The Latest


I started building the Riviera in October of 2015.  I have been writing a blog from the beginning documenting the progress.  The blog was getting very long very slow for me to update.  The first blog documents progress from October 1, 2015 to May 7, 2016.  This blog will cover the progress from May 7, 2016 to date.  Here is the link for the first blog covering up to May 7, 2016.

Riviera Build 10-1-15 Thru 5-7-16

November 23  – November 26 –  Removed the hull end supports and cleaned the basement.  Ready for the next phase.

November 20  – November 22 –  Time to lower the hull onto the dollies.  I used a small 4 ton bottle jack and blocks on the dollies to lower the hull.  I needed to lower the hull approximately 14″.  The jack only had 5″ of travel, so I used blocks on the dollies to support the hull in steps as it was lowered.  I would lower the bow end and then move the jack and lowered the transom end.  The lowering process took 3 steps to get the hull lowered to the dollies.  I estimated the hull weighed 1000 to 1100 LBS.  The whole flip and lowering went very smoothly and done with a little help of my wife in places where I needed an extra hand to be safe.

November 13  – November 20 –  The dollies are complete, it is time for the turn.  The hull on the pivot points is very easy to move.  I can move it with one hand easily.  I used a couple of clamps attached to the ceiling rafters with rope attached to keep the hull upright once turned.  3 HOURS – 555 Hours to Date

November 1  – November 12 –  Before turning the hull, I wanted to have the cradle made so I could turn the boat and then set it down on the new cradle dollies.  Once the hull was supported on the floor mounted stands, I was able to pull out the dolly used to build the hull upside down.

Removing the old cart. The hull is supported by the pivot frames at each end of the hull. Once supported on the pivot frames, I could rotate the hull easily by myself.

I used the old dolly to build to build the cradle dollies to support the hull once turned over.  One dolly will be positioned under the motor and the second dolly will be positioned at the bow.  I made the dollies at a height of 24″.  This should allow me to slide the boat off the dollies on to a trailer when i get one.  I estimated the bottom of the hull will be 36″ to 38″ off of the floor once turned over, so it will need to be lowered on the dollies once turned.   6 HOURS – 552 Hours to Date

Rear Dolly support angled support the hull. The front dolly supports pivot to match the hull. The pivot was needed to allow the supports to change angle as the hull is slid off onto a trailer. The supports were covered with old carpet after this picture was taken.

Another view of the dollies made out of 2″ x 6″ lumber from the old cart.

October 1  – October 30 –  Debated whether to paint the boot stripe or buy the boot tape.  Decided on the tape because the reviews were good and it seemed easier than painting the stripe.  Bought a 2″ wide tape.  Cleaned the hull per the directions and applied the tape.  It was easy to follow the bottom paint line already there.  The tape needs to be applied per the directions to minimize trapped air.  I did end up with a few bubbles under the tape.  Using an Exacto knife, I poked a small hole in the tape at the very edge of the bubble.  The small hole allowed the trapped air to escape.  The hole is so small, you cannot see it.  With the tape applied, it is time to turn over the boat.  I am ready.  It has been 2 years and almost and 530 hours to date working on it.  I am ready to start the fun stuff.  After researching different ways to turn it over, I decided to build a floor mounted type trunion support for each end of the hull.  It seemed to be safer than trying to suspend it from the ceiling and then trying to rotate the hull with straps.

Aft end support.  I had a few 2″ x 10″ pieces of framing lumber scraps that I used to build the frame at each end of the hull.  To ensure the frame would not move, I bolted the 2″ x 10″ bottom support through the propeller shaft strut mounting holes and the rudder flange mounting holes.  Basically built a cradle to support the hull from the bottom and top of the transom.  Used a 4″ x 4″ mounted vertically to support the trunnion.  I used a 5/8 – 11 X 8″ bolt through the 4″ x 4″ and the vertical hull support as the pivot.  The challenge was trying to figure out the center of gravity for the pivot.  I estimated it to be close to the center of the motor stringers.  The pivot point needs to be high enough for the hull to pivot 180 degrees.  I had the pivot point 42″ from the floor.  I used a hydraulic jack to raise the hull to the pivot point and then insert the bolt.  10 HOURS – 546 Hours to Date

Made a similar support for the bow end of the hull.

September 10  – September 30 –  Sanded the boat with 320 grit all over and applied 2 more coats of varnish sanding in between.  I found applying the varnish with a 4″ foam roller and then tipping with a foam brush worked best.  Finally looking good.  Wheeled it outside for a better view.  24 HOURS – 536 Hours to Date

The blue tape is protecting the bottom paint when varnishing.


September 1  – September 9 –  Back to varnishing and hope there are no issues.  I tried a small area that had the blotches previously in the varnish.  The area looked good once the varnish dried.  I thinned the first coat by approximately 10%.  I used a brushing liquid prior to varnishing.  As of September 9th, I have 3 coats of varnish.  I will need to apply a minimum of 6 coats.  I am sanding with 320 grit between coats.  3 more coats and the apply the boot stripe and it should be ready to turn over.  16 HOURS – 512 Hours to Date


August 1  – August 30 –  Time to start varnishing.  I decided on the Interlux Schooner Varnish.  I has used on the Zip I had built years ago and really like the way it goes on and the overall finish.  Due to the sanding, the sides of the boat have a frosty white appearance with some blotches.  I tested an area with brushing liquid, and the frosty areas disappear.  Proceeded to varnish both sides and the transom.  Right after the coat was applied, the finish, although wet, looked great.  However, as it continued to dry, I started getting rough area in the finish.  Some areas were smooth, but there were raised almost bubble areas.  I waited several days, but these areas were still tacky.  The varnish should have been dry in 12 hours.

After researching this issue, it is the result of Amine Blush.  While final sanding the hull, I had sanded through the most outer layer of epoxy in places exposing the Amine Blush between the coats.  The only fix was to remove all the varnish and wash the hull thoroughly.  Another 7+ hours of sanding.  I wheeled the boat outside and scrubbed the hull with a pad and rinsed it with the hose.  Let it sit outside to dry.  12 HOURS – 496 Hours to Date

July 1  – July 30 –  Spent a lot of time reading about bottom paints and decided on the Pettit Hydrocoat Antifouling Bottom Paint in the traditional red color.  A jig was made to locate the water line from the floor.  I marked the waterline based on the plans with small pieces of masking tape.  Then proceeded to apply the masking tape to mark the waterline.  Proceeded with painting the bottom using a small foam roller and a brush.  The paint goes on nicely and evenly.  My only complaint is that it has a matt finish.  The matt finish is due to the antifouling characteristics of the paint.  I applied 2 coats as per the directions.  Looks good.  After looking at the hull for so long, it is good to see part of it finished.

After looking at the plans and other pictures of the Riviera, I wasn’t sure the water line was correct towards the bow.  It was hard to accurately mark where the waterline should be because with the hull up side down, it is wider at the bottom.  The jig I made had to extend in 15 to 16 inches to locate the waterline at the bow.  I decided I needed a Laser Level to verify it was correct.

1 week later, the laser arrived from amazon.  I purchased Tacklife SC-L01 Classic 50 Feet Cross Line Laser Self-Leveling Horizontal and Vertical Line with Magnetic L Base for $46.00.  I set it and checked the waterline.  The transom end and the bow were correct, but the line in between was off by more than 1-1/2 inches.  I masked the waterline to the laser line and repainted the bottom.  Looks good.  16 HOURS – 484 Hours to Date

June 1  – June 30 –  Once the hull was stained, I proceeded to get ready for fiber glassing the bottom up to the water line.  I mixed and applied one coat of epoxy over the entire hull.  Once cured, I sanded it with 22o grit sandpaper.  I purchased 6oz per yard fiberglass.  I am using the West System epoxy with the slow cure hardener.  I cut and fit the fiber glass and secured it with masking tape.  Using a 6 inch long foam roller and plastic squeegees, the epoxy was worked into the fiber glass.  I continued until both sides of the bottom were complete.  I am glad, I only fiber glassed up to the water line because there were a couple of small areas where the fiber glass did not wet out completely.  I am not sure anybody would notice, but if you looked carefully you could barely see the fiber glass weave.

Applied 4 coats of epoxy.  Had to deal with Amine Blush between each of the coats.  I sanded the hull between each coat with 150 grit sandpaper.  The average sanding time was approximately 7 hours each time.  I am glad I really like sanding :-(.  I read that multiple coats of epoxy can be applied without sanding if the subsequent coats are applied before the prior coat fully cures.  I did try this for the last 2 coats.  It saved 7 hours of sanding.

Hull With Stain & Fiberglass

30 HOURS – 468 Hours to Date


March 26  – May 30 –  Proceeded to make a jig so I can use my router to mill a flat location to mount the rudder.  Once the area was milled, located the center and drilled the center hole and (4) mounting holes.  Decided to wait to mount the water pick up.

Started sanding the hull with a 5″ orbital sander.  Started using 100 Grit.  The key is to keep the sander moving. Once sanded with 100, moved to 150 grit, and then 220 grit.

Based on the feed back from the forum and the fact that I was going to fiberglass the bottom of the hull, I chose a water based stain.  I used the SamaN Mahogany stain.  It is very thick but has a deep color.  The stain was applied with a brush and then wiped after a few minutes.  I really liked the color, but as it is applied, you will overlap the previous area.  This is OK, but if the previous area has started to dry, you will end up with areas that are darker.  I ended up with vertical stripes of darker stained areas.  I waited until it completely dried and sanded the whole hull back to just the wood.  When applying the stain the second time, I did much smaller areas and made sure the overlap areas were still wet before wiping off.  The second application was successful.  18 HOURS – 438 HOURS TO DATE

February 28  – March 25 –  Ordered all the running gear from Glen-L (Strut, Shaft Log, Rudder Stuffing Box, water pick up, etc.).  It is now time to locate the strut and calculate where the propeller shaft goes through the hull.  My Riviera is 10% longer than the plans so I need to calculate the location of the strut and the hole thru the hull.  I started with the dimensions on plans for the rudder and propeller location (13.25 inches at the transom) and worked my way backwards.  I used Draftsight (free drafting software) to layout the angle of the propeller shaft (16 degrees based on the strut and shaft log purchased).  I then determined the strut location by the drop of the strut and then where the hole thru the hull should be.  I milled a flat surface on the center of the hull at the strut location.  I used the strut to mark the width at the location and then used a saw and chisel to make a flat area to mount the strut.  I used temporary screws to mount the strut.  Based on the feedback from the forum, I decided the hole through the hull should be lined to minimize water intrusion.  I decided to drill a 1-3/4 diameter hole and insert a 1-1/4 schedule 40 PVC pipe inside the hole. 24 HOURS including making the drilling fixtures.

I made a guide block fitted to the shape of the hull with the 1-3/4 diameter hole drilled at the 16 degree angle.  It was temporarily mounted to the hull.

I used a 1/2 diameter shaft and a bushing to mount a 1/2 drill chuck.  The drill chuck was set screwed to the shaft.  To drill the hole, I used a combination of a 1-3/4 Fostner bit, a 1-3/4 diameter hole saw, and a 1-1/2 diameter Fostner bit.  I started with the 1-3/4 Fostner bit which worked very well until I hit 1 of the stainless steel screws used to hold the hull laminations.  I wish I had removed them.  I then went the hole saw which was able to cut thru the screws.  I could only go so far with the hole saw until it would go further without removing the center of the hole.  I used the 1-1/2 Fostner bit to remove the hole center and then went back to the hole saw.  I repeated the process until I was thru the hole.  The hole ends up being approximately 8 inches long to get through the hull.  It took about 3 hours to drill the hole, but it came out perfect.


February 22  – February 28 –  More sanding.  Decided to roll the board outside for better lighting and more sanding.  Finally starting to look good!  16 Hours

It looks small in the picture, but it feels like have sanded the Queen Mary by hand many times. It is 23 feet long.

January 11  – February 22 – Started sanding.  On the starboard side, I used the belt sander with 80 grit.  Like the port side, it is a slow process.  The trick is to keep moving the belt sander continuously.  Between my work schedule and home projects, I was only able to work on the boat 2 – 3 hours per week.  Once sanded with the belt sander, I started sanding with a random orbital sander.  Started with 100 grit and worked my way up to 320 grit.  There were some small gaps in the planking that needed to be filled.  More sanding.  Once the sanding was complete on the starboard side, it was time to turn the boat around and complete sanding the rest of the bottom and sides.  It is a tight fit to turn the boat around in the basement.  Thankfully it is on wheels. 12 Hours

December 23 – January 10 – Started applying the veneer to the starboard side.  Followed the same process as for the port side.  Progress has been slow due busy work schedule.  The veneer planking process is tedious as it requires a form of spilling to match the veneer to the previous plank applied.   22 Hours

Planking on starboard side complete. Now my favorite part, sanding.

Another view.

Another view from back.

Another view.

6 Hours

340 Total Hours to Date

August 1 – August 30 – Work on the Riviera is still very sporadic.  Completed the veneer on the port side and started sanding.

16 Hours

334 Total Hours to Date

I sanded the side with a belt sander and an 80 grit belt.  This was done very carefully as the sander can cut quickly.  I would spend a few hours and sand a section and then do another section the next time.

Port Side sanded. I have grown to hate sanding.

Another view

Another view

Port Side veneer completed

Port side veneer complete

Another view.

Another view from the transom


June 13 – July 30 – Work on the Riviera through the summer has been very sporadic due to work and travel.  Started working on applying the veneer to the port side.  The process is the same as the bottom.  The veneer width is trimmed to 2-15/16 at a 5 degree angle to provide a corner relief when butting up to the next plank.  Applied the first plank ad the bow where the bottom veneer transitions from an overlap joint to a butt joint.  Because I am using a 3″ wide plank, it will follow a natural curve of the boat with little chance of changing the plank direction.  The natural curve of the boat has the planks rising towards the deck in the front or the back of the boat.  This causes the veneer to look very different than how the old Chris Craft boats looked.  To minimize this, I tried to fit the first plank so that the veneer planks look like they are longitudinal down the length of the boat.  This was done by hand fitting the starting edge to the bottom veneer.

20 Hours

318 Total Hours to Date

Plank temporarily stapled in place. The plank is straight, but due to the compound curve of the boat, it will not lay next to the one above. The plank will need to be cut to fit the curve.

Another view showing the curve

Another view

As noted, I started the veneer at the boat bottom.  The planks would naturally lay next to each other with minimal effort to get them to butt tightly against the one above.  That is not true as you get about 2/3 of the way down to the deck.  Because of the flair of the boat side towards the bow and the bend needed to form the plank to the bow, a straight plank cannot be pushed against the one above.  See the picture above showing the natural curve of the plank compared to the once above.  The plank shown was temporarily stapled in place.  To solve this, I would use a modified spiling process.  The plank is temporarily stapled in place and marked every 6″ down the length.  Use a compass as a divider, I set the compass points to be the same width at the end of the plank at the widest point.  Then at each 6″ measurement, I would mark the plank with the compass set at width for the end of the plank.  The result is a curve on the temporarily mount plank.  The temporary plank was then removed and cut on the ban saw.  A little hand sanding with a block and 80 grit sand paper, and the plank was fit tightly with the one above.  This process was only needed for the last 3 planks to the deck line.

Plank laid out with marks every 6″ to cut a curve in the plank to fit the one above.

Another view

June 3 – June 12 – Completed applying the veneer to the starboard side.  Started sanding the starboard side.  Again, lots of sanding.  6 – 7 hours total to sand the starboard side bottom.  I am using a belt sander with an 80 grit belt.  On both side of the bottom, a small hammer was used to tap on the veneer to locate any areas that were not in solid contact with plywood underneath.  The port side was good, but I did find two area towards the bow on the starboard side.  No matter how careful you are with stapling the veneer, you can end up with a small void.  The void occurred where there is compound bend.  On the port side I used a lot more epoxy.  I applied a heavy coat to the hull and also to the veneer to be applied.  It was messy, but I didn’t have any voids.  On the starboard side, I tried to use a little less epoxy although I still applied it to the hull and the veneer.  I think this contributed to the voids.  To solve this, I drilled a 1/4 diameter hole through the veneer and forced a mixture of epoxy and wood flour into the hole.  This seemed to work well.  After the epoxy hardened, there were still a very small area that did not have the solid sounding tap, so another hole was drilled and the void filled.  Fortunately, this is all below the water line and will be covered by paint.

16 Hours

298 Total Hours to Date


Too bad it is going to be painted.


Looking Good!!


Port side bottom sanded


Starboard side bottom rough sanded – 6 – 7 hours of sanding


Starboard side veneer at the bow


Starboard side with all the veneer applied to the bottom.


May 30 – June 2 – Started applying the veneer to the starboard side.  Since I am working during the week, I only have 1 – 1-/2 hours per night.  It takes 1-1/2 hours to apply one row of veneer from transom to stem.  I select the 3″ wide veneer planks to use and then run them through the table saw to trim them at 2-15/16.  This ensures they will be exactly the same width in a row.  When trimming the width, I have the table saw set at a 10 degree angle.  The angle provides relief when laying the plank against the previous plank. The planks lay easily against each until you get to the bow.  Due to the compound curvature of the hull, the plank does lay naturally against the previous plank.  If it is away from the previous plank by 1/8 to 3/16, it can be pushed into place and stapled. At planks #4, 5, & 6, the gap was close to 3/8 of an inch.  That is too much to try and bend a 3″ wide plank.  For these planks, I used a hand plane and sanding block to shape the plank to the previously laid plank.  It is a bit time consuming as you take some off and test fit and then repeat the process.  Each time you test fit, you are marking the contact points to sand and plane to reduce the gap.  6 Hours


The relief allows the hull exterior edge to meet for a tight seam.


Starboard Side veneer stapled in place


Another Starboard Side view.


View from the transom end

May 23 – May 27 – Started sanding the port side.  Lots of sanding.  7 – 8 hours total to sand the port side bottom.  I am using a belt sander with an 80 grit belt.  The hull looks great once the epoxy and marks are sanded out.  Even though I put cardboard under the Raptor staples, they still dent the veneer under the staple.  I have lowered the air pressure to the staple gun, but it still leaves a significant mark.  The staple bridge sands off quickly, but it takes quite a bit of sanding to get the dent out.  I am going to try plastic shipping strapping.  It is hard so hopefully it won’t bend to allow the staple to dent the wood, but it is soft enough to drive a staple through it.

Tried some of the plastic strapping and staples.  It works great.  I used the yellow plastic strapping available from Amazon.  A 60 foot roll is approximately $8.


Port side rough sanded using 80 Grit. Will sand with 120 and then 220.


May 14 – May 20 – Started applying the veneer to the Port side of bottom.  Since the bottom will be painted, I separated the previously cut veneer planks for the bottom and for the sides.  The strip with less grain figure will be used for the bottom.  The more figured planks would be used for the sides.  As noted previously, the planks are approximately 3″ wide by approximately 9 feet long.  The mahogany I purchased to cut the planks was 18 feet long.  18 feet long was too hard to work with by myself, so they were cut in half.

I started at the keel center line and applied the first plank beginning at the transom end.  Since the boat has a “V” bottom, I cut the first plank width to 2 15/16 with the saw set at a 10 degree angle.  The next plank width was trimmed to width at a 15 degree angle.  The plank at the bow was trimmed to width at a 20 degree angle.  The angled edge will be positioned on the boat center line to allow the plank on the other side of the boat center line to butt up to the plank without any gap (that is the plan anyway).  The veneer plank was position on the boat center line and epoxied and then stapled in place.  When applying epoxy, the boat bottom and the veneer are coated with epoxy before being positioned and stapled in place.  I am using the Raptor staples and gun purchased from Glen-L.  The first row of planks from transom to bow was applied with the Raptor staples directly into the plank.  Once the epoxy cured the next night, I sanded the first plank to see how it will look.


Bow Area Partially Sanded

The pneumatic staple gun put the plastic staples in with such force, it embeds the staple bridge in the wood.  It could be sanded out, but will take more sanding than would be needed otherwise.  To minimize this, I tried reducing the pneumatic gun pressure which did help, but did not eliminate the issue.  If the air pressure was too low, the staples would not be inserted completely.

Decided to use a thin cardboard piece under the staple and just staple through it.  After some testing, this worked very well.  It minimized the damage to the wood.  The plastic staple and cardboard was easy to sand off.  I used a belt sander and 80 grit for the test.

To veneer the bottom, I would apply a whole row at a time.  Each row was trimmed to width on the table saw at a 10 degree angle.  The angle provides a relief on the inside edge where it butts up to the previous plank.  The first 2 rows applied went on easily and laid next to each other with no gaps.  I used a bar clamp to make sure the plank was seated against the previous one and then stapled it in place after the epoxy was applied.  As I fitted the next planks toward the bow, they would not lay next to the previously applied plank without leaving a gap.  This is due to the plank being nearly 3 inches wide and the compound curves of the boat hull.  Using an electric hand planer, I would plane the mating edge to get a tight fit with the previous planks.  In most cases, I removed an 1/8 inch or less to get a good fit.  A little time consuming because I had the planer set to take off 1/64 each pass.  Too hard to put back if you take too much :-).

Completed the planking on the port side bottom.  Will sand it next before starting the starboard side.

Lots of weekend work and other projects outside that have slowed progress on the boat.  Have only been able to work during the week after work averaging 4 – 5 hours per week.


Port side planking complete. Lots of little paper Band-Aids


Another View


Another View From the Front

7 Hours

May 7 – May 13 – Completed applying the veneer on the transom.  Then sanded the transom to see what it will look like.  To really bring out the wood highlights, the wood will need to be sanded down to 400 grit.  It looks good! Transom veneer and sanding.   Completed applying the veneer on the transom.  Then sanded the transom to see what it will look like. 5 Hours.


Transom veneer applied and partially sanded. Started the bottom veneer when this picture was taken. A little epoxy running down.

April 19 – May 7 – Lots of weekend work and other projects outside that have slowed progress on the boat.  Have only been able to work during the week after work averaging 4 – 5 hours per week.  Finished cutting the planks.  Each plank was cut on the table saw and then run through a drum sander to have a finished thickness of .170.  I ended up with 160 planks that average 8 feet long.  Each vertical stack of planks has approximately 8 – 9 planks in each.  Ready to start applying the planking.


Planks cut and sorted by grain and wood high lights. Figured ribbon cut will be used for the sides. Less figured wood will be used for the bottom since it will be painted.

Decided to start with planking the transom.  Had some very figured mahogany with very pronounced light stripes.  Laid these planks out for color and grain.  This mahogany is extremely dense and hard (like hard maple).  Only the figured mahogany was this hard.  It was even hard cutting the figured mahogany on the table saw.  I tested applying it with staples.  I purchased the Raptor staples and stapler sold at Glen-L.  The staples worked great for the regular Philippine mahogany, but would not reliably go through this wood enough to hold.  I am doing a separate blog comparing metal staples to the Raptor plastic staples.  I recommend the Raptor staples (see the side by side comparison in the blog).  Even my mechanical stapler using T50 staples would not go through this wood.  I purchased a pneumatic stapler and T50 x 9/16 staples.  AT 90 PSI, I could get the staples through the wood.  To help with removal, I cut some scrap 1/8 plywood into 1” squares.  I would staple through the plywood into the planking to secure it while the epoxy cured.  This worked very well and the staples were easy to remove.


Transom Mahogany ready to apply. I hope it looks good when applied and finished. It is extremely hard and heavy and was very difficult to cut.

Started applying the planking. I used 1" square x 1/8 thick plywood to staple through and hold the planks to the transom. Using the plywood makes the staples easy to remove.

Started applying the planking. I used 1″ square x 1/8 thick plywood to staple through and hold the planks to the transom. Using the plywood makes the staples easy to remove.

13 Hours

264 Total Hours Spent To Date



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