A very nice 1953, 17 foot Chris Craft Runabout

Owner - Steve Briggs

I originally learned to water ski behind a slightly older version than mine. Then when I owned part of "The Point" on Upper Saranac Lake, NY (1969-1979).  When I married Doris in 1984 and came up to Wolfeboro I decided I needed an old wooden boat for the Big Lake. Naturally I called George Johnson. I told him I would be up in May and I wanted a boat that all I had to do was turn the key and then go for a boat ride. Sirena had been owned by a fellow named Frost from Maine. I understand that he had a complete engine overall shop and that the engine was in Top Notch shape. I have now owned the boat for around 20 years and have enjoyed many pleasurable hours. The only negative was when I had the engine explosion under the bridge a couple of years ago on the way back
into Back Bay.

Steve Briggs

In the fall of 2004, Sirena was brought into the Vintage Race Boat Shop, for some minor wood repairs, bottom detailing, and fresh paint and varnish. The first step was to move the boat inside the shop, take some "before pictures" then hoist the boat off the trailer and setup on blocks.




Then we attacked the bottom first, the most import part of a wooden boat, by aggressively sanding with 60 grit sandpaper on my trusty orbital sander.



We spent two whole days on a creeper, sanding the bottom to expose any/all wood issues, then we sanded the deck, transom and hull sides with 220 grit sandpaper. Then it was time to thoroughly survey the entire boat to plan any wood issue repairs.




After some minor wood repairs to the bottom and hull side planking, the hull sides and transom were sanded again, with 320 grit paper to prep for the first coat of Epifanes varnish. Hand sanding was next, with Scotchbrite Pads. And finally, the first coat of Epifanes was applied, using our preferred "Rolling & Wicking" procedure. This puts down a very thick coat of amber varnish, which actually darkens and deepens the mahogany stain finish. The white bootstripe was also painted - using Pettit Bootstripe paint.




The interior ceiling panels and dash also needed some attention, so we removed the seats, spent a day sanding and prepping, and then applied the first coat of Epifanes varnish on the side ceiling panels and dash. As you can see, we used our Rolling & Wicking method to apply the varnish, and we got a very nice, thick coat of amber varnish applied. After just one coat, the difference was impressive - but we still have two more coats to go !!!




The next step was to repair the fire damage area on the aft deck. The stain colors were unequal and the heat had bubbled under the varnish. So we had to strip, re-stain, and build up the varnish coats. We used Sterling 5F5 to strip/remove the many layers of varnish.



After the varnish finish was stripped, Zeke Bly stopped by to help us remove the filler stain, using a very potent 2-part Norton Bleach. Notice the smile on Zeke's face - he seemed to enjoy the fumes as the bleach pulled the stain from the wood fibers.



The freshly bleached wood was then sanded with 80 grit sandpaper, vacuumed and wiped down with DuPont Final Clean. Next, the Interlux filler stain was mixed and tested on a sample board, and when the mix was correct, we applied the stain to the aft deck with a foam brush, followed by wiping cross grain with towels. The stain match was very close, and was left to dry overnight.




To seal the filler stain, we applied two coats of Smith's Clear Penetrating Epoxy, which helps to bond the filler stain to the mahogany, and also provides for a tenacious chemical bond for the first coat of Epifanes varnish. The penetrating epoxy was left to dry for 24 hours, and then prepared for the first coat of varnish by lightly sanding with 120 grit paper.


Finally the first coat of Epifanes varnish was applied full strength, using our preferred Rolling & Tipping technique. We took our time, put down a nice thick coat, and got our first glance at how close the newly stained area matched with the older, aged finish. And as the photos show, the match was very close and the thick coat of amber tinted Epifanes varnish really transformed the boat - we were very pleased with the results - but still had 3 more coats of varnish to go !!!





To build up the varnish layers on the newly stained area, we taped off that section and then applied two additional coats of Epifanes varnish. We also applied the second and final coat of varnish to the interior ceiling panels and dash panel.



After the third coat of varnish was applied to the entire deck area, Jerome Holden of JC Signs painted the decks seams. This was done freehand, as usual by Jerome and the results were stunning.



And on 2/9/2005 - we applied the final coat of Epifanes varnish !!!





We let the varnish cure for a week, then we mounted all the hardware. This is always the best part on the project, great therapy after many long hours of hard work. 



And finally on 2/19/2005, Sirena was lowered back onto her trailer and transported across the street to Sawmill Marina for winter storage.



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