Restoration of a Swampscott Dory
A clutch of members (Bill Rutherford, Dan Nelson, Phil Behney, and I) met about a month ago
to develop a plan for getting the White Dory back in the water. She suffered from several
egregious, but localized, spots of rot, but little else. And it was clear she had good, and
perhaps professionally-built bones: well-selected materials, tight joints, good riveting, wellfared planking. A boat like this deserved another chance.
The question was how. To replace rotted planks would involve major surgery on the floor at
the sternpost, replacing both garboards, and the starboard side riser planks. In short, a pretty
extensive process that would result in the removal of a lot of good material along with the
bad. Some proposed another approach, one while less traditional, but would be more
expeditious: focused treatment of rot, careful deployment of Dutchmen and thickened epoxy,
and rebuilding of lost non-structural material with epoxy putty where needed. This not only
would require less concentrated time, but would also get the boat swimming again perhaps
before winter. While most of us hummed and hawed about how to proceed, Dan quietly
picked up a chisel, and started ripping out hull rot. Soon, we all followed suit, and the choice
was made: repair the rot and get her swimming again.
So that’s what we’ve been doing: JGTSCA newbies: myself, Cookie Wierski, and Ian Bradley,
along with guidance by Bill Rutherford—set to scraping and treating the rot spots three weeks
a month ago. I’ll talk about details on the treatment process at the next regular meeting, but
as of this writing, the White Dory is coming quickly back to life. The interior rot spots have
been tended to, the interior has been primed and top coated, the removable brightwork has
been stripped and refinished, and floor boards have been laid out and cut. We flipped her
over about a week back, and turned attention to the exterior: replacing the shoe, refilling the
false bottom seems, sanding and filling exterior rot spots. This weekend will see priming and
painting completed, allowing us to flip her back right side up to finish the rubrail and fixed thwart brightwork.
As happy as I am to see White Dory coming back to life, I’m more thrilled to see students and
visitors stop in during every work session to see what’s going on. Folks are just curious about
the project and enjoy seeing people using the shop. I hope there are more projects on-deck
for the winter to keep this energy going: I’ve got a few in mind, and Cookie may have a fun
project, too, to pitch to the Chapter. Regardless, every day folks are in the shop turns into a
good day for me.
By: Matthew McKenzie
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