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Nordhaus Boat Works

Every Tuesday night throughout the year, a group of 4LIYC ice boaters get together at Renegader Jim Nordhaus' shop for the purpose of working on ice boats. Geoff Sobering is usually there to document the activity.

November 28, 2012

Ready to Roll

"Wayne, Jim, and Geoff worked on getting Wayne's DN ready to go up to Minnesota with Jim for the Great Western Challenge (Thanks for the loan Wayne!). Donny Anderson was working on the "Florida Renegade" and Don Sanford made another trophy while helping out wherever he could. Scott Earnest stopped by to shorten his forestay with the help of Don's swager and to work on finishing up his new "Spaight Street" DN."

November 13, 2012, 2012

The Heat Is On

There was quite a crowd at the Boatwerks tonight. Most of the activity was on Donny Anderson's "Florida Renegade". The primary task was stripping the paint off the deck. Donny, Jim, Corey, George Friou, and Paul McMillan tore into it with enough heat guns to pop some breakers in the shop. By the end of the evening the deck was stripped and had a new coat of glue.

Wayne Schmiedlin is loaning his DN to Jim for the Western Challenge. Wayne's plank has always been too stiff, so tonight we planed off some thickness to get in to bend more reasonably. Don Sanford and Geoff Sobering helped Wayne with the kerfing, planning, and sanding.

Early in the evening Don spent some quality time at the sander sharpening his runners. As usual, just as we were leaving the DN plank group was arriving. Mike Barnett got there first and got down to sanding his plank. Kyle Metzloff arrived just as the "first shift" crew were heading out.

November 6, 2012, 2012

The Florida Renegade

Jim and Don look over the Florida Renegade
Donny Anderson brought his "Florida Renegade" to the shop for an evaluation. 10+ years of storage had taken some toll on the deck. There were also some unusual details on the boat, for example, a steel and aluminum rub-rail that ran around the boat at the top of the sideboard. Donny's son Corey was given the job of prying and pulling that off. Later in the evening we discovered some loose paint forward of the mast-step. Peeling some of it off reveled many layers of paint (almost 1/32" worth!). Quickly a plan evolved to strip the paint from the entire deck; that will certainly remove some of the hull's excess weight.

Wayne Schmiedlin continued with his Renegade's springboard. It is now solidly attached to the hull, and Wayne spent most of the evening working on the steering runner pivot hardware. By the end of the evening all the parts that mount on the front of the springboard were ready to be attached. Eric Kerlow continued getting his Renegade ready for the ice. He got some advice on tires and bearings for his new trailer.

Jim Nordhaus split his time between helping Donny, Corey, Wayne, and Eric and working on his DN. Earlier he had cut and fit all the pieces of wood and foam for the cockpit floor. Wayne brought in a extra knee that he built for his DN many years ago. It fit perfectly in Jim's hull. All that needs to be done is fitting the cockpit floor plywood and gluing the whole mess up.

October 30, 2012

All Good

Jim Gluek and Mark Isabel brought their Renegade over to the shop for an evaluation. After peering around and weighing some components, Jim pronounced it a good boat. Now all they need is to get some paint over the primer!

Eric continued to work on the lengthened steering pedals in his green Renegade, and Wayne Schmiedlin was sanding his newly mounted springboard. Both are looking to get the boats ready for the ice this season.

Donny Anderson stopped by, and he'll be bringing the "Florida Renegade" in for a look-over next week.

Andy Hopkins' Renegade plank is completely glued and off the jig (just in time for the "CNC DN Plank" group to use it for gluing up their 10 planks!). They were in the shop later in the evening getting ready to glue up one more plank.

October 16, 2012

Planks and Other Stuff

This evening's main project was more work on Andy Hopkins' new Renegade plank. In the past couple of weeks, the bottom layers have been laminated on the form and the inner layer has been tapered. Tonight the major project was finishing the taper and fitting all the cross-pieces. Andy, Jim Nordhaus, Wayne Schmeidlin, Eric Kerlow, and Geoff Sobering all helped and a the end of the evening the cross-pieces were securely clamped in place while the epoxy cured. Don Sanford was working on (yet another) trophy base and generally helping out wherever he was needed. Bob Rast stopped by early in the evening to meet Peter Fauerbach and drop off a new bright-red "Twizzler" mast for Maggie's DN. Bob also brought over Geoff's new custom runner-sharpener.

October 2, 2012

More...Ready for the Ice

Last week Kyle Metzloff came in to finish up the railroad tie sized blocks of ash they had glued up over the weekend to cut into DN plank skins.

Jori finished sanding her new softer plank and attached all the hardware. This week we aligned the chocks and tightened them down (thanks to Daniel Hearn for the aligner loan!).

Andy Hopkins, Jim Nordhaus, and Eric Kerlow stated gluing Andy's new plank. The bottom two layers are on the jig, waiting for the ladder to go on next. Eric also installed his new, longer, steering pedals in his Renegade.

September 11, 2012

Ready for the Ice

Via Geoff Sobering:
Jim Nordhaus, Wayne Schmeidlin, Eric Kerlow, Jori Lenon, Geoff Sobering, and Don Sanford worked all evening on various projects. Jori's DN plank had the edges rounded-over and was sanded before Jori applied the final coat of epoxy.

Jim, Wayne, Eric, and Geoff edge-glued another Renegade-plank board. Wayne worked on the plank-attachment hardware for his Renegade. Eric Kerlow added a few inches to his Renegade pedals. Jerry Simon stopped by to see how things were going.

Later in the evening Kyle Metzlof stopped by to work on the weed-cutter for the weekend's Blokart racing at Raco in the UP. Jim reports that his Renegade is "on the trailer and ready for the ice!".

August 21, 2012

Beautiful Night at the Boatwerks

Via Jori Lenon:

We had perfect, dry weather for comfortably working on various projects tonight at the Nordhaus Boatwerks. I brought Glass Nickel pizza for the gang, and then Geoff and I began routing my plank based on our June calculations. Taking turns routing and sanding to make short work of it, we took 1/32 inch off the top of the plank, which, to my surprise, softened it up quite a bit. (I know it looks like I'm holding the router backwards, but I could see better with the wider opening facing me.) This is not taking quite as long as it did to built an entire DN a few years ago...hmm... maybe there's more going on over at the Spaight Street Syndicate. (Challenging you guys for a report over there, Daniel!) We're getting excited as summer is finally starting to draw to a close... and thinking ice!

June 19, 2012

Back to the Boatwerks

Via Jori Lenon:
The Nordhaus Boatwerks crew took a break from blokarting Tuesday night to get back to the shop.

Jim, Geoff and Wayne discuss what to do about the crack running down the side of Wayne's renegade.

They decide that routing and filling with glue will do the trick, since the crack is shallow and underlain by more layers of wood.

Geoff adds weights to Jori's plank

Geoff and Jori do fancy deflection calculations so Geoff can plot how much bend Jori's plank needs. (See DN American Forum: Checking Plank Stiffness, under Building, Maintaining, Repairing.)

June 21, 2011

Boatwerks: Let's Build a Kayak Edition

Dan Nordhaus sent some photos this week. Here, Geoff and Jim are building a kayak for Jim's grandson, Cole.

"How many iceboaters does it take to hang a Blokart on the wall?"

June 21, 2011

Boatwerks - Summer Solstice Edition

Jim and Dan made steady progress on the Mead Tuesday. Dan concentrated on sanding the deck smooth, while Jim worked on shaping the cockpit opening.

Dinner was another collaborative event. Wayne Schmiedlin brought some deliciousTurkey and gravy from LeRoy Meats in Horicon. Jim supplied rolls and salad fixings. The highlight of the meal was (again!) desert courtesy of Dan's wife Delynn. This week is was banana cupcakes. Even the usually gastronomically moderate Wayne couldn't resist and had two of them!

One ancillary project for the evening was coming up with a place to store Jim and Geoff's blokart. Jim thought hanging it on the wall would get it out of the way, but still be easy to get. A quick visit to the junk blocks box, a quick trip up a ladder, and it was done!

June 14, 2011

Boatwerks - Cake and Cookies Edition

The wind was up this evening so Kyle Metzloff, Commodore Greg McComick, Wayne Schmiedlin, and Geoff Sobering played hookey from the shop and took their blokarts to the empty parking lot off Verona Road and ripped around until about 7:00. Jim and Dan (aka "Team Nordhaus") were already at work on the Mead. Don Sanford had his skiff backed up to the shop and was under the seats installing some piece of electronics. Luckly there was plenty of food left over. Wayne contributed some pasta, Don brought chicken, there was a super-yummy cake from someone, and a bag of great chocolate-chip cookies from Dan's wife Delynn (Thanks Delynn!). Hmmmm....

The main-event was more work on the Mead's deck. There was a lot of filler going on and being sanded off. The cockpit coaming was laminated to the final thickness, too.

Wayne and Geoff spent some time checking the fit of one springboard on Wayne's Renegade and Greg McCormick consulted with Jim about prepping his Renegade for a new coat of paint later this summer.

June 7, 2011

Deck on the Mead Night with Chicken Dinner

"After another of Jim's great chicken dinners the shop set to work. First on the agenda was replacing a Blokart tire with a new one from a local supplier Wayne found (at half the price of official blokart tires!). Then it was on to the evening's 'main event': putting the deck on the Mead. Jim, Dan, and Geoff trimmed the plywood, and then scarfed the ends while Wayne worked on his Renegade springboard up in the mezzanine. Then everybody helped with the gluing process. Of course, Jim is a fan of the WEST-System 205 fast hardener which made working with the mixed epoxy in the 80+ Farhenheit shop quite exciting... But everything went OK, and with three screw-guns running the deck was quickly clamped down with a few hundred temporary screws ('you can never have enough clamps'). "

May 17, 2011

Blokart Edition

You can't seem to turn around these days without running into a Blokart...

Jim still had Donny's kart from the weekend and set it up at the shop. The parking lot is a bit of a tight squeeze and the wind was blowing straight along the building, but everybody had to take a spin. After another outstanding grilled chicken (thanks to chef Jim!), we set to work.

There were three Nordhaus brothers in the shop tonight. They set out to finish the Meade's steering and the stay-adjusters (last week, Mike Mullarky dropped by some stainless tubing he had ovalized).

George Friou and I worked on Jim's DN. We got the full-size plans out and marked almost all the final dimensions. Then we trimmed the nose and tail blocks to length. Finally we cut and fit the final bulkhead into place.

May 10, 2011

Tuesday Night in the Shop: Chocolate Cake Edition

George Friou, Don Sanford, Wayne Schmiedlin and I were the Boatwerkers tonight; Jim was off "on a date".

Wayne started the evening off by removing the storage boxes from Jim's trailer and we hoisted them up to the mezzanine for summer storage. Don Sanford got stuck in terrible beltline traffic but persevered and arrived with some great chicken for the grill. Wayne contributed some spaghetti and meatballs along with a yummy chocolate cake for desert. With dinner out of the way we got down to work.

Don and Wayne worked on upgrading the tire on the trailer tongue of Don's dory. George and I brought Jim's DN hull down to the jig so we could finish sanding the nose and stern blocks, and the mast-step so they were all level with the sideboards. Next week we'll hopefully be gluing the bottom on.

May 3, 2011

Tuesday Night in the Shop: Fruit Pie Edition

Dan and Jim work on the Meade's steering.
"Jim's brother Dan has been working on the Meade restoration for the last few weeks. It turns out Jim restored the boat many years ago and sold it to Dan who sailed it for a number of years.

Previously, they have removed the deck, drilled some lightening holes in bulkheads, put on a new deck aft of the cockpit, and installed new adjustable steering pedals. Tonight the task was finishing up the hand-steering.

While Jim and Dan were working downstairs on the skeeter, Wayne Schmiedlin was working on shaping one of his Renegade springboards. George Friou has been stopping by many evenings over the winter. Today he belt-sanded the excess height off the nose and stern blocks on Jim's DN, along with the mast-step. Hopefully next week we'll be able to glue the bottom on the DN.

Wayne brought a great fruit pie from his wife, Kathy. Mmmmmm..."

The Meade's new steering will be smooth as a Renegade.

Always fun at the shop!

Wayne works on one of his Renegade springboards (yes, plural!)

Progress on Jim's DN.

"Don't worry, when we done it'll be as good as new, trust me.."

"Wayne Schmiedlin , Don Sanford, Jim, and I worked on various projects at the Boatwerks tonight. Don started cutting up an old Nite mast to make pencil holders for the banquet raffle . Wayne finished his mast-bag so the sewing machine can go back to Joye and Jerry Ebert. We also took all the misc. boat pieces off the trailers "out back" and stored them in the mezzanine. This allowed us to move "The Doubler" outside and take the rehab. project Skeeter off the rack and into the middle of the shop. Jim started working on the deck. Wayne and I helped out ripping the deck off and opening up the interior so it can dry out and give access for the various repairs. Most of the interior looked good and there was only one mouse nest!"

Sometimes the power tools just don't do the job...

Don Sanford makes some Nite-mast pencil-holders for the banquet raffle.

Wayne finishing up his mast bag.

Jim starts the renovations on the skeeter.

More "renovation".

March 23, 2011

The Boatwerks Get Busy

Vis Geoff Sobering: "Wayne Schmiedlin and Jim got the temporary storage rack mostly setup before dinner. Afterwards, George Friou and Jeff Russell helped finish. Then the boats were brought 'in from the cold' and put on the rack. The last step was bringing "The Doubler" in on the trailer for short-term storage. The shop is pretty full and there should be no shortage of projects over the summer. Jeff Russell stopped by to get some pointers about DN construction since he's planning to build a boat to keep on the ice behind his house for fun sailing. He was happy to see the internal structure of Jim's DN hull as we were doing the final prep before gluing the bottom skin on.

Jim's old springboard

Jim's new springboard, built in 24 hours.

Jim's DN gets back on track. Jeff Russell noted the dust and asked if it had been in storage since fall. Jim and smiled and said, "Yes, since the fall..." - but what year...?

January 11, 2011

It was a busy evening in the Boatwerks. Jim, his brother, and some friends worked on attaching hardware to the two-seater on the mezzanine.

Peter Fauerbach stopped by to work on his boom after seeing how much it was bending in one of the photos from last weekend. [See left] He also helped me plane off quite a bit of thickness from the boards that will go into my new DN plank.

Mike Mullarkey stopped by to visit and helped me straighten the edge on one of the newly planed Ash boards. Don

Sanford got some coaching on runner shaping and sharpening from Jim and (finally!) got the right crown, good sharpness, and a straight edge on his runners - just in time for the snow...

There was quite a bit of clean up for tomorrow's meeting, but not so much that people will be shocked... ;-)

January 5, 2011

This Tuesday, the shop was abuzz with Geoff Sobering repairing his DN, Don Sanford adjusting his plank, Wayne Schmeidlin and Jim Nordhaus upstairs working on the two-seater, Jerry Ebert sharpening runners, and Jim Kalupa and Jori Lenon sharpening runners and helping Geoff. (Photo credits: Jori Lenon.)

November 30, 2010

A large group has been gathering at the Boat Works getting their DNs ready for the upcoming 2010-2011 season. DNer Jori Lenon writes,"these pictures capture the fun and busy spirit of boat nite these past two weeks!"

January 7, 2009


Jim, Kyle Metzloff, Jori, and Andy McCormick toasted Jori's new DN this evening.

It was a busy night. Andy spent quite some time on the sharpener reshaping his runners. Kyle worked on his plank and boom. I touched up my plate runners after the races on Saturday in anticipation of the Western Challenge Regatta this weekend.

Photo Credit: Jori Lenon
Andy, Jim, & Kyle

Photo Credit: Jori Lenon
Geoff Sobering making sparks

January 5, 2009


With the exception of a couple of too-short bolts in the chocks Jori's DN is now complete!

We squared the plank and attached the all the hardware, then aligned the runners. The mast boom, sail and rigging is at the shop and next week we'll set it up and finish all the final details.

December 29, 2008

With sailable ice a real possibility in the near future (at least for optimists!), Brad Wagner, Alan Carlson, and Henri Dutilly (the Kegonsa contingent of the 4-Lakes Club) stopped by the shop to sharpen runners and align the chocks on Brad's swap-meet Nite acquisition.

While the three of them were working, I stared attaching hardware to Jori's DN. I got the mast-step mounted, along with the bow-tang and all the hardware on the bottom of the hull. All that's left is screwing the mainsheet block mount to the rear deck and fitting the steering gear.

Tomorrow we'll hopefully get that done and attach the plank to the hull. With any luck we'll get the runners aligned, too!

Brad, Allen, & Henri

November 30, 2008

It's amazing how the observant folks can be. Almost immediately after the photo of Jori working on her (almost) finished DN was posted a couple of weeks ago, I got some comments that the headrest seemed to be missing.

With previous boats I'd built or helped build, we had always make the headrest an integral part of the seat-back, and then fit a support underneath it. The classic design is to add make the center of the seat-back and headrest thicker, so the portion above the deck is self supporting; this has the advantage of providing a convenient hand-hold.

I never liked that design because I've had a slack mainsheet get tangled in the "V". A flat triangular support on the centerline is another simple solution, but I've always liked the better support of the edge that comes from a molded support (I also like the looks...).

In the past we've tried various methods to form the support so it fits nicely, provides good support, and doesn't weigh much; with all of them, fitting the support piece to the angle and height of the headrest extension was a bit of a pain.

At the 4-Lakes club picnic, Doug Kolner showed me how he'd constructed the headrest on his new DN. It was a completely separate piece glued to the aft-deck after the seat-back and deck were completely finished. The headrest support was a piece of steam-bent plywood curved to match the headrest radius. I was intrigued by the thought of steam-bending some 3mm plywood, so the next week in the Boatwerks I gave it a try.

A plastic bag and the microwave did a great job in only a few minutes. I formed the sheet around a paint can and let it cool. Gluing the support around the headrest itself was bit trickier; Doug had managed to do it with some clamps, but I ended up quickly making a plywood jig to hold everything together while the WEST epoxy cured. A little trimming with the bandsaw and belt-sander and it fit perfectly.

Was it easier than the other ways? I think so, but this is certainly one more situation proving the adage, "There ain't no such thing as a free lunch."

With the headrest glued on, Jori and I drilled the holes in the cockpit floor for the plank mounting hardware. Over the Thanksgiving weekend I put in some therapeutic time with the dual-action sander smoothing everything out, and Sunday we put the first coat of epoxy on the deck, bottom, and one side.

While we were waiting for each section to cure, we also drilled and mounted the chocks on the plank. One or two more evenings getting the final coats of epoxy on the hull, and we'll be ready for the final hardware installation and aligning the plank on the hull. It's getting very close!

The headrest glued to the hull.

Chock closeup.

November 13, 2008

With the end of major assembly, clamps become much less important to an iceboat building project. "Elbow grease" is the replacement, as sanding, planing and filing remove all the overhanging deck plywood, glue-drips, and generally smoothing things out. After a marathon seven hour session last Tuesday, Jori reports that the stern is cut to length, and almost all the sanding is done, along with most of the filleting inside the cockpit. The base coat of epoxy on the exterior is soon to come!

November 4, 2008

Jori's DN is progressing rapidly in the last few weeks. The cockpit floor and knees were installed in early October, and with all the hardware "in hand" after the swap meet, we attached the grab-rails on Oct. 28th.

Dick Ela and some friends stopped by for a shop tour that evening, and we all "talked ice-boating" after the gluing was done.

"Indian Summer" came the for the first Tuesday in November, and for the last 70-degree "open garage door" evening of the season Jim grilled chicken as a change from the the usual Boatwerks "Dinner of Champions": frozen pizza.

We installed the rear-deck and seat-back to complete the aft end of the DN, along with gluing the tiller-tube into the forward part of the boat.

Jori stopped by that Thursday evening to remove all the clamps and trim off the excess plywood decking. She also signed the inside of the hull near the bow area so I could come in over the weekend and attach the front deck and grab-rail trim Saturday, and the steering-tube at the bow on Sunday.

With that, the hull is completely closed up, and all the integral hardware is installed. There is still quite a bit of trimming and sanding before the final coats of glue go on, but the end is certainly in sight!