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Memories of Skilled and Creative Men

June 11, 2021 in Uncategorized


The glossy varnish finish of a wooden boat is the final statement of perfection and a lot of hard work. Beneath that reflection, many trades participated in the process of restoration or construction. The wood part is fairly straight-forward to understand. The hull and the deck are easy to see and imagine the parts involved. Even the glistening hardware is exposed to inspection.

But what about the moving parts, brackets and fastenings? For most of us, the engine is a mysterious beast that produces power on command, with a reliability we hope and expect will produce those pleasing evening cruises. Depending on the age, rarity and complexity of the engine, these moving parts may require considerable ingenuity to replace or re-manufacture.

The task of restoring a vintage engine involves understanding the stresses, the materials and the history of their construction and some of the simplest parts can require mastering rarer machining skills. Roy Davies was one such technician. Born in 1938, Roy Davies set up his own machine shop, Bracebridge Machine in 1985. His skills with metal and knowledge of steam engines were critical in the operation of the RMS Segwun and the restoration of the Wanda III, as well as the restoration of rare engines in the wooden boats of Muskoka. Good friend, Paul Gockel, who operates his own steam boat, was especially inspired by Roy’s talents and has taken up aspects of the trade to restore parts for Disappearing Propeller engines, his steamboat and 1912 REO.

By Tim Du Vernet

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