CJB Boatyard

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Sutcliffe 12" Yacht

To Restore Or Not To Restore

Again, that is the question! Its always the question!


In this case, the boat in question is ripe for restoration. In the past it has been stripped (badly) and repainted (badly) and retains no originality. The rudder is missing, as is the mast and all the rigging. Even in this state, it's quite a valuable thing, but doesn't look great in the display cabinet!


This particular boat belongs to a very good friend. We don't restore boats or make parts for money, but after a bit of swapping and trading, everyone is happy and both our collections are better for it!

The first step is to strip back the hull. I did a gentle examination to check the colour underneath, but found nothing; it had been stripped back to bare metal in the past, so into the tank of caustic soda it went. If you are going to use this stuff, be very careful. Always use goggles and gloves as if this stuff gets in your eye it will dissolve your eyeball as quickly as it dissolves the oil based paint!

This is how they come... a bit rusty, dented and they almost always without the rudder!

Getting Started...

hull start yacht stripping

The boat was 'floated' in the caustic soda bath; notice how the colour change is on the waterline! The boat is then propped on its side to remove the paint on the top side, one side at a time.


If you look carefully, you can also see the trace of original paint in the grove where the keel meets the hull. This is useful confirmation of the original colour; red, just like every other yacht that has been seen so far...

When fully stripped and rinsed in fresh water, the hull could be examined. Pretty good really; a few small dent and a few rust spots, but could have been much worse!

yacht after stripping

Quote a lot of the tinplate coating has gone, either through corrosion or during the previous 'restoration'. Probably more accurate to say that it had been 'done up', probably by an enthusiastic young lad! This will make the painting harder as far more prep will be required.

Next up - making the rudder.


As stated above, the rudder is often missing when these rare boats crop up. That is because they are soldered on at only two small points. Solder is not all that strong at the best of times (you can cut it with a knife like cheese) so it could be easily knocked or pulled off. The rudder itself is a simple pressing with a couple of 'straps' which form the hinge in conjunction with a long brass 'hinge pin'.


yacht rudder

The new rudder is simply snipped from a sheet of plate and the straps cut, shaped and soldered on. Fortunately we already have a 12" yacht which we can copy.


The 'hinge pin' is 2mm brass rod. This is the same gauge rod used for prop shafts so they would have had a lot 'knocking around'!

The rod that passes through the 'loops' in the rudder is then 'kinked' in situ and trimmed so that it can be soldered onto the back of the keel.  The rod needs to be anealed before it can be kinked; it's too hard stright off the shelf.

yacht soldering on rudder

Above. the rudder 'jigged' in position ready for soldering.  


Below, rudder has now been soldered on.

yacht soldered on rudder

Next up - prepping the hull...


The hull as a few small dent and some surface corrosion, so the first step is to 'dremel' the entire boat using a rotary wire brush attachement. This removes all final traces of paint., caustic soda and rust. Any areas which are still slightly rough are flatted with 600 grade wet and dry.


The dents are then filled with a car body filler containing a high metal content. When dry, the filler of rubbed down and profiled to the hull with various grades of paper down to 600 grit and then wire wool.


yacht filler

The whole hull is then primed with a 'filler primer'. This will show up any imperfection. All imperfections are flatted off before the entire hull is polished with fine wire wool. Priming is quite a satisfying step - it's starting to look good!

yacht primed

After lots of prep and polishing , the cream top side is painted.

yacht cream hull

'Why is there an arrow on the stand?'  There is a triangular card fillet in the base of the stand because the bottom of the keel is not horizontal...


The cream needs to be left to cure for a few days before the red underside can be applied...many a fine paint job has been ruined through impatience!  Plenty of other stuff to get on with...


Now is a good time to make a box; all boats need a decent box!


yacht box 1 yacht box 2

Instructions are on the underside of the lid.  Pretty much spot on really!

Part 2

Go to Part 2!