Picton Clinker & Classic Boat Club
The Restoration of “Little Honey” by Russ Cloake, Lumsden
This little dinghy was spotted in the Te Anau buy sell and exchange by my wife. In the online photo I could see an interesting steering wheel lying amongst bits and pieces in a rather sad looking hull, so there was no question that I was going to have it.
After bringing it home and being accused of buying a pile of rubbish I had to resort to a bit of psychology. Taking a couple of brass pieces inside to polish and fitting them back onto a newly painted rudder got a better reaction.
The hull was not great with two large holes where a forklift move had gone wrong, but was basically sound.
The previous owner had spent a lot of time taking out the filler from around the numerous copper nails as he had planned on repainting it. I had some macrocarpa machined to replace all the wood around the gunnel and coamings, and the marine ply deck was also replaced Six weeks later it was ready to go up to Lake Hood for the Classic Boat day in Feb 2017. As the paint and primer came with the boat, and it had a good trailer there wasn’t much expense involved.
Replacing the Briggs and Stratton engine wasn’t as easy as I thought. I assumed that old motors would be plentiful. Not so, but there was an old reel mower for sale on Trademe, in Blenheim, with a right aged motor (1958). A bid of $20.00 was successful and a couple of favours meant that I was able to get it down to Southland.
Although the advertisement said the motor wouldn’t run,it turned out to be in excellent condition and with a quick tune ran nicely. It mowed our lawns a couple of times before starting a new career as a boat motor. Fitting it was a bit of a nightmare as it had to be perfectly aligned with the drive shaft via a leather cone clutch. Eventually I got the necessary shims right after putting it in and taking it out at least 12 times persistence does pay off!
A friend fabricated a new exhaust pipe and with the rechroming of some hardware plus a polish up of the brass bits it was all done.
The name had to be two words of equal size to look right on the stern. Various suggestions were made and discarded including Pond Scum ( from a sarcastic family member) until Little Honey was decided on. Plywood lettering made on the bandsaw suits her nicely. She is a 12 feet long, 4mm ply carvel constructed, copper roving fastened, 2 1/2hp Briggs powered delight and it is just great that we own her. I have other boats but as this has become a favourite and she gives us a lot of pleasure, even just sitting in the garage.
While people compliment us on her restoration, I think the real credit must go to the original but as yet unknown builder for building such a lovely little boat. So if anyone can help us with the history of this distinctive craft we would be very grateful. All we know is that she was built in Marlborough, probably to use in the sounds, and may have belonged to a family by the name of Hope.
Little honey was awarded the best restoration at the 2019 Antique and Classic Boat Show.