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first time boater, old boat to rebuild.. in deep water?

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  • first time boater, old boat to rebuild.. in deep water?

    hi.. i thought this might be a good place to start, as i am now first-time owner of a new watercraft. just browsing the posts here, i can see that most of the users on this board know their stuff, and there's alot of knowledge and experience here.. maybe i can get some help, or at least some ideas/opinions. first, a little background..

    i have moved to south florida after living my entire life (25 yrs) in the midwest. needless to say, being surrounded by water is a new experience for me. i enjoy vehicular projects (i do work on my cars and i did a restoration of a classic bmw bike, my first foray into motorcycling) and i felt it was time for a new project, and since i just moved into a new place on a large (50 ft wide, 10 ft deep) canal with a boat ramp, i thought the time had come to get a boat. i have never owned a boat, nor do i know much about them, though after living here for 6 mos i've gained a little knowledge.

    i aquired a boat from a friend of a friend, in a deal made sitting around the campfire. lots of talk and a few beers aside, i ended up with a 15 ft tri-hull bowrider (looks like a glasstron) with a pass-thru windshield and an outboard. the inside had about 6 inches of random outside debris (boat stored outside, uncovered, last registered '02), the trailer looks like it's seen better days.. it's got a 50hp mercury model 500 outboard with tilt/trim, other than that i'm in the dark.

    i bought the whole deal for one dollar. from what i've heard this might be a dollar too much. at any rate, i plan to rebuild this boat. i was told the shell is in good shape. the motor had a broken spark plug which i have since removed/replaced, according to the seller it should now "fire right up" although i've not tried to start it. was told it has hydraulic steering, although the wheel is stuck. it has no seats or anything inside, the floor seems pretty soild. there was a square cut into the floorboard, i pried it up to find nasty, bug-infested strips of bouyant foam, between which was 6-7 inches of nasty water. most of the panels on the insides were rotted wood and pulled off easily by hand. i got the boat home, cleaned it out, pulled off any paneling/carpet/interior trim that would come loose (almost all of it) and pulled the broken plug out of the motor.

    i guess my first question is.. now what? i have a vague idea of what i'd like to do to the boat, but lack the skills/equipment to do most of it. i'm assuming that if the shell is good, that a new boat can be built on top of it. i have no idea what that cost would be or how difficult/easy it would be. i would also like to have the boat painted (looks are a big factor to me), and throw on a bigger motor (plate says 75hp max, does this really mean 75hp max?) as i'm a speed freak. what i'd really like is to get the shell refinished, floors and side panels replaced and the body how i want, then i can do the seats, instruments/eletricals, motor, etc. myself. am i totally insane?

    any help would be appreciated..


  • #2
    Re: first time boater, old boat to rebuild.. in deep water?

    i think just the materials to do such a project could buy you a boat that works. if on a budget look for an ugly boat in good seaworthy shape. you can usually a beter deal lots of them from $500- $2500 good luck


    • #3
      Re: first time boater, old boat to rebuild.. in deep water?

      Depends on how much you REALLY enjoy projects. Like stated above, you are going to spend some money on rebuilding this boat. Before you make this decision, you need to think about what are your intentions for the boat? (i.e. pleasure, fishing, skiing) I finally got mine completed about 4 months ago and it is a 1979 17.8ft Tri-hull and I made it into a nice fishing boat that I can take out into Tampa Bay and go virtually anywhere. It is not however sea worthy for over 3 foot ruff chop.

      After you have made that decision, then you can start to look at boats online or around you at there selling price. Use that as a general idea as to what you can get for that price and start adding up what your supplies cost will be. And dont be cheap when adding up costs, they rack up quicker than you can imagine. My boat including ALL costs to take it from hull with bad trailer to fishing machine that is reliable is about $2200-$2500 (including purchase of boat/trailer). If you decide to build, remember you can do whatever you want and set it up however your imagination wants. Its even better when your done to know you built it, you didnt go out and buy it. Plus you know what DOESNT need repaired! Its a nice feeling.
      1978 Saber Tri Hull (went under the knife)


      • #4
        Re: first time boater, old boat to rebuild.. in deep water?

        ahh.. yes, i'm aware that i could probably get a boat in better shape for what it would cost to fix this one up, however i'd rather have it the way i want it if i can get it restored/built that way. 2500-3000 isn't a problem, i have about 5k budgeted for the project, not including the motor (will be replacing with a newer 4 stroke, as i can't stand 2 cycle motors).

        as far as usage, it will be more of a canal boat than anything probably, and a multi-use utility style boat at that. i like to fish, but not enough to dedicate the boat to fishing. i like to go fast, but i want to be able to carry several people and just chill out on the water for the afternoon. i'm not a skier/tuber but i would like to be able to use it for that if i choose to, and while it will realistically see most of its use in the canal system, i do plan to take it into the gulf at some point.

        if 2-3k is the ballpark for refinishing the major part of the boat, i'll go ahead and build it. i would rather have something built the way i want and know that it's done right. i was expecting it to cost much more than that.


        • #5
          Re: first time boater, old boat to rebuild.. in deep water?

          You need to check the actual condition of the boat
          Check the floor and the stringers under the floor for rot.
          Check the transom for rot.Take hold of the motor and push/pull it forward and back watch for transom flex.
          Use a straight edge on the bottom look for hook(concave) section near the transom or rocker (Convex )section in the same general area.
          There is a good chance the foam is saturated with water.
          If all checks out your golden for a rebuild without the torture of replacing stringers and transom.
          BTW I have a 1965 Merc 500 I was told by a friend of the family who did his homework that at the time the 500 was the best motor Merc or anyone had built to that point.In 2002 I bought his 56 Crestliner and 65 Merc. 500 from his son.Still ran sweet.


          • #6
            Re: first time boater, old boat to rebuild.. in deep water?

            In my opinion the first thing to do is get the motor going and see what kind of shape it's in. If the motors gone, look around and If it's anything like it is here you can usually pick up a boat, motor and trailer cheaper than you can have the engine repaired or replaced.
            The fishin' is always good. Sometimes the catchin' is better.


            • #7
              Re: first time boater, old boat to rebuild.. in deep water?


              Welcome, you're in the right place. I'm surprised that no one else has asked yet. Do you have any pictures of this boat? I say if you're up to the task then GO FOR IT.

              Best of luck!


              • #8
                Re: first time boater, old boat to rebuild.. in deep water?

                Do you want a hobby or a boat? IF you have plans to upgrade the power, then no way yo can re-build that boat and add a 75 hp good running engine for less than just buying one in OK shape with the power you want already. So you'd be doing the work for less that $0 per hr.

                IF the engine works well, then you could sell the engine, sell usable parts from the boat and scrap the rest. You may be able to almost buy a useable small boat for the money you make. Little bowriders like that with small outboards are VERY cheap if you look around.

                IF ypou do still want to fixit up, look through the many,many threads here on floor repair to get an idea of what needs to be done to the floor/structure. For the rest, seach for the specific problem and you'll find lots. You may not like what you find out thorugh. If there are electronics gone bad, trim problems, etc - very expensive and sometimes a pain to get right. The structural, tough still a lot of work, is pretty straight forward I'd say.


                • #9
                  Re: first time boater, old boat to rebuild.. in deep water?

                  thanks to everyone for responding thus far. ohiolowell, i do have pictures of the boat, but nothing really detailed (mostly external shots of me doing a bit of 'gardening' for posterity) i will try to attach. by the way, hello from a fellow ohioan d

                  as far as what i've heard so far, my ultimate goal here isn't to get the best boat for the best price per se, it's more about the journey than the destination, etc. as i'll gain as much from going through the motions and learning from the ground up. i could have bought a much nicer bike for what it cost me in time/$$ to restore mine, but in the end mine came out awesome and it's worth that much more to me to know that i did it myself, learning along the way. i think the knowledge alone is worth the price of admission. i've seen that every other driveway down here seems to have a boat for sale, so i know there's probably different options and better deals, etc. don't get me wrong, i don't like to throw money away, but i've got money set aside to spend on this and i'm comfortable with paying for it to be done the way i want.

                  as far as some of the other things mentioned, the transom is solid. there is a large flat metal plate (about the size of a pizza box) attached to outside of the transom. it has a large hinge on top, attached to which is another thick piece of flat metal where the motor is attached. i'm assuming the hinged plate rotates upwards to lift the motor out of the water.

                  as far as the stringers, i don't think i'll be able to see anything without pulling up the floor, which is pretty solid and has no real weak spots. the small access panel cut into the floor is only maybe 6"x6" but when i did pop it up i could see some nasty looking foam strips and about 6-7 inches of nasty water. i don't know if this is a bilge or what.. someone at work today suggested that there might be a drain plug which needs to be popped out to let the water drain, but i know the boats been out of the water for several years, so it would probably be rainwater at this point. the hull looks pretty solid.. it's got a few barnacles here and there but i plan to have it refinished/painted anyway.

                  other than that there shouldn't be too much else to the boat i wouldn't think.. there's really no electronics or wiring, no instruments, or anything like that. i plan to replace the motor whether this one runs or not, so motor-related parts are a non-issue. i did find an old bilge pump among the junk inside. if the floor has to come up i'll probably replace the gas tank as well.

                  i'm also not planning on doing any of the structural work myself. i had planned to have a boat place do that for me, and deliver me a fresh finished painted hull that was ready for me to install interior trim, seats, electronics, new motor etc. the trailer is also shot but i can easily pick one up.

                  Attached Files


                  • #10
                    Re: first time boater, old boat to rebuild.. in deep water?

                    Then you can count on that $2500 to be at least 3-4 times higher, because those were quotes for if you did the work yourself. If there is all that water, and tri hulls are not self bailing so yes it is rainwater, than the stringers are rotten as well as the transom probably and for a shop to do this you are talking big bucks. I would recommend parting out that boat (get the motor running probably worth several hundred at least) and getting another "dry" hull that is in betterstructural shape but just needs the interior and cosmetic work that you are talking about doing, and getting your 4stroke for it.



                    • #11
                      Re: first time boater, old boat to rebuild.. in deep water?

                      hmmm.... from the first post, I'd assumed the floor and stringers are rotted. If there is 6" of water sitting under there, I very much doubt you can keep the floor as-is. You'll have to at least look under there to see if the structural stringers are OK in other spots. Also, if the floatation foam is all soaked/bug infested then you need to rip it out - which means the floor comes out.

                      I don't get it though, the personal satisfaction of fixing it up yourself seems your motivation, then you say you'll take it a boat place to have most of the work done!?!?!? I think you'll find out this costs so much more than buying a structurally sound boat to start with as to be foolish. IF you just want to do the interior, get a decent boat and re-do the interior. - right?

                      Anyways, good luck. It makes no sense to me, but that's exactly what my wife says about the boat I'm screwing around with! to each his own, i guess.


                      • #12
                        Re: first time boater, old boat to rebuild.. in deep water?

                        well satisfaction doing it on my own to a point, i did all the "work" on my bike myself, but the frame was good, i didn't paint the metal parts (body shop) or rebuild the brake calipers (replaced with new old stock) myself, for example, i just assembled them. i was under the impression i could take the boat to a shop and have it structurally fixed if needed, and get back an empty shell that was structurally sound and ready to "customize" with seats, interior, electrics, etc. after all, it's just a shell with some structural wood on top, as long as it has no holes in it, what else is there? this isn't a yacht, it's a 15 ft fiberglass shell, there's a finite amount of things that can be wrong with it. and yes, if i got to the point where it was obvious that the boat was beyond fixing, i would probably scrap it, sell the motor and get something else. but then again, forgive the pun, i'd be in the same 'boat' as i don't know many sellers that would be cool with me ripping up the floor of their boat to check for leaks, so i could end up with the same problems. only solution i can see if to buy one thats pretty new, in which case i'll end up spending the same large amount that it may take to fix this one, so i don't know. i guess step two is pulling up the floor.


                        • #13
                          Re: first time boater, old boat to rebuild.. in deep water?

                          also just fyi the floor seems pretty solid.. i walked around on it with no problems at all, it dosen't seem to even bend under me and i'm almost 200 lbs. ( i know this dosen't necessarily mean that it's ok, but still). from the walk-thru windshield forward to the bow it's all fiberglass anyway, molded into front seats on each side. like i said before, it dosen't seem like there would be much more to it than the shell underneath and whatever structure is between the keels and floor, right?


                          • #14
                            Re: first time boater, old boat to rebuild.. in deep water?

                            There is wood which makes up the structural integrity. Thats what makes up the boat strength between the inner liner and the exterior hull. And therefore since you said it was 6'' deep in water that was brown, and wood rots when constantly exposed to water it rots and then stains the water brown as well as just nastyness in there. i would say that all your structural wood is a rotten mush according to your description. As far as how it feels strong it may "feel" that way but when underway jumping wakes etc. that puts on excess stress and can let go at these key periods. The wood is the strength not the fiberglass hull. The waterlogged foam also can be holding up the floor even though the wood may not be that well. That a gain brings up another point. You must tear up the floor to tear all that nasty water logged foam out, becuse water is heavy and you probably have 300+ lbs. of water logged foam in excess water weight that you do not want to carry because that will make you slower as well as lower your capacity because it is like having a person in the boat before anyone gets in there.



                            • #15
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                              Re: first time boater, old boat to rebuild.. in deep water?

                              well thats fine, if thats the case thats the case, like i said i don't know these things, which is why i'm here. if i do end up sending the boat off to be refinished, i will most likely tear out as much as i can before i do so, if nothing else just to see what it looks like firsthand so i'll know, as part of the learning experience. i also don't want to half *** the repair job, i'd rather have 0 lbs in water weight/nasty foam than make due with however much is there, don't get me wrong. i'm just trying to get a ballpark idea of what i'll be dealing with, but i guess i'll just have to tear it up.

                              all the info i've gotten thus far has been very helpful and interesting, though not very reassuring i really appreciate all your help.


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