A very long overdue update on rebuilding the Richardson

All those ribs finally done!

It has been five years since my last update. Replacing those ribs was extremely time consuming, each one was a three hour commitment needing helpers, and life just gets in the way. But it’s finally done, and my daughters will never willingly crawl under a boat again. On the right is a picture of the ribs installed with the new inner keel in place. The side keels (unsure what they’re called) are original and are mated to a newly milled matching one on the bottom. The dashboard is the original one as well, trying valiantly to hold the shape together.

The big question for most cedar strip rebuilds is whether or not to fibreglass the bottom. The Wooden Boat forums are full of discussion about that topic. The previous owner told me they’d put it in the water in April to let the wood swell, a day later they’d pump out the water and be good for the season. In its new life the boat live on a trailer, dry most of the year, and with the state of the planks fibreglass made sense to me.

I do love the look of the glass before epoxy, like a wedding dress.

The finished glass and epoxy before sanding.

The only possible color to paint a cedar strip runabout is red. Anything else is heresy. So I painted it red.

A very red bottom

Varnishing the inside was far more work than I had imagined, especially when bending over the boat too long left me unable to stand up straight again. But with some help we put on four coats of varnish before losing patience, and it looks quite shiny. The older wood really stands out with a much darker color adding a lot of character.

Four coats of varnish shining in the sun

Currently I’m rebuilding the seats and deck supports. My dad milled up cedar for the deck, but it’ll be the last thing to be installed after the electrical is done. Where possible I’m reusing the existing pieces, drilling out rusted holes and then filling them with epoxy, or filling larger cracks with epoxy. The seat bottoms and backs were made of cedar and both front and middle seats were too far gone, but all the supports are of white oak and I have resurrected almost all of them.

Next comes the motor question. I sold the original motor for parts since it needed far more work than it was worth. Showing the power of Kijiji, the buyer had the same motor sitting in his garage needing parts. I had the impression the boat was overpowered and just recently found out that the 33hp motor had been bored out and was likely closer to a 40 or 45hp motor. I am leaning towards a newer 20hp motor so no one will be tempted to try water skiing or pulling a tube.

It’s good to remember where the project started, so I’ll end with a picture of what it looked like years before I picked it up. If you look closely you can see the twist in the boat, that’s not an artifact of the camera. When it dried out, either the boat wasn’t supported properly or it just twisted as it dried out. In the process of replacing the ribs I managed to get most of the twist out.

The Richardson about ten years ago looking a bit tired.

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