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Thread: Bell Boy 404 Express Restoration

  1. #1
    Decided to start a new thread on the 404 with a better title. This will be my dumping place for photos and progress reports as the project matures and should be easier to identify when browsing topics. The original thread is here:

    Latest news is that I was able to get rid of the siezed Johnson last night. I do have the controls, however, so if anyone has a need, drop me a line. They seem to be in good working order mechanically. Not sure if the starter switch functions, but it does turn and return as expected.

    One thing I noticed right away after removing the engine is how dry everything looks back there (surprising on a boat that has termites -big fat termites- living in the cabin). The bolt holes have no visible moisture and the wood looks pretty good. I plan on removing the trim strip on there and having a look at the top some time this week. If things look good, I may not do any work there at all, outside of hole filling. If it is questionable, I may take a few core samples to inspect the plywood.

    If the wood is no good, what is the reccomended best practice for replacing that material? The fiberglass on both sides looks really good (minus a few holes here and there from brackets being mounted in days past). I'd rather not destroy any of the original glass on there as I doubt I could lay it up again as nicely, or as stoutly as it is now. Is it simply a matter of painfully digging out the wood with a long chisle (doesn't sound very fun, and how do you get to the deep down parts)? Or is the only way to remove the deck and cut out the glass on the inside of the transom to replace the wood? I'll post some pictures of it once I get a chance.

    Also, still looking for some knoweldge on identifying the year. Builders plate has 404-1114 as the hull number. Any ideas?

    Thanks guys!
    Last edited by TheBronze; 01-25-2017 at 09:25 AM.
    John Forsythe

    '59 Bellboy 404 - Pretty Girl
    Past Affairs:
    '61 Marathon - Jammie Dodger

  2. #2
    My Hull # is 404 1076 but that was from an old title. I just went off the pictures on the web and word of mouth that it is a 1959. Works for me as i just wanted a boat out of the 50's.

    Attached Images Attached Images
    John & Diane Kelly

  3. #3
    Haha. OK. Well, I guess I'll just have to wing it then One of these days I'm going to have to find you and your boat and take a good crawl and see what similar characteristics they share...
    John Forsythe

    '59 Bellboy 404 - Pretty Girl
    Past Affairs:
    '61 Marathon - Jammie Dodger

  4. #4
    I have tons and tons of pictures of the restore (rescue) E-mail me and i can send them your way if you like.
    John & Diane Kelly

  5. #5
    Thanks, John. Email sent.

    In other news, I removed the transom trim piece to inspect the wood this evening. Not good.... Its interesting, actually, the wood near the bottom, where the engine is mounted seems to be in fairly good shape. Its just a little soft for the first 16th of an inch or so and then firms up. The bad news is the wood above that portion on the sides. It is REALLY bad on the port side, flaking off in big chunks and generally not staying together at all. On the starboard side, it is soft and flaking, but not nearly as bad.

    So, obviously the wood has to go. My question is, how do I get it out? I see 3 options available:

    1: Chisle the wood out one chunk at a time, leaving both sides of the fiberglass in place.

    This seems easy enough on the surface, but the transom is deep. How to get the wood waaay down there? And once removed, how do I get the new wood in place with the deck on? Two piece? 3 piece with interlocking bits?

    2: Cut the exterior fiberglass off at the corners, remove the wood, and then re-glass the cut part back onto the boat, with probably an extra layer of mat and cloth on the exterior, faired into the port and starboard ends of the hull.

    This seems to present a good way to get the wood out and back in, but could be a real mess of glassing the edges and I'm concerned about corner strength at that point. If you look at the attached pictures, you can see where the original glass is free to be pulled back on both sides at the top. This leads me to think that just cutting it out at the edges might be a good angle? Or perhaps not quite to the edges and then resined and glassed back together?

    3: Remove the deck, or at least unfasten it and shift everything forward a foot so the transome is exposed. Then, chisle the wood out (see problems with option 1) and then replace wood by dropping new ply in.

    This seems to be what would keep the existing fiberglass intact, but also seems like a huge job. Would the glass at the interior of the transome have to be removed for this?

    Any helpful suggestions are appreciated! This seems to be the most intimidating aspect of the whole project. Floor and cabin interior, bench seats, hull fairing and paint, thats all easy by comparison to me.
    Attached Images Attached Images
    John Forsythe

    '59 Bellboy 404 - Pretty Girl
    Past Affairs:
    '61 Marathon - Jammie Dodger

  6. #6
    I think you should cut the fiberglass and remove the wood in 1 piece and replace with a single piece of wood. Because it is taking a lot of load with the motor, cutting the wood in multiple pieces to get it back in would compromise the integrity of the wood. If the fiberglass repair is done correctly, you will retain the strength needed without cracking. Just make as few cuts as possible. You may want to consult a body guy before cutting and he/she can tell you the best method of cutting it to make the repair easy. Hope this helps

  7. #7
    Administrator Helmar's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Uniflite - Skagits - Dorsett
    Post a picture of the back half of the cockpit area.

    I have seen this done several ways, splitting the cabin top from hull, cutting and re-glassing the rear splashwell area.

    This will give you access to the inside to remove the old wood.
    You would want that much thicker too.
    You can trim off the difference from the splashwell bucket before re-installing it and glassing it back in.

    I use a large amount flat head screws and Fiberlay laminating glass resin to do a build up. Each piece is just a tad larger then the last one in and gets trimmed just before glassing up.

    Helmar Joe Johanesen
    1959 Skagit 20ft Offshore, 1959 Skagit 16ft Skimaster,
    1961 17ft Dorsett Catalina.1958 Uniflite 17 ft
    Outboards: 2.5 Bearcats, 3 50hp White shadow Mercs
    2 40hp Johnsons, several smaller Old kickers for a total of 12

    Our Sister club

    Oh, and Where is Robin Hood when you need him??

  8. #8
    here are some shots. One train of thought I am having is to just cut the very top corners of the upper deck off, giving access to the portions of the transom that are covered. Once fixed up, I could just re-glass that small area and reenforce it from underneath - assuming I can get to it.

    As you can see in some of the other photos, the deck and splashwel are all once piece, so cutting out the splashwel would be a big no no in my book. Also, look at how burly the glass is underneath, including the braces. I don't want to mess witht that at all, so any cutting has to be on the exterior.
    Attached Images Attached Images
    John Forsythe

    '59 Bellboy 404 - Pretty Girl
    Past Affairs:
    '61 Marathon - Jammie Dodger

  9. #9
    Supporting Member Supporting Member Karl's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    1960 25' Skagit
    I've replaced two transomes (64 Johnson and 59 Glasscraft) and I believe that you would be better off by cutting out the splashwell and then cutting the the transome from the inside. That way, the hull will stay in the same shape (you won't have to strap it up to keep its shape), and it is much easier to repair the cuts on the splash well than on the visible outside of the hull.

    As stated earlier, keeping the wood in one peice helps by giving you an accurate templet. Also, those braces are most likely just glassed onto the rear transome. You should be able to just grind them off and then glass them back when finished.

    Good luck,

    17' Johnson Runabout (1964) Completed
    18' GlassCraft Imperial (1959) Done!
    19' Campion Bowrider (1999) Great family ski/tow boat
    25' Skagit (1960) Two of them. What am I thinking?
    14' Axtell Aquacraft (1950ish)
    14' Stilleto

  10. #10
    opinions are like...

    ...everyone has one.

    John-I think that you have a good plan for the transom replacement of your Bell Boy. Cutting through the gunnel just ahead of the front of the splashwell, and opening the factory seam under the rubrail will quickly give you some working room. With a small amount of finesse glasswork to get it all sealed back up.

    Despite the "burly" looks of the inner laminate, there really isn't any structure you can keep unless you do a pourable transom (which would be awesome if you can spoon all of the dead wood out of the cavity. Your initial survey seems to indicate some solid wood amongst the sawdust.

    Cut the inner skin away with a multi-tool, install your new thicker transom, and lay-up your inner reinforcement. With the dirty work over, the splashwell "cap" will be pushed forward by your additional transom thickness. Remove that amount from the leading edge of the cut, chamfer and patch that area. At the transom trailing edge you will add a small lip of glass all the way across the stern. The leaky stern joint from the factory was out of necessity and expediency, and can be improved by wrapping your lip to the transom. This edge is simple to fair, before finishing and install of the rubrail.

    Here is a shot of a Skagit that I grabbed from Marty. I am not sure who was doing the repair, that was stalled after 1" of transom laminate, but they had the right idea. No need to split the complete deck and you'll be cruising in no time.

    Have fun with your really worthy project. Keep us postedopcorn1:

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