Saturday February 23rd was a beautiful, sunny, late winter day, just perfect for taking a trip to Brant Lake NY and visiting the Turcotte’s who graciously opened the doors of their Gar Wood Custom Boat shops for our chapter to tour. The are two generations of Turcotte brother boat builders; Tom and Larry and the next generation, Tom’s sons, Tom, Joe, and Mike, (Mike wasn’t present for the tour.)
Co-founders Tom and Larry Turcotte revived the Gar Wood boat business in 1985, long after the original plant folded in Maryville, Michigan, in the late 1940s. They began by restoring old Gar Wood boats, in the process making new patterns to replace the originals which were lost with the Algonac works. Today they produce the exact same models using todays materials, and employing whatever new additions the prospective owners might want such as bow thrusters, different types of engines, instrument panel and upholstery, etc.
There were two boats in the restoration process in the shop, as well as two new boats being built, a 33’ Custom Runabout, and a 28’ Streamliner. We saw a couple of engines in the boat shop, a dual ignition, 725 HP V-10, and a dual ignition flathead. Besides restoration work they build three new boats per year, starting out in September through October, and turning them out in June, through August. The original Gar Wood boat design is followed closely right down to the fold down two-piece windshield, which has no square edges in the frame. The beautiful curves in the hull are shaped exactly as the originals, which result in a dry ride. The internal framing is made from mahogany and white oak, then 1/4” marine plywood followed by 1/2” mahogany planking. Once a buyer signs up for a boat, they are encouraged to visit the shop and watch new boats being built during the wait for their own to be started.
After the tour of the boat building shop Larry Turcotte showed us the engine shop where he restores the old Liberty engines which were WWI aircraft engines, converted to marine use. The size of these engines and the pistons were impressive. Below is a slideshow of pictures from both the the boat shop and the engine shop.