It used to be just what you'd expect a place named Shadyside Boatyard to be - a damp, sleepy spot at the head of a silted-over creek.

The centrepiece was the mighty marine railway, built of huge old timbers and rails, ending in a ramshackle old castle of planking and tin.

You could get a board replaced in your hull from the endless stores of scrap cedar and pine. There was a guy who could fit a new Bendix in your starter motor or cut you a new bolt from a chunk of half-inch steel stock.

Or you could have them haul your boat and stick it under the rickety shed. Do your own work, and if you ran out of ideas or patience someone would be around to pick up the pieces at a fair price.

Now there's a new owner, Spence Filleman, a GS-16 with the Labor Department who runs the boatyard after work and on weekends.

Last week Filleman fired up the old marine railway's motor for the last time. He rolled out the business end of the steel cable that had hauled cabin cruisers and Chesapeake workboats up the ways for decades.

He hooked the hook to the railway timbers and turned on the juice. Under his careful guidance the old railway crunched and crackled and dismantled itself in one day.

Then Filleman went back to work hoisting one plastic sailboat after another into and out of the water with his portable power lift.

"Volume," he was saying as he maneuvered the big sling around the yard. "You see it everywhere, in the supermarket, at the gas station and in the hardware store. You've got to have volume to make money."

Shadyside Boatyard is now into volume and if the world's more efficient for it, it's a noisier and more tiresome place, too.

Once the railway ties are all carted away the muddy slope down to the creek is going to be graveled in. The gravel trucks then will fill in the semicircular acre of sodden grass that has separated shed A from shed B since Prohibition.

Then Filleman will spread the word about Shadyside Boatyard, 1978. He'll fling open the doors to folks with boats that sit on trailers and he'll give them a place to park. The boats will sit in Filleman's yard for $30 a month, and when the owners get the notion to go for a ride on the Bay they'll drive down, hook up, dump and go.

"Boats today don't need a lot of maintenance," said Filleman. "We won't have any employees, just the space and some supplies."

It's a can't-miss formula. Filleman took over the place two years ago and he's already turning a profit, something Shadyside hasn't done in many years. The old owners were in the hole so deeply they practically gave the place away.

Still the heart mourns to see grass and mud give way to bluestone gravel; it smarts to know there will never again be an old salt to consult about fashioning a gudgeon pin from an old square nail or shaving a piece of mahogany into a rubrail.

"It's a throwaway world," said Filleman. "People don't fix things anymore. They use them until they break, then they throw them away and get a new one."