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Our Runabout Rebuild

This topic contains 4 replies, has 1 voice, and was last updated by  Adirondack 2 years, 10 months ago.

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  • #4634



    About seven years ago we purchased a 1987 Sunbird bow rider with a 130 hp Mercruiser stern drive and trailer from an Ebay auction. She was in rough shape. She had been sitting for a couple years so the interior was rotted and the upholstery coming apart. The motor had been allowed to freeze due to not being winterized and had cracked the block along the top deck. It was also run for quite a while with a head gasket blown between cylinder two and three which caused a deep gauge in the block surface and head between the two cylinders. Out the little four cylinder 130 hp motor came. Upon tear down we found everything below the head deck in beautiful condition so these blocks being very difficult to find we decided to save it. We took the block to Govel welding and had them weld up the crack. Couldn’t ask for a better job. Generations in the trade pays off. Once the welding was completed we had to straighten out the deck so off to the machine shop. They had to take 40 thousandths off the deck to straighten it and clean up the damage from the blown head gasket. This brought the piston deck nearly 20 thousandths above the block deck. We got lucky with using a compound head gasket to restore the clearance and squish. Rolled in a new set of bearings and rings, as well as added a new aftermarket large valve head and of course new soft plugs. By the numbers it should be a really good running four cylinder and it was. We put her on the water and she ran flawlessly for two seasons. During the mechanical work we doctored the interior to make it usable but it still wasn’t pretty.

    Early in the third season we put her back in. Still running great but about a month in she started getting that tell tale shake in the steering wheel that indicates a stern drive U joint starting to bind. A quick pull on a Sunday to remove the Mercruiser drive and replace the joints. Of course while your there you have to change the gimbal bearing unless you want to be doing it all over again next year. A moderate drive tear down just to look showed everything else in perfect shape. With a new water pump and the prop sent out for a straightening and ding repair she was back on the water the next weekend.

    Sorry I don’t have any pictures of the mechanical work that was done but at the time it wasn’t a “project” and I never thought of writing about it. That said the fourth season is the last she was on the water. Different circumstances kept her in the yard under cover for two seasons. This year we get back on the water.

    Upon uncovering her it became painfully evident that this old girl although running like a nearly new boat was in desperate need of a face lift. Three years of use as well as two of storage have taken it’s toll on the already poor interior. They upholstery was more ripped and faded and the wood more rotted. Some places on the hull and deck areas are chipped and scraped as well as areas that were brush painted by the previous owner. She needs to be as pretty as she runs. Time for a full tear down, refinishing, and reupholstering as well as some changes to accommodate the boarding of some senior passengers we regularly have on board. So here we go.

    First order of business is to get it torn down. We have removed all the carpet, upholstery and wood. Some of it so water soaked that by getting it out of there will probably lighten the craft by three hundred pounds. Some of it was so rotted that it just falls apart in your hands. In a thirty year old boat I guess that’s to e expected.

    Some pictures of her stripped down ready for paint prep.


  • #4635



    The only upholstery that we won’t be doing ourselves is the back to back cockpit seats. The old ones were so rotted that it was easier to just purchase new ones. The new seats are all carbon fiber construction. Quite a bit lighter and they will never rot again. I’ll upload some pictures when I get them. We have settled on a red and white interior with a high gloss vanilla white hull and decking. This gal should look sharp.

    The front porch is serving as a wood and upholstery shop. This is so I can keep that work away from the dirt and dust caused by the paint work that’s going on at the same time.

  • #4650



    The materials for the new upholstery have finally arrived. It’s amazing that there is nothing you can’t buy on Ebay and have delivered right to your door. If you shop smart you can find some great pricing. I was able to keep the total cost for the upholstery not counting the seats I mentioned earlier to $180. That’s going to replace everything as well as add an additional inch of foam to the bottom cushions as a fanny perk. I also over ordered so there should be materials left over for anything I want to do like additional extra cushions. Now it’s time to get busy.

  • #4651



    Well as you all saw in the previous update I have some rolls of vinyl foam and some piping. That does not get me sitting in the boat. I couldn’t wait to get started to see what I could do. Well I got home from work about three thirty and at six I have my first cushion. I have to say I’m very pleased with my first attempt. I don’t think three hours is bad for one bow cushion. I think my speed and quality will improve greatly once I get used to the best working techniques. Is there anything you can’t learn to do on Youtube? I doubt it. Anyway I’m not going to post pictures of every cushion I make because there are about eighteen of them. I’m going to post my first though then some as I go through the project to compare and see how I improve as I go along. Not that I’m not perfectly content with this first attempt. Let me know what you think.

    This is the port side bow cushion.

  • #4654



    Well it’s been a busy week. I have been able to get some project time in. As promised earlier here’s a picture of the new back to back seats. It’s the best representation I can get without assembling them.

    Most of this week has been a break from upholstery to work on paint prep. I have her all rough sanded and what minor repairs are complete. Mostly just plugging holes from obsolete fixtures that are no longer used. I also installed new hooks to hold the helm wireing and cables up inder the gunnels instead of hanging down the inside of the hull. Everything all neat and tidy. Out of sight out of mind. Hopefully tomorrow I will be able to come close to completing the finish sanding then when possible I’ll be able to introduce you to my talented nephew who is kind enough to come down to shoot it for me. When you need it right sometimes you just need a pro.

    Some pics of her in rough sand.

    She will be changing to completely Frost white in color and I have some sharp red and grey graphics I plan to use on the sides. Oh yea, and the paint came today.

    Hey yall. Sign up for the site so you can comment. Questions and suggestions are really welcome. I still need a name for her. I have a couple thoughts. Tipsy, Silk Purse, or Hellzapoppin. Let me know what you think and feel free to drop your own suggestion.

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