Antique Boat Museum Chooses Local Craftsmen to Restore Famed Boat
Tumblehome Boatshop, the local company specializing in the restoration of wooden boats, has been selected by the Antique Boat Museum in Clayton to restore its 1931 Hutchinson Commuter.
“We’ll complete a full structural restoration, but the boat will be back in Clayton by early summer,” said Reuben Smith, who opened his shop in a converted municipal highway garage in Warrensburg last spring.
According to Smith, the 33 ft. boat, named Gadfly, is not simply a museum piece; it’s part of the Antique Boat Museum’s in-water fleet, taking visitors on cruises around the St. Lawrence River as well as on excursions to Ottawa and Montreal.
“The boat has her own fan club,” said Smith. “I can’t tell you how many people have told me they’ve ridden in the Gadfly.”
Tumblehome Boatshop was chosen for the job at least in part, Smith says, for his company’s commitment to historic restoration.
“The methods of construction have to be the same. Every detail has to be as historically accurate as possible. A good restoration is a time-consuming, painstaking process. We research the history of boats long before we start working on them,” says Smith.
“When the Gadfly leaves our shop, she will run just as she did when she left Hutchinson’s in 1930,” Smith said.
His interest in Hutchinson boats was among the reasons why he was excited to be chosen to restore the Gadfly, Smith said.
“Hutchinson Boat Works was a St. Lawrence River company and they were real boat builders; it was not a factory. Their boats were adapted to the conditions and needs of St. Lawrence and the Thousand Islands,” said Smith.
“The Gadfly was the ideal boat for the St. Lawrence,” added Smith. “With so many homes on the islands, people needed a vessel that could transport them, luggage and supplies back and forth in comfort.”
According to Smith, the restoration of the Gadfly is not just another job for his shop.
“We’re passionate about the boat, and it’s an opportunity to get the word out that we’re a boat shop that’s committed to historic craftsmanship. We feel we have a responsibility to take the lessons learned from generations of boat builders before us and apply it to our craft today,” said Smith.