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  1. #1
    Vice Admiral jay_merrill's Avatar
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    Default 1975 Thunderbird Cathedral Hull

    Aw man! I just had to look at that boat yard on the way home yesterday, and now I've gone an "done it!" Yup, I bought an 18' T-Bird that is going to need lots of work.

    All of the wood in it is rotted out, so a new floor and new stringers are just about guaranteed to be required. A "tap test" on the transom was surprisingly encouraging, but I suspect I'll end up getting into that too! I guess I'll be getting familiar with Seacast sometime in the not too distant future.

    I've been frequenting the other forums here for the most part, but this is a good excuse to hang around with y'all in the restoration forum. The boat had a motor on it that I didn't want, so I'll bring it home tomorrow after they get that off. Time to get the camera out and start documenting the project!

  2. #2
    Supreme Mariner oops!'s Avatar
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    Default Re: 1975 Thunderbird Cathedral Hull

    heh heh heh ....welcome to the dry dock jay !

    t-bird......stringers.......rot..........hmmmmmmmmmm m

    it sounds like the problem is far more serious than you think jay......


    you have MBS.


    gonna be great watching this one....

    cheers
    oops
    The Hull Extension Thread
    great info on all aspects on boat building with detailed information.

    http://forums.iboats.com/boat-restoration-building-hull-repair/hull-extension-progress-pics-234392.html

    IN MEMORY OF Our friend SpinnerBait_Nut LESTER WRIGHT July 31, 1953 - Nov 26, 2008 RIP

    IN MEMORY OF Our friend Tashasdaddy Robert (bob) Griffis. October 27, 1948
    November 29 2010 RIP

  3. #3
    Vice Admiral jay_merrill's Avatar
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    Default Re: 1975 Thunderbird Cathedral Hull

    Yeah, yeah, I know. Well, I already have MMS (14 of them at last count), so I may as well clutter up the yard with another boat!

    Hmmmmmmmmmm .... I wonder how much fuel this thing would burn with three Johnson 33hp motors on it .... I could put the long shaft on the middle and the two short shafts on either side!

  4. #4
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    Default Re: 1975 Thunderbird Cathedral Hull

    hopefully sreiner spots this, he's a collector of t-birds and was a lot of help with my restoration of my 70 apache. he has even made molds of all the logos and just covers his cost of duplicating them. as near as i can tell, every t-bird found now pretty much needs everything you are doing, mine did. mine came with a 69 115hp evinrude and does very well. good luck on the rebuild.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: 1975 Thunderbird Cathedral Hull

    OOOHHH YEA Jay , cant wait to see that one !! sounds like fun !!!
    But 14 of them , what are you planning ?? thats fixing more then one a month !!!! lol MBS BAD !!!!!! John
    http://s274.photobucket.com/albums/jj258/jcsercsa/

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  6. #6
    Vice Admiral jay_merrill's Avatar
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    Default Re: 1975 Thunderbird Cathedral Hull

    LOL - that's 14 motors, not boats. If I ever acquire 14 boats, I sure hope they are trawlers, or something else that generates revenue!

    The following photos are of a T-Bird Cheyenne owned by a guy over at Fibreglassics. This is what my boat looks like, right down to the tandem axle trailer. I didn't get an exact measurement on it at the boat yard where I bought it, but it was pretty close to 17.5 to 18 feet. Its also about 80" wide.

    Does any one know if the Cheyenne was that size?






  7. #7
    Vice Admiral jay_merrill's Avatar
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    Default Re: 1975 Thunderbird Cathedral Hull

    Picked the boat up this afternoon and managed to get a better measurement on it. The boat is exactly 19 feet long and at this point, I'm convinced it is a Thunderbird Cheyenne. The registration says that the boat is a 1975 model but I'm not certain of that. So far, I haven't found any references to Thunderbird making a cathedral hull boat at that point in time.

    I see no signs of structural damage to the boat anywhere, but all of the wood in it seems to be pretty well rotted. I was at the boat sales business this afternoon when they pulled the Merc 150 that was on it, and the tech put his foot through the floor while removing the control unit. I did another "tap test" on the transom after the motor was pulled and did find a couple of areas that sounded kind of hollow, but really not as badly as I would think given the shape of the rest of the wood. Since so much else is going to have to be rebuilt, however, it seems like doing the transom is sensible.

    I really don't want to have to pull the cap, so I am thinking of going the Seacast route. That said, I have never ventured into this level of a rebuild on a fibreglass boat, so I'm all ears if anyone has any suggestions.

    The boat also has severe surface cracking in the gelcoat on most of the horizontal areas. It looks to me like what is there is a result of years of exposure to the sun. That's going to be another item that is new to me in terms of what repair technique works the best, so any suggestions will once again be appreciated.

    And so the project begins!









  8. #8
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    Default Re: 1975 Thunderbird Cathedral Hull

    you've definitely got your work cut out for you! i'm not sure why you don't want to pull the cap since you only need to pick it up about 6" and go out over the transom. the missing cuddy area is a plus right now. my 70 apache didn't have any foam under the deck but foam went in. my stringers were 3/4 pine covered in a single layer of roving. that's a 1500 lb boat, adding seacast out back will probably make it stern heavy, if you decide to pull the cap redoing with ply will be pretty easy. good luck

  9. #9
    Vice Admiral jay_merrill's Avatar
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    Default Re: 1975 Thunderbird Cathedral Hull

    Lifting the cap doesn't seem like a big deal. I have a nice oak tree in my yard that would serve very well as something to attach a lift to. The limbs are large and solid, so a big piece of fibreglass which probably doesn't weigh over a couple of hundred pounds, shouldn't be an excessive load on it.

    The part that I am concerned about is having to remove about 100 fasteners that will probably break from corrosion. That means drilling most of them out. I might be worrying about this too much, but it just seems like the process would go alot faster if I eliminate unnecessary steps.

    Your thought about the weight of Seacast does intrigue me, though. I hadn't really considered that aspect of it. This is particularly true because I was thinking about doing the stringers with it too, and might power it with a pair of 1972 Johnson 65hp motors. I guess that's one of the first areas that I'll have do some homework in. I don't want to turn the boat into a "two ton Tessie."

  10. #10
    Captain mthieme's Avatar
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    Default Re: 1975 Thunderbird Cathedral Hull

    Wanna eat your heart out?

    Just before it got cold about a month ago or so, my sister in law calls me up and says "do you want to buy a boat?". I figured this had to be a trick question.
    She went on the say uncle Fred was selling his. Uncle Fred is about 140 years old and the last time he saw water was just after the last ice age. Anywho, I go over and in her cluttered garage under three layers of canvas was a 1974 Thunderbird trihull with a 90 Merc tower on the back. The package had about 20 hours total on it. The wax was well protected with dust. I popped the motor cowl and could see myself - the paint was that shiny. Fully equipped (waaaay too many extras to list) in need of only a battery, Uncle Fred was looking for a grand. Done! Evidently it was used about five times and has been sitting in the garage for decades ever since.
    She just wanted to be able to park her car in the garage! The down side? The trailer was a real p.o.s. - just happen to have another laying around though.

    Nothing is so broken that Government can't make it worse.

  11. #11
    Vice Admiral jay_merrill's Avatar
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    Default Re: 1975 Thunderbird Cathedral Hull

    Well, I'd take it off of your hands just so you wouldn't have one more boat cluttering up your life but .... well ..... it has a Merc on it and I just don't do Mercs! Damn things give me hives ... my throat closes up .... Mr Happy won't get happy any more!

  12. #12
    Captain mthieme's Avatar
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    Default Re: 1975 Thunderbird Cathedral Hull

    Actually, it was the motor I was after for a 16' Hustler that I hope to put together in spring. Sorry, the Merc is a 110 not a 90...my bad.
    The T-bird will wind up with an 85 Merc in spring and go down the road.

    Nothing is so broken that Government can't make it worse.

  13. #13
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    Default Re: 1975 Thunderbird Cathedral Hull

    go a head jay nice one man you gonna need some horsepower now
    140 looper ought do well .
    if i can help ya holla im in denham springs ,
    been coming thru fishin lately
    Benny B

  14. #14
    Vice Admiral jay_merrill's Avatar
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    Default Re: 1975 Thunderbird Cathedral Hull

    I'm still awaiting the swivel bracket that I bought from Seaway to fix the J65 that I busted up a couple of weeks ago. Once that is fixed, I will put it in the corner of my shop and start working on my other J65. When the T-Bird is ready, I'll put both of them on it. I've never fished the offshore rigs, and I think that will be a setup that I would be comfortable running 20 miles offshore in. I'm just not a big fan of getting that far out in open water, with one main motor and a small kicker.

    My plan at this point is to strip my Glassmaster 17.5 foot boat and sell the hull. The trailer that I have for it is too small anyway, and I would like to keep it to put a smaller boat on. My idea is to just sit around waiting for a cheap aluminum boat to pop up somewhere. If I find someting on the order of a 14' flat, I'll use the old trailer and put one of my Johnson 33 hp motors on it. Owning two boats seems kinda like overkill in some ways, but given gas prices, I know I'm not going to want to run the T-Bird just to go chase a few Reds. Besides, the smaller boat/motor will be a better rig for the marshes.

    The one thing I am really looking forward to about the T-Bird is that I can put a V-Berth and Port-a-Potty in it. When the boat is ready, I'll probably take my little man out for some overnights in the boat. I think it will be great to get one of the grills that hang over the side, do some dogs and burgers and hang out in what I call "the church of the bayou." By the time I get the boat done, he will be just about the right age to fish on his own, and start enjoying camping out on the boat. Who knows, I might even take a vacation and run over to Gulf Shores, Orange Beach, etc. in it!

  15. #15
    Vice Admiral jay_merrill's Avatar
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    Default Re: 1975 Thunderbird Cathedral Hull

    To my surprise, my stringers don't look as bad as I thought they would. In fact, I think that are OK for the most part. While to floor in the boat was pretty well rotted, I see no broken sections in the stringers thus far - I do have a bit of floor to pull out, but most of it is gone.

    There is a section at the aft end of the boat where the stringers will need some attention. In fact, it doesn't look like they were installed properly to begin with, because they stop short of the transom and don't seem to tiee into the drain well either.

    I may have lucked out on the cracking that I thought was gelcoat too. On closer inspection, it looks like it is just cracked paint for the most part. Below are a couple of pics before and after light sanding with 120 grit on a taper nose orbital sander.












  16. #16
    Vice Admiral jay_merrill's Avatar
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    Default Re: 1975 Thunderbird Cathedral Hull

    Just an update - I've been working on the boat a little bit at a time. One discovery that was made since I last posted, is that the floor damage was caused by termites! We have Formosan Termites here in Louisiana and they get into everything! The stringers were apparently spared because they are completely encased in FG, but the floor was not glassed on the bottom. There are also a bracing system around the saddle tanks, which suffered quite a bit of damage.

  17. #17
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    Default Re: 1975 Thunderbird Cathedral Hull

    Considering buying a 68 not my first boat but will definably be the first project. Now that you have gotten started any regrets? Im looking at $150 for the boat no motor and the floor has been pulled out and I guess they gave up. Ideally I was looking for a 19ft walk around cuddy project got to imagine there is a little more room with the tri hull. Keep me updated I might be doing the same thing. Whats your opinion on Min-Max power for it?

  18. #18
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    Default Re: 1975 Thunderbird Cathedral Hull

    Have mixed feeling about it but bought it at $150. Have not payed yet and don't have the boat going back Wednesday to help him move it on the trailer some. taking some weight off the front. its moved more forward than in the picture. The floor has been removed and stringers looks similar to yours with some rot. The trailer is for a smaller boat and I have to move it 30 miles but once home the ramp is only 1 mile away. Do I need to look for another trailer or will the single axle be enough?
    Attached Images Attached Images

  19. #19
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    Default Re: 1975 Thunderbird Cathedral Hull

    there is a difference I have noticed. This one has potty and windows. How hard is the potty drain fill holes going to be to close up? I think I would rather get rid of it that it start leaking one day. Was sold as a 68 guessing this is correct.

  20. #20
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    Default Re: 1975 Thunderbird Cathedral Hull

    Quote Originally Posted by jay_merrill View Post
    Just an update - I've been working on the boat a little bit at a time. One discovery that was made since I last posted, is that the floor damage was caused by termites! We have Formosan Termites here in Louisiana and they get into everything! The stringers were apparently spared because they are completely encased in FG, but the floor was not glassed on the bottom. There are also a bracing system around the saddle tanks, which suffered quite a bit of damage.
    That transom would be easy to seacast, just slit the top and chainsaw the wood out.

  21. #21

    Default Re: 1975 Thunderbird Cathedral Hull

    Hey guys,

    I found this forum by searching for Thunderbird watercraft on Google. My father recently passed away, leaving behind his beloved Thunderbird, which I believe is a late 60s or early 1970s model. I was going to have my mother donate the boat to a charity auction, but I'm sure it will be junked for that galvanized trailer it sits on.

    The boat has a 70 horse Evinrude, which ran fine the last time we had in the water, which was 2005.

    I'd much rather see this boat go to somebody appreciates that style of boat would like to carry it on.

    I hope I'm not violating any forum rules by posting this message, I'm really is looking for a good home for this old boat. If anyone is interested, PM me. The boat is located in New Hampshire.

    Here's a picture for you look at:


  22. #22
    Petty Officer 1st Class lucky7's Avatar
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    Default Re: 1975 Thunderbird Cathedral Hull

    is that boat still up for sale?

  23. #23
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    Default Re: 1975 Thunderbird Cathedral Hull

    Here's an interesting link all about the Thunderbird, and it's designer Dick Cole, who went on to improve, & patent the design of the Airslot hulls for Wellcraft, he also designed the Wellcraft Nova:

    http://www.ultimate.com/omc-boats/cole.html
    89'-19' Bayliner Capri Ski boat, with a 125hp Force
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  24. #24
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    Default Re: 1975 Thunderbird Cathedral Hull

    I gotta 17' SiouxDSCF0443.jpg

  25. #25
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    Default Re: 1975 Thunderbird meet 1966 Thunderbird

    Quote Originally Posted by Star One View Post
    I finally found the community of guys that would love to have their hands on the T-Bird I'm trying to sell for an older couple! This is a gem!

    Info that I've gathered/confirmed through discussions:

    • The owner of the boat was a powerboat dealer salesman, and managed to obtain this No. 4 example off the line.
    • Same owner was the guy that refinished the entire interior in "Teak" Wood in all areas.
    • This model has the typical catherdral tri-hull, but features a "Deep V" that extends the full length of the boat, which changed later.
    • The model has a more desirable outdrive gear box that was of the 'racing caliber' for the era, the TR-S by Mercruiser.
    • The boat is 24 feet long nose to prop.
    • Original 327 Chevy V8 oufitted by Mercruiser for marine use, last run five years ago, new oil.
    • The motor is not currently operatable due to winterizing (plugs removed to allow moisture accumulation in cylinders, accessories belts are removed, exhaust manifold elbow remove to also vent moisture during long sitting period. All hardware/components are present in the boat apart from batteries, minimal service would be required to get back to running condition.
    • All coushions and bed/seating pads from the lower hold are clean and in great condition, but are kept seperately to aviod mold etc.
    • The boat is currently on a 4-wheel trailer w/ hitch.
    • The boat is in spectacular condition because it has literally sat indoors for ~38 years. Last Reg, 1974
    • Paperwork for this 48 year-old boat is gone unfortunately.


    Attachment 137444Attachment 137445Attachment 137446Attachment 137447Attachment 137448

    If you're interested in buying the boat, send me a PM

    Thanks Everyone!

    As per Forum Rules (UPDATED Feb 2012 in red) http://forums.iboats.com/forum-rules-guidelines/forum-rules-397820.html

    8. You may not solicit any personal transaction (buy, sell, free, donate, etc.) in the forum. This includes solicitations for charitable and non-profit causes. Personal transactions arranged completely by Private Message are not affected by this rule. Solicitation by PM must be preceded by contact in the forum. Please note: threads or posts that give extensive details on anything that is for sale will be assumed to be an attempt to advertise and are subject to deletion.

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