Boat Restoration – “Liquid Limo” 1966 Starcraft Sunchief

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.

Boat Restoration - Before

The before picture!

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.

Boat Restoration - Before

Another before picture!

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.


Boat Restoration - The Hull

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 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;

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.

Boat Restoration - Painting

Getting it painted

Boat Restoration - Exterior

Looking better!

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!


Boat Restoration - Transom

Transom area

Nice looking steering wheel!


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……

Boat Restoration - Looks Brand New!

Looks like a brand new boat! Restoration completed by North Beach

Enhanced by Zemanta
This entry was posted in Boat restorations. Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to Boat Restoration – “Liquid Limo” 1966 Starcraft Sunchief

  1. James A Franzen says:

    Great looking boat—outstanding job !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  2. Hilary says:

    Looks wonderful! I love the color.

  3. Dave Barbara says:

    You ca be proud of the restore job on that boat. Back in 1962 my first boat was a Starcraft. I had a 14′ fiberglass Arrow. I do remember some of the aluminum Starcraft boats. There was a small cabin cruiser that I thought that was the Chiefton or something like that. 50 years ago and my memory is slowly fading away. Thanks for bringing back some memories. Again great job restoring that boat.

  4. John says:

    Congrats! Like the white hull, teal (mint?) topsides & the Sapele. Nice work, really nice work.

  5. Tony says:

    Looks great! Nice job!

  6. Clay Harrison says:

    Thanks folks! We really did rely heavily on imput from all the great folks on the forums while restoring this old boat.

  7. Steve says:

    Great looking, classic boat. Nice project.

  8. lakelover says:

    Great write-up & excellent job on the Liquid Limo. This was one of the first projects that I bookmarked and inspired me to tackle my project. Very nice, it set a standard to be looked up to.

  9. john innes says:

    I have a 1969 Chieftan 19 footer that I renovated a year ago. It was a hulk but after 6 weeks started to take shape and was waterworthy. My brother helped me rewire it completely and I took it down to the hull. Amazing how 42 year old styrofoam still looked new after being under the marine plywood that long. The hull was solid, the transom the same and the engine (120 4 cyl mercruiser) had been kept up so the major parts were good to work with. After a new floor, seats, wall to the cabin, dashboard, cushions for the cabin, ceiling with auto headliner for the cabin and a replacing much of the topside hardware like step pads and cleats I am now very proud of the effort and use it every other weekend or so. The trailor took a lot of work/love too but it was a true labor of love. Wish I knew how to post a photo to this blog and I would send a before and after pic.

  10. david little says:

    i love what you guys did it turned out very nice .i hope mine will turn out as nice for im in process of restoring a 1968 chieftain write now im at bare metal stage and yes it is a lot of work to do but i look at as a labour of love

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>