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Old 02-18-2020, 10:00 AM   #1
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Willard 36 Rebuild & Restoration

PROLOGUE Introduction: A really bad but exciting idea.

Cheryll and I have owned our 1970 Willard 36 (Hull #40) since we purchased her in San Francisco in 1998. We are both 60-ish, and it's time to head off cruising, a plan we had originally hatched in 2004 but set aside for career opportunities. Currency of life has changed for us - we can no longer ignore the fact that there is more highway in the rear view mirror than ahead of us, and time is more valuable than money. We have no children, so perspective on posterity looks different for us.

Contrary to popular opinion on sites such as this, buying and owning a boat is not the worst financial decision possible. Restoring one is. I can only compare the decision to restore Weebles as the same motivation a pet owner has when their beloved needs an expensive surgery. Sure, a new AKC-bred pooch could be had for a few hundred bucks, but would it really be dear old Fido?

15-years ago, I set aside a pretty decent delivery-skipper career and returned to corporate America as a management consultant. We both traveled a lot for work and decided California wanted too much of our incomes, so we moved to sunny St Pete in Florida's no income tax jurisdiction. Plan was to use Weebles as a get-away, a pied-a-mar as it were. We got out there a lot, but still, she slowly declined over the years. The plan was to bring her to Ensenada MX (just south of San Diego) to get repainted, then ship her to Florida. By the time it became reality, she needed more than paint. A very abbreviated list of necessary repairs:
Hull paint
Topsides paint
Caprail repair
Weeping stbd fuel tank (termite damage)
Service stabilizers
From there, the list really ballooned into desirable but not necessary modifications based on how we planed to use the boat in Florida/Bahamas, and perhaps the Great Loop. This meant losing the mast and getting more sun-protection. So decided to add a hard-top and extend the boat-deck all the way back to cover the fantail (more on these later).

The do-it part of the journey really started 1-1/2 years ago, in summer of 2018 when we made the decision to restore Weebles instead of selling her and buying something else, likely a Willard 40 which has a larger engine room and a second stateroom. The final decision came down to several factors: First, Weebles is the boat we have. Second, given her state of disrepair, she would have been very difficult to sell. Third, we own a condo in Florida with a deeded slip - a 36-footer is about the largest we could possibly squeeze-in. Fourth, we just like the boat - we are nostalgic at heart and believe the classic lines of a W36 withstand the test of time. Finally, a displacement, full-keel trawler makes a really good cruiser in Florida because of no-wake zones along the ICW and there is so much skinny water here.

I'll make no apologies for meandering a bit as this thread develops, Each decision really has three steps: plan, design, build. There is often a back-story on the first two steps so some may want to just skip to the build part, or perhaps second-guess the design part. My role-model for this type of writing is Ken Williams of Sans Souci - I find his writing candid and unabashed about his choices. What I really respect about Ken's blog is he divides-up things between cruising and the actual techincal/mechanical stuff that would appeal to boat geeks/nerds. Plus, he's a great writer who keeps things light in a story-telling cadence. I'll do my best to give fair notice, but I anticipate much of this TF thread to be about decisions and design, not the actual work.

Finally, I know putting this out on TF may put a bullseye on my back from time to time. Some of my decisions may seem insane, and a few I regret already. That's fine - pundits are welcome as those conversations are helpful to others, especially folks who are relatively new to trawler-cruising.

Pictures below are
1970 launch in Newport Beach (Willard was located a few miles inland, in Costa Mesa)
1999 Weebles in good condition anchored in Clipper Cove, near Treasure Island Naval Base in San Francisco; and
2018 Weebles shortly before departing San Francisco for Ensenada and in pretty poor conditions (more on this later).
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Old 02-18-2020, 11:49 AM   #2
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I look forward to reading more! Candid (honest) writing is so much more informative, especially in an environment such as this where we can all learn from the experiences of others.
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Old 02-18-2020, 12:00 PM   #3
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Don't worry about the bulls-eye. We learn more from mistakes than successes. There are few really wrong decisions, just things we could have done better.
Bring it on !!
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Old 02-18-2020, 12:02 PM   #4
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Following, with interest!
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Old 02-18-2020, 12:03 PM   #5
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one of the best looking Willard models out there
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Old 02-18-2020, 12:18 PM   #6
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Will be following with interest. Thanks for taking the time to document your project.
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Old 02-18-2020, 01:08 PM   #7
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That is really a great looking hull and rudder. Almost as if someone had a sense of what was efficient, safe, and sea worthy....Amazing!

Looking forward to following along!
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Old 02-18-2020, 01:30 PM   #8
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This is going to be interesting. Totally love Willards. We saw one in Annette Inlet up in the Gulf Islands. I took a pic and have always salivated about them since. Wished I had asked the owners for a tour, but I did not want to be intrusive.
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Old 02-18-2020, 03:26 PM   #9
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Weebles,
I always thought of you as basically an engineering type. But your words over the years were always good to read, especially for the content.
I donít even know, is the groups/Willard forum still trickling along? Iíve been here for boat/web input since 07. Quite different than the old Willard site. But here there is much more to draw on re info and experience. A lot heavier on tech too. Sometimes I wonder why I switched over but the conversations are much more interactive here IMO.

I think you said youíre going to strip her down to the hull. Canít find the comment though. So where is your base/start?
As to conversation about design and such youíll get much feedback here and conversations of this nature have the capacity to morph into something all by itself.

Do you plan on modifying the cabin significantly? The W36 hull is by far my favorite. But not the house. Can you imagine a W36 converted to a fishboat/troller. That would be a start if I was doing a very serious rebuild/refit redesign on the boat. Complete w a hydraulic reel anchor winch on the foredeck. Ideas are easy to come by but you are aspiring to do something similar .... or have I deceived myself?
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Old 02-18-2020, 04:59 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nomad Willy View Post
Weebles,
I always thought of you as basically an engineering type. But your words over the years were always good to read, especially for the content.
I don’t even know, is the groups/Willard forum still trickling along? I’ve been here for boat/web input since 07. Quite different than the old Willard site. But here there is much more to draw on re info and experience. A lot heavier on tech too. Sometimes I wonder why I switched over but the conversations are much more interactive here IMO.

I think you said you’re going to strip her down to the hull. Can’t find the comment though. So where is your base/start?
As to conversation about design and such you’ll get much feedback here and conversations of this nature have the capacity to morph into something all by itself.

Do you plan on modifying the cabin significantly? The W36 hull is by far my favorite. But not the house. Can you imagine a W36 converted to a fishboat/troller. That would be a start if I was doing a very serious rebuild/refit redesign on the boat. Complete w a hydraulic reel anchor winch on the foredeck. Ideas are easy to come by but you are aspiring to do something similar .... or have I deceived myself?
Thanks for the kind words Eric. Yes, WBO is still around. Traffic is way down, but in some ways, that’s a good thing. Yahoo closed Groups last October which forced us to Groups.IO and we took the opportunity to cull the membership down to those who are actually active. So 300 members these days. Topics are specific to Willards mostly – concrete ballast, etc. The real value in the group is the archives – I was just reading the 1966 sales brochure that listed base price of a W36 as $38k. Not bad until you realize that’s $325k in 2020 dollars.

I do not plan any major modification of the cabin - below is a "before" picture, but will update slightly and improve the cabinets. Carpentry and fiberglass work is incredibly affordable where I am in Mexico (NizaMarine.com in Ensenada). So I am having all the old holes patched and re-veneered so the interior will look new. I am reconfiguring the forward stateroom, but not the deck house. I personally like the W36 – the curved windows are the most iconic look on the water. And it’s much of the reason we chose to restore vs replace.

While down-to-bare-hull may be a slight exaggeration, its more true than not. I confess, I was part of the source of the DIY wiring runs (pictures below, though in defense, the engine room mess is exacerbated by the engine removal). So I am having ALL wiring pulled out and re-run to ABYC, including a new AC/DC panel custom made by a guy in New Hampshire (I’ll give his name when I get there in my story line). Eric, I hate BS wire runs and I am SO excited to have this re-done. It will add very little to the value of the boat, but to me, nirvana.

Good to see you – I recognize several old names, both Willard owners and from the old T&T/PUP lists. TF has been a good forum to source oddball stuff for me.

PICTURES:
TOP: Forward bulkehead in Salon - old holes for VHF and car sterio. Cabinet on left is the old CRT Radar cabinet.
SECOND TOP: Engine Room - engine is out so a bit messier in appearance than actual, but you get the idea - lots of wires without much organization. Has all been pulled out and will be replaced in a wire-chase.
THIRD: Wiring beneath lower helm station. Not awful, but the A/P brains had been stuffed in without too much wire-tie.
BOTTOM - older picture showing the salon, facing forward. Config stays same, though cabinets will be re-built to better utilize space. Also, fridge on right (stbd) will be converted from under-counter AC to a proper insulated box with marine 12v evaporator/compressor.
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Old 02-18-2020, 07:55 PM   #11
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Weeb,
Do you mind if I call you “Weeb”? Just trying to start you off w a handle.

OK good. You apparently like the FB.
Do you know Bob Hooveter? He and I both had Albins some years back. Then I got the W30. Then he bought a Voyager .. my favorite W30. Maybe a year ago he bought a W36 “Saga”.
He’s doing some work on his W30 prepping for selling. We both are at LaConner w the boats. Perhaps you’ll come up for the Rendezvous (don’t know when it’s to be) and you could stay on Willy (the boat).
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Old 02-18-2020, 08:33 PM   #12
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I am going to follow this with a lot of interest.
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Old 02-18-2020, 08:46 PM   #13
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Always enjoy looking at someone else's large restoration projects.

Especially since I'm on holiday not being able to work on Sandpiper.
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Old 02-18-2020, 09:31 PM   #14
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Weeb,
Are you repowering or working over your Perky .. assuming you have a Perkins.
If so do you have the smaller or larger of the two? Seems to me one had 230 or so cu in. I had a 4-107 and needed to move on. A big reason for “moving on” was the flame thrower starting system. I decided a must have was glow plugs. I’m happy w all aspects of the S4L2 Mitsubishi engine I had installed .. w exactly the same bore and stroke as the 07 Perk. And in the end decided or discovered that 37hp was extremely close to perfect. Should’a trusted Willard as they were spot on. Never heard anyone complaining about having too little power.
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Old 02-18-2020, 09:55 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nomad Willy View Post
Weeb,
Are you repowering or working over your Perky .. assuming you have a Perkins.
If so do you have the smaller or larger of the two? Seems to me one had 230 or so cu in. I had a 4-107 and needed to move on. A big reason for “moving on” was the flame thrower starting system. I decided a must have was glow plugs. I’m happy w all aspects of the S4L2 Mitsubishi engine I had installed .. w exactly the same bore and stroke as the 07 Perk. And in the end decided or discovered that 37hp was extremely close to perfect. Should’a trusted Willard as they were spot on. Never heard anyone complaining about having too little power.
I owned a 1972 Searcher Willard 30 with a 4.107 (hull #5 which incidentally went from Oxnard CA to Olympia WA last summer, a positively incredible trip for such a small boat). It was only an okay engine.

Weebles has a Perkins 4.236 80hp. I thought about repowering with with a JD4045 NA as they are still around lightly used. But I ended up sinking so much into my Perkins to get her down to Mexico that I think I'll stick with it for a while. Plus I like the engine a lot.

I was aboard Saga W36 at a Poulsbo Trawler Fest around 2003 or so and did some docking demos at lunch. I seem to recall she had a DD in her, which is unusual. Most have the Perkins 6.354 (135hp) which is unnecessarily large in my opinion, though vast majority of W36s came with the upgraded engines. Different time and different sensibility.

I too like the voyager model W30. The first W40 that rolled off the quay for Willard in 1974 was a W40 "Voyager," a 40-foot version with a full width salon and pilot house. The couple who own her have cruised all over - from Alaska to Maine. They owned a W36 before. She's a retired ER nurse, he's a retired firefighter. She worked the night shift for years and loves standing the dog watch. Very nice couple - and Mystic is a wonderful boat.

Peter
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Old 02-19-2020, 07:49 AM   #16
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Rule #1: Owner must be there (not really)

Rule #1 on having refit work done: the owner must be there to drive the project or (by implication) workers will drift off and the project languishes, with the yard over-charging for work. In my mind, there is another, less nefarious explanation: if the yard/workers don’t know what you want, they can’t help you and they either waste time or move on to something where instructions are clear.

So I will modify Rule #1: The owner must be engaged and available and have means to communicate and express their intentions and decisions. Since Niza Marine is in Ensenada and I’m in St Pete, that means sketches and WhatsApp texts. If you’re not a visual person and cannot express yourself in drawings; or if you’re unsure of how you want things done and need some consultation on options, then yes, you better plan on spending quality time at the yard. But I think it unfair to insinuate the yard will rob you blind (some may), the issue is communication, not dishonesty.

Here’s an example from last night. Picture #1 is an old one of the salon so you can visualize where the cabinet in question is located – beneath the lower helm seat.

Picture #2 is a screenshot of the text the Project Mgr sent asking about configuration of the cabinets. The lower opening is the old main AC-DC breaker panel. The upper opening housed the old brain-box for the 1970 OEM Vosper stabilizers which are being replaced – the brain boxes can now be hidden, so this cabinet will be reclaimed for storage (Picture #3 showing pre-tear out).

Exam question: “Pete, refresh my memory, what did you want done with the cabinet?” Now, we had talked about this when I was there about 7-weeks ago, but I hadn’t followed-up with a sketch. I told him “I am going to use this as a bar, so let’s hinge the door at bottom so it drops like a shelf.” He responds that he’s not sure what I mean, and asks for a sketch, so I sent the bottom picture showing what I mean (Picture #4).

It’s a basic example but shows the importance of communication – a picture is worth 1000 words. This is about 10-months into the refit and it’s working pretty well. I know my boat very well, have a fair amount of experience to know what I want, and have done enough work on boats to have knowledge of how things work and go together.
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Old 02-24-2020, 08:39 AM   #17
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Sept 2018. 12+ year old Diesel and Sea Trials.

Recap: After exhausting options for trucking due to no desire to remove flybridge, decided to self-deliver Weebles to Ensenada from San Francisco. Took the money I would have spent on trucking and had a major service on the Perkins 4.236.

But.....had a few problems to solve before departure

I had about 100 gallons diesel in each of the two saddle tanks (capacity: 200g each). It had been there for at least 12-years (probably more like 15). The diesel in the starboard tank smelled like linseed oil and bore no resemblance to diesel fuel. Eric strongly recommended getting rid of the fuel and going with fresh. Great idea ----- except that disposing of diesel fuel in California is difficult. Just finding someone to do it was tough, and the cost would involve hazmat suits and a $4k-$5k check.

ďSo, how did she run when you took her to the yard?Ē asked Eric (mechanic). The boat ran fine on the 1-hour trip to and from Berkeley Marine Center. There was a slight Ďlopeí in the injector pump at idle, but overall, she ran fine. Given the cost of fuel disposal and lack of symptoms, we decided to dilute fuel with fresh diesel (about 80-gallons), and triple-treat with Stanadyne fuel treatment. I then put about 25-hours on her over the next several days. The fuel didnít look great, but I guess the old Perkins will run on stale beer if needed.

Meanwhile, the target departure date of late September was approaching in a couple weeks. This is when the seasonal high pressure settles over California giving San Francisco itís 3-week of legitimate summer versus the chilly wind-tunnel of normal summer. Itís a great time to transit the coast in a powerboat, especially one thatís a bit infirmed like Weebles was at the time.
Two hiccups arose during sea trials. First, the 28-year old Furuno CRT radar died. Second, the macerator pump on the holding tank died. Both had the potential to halt my departure, and both had complications in replacement.
I had already decided on a Simrad 4G Radar/MFD system so moved-up my purchase. Uninstalling the old Furuno was bit cumbersome but only took a half day. Installing the new Simrad was pretty much plug-and-play, or so I thought. I didnít work when I fired it up.
So I double-checked my install, ran new power, new circuit breaker, everything I could think of. I had a replacement cable shipped thinking maybe I pinched a wire or something.

Finally, I went to see the good folks at Star Marine in Oakland. I forget the name of the owner, but he was great, especially since I didnít buy the system there (BOE Marine Ė also good folks). He was booked and couldnít come to my boat for at least a week, but said if I brought the system to him, he could bench-test it. Since I had already more or less installed it a couple times for troubleshooting, I could have the system off the boat and on his bench in about 3-hours. One of the junction boxes was DOA Ė he swapped it and charged a very reasonable charge for the bench test. As much as I had a good experience with BOE Marine, I really wish I had purchased the Simrad via Star Marine Ė good to support local guys.

Dead macerator pump. First, I picked-up the wrong voltage pump (24v instead of 12v). Then when I got it installed, it worked for 30-seconds, then quit. Now, for those who havenít had the pleasure, replacing a pump is not nearly as easy as it should be. The hoses are stiff and are difficult to remove. Access is often horrible. And they often require limber body forms only found in Cirque du Soleil performers.

If I reset the breaker, the pump would gurgle and run for 30-seconds, then quit again. Even the replacement was identical to the dead pump, I figured it must be an install error. I checked wiring. I removed the pump to check for a clogged hose. I checked for a clogged thru-hull. I figured there must be too much voltage drop so I re-ran wires. I re-ran wires to a larger breaker. Finally, after a full day and totally exasperated, with both myself and the boat an utter sewage-mess, I decided to try a new pump. Worked perfectly. No idea what was wrong with the first Jabsco, but was DOA Ė guessing some sort of heat sensor tripped prematurely.

Last task to do before departure was to secure the mast which was rotted and lost a few inches of height due to compression (note the top mast in the picture). Mast was needed to support the radar dome so I couldnít just remove it. Fortunately, I have several multi-part boom vangs and could jury rig new shrouds, but it was definitely a bit klugey.

NextÖ..weather window and trip to Ensenada.

PICS BELOW:
1. Mast Rot - note the crooked top top section of mast. If you look carefully, the forestay of mast is a multi-part boom vang securing a line to the mast.

2. Racor 500's twin. This was replaced prior to departure. Fuel looks okay in these pictures - red hue is from triple dose of Stanadyne fuel conditioner.

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Old 02-24-2020, 11:17 AM   #18
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What a great thread. Thanks.
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Old 02-24-2020, 11:39 AM   #19
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Looking forward to learning from your experience!
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Old 02-24-2020, 11:58 AM   #20
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That fuel line in the lower pic looks big.
What’s the OD?
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