Grumman 17 SCOUT

We bought a Grumman 17 double ender to fill the canoe block. She is good for a mess about and may get a sailing rig someday, just for fun. Her name is SCOUT.

"In the summer of 1944, after portaging a heavy wood and canvas canoe on a fishing trip in the Adirondack Mountains, William Hoffman, Vice President of Grumman Aircraft Engineering, had an idea: What about making a canoe from the same lightweight, stretch-formed aluminum that Grumman had used to become the single largest producer of carrier-based fighter planes during World War II? In 1945, the very first aluminum canoe, a 13-footer, was produced at the aircraft plant in Bethpage, Long Island. By the end of World War II Grumman was producing a line of 13, 15, 17, 18, 19, and 20 foot canoes.

The plant relocated to Marathon, N.Y. in 1952, and in 1988 Grumman produced the largest aluminum boat in its history at Marathon. Designed for the Great Lakes, it measured 22' 3". Outboard Marine Corporation (OMC) bought the division in 1990 and produced the last Grumman-brand canoe in 1996. Shortly thereafter former Grumman executives formed the Marathon Boat Group to produce the canoes. In 2000 the Group worked out an agreement with Northrop Grumman to sell the canoes using Grumman name and logo." (See references).

Leroy Grumman tests out his trademark aluminum canoe. Photograph courtesy of the San Diego Air and Space Museum.

SCOUT is hull number 1384 from the Marathon, N.Y. plant, making her one of the earliest canoes built there after the plant opened in 1952. We believe that the code 1384-GP-5-17 means Hull Number-General Purpose-.050 aluminum thickness-17 foot.

Certified for 5 horsepower, 5 persons of 150 pounds each or 805 pounds maximum weight for persons, motor and gear.

We did a little float test with her bow and stern foam to make sure it still works as advertised.

The foam was molded in two parts so that it was easy to insert into the bow and stern, plus had the number 17 molded on it.

Here's the crew pulling the Grumman 17 double ender SCOUT in to the garage. She is scheduled for cleaning, light sanding, a repaint in Fire Red and Gull Gray, maybe some shark's teeth and a Firebird logo. But in the meantime she floats just fine.

From SBR 4: Jun 2014 -

03 Sep 18:

As a result of playing Boat Tetris in prep for Tropical Storm Gordon, the Canoe Works are now open. Our Grumman 17 double ender SCOUT is going to get a field expedient combat paint job.

Change of plans, SCOUT will get a tribute paint scheme to the American Volunteer Group Flying Tigers, they defended China against the Japanese right before the US entered WWII.

I thought I could spot spray a few areas, but there were too many scratches with flaked paint edges and start of corrosion. Sanded scratched paint areas with 120 grit on a randome orbital sander to get rid of sub surface corrosion and give the aluminum some tooth for paint to grab onto.

Taped a waterline for the light gray fuselage bottom.

Transferred waterline to opposite side with our cool cloth tape measure. To make it easy I slid the tape back until an inch or half inch line was centered on the keel, in this case 9 inches, then doubled the number to 18 and marked the opposite line with a small strip of tape. We marked about every foot or so.

Starboard side waterline. Started a long strip of tape, about 4-5 feet and laid a fair curve close to the small tape markers. Found a few math errors and adjusted.

Painted the bottom with Kirby Light Gray cut with 50% White to make Light Light Gray, brushed with a Corona Trim brush. George told me it would have been optimum to brush a coat of primer first but I was too excited. If it comes off I'll redo it or call it battle damage. With the 95F heat index we had I found it best to lay down two brush widths vertical then tip it horizontal, had to work it fast before it got tacky.

Bottom of "fuselage" painted.

Test area to see if I could blend in the Patina Bronze base paint for the side. Liked the clean taped line better. The test area will be painted over with the shark's teeth. As I finished the side the first gust front from TS Gordon blew through, 35 mph gust. Had to move SCOUT into the Carriage House and she bunked with ZIP. Also had to pick a few pine needles off of the tacky paint!

Port bow, worked on the pattern for the shark's teeth.

Canoe plant in 1982.

12 Sep 18:

TS Gordon come and gone, landfall around Gulfport MS. 6 inches of rain, 35 mph peak wind.

Safe to paint again. Sprayed the sides of SCOUT with Rust-Oleum Anodized Bronze and Sand colors. Feathered the edges. This will be an experiment, not sure how the paint will stick to the aluminum long term.

Used some photos as a reference to free hand the shark's teeth. Painted the first coat with Kirby Paint White.

SCOUT was one of the early Grumman 17s built in Marathon, mid 1950s we're thinking, based on the serial number.

21 Sep 18:

Grumman started making canoes after WWII in Bethpage, NY and expanded production to Marathon, NY in the early 1950s. Here is some of their advertisement.

21 Sep 18:

Traced the shark's teeth design on SCOUT's port side and transferred it over to starboard.

Outlined the teeth. Brushed on the base coat of Kirby's Marynard Bray Off White, thinned with Penetrol, with a cheapo art brush.

Brushed on the base coat of Kirby's Marynard Bray Off White, thinned with Penetrol, with a cheapo art brush. We kept the pattern if anyone needs to put shark's teeth on any of their boats, like NELLIE BELLE.

Port side got second coat of paint.

After we get a second coat on the starboard side we'll add the tongue and a black border.

After we get a second coat on the starboard side we'll add the tongue and a black border.

27 Sep 18:

Put the second coat of Kirby White on the starboard side teeth and painted the white's of Sharknoe's eyeballs.

28 Sep 18:

Worked on the eyeballs and tongue for the Flying Tigers tribute paint paint on SCOUT. Used Kirby Black for the outline and Rustoleum Topside Marine Fire Red for the tongue.

Next we get to figure out the size for the Chinese National roundel.

03 Oct 18:

Worked on the Flying TIgers' paint scheme, traced a circle and painted the base coat for the Chinese National roundel with Kirby White. Also applied first layer of Tex Hill's ship number 48.

Tongue added to the port side with Rustoleum Professional High Performance Protective Enamel Safety Red.

Here are the patterns for Triple Ace Tex Hill's number and the Chines National roundel. We will make a copy of the roundel and cut out the white sections with an xacto knife, then use that to trace the circles and triangles.

04 Oct 18:

We made a copy of the roundel and cut out the white sections with an xacto knife, then used that to trace the circles and triangles over the base circle with pencil.

We wanted medium blue for the roundel, decided to try a 1:1 mix of paints we had in the Carriage House. Looked around and we had Kirby White enamel and Interlux Brightside Sapphire Blue Polyurethane. Would they mix? No idea, but we went for it anyway. The color came out great and the paint flowed on nice and smooth, good coverage. Time will tell how the mix holds up, maybe we discovered something new. We used a nice mixing cup from Jamestown DIstributors, it has markings for different mix ratios, we used 1:1.

For 1:1 our the first color up to the 1 on the left, then the second color up to the one on the right. The other markings to the right are for different ratios like 2:1, 3:1 etc...Pour slow and stop short of the line, let the paint fill in as it is easy to pour past the line. I poured too much White for the 1 mark so I slowed down, regrouped and poured a little more up to the 2 line. Then poured the Blue up to the 2 line. We had plenty of Medium Blue!

I turned the canoe on its side to paint the blue, that helps avoid runs. The key before painting is to mark which parts will be blue, it is easy to get it backwards. I marked one of the blue sections with a B as I was tracing. For a brush I used a cheapo soft brush from a multi pack of art brushes, about 1/2 inch wide with a straight tip. The soft tip let me load up lots of paint, for smooth flow.

The Chinese National roundel dates from 1895, a blue sky with a white sun. The 12 stars represent the 12 months of the year and 12 traditional Chinese hours, symbolizing the spirit of progress.

Number 48 is Triple Ace Tex Hill's ship number from the American Volunteer Group Flying Tigers.

SCOUT ready to head to the beach!

Ready for Sea Trials.

Check out the groove down the beach, the standard flat water keel on the Grumman 17 is designed to make paddling easier and help the canoe track straight, reducing unwanted drift.

SCOUT had a great time, chased some pelicans, successful Float Test and she was pretty proud of herself!

SCOUT is happy to back with her kayak buddies, holding up the trees. New adventures await!

25 Dec 18:

We had Christmas wreath photos on small boats the last 2 years, so how about another one for 2018? A fun adventure on Christmas Day, our Grumman 17 SCOUT was the photo boat for this year.

Hope you are having a great holiday season with family and friends, and a geared up for a superb 2019!

Happy Canoe Year!

03 Mar 19:

SCOUT chased the kayaks around for a bit then swam back ashore. This picture is posted to celebrate Webb Chile's and GANNETT's portage across Panama, they are back to the Pacific now, and will be continuing their circumnavigation soon.

05 Jun 19:

We got the gaff sail finished, it came out to around 41 square feet. Then Skipper took it out for a test float to check balance, figure out control lines and get a general look at how the rig sets.

But first we had to make a sail, mast step, boom and gaff.

We had scaled a sail from John Leathers book Gaff Rig to work on this mast and on this canoe's gunwale height, with 16 inches of step at the bottom and 30 inches of topmast to set a peak halyard. Leather's suggested ratios for a sail were Luff 1.0, Head 0.833, Leech 1.73 and Foot 1.02, with a 30 degree rise at the head of the sail and 6 degrees at the tack.

Throwing out a lot of terms here, here is a diagram of gaff sail nomenclature for David Nichol's book The Working Guide to Traditional Small-Boat Sails.

Laid out our sail dimensions. 6 foot luff, 5 foot head, 10' 6" foot leech and 6' 4" foot.

Oriented the cloth so that the cloth panel seams, the panels are about 30 inches wide, were oriented along the leech, to give the sail a vertical panel cut. Added a 1 1/4 inch seam allowance along the foot, luff and head with blue tape. Cut out a sail from a painter's drop cloth, then did a double tuck on the seam to give the sail a 3/4 inch seam all the way around. The fabric unravels easily so go slow. The medium duty Genome did okay on the first batch of stitching, and the Sailrite LSZ-1 had no problems working the fabric. We also cut double reinforcing panels for the corners.

We put in Grommets, #4 for the head, tack and clew and #1 for the luff and head. Check out our post on Spur Grommet Installation.

The canoe had gunwale holes for the thwart and fittings in the bilge for a mast step and sheet block for a 45 sf gunter rig. We are using those fittings as locations for our gaff rig. Worked on the thwart first, enlarged the factory gunwale holes to 1/4 inch, because we bought 1/4 inch carriage bolts. Smaller carriage bolts would work too and skip the drill.

we had an old mast similar in size to a Sunfish mast, 2 1/4 inch diameter and just over 10 feet long. After we cut the thwart 5 inches long and fit it to the gunwales we cut a 2 1/2 inch hole for the mast.

We used the pergola to hold up the mast while we fit the step.

We cut a rectangle in the bottom board to fit around the factory step in the bilge, and mad a round step to fit inside the mast. We tried this basic setup first but the amst could move the step side to side.

Rounded the edges of the thwart to prevent bumps.

Ergonomic testing.

Roll tacking!

Sheet block attached to factory fitting in the bilge.

We added the V braces to prevent lateral movement of the step.

We cut out some 1x pine jaws for the boom and the gaff, cut a slot to fit the closet rod and screwed them into place. We drilled pilot holes to prevent splits and then set silicone bronze wood screws to hold the boom and gaff. We also put screws in cross grain to prevent splits down by the jaws. Drilled 1/4 inch holes to attach the tack and the downhaul, used a Sunfish sheet snap and 1/8th inch line. Also drilled holes for parrel beads.

We attached some field expedient halyards, put on outhauls through 1/4 inch bee holes and trimmed the boom and gaff to length. Left a little extra for sail stretch.

Skipper paddled, did some roll tacks and gybed. Had a blast in the Grumman Cat Canoe

07 Jun 19

Took the Grumman out for a test sail. She ran fast downwind, wouldn't tack but gybed just fine. Had a blast, the sail worked great.

We were just goofing around, but now we want to experiment with a leeboard and a rudder...or maybe a mizzen...

to be continued...

30 Jun 19:

Skipper took our Grumman 17 SCOUT out for a bit, seeking prizes on the bay.

30 Jun 19:

We made a 12 square foot mizzen for our Grumman 17 SCOUT, to help balance the gaff main. Cut it out of some fine painter's drop cloth, 6 foot luff, 4 feet on the foot with a 6 degree rise, which matches the rise on the gaff.

Marked the seam allowance.

Cut some corner reinforcement patches.

Too much air conditioning inside, let's move outside where heat index is 95F! Time to make the stern thwart, Spoiler Alert, here is what it looks like uninstalled once we were done, we just decided how to cut the next piece and what size to make it as we went along.

Cut one pine thwart to sit on top of the gunwale and one to notch just inside of it. Drilled 4 holes for 1/4 inch carriage bolts with washered wing nuts. Marked a 1 1/2 inch hole amidships, 3/4 inch forward of the aft face. Drilled a 1/2 inch pilot hole for the jigsaw blade and cut out the hole.

Cut two 12 inch side pieces and beveled the top edge so they would drop vertical and barely touch the sides. Then cut the angled bottom thwart, screwed together with deck screws. Once that thwart was assembled we installed it and dropped in the 1 1/2 inch mast (8 foot closet rod from Lowes), which tilted forward because of the angle of the thwart on the aft rise of the canoe. Used a diamond tile file to ease out the lower forward edge and aft upper edge of the mast hole, until the hole was oblong enough for the mast to be set plumb vertical. Then we leveled the canoe port to starboard, dropped in the mast and, set it plumb and vertical, and marked the bottom thwart for a hole on the top face. Took the thwart out and brought it in the carriage house to transfer that top marking to the bottom face. I could have disassembled it but I didn't want things to get misaligned during reassembly. This is a picture of the stern thwart upside down, we found the port-starboard center of the bottom thwart and transferred fore and aft measurement of aft face of mast. The positioned mast on those marks to draw a circle.

There is not much open room behind the stern seat and the stern deck, about 6 inches, so early on I sat on the seat with the thwart installed to see if the mast would be in the way. The mast was okay but the forward edge of the thwart was too close to the seat. So I took a pencil and traced a cutout for butt clearance.

Reinstalled everything to check visual sight lines, vertical and plumb with the gaff main.

SCOUT got to bunk over with ZIP, WINNIE, WAVE and MARGARET ROSE.

02 Jul 19:

Drilled a bee hole in the top of the mast to attach the head of the mizzen. Used interlocking bolts from Sunfish spars to bonnect the boomkin to the mast, that will keep it steady at the tack of the sail, and we tied the middle of the boomkin to the ster of the canoe, so the mizzen is boomless like the Darscombe Lugger mizzen.

We could have figured centers of efforts for both sails, square footage, centers of lateral resistance, lots of math and come up with a technical answers as to where to put a leeboard....

...instead, I hauled SCOUT out to the bay, tightened the sheets, set the breeze on her beam and moved my finger along the gunwale til I found the balance point. We'll put the leeboard just forward of that so that she'll weathervane when I fall overboard.

01 Jul 19:

Put the grommets in the mizzen, #1 on the luff and #2s on the head, tack and clew. Spaced the luff grommets 12 inches apart. Supplies purchased from Sailrite, and we used our new #2 spur grommet die set, with the 3 lb mallet it only takes 2-3 hits to set them. And yes, we can see now how the spur grommet anvil and hammer are concave a bit to properly set the spur grommet, whereas the plain grommet dies set faces are a little flatter. Another feature we like on die sets are the brands that have long handles, less chance to hit our hand.

03 Ju 19

Laced the mizzen luff to the custom mast with 1/8th inch nylon line from New England Ropes, used a marlin hitch. The mizzen is loose footed, boom will be secured to the stern and act as a boomkin, sheet will run from clew, through a block on the boomkin and forward to a fairlead jam cleat on the mizzen thwart.

Mizzen can be rolled up to furl, or if the boomkin is released the whole rig can be wrapped up like a burrito and stowed in the bilge.

11 Jul 19:

Sea Trial Notes (for Doug, substitute yard for gaff): A few more musings on the SCOUT's canoe yawl Sea Trials. We have to be careful launching because the sail rig makes SCOUT a little top heavy, so we leave the stern up on the beach until it is time to go. If we raise the gaff on the beach, we have to keep an eye on it, because if the boom swings off to the side the hull wants to roll with it. I boarded the canoe and sat on the bar thwart just aft of the leeboard thwart. On a side note the leeboard thwart makes a real nice seat amidships, and so does the daggerboard for that matter. I lowered the Skipper's swivel leeboard easily and paddled away from the beach with the kayak paddle, aka double paddle.

Once clear of the sand groins and piers, we turned into the light breeze to raise the sails.

To raise the gaff I grabbed both the throat and peak halyard and pulled them together. I had changed both halyards to longer pieces of line, so that the lines reach all the way to the stern seat when the rig is down, so that is 30+ feet of line, 2 of them. I pulled them until the throat halyard was taut, then continued to pull on the peak halyard until the sail peaked to a nice shape, there should be no sags and no tight vertical creases. At that point I looked around for a convenient place to secure the halyards, that day I tied them off to the aft bar thwart, and made a note to cut a small wooden thwart to mount jam cleats there, close to the stern seat. I may also add a ring fairlead on the leeboard thwart, to keep the lines off to one side in case there is someone sitting amidchips. One of the test items for the sail rigging was to see if I could do most of the work from the stern seat, and if I had the cleats back aft I could do that.

I sheeted in the mizzen and found that the boomkin is too short, the painters cloth stretched and also saw from later photos that the mast needs to be taller, that way we can tie off the mizzen a bit higher and change the boomkin angle a bit, raise the forward end about 2 inches so we can take the flutter out of the leech of the sail. Next we did a few paddle tacks, which were a lot easier with the leeboard to provide some lateral resistance and aid in steering.

Then it was time to maneuver back to the dock for glamor shots. I was able to do a few wide tacks, once the breeze gets on the beam there is a lot of freeboard and SCOUT wants to go sideways, I found that gybing my way around was easier, same thing we found on the Dabber with its standing lug rig.

After a few flybys of the Skipper/photog I raised the swivel leeboard, crawled forward and dropped in the daggerboard/leeboard. This would require some good balance if the wind or chop was up a bit, that's a lot of movement fore and aft to the stern seat.

Now about that seat, the balance would be better if I sat forward, on the bar thwart just aft of the mid leeboard thwart. But that is not what the Seminole did...of course he did not have a leeboard or mizzen either...

Anyway, the daggerboard was bigger and I could feel the difference, that would be best for bay crossings in deeper water. For gunkholing and skinny water ops, the swivel leeboard is better. I did a few turns with the daggerboard, then pulled it out and went back to the swivel leeboard. Skipper wanted to see it in action again and we drifted up to the beach with it down, easy to raise, then I put it down again to watch it feather into the retracted position as the bottom came up to meet it.

The swivel leeboard is the best design for beaching, whereas the dagger-leeboard will raise itself up in the trunk, sometimes, it the curved edge is forward, but it is not guaranteed. The other issue with a daggerboard sticking up out of a trunk is the boom can catch on it and cause the shoreline capsize after a beautiful sail, usually when everyone is watching.

Pulling the canoe up onto the beach, the same note applies as launching, SCOUT was more steady with her flat bottom securely on the grass, but she can still roll over if the sail is up and boom swinging around. It is also easy to point into the wind, loose the halyards and drop the rig, so far the gaff and boom have dropped straight into the boat and laid nicely on the thwarts. Downrigging was pretty easy, there is just a lot of line to manage. The boom and gaff fold up almost all the way and the mizzen boomkin folds up also, the rig does not take much storage space. I removed the leeboard thwart as it is big, not needed for paddling, and SCOUT could not be stored on her side with it attached, but the main and mizzen thwarts are tucked out of the way.

Next up, ergonomic testing for cupholders and rudder attachment ponderings. Anyone have an idea on how to attach a Sunfish gudgeon to the stern of SCOUT without drilling holes? Ooh, as I type I think I see a potential solution...

19 Jul 19:

We received some engineering drawings for SCOUT's new rudder. be continued...

American Volunteer Group Flying Tigers
Grumman wikipedia
How Aluminum Revolutionized The Canoe
Grumman Canoe History
Marathon Boats
Tex Hill

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