The Story – A Buckingham 20 Renovation
Many boat renovators and sailors alike have at one point considered or perhaps attempted, to restore a boat. Finding a boat is often the
easiest part of a boat renovation, but it is the weeks, months and years of labour and research that follow, which really show the testament of someone’s character. Whilst browsing the wonderfull world of Reddit I stumbled upon a project about a Buckingham 20 Renovation and it’s this Buckingham 20 renovation I want to share.
Whilst searching for a project boat on what he calls Fleebay (Ebay), he found a £150 project boat. We use the term project boat loosely in this case as what he bought was more of a flower pot than a boat (his words). He’s not lying either, this boat was ready for use as a flower bed but luckily the rescue began. It was decided that the boat would be craned onto a lower loader truck, and brought to his house where he would begin his journey into driving all of his neighbors mad!
The Buckingham 20 boat wasn’t initially as big as he would off liked, however, the inside could be completely removed meaning he would have a blank canvas to work with; be it a canvas covered in soil.
The bow was his first port of call he went to work like a surgeon slicing the bits
of perished fiberglass from the boat and re-applying layers of chop strand to form a new a structurally intact surface. After a 415 mile round trip to collect some replacement windows he reached the conclusion that they didn’t fit. No problem! Instead of having a breakdown like the rest of us he just fiberglassed the hole to match the shape of the window frame. These as just some of the examples and many challenges that Wolly faced whilst undertaking his full boat renovation project. The entire story is a truly amazing read with accounts of a completely entire refit of the boat, both structurally, and aesthetically. It’s plain to see that he is not afraid to hack into the boat and completely re-invent the design and look of any feature.
Taking on a project such as this Buckingham 20 is not majorly profitable nor sustainable to the average human being. However, you can see it is his passion for boat renovation and love of giving an old boat a new lease of life, that has driven him to create a masterpiece that would for certain cripple most.
Louis – How long has the project taken so far?
Wayne – “Well we got the boat at the start of May 2015 and as of November 2016 I’m still working on it; I had planned to get it done in 12 months but due to the repairs needed and winter messing up GRP work, I have been held up. Also due to work hours being increased to near 12hr days, good point more boat funds. We hope to launch though in mid to late summer 2017, that is not a plan, reason, plans never go to plan do they!”
Louis – I see what you mean, It’s hard to find the motivation to start any type of boat DIY after a 12 hour day. It’s great to find a balance of work and play – boat renovation being the play. If you do launch it in September make sure you invite me!
Louis – Was noise an issue? If so, how did you get away with the constant sound of grinding and sanding in a built up area?
Wayne – “There has never been a problem with noise, well; nobody has said anything. All I get is the occasional neighbor asking how the boat is going and an often compliment on how the project is looking good every time they pass. On weekends I don’t start the noisy jobs until after 10am, to help all the sanding was done a bit at a time, an hour here and there over days/weeks.”
Louis In Response – I think I’m a bit too considerate when I’ve been working in built up areas. I’ve got admit I worry way too much about annoying others. I think you have the right attitude – as long as you’re not grinding away at 4am they likelihood of upsetting the locals is slim.
Louis – What do you think the overall cost of the project is – (don’t worry I won’t tell your partner I’ll keep it secret just me and the entire internet) The transportation, materials etc?
Wayne – “Now then, as my financial advisor is T ( Tracey my wife ) knows what I have spent and I also know she thinks I have lost the plot at times. The first time was when I got the cooker at a cost of three times what the boat cost, I lifted it out of the box and you should of seen her face at the size of it. The frst comment from T was “my god we could get a full size one for the same”.
One good thing is T knows it is for us both when done and it keeps me busy and sane….in a funny kind of way. I did keep a record of the cost for the first 6 months but then i stopped, it got to a good amount and i find with projects if you keep a tally on cost it does not help completion when it builds up. Rough guess when completed incl engine and trailer £6k, yes i could of bought one ready but not as i want or the joy of doing it.”
Louis – Is there a tool you couldn’t go without?
Wayne – “My wife should be at the top of the list as some jobs would be near impossible to be done with out her help, she has been a diamond in all aspects of the build, putting up with it and me, waking at daft hours with ideas and telling her. Even now and then sanding and the gritty bits.
And then a 115mm angle grinder with plasma disc/flap and Carbide discs. Ah and a few different sanding block and RO sander…….there isnt a single tool really, but these are the main to get the job done that i could not do with out. And dont use decent grinders in confined spaces as they will draw dust in and burn out, i have burnt out two on this boat with the dust. there leads to good PPE when sanding/grinding GRP.”
Louis – How do you source your materials – online? local chandlery?
Wayne – I use a local supplier for the GRP as to get it delivered is no better on price and i find it easier to pop out to get supplies when i need it, i did look at others like Glasplies and East Coast supplies but a said I have one 20 minutes away which is GRP UK in Warrington, they do all stock but no epoxy or gelcoats etc, they supply to roofers car builders etc. For some supplies, I use eBay and other websites. And Machine mart for consumables like sand paper. Ebay is a gamble on quality and I found sand/emery paper needs to be good quality to last. The Main thing is I don’t rush and shop around everywhere in the end to save on funds. It is needed.
Louis – Not rushing is probably the best tip you can give – I agree. Whilst people should support their local chandlery- it’s just too bleddy expensive. In particularly when it comes to full boat renovation. It’s hard not to rush into your local chandlery and pay what you know is often double for something when your boat is 30 seconds away from the shop. The problem is with a repair is it’s often exciting and you just want to get the thing finished. If you have the patience to wait then you are on the right track and you can save a lot of money.
Louis – What was the most challenging part of the project?
Wayne – “Easy, finding suitable windows and refurbing them, then fitting them leak free. We had to do a 400 mile trip and 7 hours driving to collect them from Newmarket, we live in Manchester. Nice day out it was.”
Louis – I feel your pain- I’m majorly impressed that you went to that effort as well. I often see people just remove the frame and simply bed perspex with through bolts or rivets. The frames look a lot better though – to be honest but there are pros and cons for both.
Louis – Do you enjoy sailing more or renovating more?
Wayne – “Tough one, but after this, i am enjoying it but there has been tough times and when it is done I just can’t wait to get afloat again….until the next project comes along, i have been banned for at least 12 months once this is done to even look for one…….so T thinks i look now for a bigger boat.”
Louis – Okay -shhh… don’t tell T but I did see a 35ft ex-naval fiberglass shell for sale I’d love to see what you could do with that given the time and money!
Louis – Would you call yourself a perfectionist?
Wayne – “I have to admit I do, and T does, she calls me the faffer now due the time I take and little bits I find that need doing. Another reason it has taken so long to get work done.”
Louis – Thought so! Don’t worry, all the greats were perfectionists, I guess you just have to make sure you finish your painting.
Louis – What is the most enjoyable aspect?
Wayne – “It’s the when you get to a point in the project when you feel you have got somewhere, I can spend days on the boat and it does not look or feel like I have done anything. One of the few times I have felt joy is when the windows were fitted, and a new floor in place. By far the best time was when the top screen and canopy was finished with windows in, it made a complete new look to the boat. I sat there for hours just looking at the boat and pondering on all the work i have done to it and felt it was worth it.”
Louis – My girlfriend is a psychologist and she has narrowed it down perfectly for me – it’s the creative process. “This is awesome, this Is tricky, this Is shit , this might be okay, this Is awesome” This in my opinion, sums it up perfectly.
Louis – What do you have install for your next project?
Wayne – “Another boat of a minimum 30 foot long, not sure on GRP or Steel, wood would be great but as we know it is the upkeep. My dream which T is up for is a live aboard. The Plan is to use this cruiser while looking for our next boat and then moor up against it for weekend working on the new one. We have a large garden but to bring a 40= foot boat home is asking a bit much from T and the neighbors i think.”
Louis – Dooo it, doooo it ,dooo it!
Louis – Can you give one bit of advice to anyone looking to do a similar renovation?
Wayne – “Think and think again about, then think again a few more times, be prepared to find a few unexpected things that need to be done, i always think the worst scenario. Do not wear those rose-coloured glasses that so may folk wear when looking at boats. I have sold a few boats over the years for a boat yard I used to visit, this was on behalf of yard owner as they got fed up of dreamers. Folk would come along to look and I almost see them dreaming about what it will be like on the water. Buyers often spoke to me about their plan of work and when it will be done, then the work was carried out for maybe 6 months and it all ends with the boat being left again.
If you want to finish on time always double your timescale, if not more. Don’t do a cost sheet, it will likely scare you when you realise it’s going to cost more than a few hundred quid to get on the water . I have to admit if I was able to look over this boat in more detail i would have never bought it. The defects did not show until sanding was done and hull stripped back, but hey, I don’t like to give in!
You really need to be a keen DIY person, nothing is particularly difficult however is more than often time-consuming. Try to plan ahead on jobs, there will be times when you can’t finish a job so then you can get on with something else. Don’t worry there will always be lots to do.
I am lucky I have enough room to work on boats; if you don’t, you will need to find a hard standing/mooring. You will waste a lot of time on traveling if you are in hardstanding so it is better to have the boat at home where you can pop out when a spare hour or so is available. It saves on fee`s and fuel travel cost/time on mooring/standing fees. You will need to make sure you have all the tools you need at your boat so security for a mooring needs to be good. I have been there and done it at a boat yard, it is annoying when you are 20 miles from home and a tool you need is at home. It can scupper plans big time.
Now I hope that hasn’t put anyone off taking on a project boat, but it does need to be thought about. I don’t regret getting project boats one bit, I see it as a hobby so it is to be enjoyed, although there are many stress full periods. T knows that I can’t say it has all been easy.
To finish, if you plan to look for a project look around all over the place, there will be boats hiding away in the corner of yards that can be near as free, and in fine fettle. Ebay is good as well as Gumtree. Never be shy to make an offer, you will surprised at times how cheap boats really are when in a bad state.
Above all Enjoy”