It’s not only oars that are worked on here. I have recently completed and delivered a renovated 28 year old CDRS 1x.

This boat has had a long and chequered life. In the early 90s it was involved in a GB team trailer roll-over (note repaired washboards), it had some poor repairs around the millennium (with faulty varnish),  and in the mid-2000s it ended up on an outside rack at a major London club. It was strangely mottled in appearance and had water damage starting to appear.

Fast forward to the present day, the boat had been in storage for over five years at the original manufacturer awaiting a long needed refurbishment.

The owner had stopped racing the 1x and after a couple of years she moved overseas, causing the boat to be moved to a less than ideal outdoors rack. After another couple of years the owner realised that the boat wasn’t going to last as is, and did a deal with the manufacturer to conduct a refurbishment and then sell the boat (with a profit share arrangement). However this never happened as the boat builder is a small shop and constantly busy with creating new boats. Even when the owner found a friend looking for a boat to be a real paying customer (rather than a ‘what if’), the work was still not able to be scheduled.

I asked my friend if she would consider letting me do the work, as it wasn’t going to be done any time soon. I had secured the assistance of someone who had done this exact type of work before and also had access to a suitable workshop space.

Then this boat hit hard times again…

It should have been straightforward and done by early January, but fate stepped in. The person who would be guiding me through this project had changed jobs and no longer had access to the workshop space or the free time. Even though he was still willing to advise by email, it wasn’t going to be the same. Then by the time I had secured a suitable place to work on the boat, my baby daughter had been born. Boats, babies and epoxy do not mix.

However, slowly things started to happen. The old varnish was scraped off, as was most of the underlying epoxy coat. Aside from a few patches of water damage, the hull was in remarkable condition. There would be no ridding it of the mottling, but the areas of water damage would improve. The common damage to the very fine CDRS stern would be easy to fix, albeit with a small filled section in one area rather than with a spliced in timber repair.

The work to sand back the entire hull with long sanding boards is considerable, even when these boats are newly built. A full new epoxy coat made things look lovely again, but this too is carefully sanded smooth to prepare for the final varnish.

A professional spray painter with considerable rowing boat experience was able to do the final varnish with the correct 2-part material as per new.

The final hurdle would now be the fit out of the boat. I had hoped that this would be a simple bolt-and-screw on affair, but there were a couple of hiccups.

Shoe standards vary greatly and the old footboard had been designed around a much older style and was also a bit worn in general. To fit most of the newer shoes it was necessary to have the mounting holes about an inch lower. So a new part needed to be built. I laminated up a new board at my home workshop.

Other parts were also a problem. Mostly it was very common items that are easily sourced (rails, wheels, oarlocks and so on), but there were a couple of manufacturer specific items that were unavailable due to factors such as the age of the boat and some other unexplained reasons. Luckily I was able to call on a wide network of friends at clubs across the country who were able to acquire the missing items or already had them in stock as spares.

Then all that remained was the delivery, and here we had our first stroke of pure luck.

The overseas owner was actually in town for HRR and the new owner was able to drive down from Glasgow to arrange a proper handover. It was nice to see a goodbye and hello between friends over a shared joy.

Now I can finally get back to the long list of oars I need to paint…

PS – please don’t call and ask me to refurbish your CDRS until I have a more suitable permanent workshop and I have had time to recover from this one!

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