I purchased this boat from my brother in the fall of 2008 for $1,000.00. A 22’ 1966 Starcraft Sunchief with a 110 HP Mercruiser stern-drive.
The first time I saw the boat was in the late 70’s at my soon to be father in law’s place in the mountains of Virginia. It was love at first sight! In the mid 80’s he offered it up for sale and at the time I couldn’t afford it so I talked my brother into buying it.
The boat came to me well used with worn out carpet, rotting, soft flooring, numerous owner installed gizmos hanging all over it and overspray from a home made Harley painting episode in the same garage resulting in a light pink tint.
My wife and I made the decision to restore the boat, keeping the old school look and adding some functional upgrades to make it safe and fun. This would include new paint top and bottom, all new wood, seats, flooring, flotation, electronics, and hardware. The first thing to go was the floor and most of the miscellaneous accessories screwed to the aluminum everywhere. Next was the oil soaked flotation in the bilge area and all of the 42 year old wood.
Most of the useful factory hardware was salvaged and delivered to the chrome folks to be re-plated. All of the aluminum was polished using buffing wheels and aluminum polish by my wife and I. We even visited various local fabricators and had them generate new data plates, emblems, etc that have since become unavailable and we found things like the brand new 60’s era steering wheel and the Jetson stern light via on line auctions. We removed the outdrive, had it gone through by a local marine mechanic and I prepped and painted it in my garage.
I have to say at this stage that in 08 and 09, there wasn’t really much information available about how the old Starcrafts were put together. The lack of available information results in a fair amount of apprehension when you start trying to dismantle the boat. I decided before hand to start a thread on the restoration forums at iBoats.com to hopefully bounce ideas off of other boating folks and to share the experience with others wanting to accomplish the same task. Additionally, I began an exhaustive almost nightly internet search trying to learn all I could about 60’s era Starcraft aluminum boats.
From the start, folks started joining in the nightly conversation and the build was on! The play by play can be found here; http://forums.iboats.com/showthread.php?t=286412
The nightly back and forth with other boat restorers really came in handy during the hull and topside prep and paint stage of the restoration. Keep in mind that prior to this project I’ve had absolutely no experience restoring old boats. I’d have to say that I considered the paint process the most challenging in the project. There are so many variables such as weather, prep, and paint choices and a person can easily become overwhelmed. I learned early on to post up a question, read all of the opinions, and make an informed decision and go with it.
After installing new marine plywood and reinforced fiberglass flooring we decided to do the interior with Sapele, an imported wood fromAfricathat is used as a modern day replacement for overharvested Mahogony. Then the wiring, seats and electronics. I have to say the wiring was a little intimidating for me but my son came over for a couple of evenings and made quick work of it!
Here’s a shot of the finished product. All in all we probably spent a little more on the restore than some folks would, but we are very happy with the end result and unlike someone who just purchased a new boat from the factory, we have the satisfaction of knowing that we did this with our own hands and we literally know every inch of our boat. Also it’s a boat that’s been in the family for more than 30 years.
Hats off to all of our friends at iBoats who helped make this happen……