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CHRISTMAS is 60 years old this season.

TomY

Alden Forum Moderator
Jun 22, 2004
2,584
Alden 38' Challenger yawl Rockport Harbor
What a great boat! One of the more peculiar sailboat builds from the last century, Alden Challengers had their fibre glass hulls and decks cast in the UK.

Then the hull and attached decks were shipped off - along with a thick roll of hand-drawn blue prints - to wooden boat builders around the world, to be 'finished' in traditionally built (at the time) wooden houses, cockpits and interiors.

CHRISTMAS was already 40 years old when I bought her, 20 years ago. The wooden 'house' was showing some age and battle scars from her first 20 seasons that included; launching in the Great Lakes, a stint in the Bahamas as a charter boat, two Bermuda races and ultimately settling in Southern New England.

I had a few things to fix but she never missed a day of sailing that I know of, in all these 60 years.

Looking back over photos of our first few seasons, I can see water damage along the deck to house joint (and my son about 10, now 29), from years before we owned her.

TT in the port.jpg


Over the years in the off season, I fixed a lot of those problems with the advice of wooden boat building friends. Some new methods and materials in boatbuilding have evolved since Xmas was built.

And wood, fragile if not cared for correctly, is amazingly strong and resilient if it gets some care. Over the years, the traditional caulked joint and covering trim board were replaced with an epoxy filet reinforced with glass tape. The brutal threaded inserts for mounting storm shutters (wise for Bermuda races) were removed and holes 'sewn up' with plugs, and various 'Dutchman patches' were fitted into splits and cracks.

All pretty easy stuff if you work with wood.

Wood is an amazing material. The old house now 60 is looking better than at 40.

Port shape copy.jpg


But there is still a problem in this area along the deck, I've known that for a few years. Varnish fails here too quickly. You just tend to it, the important thing is to keep the wood protected from too much water. Here and early failed area of varnish below the port:


House 2019 varnish lifting.jpg


I had a suspicion of the reason for the problem but I talked with a friend and world class wooden boat builder. Upon my description of the varnish fail, he just chuckled. "When wood won't hold varnish, just get rid of it "

I understood: Removal meant cutting the damaged (by moisture and rot) wood out. I was already prepared to fit another 'Dutchman patch' to the old house. The only tricky part is, the narrow patch is nearly 20 feet long.

She's turning 60, it's time to fix this area once and for all. I scarfed a long straight pine 'track' together with epoxy and mounted it along the house: A boat yard probably would have removed the port trim but that was all reset about 10 years ago and tight as a drum. This made it tricky to get the track a uniform distance away from the cut area. But with spacers and a few shims, I got it.

House dutchman patch setting track.jpg


The track is a rail for my router with an offset bit and fence to ride. It took a little courage to throw the switch and 'start riding'.

A few minor adjustments in depth and set, and water darkend wood started flying. I'm all in now.

House dutchman patch 1%22 cut_.jpg


I decided to go three passes for a total 1 1/2" patch.

This revealed what I suspected from some a similar process I did on the front of the house: Above the house to deck joint, the screws from that mount the interior handrail are within an 1/8" of the woods exterior surface. Some thinning of the house is expected after 60 years but thanks to experienced care in the past the house thickness is still ample. The screws for the interior handrails were overset 60 years ago. So with carbide bits, I nipped off the points of the bronze screws as I plowed the wood off.

House dutchman patch final pass 1.jpg


See the water stains around the interior handrail fasteners? Water makes wood move, expand and contract. The screw points so close to the surface would part the wood grain invisibly to the eye. In short order a little water finds it's way in, expands, dries and contracts.

It's time to level the bottom and cut the ends of the 1/4" gain, and move the track to the other side, as time permits...
 
Oct 1, 2007
1,663
Boston Whaler Super Sport Pt. Judith
The true love of a boat is a wonderful thing.........
 
Oct 22, 2014
14,539
CAL 35 Cruiser moored EVERETT WA
Artful work Tom. Inspired. Happy Birthday Christmas. :clap:
 
Jan 1, 2006
5,548
Slickcraft 26 Greenport, NY
How deep did you rout out? You wrote that the screw tips for the interior hand hold were only 1/8th inch from the surface and that you nipped them off. How much past the 1/8th inch did you need to go to get into good wood?
How did/will you handle the cabin/deck joint?
 

TomY

Alden Forum Moderator
Jun 22, 2004
2,584
Alden 38' Challenger yawl Rockport Harbor
How deep did you rout out? You wrote that the screw tips for the interior hand hold were only 1/8th inch from the surface and that you nipped them off. How much past the 1/8th inch did you need to go to get into good wood?
How did/will you handle the cabin/deck joint?
The depth for the gain is 1/4". I believe the screw points, blunt wedges, eventually open tiny cracks to the surface as wood 'moves' seasonally. Years before I uncovered this repairing the house front. You can see the moisture stains tracing the cracks in the grain here. And these screw points were not as close to the surface.

Cabin front gain - gains cut (1 of 1).jpg


The filet was another project years ago. It actually bonds the deck and house together as well as forms a watertight joint. I think I chronicled that step in the Alden forum.

Forward dutchmen patch finished (1 of 1).jpg
 

TomY

Alden Forum Moderator
Jun 22, 2004
2,584
Alden 38' Challenger yawl Rockport Harbor
How deep did you rout out? You wrote that the screw tips for the interior hand hold were only 1/8th inch from the surface and that you nipped them off. How much past the 1/8th inch did you need to go to get into good wood?
How did/will you handle the cabin/deck joint?
Here's that thread on the hull to deck joint. These projects are Alden Challenger specific so I've been posting them here. I hope they help present and future owners of these boats. The trunk cabin to deck joint.
 
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Likes: jon hansen
Jun 14, 2010
1,595
TBD Looking for my next boat CT
Wow! I'm always an admirer of your craftsmanship, Tom. :thumbup:

In the image "House dutchman patch 1' cut_.jpg" I'm wondering how you were able to route so close to the deck? (I would think the router plate and motor overhang would block you from getting the bit into the corner between deck and house.)
 

TomY

Alden Forum Moderator
Jun 22, 2004
2,584
Alden 38' Challenger yawl Rockport Harbor
Wow! I'm always an admirer of your craftsmanship, Tom. :thumbup:

In the image "House dutchman patch 1' cut_.jpg" I'm wondering how you were able to route so close to the deck? (I would think the router plate and motor overhang would block you from getting the bit into the corner between deck and house.)
Thanks, Larry! An offset router: A router base that has another mandrel run remotely, via a small cogged belt, from the main router. You can rig a fence of wood through the extra base holes. This is the only use I've ever found for it. :) With a larger diameter bit, you can cut to the edge of the plate.

Router fence set - 3-4%22 plow (1 of 1).jpg
 

TomY

Alden Forum Moderator
Jun 22, 2004
2,584
Alden 38' Challenger yawl Rockport Harbor
I work in stints. A couple hours here, a few there. I'm glad I still work so I limit my time onboard as this type of work is serious boat yoga.

I had a piece of 1" Sipo, a mahogany look-alike (it's a tropical hardwood) racked away for this. Ripping remotely :) , I sliced off two strips 1 - 15/32" wide. Then I resawed this into 4 strips, 1 15/32" X 5/16"+.

Dry fitting the patches, this went amazingly well. I made the end cuts with a hand saw and a bevel T square.

Dry fit._-2.jpg


A little planing in a few spots and the first piece snapped into place. I had made 4 scarf cuts on one end of each in the shop (stacking the 4, taping and slicing a 4/1 cut).

Dry fit 2.jpg


With a strong back (pine 1" x 1") to give an even inward pressure, I drilled and fastened those on top.

Dry fit strong back fastened._.jpg


2 hours for one side, back the next afternoon, and down the port side.

Dry fit port side complete.jpg


Tighten the cover, here comes a snow storm tomorrow. Next time I'm here I'll be armed with epoxy.