In the past few years my river dory, Obsession, has traveled a thousand rocky river miles in all kinds of weather, dodged a million rocks (and hit more than a few) while running rivers in Yellowstone, Tetons, Olympic, Rocky Mountain, Rainier and a dozen other National Parks.
This dory has run backward through a rapid on the Rogue River, run sideways through a rapid on the McKenzie River, and slammed into a wall at Mule Creek Canyon on the Rogue River so hard that it split a rib, shattered an oarlock, and was put out of commission for a month. Continue reading →
In the spring of 2016, several US Coast Guard vessel inspection officers from the east coast attended our 2-day Professional Fiberglass Boat Repair Workshop. Afterward, they asked if we would consider creating a document that they could hand out to commercial boat owners, captains and vessel reps that would provide guidelines for proper use of WEST SYSTEM products for repairing and maintaining larger wooden vessels subject to Coast Guard inspections. They were having an increasingly difficult time because a number of commercial boat operators were repairing their own vessels using techniques that caused concern. The reasons given for using these questionable procedures vary from trying to save some money to the short supply of qualified wooden vessel shipwrights who could complete work in a reasonable amount of time. To make their case that their repairs were appropriate, some operators handed the Coast Guard Inspection Officers the WEST SYSTEM Wooden Boat Restoration & Repair manual. Unfortunately, some were cherry picking information and techniques intended for repairing smaller recreational wooden craft, and not following all of the recommended procedures for avoiding problems. Continue reading →
For readers of Epoxyworks, the name Hot Canary should ring a bell. Constructed in 2011 by an employee team at Gougeon Brothers, Inc., she was built as a winning platform for the Everglades Challenge. Having completed several of these self-supported, expedition races, and with the sad passing of Jan Gougeon, the highly customized i550 Hot Canary was listed for sale, ready for new adventures. Continue reading →
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 →