but they are fun, silly, and even kinda sexy.

So now on to my collection…

Captain's Hats overview-004

N’yup!  That’s the wall.

We nearly were getting buried by a Hat-valanche each time i tried to move one…so when I restored my 1949 Thompson boat…(My other bad habit!)…we used some of the left over mahogany from the decks to make an expandable hat rack.  Unfortunately…i’m out of space again!  So many hat’s so little time…

Captain's Hats overview-003 Captain's Hats overview-002

So with some cheapo dollar store hat racks space was annexed over the closet door…and on a vintage hat rack.

Captain's Hats overview-001

The view above my desk. Maybe I need a 12-step program!!

There is no easy way in which to cover my collection.  By vintage?  By Manufacturer?  By type?  By cost?  By quality?

It’s amazing that there are so many by-gone manufacturers and these hats have disappeared from the landscape in favor of the ball cap.  YUCK!  How mundane.

Some of these caps are of incredible quality and they have survived nearing a 100 years in one case.  Quite amazing!


This is a very early…and my earliest example…is this old gem from the early 1900’s. It was sold by S. Appel of New York City and is in pretty good shape for being a century old.  Yes the leather visor is melted and has an alligator-like look, but they all can be perfect.  This hat has a story to tell.  Maybe the fact that she was made at, or near the time of the Titanic’s launching helps with some perspective.


S.Appel#1-004 S.Appel#1-003

The other give away that she is very early is the Yacht Club insignia being embroidered on the head band webbing, not a patch or on the crown of the cap.  Having the insignia on the webbing was more common to British caps and early steamship lines of the era.  This insignia a very tight and intricate design with anchor chains that are nearly 3-D and not only one, but two “ropes” of bullion circling the inside and outside of the life ring.  Also notice the detail on the anchor bales.  The enameled burgee pin is amazing and is from Columbia Yacht Club of New York City at the end of 86th Street.


S.Appel#1-005 S.Appel#1-006

Her chin strap buttons are also very ornate compared to later versions.  The silk liner is stamped with the merchant who sold her.  Love that big yacht…the style of which is indicating she is quite old.


The visor is leather with a strange reinforcement.  Amazing the leather sweat band is in good shape.  She has aged gracefully…with a few wrinkles.

E.J. Willis-001

Perhaps my second oldest cap is this one from E.J. Willis Co. of New York, NY.  I would guess that she is of the early 1920’s owing to the cut if her crown, visor, and the fact that the blue hat cover is removable not unlike the military caps of that era.

E.J. Willis-002

Notice that her insignia is a felt background with the gold bullion wire embroidery.  Though not as intricate as our first example, the wire bullion has a great patina and only one “rope” inside her life preserver.  The chains on the anchors are not nearly as pronounced…and there is less detail.

E.J. Willis-003 E.J. Willis-004

Her buttons are still nicely cast brass, and the silk headliner is bearing the name of the merchant.


Our next specimen is an oldie but a goodie!  Estimating her to be again in the 1920’s, owing to the visor and small circumference crown, this hat is made by Barney’s Atlantic Uniform Co. of Boston, Mass.  I believe this is a hat similar to what Rudy Vallee is sporting in the photo above from “The Palm Beach Story”.

Barney's-003 Barney's-006

The visor is very small-ish and of patent leather.  The inside headband is made of wicker as is common on older vintage caps.  Unfortunately her sweatband is long gone.


Again the gold bullion wire is used on a felt patch for the insignia.  The enamel yacht club burgee is in good shape with the initials NBPBC.  I can’t find any information leading to what club this may have been.

Barney's-004 Barney's-005

A couple of parting shots.  Her crown is very small compared to later caps.  The lettering inside has endured well.

Han-Kraft Flyweight#3-001

This cap is a bit of a mystery.  My friend from the Antique Outboard Club bought this in Florida at a boat show.  He dangled it in front of me for most of two years before succumbing to my pleas to liberate it from his clutches.  With that said, I don’t know its manufacturer.  It looks much like an early Han-Kraft or a Midway Cap Co. hat.  But I lean toward the former.  The cover is removable and the cut of the visor is similar to the Han-Kraft Fly Weights, but is of russet leather construction much like military caps of the late 20’s and 30’s.

Han-Kraft Flyweight#3-002

The insignia is a patch that was sewn on with a zig-zag stitch…which is unusual.  The enameled medallion is fantastic…with the burgee of the Shearwater Sailing Club.

Han-Kraft Flyweight#3-003 Han-Kraft Flyweight#3-004

Again the visor can be seen in a side profile to be very slight, and she is not unlike a “50 Mission Crusher” cap of the U.S. Army Air Corps.

And that moves us on to the first of several hats from the Han-Kraft Co. who made middle of the road, but nice Yachting caps.  They are certainly not of the quality that Lancaster Cap Co. or Bancroft Uniform made, but closer to a Midway Cap Co. hat.

Han-Kraft Flyweight#1-001

This is the first example of the Han-Kraft Fly-Weight.  It is stitched together and cannot be disassembled for cleaning as upper-end hats might be (With the exception of Lancaster Cap Co..) so it would need to be dry cleaned.

Han-Kraft Flyweight#1-002

The insignia on the Fly-Weight is “stripped-down” by comparison to its predecessors.  While still made of gold bullion wire, the life preserver has no additional “ropes” on the inside or outside, but it still has nice detail and is larger than most insignia of the time.

Han-Kraft Flyweight#1-003 Han-Kraft Flyweight#1-004

Again the profile of the visor is quite small, and the leather sweat band is in good shape, yet both are fairly fragile at this stage in the game.

Han-Kraft Flyweight#2-001

This is a New-Old-Stock Han-Kraft Fly-Weight cap with a removable hat cover, webbing, and as an added bonus an extra webbing with “Midshipman” embroidered on it.

Han-Kraft Flyweight#2-002

The fouled anchors patch is new and was not sewn to the hat when I got it.  It was found inside the sweat band inside the cap.

Han-Kraft Flyweight#2-003

The really unique part of this find was the addition of the “Midshipman” braid that attaches via the chin strap buttons.

Han-Kraft Flyweight#2-004

Again, the interior is pristine.

Again there are wide variations in the quality of caps by manufacturer.  So lets look at a few caps from my collection that are nice examples.

Abercromby and Fitch#1-001

This cap was made by Abercrombie and Fitch and sold through their stores.  This particular one is very similar to the one Humphrey Bogart wears in “To Have and Have Not”.

Annex - Bogart, Humphrey (To Have and Have Not)_02_CHD

Notice his hat has a very tight crown in this photo and the insignia is embroidered onto the braided band around the hat.

Abercromby and Fitch#1-002

Embroidering the insignia onto the felt backing and down onto the braid is fairly unusual in hats I’ve seen.  The insignia is quite stripped down not unlike the Fly-Weight cap above.

Abercromby and Fitch#1-003

Another Abercrombie cap…

Abercromby and Fitch#2-001

A generation later than the cap above is this offering from Abercrombie and Fitch.  Similar but the visor is different.

Abercromby and Fitch#2-002

Also the insignia, while basically the same as the earlier version, is now entire embroidered on a felt patch and sewn to the braided hat band.

Abercromby and Fitch#2-003

No mistaking who made this cap.

Bancroft Uniform Co. is still around and a leading supplier of uniforms and caps for police, fire, and military.  They are also owned by the same folks that own Midway Cap Co. of Chicago, Illinois.  Here are two examples of Bancroft caps.

Bancroft Zephyr-001Bancroft Zephyr-002

This cap is a Bancroft Zephyr with a slightly different insignia,  I confess I built it out of pieces and parts to resemble the hat John Wayne wore in “Blood Alley” with Lauren Bacall.

John Wayne-003His actual cap in this production was much early in style as the visor is similar to those of the 1930’s.

Bancroft-001This is by all accounts the “Douglas MacArthur Cap” of Yachting Caps…PERIOD!  Who in the world would have ordered a cap that is so ostentatious and elaborate?  This cap has a lot of unique features, but will eventually get a new hat frame since the original visor has long ago given up its shape which is common in the older hard/fiber board visors.

Now onto some features of this Bancroft Cap.


Again, the fouled anchors are fairly stripped down, but the number “62” or “G2” is embroidered on a small felt patch and placed in the center of the life ring.

Bancroft-003 Bancroft-004

The word “COMMANDER” in large gold bullion capital lettering is embroidered across the front of the hat with two stars on each end of the lettering on either side.  Perhaps a person similar to a Commodore wore this cap.  But WOW!


And most interesting is the quilted interior of the white hat cover!  Obviously also built to Bancroft Military specs.

Joe Harris-001This cap by Joe Harris Co. is a great original from the late 1960’s of 1970’s.  A real nice survivor of it’s kind.

Joe Harris-002

The silver stars indicate that it was worn by a “Past Commodore”.  If the they were gold stars then it indicates a “Current Commodore”.

Joe Harris-003

Interestingly, this is one of the few caps I have seen that had the rather elaborate chin strap similar to Lancaster Cap Co..  Most other caps had a rope with knots at each end.  This is a very nice cap…in my size too!

Joe Harris-004 Joe Harris-005

And with a look inside we know who sold it…and who owned it at one time.


This Kingform Uniform Co. hat is a big ‘un.  7 5/8!  Wow.


The gold stars indicate the rank of “Commodore”

Kingform-004 Kingform-003

And the seller is made clear.  The owner was supposed to have been a Michigan politician.  That may explain the over-sized 7 5/8 hat size.  Hmmmmm.


New-Old-Stock…in the plastic.


This cap by Commodore Co. is suitable for…well..a Commodore, as indicated by the stars.


Again this hat came new in the bag and has a nice enameled medallion.

Commodore-004 Commodore-005

Fresh as can be inside, and still had tissue paper to help maintain its shape.


I hate to admit that this cap was purchased for the outlandish fee of 33.00 from an antique mall in Springfield, Ohio recently.  I couldn’t believe I found it in such a land-locked area.  But what a nice cap.


Once again the stars indicate a “Past Commodore” ranking and the enameled burgee is from the Huron Yacht Club.

S.Appel#2-003 S.Appel#2-004

It is somewhat unusual to find a yacht club cap with a military styled chin strap though.  Also this is one of two S. Appel & Co. cap, the other being my earliest cap in the collection.

Worth & Worth-001Ballantine-004

Almost a dead-ringer for the hat in this ad, this cap was made by Worth & Worth of New York City.  Nice hat, but with some issues.

Worth & Worth-002 Worth & Worth-004

The insignia is very fine gold thread.  Kind of unique and unusual.  But the visor has not only discolored for some reason, but is cracked as well  Worth & Worth says they can fix it…since they are still in business, but not sure if I’m gonna do it.

Worth & Worth-005 Worth & Worth-003

An added bonus was that it came with the original hat box.  Other than the visor, it is immaculate.

As in the lyric to Gilligan’s Island…the next caps fall under the heading of “and the rest”

Navy-001 Navy-002

This is a great cap I cobbled together from an old navy officer cap and and insignia I bought in a lot on the big auction site.  Lots of character.  The hat is probably of WWII vintage.

Unknown-001 Unknown-002

This is a turd!  Vinyl cover, weird gold braid chin strap, wonky insignia for a “Store Keeper” or “Treasurer”.  Eh!  Just doesn’t do much for me.

Columbia#2-00 Columbia#1-001

A pair of turds!  From Columbia something of another via the auction site, resembling an officers cap of the White Star Line (See Titanic).  Not so much.  The cap is ENORMOUS in diameter.  It should look more like the S. Appel cap at the beginning of this diatribe.  The workmanship ain’t bad though, but the Ny-Glo “scrambled eggs” on the visor with the nice rich, deep gold bullion insignia is a let down.

Oh well!

Captain cheapo-002 Captain cheapo-001

Another turd bought from a company when I was spec-ing out caps following Lancaster Cap Companies demise.

Back to good stuff!

Next up is Midway Cap Co. of Chicago, Illinois.  Yup!  They are still around and making caps!  Nice caps that are affordable and very traditional.

Midway Cap Co #1-001 Captain & Tennile-002

N’yup!  Same hat as “the Captain”.  Nice cap.  very middle of the road for the casual wear at a boat show.

Basie-004 Midway Cap Co #2-001

N’yup again.  Same cap.  Mr. Basie did not like expensive caps, so this nice middle of the road cap by Midway Cap Company filled the bill.  Besides the Basie Orchestra usually played Chi-town often when touring!

Midway Cap Co #2-002

Only thing that drives me nuts about these caps…the blue ones…is the foam glued to the fabric.  I like my hats beat up…a virtual impossibility with this fabric!  UGH!  Maybe if I wash it 100 times after parking it under my truck for a week!

Midway Cap Co #3-001 Midway Cap Co #3-002

Midway Cap also make this “breezy” little number.  More of a “kiddie hat” by my standard, but still built to their Midway standards.

Midway Cap Co #3-004

Mine is of a different vintage as it has a Kant-Krack visor which almost certainly will crack at some point.  Should have been called…Will – Krack!


This little number is very similar to a Midway Cap, but has no name on it.  There are slight differences in construction, but it still could have been a contract fulfilled by Midway.  Again…very Basie-esque.

Marilyn Monroe - 001 Marilyn Monroe - 002 Marilyn Monroe - 003 thurston howell-003

Which one of these four photos doesn’t match?


But this cap looks great on anyone…

Oshman's-003 Oshman's-004

Again…strikingly similar to a Midway Cap Co. hat, but with variations like the cardboard stiffener in front at the peak.

Now on to the yachting cap of the stars!  Lancaster Cap Company!  WONDERFUL CAPS!  Nice fit, light weight, comfortable, stylish, and very traditional of a by-gone era.

Lancaster #1-002

This is my oldest example of a Lancaster Cap.  I estimate it to be from the mid-1960’s owing to the style of the insignia.  She is in rough shape tough and needs repair, but it probably isn’t worth doing.

Lancaster #1-001Her insignia is very large by comparison to later Lancaster caps.

Lancaster #1-003 Lancaster #1-004 Lancaster #1-005

Unfortunately her headband dry-rotted and split and she has many moth holes.  Sad.

thurston howell-002

This hat is from the same time frame me thinks!

Lancaster #2-001 Lancaster #2-003

This is another cap from Lancaster.  Estimate this as late 60’s into the 1970’s.  The insignia is of the larger style but lacks the inside rope in the life ring as featured on the previous version.

Lancaster #2-004 Lancaster #2-005

Sold by Captain’s Locker, this cap has the same fabric that seems to attract fabric eating insects!

Lancaster #2-002

But I still wear it holes or not.  It has a great jaunty look and very classic.

Lancaster #3-001

Again, an even later version of the same cap from most likely the 1980’s or later, this hat is in great shape.

Lancaster #3-002 Lancaster #3-003

Notice the stains from adhesive where stars for a Commodores rank were applied.  Sold by Quartermaster in Long Beach, CA, where I bought my first Lancaster cap.

Lancaster #6-001 Lancaster #6-002

This Lancaster Cap hat was ordered by me in 1996 or so.  It was a work-a-day hat for a time.

Lancaster #6-004

The visor on this hat came deformed.  I was sorta ticked at first, then realize it added character.

Lancaster #4-001 Lancaster #4-002

Again…ordered around the mid-1990’s with no insignia, I put this Royal Navy crest on in its place.  I hate it.  May have to change it out.  Also I ordered it with the gold bullion…not these damned nylon “scrambled eggs” on the visor.

Lancaster #7-001

One of my personal favorites.  Ordered sans-insignia, I found this crest for it instead.  Ordered with the gold deluxe bullion Admiral’s visor…she has a lot of years, personal history, miles, and wear on her…and still feels great when I put her on.  But she is now semi-retired.

Lancaster #7-002

For some reason this cap gets a lot of reaction…positive reactions.  I’ve had FBI men on airline flights inquire…which made me nervous.  An Airline Pilot tried to buy it…or trade it for his cap…and people at the fast food drive thru window compliment it.

Lancaster #7-004 Lancaster #7-003

But she is tired.

And the classic…

Lancaster #5-001 Lancaster #5-002

Another old friend…tired and used, but serviceable.  This is the third one I’ve owned since I keep losing them.

In the 1950’s, change was afoot.  Ball caps were around the corner.  Styles changed too.

Flat-topper#1 - 001 Flat-topper#1 - 003

The “Flat-topper was based on a WWII Navy cap and used by “sporty” boaters and yachtsmen.  This specimen has a felt patch and bullion insignia sewn to it with a great enamel yacht club medallion.

Flat-topper#2 - 001 Flat-topper#2 - 002

This cap is in good shape and maybe was used by outboard operators…such as myself…since there is a pocket in the front for extra shear pins!

Flat-topper#3 - 001

Just another variation on the theme…

Han-Kraft Flyweight Flat-topper-001 Han-Kraft Flyweight Flat-topper-002 Han-Kraft Flyweight Flat-topper-003

And the nicest Flat-topper I own is this one from Han-Kraft.  New-Old-Stock.

Captains Ball cap

Finally, this is what we have degraded into.  A ball cap.

Let’s face it…mediocrity is what our nation is about now.  Everything run through a meat grinder and spit out to look the same.  Well…I resist it.  My grade school teachers and parents told me to be an individual.  So I wear my “silly captain’s hat” while running my old outboard motors and my antique wooden boat…and think of a time when America built and manufactured things with pride and quality.

I refuse to wear ball caps because they are accepted as “normal”.  Hell…nothing looks dumber to me than some kid wearing his flat bill-ed sport team ball cap off to the side and trying to be a Gangsta.  Damn!  Why not just follow all the other lemmings off the cliff.

No sir!  Give me a nice chapeau any day!

It’s like I said to my wife.  If a group my friends walked into the funeral home upon my demise and saw a casket…they’d never know if they were at the right place.  BUT…if they walked in and saw a “Skipper’s Cap” and a trombone on the table…or pulpit…they’d know they were right where they should be.  No question!

So long!




My Favorite Things: Celebrating the holidays with Ramsey Brother’s and the Metroparks.

Tis the season!  UGH!



Well last March the day before heading to Mt. Dora/ Tavares, Florida for the boats show, Scott Ramsey of Ramsey Brothers Restorations and myself met to propose and exhibit to be displayed at the Manor House on the property of Wildwood Metropark in Toledo, Ohio.  At first the people responsible were hesitant or shocked we wanted to bring a boat inside this lovely home and display it.  I don’t think they initially grasp how boating and Christmas were tied together.  Well…they’re not!

However, in Toledo, Ohio and all across the Great Lakes, I suspect many like the Ramsey’s and me begin to get boating withdrawal in mid winter.  What better way to chase the blues away than with boat stuff.

We presented the managers of the display with a final exhibit that clinched the deal by way of my recently acquired and restored 1940-ish Thompson 8 foot Cedar Strip and canvas Dinghy.  So far no one can resist her…the dinghy that is.  Everyone smiles when they see it.

This little boat was bought and restored in about two months. It brings smile where ever she is seen. Yes! I do use it for an occasional cruise. More on that in a later blog post. Check back soon!

So upon seeing my little dinghy(Uhem!), the ladies from the Metroparks came around to our way of thinking!  They were in love with the boat and our concept…or at least seemed tolerant of the ideal.

Advance ahead eight months and all I’d heard from Ramsey’s about this project we were entering into jointly was “Hey!  Is the dinghy still available for Christmas?”  The Ramsey’s are amazing guys, but worrying about details on this sort of thing doesn’t happen until the last minute.  I on the other hand began sweating blood the Friday after Thanksgiving and we were to set up that Sunday.  I hadn’t heard much from the the Ramsey Camp!

My wife and I decided we better get cracking, so Sunday evening we hauled the dinghy and other maritime paraphernalia up to the Manor house.  We got the boat situated, and then I looked at the room assigned to us and began to worry if we could fill it.  Our wall was 35 FEET long.  Now we had eight feet of dinghy filling less than 1/3 of the space.  What would fill the rest of the space?

I text-ed Scott Ramsey letting him know we had done our bit…maybe hoping to prod some details out of him as to what they had planned on their end for the display…that hundreds of kids were counting on to get their juices flowing for the holiday.  Scott did little to help soothe my worries by saying “My wife wants me to make dolphins for the dinghy…so I’ll probably start that Monday.”

The display had to be done by Tuesday evening!!!  UGH!


I digress…

Monday I dropped by the Ramsey’s shop in downtown Toledo.  Chris was sitting atop an inverted trash can or something and hunched over a piece of paper lofting in the maritime tradition an outline of a dolphin.  He seemed unconcerned.  The dolphins seemed a bit anemic to me.  Smallish!  BUT at least we were going to have something…ANYTHING…to pull the dingy through faux-water.


WATER!!!  WATER!!  What the hell are we going to use for water inside a mansion!?!?!?


As I left the manor house the night before…listening to my iPod, Duke Ellington came on playing “Blue Cellophane”!  If it worked for the Duke, it should work for a Dinghy!  Off to the craft store for blue cellophane.

As Monday came and went, I was assured the dolphins were under construction, Dave Ramsey was working on a way to mount them for display…and everything would be fine.


Tuesday afternoon, it was announced, that the boys were on the way to deliver the goods.  Indeed…in typical Ramsey Fashion…the good were delivered.  So with the help of their wives Melissa, Ellie, and Sarah…my wife Erin…the exhibit speaks for itself…in photo form below.

The Metroparks provides a tree for our decorations. We were to be in the glass solarium of the Manor House once owned by the family who owned Champion Spark Plugs…manufactured here in Toledo, Ohio

The other tree, and stuff dragged in from various point of the Ramsey compass! These guys come up with stuff from the past like you can’t believe! Old souls in young men.

Using a radio I gave them, a chair and table reminiscent of Edith Bunker and some other whimsical clutter, this display took a turn I did not expect. It felt so warm and wonderful. The kind of place I have always dreamed of sitting and reading a book while smoking a pipe or cigar in my smoking jacket. No television or computer…just tranquility.

My buddy Scott Parish adorns the cover of “The Antique Outboarder” sent to members of the Antique Outboard Motor Club group that is now international in scope and has over 3000 members who collect and cherish these old motors from a bygone era. This Chris Craft model is also a thing of the past.

Yes…that’s right…NINE tiny dolphins pulling an 8 foot Thompson Dinghy. The leader has his red nose…
I swear I could smell paint when the dolphins arrived, but they were done and the antlers…a late addition by Melissa Ramsey…made the whole scene work…with the blue cellophane “water” created by Dave Ramsey! Chris cut the dolphins out and Scott did the paint work.

While I worried the size may be too small… these dolphins were perfect in proportion to the dinghy. Perfect!!

Loaded for a final trip delivering toys of a maritime nature, this little Thompson 8 foot dinghy has her navigation lights beaming. My wife suggested several stuffed sea creatures for overseeing the trip.
Of course my collection of Captain’s hats came in handy!

Just in case the dolphins poop out, the auxiliary power plant is an 1938 Elto Ace 1.8hp outboard motor.

Another shot of a few outboarding relics. Yes, both motors run…and well!

So…as usual, the Ramsey Brothers pull off a photo finish.  This morning I went in early to finish some electrical issues before a fire inspection.  and all is well.

So in closing, may I take time on behalf of myself, my wife Erin, Remington Marco Jones (Our doggie), the Ramsey Brothers and their wives wish you a very Merry Christmas and fine Holiday Season from all of us to all of you!

L to R Scott, Dave, and Chris Ramsey of Ramsey Brothers Restorations of Toledo, Ohio.

And Remy


Beyond the Sea…horse!: Outboard motor restoration step by step…Day Six!

Ten and one-quarter hours spent working on this little motor so it can run…hopefully…another 50 years.  So far we have torn down the power head, the motor leg, repacked the lower unit, replaced the clutch dog (shift member), stripped all parts and primed and painted them…as well as decaling the hood.  Now the power head is going to be rebuilt and the final assembly of the motor finished.

Let’s get underway!

Power head components....EVERYWHERE!

This piston is pretty scratched from carbon getting stuck in the cylinder between the piston and cylinder wall.

Crankshaft bearings must be looked over with a critical eye. O-rings should always be replaced. These o-rings had given their all a long time ago!

Using a sharpie marker, I like to mark each connecting rod and related cap.

The motor block has been honed and all carbon must be cleaned from the block as well. Leaving excess carbon around cylinders and ports can cause heat issues.

As a matter of routine when a power head is over-hauled, at minimum new (or good) piston rings should be installed, and the cylinders honed to break the "glaze" or smooth surface of the cylinder walls. In this photo you can see the scratches from the honing process.

Used care placing the pistons in the cylinders. You must compress the piston rings so the engage the small dowel in the ring groove into a notch that is cut in the piston ring. Do not force the ring into the cylinder or breakage of the ring may occur.

Using needle bearing grease...or in this case Vaseline...we can now lay the 29 needle bearings into the connecting rods and rod caps. COUNT THEM! These bearings are not caged...there is no cage for the bearings to lay in, so they must be laid in the Vaseline to hold them in place until assembly is complete.

Half of the the needle bearings are in place on the connecting rods.

Once the bearings are install...all 29 of may place the rod caps back on the matched connecting rod. Be sure to torque the connecting rod cap screws to the proper specs.

A low grade lacquer thinner is used to clean grime off all nuts, bolts, and hardware.

All original hardware is cleaned in solvent and readied for installation.

Using a new-old-stock gasket kit the crank case halves are mated beck together using 3M Scotch-grip 847 to seal it. This material is also used on all screw threads.

Final coat of paint has been applied to the lower-unit and transom clamp assembly.

This area was blemished with a drip. It is un-noticable now.

The exhaust leg has been installed prior to installation of the power-head.

Magneto ignitions use magnetic force to derive their power. No batteries needed.

I always clean the magneto plate to make sure it is spotless. This will allow you to quickly see if gasses or oil are coming out of a crankshaft seal later on down the road.

The coils and condensers checked good, so new plug wires were added, and the mag plate cleaned. The magneto is ready for installation.

A front shot showing the shifter and carb. The magneto has been installed.

New ends are attached to the spark plug wires. Neon spark testers are used in-line with the plugs to check for good ignition spark.

The flywheel and recoil have been installed.

The paint on the I.D. tag has faded or flaked off. This needs to be touched up too.

First lightly paint the I.D. tag with paint, then use a razor blade to lightly etch the paint off the raised areas.

With installation of the hood, this old Sea-Horse is ready for action again!

So after an additional two hours we have just under 13 hours of time in to making this old motor ready for action again.  Upon bucket testing and setting the carb jets, she seems ready to run.  Looking forward to spring to let ‘er rip on the river.


Hopefully this six part blog will inspire others to take on a challenge and give life to an old outboard motor.  Thanks for reading!



Beyond the Sea…horse!: Outboard motor restoration step by step…Day Five!

On Day five, we’re waiting on one piston that needs replacing and new rings, as well as some o-ring seals that are required for the water pump housing, the crankshaft journal bearings, and crankshaft seals.  The piston was ordered from Sea-Way Marine, but turned out the superceded part was not correct for this motor.  The original piston is scratched a bit, but can probably be reused.  However if possible, since the power-head is torn down, I’d just assume replace anything that is remotely questionable.  On this motor, almost every single rubber part was hard as rock!  Al the seals needed replacement to be sure, but even the water tube grommet was hard. (Odd!!)

So while we sit and wait on the mailman to show with the new parts, and the search for a new or used good piston is underway, let’s take a look at decals!

Decals seem to be another of those mystical, and magical thing that really can set a motor apart from the pack.  Remember being a kid and building that prized model car or truck?  Remember putting the finishing touch on?  THE DECALS!  You would soak them in water…waiting for ever, it seemed, for them to be ready to release from the backing paper and placed OH SO GINGERLY on the side of that wonderful model!! But somehow they just didn’t look as perfect as the box the kit came in?  How disappointing!  The “secret” will be shown later in this post!!

For now let’s start with self-sticking decals.  Most of my decals come from Peter McDowell of North York Marine.  His line of products has expanded over the last few years.  He also has made very subtle improvements to some of the decals that make working with them a snap!  Peter also works tirelessly to make the decals as authentic as they can be.  Am I endorsing or promoting his product you ask?  Damned right!  Peter is invaluable as a source for the classic outboard market.  He’s knowledgeable and willing to be helpful by sharing his wisdom.

So here is where we are…a green and silver hood that needs decals.  I should mention that even though this motor was given to me, I was fortunate it was a QD-12.  The decals on this motor are slightly different than the preceding years.  This was very attractive to me for that reason alone!

Here is our hood and our decals. I love that "crazy" Johnson script with the "Sea-Horse 10" logo. Slightly different than previous years!

To keep the decal from sticking entirely so it can be pulled up if need be for repositioning, a spray bottle with a mix of 75% distilled water, 25% alcohol and a DROP of dish soap is used to mist the area where the decal is to be applied.

Once the decal is laid in place and you are happy with it, use a plastic squeegee to squeeze the water from behind the decal. The vinyl decals can be stretched around compound curves somewhat. Make sure there is no grit of dirt on the squeegee as this could scratch the decal when rubbing it into place. To be safe you should actually use the backing paper laid smooth side down and run the squeegee over that so the decal will not be damaged in any way.

In about 15 minutes time, our hood has been decal-ed and is ready for use.

If you remember during a previous post I painted a 1956 Johnson 5.5hp hood with Johnson Cream while I was painting some other parts for our subject motor.  Now we’ll decal that hood with the same type of decals.  In my experience I have found it helpful to trim close along the decal in a straight line so there is nothing to get in the way of positioning the decals correctly.  Also your eyes tend to be accurate within a few degrees when “eyeballing” parallel and perpendicular surfaces.

Decals are paper backed vinyl with a self-adhesive. These masked decals are easy to line up and press into place. BUT! once they are applied, they're stuck! Care must be taken in their application.

PREP...PREP...PREP! Again preparation is everything! Clean all surfaces with denatured alcohol to get rid of any and all dirt, grease, or other filth that may affect adhesion. Make sure that the alcohol is evaporated before applying the decals though...or they may never stick again.

Using a spray bottle to mist a mix of distilled water with a DROP of soap added, and maybe a bit of alcohol, mist the area where the decal will be laid in place. This will allow you to move the decal if you get it mis-aligned.

Here our faceplate has the decal and masking applied.

Once laid in place, squeegee the water from behind the decal and smooth it out to make a permanent stick.

These decals are paper backed and after peeling the backing paper you are left with a mask over the printing that allows you to lay the decal in position and burnish it down with the squeegee.

This is the finished faceplate.

Our vinyl decals are masked in front and have a paper backing on the back to protect them while being stored. The backing paper must be peeled away to expose the adhesive side of the decal.

The area of the hood that is to be decaled is misted with water to allow repositioning of the decal if needed. With practice, you will get better and better at getting it right the first time!

In this photo and the next, the decal is showing though the paper mask that allows a perfect alignment of all the letters. Imagine if you had to place each letter independent of one-another!!

The Sea-Horse logo is made up of many smaller decals to make the one big logo! I strongly encourage clear coating these decals to avoid damage during use.

After the masking is remove, this is what has been left behind.

This motor is now ready for service. It's sure to be a conversation starter at the launch ramp.

Looks like new!!

So after 15 minutes to a half hour, this is how the decals are applied and look when done.  Tough part is to get things straight, but practice and patience will do wonders in this regard.

There is still one other type of decal to discuss and that is lacquer/water-slide decals.  These decals are printed on a very thin film, usually clear, then printed or silk screened with each color individually.  The more colors…the more fragile the decal can become.  As the layers of ink dry, on some decals up to half-dozen colors, the thickness of the decal is now much more than the original film.  When applying these decals I use fairly warm, not hot, but warm water in a long wallpaper pan.  The warm water softens the decal and its ink somewhat to make it my pliable.  After soaking for 15 seconds at a time, the decal will eventually lift.  Leaving it on the backing paper, it should be positioned in the area where you want it, then carefully slide the paper out from underneath the decal.

This medium sized decal must wrap around the tank on a Firestone motor. It will have to contour to compound curves of the tank. Here it is soaking in warem water and beginning to unroll indicating the decal is almost ready to be removed from the paper...IN PLACE...onto the tank. These decals have at least three colors, so they are fairly thick...and thus can fracture.

If the decal fractures into large pieces, use a spray bottle with slightly soapy water to wet the area around the decal and push everything together very carefully.  If you need to reposition a decal, especially large decals, use the same method and wet the decal before trying to move it.

WRINKLES!!! Arggh!! No big deal really, but to be expected on compound curves.

Okay…so now we have applied and positioned the water-slide decal on the side of the motor.  But, we also have wrinkles in the decal owing to the compound curves of the tank.  How to move forward?  Follow along closely.

First and foremost…WAIT until all the water has dried out under the decal.  I usually wait anywhere from 24hours to several days before proceeding.  However it is imperative not to touch the decal after it has dried as it has now returned to a fairly rigid state owing to the warm waters absence.  Remember the warm water made the decal soft and pliable.  Now it is back to its natural state.  Touching the wrinkle could cause the decal to crack or flake off.

To get the decal to lay down there are many products available from local hobby shops that sell model train, planes, and automobiles.  Products such as Micro-Set from Microscale Industries or Solvaset from Walther’s Hobbies are chemicals that are made to soften the decal and drive air-bubbles out from under the decal, then allowing it to snuggle down to the surface underneath.  These products will cause the decal to wrinkle usually and during this process you absolutely must not touch the decal!  If you do, you run the risk of the decal tearing, stretching, or being torn.  These decal setting solutions will INITIALLY CAUSE WRINKLES…but they should lay back down over several hours.

I find the Walther’s Solvaset to be slower, yet more powerful.  It also take much longer to let the decal lay down.  The Micro-Sol from Microscale seems to do the job fairly fast but if the decal has many layers of ink, it does not penetrate as well as the Solvaset.  With that said, you will develop your own preference over time.

I should also mention that once the decal lays down, if any additional wrinkles or air bubbles are left behind you can prick them with a fresh #11 knife blade and reapply the solution to allow additional setting to occur.  At any rate…several applications are usually necessary anyway to make the decals lay down completely.  Once the decals are set, the are not going to be able to be moved again, so make sure BEFORE applying the solution you are completely happy with the decal placement!!

The final outcome is quite satisfying. This little Firestone is ready for fun again!

So that is a look at the application of decals that are commonly used in our hobby.  As for our subject motor…we spent about 15 minutes putting decals on our hood.  So we’re sitting around 10 1/4 hours of labor to get the old Sea-Horse ready for summer.  Soon the parts will be in-stock now for rebuilding the power head, so in the next post we’ll give the lower leg a final coat of Sea-Mist Green and reassemble our old girl…and hopefully draw this project to a close.

Hope you drop by for a final chapter found here: Beyond the!: Outboard motor restoration step by step…Day Six!