some new pictures ... the hull is extremely solid, almost no dents or scratches in the wood. the deck to hull seam is very well fastened and i am now very hesitant to try to open it up. i do not see any indication of rot or weakness anywhere.
...and a mystery: what this symbol might be?
That resin paper appears to have been a blessing in disguise. What great grain patterns..., lousy for a solid, but a great plywood veneer..., but no matter in the foot well. That does lend itself to some finish possibilities. The glass-like finish seen on vintage Chris-craft, strip kayaks, and cedar canoes is the first thing that comes to my mind. Might be worth a look into WEST system or MAS transparent epoxy.
I’ve seen symbols like the one pictured. Not the actual symbol, but a marking under a finish. It could be a builder’s mark. More common in factory assembly, but some home builders leave their “mark” too. I trust sanding would have removed any marks from the lumber people so the question of origin of construction looms up once more.
i'm not a big fan of epoxy coating, traditional varnish can be easily refinished and most of todays mahogony boats are kept covered or indoors. the symbol looks like a stamp to me, it is too perfect to have been hand drawn. it would be nice to find out it was from the factory and a factory mark. i can't seem to make out if it's letters or just a symbol.
The original splash guard will make hiking-out uncomfortable.
Since it's a "one-off", I'd replace it with the splash guard of today's design and use a dark mahogany wood for contrast. If it's too much work to fill (and match) the holes left by the hardware, I'd leave that base in place and add the newer guard in front of it.
How much does it weigh? I'll bet it's much lighter than today's standard in fiberglass.
it looks like the splash rail cleat is fastened from the underside. i am thinking of preserving the original guard but installing a modified guard in the original location that tapers down dramatically toward the back or does not reach all the way around. i like the look of the newer guard but would like to maintain the original look to some extent. the hull seems very light, have not weighed it yet. i'm assuming there is no foam inside.