1954 Whirlwind 15' mohagany boat

by Mike
(Stephens City, VA)

I bought a whirlwind 15' mahogany boat from the original owner a couple of years ago.

I was excited about getting started on restoration and had the engine checked out and repaired, it is a 40 HP Johnson that replaced the original engine in 1963.

All it needed was a water pump since the original owner was a mechanic and kept it well maintained.

The boat has always been stored in a garage by the original owner and myself.

Unfortunately I had multiple back surgeries that have left me permanently disabled.

I still want to attempt to work on my boat as therapy!

My first question is since the boat has been out of water for 15+ years, some people suggest filling the boat with water in order to soak the wood and let it expand.

Is this something I should do?

I plan to start work in the spring so any advice on the first steps would be greatly appreciated. Thanks,


Comments for 1954 Whirlwind 15' mohagany boat

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Jan 01, 2020
Use caution
by: R. A. B.

I would echo the opinion not to fill your boat with water.

This method of building is very unique and makes it unnecessary and useless.

My father and uncle worked in and around boat building in Orlando (Chris Craft and Nautique), in their method they would sink the boat in large tub's or lake shallows.

This would keep the pressure balanced on the hull.

Your wood ply's are put together with glue, pressure and high heat, not open grain wood.

Good luck amigo.

Nov 29, 2013
I hope it's OK
by: Venturer

Whirlwind that set up for long periods of time outside should be turned upside down IMO.

When left in he open they fill with fesh water from the rain. That tends to rot them underneath the stringers.

You might test around the stringers with a pocket knife for softness.

If it is rotted there it isn't good, but it can be repaired.

Nov 29, 2013
Similar Boat
by: Eric

I have a 17' 1960 Whirlwind that I ran on the Potomac years back.

It has been out of the water for years now.

The canopy that was over it colapsed due to ice years ago and broke the wooden frame of the front windshield.

I need to get around to trying to repair.

Great little boat, very light.

I live just North of you in Berkely Co.

Jul 30, 2013
Leaky Whirlwinds.
by: Anonymous

Don't worry about it Whirlwinds do not open up when dry.
Don't put water in it do not worry about soaking it.

Just check the rail's the seats are attached to.
See if they are loose where the seat attaches.

From rough water and use in rough water the glue and the screws that hold the rails may come loose, the brass screws may even pop out or break off.

If the boat leaks anywhere it will be at these screw holes.

There are a couple of solutions, Bigger screws or try to fill the holes with White cedar plugs and then try new screws.

Jul 30, 2013
Ex brother in law Tom
by: Al St Cyr

Hi Jim I let my yellow chris craft get water in it while sitting on the cradle in my back yard and it crushed some lapstrake boards at the pressure points so don't do it.

Take it to lake orion and let it sit in the water for a while.

Sorry about your back.

I have major problems too but I'm still working using a walker with wheels.

Aug 15, 2012
your whirlwind boat
by: joe

Hi, I redid a 14ft 61 Whirlwind.

I would be happy to share my experience with you.

You do not want to put water in the boat, it is plywood.

I am not good on the computer.

My Phone is 804 -346 -8882 ,I am in Richmond.

Call me if you would like.

If there is no answer, please leave a number and I will return your call.
This is my office, I can generally come to the phone.
Tell my Girls that you are calling about your Whirlwind Boat.


Mar 06, 2012
Don't do it.
by: Venturer

Whirlwinds do not need pre-soaking.

Just think of what that boat filled with water would do to your trailer and it's tires.

You do no good by soaking a Whirlwind the way the different ply's of the boat were put together does not need swelling ,nor will it swell to any extent.

Without seeing the boat it is impossible to advise you where to start.

I always start by getting it upside down and looking at the bottom.

Do what needs there and you won't have to turn it upside down again.

Everything else can be done with it sitting rightside up.

Mar 05, 2012
Whirlwind repair
by: Nanci

I have an early '50s 14' Whirlwind that I need some repairs to be done.

Any suggestions are welcome as to who to contact in the state of Massachusetts.

Boat has been out of water for over 15 years.

It is in great shape except needs some work on the hull and back transom area.

Would love to restore and relive and some childhood memories!

Jan 09, 2012
by: Venturer

Whirlwinds do no need to be soaked before launching.

But before you go to a lot of trouble sanding and varnishing put it in the water and check for leaks under the rails where the seats attach.

The seats are attached onto the rails along the side.

The boats are old and have been used --the chop, and bounce of the waves with weight on the seats(Your butt or someone else's loosens the rails and the screws that go through the sides and they start to leak.

If they need fixing (regluing ) do it before you go to all of the trouble of varnishing.

The rails will have to come off the screw holes fixed and then reglued or they will leak forever.

Apr 27, 2011
Hot Molded Hull
by: Mike

Thanks for that James, I hadn't realized that they were 'hot molded'.

You are quite right, soaking is completely unnecessary.

Apr 26, 2011
Whirlwind Boats
by: James

I own a 1955 14'Whirlwind boat, and have never had to soak the boat because the way it was manufactured it does not need it.

If you you check out this Web sight
and read about how they were manufactured you'll understand that soaking is not necessary

Feb 23, 2011
Thanks to Mike
by: Anonymous

Thanks Mike,

I found your article on taking up from another post and found all the information very useful.

I appreciate your response.

I am looking forward to warmer weather so I can start working on the boat and trailer.

Once I start I am sure I will have lots of questions and plan to post pictures as I go through the restoration.


Feb 23, 2011
by: Mike

Hi Mike,

I'm sorry to hear about your disability, and I do hope that working on your boat will be therapeutic.

Soaking the wood to get it to 'take up' is normally done just before launching, so until you are ready to put her in the water don?t bother.

However, when you do get to that stage don't go filling her with water.

A boat full of water is very, very heavy and if she is sat on blocks or a trailer all that weight will be pressing down on the few places where she is supported.

If you do want to soak her there are safer ways to do it.

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