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'78 Beachcraft 17' OMC 120 Restoration Project

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  • '78 Beachcraft 17' OMC 120 Restoration Project

    I purchased a 1978 Beachcraft 17' Sterndrive closed bow runabout a few weeks ago. It was not running well when I got it, but now the engine is purring like a kitten and Im ready to start work on the interior restoration. I started another thread on the fuel delivery problem here - http://forums.iboats.com/showthread.php?t=538536, but this thread will pertain to the interior restoration.

    I have NEVER done fiberglass work, and one project calls for HDPE welding, which I will also be learning to do on the fly. This forum will document all the trials and tribulations, successes and epic fails in my journey towards making this a nice fishing boat. I hope that it will assist others thinking about doing the same, with no experience. I bought this boat and a 1993 EZloader galvanized trailer for $800, and I hope to spend under $500 in materials.

    I will be doing the following to make this a good fishing platform for the Columbia river:

    1. Swingback cooler bench seat (Used... Im a cheapskate) up front, will need to put plywood down and glass it in to make a base for it.

    2. Fabricate boxes for rear seats/battery. Will glass those as well.

    3. Fabricate a livewell/fish box using high density polyethylene HDPE (I'll need to learn how to weld plastic for this, so it should be interesting!) and marine ply for a frame, then glassing it. Id like to put this in the center of the floor for better weight distribution and Id like it strong enough to stand on.

    If this is too much of a problem I'll just fabricate another mount for a swingback cooler seat and install a second one in the middle of the boat and convert the cooler to a livewell. If I go this route I'll cut a small section of floor out with 45 degree angles, route hoses for filling and drainage tubes to the transom, then patch with marine ply and fiberglass that section. This may be the preferred route so that I can spot check the stringers near the drain hole in front of the engine compartment where they are most likely to have rot. Time and money will dictate.

    4. new resin/glass cloth on floor, sanded smooth, and white gelcoat to finish.

    5. some minor electrical fixes/upgrades - Fuel gauge or sending unit repair, tachometer isnt working properly, only shows about 50% of the actual engine RPM, LED lighting for bow and transom, HID headlights, halogen interior lighting, stereo/speaker install, backup battery and switch.

    6. And of course I'll need to add a small kicker and a couple downriggers. That will come later, as time and money is being invested in making this a vessel worthy of being seen in public.

    So thats the plan! Here are some pics of the Beachcraft as she sits currently. Actually I took the carpet that the previous owner laid in without glue or anything and the seats out. It is bare fliberglass now and appears to be totally solid, but the glass is rough. (forgive the watermarks, I havent registered the program I downloaded to reduce the file sizes):

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  • #2
    Re: '78 Beachcraft 17' OMC 120 Restoration Project

    Looking forward to seeing your progress. I have a 77 18' Beachcraft that has floor rot. Im going to start opening up the floor soon but Im trying to get as much info as possible before I start. Good luck and keep us posted.

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    • #3
      Re: '78 Beachcraft 17' OMC 120 Restoration Project

      Ill post my progress. I found someone selling a matching set of swingback cooler seats on CL for 150 bucks, but the guy sold em out from under me before I could get out to his area (I was going to make a long trip, plus about $40 in ferry fees). Very frustrating. I really want to use a cooler as a seat for the forward console to save space and am hoping to find a cheap used swingback, but if I cant find one I think I'll just get a decent sized marine cooler and put a vinyl seat cover on top. They can be found on eBay for around 50 bucks. If anyone has a swingback cooler seat or three for sale let me know!

      The more I think about it, the more I want to open the floor. I plan on reglassing the top just to give the gel coat a smooth surface, so I dont think its too much effort. I want to see what it looks like and feel as much of the structure as possible under the floor. If there is wet foam or an indication of rot I'll have a lot more work to do. If not, I'll be able to add a subfloor box for storage, or fab up a fish box inside the hull. I can also put some expanding floatation foam in there for added safety and rigidity. My only concern with tearing into the floor is that I dont want to damage any structural supports if they are in good shape. I think I can get away with setting a circular saw to 5/8" or whatever depth the floor is, cutting at a 45 degree angle, and peeling sections of the floor off. Ideally if I do this right I can just lay the cut out sections back in and glass over the top when done. Does anyone know if this sounds right? I dont know how the floor is fastened, or if it is even attached to the stringers. Is a deck generally attached to structural supports between the fiberglass hull and the bottom side of the floor? Can I just peel it off?

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      • #4
        Re: '78 Beachcraft 17' OMC 120 Restoration Project

        I dont know about yours but I started pulling my deck and the stringers are in great shape. The only thing rotting is the plywood. My big issue is it seems like they put this Mercruiser 233 in after it was built as it has a notch on the stern where it looks like they didnt have room to fit the exhaust manifolds. Now I have no way to remove the manifolds without cutting into the stern or pulling the motor. Sucks.

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        • #5
          Re: '78 Beachcraft 17' OMC 120 Restoration Project

          when I got this Beachcraft it was gutted down to the fiberglass floor. On yours, was there a plywood layer on top of the deck, or are you saying the plywood inside the fiberglass deck was rotten?

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          • #6
            Re: '78 Beachcraft 17' OMC 120 Restoration Project

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            Last night I was busy ripping wood and building boxes for the aft seats. Got them fastened and sanded. I will be pulling them apart and applying a slow curing epoxy to seal them, then refastening and applying a second coat of epoxy to seal the seams. They are a perfect size for the area they fill and have hinges on top allowing for storage under the seats. One of them, pictured above, had to be set in a bit for the battery to fit. I also built them so that I can remove them if I need to get in behind them or I need more room to work on the engine.

            Edit - pics added. Applying first coat of epoxy.
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            • #7
              Re: '78 Beachcraft 17' OMC 120 Restoration Project

              Ive been wanting a down scanning sonar/GPS combo unit for a long time, so I finally got one. I picked up a Lowrance Elite 5 DSI (not the Elite-5x, that one doesnt have GPS) and will be putting that on tomorrow. I will also be getting a second transiever and mount for my Reinell so I can use it on both boats. I wont be including that it the total cost of the interior rebuild because its electronics and not really related. Next on the electonics list is a VHF radio, and a stereo. I plan on building a platform in the console area under the dash with cutouts for both. Im thinking something that will make the cockpit area look more like a car with the components in the center.

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              • #8
                Re: '78 Beachcraft 17' OMC 120 Restoration Project

                It was the deck under the fiberglass floor. The stringers seem to be well coated.

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                • #9
                  Re: '78 Beachcraft 17' OMC 120 Restoration Project

                  Thats good to hear. Beachcrafts seem to be well built boats. I dont see a need to redo the whole floor because I havent found any rot, but I do think Im going to cut out a section to install a fish box, which will give me access under the floor to check the condition of the stringers and install new float foam. I'll then glass the floor and box together to make it water tight again, and provide a good sandable surface for gel coat.

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                  • #10
                    Re: '78 Beachcraft 17' OMC 120 Restoration Project

                    ya know, the previous owner had cut into the fiberglass on the stern above the motor on mine too, probably to ease the removal/reinstall of the engine for the rebuild. the doghouse covers the cut marks but its kinda ugly. The good thing is that it isnt hard to pull the motor on these boats, provided you have a hoist, but ya that still sucks! Just keep it outta the salt and you'll be fine, lol. When you pulled the floor on yours, was the floor attached to the structure underneath with epoxy or anything? Id like to just peel off a few small sections of the floor without damaging anything underneath...

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                    • #11
                      Re: '78 Beachcraft 17' OMC 120 Restoration Project

                      Sorry for the long delay. I just finished pulling the deck and scraped all the old foam out. The deck was screwed into the stringers, I didnt notice any other kind of adhesive.

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                      • #12
                        Re: '78 Beachcraft 17' OMC 120 Restoration Project

                        was the foam wet, or did it appear to have been water logged at one time? Im only going off what Ive read but it seems the old floatation foam was an open cell type that would become soggy when it got wet, whereas the new stuff is closed cell and should remain like styrofoam if wet. That would give an indication as to whether someone has attempted (and failed) to replace the floor once before.

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                        • #13
                          Re: '78 Beachcraft 17' OMC 120 Restoration Project

                          Its been a slow week for boat rehab. Lots goin on. I have a dilema of frugality that Im hoping someone can help me with... I picked up some industrial/marine DTM type latex floor paint from a guy that sells overage from large construction projects and apt communities for $7 a gallon, and Im wondering if its ok to use it on the fiberglass deck? I bought 3 different kinds, but the one I can remember is called Metalatex by Sherwin Williams. Would this stuff hold up on the deck, or would I just be creating more of a mess to clean up?

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                          • #14
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                            Re: '78 Beachcraft 17' OMC 120 Restoration Project

                            Originally posted by ArmedUnDangerous View Post
                            was the foam wet, or did it appear to have been water logged at one time?
                            The foam seemed dry but it had water in the corners of the stringers. Im leaving the foam out. I just finished glassing the bottoms of the replacement deck parts. Its going well and ahould be complete in a week or so. As far as the paint this thread is definitely not the right place to post it. Theres just not enough beachcraft people on iboats. Try posting your questions on the rebuild thread.

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