Macatawa Bay Boat Works Restoration  

Project Complete  - scroll down to see most recent photos

1953 Riva Ariston

Note: this boat is being restored for our customer and is NOT for sale.

One of the oldest Aristons know to exist!

This boat will require a complete restoration.  The boat came to us with a fiberglass layer that has been applied to the boat in the 1960's, possibly at the Riva Factory.  At some point the boat definitely was up dated at Riva with the addition of docking lights, a more modern Riva windshield, interior and the dashboard.  Originally, the windshield was two chrome cast brackets with a curved piece of glass between, similar to a 1940's Chris-Craft.

Above, an original factory photo of an Ariston of the same vintage.

Below is our project boat, hull # A26, as seen in fall of 2006, restored and water tested, complete except for the installation of the custom curved glass windshield

Below are restoration photos in order of chronology, starting with when the boat first came to MBBW's shop for restoration:

The condition of the boat when it came in - looks good in photos, but structural problems were to be discovered and once the fiberglass skin was removed, damage to the hull and deck wood became evident.  It also had the incorrect windshield and docking lights were added at some point by a previous owner. 

We have started to remove the fiberglass covering and began to assess the condition of the wood underneath.  Most of the hardware has been removed.

Further disassembly of the windshield and remaining deck hardware.

Above, roll over.

the start of bottom removal

With the bottom completely removed, we are able to assess the condition of structural members such as the keel, chine and frames.  These will be stripped, scraped, washed with solvent and then sanded.  Any broken members will be replaced. 

Keel removal, carefully...

Chine Removal, starboard done, port in process...

Once removed from, we observed that Riva attached the keel with steel screws and even some steel nails.  The chines were beyond repair and the keel was distorted out of shape with a hook in it.  Most frames were deteriorated significantly so it was decided to replace them all for a sound and straight bottom.  When complete, thanks to new technology and better materials, the bottom will be much stronger than new and will last longer than the original.

Frames removed, the hull sides leave the empty shell of the boat

New frames cut from mahogany using the old frames as patterns, they are dry fit into place.

The boat now with almost all the frames are remade, with new knees, sealed on all surfaces and installed in place with stainless fasteners and 3M 5200 adhesive, it is about ready to receive the new keel and chines

Below we see the new laminated keel cut to size and being clamped into place.  The keel is made from mahogany strips laminated together with 3M-5200 and is much stronger and more rot resistant than the original.   

Every clamp in the house was used to keep the keel in proper shape while the adhesive cured.

Above we see both chines laminated in place to take on the necessary shape while the adhesive cures.

Once the adhesive had set, the laminated piece needed to be cut to shape.  Cutting a curved piece of wood at an angle took some creative thinking on the part of the team at MBBW.  It involve many hands and spraying water on the blade of the table saw to help lubricate things as during the cut. 

The keel and chines cut to size and fit, now we router out the recess for the plywood bottom and makes notches in the frames for the batons.

Bottom structure complete, it is time to roll back over and start on replacing the hull sides and deck

MBBW remove the screws and old batons from hull sides and decking

With starboard hull side planks removed, we see original framework that is solid and intact.  We will use the old hull planks as patterns to make the new hull sides in bookmatched African mahogany. 


Parts were pre painted prior to assembly to cover areas that will not be accessible when assembled.  Weep holes channels are visible in the batons to allow for proper draining of the bilge.

And then there was two!  Both halves of the new bottom applied, the hullsides and transom planking in place, the boat can now float!  Next we will drill the hole for the shaft penetration and paint the bottom.  

The boat has been rolled back upright for the final time and will have her mahogany and maple decks installed.  


In the water!


Final assembly done (except for the addition of the curved glass windshield) we, go for one more water test with the interior installed.

MBBW show quality varnish, show chrome, MBBW custom leather interior installed. 

A beautiful dashboard made of reverse etched heat curved lexan plastic over green MBBW leather.  The gauges Riva used were off-the-shelf Chris Craft black dial gauges with white lettering.  The steering wheel is from a period Alfa-Romeo.

New custom curved laminated safety glass windshield in place 

A good runner! 

members of the MBBW crew revel in the completed product, prior to delivery to the customer


Above is the completed restoration sitting quietly in front of its owners home along with a mahogany sail boat MBBW restored for the same customer the year prior (photo by Jim Kerr)

Contact us today to see what we can do to help with your restoration project. 


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Macatawa Bay Boat Works
297 S. Maple Street  Saugatuck, Michigan 49453
Phone:  (269) 857-4556  Fax: (269) 857-4218


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