Ladybug - a 22 foot
Hacker Craft Runabout
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 !!!
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.
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.
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 !!!
After 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 !!!
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.
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
Then it was time to sand, detail and paint the
bottom with two coats of Interlux Brightside Sea
boot stripe was then taped and painted with two coats of Pettit
White Boot Top paint.
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.
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
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