South Bay Spa Treatment

Steve Sanford

Well-known member

Member Bill Abbate hauled his rig up to Pencil Brook Boatworks earlier this summer. It came with a long list of to-dos, and a general instruction to do anything that needs some attention. At about the same time, Bill purchased some nice E. Allen Brant from member Dwight Flanders - who lives near me. The Brant also needed some TLC.

I worked on the Brant first - and posted my progress - and process - here at:;search_string=E%20Allen%20Brant;#270784


Bill had initially asked me to paint his 20 hp Merc - but I persuaded him that a motor cover - properly thatched - gave a better hide. Process was reported here at:;search_string=Motor%20Cover;#271050


For this post, I thought I would just start with the "intake" process - an overview of the work ahead.

Here is how she arrived. The Merc and the flap boards were stowed inside for the journey north.


The jackstand had a couple of issues - handle was not connected and release pin was badly rusted. And a couple more surprises later on....

I really like that bow chock system - I've got to find one for my Sneakbox.


The thatch rails had overhanging ends - which could foul lines and such - and hard edges all around. Nylon spacers were used - I'm not sure about them yet.....

There is a nice bronze ring below the bow for towing and this heavy eye strap for the painter. Because the forward bulkhead prevents access to the eye strap fasteners, alas, I cannot find a reason to put a sleeping-duck bow handle here.....


Just like a buck you would not shoot - the foredeck cleat had dropped one horn.


Bill wants this cowling taller.


The bow painter will be replaced - with something I can splice.


AND - it will be just long (short?) enough so that it cannot reach the prop!


That stainless cover makes me nervous. Too slippery - and could allow that Merc to torque off the motor board in a turn. And, I do not like the non-stainless fasteners.


The motor board is made of 2 pieces of Philippine Mahogany (lauan). They are sound and well-fastened but that opening seam will cause problems down the road.


This rusty ring holds a cable - to secure the outboard in dire straits.


Bill had the bearings repacked last year. So, I will just make sure there is enough grease and the lugs can be removed if needed.


Lots of pointy ends and hard edges need some "softening".....


Bill wants taller flap boards - and ones that will lay flat - not tipped downward - when open - to hold decoys when setting or picking up the rig.


This hole in the floorboards allows access for a pump or sponge.


Here's a shot below - just to show the construction details.


The forward bulkhead has the Capacity ratings.


Many of the fasteners for the deck hardware were much longer than needed - I call them "stalactites" - and some needed more substantial backing.


Off to work.....right after my late-morning nap.

BTW: Between the time I began this post - in the middle of the night - and just now, I enjoyed a fine morning afield with friends AND a nice double on some fat, fully-plumed drake Mallards.

All the best,

Spa treatment, it's more like summer camp for that duck boat
Steve what are your thought with those deep keeps and our shallow water?
Is there a way to keep them from tipping?
Hi, Bill~

My thinking would be to try those Brant for a season. If the keels prove to be a problem when the tide runs out, you will have a nice project for next winter!

See you at the Duckboat Show next Saturday?


Like a wary old Black Duck endlessly circling the rig, I will wait one more episode before I reveal any progress on the boat itself. This is all about the trailer - a nice Load-Rite with that sweet bow chock I mentioned earlier.

First task was "demolition" - removing the jackstand to fix the handle and free up the locking pin. I am not aware of any jackstand that is offered with heavy (hot-dipped) galvanizing. Everyone I have seen is plated and subject to rust, especially around salt water. The bolts that hold it to the trailer frame rust so heavily they often cannot be removed intact. About half of them snapped in two.


So, with the usual array of solvents, heat, hammers, etc, I got some key parts ready for a nice bath in phosphoric acid.


Here they are fresh from the bath - and ready for a couple of coats of Rustoleum Cold Galvanizing pray paint.


I borrowed my neighbor's big split ring pliers to get everything apart so I could slather it with grease before reassembly.


The locking pin got a new spring, washer and cotter pin....


The handle just needed a new compression pin - which I had to grind to length - and plenty of grease.


But penchant for repairing rather than replacing hit a roadblock. The jack swiveled like silk - and the locking pin was effortless - but the jack itself did not work - did not raise or lower - and I could find no help on the web. It was clearly frozen up inside and the usual solvents made no progress. The manufacturer's site had no diagrams for this outdated model and I thought better of the time needed to pull it all apart - especially when I would be forging ahead blind.

Plan B: A new jackstand was $37 - with a zerk fitting so it could be greased!

Nevertheless, I did not use the brand new mounting hardware. I used the cleaned up/cold galvanized channels and, most important, new hot-dipped galvanized bolts, nuts and lock washers - all coated with Anti-Seize.



Another job was the wheels. As I mentioned earlier, Bill had the hubs re-packed last year. I just wanted to make sure the lugs could be removed to change a flat tire.


The lugs got the acid bath and 2 coats of Cold Galvanizing.

I slathered each of the holes with Anti-Seize before torquing the lugs into place. I have heard from mechanics that this is not recommended practice, but, more than once I have struggled to remove lugs - to the point of lifting the trailer off the ground. I had to scrap one trailer simply because the lugs were fused -with help from salt water - into one mass of iron oxide.


Another item was to add a spare tire to the rig. I learned the hard way to never tow a trailer without a spare along. I opted for the "locking" style - but the threaded portions of the U-bolt were about 2-3/4" too long.

I actually used my Sawzall with a metal-cutting blade.....


Once again, Anti-Seize covers the threads.


I just tied the locking arms with decoy line - figuring Bill can add his own lock if he wants to.


The last item is the license plate. Now lashed onto the frame with wire, it is not illuminated by the light. I understand the frustration of losing plates on low trailers - I made raised stanchions for my duckboat trailer - but I need to check with Bill to see how he wants it.


In our next episode, I show work on the duckboat itself.

All the best,

Steve, is that double roller bow stop set-up a commercially made unit or one that is fabricated? It looks like it would do an excellent job at keeping the hull centered on the trailer during retrieval!

Why not rewire the trailer with a set of sealed LED lights...better longevity in saltwater environment.
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I'm pretty sure the bow set up on the trailer is used on jet ski trailers. Not that we see too many of jet ski s during the season.
Really like the bow stops, gonna look around. As for the lights, I have changed all my trailers to the Cabela guide on bracket. Buy the better one as it has galvanized parts. Lights out of water and higher to see better. My first set was hot dipped galv, but now they seem cheaper. Some other brands of guide ons use zinc plated parts and they rust after one season.
As we all know in bad weather we have to dunk the axles and the guides help tons. No wet lights either...
Rich et al~

I agree about getting the lights - and license plate - up higher. I made these stanchions out of angle iron many years ago. I treated them with Cold Galvanizing and then Pettit Trailercoat. They are wrapped with foam - sections of "Fun Noodle" pool toys - then just duct tape. Some day I will sew Sunbrella covers to lace on each.



Finally, here is some work on the boat itself. I started on the decks - hardware and thatch rails.

First job was to fair off the sharp ends. I do not like the overhanging ends - a result of the nylon spacers used on the rails - but stopped short of removing all of the rails. I replaced 2 and added 2.


I did not dare shorten the rail ends - because it would probably split out the fasteners. I also rounded the edges for the whole length of each rail - just because hard edges are more likely to splinter AND they will hold paint less well.


I added 2 short rails up front so the nose would be completely covered with grass - and a new, heavier and wider one down the center of the foredeck. They were bedded in 3M 5200 at each block. I kept some of the nylon spacers on the center rail. And, even though 5200 is not supposed to stick to nylon, I at least wanted to waterproof the screw holes through the deck.


The original foredeck cleat was fastened only through the rail - but there was no blocking between the bottom of the rail and the deck. The new cleat is fully supported above deck and with heavy blocking below.


This pad at the aft end of the foredeck thatch rail will serve as the mount for the removable, battery-powered navigation light. I will discuss the nav lights more thoroughly in a later post.


I replaced all of the nylon cleats with galvanized iron. The 6 side cleats were only $1.99 each - and they take topside paint very well.


The original cleats were backed only with washers. Each new cleat got a backer of 1/4" plywood to distribute the load much more broadly.


The stainless fasteners had to be metric (6 mm) - to fit the hex sockets cast into each cleat. Note how the bolts were sized to protrude below decks no more than necessary.


The center of the stern deck also got a new thatch rail - thicker and wider, with rounded ends to avoid fouling.


After the 5200 cured, I mounted a bronze bow eye through the middle pad - and backed it up below with a large piece of 1/2-inch plywood. I replaces the rusty old ring to serve as a "keeper" for the outboard.


All of the deck hardware and rails have been spot-primed with FME (Flat Marine Enamel) from Lou Tisch at . It's # 28 - Dead Grass Green.

Also - the "keeper" is now amidships - satisfying my OCD need for symmetry on a vessel......


The rusty ring is now on its way to metal recycling.


The four holes were filled with a mixture of epoxy, fairing compound (Cabosil + microballoons), and 1/4" chopped 'glass fibers. I backed up the holes below with a couple of layers of cellophane packing tape while the epoxy cured.


I ground it fair with 60-grit - and tried to match the original texture from 'glass mat.


Around the outboard cutout at the stern, I rounded edges and ground the rubrail. I used 3M 5200 to fill voids and smooth some sharp edges.

I also cut and ground off the ends of 4 machine screws that stuck down below the rubrail.


Here it is with the first coat of Dead Grass Green.


Stay tuned - lots more to report.....

A piece of cutting board makes an excellent backing plate for cleats and fair leads, far cheaper than Starboard while still using the same material, with excellent weathering characteristics. In a marine environment, with a small hull like a South Bay, a black anodized aluminum cleat would likely be a better choice, since aluminum oxide is denser than the parent alloy...

That cutting board is a great idea!

On the other hand, a Schaeffer 5-inch open-based, anodized aluminum cleat from West Marine is $38.99......$37 more than I paid - and I would paint them duckboat color anyhow!

All the best,


This is one I did not replace. As far as I can tell, all or most of the rail fasteners are self-tapping s/s screws.

All the best,

As someone who spent his formative gunning years out of a southbay I am enjoying this thread immensely. We used those nylon spacers when we replaced the thatch rails on our southbay. I must say that eyelet for the motor cable on the back deck would guarantee me making my knees black and blue at some point.

As long as you bruise your left and right knees equally, my need for symmetry will be preserved! (Actually, with 2 artificial knees, I kneel very rarely these days.)


Here is more progress - the motor board.

As I mentioned, it was basically sound. My efforts were mostly preventive in nature.

I bored 2 shallow holes to receive the motor clamp pads. I used a 1-3/8" Forstner bit - in my heavy, 3/8" corded drill. I also softened all of the edges - mostly just with some coarse (60-grit) paper.


I caulked the seam between the 2 boards and also the gap ahead of the board. The mount looked very strong so I did not want to disturb the good work.


After the caulk cured fully - about a week - I epoxied 1-inch tape over the seam. The whole board got 2 coats of epoxy (US Composites, 1:3).


Here it is with the first coat of FME.


The navigation lights are battery-powered LEDs. I liked these better than some others I found on-line and in-the-flesh - but I did not know they are rated "up to 7 knots"....

They come with suction cups - designed primarily for use on kayaks and inflatables - but I wanted something more positive. Fortunately, the suction cups screw into the housing with a s/s bolt. (Unfortunately, it took me about a week's worth of hardware store visits to realize it was a 6mm thread - and not 1/4-20.....)

I mounted the forward light on the foredeck rail - easily reachable from the cockpit. I wanted it tipped up very slightly above horizontal.

Here is the mounting pad.

The 6 mm s/s bolt was set in 3M 5200.


Note how the aft end of the pad is streamlined - so Bill can maintain that 7 knots.....

The rubber bushing was cut from the suction cup.


Its purpose is to provide friction - so that when the light is screwed on it will not vibrate away from straight ahead.

Here it is mounted on the bench.


And here it is on the boat.


The stern light mount is right on the outboard. I epoxied the bolt - with a fender washer - through the cover.


Here it is mounted.


NOTE: I have made rubber covers for both mounting screws - to keep them clean and less dangerous. I'll post those once they are installed.

Also, these lights will mostly live below decks, stored for mounting and use only when needed. They each take 4 AAs - but should last a long time with the low LED draw.

Plenty more to come....