Artisan Wood Boat Restoration
Meeting great people with a variety of passions and interests is always a highlight of my day. Figuring out how to customize building solutions to best support those interests is what inspires me, and when it includes challenges such as climate-control it’s especially interesting!
Dave Lobb and Greg “Rudy” Rudloff, business partners of North West Classic Boats, are elite master craftsmen matched only by a few in the modern wooden boat construction world. Together they have over 77 years of experience dedicated to the repair and restoration of wooden boats.
North West Classic Boats
Restoration is perhaps an understatement. In the world of mahogany speedboat restoration there are no shortcuts. In fact each step in the entire process is highly specialized starting with the raw materials.
Securing the raw materials means acquiring the necessary African Mahogany wood. Each African Mahogany Tree (if you can find one) costs somewhere between $80,000-$90,000! The tree is approx 6 1/2 feet in diameter, 40 feet tall, and yields 12,000 board feet of material. As a result inventory of the material is done years / decades in advance.
The restoration of a boat can take anywhere from 300 to 3000 man hours depending on the restoration needed and the desired outcome. According to Dave, original boat makers like Riva from Italy designed the boats to last only 9 to 12 years. When taking on each project Dave & Rudy study each boat to identify the “flaws” so they can rebuild the boat with better design while keeping the original form & finish.
At North West Classic Boats, each wooden part of the boat and frame is made in-house, right here in Auburn. In fact, they are the only company in the United States that can do the mahogany hull sides in 4 mil planks like the original boats were made. Other companies use a mahogany plywood like sheet that has to be stretched which is weaker than using the plank method.
Riva’s have become their specialty. I have learned that a fully restored Riva will sell for starting at $165,000 and up to $500,000!
Housing the North West Classic Boat operations are 3 buildings; two which are pre-engineered steel. The steel structures are used for storage and production. Both structures have been customized to meet the specific requirements for boat restoration.
For example, it is critical that the air in the production building be climate-controlled to a precise degree. The wood must remain dry at all costs during the rebuild process. As a result the 4,000 square foot building is insulated, vented, and the concrete floor treated with radiant heating. This keeps the building at the required ambient temperature.
If you would like more information on Northwest Classic Boats and the process of classic wood boat restoration go to: northwestclassicboats.com