On Saturday, February 8, 2020, a record crowd came to the Heartland Classics Winter Restoration Workshop to learn and share and socialize.  Many of the attendees were guests or first year members. They easily blended in with those who have been attending the Workshop for many of its first 18 years.

For all those years, Dan Diehl has headed the group that thought of skills to teach and recruited resources to share restoration and maintenance information.  In fact, the first few Workshops were held at Diehl’s shop in Jenks, then moved to Howard Classic Boats in Langley, Oklahoma, and for the last several years, enjoyed Brent Howard’s spacious shop at Grand Lake.

Insurance for Classic Boats – Heidi Brown, an insurance broker from Tulsa, spoke briefly about the importance of obtaining “agreed value” insurance on your classic boat, not just the cash value offered by most companies based on the age of the boat.  She does refer clients to Hagerty Marine Insurance for Classics. Hagerty does determine with you the “agreed value” to insure, they give a discount to ACBS members, and they also offer “port risk insurance” which is a reduced rate if your classic is in storage rather than in the water. A question and answer period brought out the importance of letting your home & auto insurer know that your classic is insured by Hagerty, but should still be included in your Umbrella Policy.

Upholstery Maintenance – Jodee Winkle from MOSS SEAT COVER MFG in Tulsa returned this year to answer questions about upholstery.  Leather, especially, should be treated just like your own skin with moisturizer and sun protection. Castor oil is a great conditioner.  Her favorite products for leather and vinyl are by Malco.  Never use products that contain alcohol or silicone.
For new covers, Sunbrella has a lined fabric which is light weight.  But any cover should NEVER be air-tight, in fact, it was suggested that a solar fan could be used to move the air in a covered boat to prevent mold.

Paints Plus has been the supplier of restoration products and tools over the years.  Bob and Diane Blonstein have brought and demonstrated items periodically to our Workshops.  This year they introduced new owners Josh and Lacey Zurmiller.  Bob and Josh demonstrated a new Paint Preparation System from 3M.  This PPS uses a disposable “bladder” inside a tank with filter which fastens onto a sprayer for paint, varnish, or other liquids.  The unit can be used effectively in any position, even upside down.  The bladder can be sealed to preserve the remaining liquid for the second application.

3M also has a new adhesive sealant, 4000UV, which is not as bonding as 5200.  Use this if you think you will need to dismantle planks in the future.


Al Stoller was an interesting guest, now living at Lake of the Ozarks. His career included building Delta Boats, then working in Chicago’s Grebe Shipyard. He moved to California and applied to be an apprentice to the shipwrights who built large mahogany yachts. He learned the skills of a shipwright at Dittmar & Donaldson.  One tip he shared from his wealth of knowledge was how to use PVC pipe as the lining of the through hole for the shaft when restoring the bottom of a boat.

Lunchtime was a time to eat, and visit, and wander outside to inspect Forrest Bryant’s new old Century Coronado which will need fiberglass repair.  This was also the time to shop at the Ship’s Store and Silent Auction table.  Lots of new merchandise made shopping fun and helped to refill the Chapter coffers.

The crowd was eager for more information and shifted the rows of chairs over to where Dan Diehl’s 1955 19’ Chris Craft Cobra was “center stage”.  Dan first pulled some of his favorite “dismantling” tools out of his little tool bag.  First, a “pull” saw (different than a “push” saw), an ice pick, an extremely sharp flat screwdriver to pop bungs, and about a 12” flexible sanding block.

Replanking – Dan was joined by Clay Thompson.  Clay started with advice to evaluate a boat before purchase as to what it needs that you can do yourself, and what it needs that will mean paying someone else to do the work.  Once the boat is yours, begin with the bottom.  Dismantle the planks very carefully.  They may be good to use again.  Tired pores can be stabilized by letting them absorb Smith’s CPES a bit at a time. If the frame is solid, then putting the planks back on with 5200 will make it tight.  If the planks are too damaged, they should still be used as patterns.

Clay showed how he reclamps a plank and then marks any high spot for minor planing. His favorite plane is a Stanley #78.

If new planks are needed, Clay advised to really shop for the wood.  First figure the length and width of every plank remembering that many planks curve which requires a much wider plank.  Then those individual pieces should be ordered in a depth that is more than twice the thickness of the finished plank.  As the purchased wood is the re-sawn, the mirror planks are created for the left/right butterfly effect.

Fiberglass caught on with small boat manufacturers first. Dan Diehl reviewed a bit of fiberglass history especially pertaining to the Tulsa area.  In 1947 Gar Wood’s son actually built a plant in Tulsa to produce Garform Boats, the first polyester resin fiberglass boats.  That is what is still used on fiberglass boats today. The better boat manufacturers are switching to vinylester resin. It has an almost unlimited life span and is very chemical and water resistant. 

Fiberglass is covered with “gelcoat” which is embedded with color pigment.  When damaged, it is nearly impossible to match the color.  So, repair of fiberglass is usually done by painting the surface.  With the newer, long lasting paints, new fiberglass boats are often now painted rather than using the traditional gelcoat.

In examining the deck of Forrest’s boat, there are many cracks in the original gelcoat.  Each crack will be cleaned out using a 2” sanding disk tool.  Then the deck will be repaired.

The backdrop of the Workshop continues to be Brent Howard’s “Class of 47”, the 36’ Chris Craft Salon.  Each year we see the progress being made – done when the crew is not working on a client’s boat.  This year, much was finished in the interior.  A picture log showed the steps that were accomplished.

Summary – This long review just barely touches the information that was shared!  Maybe, most important were the connections made so that the sharing goes on all year.

Thanks to Dan Diehl and all the presenters.  Thanks to attendees for sharing questions and answers. And a huge thank you to Brent Howard and his staff for welcoming us into their shop.

The Annual Winter Restoration Workshop

Heartland Classics’ restoration workshop gives the opportunity for classic boaters to come together to learn and share knowledge about classic boating and the preservation of vintage and wooden classic boats.

Topics covered at past workshops include wood boat repair, boat plank replacement, stripping, staining & varnishing wooden boats, fiberglass boat repair, and engine maintenance. Heartland Classics silent auction / swap meet is held at this event and where attendees bring unwanted marine “stuff” to donate to the club for the silent auction. Proceeds help fund the Mahogany & Chrome Newsletter.

Each year the workshop is organized by the Workshop Event Chair, Dan Diehl.

Appreciation to Brent Howard and his crew at Howard Classic Boats who have hosted our group for the past 18 years in the Grand Lake shop near Ketchum, Oklahoma.

8:30 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.

$20.00 per person

Howard Classic Boats
35602 S. 4467, Vinita, OK 74301
(918) 693-1855

Registration Includes:

  • Coffee, water, donuts
  • Lunch
  • Speakers (4-5) & demonstrations
  • Q & A


From HWY 82. North of Langley, OK and South of Ketchum, OK. Turn East on E. 350 Rd, for .7-miles. Turn South on S, 4467 Rd, for .7-miles, past Dead End sign. Howard Classic Boats will be on the right.