1941 Gar Wood
Deluxe Utility, hull number 6629, 20 foot
Owner/Driver - Dave Whitcher
Crew Chief -
Eager Beaver - restored by Dave Whitcher & Jason Conley
When looking for a
shop project to highlight for a Cutwater article, a conversation with Dave Whitcher about his current project perked my interest. Dave
restoring a 1941 Gar Wood Deluxe Utility that he pulled out of a
boat house on Beaver Island on Lake Winnipesaukee. The boat was good
original condition with all the original hardware, instruments and
motor. Dave lives in Strafford, New Hampshire and while not a
professional boat restorer, his work rivals the best, and I thought
it would be inspirational to remind people that there are always
some interesting projects, and some very good work being done in our
local back yard shops.
professional career as a commercial builder has given him access to
many techniques and resources that might not be available to the
ordinary person. And to pass on the knowledge, Dave is mentoring a
young carpenter named Jason Conley, who helped on this project and
is eager to enter the boat restoration trade. Jason is learning from
Dave's experience of having completed at least 10 major boat
restorations along with many antique car restorations.
everyone may have the background that Dave has in building and
restoring things, everyone has access to E-bay or Craig's List when
looking for a vintage wooden boat to buy. In the case of Eager
Beaver, that is exactly what happened to Dave. A friend called
him and asked him if he ever looked at Craig's List, an Internet
site of classified ads. Dave said no. His friend told him that there
was a Gar Wood boat for sale on the list and he should check it out.
Dave did exactly that.
What Dave found
was a 20 foot, Gar Wood Deluxe Utility boat, hull number 6629, built
in 1941 by Gar Wood. There were just 211 boats built in this series.
The boat was being offered for sale by the administrator of the
estate of John Beaver, a local Lake Winnipesaukee resident who had
passed away in March, 2008. John Beaver, who coincidentally retired
onto Beaver Island, was the retired president of a medical
manufacturing and supply firm based in Waltham, MA. Dave heard about
the boat for sale in September, 2008. After talking and meeting with
the administrator of the estate, the 1941 Gar Wood Deluxe Utility
The boat was
originally owned by C.B. Delhomme of Houston, Texas and apparently
came to Beaver Island in the late 1940's. The original Chrysler
Crown V-6, 110 HP engine was still in the boat and there had been
some bottom work previously done to the boat along with some other
repairs and refastening. All in all, the boat was in great shape
except for ordinary wear and tear. When Dave went to get the boat,
which had been stored in a boathouse, he hooked the original engine
to a battery, charged her up and drove the boat to shore.
This unique Deluxe
Utility came with two walk around seats up front and a nice bench
seat aft. The woodwork on the inner ceiling boards and seat backs is
beautifully stained and varnished. Especially notable on this model
is the high crown of the fore deck and beautiful tucked upholstery.
The original burgundy upholstery has now been replaced with the same
style as the original. All of the original Gar Wood hardware was
intact and did not require re-chroming, just a lot of elbow grease
and polishing. Dave was especially lucky in that the original
folding windshield was still intact. Replacement cost for this item
alone could have cost upwards of $14,000!
Most of the wood
on the boat was in excellent shape. Dave estimates that only about
10% of the wood needed replacement, including 2 planks on the port
side, one plank on the starboard side, the covering boards and front
deck. This is where Jason came in. He did the replacement planks,
staining and varnishing under Dave's watchful eye.
that faced Dave and Jason was the looseness of the many screws, so
they had to refasten all the many, many bottom and hull screws. In
order to maintain the original integrity of the fastening, Dave and
Jason bunged the original holes and then re-drilled them for the new
screws. Dave had some mahogany wood left over from previous projects
that were of the same age as this boat, which he and Jason used for
the replacement planks and bungs. Pretty handy.
bleaching and sanding all the wood, Interlux filler stain was used
to fill the mahogany grain of the wood. After a sealer coat, twelve
coats of varnish were applied to the hull sides and 15 coats were
applied on the fore/aft decks and covering boards. Two coats of
Interlux Brightside paint was applied to the bottom, keeping the
original red color, and of course a nice white boot stripe !!!
One of the most
time consuming jobs of the project was re-straightening the long rub
rails, that extend in one piece for the entire length of the boat,
20 feet. It took both Dave and Jason many hours remove the many
years of dings and dents, to get the two long rub rails smooth,
straight and correct.
Even though the
original engine ran okay, Dave wanted this restoration to be a
simple "turn the key and go" boat, so he installed a newer 1982
small block Chevy. This created a problem however as the new engine
was wider and higher than the original. So he and Jason had to
enlarge the original engine cover by adding trim pieces of wood to
increase the height and width. If Dave had not pointed out the
additional wood, you could not tell it was not original. The top of
the engine cover is also upholstered. Dave said that one thing he
made sure of was to have the underside of the upholstery be of a
soft material so as not to scratch the wood on the top of the cover.
This is wood you never even see. Very meticulous, very impressive.
that when he starts a project, it must be completed in one year. His
goal for the Eager Beaver was to have it completed in time for the
2009 boating season. So far, his part of the project is on schedule.
However, completion may be delayed by the time it is taking to have
all of the gauges restored. Dave is using Clawson Classic
Instrumentation of Anacortes, WA a well known firm that
has been restoring original gauges for 24 years. Let's hope Mark
Clawson comes through in time for a spring launching.
Currently, Dave is still in the building business, owns 4 other
boats and about a dozen antique cars and trucks. The boats include
a 1935 Hackercraft, Timeless,
the Gar Wood featured on the cover, a 1956 Shepherd and a 1938 Chris
Craft currently undergoing restoration. His classic cars include 2
Cords, a LaSalle, Buick, and 1956 T-Bird.
Congratulations to Dave Whitcher on his many restoration projects,
especially his most recent, a 1941 Gar Wood Deluxe Utility. Eager
Beaver that will be on display this summer at our 36th Annual
ACBS Boat Show at the Meredith public docks ???!!!
Click here for Boat Show details
Click here for Boat Show photos
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