Part 2 - Test Results

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 Circuit.


First - let's review our Edge Bonding Project:

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 boat.


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, and 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 Vintage events:


Madison, Indiana

Detroit Gold Cup - Detroit Michigan

Lake George, NY

Clayton, NY

Buffalo, 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 projects !!!

Our Edge-Bonding Road Test:


The Vintage Race Boat Circuit !!!

Madison, Indiana

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

July12-14, 2002

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 Vintage event.


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 flowing !!!


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 The Boat 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 highly recommended.

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.

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.

Buffalo, NY

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 the new 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.

The Summary:

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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