Ladybug - a 22 foot Hacker Craft Runabout

Owner/Driver - Jack Bragdon

I was raised by a family that always owned wood boats. My grandparents had a summer home it the "Thousand Islands."  They owned a variety of wooden Chris-Crafts.  This is where my passion for wooden boats originated.  A few years ago I visited the Clayton boat show, and my passion was ignited. In 1979, I purchased a new Correct Craft Mustang and still have it today, but it's not wood.  I started looking seriously three years ago for a used 22 foot Hacker.  I wanted the old style boat, but with modern construction.  My wife and I then started going to boat shows at Lake George.  We visited Morgan Marine many times looking for nice used 22 foot Hackers with no success.  Finally in the summer of 2010 at the Lake George boat show, I talked to Lynn Wageman from Morgan Marine.  He told me that he had a 1998 22 foot Hacker on consignment at the marina.  I went to look at it, went for a ride, and knew this was the one!!  I purchased it in September after a marine survey, brought it home to Candlewood Lake in June of 2010, and enjoyed it that summer.  When the summer was coming to an end, I decided it needed a refinish.  After searching classic wooden boat Websites, I discovered the Vintage Race Boat Shop Website and so was so impressed by the pictures of their recent projects and their quality of their work, I contacted Bill John - and the rest is history.  Many thanks to Bill John and Donnie McLean for the quality of their work and their attention to their customer needs.  The boat restoration is now in progress, and the boat is going to look better and run faster than when new !!!

Owner/Driver - Jack Bragdon



In the Fall of 2011, Ladybug was hauled to the Vintage Race Boat Shop for a survey, sea trials, winterization, storage and then complete refinishing later in the Spring.



Then on the afternoon of October 29th, just before the first snow flakes of great October blizzard began, we launched Ladybug and ran sea trials on Wolfeboro Bay to find the source of a reported vibration. Upon close inspection at speed, we found that the drive shaft was bent and also rubbing on the wood around the shaft log hole, causing a vibration and harmonics that resonated throughout the boat. The boat had been repowered, but care was not taken to allow proper clearance around the shaft log. We then returned to the docks, fogged the motor and pulled Ladybug back to the shop. The motor was winterized and we removed the protective metal plate near the stem and were pleased to find all good wood underneath. Then we hauled Ladybug to winter storage as the first snow flakes began to fall. That night it snowed well over a foot of snow, but Ladybug was tucked away under cover at Minge Cove, safe and sound !!!





The motor ran fine but the boat was under-propped. The rpm's spun up way too easily and there was no bite in the prop. The vibration was also there, as the drive shaft was definitely bent and rubbing on the shaft log hole. We will enlarge the shaft log hole and seal with epoxy, replace the drive shaft and install a new 4-blade prop.

We had to do the same thing with the another Hacker Craft project, My Sweetie and the boat now runs nice and smoothly, and much more efficiently with the new prop.

Video #1

Video #2

Project Photos - My Sweetie

In March of 2012, we pulled Ladybug out of Winter storage and hauled back to the shop for bottom detailing, a new drive shaft, attention to detail around the shaft log hole and complete refinishing with four thick coats of Epifanes varnish !!!





boat varnish, spar varnish, marine varnish, varnish ingredientsAfter hoisting off the trailer and setup inside the shop for work on dollies, we removed all the Hacker hardware, being careful to place each  piece in a separate plastic baggie along with the mounting screws. This takes some time, but protects the beautiful chrome hardware and ensures that the proper screws are used to reinstall the hardware after the many coats of Epifanes varnish has cured. Then the sanding of the hull sides, deck and hatches began. The first sanding is perhaps the most important, as we started with 320 grit and followed with Scotchbrite Pads, being careful not to burn-through the aged/weathered stain in the mahogany. We spent several days sanding and we got the hull very smooth before we taped and prepped the hull for the first build coat of thick, amber tinted Epifanes varnish.





Then we applied the first build coat of thick, amber tinted of Epifanes varnish, straight from the can with just a titch of Epifanes Retarder added. The retarder allows the varnish to flow out before it kicks, providing for a very smooth finish that looks like it was sprayed. And the results, absolutely stunning as the photos below show. The boat already looks like it was dipped in varnish, and three more coats of Epifanes varnish are planned. We love to varnish vintage wooden boats !!!






We sand between coats with 320 grit paper followed by Scotchbrite Pads using our DeWalt 5 inch random orbital sander. The sander is connected to a Fein vacuum system that provides for near dustless sanding. Each coat of varnish was allowed to cure for a week before sanding for the next coat. The extra time makes the sanding much easier, as the cured varnish is much harder and sands better. With many hours of sanding and faring the hull between each coat, we are actually fairing the hull with varnish, and with each coat of thick, amber tinted Epifanes varnish, the surface gets smoother, darker and deeper.








After three coats of thick Epifanes varnish, it was time for Jerome from JC Signs to apply the gold leaf lettering on the transom and also touchup the gold leaf lettering on the hull sides. The next step is another coat of varnish over the new gold leaf and then Jerome will return to outline the lettering with green paint. The process takes several days and well worth the effort !!









After another coat of varnish, Jerome returned to hand paint the outline of the gold leaf lettering with contrasting green paint. Then several more coats of varnish were applied, to deepen the glow of the gold leaf and to protect from the sun and dock scratches.


Then it was time to sand, detail and paint the bottom with two coats of Interlux Brightside Sea Green paint.




The boot stripe was then taped and painted with two coats of Pettit White Boot Top paint. 






The prop was sent to AccuTech in Dover, NH to increase the pitch by one inch and to blueprint the blades. Accutech also supplied the new drive shaft, coupler and strut bearing. We spent many hours boring the shaft log hole and aligning the entire drive train to ensure no vibration. We installed a new PSS drive shaft seal and repacked the rudder seal to ensure a dry bilge. A new raw water strainer was also installed to filter the cooling water before entering the motor. We install these Groco raw water strainers on all of our boats, because they collect all the leaves and pine needles before they enter the cooling system for the motor. Most motor warrantees require a strainer.



After the four coats of thick, amber tinted Epifanes Varnish were allowed to cure for a week, we painted the white deck seams using a pin striping wheel. After several more days of curing time, each piece of Hacker hardware was polished and then installed using the correct screws. As usual, we had to replace many of the previous screws that were not the correct size.







After we finish polishing and installing all the many pieces of Hacker hardware and rub rails, we will prep for sea trials, always the most fun part of the project. Please check back later and follow our progress !!!

Ladybug Vdeo #1

Ladybug Video #2

For locals, please join our:

Saturday Morning Gatherings

Monthly Fun Run & Gathering

Florida Vintage Race Boat Circuit

Some related vintage race boat links:

Site Meter

Return to Our Beloved Vintage Wooden Boats


Return to Home Page - Vintage Race Boat Shop