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TOPIC: Boat inspection for Dummies?

Boat inspection for Dummies? 10 months 5 days ago #134068

New guy here, just outside of Phoenix, Arizona. I grew up on Lake St. Clair in Michigan, and Dad had a beautiful 60-something 19 foot Thunderbird Formula for most of my childhood years. Well, at least I thought it was beautiful...I recall he lobbed an awful lot of cursing towards that boat over the years...apparently it stole quite a few Benjamins out of his wallet, lol I still have a whole lot of awesome memories of being out on the water with him though :) Sure would love to find another one today.

Fast forward 25 years, and I find myself with an itch to buy a boat myself. Problem is that I was pretty young when he did end up selling the boat due to rot issues, so I never really learned much in the way of maintenance, or things to look out for. I've been building 4x4s for most of my life since I got my license, and always had an affinity for the classic rigs. Current fleet includes a 1959 International B160 2.5 ton truck, 1962 International Scout with a GM LT1 transplant, and Samurai with newer 2.0 transplant, so I consider myself pretty handy with the wrenches. I've seen a couple 50's and 60's runabouts that would look awfully nice next to my trucks (and I'm sure even better on the water), but I'm a little apprehensive about buying into something that may have hidden gremlins that I just don't know how to look for.

That said, I've looked over a few boat buying guides, and while they often say things like "look for transom rot" or other such issues, they never go into specifically HOW to check for such things. Especially on something like a fiberglass boat set up for an outboard, I'm not sure how I would even be ABLE to check the inner plywood without taking a saw to the boat..and I'm pretty sure most sellers aren't going to be too keen on me cutting up their boats, lol. Same thing with checking floors - assuming it's not something obvious, like walking on the floor feels like walking on marshmallows or leaves nice foot shaped holes in the floor, how would I check these things?

I'd assume there are other things to check on a boat that wouldn't necessarily be the same thing as checking out a car, and it seems like it took me going through a few lemons of cars before I learned what to look for. So, is there something like "Boat Inspections for Dummies" out there somewhere, that goes over not only WHAT to look for, but also HOW to look for it?

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Boat inspection for Dummies? 10 months 5 days ago #134072

Hi There and welcome !
I guess the first few questions you have to answer to yourself.
Are you looking for turn key boat ? A less expensive fixer-upper, or a basket case that you want to make into a Detroit80 custom to your liking ?
There are many fine craftsmen that can help you here. In terms of what to look for, which boats ride best, ball park prices to purchase, and repair techniques. Since I am new at this. I only know the theory without much real practice.
There is also a nice series on youtube that explains repairs of all sorts, including painting, gelcoat, and color matching.
Checkout "boatworkstoday.com"
I know the boat itch can lead you to quick crazy decisions, so step back, take your time, go thru the glassic library tab above for your ideal style. And go from there... good luck on your quest !

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Boat inspection for Dummies? 10 months 5 days ago #134074

  • Nautilus
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A boat needs to float, run and steer. Everything else is icing on the cake. That said, you need to decide just how "good" you want to make your boat and if you have the knowledge, tools and time to do the work yourself. If you want a hobby and the pride of accomplishment, that's one thing. If you want to go boating, buy one already restored.

First of all, you should sink your time and money into a boat worth doing. By that I mean something with enough resale value to reclaim at least a portion of your "investment"...a boat that a lot of others would want to own. You WILL sell it at some point in the future, even though you might doubt it now.

Next...the floor...deck...whatever you want to call it. If it's mushy or soft anywhere, it needs to be replaced everywhere. If it's bad, chances are that the transom is in bad shape too, especially at the bottom. Those are the biggest expenses in small fiberglass boat restoration, possibly aside from a new engine. A $1,000 boat with a rock solid floor beats a $100 boat with a bad one.

If you feel unqualified to determine the condition of a boat, find or hire someone who is. I can be had for a few beers and some good old "boat talk." I'd bet there are plenty of others just like me in your area. Good luck!

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"Never allow logic to interfere with a boat purchase." - J. S. Hadley
"Vintage quality beats new junk every time." - J. S. Hadley
"Anything supposed to do two things does both of them half-assed." - J. S. Hadley
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Boat inspection for Dummies? 10 months 5 days ago #134078

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Welcome aboard, Everything Jan (Nautilus) and more is excellent advise. Sounds like you're a competent wrencher and know your way around repairs so you have a leg up. Other than an obvious hole in the hull there are some basic things to look for but really nothing that can't be repaired or improved. Step inside the boat you are looking at. If the floor (deck) moves when you step on it the whole thing will have to be removed and replaced. If there are holes in the transom where a motor was attached or a depth finder or anything else you can assume the transom is rotting. The water that seeps into those holes will never dry up. If you're looking at a tin boat the transoms are less work to replace, wood boats are pretty well straight forward and glass boats range from easy peasy to 'oddam POS. At some point every one of them have been covered somewhere extensively on this site so just ask away or use the search tab above.
Just know what you are getting into and assume the worst and hope for the best.
Like the government says "We are here to help" :evil:

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Boat inspection for Dummies? 10 months 5 days ago #134082

I suppose the "less expensive fixer upper" is what I'm really going for (though I know it more than likely will ultimately cost more than an already restored one would in the long run). There's really only two lakes that are relatively close to me, one 30 mins away, and another roughly 90 minutes away. Given my work schedule, I'm likely only going to be able to get out a dozen or so times a year for the immediate future, so I'm hesitant to drop any big money into something.

What prompted this for me was thinking back to the 1st "nice" vehicle I bought as a teenager. Or so I thought.... I still remember driving by the Ford lot by the house, and seeing a gorgeous all black 1991 GMC Sonoma extended cab truck, and immediately fell in love. Mom said the only way I could buy it was to let Dad check it out first. I thought it was great just because it could do a wicked burnout. Dad takes one look at it, points out a couple small spots on the rocker panels where the paint was bubbling, and tells me I don't want the truck - those rockers will be swiss cheese in a couple months. I told him he didn't know WTF he was talking about, I bought it anyways, and sure enough - there was enough rust in those rocker panels that swiss cheese was a understatement, along with the floor pans and cab corners a year later, lol. All because I didn't think a tiny bit of paint bubbling was a big deal, and I've talked to quite a few people over the years who had no clue that paint bubbling was a sign of rust..they just paint just did that after so many years.

I'm 20 years older and wiser now, but not having been around boats for quite some time, these are the things that I'm thinking about now. Not necessarily what specific issues should I be looking out for in a 1974 Glastron V-212, but rather general things that I would want to be looking for in any boat. I think realistically speaking, I'd be better off with an aluminum hull, as I know I'll be getting into some debris while fishing from time to time, but I do love the lines of some of these classic fiberglass hulls too. I'm leaning towards outboards, again from the fishing aspect being able to get the drive out of the water more, easier maintenance/replacement, and it at least looks like they all clamp on rather than bolt through the transom so less points of water intrusion there?

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Boat inspection for Dummies? 10 months 5 days ago #134083

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My advice would be to set a budget, $1,500-2,000, and then do some serious comparative shopping. Buy the best boat you can find for the money that will need a minimum of work, has a strong-running engine and a decent trailer. You'll have all winter long to spruce it up for Spring.

If you buy a $300-500 boat, chances are you will end up putting more than $1,000 into it and it won't be ready for Spring fishing...and maybe not even the following Spring. Life happens...Grasshopper!

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Website: NautilusRestorations.com

Mentor to the unenlightened!

"Never allow logic to interfere with a boat purchase." - J. S. Hadley
"Vintage quality beats new junk every time." - J. S. Hadley
"Anything supposed to do two things does both of them half-assed." - J. S. Hadley
"Success makes...

Boat inspection for Dummies? 10 months 4 days ago #134084

Out here in the South West, early 70's boats are plentiful and cheap. If you are willing to learn how to replace the vinyl seats, even better. Keep in mind, so many of our lakes are reservoirs, and are getting more and more restrictive to 2 stroke.

Will

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Boat inspection for Dummies? 10 months 4 days ago #134086

Willdiver wrote: Out here in the South West, early 70's boats are plentiful and cheap. If you are willing to learn how to replace the vinyl seats, even better. Keep in mind, so many of our lakes are reservoirs, and are getting more and more restrictive to 2 stroke.

Will


In Phoenix, not so much. Though I did end up dragging home a '69 Silverline Riviera today with an 85hp Johnson outboard. Motor seemed to run good in the guy's driveway, hull is solid, floor has had MANY pee-poor repairs done by a prior owner, and original fuel tank has been removed and replaced by a portable steel can (it is an actual OB style tank though, like what would be normally found in a jon boat, not just a random steel can or tank). Did come with a pretty new set of lay down seats though, and a decent bimini top, so that's a plus. Dad has been an upholstery guy for 30+ years, so I'll have him help me make up a cover for at some point.

It wasn't exactly what I wanted, but at $1100, I figure it's an inexpensive way to figure out whether I really want to get back into boating or not. I'm not wild about a tri-hull bow rider, but I figure on the inland lakes around here, the chop shouldn't get big enough that it will become a major issue on a regular basis and I suppose the open bow may become handy for fishing. But hey, a non ideal boat is better than no boat at all, right? :lol: I'll probably visit Walmart tonight to pick up the legal necessities - life jackets, fire extinguisher, etc and drop it in the local lake tomorrow to see how it works out.
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Boat inspection for Dummies? 10 months 4 days ago #134091

As long as you dont mind spending the time to replace the floor, $1100 isnt bad. I have the primary tanks in the hull, but also a 5 Gallon steel tank as a reserve tucked away. Nice if you want to gas up before a trip, and dont want to drag the whole boat along.
You arent too far from Havasu. After getting everything set up and dialed in, that would make a fun weekend.

Will

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Boat inspection for Dummies? 10 months 4 days ago #134095

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A trihull is a good solid stable platform for fishing and just enjoying the water. You can sit on the gunwales without tipping over. Mount a swivel seat in the bow area, convert the bow seating to live-wells etc. I've converted several to be exclusive fishing rigs. That 85 will also give you the "umph" to have some fun.
Here's a tri-hull Bee Craft that I had two years ago. You can see the rod holders mounted to the stern, it was set up for trolling and still fishing with a removable seat up front on a platform.
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Boat inspection for Dummies? 10 months 3 days ago #134099

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1 thing that is easy,,everybody pounds on transom says its solid wrong,, drill a small hole from inside at mid,towards bottom of transom,,if it is dry and light good if it is dark it is rotten cant spend time money with out replacing it,like restoring a car on rusty frame,,easy cheap check,just go in an inch,,then fill with silicon or resin if good good luck Bill

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Boat inspection for Dummies? 10 months 3 days ago #134103

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BILL, EVERY SPRING I HOP UP ON THE CAV PLATE WITH BOAT ON TRAILER AND POUNCE ON IT UP AND DOWN FOR ABOUT 30 SEC. I'M 190LBS. IT DOESN'T BUDGE AND TRANSOM DOESN'T GIVE AT ALL. WHEN I BOUGHT THE BOAT I RAN A PIECE OF 2"X2" ANGLE ACROSS ON THE INSIDE TO MATCH UP WITH ENGINE MOUNTING HOLES SO THE PRESSURE IS EVENLY ACROSS THE WHOLE BACK AND NOT ALL IN A 10" WIDE AREA. TIM C. HAD TALKED ABOUT IT AROUND 12YRS. AGO. NEVER TOOK A PIC BUT IT COVERS THE HOLES WHERE THE ENGINE BOLTS THRU UNDER THE SPLASH WELL. RON
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