CJB Boatyard

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Sutcliffe Meteor

To Restore Or Not To Restore

That is the question! Boats come in all manner of states, from near mint to complete wrecks, but just because a boat is not mint, it doesn't mean its a candidate for restoration.  At this boatyard, it's a candidate if:


1) it has been (badly) restored before and does not retain its original paint, or

2) there is significant paint loss or rust, or

3) there is significant damage or modification, and

4) there is nothing unique or extremely rare about the boat that should be preserved, and

5) it is worth the effort! (I probably wouldn't bother restoring a bad Comet as mint boxed ones go for £60)


The final acid test is the question... "would I put that in my display cabinet?' If no, it's a candidate.


So take this Meteor picked up off ebay. It has not been restored before, but it does have significant paint loss, rust, modification and damage. Also, whilst the Meteor is a very rare boat, this particular configuration of twin vents and an Italic decal is not ultra rare or unique. If the boat was green, then I'd leave it as it is (Sutcliffe never produced the Meteor in green as far as I know), but as it is blue, it just about makes the cut..

So there she is; a 16" clockwork METEOR, circa 1938, and it's a bit of a state!


1) no motor

2) no hatch

3) threaded hatch nuts destroyed/missing

4) home made rudder

5) prop bodged onto a different prop shaft

6) bodge repair to rudder rail

7) hole in foredeck (!)

8) significant rust and pitting in hull.


But apart from that, its very good !! Would you put that in your display cabinet? I wouldn't.....

Before doing anything to the boat, there are a couple of things that need to be done. Firstly, if a similar colour of blue is to be used, it needs to be colour matched BEFORE the paint is removed! I make 'swatches' of painted tinplate so that I can compare and choose the best match.  Also, an important thing to measure is the position of the blue/cream boundary with respect to the deck.  I do have another boat for reference, but this one is actually slightly different.

The next step is to strip down the boat. In this case there is little to strip, but the rudder has to come off. This is simply unsoldered. The brass tiller (original thankfully!) can be annealed, straightened and then re-used with a new rudder blade....but that will come much later! TIP - remove old/excess solder by heating to melting point and rubbing off with fine wire wool.


The soldered tabs on the deck around the hatch were then removed (below) - they revealed the true horror!!



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Oh My Lord - look what the cat dragged in ! Looks terrible...and it's worse than it looks...

Getting Started...

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When I saw this, I did wonder if the whole thing was actually worth it.... but I've started now, so I'll finish! The  next step will be to strip the hull right back to clean bare metal.


I hope that it will be as good as (or better) than the one behind...

Look carefully and you can see the 'shadow' of the foredeck decal... long since gone..

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The stripped hull... I use a bath of Caustic Soda which is very effective with old oil based paints, but be warned. It is VERY NASTY stuff and will disolve skin (and eyeballs!)  like a hot knife through butter, so USE GOGGLES and protective gear!

Before stripping I trimmed the ragged opening in the deck... no point saving any of that..

Heavy crusted rust was removed using emery cloth... the more I did, the worse it got..

The deck is much thinner than the hull and now is even thinner as a result if all the rust. There are many pin holes..

More pin holes - even the hull has quite a few holes and it's much thicker. This project is now for 'love' not money, and the techniques I'll need will be the ones I learnt patching up my mums old Triumph Herald in the 70's.

Next up will be stabilising and strengthening the 'remains'. But there will be a short intermission while I make a box for it.... (after all, every boat needs a box)

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So, back to work on the boat... all that rust needs to be 'stabilised' so I used plenty of chemical rust treatment inside the hull which turns the turns the rust to something hard and less rust like!


Notice all the holes in the lower edge... I suspect that the boat has spent some time filled with water. The hull evenm had a few pin holes which needed to be 'patched' from the inside. I used small brass plates, bonded in with a matalic base 2 part filler (used to repair car bodywork!) - Well, anything goes now...


A useful tip when using filler - cover the wet filler with parcel tape and smooth out with your fingers. Peel off the tape when it is dry and it will be silky smooth! Saves a lot of sanding...

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The cockpit well is badly rusted and very hard to get to properly with the screen in place.... so with a short waft of a blow torch, it is removed.....

Screen removed... black stain is from chemical treatment leaking through a pinhole in the cockpit pressing.... groan!!

End of Part 1 - next up - filling more holes and some paint is applied..... (!)

Take Me To Part 2!