Ketchup

At the start of this post, all I’d done on this project of mine is a little rewiring for a few things that didn’t work at all or weren’t safe (cable splices that needed waterproofing, loose wires, etc), installed a new stereo, replaced the two cabin speakers and rewired the other two in the cockpit, gutted some unnecessary/old wiring, broke and fixed the automatic bilge (long story), started sanding cabinets for repainting later, drilled a few holes to improve drainage in the back for when it takes on waves (this proved to be a small problem the first time I took it out, because water would just build up in the back and never drain to the bilge), replaced some of the wood and all of the bunk carpeting on the trailer, and bought materials for some of the work to come. I did a little more last week, but I’ll save that for the next update.

I also took the boat to a mechanic to get the transom rebuilt. It was too big a job for me, and the mechanic gave me a great deal for it. I think he actually lost a little money on it in the end, because it took him a few attempts to get it just right, but he honored his original quote (plus a small amount extra to cover some additional materials he found needed to be replaced, but I believe this was short of his cost too). I’ll probably post a separate entry about this, as it was quite a job in itself. In short, though, it’s much safer now.

I need to pick a good name for the boat so I can stop calling it “it” or “the boat.” Feel free to comment with suggestions, serious or otherwise.

The Beginning

I’ve been wanting a boat for years, but I’ve always managed to talk myself out of the expense every time the “itch” to buy one got really bad.

However, in October of last year (2010) I First photo I ever saw of my boatcame across an ad on Craigslist completely by chance of a boat that I instantly fell in love with, without knowing a thing about the history of the boat or its manufacturer, the rarity of the item itself, how much work would really be needed to complete the project, or the first thing about how actually to do it. She’s a 1957 Lone Star Cruiseliner, a 23 foot cabin boat which (in theory) sleeps up to four. The cabin has cabinets, a table, a burner, a sink, and a toilet, hosts the stereo, has a small fan and a few lights… nothing fancy, but a lot of potential for weekend fun.

Eight months later I’m enough into working on it that I now understand what I’ve gotten into and how right I was to take on this project, but I’m not far enough into it that I’m close to completing it. Today, as I made some progress on the electrical work I’ve been so anxious to start, it occurred to me that I really ought to be cataloging this somehow. I’m crap about keeping up with this sort of thing, but I’m excited enough about this project that I hope to do better this time.

I doubt many people will read long, rambling posts, so I’ll do my rambling in this introduction. I live near Dallas, Texas, but the boat was sold in Oklahoma City, so early on a Saturday morning I loaded up my dad and my son and drove for a couple of hours to see it and test it out.

My Cruiseliner behind my dad's Tahoe

I didn’t trust my small(ish) SUV to tow it that far, so thankfully my dad was willing to drive his instead. Above, the SUV gives some scale to see the size of the boat. Below, he turns on the suave. (Good look at the boat’s fins, too… those are what really drew me in.)

Despite needing work and love, the boat floated from the beginning. The motor (if I remember correctly) is a 140 hp ’86 Johnson VRO, and though it does wake up a bit slow it runs great overall. I’m told it tops out at 37 mph on the water, but I won’t be able to verify this till I replace the pitot tube. I rented a slip for a few days for Memorial Day weekend at Lake Ray Roberts, and it did take on water slowly, but the bilge works great (now) and did its job. The family and I didn’t get to use it at all until after the winter passed, but we’ve used it several times since, and despite the fact that it isn’t as smooth in unsettled water as modern boats are, it works wonderfully.

In the next post, when time permits, I’ll summarize everything I’ve done so far and everything I plan to do.

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