During the fall of 2016, I took a technical call from a customer who owned a Sunfish Sailboat. He lived in the area and was looking for help repairing a few minor gel coat cracks and restoring his wooden dagger board and rudder. I told him I would be happy to help because this would be a good opportunity to write an article about using WEST SYSTEM 105 Resin and 207 Special Clear Hardener for the wood restoration part of his project. The mahogany dagger board and rudder had weathered over the years because of only being varnished. Continue reading →
WOW, the home-built runabout I completed in 2000, has been a focal point of summer activities for our family and friends over the years. We’ve spent hundreds of happy hours out on the water, and taken it on vacations to northern Wisconsin, Kentucky, and New York. The majority of WOW’s use has been in Lake Nagawicka in Southeast Wisconsin.
WOW is a 20′ Glen-L Riviera with an inboard 350 cubic inch V8 engine. The hull is constructed of white ash frames, okoume plywood inner laminations, and a Honduras mahogany outer layer. The exterior is sheathed with 4 oz. fiberglass cloth on the deck, and 6 oz. on the sides and bottom. Primary construction was over one winter (see WOW by Mike Barnard in Epoxyworks 43). We started the build at the end of August 1999 and launched at the end of June 2000. The project continued with ongoing additions for the first several years, including upholstering the seats, installing a snap-on cover, a swim platform, cup holders, a wakeboard pylon, and a sound system. Continue reading →
One never really knows when the Fickle Finger of Fate will be pointing in your direction, but it sure did one day early last fall in 2015 at my brother’s shop—Nelson Niederer Woodworking in Bay City’s south end.
One day out of the blue a young man walks into the shop and relates a story about an old boat he found in his grandpa’s barn. He knew he wouldn’t really have the money nor the time and expertise to restore the boat. Nonetheless, he would hate to see it forgotten and disintegrating. Nelson told him to bring it by and he’d take a look. What he brought back was an extremely rare 1954 Cadillac 14′ Runabout—in great condition! Cold molded, no frames. Mahogany veneer hull construction with a mahogany planked deck. The seat cushions and bimini top in good shape. No rot in the hull— only a little on the ends of the splash rails. Continue reading →
The prospect of having to fiberglass the bottom of a hull can be a bit ominous. Any type of overhead work can be frustrating, but the thought of trying to hold fiberglass in place while applying epoxy can produce nightmares for some people. This is especially true if you will be working alone. Continue reading →
In March of 2013, after 42 years, my mom and I sold the family business that she and my dad started in 1971. I was still in high school when I started working for my parents, and as a result, I have never filled out a job application or been to an interview. At 56 years old I wasn’t about to start now! So in the spirit of following one’s own path I turned my hobby into a new business and opened Nelson Niederer Woodworking. Continue reading →
I hear it said increasingly often in the last couple years as I meet people during my travels “Who will be the next generation of tradesmen? Who is going to work on our cars, boats and homes?” This is a serious lament posed by today’s tradesmen, potential employers who have a very hard time finding apprentices and workers to learn their trade. The U.S. is in dire need of men and women willing to work with their hands and develop the skills necessary to build and repair all our…stuff. Continue reading →
Surcease is a late ’50s International Flying Dutchman Class sailboat. The Mahogany hull was cold-molded in Holland and imported by Paul Rimoldi of Miami Florida. Mr Rimoldi made everything else, including many pieces of hardware. He raced the boat on Biscayne Bay into the ’60s and sailed it for many years. He rebuilt the boat in the late ’80s but died before he finished. We bought the boat in August 1992 from his widow and sailed it for almost a season before we discovered that the hull was in very poor condition; the Urea-resin glue between the veneers had begun to turn to dust. We stored the boat and bought another Flying Dutchman. Continue reading →
Cover Photo: A good overview of Port Townsend’s busy harbor on a gorgeous September day.
If you are interested in US Maritime history and heritage, you owe it to yourself to visit Port Townsend, Washington. Port Townsend is located 56 miles NNW from Seattle and sits on the waterfront of Port Townsend Bay in Puget Sound. This unique village is known for its sense of community and a lifestyle of “salt water hippies” focused on boats and the sea. Port Townsend is also the home of the oldest and largest Wooden Boat Festival in the Pacific Northwest, perhaps in the US. Truly an international event, Continue reading →
On July 15th, 2006, a friend and I took my 1958 Flying Dutchman out for a sail in the Saginaw River. This was only the third time the boat had sailed in 30 years and the first hard sailing since my six-year-long restoration. We set both sails and made several runs in front of the Saginaw Bay Yacht Club before we hit something, maybe an old piling or maybe the freighter rudder that went missing the previous fall.
The Damage The centerboard took the first impact, splitting at the pivot bolt hole. Next the rudder hit, forcing it upward, snapping the tiller and tearing off most of the transom. The board jammed against the back of the centerboard trunk and gouged a triangle out of the trailing edge of the centerboard. Continue reading →