Category Archives: Projects

Projects are build diaries of projects. Once the projects are complete they will move into General Diaries.

Tidying it all up. The finishing touches.

After the snow has thawed, it was time to put all those little bits I had learnt last year into action. It was time to tidy up the boat and make it how I felt it should be.

This started by taking the boat to my work and putting it on the ramp so things could be worked on more easily.

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One of the first things I did was replace a mudguard that had rusted and become detached.

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Then the fuel tank was removed after space was found at the front and the repair to the rear begun.

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Polyester resin used here. The same stuff halfords sell for cars. I was warned away from this but actually it worked perfectly.

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Notice the wiring was tidied up as well.

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Then I painted it – and you would never have known I had even cut it!! I was pleased by this finally!!

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Speakers added!

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I actually ended up painting the whole top half of the boat, after some front end damage was also done. A new rubbing strip was found and the top half of the boat was now beginning to look pretty damn good.

Next came the interior. This was a whole new thing for me. I had to ask my mum if I could borrow her sewing machine! She thought I had gone mad, and to be fair so did I.

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But in any case I carefully unpicked the old upholstery, marked it out and after a bit of reading worked out how to use the sewing machine and got going.

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I thought I did quite well I must say. This below REALLY impressed me hahaha.

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So coming together now. Looking better..

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Now you have the idea!!

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Then onto the seats. These were tricky. Like playing in 3d space you had to think from all sorts of angles, but somehow I did it.

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Back into the boat that wasn’t the only thing that needed doing. The dash and side panels were also rotten. So out that came the panels.

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And new ones went in.

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Half way there now! The fuel tank is now behind the center panel in the front. This was a much better idea. The boat I was to learn would be much better on the water like this.

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The much needed electronics and radio were then fitted!

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Looking good!!!

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And the final job done!

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Stitched Panorama

Notice the 12inch kenwood sub below! Gotta love the tunes! Oh and new glove box.

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Stitched Panorama

And finally the stickers.

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So this is how it ended up. You need to read the trips now if you have not already. The boat was shortly sold after this with a 50hp engine – never to be seen again. But I have to say this was an amazing boat. and had some incredible times on it. What I didn’t realise however is just how long it would be until I was on the water again. That all continues with the 170GTO Project!

 

Fletcher 170GTO – the beginning.

In November 2009 before I found the Waverider Quantum I was planning on another Fletcher. I picked up this boat for £600 with a new interior and good hull, but knowing it had a rotted transom that I would need to replace. So here we go:

Have to say I love the look of the Fletcher 170 GTO:

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Hull external. All original Gel Coat with very little signs of damage. Its had a vinyl cover over it its whole life, which unfortunately didn’t keep the water off the exposed transom wood as you’ll see in a bit.

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Very recently it had a new interior which you can see here. Its a cream leather vinyl. Still soft and nice and plush. There are some bits that could have been done better, which I do intend to correct, but its not a bad job over all.

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Fuel tank is behind the centre piece, ‘glove box’ opens in a strange direction – they all do that, no idea why?!

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Drivers seat. Finish quite nice and tight.

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Passenger seat. Finish not as good as the drivers side, but will be fine.

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Rear bench seat. A bit of a strange design on this. Not sure I like it so high so I may modify that and bring it down a bit as it spoils the lines of the boat. Also the top bench doesn’t line up exactly with the bottom, I want to sort that eventually too. Notice the brand new marine speakers. Never even had sound played through them yet!

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Another of the rear showing possible hints of the rot on the transom which has been exposed to the elements for far too long.

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And into the danger zone. Your staring at bare wood on the cut out in front. If it was not for that from what I can tell the rest of the boat is totally solid.

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The ply was soft to the touch, and had de-laminated. Although it didn’t look particularly rotted I knew it was really bad.

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The Exterior shows a nice clean hull and the old Fletcher stickers. This one I removed using a heat gun and gave it a polish.

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And it came up rather nice and shiny!

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More nice and shiny.

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Also began to remove the old stickers from the Bow. Some of the gel-coat is quite thin right at the front, too thin to polish it out correctly. I will probably leave that for now, but it looks a lot cleaner with the stickers removed. You can see there is a hole on the bow in the middle right, that’s for the fuel filler to connect to the new tank. I am not sure of its capacity.

And the project beings:

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First of all I cut a sample out of the lower transom to see how far gone the wood was. This ‘core’ sample was soaked through, and smelt like oil or something was absorbed in it. I allowed it to dry out and I could compress the wood between my fingers and it was easy to pull the laminations to bits. Thus totally rotted.

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I also started to dig at the transom (I don’t have a pic) and managed to dig out about 5 inches with no effort at all.

So then I began to ponder how i was going to deal with this. I kind of need more pics to show, bit I can use a pic from another boat of the same model to show what I mean:

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This is the inner skin of the transom on each side there is a foam floatation well, I need to somehow replace the transom at the back.

As I see it I have a few choices.

      Cut the transom out from the back of the boat by removing the stern.

 

  1. Remove the flotation wells etc and try and cut out the transom from within the boat.
  2. Pull the cap of the boat to allow full access to the transom and everything else I want to get to.

In the end I did the drastic option and cut the cap of the rear half of the boat. This was NO mean feat. In fact a complete nightmare. All the ‘stainless’ bolts securing both halfs of the boat must have been of a poor grade and were totally rotten. I couldn’t even drill them out as the coarseness of them instantly ruined the best drill bits I could find. The only option was to get a small hole saw and cut around them.

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i also had to cut the rubbing strip. I wont be replacing this due to the work involved, but it should join back ok with some effort. I made it a neat cut.
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And the cap is off, Look at the state of that Transom. The guy I purchased this from said it would be fine… Who was he trying to kid!!!
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Now after quite a lot of hammering I had was was left of the old transom out:
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Although most fell off in my hands:
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So after a bit of a clear up:
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It was now time to make a new transom. I decided to use 24mm Russian Birch marine ply. The old ply was slightly thicker at about 27mm, but of a much lower quality, It would be easier however to reassemble with slightly thinner wood.

So firstly a template was made from paper. Then cut out in hardboard. This was test fitted and trimmed where necessary then drawn onto the ply and finally that was cut out too.
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Unusually there is an action shot!! A friend visited whist I was working on this and took a few pics :)
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I know I know – I should have worn eye protection.. (I usually do)

Measure once, cut twice! (lol)
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Ok so now I need to get in some fibreglass materials. I’m probably going to clean it all up and use a polyester based system. I had good success with this on my old boat, so I’m sure it will be fine.

Once this is all done I have a 50hp engine to throw on the back and controls to get it all running, then I’ll sea trial it, and sell it

I’ll update more on this as it happens (the Waverider is my priority).

Bringing it all together

20082009069Now armed with an engine boat and controls, it was time to assemble things together.

Then the real fun began. Reading around the internet we were told that we needed safety equipment. This came in the shape of oars (!) bilge pump, lights, anchor, ropes, flares, life jackets oh and of course we needed to get a fuel tank. So this ‘cheap’ little project suddenly started to look expensive. The engine and boat alone before all this had already cost £1400…

Sadly the engine didn’t line up with the old holes already drilled on  the boat, so I had to drill new ones and then seal the old holes up. No dramas and soon the engine was bolted on and the controls fitted.

So in went a bilge pump, battery, wiring, fuel pump and of course gauges. This nice little lot had now increased our budget a further £500 and we weren’t even on the water yet!

All the connections where then made (notice the engine offset, I was told by an old chap who used to race these kind of things we should do this, however I have since learned that I am not so sure, but it seemed to go fine anyway and did mean the steering lined up.


Notice engine offset.

So then the internal wiring and fitting out was done:

The next thing was to find a fuel tank. I wanted the biggest one I could physically get in the boat. I was under the impression that all the heavy weight should be at the back and it never occurred to me to use the front space which was plenty to mount the tank so we then cut room to make the tank fit:

Battery moved and connections made:

The glass would then be repaired later..
Anyway…
We ended up with this

Which I was not happy with but we wanted to get out and testing the boat that weekend.

Finally I added some wiring for the bulge pump and also nav lights and fitted a fuel gauge:

Trailer woes

The following day we took it out for the very first time and in fact our very first experience in a speed boat (or any for that matter) – You can read about that first trip here.

So finally back on dry land (remember read the first trip out to see what happened!) The boat was washed down and time for home. The trailer had by now been driven only about 150 miles we collected it, but on the way back from the first trip the suspension on both sides collapsed on the motorway. This wasn’t a major problem in itself only that as a result the tyres rubbed on the arches on each side. I didn’t notice until I saw smoke coming of the wheels and pulled over to inspect!!!!! The only way around this was to bend the arches up to stop them touching. I then made my way home very slowly and the next thing was to rebuild the trailer… – As a side point re-publishing this in 2015 still fills me with fear from that experience it was horrid and I vowed never to go out with an unknown trailer ever again.

So a week or so later and the new parts arrived:

Old VS new

New parts fitted

And even better a spare just in case:

So the boat then went out a further 4 times with crazy adventures and steep learning curve on each one. But its so much fun and highly addictive – again these can all be read here.

So this was the initial stage complete. The setup was never perfect. The fuel tank in the rear made the boat very rear heavy. I have learnt since that this is great if your racing, and it wasn’t as the boat lacked the power to get on plane – oh no not at all, it just felt too light at the front.

1-IMG_7317Finally winter came and the snow arrived (remember that 2009/2010??!).

If you need an engine then may as well get a BIG one!

I’m no stranger to engines, even back in 2009 my day job was tuning and modifying them. This whole outboard thing however was alien to me. What did longshaft mean? what power do we need? What power could we run?

IMG_6353We had decided at this point that may as well get the biggest engine we could find and afford, 50hp too small!!, 70 was ok but really we wanted something 100hp+.  That sounded much more fun. It turns out I discovered that trying to find an engine is a complete pain in the arse. Even very old engines seemed to sell for much more than we could justify. This we learnt was marine ‘tax’ – the crazy ill informed/misguided sellers of marine junk who think its still worth something – just do a search on eBay its full of thousands of used engine bits at extortionate prices, that NEVER sell!! Eventually we found a complete engine for sale on PreLoved in South Wales, and the best bit it was a 140hp model.. – YES!!!

How about a boat?

EBay_former_logo.svgLets go back to 2009. Sometime in August to be precise. A summer evening in the company of a good friend, slightly bored wondering what to do with ourselves.
eBay offered some light distraction, usually looking for interesting cars/bikes. It didn’t matter really as long as it was propelled along with an engine, but really it was the same old thing. We needed something new, something different.
20082009067Now I don’t remember how but somehow we ended up looking at sports boats. At the time knowing absolutely NOTHING about them, not even having any family with any related experience, I’m afraid I cant even tell you what we looked at. However one particular boat caught our eye. It was listed as a blue 17ft boat. Looking at the pictures the name “Fletcher” could be seen. Was that good or bad? No idea, had never heard of it, but it was local, it had a trailer and it looked like a project we could do something with. According to the description, all it needed was an engine…

This boat was purchased for about £500. It was structurally fine, however the interior, original was poor. The only extras the boat came with was steering controls and an old speedo!

The trailer appeared fine, at that point!!