How to Prepare for Boat Renovating

Deciding to renovate a boat offers the opportunity to provide an old junker with some tender loving care to bring it back to it’s old glory ready to provide you and your family with many more years of fun. Many boats can be worth restoring from old 60’s speed boats to fishing boats and pontoons. Some can be done in the price range that that can make it a bargain. Others may not be worth the time and effort you are going to put into it. Remember the old saying, “boats can be a money pit.

Photo Credit: l3ricl

Is your boat worth renovating?

If you have run into a boat for free or looking at an old one sitting in your backyard, you may have a restoration project in mind. The following 12 tips can help you decide if the project is worth it or at least, mow much effort you are going to need to put into her.

12 Tips to help you decide

 Tip 1: Get the boat where you have the room to check it out. Garage is good but keep in mind that you are going to need to do some cleaning, so you may want to start outside and move it in the garage once your done with that step. You can of course do everything outside but weather and good lighting might play an effect if working on it at night. 

 Tip 2: Get all accumulated debris, leaves and water out of the boat, as all of these materials are known to accelerate damage. Perform a top-to-bottom cleaning of the boat so you can see all defects, wiring, etc. Yes, you will need to clean and scrub the boat down from the outside to inside, seats, steering and all.

 Tip 3: Remove gas tank and dump the gas. If you are restoring a boat, the gas is probably bad. Gas lasts under a year and should actually be drained at the end of every year. 

 Tip 4: Remove old oil from the engine as well as the gear box (upper and lower). Replace with fresh oil.

Tip 5: Once you replaced the oil in the motor and add a little fresh gas, you need to test the motor. The boat motor is your big money item. Using bunny ears and a hose, you can try to crank the motor to make sure it will crank. If it is seized up, that is bad news and you may need to replace it. It is worth having a marine mechanic take a look at it to see if it can be saved. Note: to test the motor, you will need a battery, hopefully you have one around, if not, expect to pay around $100 for one.

Tip 6:  If you decided that the motor is usable, you can move on to doing a check of the outer body of the boat (or floats/tubes/logs if a pontoon). Looking for issues with such as spot crazing and cracking of fiberglass surfaces that surround fittings, fixtures and cleats. All load-bearing boat fixtures must have a strong backing plate, so repair and replace where necessary. This can vary depending if it is fiberglass or aluminum. Most likely, you should be in good shape with the body itself though some jon boats are thinner aluminum and may be punctured. Aluminum is an easier fix though.

Tip 7: You can figure that all hoses will need to be replaced. This includes but not limited to, all gas hoses, pump primer, etc. You can make a list and have them priced out.

Tip 8: Examine the boat’s through-hull components to ensure that they remain correctly sealed. Take a close look at the boat’s seacocks to verify that they are still in working condition. Any broken parts in these areas need to be replaced. Like above, make a list to have priced out.

Tip 9: It is common for older vessels to be characterized by significant wood rot. Closely examine the boat’s decking, the seat bases as well as the transom, looking for any signs of decay or rot. You will need to remove old damaged wood from the boat and use cored composite or marine-grade pieces of plywood to perform repairs. Again, depending on the type of boat you are restoring, the price will vary a lot. Add how much wood you need and price it out.

Tip 10: YouTube has about any type of DYI video instructions you can think of. If you need help how to figure something out, YouTube should be your fist stop. I have posted a video below from YouTube on a DIY repair job on fixing a hole in a aluminum boat. These type of videos are out there for just about every issue you need to fix.

Tip 11: Next, if you plan on moving forward, I would suggest finding a good boating forum online. There are tons of forums to choose from. Do a little searching around each site and find one that fits you. Guys that belong to these forums are very knowledgeable and most will be more than happy to help you with anything you get stuck on. In fact, people would love for you to start a thread and share photos of your project. It gets them engaged in your project and they are more inclined to help you get through issues.

Tip 12: Looking for insights on a specific type of project? You can also visit Boating Mag DYI Projects. They have some good information on specific projects.

Obviously, something larger such as this boat in this piece by Fircroft is largely more challenging, however the same principals as those above apply.

So now that you have given the boat a good lookover and getting prices. You can decide if your time and money is worth the project. I gotta say, restoring a boat gives you a very satisfying feeling. Something you can be proud of. You are taking something that would end up in a junk yard and turned it into something that will provide many more years of enjoyment.

I hope these tips helped you in your venture to decide if restoring a boat I worth it. Feel free to print these tips out to use and make sure to share this page with your friends!

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