Posts Tagged ‘boat restoration’


Friday, May 28th, 2010

Paraphrasing Mies; it’s the attention to the details that give a project, whether architecture, or a classic boat restoration, that special sense of perfection. You don’t need to analyze each detail in itself, but instinctively you know it is there, when something looks so completely and perfectly beautiful, accomplished and together; that sense of “just right”, perfection is in the details.

Many will conclude (and I know that some do already) that we have gone a bit overboard with our attention to detail on the restoration of Perlita Too. From the exceptional quality of the woodworking by Chris at Sea Sonic Boats, to the many other painstakingly researched and recreated components, and our obsessional attention to provenance, authenticity and originality. This can be challenging, when it is repeatedly proven that we can’t possibly be certain of some detail; because despite her position as the first series-built Tritone, Perlita remains very much a one-off and prototype for the Tritone series. This fact is yet another good reason why we are doing the over-the-top restoration we set out to do. Rarity has value, and Perlita is very rare.

Week after week Chris continues his great work: saving the original where he can, and seamlessly integrating the new when necessary…

Old Frames
new pieces painstakingly integrated into the original structure

nu dex
nearly 220 square feet of new decking

shame to paint
hand-riveting and woodworking so fine that it seems a shame to paint it all gray……

new tank
recreating a new tank platform for the new tanks

trial-fitting the platform & one tank

We’ve called on resources from around the world to help us with significant issues, and the smaller ones too.

High up there of course is the “Riva Guru”, Alan Weinstein in Florida; featured recently in Power & Motor yacht magazine, which calls Alan one of the most talented Riva restoration specialists in the world today, with a resume that features dozens of born-again Rivas.

Alan Weinstein
Alan in his element: roadtesting a stunningly restored AQ for his client

Historian and author Piero Gibellini, creator of the voluminous series of books on Carlo Riva and the yard, has patiently answered question after nit picking question, and consulted in person with Mr.Riva on particularly thorny issues.

#7 books on table
the absolutely indispensable research tools – the Riva series by Piero  Gibellini

One such nearly impossible to resolve issue was the question of the striped Saran upholstery, pictured only in a single period black & white image of Perlita on her launching day. It’s taken us over 2 years of scanning and magnifying the image, analyzing every pixel, to come up with something approved by all. Though it appears as two stripes, one dark & one light; in actual fact when the image was re-scanned at extreme resolution and viewed very close-up, it is composed of three similarly sized and colored stripes, which when viewed from a small distance away give the impression of two stripes, which a few will remember. Our very special “Molto Grazie” to Mariella Gibellini for all your patient and frequent emails, getting Piero to answer our most trivial questions, and sending the answers back to us so promptly.

who thought finding upholstery could be such an issue? OK, we’ll just make some…

The dark green vinyl or Vipla, was much easier to solve, as we were most fortunate to find a small piece of the original material behind a dashboard overlay last summer, and Doug at SMS Auto Fabrics in Oregon was able to replicate the correct dark green color and the graining of the original.

New Vinyl
pretty good match for 57 years later….very helpful when you can find a piece of the old…..

Richard at Queen City Plating in Seattle will be completing the chrome plating this summer, including plating the heads of the thousands of screws, which attach the eye candy hardware he chromed for us at the end of last year. Details again……

so, who’s up for buffing and wiring 1,000 tiny screws this week?

Bill and Jeannie at Southern Crown Boatworksin Georgia have been invaluable in sourcing the zillions of high quality fasteners for our restoration. It’s quite frustrating doing a restoration of something from an earlier time, when the needed components are either unavailable, or substandard, if they can be found at all.

Sometimes you just have to recreate components, as in the case of the missing gas tanks. Chris and Rick at Extreme Metal & Paint in Washington simply made some new ones for us (after I used up many sheets of plywood mocking up shapes until we had the correct size and proportions). The finished tanks are perfect replicas of original period Riva tanks, with great metal-working; it’s a shame we had to paint them, as in original!

Tank Straps
hand-formed & hand riveted, just like 1953……

It’s amazing when I think of all those who have offered their help; some from way outside the speedboat restoration business. Stefano Maggi, Managing Partner at ‘ We Are Social‘, a “conversation agency”, which specializes in research, social engagement and social media in Italy. Stefano was quick to translate Italian into English when we needed answers about an old electrical schematic instantly; and he made calls for us in Italy.

Stefano Maggi, our own ‘Italian Connection’

@CASUDI connected with @Stefanomaggi, a perfect stranger, on twitter…..who knew that “on-line social networking” would come to the rescue of a 50 year old boat! Stefano’s blog is Digital Ingredients

Butch and Darren at Dennison International are completing the most perfect steering wheel restoration, and will be “fettling” the boat when it arrives at his facility in August. Butch has mentored us in 1950’s Italian fabrication procedures, and the path we have taken with Perlita is “authentic” and original. Butch knows the rules; as a multi-time “Best in Show” winner of Pebble Beach and Villa d’ Este. Doesn’t get any better than that. Two more cars from his shop are going to Pebble Beach this year, and yet he always has time for Perlita-related discussions!  Thank you, Butch!

James and Butch conversing
Butch explains to James how they did it; just like in Italy 50 years ago…..and why it cost so much!

A dream of over 20 years will become a reality in a little over 90 days…. Why did I have this dream in the first place? Likely it was because I instinctively knew, when I first spotted Perlita in her makeshift container shelter in the Sacramento Delta, covered with dust and bird-droppings, that she was a very special, one of a kind lady.  Who knew I would be blessed with 2 very special, one of a kind ladies, in my life? Thank you to my business partner & partner in life; CASUDI.

CASUDI in Italy
CASUDI in her element – a glossy mahogany Riva flying across Lago Iseo

It was certainly ‘love at first sight’……and I do know that it took a life-threatening illness in 2007 to tell me that I’d better get Perlita ready for the grand ball,  before I ran out of time….

Comments?  The Perlita community loves comments! or email me directly….