Old Boat Teaches New Boat Builders
The restoration has begun on GloryBe, the 1914 Northwest raised
deck cruiser which was badly damaged in January’s fire at
the Seattle Yacht Club.
The Marine Carpentry program at Seattle Central Community College
has incorporated the GloryBe restoration into its curriculum. The
boat building vocational training program is six quarters long:
the first is an introduction to professional woodworking, then a
quarter on lofting, layout and basic joinery. The third and fourth
quarters introduce students to fiberglass construction and repair,
along with pattern making and wood fitting. The final two quarters
are spent in the wooden boat shop. GloryBe is one of several boats
in the wooden boat shop which serve as real-life projects for students
learning about planking, framing, systems installation, interior
joinery and more.
GloryBe arrives at Seattle Central Community College’s Marine
One of the first restoration projects undertaken on GloryBe was
repair of the stem, whose top foot or so was burned in the fire.
Once the burned material was cut away, it became evident that there
were a variety of old repairs (around eight engraving pieces) which
could be “cleaned up” while the repair was underway.
A difficult decision was choice of wood for the stem. The stem was
originally white oak, however getting the needed dimensions in the
oak today, without laminating, proved difficult. After consulting
many people, Angelique was the wood chosen for the stem repair.
It’s very dense and very strong and is available from East
Teak Trading Company in Sultan. Beware – it smells terrible
when you mill it!
The first repair underway on GloryBe is the stem.
Another early project was to explore the condition of the hull,
specifically the frames. That of course meant removing planks. But
removing planks raises the question as to how to best maintain the
boat’s shape while essentially taking the hull apart. A temporary
clamp was bolted along each side of the boat from bow to stern,
and threaded rod was bolted from side to side to hold the shape
laterally. Then burnt planks have been removed intermittently –
leaving every other plank in place to help hold the shape.
A temporary clamp bolted to the outside of the hull helps hold the
Happily, new frames have already started going into the boat. In
most cases they will go in as sisters (sitting next to the old frames)
instead of replacing the old ones. That’s because there are
still planks below the waterline that are going to be preserved,
and it would be difficult to take out the old frames without damaging
those planks. The frames are milled from green bending oak and are
stored in water until they’re used. The frames are milled
to 1 ½ X 1 ½ then beveled to match the existing frame,
and the corners rounded over to minimize splitting. Each frame is
steamed for about 2 hours then quickly driven into the boat and
clamped into position.
New oak frames will sit next to old frames to reinforce the hull
In addition to students doing work on the boat, GloryBe is used
as a “demo” in lectures on boat construction. Because
the boat is so old and so many people have worked on her over the
years, there are lots of examples of ways to do things (and not
do things! ?). For example, five kinds of wood have been discovered
as planking; fasteners have ranged from the initial square boat
nails to silicon bronze and stainless steel, to ring nails and galvanized.
In the frames, the styles of sistering have included laminated frames
(some from the inside of the boat), sisters less than a foot long,
some sisters abutting their frames, others apart. And butt blocks
have been made in a variety of ways as well: only some including
bevels to encourage water to drain off, only some placed to give
a place to fasten plank ends (others hiding sins like a crack in
Instructors use GloryBe to demonstrate boat building principles
The boat school itself has quite a history. As far back as 1917
there were boat classes offered in the Seattle Public Schools at
Central II School (6th and Madison). It was shifted to Broadway
as part of the evening school and later moved to the Thomas A. Edison
Vocational School in the Edison building.
Seattle Public Schools’ boat building program at Edison Tech
where the Jacobson’s Lady Grace was built.
In 1936 the school district rented property on North Lake Union
and the boat classes were held there on the water. Then in 1967
the boat school became part of Seattle Central Community College
and it moved from Lake Union to the Rainier site it is at today.
It was initially called the Gompers branch and is now known as the
Center for Wood Construction.
As announced on the CYA website, the school is offering the public
a chance to learn about classic boat restoration via some new classes
which are offered in the afternoons and evenings. This is a hands-on
class that will be removing and replacing carvel planking, sistering
or replacing bent oak frames, replacing sheer clamps aft and replacing
various hull components as necessary.
Jan Skillingstead of Spirit working on GloryBe during afternoon
If you have any questions about the restoration of GloryBe or the
Marine Carpentry program at Seattle Central, or if you’d like
to come take a look at the restoration, feel free to phone CYA member
and GloryBe owner Betsy Davis, or the school’s instructors
Dave Mullens (206-587-4916 ) or Gordon Sanstad (206-587-4915).