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Old 10-05-2004
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Need Help have a Few ?''''s about a ship my father left me

A major part of owning a wooden boat is stabilizing the condition of the boat and maintaining the boat in stable condition. This means keeping the boat at a moisture level high enough that it won''t completely dry out and low enough that it won''t rot. Wooden boats are happiest in the water in salt water. They do not do well in prolonged dry storage. One of the posts suggest doing a thorough survey. That is important but is best done with a marine surveyor who really understands wood construction.

In the case of traditional wood constuction, rotten planking and framing can generally be replaced comparatively easily using the techniques with which the boat was originally constructed. Wooden boat work is not hard, but it takes some patience and good tools.

It was suggest that you probe the boat with an ice pick. I agree with probing the boat but I generally prefer an xacto knife with a #11 blade as it is less destructive to wood that is intended to remain. There was a suggestion that cedar and spruce makes good wood for a boat. Clear cedar that has not been kiln dried makes a very good planking material. Spruce is highly rot prone and makes a very poor planking material but some spruce species make good spar stock. Epoxies have their place in wooden boat work but generally have more limited utility in the case of traditionally planked boats where swelling of the wood is very important to holding caulking in the seams.

My best suggestion is to start with some of the basic boat building books. I have restored and maintained a number of older wooden boats using Howard Chappelle''s book ''Boatbuilding'' as my basic source of information. Of course a lot has changed since Chappelle''s day but it gives a lot of clues as to how the boat was originally constructed.

Good luck,
Jeff
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