I have recently completed an oar renovation and painting job that celebrated the famous 1948 Olympic win of Bert Bushnell and Dickie Burnell. It’s a great story that I wish I had time to re-tell, but if you are keen you can watch the film version or read a few articles at the Hear the Boat Sing blog.

The blades themselves were in very good condition for their age. They are made from a single piece of wood and are likely pre-WW1. The leather sleeve and collar were in excellent condition, but the protective copper blade tips were rather sad. The design for painting was to mimic those used by Bert and Dickie.

Bert and Dickie

Sam Hoare as Dickie Burnell and Matt Smith as Bert Bushnell in the BBC film Bert and Dickie

After stripping back the old varnish and years of grime, the old tips were removed, the blades repaired and the shafts revarnished. I prepared the blades in a two tone undercoat to make the later top coats a little easier to do.

With new material sourced (you can imagine how difficult 0.4mm copper sheet is to find) and a few handy tips from Master Craftsman Mark Edwards of Richmond Bridge, I set about making replacement copper tips.

Next up was the detailed paint work required for a Union Jack. All those straight lines might sound easy, but quite a lot of tape was used to get the job done.

Then after all that there was some text to do!

shaft text

All in all quite a fun job to do.