Podnocker — Deconstruction

(This is the first of three posts about my boat rebuilding project)

Before I could start rebuilding anything, I first had to have somewhere to work, where I could take the boat apart and make a mess, so I hauled the boat to my parents’ farm in New Brunswick.  Once there, I started by removing the engine, the controls, radio, electrical wiring, the seats, and anything else that I could get at without cutting:

Next I needed a frame to support the boat for the weeks that it would be in stripped down states.  I built it out of a few 2x4s to some very carefully taken measurements, and set it up in the gray machine shed that you can see in the above photos.  I backed the trailer into position, and very carefully slid the boat back, off the trailer and onto the frame.  (The gas tanks you see here were just for weight, to keep the boat on the trailer as I inched it backward far enough to get onto the frame):

Of course, lest I screw something up, Nibbler was enjoying his role as supervisor:

And at last it was in position on the frame where it would remain for the next 25 days:

My next step was to rip up the carpet to find out what was going on beneath.  I’d known of a few soggy spots, but I wasn’t quite prepared for how bad it was:

I cut out a bit more of it to see the stringers underneath the floor:

In order to get at everything, I had to separate the boat into two by removing the top from the bottom.  This involved the removal of about 300 rivets, each and every one of which had to be drilled out, and a few of which wouldn’t easily be drilled and had to be forced out with much cursing to let the rivets know what I really thought of them.  Finally, they all came out and off came the top:

Forget about the top for now: it was more or less ignored just sitting like that for the next couple weeks.

With the top off, it was time to start removing all the rotten plywood inside.  Below is a shot of the transom; you can also see the old flotation foam on other side (to offset the weight of the motor in case the boat capsizes):

The “wood” in it had rotten so much as to be basically just soggy sawdust and came out by the handful.  (If you go back up to the very first picture of this post, you can see the big aluminum plate that the previous owners had added to try to give the transom some support—but even then it wasn’t very strong).

Next I cut through the fiberglass holding the floor in place, and out came what was left of the floor, exposing the stringers (and some more flotation foam) underneath:

The next task was to remove the stringers themselves.  They were also quite rotten and broken in some spots, but still intact enough that I could get them out intact enough to make a template out of them.  Here’s the view with the stringers removed:

Before I could put in new stringers, however, I had to actually grind away all the fiberglass that was in place to support the old stringers.  I started by using a diamond cutting blade on my angle grinder, to get them mostly removed:


… then finished up with some 40-grit angle grinder flap discs to grind away the fiberglass down to the fiberglass hull of the boat.  This was probably the most unpleasant part of the entire project as I had to wear a respiratory, and try to cover up as much exposed skin as possible.  Fiberglass dust is very nasty stuff: it sticks to your skin even through multiple showers for at least a week.  Anyway, through those few days of pain (and much cleaning up) I ended up with a clean, bare shell:

That was it for the deconstruction; it took 12 days in total, though perhaps only 8-9 actually working on it (my sister got married—and my Dad had his birthday—in the middle of it!).

With all the old stuff cut, drilled, pulled, twisted, and ground out, it was finally time to start rebuilding the inside.

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