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1950 20' Century Resorter

I’m sure you can tell from the photos this poor lady had a run-in with a bad fire. As I understand it, this Resorter was stored in a building where a fellow was working with a torch on his car when things got a little out of control. Much was lost in the fire, and nearly this Century as well. Fortunately she was saved…depending on your perspective. She’s to receive the full makeover with new 5200 bottom, all new decks and hullsides, interior, chrome, and replacement power…going with a similar vintage V8 over the smaller six cylinder she had originally. Centurys are known for speed, so she’ll definitely have it with V8 power.

As always, we are starting with the bottom. After we made sure the hull was straight she was braced up and rolled over to begin the messy job of removing the old planks. We immediately noticed the keel was...well, a little ‘hogged’. It was also cracked in several areas and rotted in others. So, we removed that as well for replacement. It was no surprise that the triple-piece bottom transom frame was also completely shot. Our Century record is intact…every triple-piece bottom frame we’ve seen has been bad. There were minor cracks in several other frames, but to our pleasant surprise nearly all were in very good condition, escaping the fire’s wrath. A small section of the stem was soft, but not enough to warrant a complete replacement so we did a small repair with WEST and she’s as good as new. The cutwater also covers that particular section, so it will not only be strong but also invisible. Century had a single planked, batten-seam bottom but we always do the double-planked bottoms like Chris-Craft. It makes a stronger, more watertight bottom. As all the seams are over frames and battens it has the appearance of an original-type Century bottom.

********* UPDATE *********

Things are progressing quite nicely on this Resorter. Now we’re ready to roll her back over and begin what in my opinion is one of the most fun tasks on doing a total project like this…planking the hullsides and decks. Many amateurs are scared to death of doing this, but if you take your time and make small adjustments anyone can do it. But I digress. We dry fitted all the bottom planking before attaching with 5200. For some pleasant reason these planks laid down nearly perfect the first time I cut each plank…a first for me. Many emails asking me how tight the planks should fit. I’ve included a photo with a ‘penny’ snuggly fit between two of the planks, or about 1/16” of an inch. Too tight and not enough 5200 will ooze out; too loose and it will allow some degradation in the overall support of the wood. So, allow about a penny’s width as a good measure for the gaps. A smidge over or under is not the end of the world, but get it as close as you can.

You’ll also notice a LOT of washers near the bow. I’ve learned from experience (lots of cracked boards) that it’s better to use too many washers than not enough. There is a lot of stress on these boards as they bend and conform to the bow, so it’s not worth taking a chance to come in the next morning and see that that board you spent an hour shaping is now infected with numerous cracks at the screw holes. Better safe than sorry. Next we did our normal treatment of CPES, 2000e, and just one coat of bottom paint at this time. Our next task was fabricating two new splash rails, as the others were just plain toast (it was in a fire after all). We cut two pieces of white oak to length and width before cutting the fifteen degree angle and the gradual taper as it ends towards the cutwater. White oak does not want to bend without a fight, so we soaked and then steamed the two pieces for two hours. It’s amazing how easily they conformed to the chine. We used 2 ½” dry-wall screws with washers on the outside of the rails to attach them; otherwise the screws in the pre-drilled holes would have pulled through the soft wood. After letting it sit attached to the chine for a few days we removed the splash rails (which retained the curved shape), sealed with CPES then attached with 5200 and screws in the counter-sinked holes. It worked perfect and turned out beautiful. We fabricated the bottom transom plank, attached that with 5200, faired, and then applied several more coats of bottom paint.

As we put a new keel in her we had to drill a new shaft hole. Several of you have asked the best way to do this. Well, we used to have a small jig with an old shaft log that worked ‘ok’, but a friend of mine came up with a new device that makes it as easy as pie…and quick. He took an old 1” driveshaft, drilled a hole in one end large enough to accept a 1/2” Forstner bit tightened with a small allen screw on both sides of the shaft. On the drill end it’s machined down to fit in the end of a drill. You temporarily attach the strut and a block to help guide the bit as it enters the keel. We had the shaft hole cut in about ten minutes. It works like a champ. Any machine shop can make one of these for you. I hope this helps.

Now, she’s ready to roll over and start that fun (yes, I really do mean fun) job of re-planking.

********* UPDATE *********

As I mentioned in the previous update, re-planking can be one of the most enjoyable parts of the restoration. New wood always looks great, and it’s really not that hard if you take your time, make small adjustments…and don’t hesitate to pull the plank off just one more time to get that really nice fit. The only drawback on this particular project is the wood the owner provided was nearly thirty years old and proved to be a little brittle, requiring more steaming than normal. If you have to steam to get the curve at the bow without cracking or breaking, first get the basic shape by steaming then fitting to the boat with drywall screws and washers to securely hold the soft plank without pulling through the fasteners and then give it a day or two to retain the desired shape. Once it has the shape you need then you can begin hand planning to get the tight seam fit. Another challenge was this boat was in a pretty bad fire and the original planks made marginal patterns at best, so we had do take a little more time to get them just right.

We start the initial fairing with 40 grit to get the shape correct, and then move to 60, 80, and finally 100 grit, being sure to exert less pressure on each subsequent grade to make sure we leave no swirl marks. Some will go up to 150 girt, but I don’t believe the wood accepts the stain as well and can result in a blotchy appearance. Long boards are lightly used with 100 grit before bleaching and staining. If you discover any cracked bungs during the final sanding…remove them now and replace. You’ll be sorry later if you don’t.

Every restorer has a different method, but I like to stain the dark first, let dry for a couple of days, then tape that off and do the blond. After letting that dry for at least two more days, we apply two coats of sealer. We’ll take her to our upholsterer to do some final fitting and then make sure the new V8 engine fits correctly before applying the dozen coats of varnish. Still not done, but at least she’s starting to look like the beautiful boat she once was. Don’t think anyone would know now that she was in a fire. I swear the boat whispered to us the other day, ‘Whew, thanks…now I feel better!’

********* UPDATE *********

A lot of work has been done to bring this beautiful Resorter back to life.  Quite a few parts have been fabricated to replace those lost in the fire, stringers modified to accommodate the new modern power, and all the other factors that go along with restoring a boat that came to us in pieces…many in a box.    None-the-less, it’s been fun working on a challenging project…especially when you finally see the finished boat come together.

Now we’re at the point where we finish the mechanicals, install the flooring, convertible top, tie in all the electrical components, and other final details.  One of the best parts of this business is you’re usually the one that gets the first ride in the spring to work out any bugs…which there are always a few.  The end is in sight, and I know ‘At Last’ will be anxious to go home with her owner soon.

Finishing the Project

I think there was a time when both the owner and we thought this boat would not get finished.  Difficulty obtaining the last remaining missing or incorrect parts along with some last minute updates and corrections stretched this project out to nearly two years.  But, in the end she definitely turned out beautiful.

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