CJB Boatyard

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Sutcliffe Snappy

Restoration by Geoff Kirkman

This page shows the restoration of a late pre-war Snappy. It's not one of 'ours'; it's being done by a fellow Sutcliffe enthusiast. As you will see, he is a very accomplished engineer and you will be impressed with the final results!

The first job was to completely strip the boat of paint. That done it was time to remove the motor; given the amount of work that would be required to restore this boat, the motor might as well be fixed at the same time!


Removing the motor from a Snappy is not for the faint hearted... it involved major surgery! So after removing the superstructure with a butane pencil torch,  slightly heavier machinery was brought in ... in the form of an angle grinder.

Getting Started...

Here she is; a rather sorry looking example. The motor doesn't work and it looks like someone has tried to prize the top off to get at the motor.... and then given up!  It's a fairly rare boat but in this state it doesn't display very well, so it's ripe for a high quailty restoration.


The key dating clues for SNAPPY are the rear tiller rail and the rear 'well' size. This example has the pressed rail and small well, which indicates that it's the last 'type' before production finished before the war.

snappy 1 snappy 2 IMG_0780

The example above is an original example of the same type; note the small simple (cheap!)  SNAPPY decal and the round red/gold decal in the rear 'well'. (CJB Collection)

snappy cut open

Once removed, it is clear why the motor no longer works.... the spring has disolved...

snappy motor

Whilst the outside of the boat has been protected with paint, the inside was very rusty... The next step is to remove all that rust using a process of electrolysis.

derust 1


The picture above shows the boat submerged on the derusting tank (water with a soap powder electrolyte). The negative electrode is connected to the boat, and the positive electrode connected to a piece of sacrificial steel. Care is taken to make sure the positive crocodile clip is not submerged, otherwise it will be sacrificed too!

derust 2

When a current is passed through the solution, a chemiacal reaction slowly turns the rust back into steel. It really like 'magic'!

snappy motor new

Once the hull had been de-rusted,  the repaired motor was re-installed. The motor was rebuilt with new mainspring, new arbors, new pinions and new gearwheels except the crown wheel.  Geoff used a modern (1970's) motor to repair the original (late 30's) motor and found that it wouldn't work; it turns out that the tooth depth on the crown wheel changed at some point, the later teeth being deeper.

snappy hull repair 1 snappy hull repair 2 snappy paint box snappy top side paint snappy underside snappy final pic

Next it was time to repair the 'tea strainer' hull. This was 'puddle soldered' to repair the holes. Definately a labour of love..

Once all repairs completed, the superstructure could be re-soldered back onto the hull.


Time to paint the boat.....

Geoff made a masking box from card. This is actually pretty much what the factory would have used, though it would be made out of metal, not card, so that it could be used over and over again.

The factory always painted the underside first. This is because the masking wasn't perfect and it's better to have a little bit of overspray on the hull, rather than on the deck.

Top side painted.  And a very nice job too.

And here's the (almost) finished artical.  Looks great doesn't it. The red/gold decal is a repro of the correct type made by us at CJB Boatyard (not many people know this, but there are 4 different pre-war decal types.)


The mast was also made by Geoff; it is the correct gauge and the crows nest is the correct size, although it still does need shortening a little.


The stand was also made by Geoff. Sutcliffe never made a stand specifically for the Snappy, but if it had, it would probably have looked a lot like that one!


The restoration needs one final thing... a SNAPPY name decal.  The correct decal for this version (late pre-war) is black capitals on a clear background. Probably the least attractive of the Snappy decal styles (3 in total) but at least it's easy to re-produce. We've made one for Geoff and we'll post a picture as soon as it has been applied.