GILL BIBBY - A LOOK AT GRAMPIAN MARINE
RETURN to GRAMPIAN HISTORY
is an edited transcript of a talk by Gill Bibby on his days at Grampian Marine
at the Grampian Gathering 2002, hosted by Etobicoke Yacht Club – July 27, 2002. Thanks
to Peter Davidson for transcribing and supplying the article, to Alec Wright who was the
videographer from which the transcript was produced and Gill Bibby for allowing us to
Grampian Boats are still very close to me – even my wife will tell you I
travel a lot and
when I visit a marina I still walk along the docks eying the boats. I see the boats in every
marina so to be asked to come and do this means a lot to me.
don’t know where to start, Peter Davidson covered the history in the handout (
History of Grampian Marine page) better than I could because he dug into it deeper and asked
more questions than I knew the answers for – I just filled in the gaps.
started with Grampian in 1968 - started there as a cabinetmaker, carried a
toolbox – At the
start they had about 125 employees. One of the problems, we had a nice big assembly area
and a separate glass shop but they were only building three boats – the rest of the assembly
shop was a storage area for plugs, old moulds, anything. One third of the shop was being used
for production – if you could call it production. We started work at 8 in the morning - you’d go
and stand there outside the foreman’s office – he’d give you a job to do – off you went to the boat
and you’d work all day on it. The following morning you’d go back to the office – sit and wait until
you got a ticket – you’d go to another boat and go work on that one. This is probably why the
boats didn’t come out the same. This is the way they were built. And at that time there were two
26 hulls and a 30 plug in the main assembly shop.
went on for six to nine months – maybe I just went in there at the right time.
I started seeing
two suits walking around the place – guys we didn’t know. And if you’ve ever been in an assembly
plant, when you see this you know something’s happening. So we watched these two fellows and
there was a gantry type walk way off the back of the boat and you could see these two gentlemen,
one big heavy set gentleman and a tall thin one. We were watching them walk along the gantry and
say ‘Ummm – what’s happening?’
cabinetmaker, my previous two/three years in Canada had been in cabinet shops
various wood working jobs and I soon knew that it was a job with little future with a company. They
would hire you, rush all the tables and cabinets out and then you’re off the job. Next order would come
in and they would hire you back.
see these two suits walking around and we thought - well there was going to be a
change – put
all your tools back in the toolbox, you won’t be here long. One Friday afternoon, two of us were called
into the office – I was one and there was another young fellow, and I thought ‘Well better take my
toolbox with me and get ready to back out the door’. So one of these suits was in the office, his name
was Don Wilkinson, an Englishman from London. He looked at me – he had got one of the
management with him.
asked my background, where I was from, what I knew about boats and I thought
this is not the
usual interview. He asked the two of us, the two called into the office, and instead of giving us a pink
slip and telling us to hit the road, he asked us to be lead hands. He told us that Grampian was going
to change and if we were willing to change with him, there was a job. That was the start of the Grampian
that I knew. Don Wilkinson was a production person who knew fibreglass. He had been hired to run
production and Grampian was going to increase production. He told me, months after that - I asked him
‘What made you pick me off the line to help you run this thing?’ ‘Well,’ he said, ‘I know fibreglass, I do
not know boats but all I know about a boat is pointed at one end and flat at the other. All I want from you
is to see the points going through the door.’ He said ‘Until we get one a day through that door,’ he said
‘I’m going to chase you.’ And that’s how he started.
finished up after two days, we stripped our assembly shop, cleaned it out from
corner to corner – we
built work bays – one on each side that we couldn’t use when I started. We had five 26’ bays on that side
so we could build five boats at once. This gives you an idea how big the shop was. It wasn’t very big.
The other side, we had movable bays – that’s were the 30’ and 34’s were built. Now one thing about
building that many boats – I mean we had five, six, seven or eight and two decks – they filled the shop.
when it comes time to move something, which you have got to – if you’ve know
boat building, it’s
a manual trade – it’s not mechanical. So you’ve got all these hulls sitting in this one workshop. You
have to get the one that’s in number one bay out the door, the one that’s coming into the first bay, the
empty hull out of the fibreglass shop, has got to come in that other door. Seven pieces of fibreglass,
depending on the size of the boat and the weight, so one of the questions we asked any foreman that
we took on ‘Can you play chess? If you can’t play chess, you can’t do this job.’ And it was the case
that every morning we would get every employee from the assembly shop to play chess – every boat
had to move one spot.
boat went outside, that left one space to work with.
Every boat was rotated up one notch to get
them through. That took us from 8 ‘til about 10.30 every morning. And then we settled down and started
building. Through ’72/73 we were building at least 4 possibly 5 26’s a week. Now it appeared one a day
went out the shop – it took two weeks to build a 26’ boat - one a day left the shop. In the summer we
put them on a truck and away they went. In winter, what did we do? We stored them. In the spring,
we had anywhere from 50 to 75 boats to launch. So every morning, we went down to the marina in
Oakville or Bronte Harbour – we had the first spots – 8 to 8/30 for launching – they were rigged and
sailed away. That’s the way the days went - that was through ’72 to ’75. We had customers at that time
who wanted to buy a boat but in this area you could not find a dock - this was the hay day of boating –
every marina had a waiting list - nobody had spare docks. Customers, like yourselves, would come
and talk to sales, ‘If you can find me a slip, we’ll buy the boat’. So we shopped for slips – we did that too.
30’ evolved up slowly – we looked for individual people once we got the
26’ line going. Don
Wilkinson said to me ‘All right now your next challenge is to get the 30’ line going.’ I said ‘Who’s going
to run the 26’ line?’ He said ‘I don’t know’ so he said ‘Find someone’. I shopped around a ‘phoned an
old friend of mine who worked in a cabinet shop, called Stuart Scott. He agreed to come in and he
became the foreman on the 26’ line. He was there for all the time I was. Stuart right now works for
Bruchman in Mississauga as head carpenter. He took on the 26’ line and I took on the 30’ line and
eventually the 34’line. We carried on that way until Grampian Closed in June 1977.
’73, I just remembered this actually an hour ago, a set of moulds for a 26’
and a set for a 30’
were shipped back to England to start the line there.. I don’t know where those moulds are or what’s
happening. They went to a small town in East Anglia.
Wilkinson, who was vice president of production at that time – if anyone ever
offers you to be a
VP or something, my advice to you is don’t take it! It keeps you close to the door. So Jim Bisiker, the
owner, came back from England and said ‘We’re going to send over these moulds’ – so Don said
‘Who’s going over there to train them?’ Jim said ‘You’ve always wanted to go back - you’ve got a
two-year contract with them – you’re going to work out there for a while.’
moved me up to the production management job.
Don did go to England, spent his two years
there and he came back just as Grampian was having problems. At about the same time we opened up
the plant in Carolina building the same line of boats. The 28’ was assembled down there but never
moulded down there - the moulds were always up here. They started the plant building the 23’s, 26’s
and 30’s. We did this for two reasons, one was to ship to Florida – it was easier; two was the buying –
we were buying most of our material in the US so by buying through the US plant, we would ship parts
that we made in Oakville down to the plant in North Carolina. The truck would come back with parts that
we purchased in the States. And it was a tax dodge; you could get your money back and this
kind of stuff. Unfortunately, none of us wanted to go to N. Carolina. Jim was looking around – who’s
going to go to N. Carolina?
all been down there to help set this place up.
It was a sleepy little town named Edenton NC.
Through Virginia, drive 80 miles south, cross over the border into North Carolina - into a dry state. When
you cross over the border, there’s this bunch of trailers by the side of the road – 45-foot trailers - trailers
parked by the hundreds. Nice little English town – beautiful spot – not a pub in the place - couldn’t get a
beer - couldn’t get nothing!
workers were Southern types – very, very slow – drove me nuts – I
couldn’t get used to this slow
pace. So what did we do? We went to England and brought another boat builder from England. We
got him to Oakville – can’t honestly say it was a good move. This gentleman comes in and walks around
for a couple of weeks and we got told that he was taking the US plant. We patted him on the back and
said ‘Great!’ At that point he started telling us how to build boats. We’d only been at it for 7 or 8 years,
most of us, plus the old Grampian employees – they were a good crew, we had a very good Grampian
crew. No one person could take credit for Grampian boats. It was a team that we put together.
Unfortunately, the gentleman that had been brought in to North Carolina was not a team worker –
he was a leader and he told me that. So he went to North Carolina and he thought he had total control
of the place and basically started changing things in the production cycle.
went on for eighteen months, two years – our dealers in the states would tell
us when they ordered
a boat that it had to be built in Oakville. They didn’t want the US models that was built in the US plant.
This really started to effect sales down there. The problems with boats built in the North Carolina plant
was really getting to us, trying to fix problems all the time. When we went out - we started finding out that
he had been making changes. Weaknesses started occurring in boats. Eventually the only answer was
to close the North Carolina plant. By this time, Grampian was getting into problems. The cost of running
that plant was really drying the company up. At the same time, Jim Bisiker the owner, this is when he
had to become an absentee owner because he had to take over his father’s holdings, as his father was
getting sick. So all of this was happening at the same time.
asked me, if you would go to North Carolina, we’re building a 46’ down there
which requires 46’ moulds.
He said we have sold the 46-foot to a gentleman called Mr. Robos – it’s his fourth Grampian boat – he’s
gone from 26’ to 30’ to 34’ to a custom 46’. Unfortunately this was the point when the company was
really starting to hit the blocks and the US plant had been closed. Receivership and bankruptcy are
run a little differently is the States – down there you don’t go through the courts. All you did was the
talk to the sheriff – the gentleman’s name was Troy Donahue – and all he does, he walks up to the plant
with a piece of paper and puts a padlock on the door and that’s it. He owns the place! So this happened,
in fact we got closed and Mr. Bisiker came to me and said ‘Gill, we’ve got to finish this boat’. I said, ‘What
will I do?’. and he said ‘Well you had better go down there and we better get this factory open and we better
get this boat finished’.
about six months I used to work in the Oakville plant and at the weekends I was
down at the US plant.
It took me a while to get the plant open. I had to convince Mr. Robos, who seized the plant, because he
had his boat in the factory and we were talking a lot of money here, I had to convince him that we could
finish the boat which we did – some of the worst meetings I have ever gone through. We did finish the
boat – as the factory got emptied and it got to the launch stage of the boat. The 46 footer with two masts
– from when the boat left the factory there was still took two or three months work on the boat. It was
not equipped - launch and get rid of it - this thing was a - it should have been an 80’ boat it was only a 46 ft
boat. He let us put the boat in the water, we started rigging it and at this time money started drying up. I
had to liquidate the factory to finish the boat, which is what happened. At this point my wife and three kids
were with me living in N. Carolina. The factory up here was being run by someone else.
I said to my wife Troy could not come down and see me, so we’re moving the
boat’. She said ‘What
do you mean?’ I said ‘He advised me to get the boat out of N. Carolina’. I said ‘Why is that?’ and he
said ‘Well, money problems – we’ve got a warrant for whoever’s running the plant – so we’ve got a warrant
for your arrest.’ by this time we made a good friend in N. Carolina, Dr. Wright. So I went to see him and
he says we can put the boat in Elizabeth City – 80 miles away. So we moved the boat overnight to
Elizabeth City – put my wife and kids in a motel – the following morning I said to my wife ‘We’re going
home’; and at this point we drove – I drove all the way from N Carolina to Buffalo. We crossed the border,
got home Monday morning; I went to the factory and found this factory was closed. That really was how
the company went bankrupt.
is a lot more in it as to the finances.
The boats that we were building were good boats; it was a
good crew – a good team of people. We tried to buy the company, we tried to get ownership of the
company so the employees could run it, but we couldn’t get anyone to back us – really that was the end
of the program.
were good times – we had a lot of really good times.
Willard was our truck driver – we had our
own trucks – two trucks. We were the first trucking company to ship two boats at once. The truck driver,
myself and one of our mechanics built a rig so that we could carry a 30-foot and a 26-foot boat on a
45-foot trailer. But Willard, because we didn’t run every day with the trucks, he was a part time driver
so we called him in. Willard one time was heading off – he had two boats loaded. He took off one
night at 6 o’clock, headed for Connecticut, so he takes off – usually he would be in Connecticut first
thing in the morning for breakfast. 7.30/7 o’clock in the morning, I’m having breakfast and the ‘phone
rings - it’s Willard. I said ‘What’s up?’ I knew that calling that time in the morning, something’s wrong.
He said ‘I’ve got problems’; ‘What’s the matter?’; ‘I’m sitting on the White Stone Bay. Bridge’ - anyone
who knows New York, its one of the main arteries. I said ‘Yup, what’s happened - got a flat tire?’ He
said ‘No, the cradle broke’. I said ‘What do you mean the cradle broke?’ He said ‘The boat sitting on
the back of the truck, the back cradle has broke.’ Imagine the bow is facing backwards, two front legs
on the cradle split and the boat was now bow down. There was a brace and a chain over the back of the
boat– that’s all that was holding it. I said ‘I’m here and you’re there, what do you want me to do?’ He
says ‘The bow of the boat is swinging of the road. I’ve got the police here. If it will stay there I can get
it to the dealer.’ I said ‘And if it doesn’t stay there?’ ‘Well we’ll see if we can get a crane anyways’ I said
‘What about the traffic, here we are at this time in the morning?’ ‘The police will keep everybody away
from it and give me an escort through to Connecticut’. ‘What time are you going to get there?’ ‘Oh, I
should be there by 9.30.’ ‘OK, I will be at the plant’ - away he goes. So here I am, can’t think of anything
else but this boat and I’m walking up and down – the office wasn’t that big anyway so – 10.30 – 11.30
– 12.30 – 1.30 – the ‘phone rings ‘Where are you?’ – he said ‘the boats in the water, I’ve got the cheque
in my pocket’. I said ‘What time did you get there?’ ‘Quarter after 9’ ‘Well why didn’t you ‘phone me?’
He said ‘What? I sweat for a couple of hours – I figured you could to.’
driver – a Classic 31 full keel model. The
31 was a kit boat. The fibreglass
surrounds the keel.
There’s no other weight in it, – the keel had to be installed into the hull in the factory. He’s driving his
truck, so he takes off from the factory, runs down Speers Road on his way to Bronte - a 20 minute
run, goes down First Street, the ‘phone rings. ‘Gill, do you have a crane going to Bronte to lift this
boat?’ ‘Why?’ ‘Can you bring a crane out to Kerr Street?’ ‘Why do you ask?’ He said ‘The cradle
broke.’ Now these are wood cradles, somebody here today was chewing me out about wood cradles,
telling me about the safety of wood cradles! One front leg broke on the cradle. The boat, being 31 feet,
with a deck on it, only the keel, it had no weight. When he stopped at a traffic light, he trapped on the
brakes, the leg broke and the boat just fell forward. A 45-degree turn this way, a quick half twist and
it’s sitting on its deck in the middle of Kerr Street. He said if you get the crane we can put it back on
the trailer. I went on down there and what did I see? There’s a whale. It was perfectly straight on the
dividing center concrete upside down, keel up in the air – looked like a big beached whale. So we got
the crane, picked the boat up and out it back on the truck and took it back to the factory, put it in the
field, rolled it over, picked it up and put it back on the truck. Two gel coat men took two hours to fix the
scratches and ship it back by two o’clock that afternoon, back in the harbour, the owner didn’t even
know what we had done. There a lot of this kind of stuff going on but it really just boils down to the
good crew that we had.
we started to run the factory we were running about 125 employees, we took the
to about 96 and more than doubled or tripled production by using the right people. And it’s the right
people that built your boats, not me. I was just a guy. It was a good crew. We know where there are
probably six of our key people and if I’d really thought about it I should have had them all here with me.
If you do another meeting, I think we’ll do that. We’ll round up what we can to start with and get them
isn’t many; if you travel, there’s Ewan Campbell, he’s up in Midland,
still in the boat business
– a broker up there. Stuart Scott, like I say he’s with Bruchman Dave Belford, he’s running the yard
in Bronte - he’s one of our people. In fact I was talking to him two days ago. I walked into his shop,
it’s a little store, he looks at me and says, ‘Gill what are you doing here?’ I says to him, ‘Dave I’ve come
to see something – this is a photograph of the rigging shop, Tony, one of our best riggers. The only
bloke I know who could flip a knot into a rope. He’d take a piece of rope and he’d flip it and tie a knot."
(At this point in his presentation, Gill describes some of the photographs on display.)
was part of the production crew, this is the main assembly shop, Rolf van der
Sleen in the
design office, he designed the 28, was a good boat, is a good boat, always will be a good boat. Rolf
is not designing boats anymore, but he can. The cabinet shop foreman -he ran the cabinet area – big
Swede – I mean a big Swede, when I would stand up to talk, he’d tell me to stand up and I was standing
up. He was 50/55 when I first met him - talked with Swedish accent – looked like he’d come out of the
British Home Guards. I think he had a piece of oak for a backbone. I used to look up to this man –
he was as straight as a die. Very, very straight on his woodwork but he was very particular about his
woodworking shop. Now, if you’ve ever worked in a fibreglass shop and a woodworking shop – the
two don’t go together.
had these Portuguese workers from the Azores – the main group of older people
These were a tough group of individuals. Very particular in the work that they do. Now we had thirty
blokes out there – things had to be done right. They never complained. If you were working in a group
and you put a new person in the group, nobody complained about bad workers. You’d just find that
everybody asked you if they could be moved. First one would come and say ‘I want a new job’.
Another one would come – ‘I want a new job’. All right we got problems! So you’d go out and you’d
go find the problem. You’d usually find that it was the younger generation. They weren’t fitting in with
the old establishment. There was a sort of belief that when you worked together things didn’t match.
We had this troublemaker – we had this young fellow, he knew everything, but he hardly knew anything.
Things had happened and he called me, I’m going to call him Tony, one thing about Portuguese people,
there are seventy-five Manuel’s to two Tony’s. One day I heard this rumpus outside my office and if you
can imagine my office being there – its right part of the assembly shop, its right there. You open the door
and you’re in the assembly shop. Off to the right is the cabinet shop. I heard this growl coming from this
door – I thought it was a bear. It was Inghy - he had this Tony by the scruff of the neck and by the back of
his belt. Tony was bent over double, his feet were six inches off the ground and he was carted in front of
my office. We were standing in the door; Tony was still walking. ‘What’s the trouble?’ ‘He was cutting
fibreglass on my band saw. Keep him out of my shop!’ We just got a letter from him, he retired before
the factory closed. He’s 92; living in Whiarton, so there’s another one of the staff that we have to thank for
what we have out there.
- Ewan Campbell was the junior salesman at that time Norm Darren and Bob Maxwell
the main sales persons. They worked hard and they sold a lot of boats. Alex Markham was in the glass
shop - glass men are hard to get. There’s something about breathing all those fumes all the time that
drives you crazy. So Alex was in there for a long time and he turned out some good fibreglass. These
are the people that we have to thank for what we have. I’m glad to say that I am their representative so
if we do get another group like this together, I’ll try and get them back for you.
don’t know what else I can say. Maybe
if I open up the floor to questions I might be able to answer
some things for you. Lets not get too technical, we don’t want to build any boats here. Any questions?"
followed a Question and Answer period but most of the video taped Questions are
although the Answers make interesting reading regardless:
28’ was designed by Rolf van der Sleen. Rolf
came into the factory as a draftsman during
the process of picking up production. Grampian didn’t have drawings – it was all done from one boat
to another. As part of the change that we had, we had the design office and it was to produce the
production drawings so we could keep track of what we were doing. Rolf showed a lot of interest and
went to a few guys. Rolf showed the interest and came to us and said he wanted to be a designer of
boats and how do you do it. So we put him through the Westlawn School and he stayed with us. The
28’ was not his first boat, the 23’ was his first boat – the 23’ was a design change of an old boat – he did
that first. Then he worked on the 34’ maybe with another gentleman called Axel Schmidt. The 28’ was
his design. Now you’ve got to understand Rolf, Rolf is a racer – Rolf raced sailboats. It took two of us
to sit on him when he designed that boat – because we wanted a cruising boat, we didn’t want a racing
boat. Grampians are a cruising boat - accommodation, we wanted a good solid boaat, nice accommodation.
So he designs the boat and we said yes that looks good so we started to build the plug. One day I
walked out into the back shop, there’s this hull sitting upside down and it looked nice and fair so I said
let’s put the keel, on it.
put the keel on it – and I’d go out the following morning as I did every
morning to check the boats
and to see how we were doing. The keel was sitting up there and so I said ‘all right let’s see if we can get
the skeg on that holds the rudder. So the day after about lunchtime the skeg goes on and I’m looking at
this hull and looking at the rudder and looking at the skeg. Walked back through the glass shop, through
the assembly shop and went upstairs to Rolf’s office and said ‘Rolf, how fast?’ He says ‘What do you mean?’
‘Have you seen the bottom of the boat? It’s just about complete. Now you can tell me, how fast?’ He said
‘Well it could move!’ I said ‘It had better cruise as well.’ But he turned out a good boat and if it had come
at an earlier time I believe, and still do, that it could have saved Grampian Boats. That boat would have
out-sold and out-sailed a lot of boats that are on the water.
7.9 metre was supposed to save the 26’ line. It was a re-work of that hull.
It didn’t quite come up to
the scratch that we wanted it to. It had more accommodation, more headroom, but the old 26’ could still
sail circles round it. Doesn’t always work to change one.
Regarding numbers of sail boats built…
those figures are not totally accurate. The
26’ for sure because we changed the 1,000th boat
into the 7.9 metre – there’s no doubt because I was there. The other figures are estimated but they are
very close. Now there was one other little trick that a lot of boats builder use. In Grampian, as far as I
know, 3001 was the only number 1 boat. The boats always started at number 11. Who wants to buy
number 1? It’s a very hard sell. The reason we had the 30 number 1 is a gentleman up the street from
the factory made a deal to buy the boat dirt cheap, in fact he actually did a lot of the biding on the 30 for
the number one boat which he got for peanuts. What we got was the use of his field to store the winter
boats production. The next one we built was number 11.
wondering - is it possible if the drawings are restored - there might be a
drawing of a 23’
and could we get a copy for our particular boat size?
way I have acquired these drawings (referring to drawings on the boards) –
that’s what we
call a ‘sepia’ drawing. We were very concerned at the Grampian factory about pirates. The factory was
not a modern plant. It was built of very small workshops. One of the jobs that the foremen had, and I
myself, every night after the workers left we all waited around for about 30 minutes and it was our job
to walk through the factory, through every building looking for bombs. A bomb is fibreglass resin in a
tub left to dry. If you have ever watched one of these things go, a worker quite innocently is working
on fibreglass, he’s got a tub of resin, curing resin, and he’s laminating on a boat doing the job he should.
The bell goes and he cleans up. He leaves it sitting there and they literally burst into flame if left long
enough. That’s how come you loose a lot of fibreglass factories. You could smell them when they start
to go, so we used to sit around and wait for ten minutes and the six or seven of us used to walk through
the factory just to see if we could smell one, this is best we could do.
what we did was we decided that we had accumulated all these drawings and all
was sitting in my office. So we decided to copy all of our drawings. The foreman and myself, Don
Wilkinson – we took these drawings home with us. The working drawings were in the factory but
we each had a certain number of complete sets of drawings, rolled up, just being stored in a safe
place. And that’s how come I had these. I don’t know where are any other drawings got to. I’ll
contact Don and Stu and see if they are still around. It would be good to get them all. I still get a lot
of phone calls for information, for sail plan drawings, technical drawings and all that.
cost about $5.00 each to get these reprinted and that’s what I did –
somebody call’s me for a
sail plan, I’ll take the drawing out and charge for what it costs to reproduce it.
The sail plans are a good way of tracking a boat.
The sail makers have these on file and keep
them on file for information for a new suit of sales. I, myself, have been researching a 35’ boat and that’s
how we found out what it was. We were lucky enough to get three sails for this 35’ wooden racing boat.
So we took out the sails, sure enough we opened the sails up. The main sail - the rats had been at it and
had eaten the name off the sails off all of the sails – three sail makers. So we went on a whim – ‘phoned
two sail makers – one’s still in business, one said all his information was in a museum. We were able
to trace the boat and it’s design. The design is now in the museum. That is one way to trace a boat
down. If you have a sail number, if you can contact that sail maker, he’ll be able to give you the info.
Regarding the size of boats built by Grampian…
The smallest Grampian built is a 420 - Albacores which is a 15, there’s
a Grampian 17, like
the O’Day 17, Grampian 22s probably known as a Classic 22 - it was bought by Ontario Yachts and
it was turned into one of their fast boats – I forget the name of it. They used the 22 for that and then
we went to the 23, 26, 28, 30, 34, 34-2, the Triangles, which was prior to my time. The three (referring
to pictures on display) there is the Triangle Motor Cruiser cockpit. The 46 was the biggest boat that
Regarding the 26’ headroom…
Where was your boat built? - ‘Oakville – number 40 - remember?’ -
If you look inside the boat,
as you walk through in to the forward cabin, you’ve got a beautiful head knocker - inside that is an
oak beam. That oak beam should have been laid up into the actual deck structure. The liner in most
of the boats is a pure sanitary finish – easy to clean – that’s all it is. If you see or feel it moving there’s
Referring to a depression at the mast step on deck in a 28’…
The problem is, on the exterior of the boat, under the aluminum mast
step, there is a raised
section. In that raised section is probably two layers of plywood. There’s no balsa-core under there.
Anywhere in Grampian boats where something was normally bolted through the fibreglass, we never
put balsa-core under there unless things were added later and the way you can tell this if it was meant
to be there then the anti-skid was patterned around it. If there is something bolted through the anti-skid,
its been added after. So what probably is happening is if you have a bad depression in that spot, you
take the fitting out and you will find that the fibreglass has deteriorated. It’s a matter of taking it out and
building it back up again.
The 30 was built in the same way – where you had an empty hull, the
deck was joined to the hull.
The way we built the interiors – the interior was put in, the deck was trimmed, the joints were glassed
and riveted – when everything fit – the fibreglass was laid on the flange all the way round. The decks
were dropped on and then they were screw riveted. The toe-rail was added and through bolted. C & C,
Ontario Yachts all had a rubber seal between hull and the deck. One of our features is that the deck and
the hull are structurally one piece when we finished. The C & Cs., I’m not knocking them – it’s their way
of doing it, but their deck and hull joints are not structural.
Inaudible - Percy Ford-Smith asks about deck leaks…
What I would do would be to grind that area, grind the edge - that will
open up, working from the
outside, never fix leaks from the inside - always stop leaks from the outside. Trying to stop it from the
inside you will do more damage. Take that scupper, grind off the edge, be careful not to go through the
hull, because the hull is an L shape. You’ve go to expose where the hole is, then you can seal that up with
any epoxy filler. Then repair the gel coat. That’s what's happening - if you have a crack appear there –
that’s what’s happening and it’s (moisture) is on its way in.
Inaudible - about two piece hulls…
The 30 - we tried to reduce the amount of repair work to the hull.
We made the mould in two
pieces - the mould is split stem to stern the total length of the boat - there is no way we could get
round it. A lot of the boats that haven’t been repainted - on the transom you will see a four-inch line
in the fibreglass. When we made the first 30 mould we had a one piece mould – we all knew better –
so we made a one piece mould. We picked the worst shape out of any of our boats to make a one
piece mould. If you look at the 30’, beautiful bow, nice fat body, reverse transom which meant that
when you pulled the boat out of the mould, you had to lift the bow to slide the transom forwards
and get it through the gap. The first mould lasted for 29 boats. Number 30 came out and the company
scrapped it. We were gradually destroying the mould each time we pulled the hull out. We split the
mould, we made a new mould for number 30, put the hull in the new mould - a two piece mould –
split all the way round - there was only one way to make them. We got another 300 boats out of that
one mould. It’s much easier, a quick lesson in fibreglass, you mould the boat up – three days maximum
– next mould – one day to spray the paint, one day to lay the fibreglass skin, one day to join the two
moulds – and then the fourth day you can pull it out. On the fourth day you had to go in there with
wood wedges and water. Drive wedges around the hull, stick in a hose and fill it with water. The
water picks up the boat and pops it out.
46’ – beautiful boat, full keelboat – it was a different can of worms
all-together. To work that hull
the men were standing 16 feet in the air. The 46’ was an old style hull with a walkway around the outside.
When you stand on that walkway it was 14 feet down into the bottom of the keel. One time we were
working on a boat, we would open up the two halves of the mould, just like a walnut, spray it and lay
up the fibreglass. The sheer and the deck edge were laid full thickness, as you get to the waterline
it is tapered to nothing to just above the keel. Once that dries, pull the two halves together, join the
flash line, then lay up from the waterline – that’s how all your boats are built. In the keel, the 26’ was
almost 1 inch thick. The 46’ had 2 centreboards, which was one of the other strange things about the
46’. A full centreboard and you had a trim board in front of the rudder.
46’ is a Bill Tripp design – a totally different design, for the few that I
was involved with, we had
this hull mould set up in the shop and we put the two halves together - the two halves were laid with
glass. Both halves of the hull at the same time slid out upside down …What happens is when you let
your fiber glass cure at a slower rate – right now your boats are probably safe – they’re not curing
any longer – fiber glass never stops curing. After 4 days a new hull in the mould could be floated out
– if you left that hull in for a week or two weeks – it would shrink and release and it falls out – put the
two halves back into the mould, clamp them in place and join the hulls together.
imagine doing this – these guys working 14’ up – you can’t get in the
hull. We had one fellow fall
into the bottom of one of the hulls. We used rollers, leaning over the top and rolling down and he’s trying
to reach the keel, all nice wet fibreglass. The keel is only about 2 feet wide and he slipped down into the
bottom – not a very nice situation to get him out of. Things like that happened.
On the 30’ – what is in the transom? – Hans Nita
Balsa core - because of the shape – it’s convex – and to keep that
shape it has to be balsa.
Where your chain plates go through, there are plates of plywood – whether it is a split chain plate
or a single, there are three pieces of ply where the chain plates go through.
Grampians traveling far a field…
There is, I don’t know for sure, but I am told that one or two have
crossed the Atlantic. The 46’
that I built in N. Carolina we know went to the Bahamas regularly. The owner lived in Charlton, N. Carolina
and he had a crew on the boat, he had a pilot that flew to the boat. I got a call two or three years ago that
particular boat was up in Alberta. How it got up there or what it’s doing, I’ve no idea. Somebody may
have bought it in an auction down in the States and took it up there.
know of one G26 located in Cape Town, South Aftrica....Ed.)
I read about a 26’ that sailed around the world…
A: These are stories I can’t tell you about. There’s no doubt it’s strong enough to do it.
About a 46’ being built…
If you’re up the 400 Highway, between Barrie and Orillia on the left
hand side. You really don’t
see it coming down but you’ll see it going up. Just past a sign store – there are four or five boats in there
- big white hull sitting there - I don’t knnow whether it was purchased though us or was built after. I’ve
never talked to the owner – I’ve tried to but I can’t get him. If you want to see it, it’s being finished. I was
up there three weeks ago and it had a cover over it.
The 46’ by the way is probably – it’s a full keel boat – a
beautiful boat to sail. The
46’s were built
as kit boats. They were all kit boats. Grampian didn’t finish them. They were all shipped, hull and decks
– the 6 that I shipped – to New York and went as deck cargo to Holland. They were all finished in Holland
and they were sailed back. They were put into charter fleets - they are around – I’ve seen them - I saw one
down in Baltimore and one in New Jersey. The one I finished in N. Carolina is in Alberta; one I finished in
Toronto was lost off Cuba
How many 46’s are there?
A: About 7 or 8 – it was a re-work of one of the Triangle boats. That’s how it came about."
and Thanks to Gill Bibby by Eric Jones to which the Marina adds its thanks –
Gill Bibby stayed
on to talk to owners…
RETURN to GRAMPIAN HISTORY