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Another Rebuild, '70's RX Explorer (it’s a sickness)

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I really don’t want this rebuild to end. There are numerous adventuring photos with Brian on my shop walls, and memories starting in 1972. Working on OOSOBO and looking up felt like familiar companionship again.

P1240012 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

P1240013 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

In person Brian would have kept me from making several rebuild mistakes. He hauled me back from incipient errors in judgment throughout my teens and into my thirties. Brian was that rare breed where, had he said “I’ll meet you on the dark side of the moon next week”, I’d have been watching for a rocket launch. To quote Chip, “You can’t make another friend like that

Something is missing. I know, some squibs of reflective tape on the stem sides, as on every boat. I’ve run low or out of most colors of High Intensity waterproof tape, but I haven’t worked in a green hull in a while and still have some green. Cut a few lengths, round off corners and that part is done.

I have one more piece of outfitting to make, but it can wait until I have a sanding and varnishing day at hand. In bow backwards orientation there is no fishing thwart available.

There was that pile of unused clamp-on yokes and utility thwarts, and I considered using one of them, or cutting and drilling a new board and re-using some clamps.

PC280027 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

But I obviously don’t much care for clamp-on stuff, and a clamp-on bow backwards fishing thwart, at the correct location, would be right where the now stern-facing yoke is positioned. No one is shouldering OOSOBO by grabbing the yoke and flipping it onto their shoulders; it’s gonna be two people, or a one person grab it towards one end, invert it and walk back under the yoke technique, grinding the nose of the deck plate into the dirt.

So the yoke need not be a traditional slender yoke shape. It can incorporate a curved neck rest, but be wider at the ends. Wide enough to drill trolling rod holders on either side.

Of course I do not have a piece of lumber long enough to cut the shape I have in mind, so it looks like a trip to the lumberyard, and some cutting, edge routering, sanding and more urethane work.

Well, shucks, Brian and I can keep working on OOSOBO, and she’ll gain another bit of weight.

But the original contest weight holds, and still no winner.
 
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Wow, she’s lighter than we all thought. And yet she’s too portly to throw up on your shoulders… my OT Disco 164 was ~83-lbs and I could pick er up and shoulder ‘er, but I didn’t like it. I’ll throw out another guess for 86-lbs.
 
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Ding ding ding, we have a winner. 86lb on the button. I was shocked, and weighed OOSOBO multiple times. 86lbs.

Between everything I took off, dirt, crud, flakey paint, the third seat and drops, old thigh strap pads, minicel and other failed outfitting, and what I put back on OOSOBO gained one pound. That weight is in line with our Vermont era Royalex Explorer, soloized with a wide center seat and utility/sail thwart, foot brace and etc, 85 lbs.

I can’t, or at least won’t, throw that one up on my shoulders either. Maybe when I was in my stronger 20’s or 30’s, but even my back was messed up.

Woodpuppy, nothing in the rules disallowed multiple guesses. PM me your mailing address and I’ll send your fabulous grand prize.
 
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Ding ding ding, we have a winner. 86lb on the button. I was shocked, and weighed OOSOBO multiple times. 86lbs.

Between everything I took off, dirt, crud, flakey paint, the third seat and drops, old thigh strap pads, minicel and other failed outfitting, and what I put back on OOSOBO gained one pound. That weight is in line with our Vermont era Royalex Explorer, soloized with a wide center seat and utility/sail thwart, foot brace and etc, 85 lbs.

I can’t, or at least won’t, throw that one up on my shoulders either. Maybe when I was in my stronger 20’s or 30’s, but even my back was messed up.

Woodpuppy, nothing in the rules disallowed multiple guesses. PM me your mailing address and I’ll send your fabulous grand prize.

Woo! Message inbound…
 

Glenn MacGrady

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So giga-outfitting adds nanoweight . . . at least when combined with stripping all the way.

FishFinder, OOSOBO, I forget what else . . . .

"McCrea Taverne & Canoeworx - Preying on Lazarus Jobs"
 
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“So giga-outfitting adds nanoweight . . . at least when combined with stripping all the way.

FishFinder, OOSOBO, I forget what else . . . .”

OOSOBO had the “advantage” of considerable poundage in rotted brightwork and lots of failed outfitting; thigh straps, D-rings, minicel, all poorly installed. Looking at the last year’s worth of boat rehabs, none of which had as much flab to be excised, the comparative weights pre and post rehab are much the same as OOSOBO’s differential.

The Pathfinder/Fishfinder was 58lbs when I got it and 61lbs when I was finished.

https://www.canoetripping.net/threads/project-boat-old-town-pathfinder.120043/

The FishFinder’s additional weight was largely the oversized/overbuilt fishing thwart, as well as foot braces , D-rings, knee bumpers, etc. Well worth the additional 3lbs. It did lose one seat in the soloization, and probably a pound of dirt and crud that continued to fall out from under the inwales.

The Yellowstone Solo was speced at 44lbs. So much of the brightwork was rotted off that I didn’t weigh it before beginning the gutting and rebuild. After a lot of rehab and outfitting, including new vinyl gunwales and deck caps, Dynel skid plates, foot brace, knee bumpers, D-rings, spray cover snaps with mini-D-rings in lieu of washers, everything I could think of except a utility thwart, it came in at a hair over 48lbs (weighed with bow and stern float bags in place).

https://www.canoetripping.net/threads/bell-yellowstone-solo-rebuild.127064/

I would ascribe much of the weigh savings in that rebuild to using a laminated Conk seat and laminated Conk thwarts, probably a couple pounds off right there.

The Hyperform Optima/Sexy Thang was 57lbs when I got it, and 63 lbs when I finished, but beyond the usual D-rings and minicel Sexy Thang got multi-coat painted top and bottom, skid plates, a bucket seat and wide utility sail thwart.

https://www.canoetripping.net/threads/optima-number-3.126930/

Even with that outfitting at least half of Sexy Thang’s weight gain came from the installation of a rudder, rudder controls and modern foot pedals.

Starting with a non UL 50 or 60 pound boat, even with some repairs and outfitting, the fully refurbished weight, especially being judicial with wood brightwork selection, seems only a few pounds different, and much of that comes from outfitting improvements.
 
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Utility Fishing Thwart/Yoke Combination. Screw-ups first; I had three near perfect boards on the depleted wood rack, each one ½” too short. Freaking beamy Explorer centerlines. But I figured I could start by designing a template for use with a prospective 5 ½” wide board, wide enough at the ends to double hang with two machine screws per side

A rough cardboard template, marked with deep yoke arm curves, and backside curves from an old utility thwart template, actually the one from cutting the existing fishing thwart. Always save templates.

P1290007 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

Nope, move along, those are not the Droids I’m looking for. The result was weirdly shaped, and the curves just didn’t look right. I know from making past utility thwarts that more platform surface is better. Nice try, but next.

That nascent design cogitation fell by the wayside when I found a right-sized piece of lumber (meh, poplar. . . ) in the wood pile. Cut to existing yoke length, scribed with “arms” matching the removed yoke, leaving the ends 5 ½” wide with ample room for two machine screws per side and enough width for rod holder holes.

Comfy yoke arms scribed on one side and, using the same shapely yoke to scribe the back side curves produced a more traditional yoke shape. It just looked right, or at least familiar, and just has more width of beef in between.

P1300012 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

Curves cut out, run through the router and edge sanders. Much, much better, with standard-ish looking yoke curves on both sides, but retaining the full 5 ½” wide ends and leaving enough beef for some lettuce, pickles and special sauce. Some hand sanding, test fitted and drilled for double hung machine screws.

P2010015 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

The blue tape on the gunwales marks the balance point; the extra double-hung width moved the yoke rest forward (er, rear facing backwards) to the proper balance under yoke.

The ends need not be that wide to using two machine screws per end, but a more spacious platform will make a world of difference in fitting out with rod holder holes and other fishing falderal.

Instead of a recessed platform, centered below the thwart out of leg spread way, as previously done on the tandem stern paddler orientation, I opted for some same-found-board wood blocks, cut and inwale inset, matching yoke/fishing thwart curvatures. Edge routed, sanded and epoxied on adjacent to the inwale edges. Then both layers drilled a doubled thickness angle for rod handles.

P2020017 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

Since this yoke/fishing thwart is wider than the stern seat’s narrower double-decker platform there is no leg interference to avoid along the broader inwale edges, I went triple thickness; another block, with matching curves, offset further inboard at the rod handle protrusion slant, epoxied on the bottom and angle drilled.

Three layers of wood gives me 2 ¼” deep rod holder holes, plenty of depth for angled-out rod stability.

Edges routed and, since there could be some inadvertent leg contact there, corners rounded. Epoxied, bottom block rod handle drilled and test installed. Just for funsies, after seal coats, I’ll “cap” that bottom block with a matching squib of minicel or exercise foam.

P2020020 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

The blue tape marks the tested leave this space alone neck and shoulder rest area. A piece of scrap minicel to be contact cemented there will provide some cushy comfort, as well as a place to embed hooks and lures while changing out. The other usual falderal, holes marked for an over/under/over run of bungee for miscellaneous hat, sunglasses, gloves keepage, holes for hook remover and etc and, what the hell, a couple SS mini D-rings.

The Fishing Yoke Thwart (“FYT”, copyright today) was removed, marked holes drilled, including beveled edges in the direction of bungee stretch, and dressed to kill, or catch & release.

P2030021 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

Quarter inch marine quality bungee, through a Sgt. Knots stainless spring cord lock for tensioning adjustments, and plenty of bitter end dangle to tie another stopper knot.

P2030024 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

I am very pleased with how the bow backwards yoke rod holder concept turned out. If (when) I paddle reservoir OOSOBO I’m likely to be solo bow backwards, and have come to rely on the convenience of a falderal equipped utility thwart. Who knows, I might even bring a rod.

All dressed up with nowhere to go. Before I strip the FYT outfitting and start laying coats of urethane, I have all of the machine screws and etc hardware in a little box. I wonder what the whole thing weighs, fully dressed?

Eeesh, 2lbs 11oz. That coulda been done lighter, but it’s OOSOBO, the no-carry reservoir dweller.

I wondered what the old yoke weighed, with half the hardware and no outfitting falderal.

1lb 6oz. Brightwork adds up. Twice the amount of wood, using twice the number of machine screws, each with a fender washer, smaller washer, lock washer, nut and cap nut adds up too. If I ever rebuild another lightweight canoe I will make the necessary road trip to source better, lighter wood.

I stripped the FYT (pronounced “PFFFT”, the Y is silent) of outfitting and did a little hand sanding in the holes. Before I was finished making sanding dust I turned to other oddball projects waiting in the wings, ones that also needed sanding and shaping dust making, and subsequent urethane coats.

Once I start laying urethane I’m all in, and don’t want to make more shop dust for a few days.

Seriously gonna need another derelict to rebuild soon.
 
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The fishing yoke thwart on OOSOBO is finally finished. Five or six coats of spar urethane, kinda lost count, sanded in between. Before final installation I dressed it with bungee and SS d-rings, and a piece of scrap minicel padding at the shouldered yoke location.

P2110011 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

That mostly unneeded padding, like the minicel squib on the bow forward sternman’s fishing thwart, also serves as a place to temporarily embed lures when changing out.

Skinny ½” minicel; I would have preferred thicker but wasn’t cutting up a slab of virgin minicel just for rarely to be carried OOSOBO.

The rod holder holes on both fishing thwarts were drilled oversized. I didn’t know the rod handle size(s) that might be used, and drilled the angled holes a bit wider than the fattest rod handle I own, leaving the inside of the holes a touch rough for better grip.

I capped the bottom side blocks of wood with a cut to size/shape piece of exercise flooring. Once that was contact cemented in place I drill a smaller same-angle hole through the exercise flooring and sliced it pie-like, thinking that would better grip a rod handle poked through.

P2110007 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

That was a simple, weightless improvement, and I may do the same to the sternman’s fishing thwart if it proves beneficial.

In looking at the FYT one of my sons asked about the mini SS D-rings on either side, installed for unknown purposes, and asked, “Are those for securing hooks or lures to the thwart when the rods aren’t being used?” Realizing he had identified a possible use I replied “Yes, of course, that is exactly what they are for”. Or maybe fastening a stringer. . . . .

The reservoir permit has been ordered, lock and cable are at the ready. Everyone gets a key to the lock. Bless my friend Dave Lee; he had a pad locks on multiple gates and outbuildings in several States and two countries, was keyed alike. He had dozens of padlocks, all on the same key. I have a copy of that opens-everything key as well.

After the nonsense confusion of multiple pad locks on different keys I followed his sage guidance, ordered a dozen keyed-alike Master Locks, and later ordered another dozen as gifts to friends. All of my paddling friends had the same padlock/key, and that communal style came in handy a few times.

Starting on March 1st boats can be left chained up at the reservoirs, and thankfully the decision was made to chain it up at Prettyboy, more convenient to Eddie’s new abode. And to mine; the launch is all of 10 minutes from my home. There can be competition for spaces there, 1800 permits, room for 30 or 40 boats. But I get up pre-dawn anyway; I’ll have OOSOBO on my roof racks the night before, and be unloading it by the dawn’s early light.

Both fishing yokes are “experimental”, in the sense that I don’t know what all I don’t know, and I expect there are tweaks and improvements yet to be made. Boats left at the reservoir need to be removed by December 31st, so I’ll have a couple months next winter to modify those fishing thwarts as needed.
 
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OOSOBO is at the Reservoir.

What a perfect end to a long rebuild, complete with weird WTF obstacles, paddlers well met, and karmic good feelings.

Starting with, boats can be chained up at the launch starting March 1st. So where the hell is my reservoir permit? Getting anxious I tried calling to ask when the permits were (had been) mailed out. I called a dozen times, no one ever answered.

I eventually deduced from past experience that the phone number ending in 00 probably have hidden 01’s or 02’ extensions.

A very helpful person (Kelly) at the watershed picked up on the second ring and checked the permit records. “Your permit was mailed on the 25th”. Kelly also answered a couple other questions, and even called the watershed police and called me back with one complex answer. And the permit did arrive in my mailbox that night, the day before the reservoir opened.

Ready am I. OOSOBO was on the roof racks. Up to the reservoir I go, with a son to help me schlep it from roof racks to water.

Resized_20220301_085958 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

The bed of the truck contained two lengths of pressure treated 4x4, drilled for rebar stakes, so OOSOBO wasn’t resting completely on the ground. 4x4’s stenciled with my name and permit number.

OOOSOBO on the 4x4’s, ready to chain it up for the season. Or not. The pad lock I brought was already locked around the cable ends. The key I had would not open that padlock (Don’t ask, I’m still trying to figure out how that happened).

FARK! What to do? I tossed one of the truck tow chains under the bow so it looked like it was chained up and drove home to fetch the right pad lock. Luckily is all of 4 miles from my home to the Spook Hill launch.

Resized_20220301_090922 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

Back home I had no key for that padlock, and nipped it off with bolt cutters. Found the right padlock (please don’t ask), drove back and locked OOSOBO up. There were now, by 9am on “opening” day, a dozen more boats chained up, and several people in the process of unloading and locking down.

Two couple were especially fun, and inquisitive about other places to paddle. A delightful lakeside conversational morning, the most engagement I’ve had with unknown paddler folk in two Covid years.

As we finally broke up an older gentleman cruised around the circle, asked about the trailered boat ramp, and slowly proceeded on, making a floop-floop-floop tire noise.

Flat right rear tire. I drove up beside him parked 50 yards away, downed the window and said “I have an air compressor, a tire patch kit and a can of Fix-a-flat”

“No, no, I’ll just call someone”

“Sir, I wouldn’t carry all this crap if I didn’t like to help. The air compressor is right behind my seat”

20 minutes later I had his tire fixed and, since we were heading in the same direction, followed him home. He did run off the road a few times onto the right shoulder, so I have some ideas about the source of his flat.

That was a fine day in my book, and I’m still all aglow, and bodes well for the future of OOSOBO at the reservoir. And, if I hadn’t brought the wrong padlock. . . . . .

Karma baby!
 
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An enjoyable couple of days (vicariously paddling)

My older son took OOSOBO out on the reservoir yesterday. Late friend Brian’s fisherman son Eddie to it out today, and caught a nice bass. FWIW the “fishing thwart”, at least in bow backwards orientation, works perfectly.

He plans to be back on the reservoir tomorrow with his girlfriend Sue. Not her actual name; I misheard and thought he said her name was Sue. She’ll always be Sue to me. Can’t wait to finally meet her and call her Sue. And ask “Or do you prefer Susan?”

Eddie is a joy. Great sense of wry humor, just like his dad. He left with pad lock key, spare paddles, back bands, dry bag, canoe water bottle holder, whistle, etc, etc, everything he needs to paddle OOSOBO solo or tandem.

He doesn’t need to stop by to follow me to the launch anymore, but I sure hope he does swing by for a visit post-paddling, when he’s headed home. With Sue.

I have a nascent plan to refurbish another known-to-me derelict 80+ lb Royalex beater this coming winter, and permit it/leave it locked up at the Liberty reservoir.

https://dnr.maryland.gov/fisheries/pages/hotspots/liberty.aspx

That is either a very small guy, or a very large fish.
 
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An enjoyable couple of days (vicariously paddling)

My older son took OOSOBO out on the reservoir yesterday. Late friend Brian’s fisherman son Eddie to it out today, and caught a nice bass. FWIW the “fishing thwart”, at least in bow backwards orientation, works perfectly.

He plans to be back on the reservoir tomorrow with his girlfriend Sue. Not her actual name; I misheard and thought he said her name was Sue. She’ll always be Sue to me. Can’t wait to finally meet her and call her Sue. And ask “Or do you prefer Susan?”

Eddie is a joy. Great sense of wry humor, just like his dad. He left with pad lock key, spare paddles, back bands, dry bag, canoe water bottle holder, whistle, etc, etc, everything he needs to paddle OOSOBO solo or tandem.

He doesn’t need to stop by to follow me to the launch anymore, but I sure hope he does swing by for a visit post-paddling, when he’s headed home. With Sue.

I have a nascent plan to refurbish another known-to-me derelict 80+ lb Royalex beater this coming winter, and permit it/leave it locked up at the Liberty reservoir.

https://dnr.maryland.gov/fisheries/pages/hotspots/liberty.aspx

That is either a very small guy, or a very large fish.
Striped bass aka rockfish can get quite large. Quite the sport fish and delicious, too.
 
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