On Saturday March 9th our chapter was treated to a tour of one of the premier restoration boat works in the nation, Reuben Smith’s Tumblehome Boat Shop. The highly anticipated visit allowed us to see many historically significant boats in the process of restoration, each one of them being restored as nearly to original construction as possible, using specialized tools and techniques from both past and present to accomplish each project. The boats in the facility had a long and well researched history, and mark a place in time where they were created and used. It was inspiring to see these wonderful boats being brought back to life.
In the photo below are our hosts, left to right, John Gaffney, Reuben Smith, Jake Greiner, and Cyndy Smith.
The first boat we were shown was a late 1950s 23’ Lyman runabout, that had keel, transom, some frames, and strakes replaced. Photo below:
Next in the process of restoration we looked at a 1926 Sound Interclub Racing Sloop, originally from Long Island Sound, LOA 28’9”, beam 7’10”. One of a fleet of 28 Marconi rigged sloops, designed by Henry Nevins and built at the Nevins boat yard, City Island NY, they sailed and raced on Long Island Sound until the late 1930s. As many as ten of them eventually made their way to Lake George in the 1940s, where they continued to sail and race. Only 5 of them remain worldwide, 4 of them at Tumblehome, 2 of those, the “Ghost” and the “Caprice” restored and relaunched on Lake George, now residing in the Tumblehome showroom. Their 42’ masts are made of Sitka Spruce.
Below is the “Sequoia” a 1926, 30’ Fay and Bowen runabout. Sequoia is the sister to Echo, which is in the permanent collection of the Adirondack Experience Museum. She is undergoing a complete restoration, and to this point has a new keel, floor timbers, transom, deck framing and 98% of her frames have been replaced. She is about to get a bunch of new planking, mostly with wana, a very durable hardwood from Surinam. Her engine is a Fay and Bowen LNS43.
Below, center, is the “Duchess” a Fay and Bowen launch, LOA 21’6”, built between 1918 and 1925, with a Torpedo stern. Duchess has a new sten, stem knee, chine log, keel, and several other structural repairs. She is planked in cypress. The next 4 photos are of her.
The next 6 photos are of the “Indian” below, a speedboat built in 1903. With detailed mahogany paneling, and an elegant torpedo type stern, this boat was originally propelled by a variable pitch prop to adjust the speed. She is a H.J. Leighton launch, and was a true speedboat of her day. Leighton’s boats won the Gold Cup races in 1905,1906, and 1907. He was famous for his two cycle multi-cylinder engines and Indian was originally powered with one of these. She was likely built by Leyare, in Ogdensburg, NY and is carvel-planked cedar on oak. She is 30’ long with a 5’6” beam, and is a semi-displacement hull. Her original engine ran at 18 mph. She will be re-powered with a modern electric 20 KW motor, and a lithium ion battery back, and will make at least the same speed.
The last in the shop that we looked at was “The Jug” a 1929 Gar Wood 28’ Baby Gar. The boat has been a fixture on Lake George, originally owned by Hall’s Marine. It appears in many old photos, one showing it towing 6 other boats. The Turcottes from Gar Wood Custom Boats put on a new bottom last year, and now Tumblehome is restoring the rest of the hull, tightening or replacing screws, repairing planks, replacing deck fasteners, installing new wiring, engine flow sensors, and modern circuitry. Photos below:
Below are photos of the boats in the Tumblehome Showroom, most of them fully restored.