Race Boat Shop
As promised in our previous Edge-Bonding article last Spring, here is the next installment - the
test results after a great summer of fun on the Vintage Race Boat
First - let's review our Edge Bonding
Let's start with the obvious question - why would you
do this to a vintage wooden boat in good condition? Well, in the case of my
Gar Wood Speedster that I have owned and maintained for 25 years now, the objective was to
strengthen and preserve the hull.
In the spirit of Gar Wood and his riding mechanic
Orlin Johnson, I recently upgraded my 454 cubic inch Chevrolet motor to a full race, 510 cubic inch, stroker motor that produces 630 horsepower, and now participate
on the Vintage Race Boat Circuit with my faithful riding mechanic Donnie McLean.
The resulting stress on the hull was causing the planks to "work" excessively,
so I had to somehow strengthen the hull.
After much research, conversation and e-mails with
the Gougeon Brothers (West System Epoxy) and 3-M (5200 Adhesive) - we finally
decided to edge-bond the hull planks with 3M-5200 adhesive. This flexible
adhesive would add strength and retain the feel of a wooden
In addition to making the hull much stronger by
edge-bonding the hull planks, we also re-engineered and strengthened the motor
mounts. We bored holes for threaded rod (mounting bolts) through the stringers
and then through-bolted and bedded the bolts in 3M-5200 adhesive. This setup
proved to be extremely strong, and the motor mounts set in 3M-5200 helped to
absorb motor vibrations.
The Test Plan:
We finished the edge-bonding project last May, and
launched my Obsession on Memorial Day Weekend. Bill and Judy Fisk, the Nowacks,
Tom Morgan were here to help us celebrate the agony of defeat (new
motor setup problems) and the thrill of victory - when we finally worked through
the problems and fired that R&L Stroker Motor !!!
We ran the boat hard (as usual) on our beloved Lake
Winnipesaukee during the month of June. The hull remained in excellent condition,
the hull planks did not
buckle or split, and the seams were no longer "working". The whole
boat just felt much stronger and more solid.
So we felt pretty confident that our Edge-Bonding
Project was going to be a success, but it was time for the real test - the
Vintage Race Boat Circuit. Yup, like vintage car racing, there are actually
people out there who run/race their Vintage race boats on APBA (American Power
Boat) sanctioned race
courses, and participate in a Vintage Race Boat Circuit.
So we hit the road, and trekked to five major APBA
Detroit Gold Cup - Detroit Michigan
Lake George, NY
Man, that's a lot of miles (over 5,000) to haul a wooden boat,
uncovered, during the heat of summer, and traveling through the numerous construction
Edge-Bonding Road Test:
The Vintage Race Boat Circuit !!!
July 5-7, 2002
It was hot, 97 degrees when we left Wolfeboro on
July 3rd, and 114 degrees in the Madison pits on Friday. The air conditioner
in our truck could barely keep up with the extreme heat on the long haul from
Wolfeboro, NH to Madison, Indiana. But we shared driving duties, the Dick
Windsor trailer hauled my Obsession with ease, and we arrived safely in Madison
after 19 hours on the road. Upon arrival, we checked the new edge-bonded hull,
and everything looked good.
This was the first year for our Vintage race Boats on
the historic Madison "Bill Cantrell" race course. Joe Johnson was
our Vintage Chairman and worked his tail off to put on a great Vintage event. The water conditions were
good, allowing high straightaway speeds of 70 MPH, and only slowing to 60 MPH
on the turns. These high speed turns produced so much centrifugal force, that
Donnie had a difficult time staying on his side of the boat. We believe
the resulting sideways stress on the hull and motor was more than ever before,
and a tribute to the new marine competition oil pan technology on the motor.
We had oil pan problems before - actually spun a bearing at our Wolfeboro
Vintage Regatta 2001 - due to oil starvation. But R&L Engines rebuilt the stroker motor last Winter, specifically to run on the Vintage Race Boat Circuit, and
they built us a strong, reliable bullet!!!
At Madison, Dave and Jean Johnson were our gracious
hosts, and we enjoyed jumping right into all the last minute thrashing on
their "Close Shave II" hydro. On Friday night, all the vintage boats
participated in the Madison Parade, along with all the Unlimited hydroplanes.
On Saturday, I gave Steve Reynolds (Unlimited hydro legend) a ride on the
Madison course, running with the vintage unlimited hydroplane - Miss Madison.
The heat was later televised on ESPN II.
On Sunday evening, after the races were over, we gave
boat rides to the entire Miss Madison crew. It sure was hot, but we all had a
lot of fun !!!
Dave Johnson's Close Shave II was the great success story of our 2002 Madison
Vintage event. Along with brother Joe, the Johnson Brothers had just completed a
two year restoration project, and were scheduled to run at the 2002 Madison
Vintage event. Then, last minute motor problems threatened doom, until The
Obsession Boys arrived, and ace riding mechanic Donnie McLean finally got that
Ford Flathead running !!!
Madison was also the debut of our new APBA Vintage
Safety Inspection Form - designed by Bob Moore and myself. Bob was very
helpful, supporting Donnie and I as we inspected all 23 Vintage boats.
Before we left Madison, we had the boat
weighed by crane with a computerize scale (3,300 pounds), and
again checked our new edge-bonded hull and everything
looked good. The hull planks had not buckled or split, and the seams were
still not "working".
The Gold Cup - Detroit, Michigan
From Madison, Indiana we trekked north to Detroit,
Michigan. The temps were still in the nineties, and we hit lots of
construction in the Detroit area. I cringed every time we hit those bumps, but upon arrival, we checked our new edge-bonded hull and
everything still looked good.
This was our fourth time at Detroit, and the water conditions on the historic Gold Cup race
course were quite rough, as usual. We ran the big, 2 1/2 mile course "flat-out"
- down the front shoot, over the Whittier Hole, around the wide Belle Isle
Bridge turn, over the back straight river swells, past all the yelling,
screaming fans on the DYC T-Dock, then we slowed just a titch for the much
tighter, infamous Rooster Tail Turn. We had a ball, and "Obsession"
handled the rigors of the famed Detroit River quite well.
At Detroit, we stayed with Dave Yeager in "Vintage
Central" at the Belle Isle Vintage pits. Yup - it was party time, and we
trekked over to the DYC (Detroit Yacht Club) for showers and food. And then
there was that Saturday night excursion to "Jacks" !!!
We also broke the trailer hitch on my truck in
Detroit, while helping to move a rather large hydroplane. Upon close
inspection, it was revealed that the hitch was badly rusted - the result of
many winters on New Hampshire's heavily salted roads. The important thing is
that no one was hurt, and no damage was done to the hydroplane we were moving.
Although a bit embarrassing, we considered ourselves lucky, as the hitch could
have let go while hauling at high speed, with disastrous results. Anyway, the
local Chevrolet dealer was very helpful, we were in Motown don't forget, and
we put on a nice, new, shinny trailer hitch. Moral of the story - be sure to
check YOUR trailer hitch very closely every Spring !!!
Also, a special thanks to Tom and Judy D'Eath, Chuck Holmes,
and Katherine Schuler for putting together another great, Detroit Gold Cup
Before we left Detroit, we again checked our new
edge-bonded hull and everything looked good. Then we trekked back home, all
the way to New Hampshire. After 19 more hours on the road, we checked
the hull again and everything still looked good. The hull planks had not
buckled or split, and the seams were still not "working".
Lake George, NY
August 9-10, 2002
After participating in our local ACBS Weirs boat
Show, we headed out to the next Vintage event at Lake George, NY. This was our
first time traveling to Lake George, and we relied on Epedia.com directions,
taking Route 9 across southern Vermont. Big mistake, the whole route was under
a major construction project, and we spent several hours traipsing over
gravel/dirt roads. So my "Obsession" took a beating on the back roads
of Vermont, but came through just fine. The same could not be said about the
stressed-out driver of the tow vehicle - me !!!
The water conditions on the Lake George race course
were extremely rough, and there was much carnage. However, the hull planking
held up well, still no "working seams", and the new stepped/shingled bottom
performed flawlessly. But both windshields (laminated safety glass) were
broken so badly (spider-webbed) that they were actually pelting us with pieces
of glass. Yup - The Obsession Boys were spittin' glass and passing boats. The
rest of the carnage included one exhaust flange (stainless steel trim) nearly
ripped off the side of the boat. It was actually peeled back and wrapped
around the exhaust side pipe. The stern pole base was nearly ripped off the
aft deck, and the entire fuel fill fitting vibrated loose and was lost at sea.
Man, it was rough, but several other vintage race boats sustained much more
severe damage !!!
Thanks to Teri Hoffman, who organized this fun
Vintage event, and to our own Shaun Berry and Hank Why, who did the Vintage
Safety inspections. The Friday night parade was fun and the Saturday night
awards ceremony was just a hoot. Yup - the Margaritas and Lemon Shots were
On a personal note - I was very impressed with the beautiful scenery and sparkling clean water
of Lake George. We stayed just North of the village, at
House Bed and Breakfast in Bolton Landing, right next to the famous Sagamore Resort.
The Boat House was built in 1917 as the summer home of speed boat racer and
Gold Cup winner George Reis, and housed "El Lagarto" which won the Gold Cup in
1933, 1934 and 1935. So of course, I tied my Obsession in the very same boat
well that El Lagarto once used - pretty cool !!!
This is THE place to stay at Lake George, it is
Before we left Lake George, we again checked our new
edge-bonded hull and everything looked good. Then we trekked off to our next
Vintage event - Clayton, NY.
August 16-18, 2002
Obsession traveled another long, hard, haul through
the beautiful Adirondack mountains, from Lake George, through the Lake Placid
Olympic Village and on to Clayton, NY - the Thousand Island region of upper
state New York. After the beautiful trek, we checked
the hull again and everything still looked good.
Water conditions were more rough than usual at
Clayton this year, requiring the race course to be closed early on Friday. So
The Obsession Boys did not run on Friday, and spent the entire day doing APBA
Vintage Safety inspections on many, many boats. Bill Fisk also helped out with
the inspections, without whose help not all boats world have been inspected. On
Saturday we ran two very hot heats with great results (we smoked them all)
with no damage to the boat.
The hull planking still showed no signs of "working".
In previous years, the seams would have worked severely by now, cracking the
black paint film and the hull side decals. But this year the hull sides still
looked as if they were just painted - no cracking or working seams.
Marv Hart deserves a special mention here - he did a great
job of coordinating over 100 Vintage race boats and actually kept the show on
Schedule. Gerry Davidson also did a super job - conducting new driver
education sessions. And Dave Yeager (skiff boy) coordinated all the Jersey
Speed Skiffs to put on a great show for the spectators. Also, a special thanks to our
beloved Clayton Museum for another great Vintage event - and we even gave the new
director (John Summers) a ride on the race course !!!
Then we trekked back home to Wolfeboro, NH to
get ready for our next Vintage event - Buffalo.
September 6-8, 2002
Our trek to the historic Buffalo Launch Club was an
easy, but long haul - 9 hours. We had good weather, and we traveled on all
major highways. Event organizers Bill and Rich DeGlopper were there to greet
us with a fun pizza and beer party under a huge tent - complete with
lights and movies. They were very gracious hosts, and they put on
a great Vintage event.
But we did cut a trailer tire just outside of Buffalo
- a "chunk" of rubber tread was sliced and was flapping. Pretty scary looking,
but the tire stayed inflated, and we arrived without incident. But early the
next morning, before the actual Vintage event, we hit the Yellow Pages, and
found a nearby Goodyear tire dealer that had a set of radial trailer tires in
stock and "promised" a fast installation. So off we went for a new set of
sneakers, and as soon as we pulled in, with Obsession all shined up and flags
flying, the pit crew at Mike's Goodyear Tire went into action. Man, it was
like a Jeff Gordon NASCAR pit stop - with two guys and jacks on each side -
they changed four tires in 15 minutes flat!!! We had just enough time to take
some pictures, run my worn-out American Express Card, and thank them
profusely. The decision to upgrade from the older, bias tires to new radial
trailer tires proved to be a good investment, as we were surprised how much
better and straighter the trailer hauled. So I highly recommend the upgrade to
radial tires on YOUR boat trailer, they also run much softer and cooler.
The water conditions on the historic Buffalo Launch
Club race course were much like the Detroit river - pretty rough - but the
course is much more narrow. The boat was run hard (as usual) on the rough
course, and had a ball running alongside of Marv Hart's beautiful Gold Cup
boat - Queen of Hearts. We ran two fast heats, for an extended period of time,
using a full tank of fuel - over 30 gallons.
But we did hit one huge "roller" from a cruise ship
or tanker, and pounded so hard that the fire extinguisher was knocked
completely out of it's mounting bracket. But there was no damage to the boat.
Upon close inspection after being craned back on the trailer, we were amazed
that there was still no evidence of any working seams.
Bob Moore also ran his beautiful Vintage hydroplane
"HI-Q" on the Buffalo race course - for the first time in over 30 years!!! The
hydro was not a Vintage boat the last time Bob ran it - in actual APBA
competition. I spoke with Bob when he came in from his run - he was all smiles
and looked many years younger !!!
We also finally saw the stunning
R/C model of my Obsession
- made by Hank Pyrciak. This beautiful radio/controlled
model is 57 inches long, runs a full-race gas motor, and runs over 50 MPH. It
even has two little dummies in the aft cockpit - just like the real deal -
with Lifeline jackets and DYC logos on the helmets. Hank will be bringing this
and several other R/C models to next summer's
NH Vintage Race Boat Regatta -
on September 15-17, 2005.
The "full-size" Obsession was craned launched at
Buffalo (also at Madison, Detroit, and Lake George), which puts lots of stress on the hull. Before we left, we again checked
edge-bonded hull and everything looked good. Then we trekked back home, all
the way to New Hampshire. After 9 more hours on the road, we checked the
hull again and everything still looked good.
Now, after a summer
of great fun on The Vintage Race Boat Circuit, with lots of travel (over
5,000 miles) and hard
running on APBA race courses, the hull is still in excellent condition. The hull planks have not
buckled or split, and the seams are no longer "working".
In summary, I am still very pleased
with the results of our edge-bonding project and I want to again
thank Donnie McLean and Mike Michaud for their help. The boat
was thoroughly tested last Summer and still looks great. I
am very pleased with my enhanced, strengthened hull.
Click here for Edge Bonding - Part 3
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