Another boat build

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Another boat build

Postby atownducks » Mon May 08, 2017 3:20 pm

Been shopping around for awhile and got a pretty solid deal on a 2011 15x42 tracker topper with a fairly new trailer. The guy who owned it before demolished the inside of the boat with crappy carpet, half finished casting decks, cut out storage, cut out bench seats and a few other atrocities :no: . The trailer is solid besides the fact that the lights don't work, but that's another story. I have a Predator 22hp engine with an SPS longtail ready to go on as soon as I get the boat ready.

I just went online and bought a few new tools and additions for the project which include an angle grinder, C-clamp, terminal kit, manual rivet gun, bus bar, marine switch panel, trailer lights, paint and a bow light. Needless to say, I'm pretty much building this boat from bare bones. I reached out to a metal work shop near me and they are cutting and bending the top of the back bench seat for me. It's an 18" W x 54" L sheet with 2 90 degree legs that are 4" long each. Ran me $180 which isn't the greatest, but I don't have access to sheet bending tools and I'm not trying use wood for my bench seat.

My plan is to use the bracing from the casting deck to put in the back bench seat and rivet in the fabricated bench seat cover. This will make sure there is no flex in the middle of the back seat. I'll mount the bow light and spot light at the front and run the wiring through a small PVC pipe on along the side of the boat under the ribs. I'll end up building a box out of the casting deck wood where I'll house my switches, fuses, battery, bus bar and the majority of wiring for my electronics. Not sure how I'm going to waterproof that box yet. I'll mount my fish/depth finder on this box as soon as I can. I'll need to replace the trailer lights once they come in (always a hassle). The carpet adhesive is going to be the biggest PITA. I started with some goof gone spray stuff and sanding but it's a very slow moving process. I think I need some heavy duty chemicals like acetone and a wire wheel on my grinder. Once I have everything together I'll mount the engine up and take it for it's maiden voyage.

Some plans I'm debating are painting, installing a bilge pump, installing inside lights, welding a trim tab on my longtail and potentially a grab bar. Enough reading, here are some pics from this weekend

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All the junk that came out of this boat haha
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There was some flex in the middle bench seat, so I bought some sheet foam and stuffed it in between the cracks to stiffen up the seat.
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..to be continued
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Re: Another boat build

Postby Bayport » Mon May 08, 2017 4:01 pm

I had same boat. I have some pics of removable grab bar if u r interested. Also, i ran my electrical conduit (plastic grey stuff) in that grove on the side. It will slide behind that seat. didn't even need to clamp it in place. I put my battery in front of the rear seat on the port side. But since yours are cut out u could put it in there.
You probably thought about this but there is now about zero flotation in that boat.
Best of luck!
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Re: Another boat build

Postby mudpack » Mon May 08, 2017 8:29 pm

atownducks wrote: The carpet adhesive is going to be the biggest PITA. I started with some goof gone spray stuff and sanding but it's a very slow moving process. I think I need some heavy duty chemicals like acetone and a wire wheel on my grinder.

Here's what worked for me:

Get a 1" putty knife and a heat gun. Heat the hull on the outside to loosen/soften the adhesive, and use the putty knife to peel the carpet off the aluminum. Work in small areas. Use plenty of heat. It will take some time but is much better than using chemicals and wire brushes; both cleaner and safer for you. Good luck.
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Re: Another boat build

Postby atownducks » Tue May 09, 2017 7:07 am

Bayport wrote:I had same boat. I have some pics of removable grab bar if u r interested. Also, i ran my electrical conduit (plastic grey stuff) in that grove on the side. It will slide behind that seat. didn't even need to clamp it in place. I put my battery in front of the rear seat on the port side. But since yours are cut out u could put it in there.
You probably thought about this but there is now about zero flotation in that boat.
Best of luck!

Yea pics of that grab bar would be awesome. Trying to make something myself bc I'm already over budget. Already ahead of you on the conduit - I ran some smaller PVC along the starboard side that's long enough to go from my light bar to the back. Still need to run actual wire through it. Still deciding where to put my battery because I'm putting my tank in the back and don't want to be too back heavy. Also, yea I'm going to buy some sheet Styrofoam from Home Depot and stuff it in my back bench before I tack everything up.
mudpack wrote:Get a 1" putty knife and a heat gun. Heat the hull on the outside to loosen/soften the adhesive, and use the putty knife to peel the carpet off the aluminum. Work in small areas. Use plenty of heat. It will take some time but is much better than using chemicals and wire brushes; both cleaner and safer for you. Good luck.

Not a bad idea with a heat gun except my last one broke and I haven't bought a new one yet. Maybe I can try my blow torch :wink:
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Re: Another boat build

Postby atownducks » Thu May 11, 2017 8:56 am

Had a few things come in the mail - trailer lights, switch panel, angle grinder, bow light and a few other small things. I managed to run the trailer lights through the inside of the trailer this time instead of zip tying to the outside. Looks a lot better than my last janky trailer. Tested out the lights and only the back left was working when hooked up..great. I ended up having to take apart those quick splice connectors and use some twist connectors and the right light lit right up. Turned a 40 minute job into a 2 hour nightmare :rolleyes: . Managed to mount the light bar and bow light as well. Snug fit putting that bow light underneath the bar, but whatever it's there.

Next steps are to finish getting this carpet adhesive off, cut some wood for the switch/fuse box, mount up the top of the bench seat once it's ready to go, paint and then worry about all the easy stuff (electronics, motor, etc). I'll post some pics once I get a few more things done
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Re: Another boat build

Postby Darryle » Thu May 11, 2017 11:03 am

You hunt or launch in saltwater? If so, solder those connections and use self vulcanzing tape, you will thank me later

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Re: Another boat build

Postby atownducks » Thu May 11, 2017 1:39 pm

Darryle wrote:You hunt or launch in saltwater? If so, solder those connections and use self vulcanzing tape, you will thank me later


Mainly fresh water. Might do 1/2 hunts in salt water if that this upcoming season. Wouldn't be a bad idea though if I find a saltwater spot to consistently hunt
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Re: Another boat build

Postby Darryle » Thu May 11, 2017 4:48 pm

Would be a good idea anyhow, most all twist lock wire connectors I have seen are steel inside except the cheapest ones and they are plastic

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Re: Another boat build

Postby atownducks » Mon May 15, 2017 8:02 am

Did a good amount of work this weekend when I had some free time. Picked up my circular saw, finishing sander and jig saw which all were helpful yesterday. Managed to mount the light bar, nav light and a small cleat.

I picked up some foam from Home Depot and 2 packs of 4 sheets seemed to be the perfect amount. Had to trim a bit, but it fit in there nice and snug. Once I got the foam in the bench, I riveted in the supports for my seat cover. It's real solid and should work nicely once the cover comes in from the metal shop.

I cut up a switch panel/fuse box to be flush with the bench seat once there's carpet on it. I think I'm going to cut up some covers for the storage boxes in the back as well. I'll end up carpeting the storage covers and switch panel box just so it doesn't look too bad.

I tried using a putty knife with heat to get the carpet adhesive off and it was an extremely slow and arduous process. I ended up using the sanding attachment on my grinder which was the best decision I could have made. I did the entire boat in about an hour. Granted there was a ton of dust from adhesive, aluminum and old paint, it was totally worth it. Here are the pics from what I did this weekend:

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Re: Another boat build

Postby Smoke68 » Mon May 15, 2017 8:20 am

Just found this thread. I've got a 1542 F&F that's just a bare hull on a solid trailer. Have a 23HP Backwater to go on it. Just got to get to work, so watching your thread like a hawk! Good stuff so far.
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Re: Another boat build

Postby eagles2069 » Mon May 15, 2017 8:33 am

Looks awesome but I was looking at your foam and I just have to ask is it closed cell foam? It looks really similar to packing foam which will soak water like crazy. Just thought I would mention it just in case. Either way I have been enjoying the thread and keep the pictures coming! :thumbsup:
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Re: Another boat build

Postby atownducks » Mon May 15, 2017 10:35 am

Smoke68 wrote:Just found this thread. I've got a 1542 F&F that's just a bare hull on a solid trailer. Have a 23HP Backwater to go on it. Just got to get to work, so watching your thread like a hawk! Good stuff so far.


Hell yea man! Thanks for the support. Trying to keep this guy as light as possible so I can potentially hit mid twenties w my 670 longtail :scooter: . Biggest issue I'm going to face is getting the right weight dispersion. I have so much open storage in the back so I'm tempted to use it for my tank and battery, but I know it'll throw everything off if I keep it back there running by myself. Thinking of having my light gear in the back and running my tank behind the first bench seat. Trying to keep my battery close to me so I don't have super long battery cables.

eagles2069 wrote:Looks awesome but I was looking at your foam and I just have to ask is it closed cell foam? It looks really similar to packing foam which will soak water like crazy. Just thought I would mention it just in case. Either way I have been enjoying the thread and keep the pictures coming! :thumbsup:


I'm looking on Home Depot's site and can't find the sheets I bought, but it is 100% styrofoam. It was like $14 for 8 x 50'' boards. I know better than to go with that cheap floor foam insulation that sponges up water. But thanks bud appreciate it.

Trying to keep this guy as smart-budget friendly as I can. I'll keep the pics/progress coming
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Re: Another boat build

Postby atownducks » Tue May 16, 2017 7:01 am

Cut out some covers for the back storage containers. One side is really uneven from the angle the previous owner put on his casting deck, but whatever - this is a budget build and I'm not buying any wood. Won't look too bad once I put the carpet on. Need to buy some hinges for these flip boxes as well. Any suggestions on cheap ones? I was thinking of some $.68 hinges from Home Depot. Something like this : http://www.homedepot.com/p/Stanley-National-Hardware-2-1-2-in-Narrow-Utility-Hinge-Non-Removable-Pin-838FSP-2-5-HINGE-2C/204229580

Prepped the boat for paint and I'll be painting later today. Stay tuned
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Re: Another boat build

Postby Pecski » Tue May 16, 2017 10:45 am

tracker toppers scare me. they are such thin aluminum. id be weary to add any wood to the boat for fear of rubbing or weakening it with denting.
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Another boat build

Postby Bluesky2012 » Tue May 16, 2017 11:49 am

Pecski wrote:tracker toppers scare me. they are such thin aluminum.


Agree.


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Re: Another boat build

Postby dasimmon » Tue May 16, 2017 12:37 pm

lookin good! might have to start a boat build here soon myself! :grooving:
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Re: Another boat build

Postby atownducks » Tue May 16, 2017 1:59 pm

Pecski wrote:tracker toppers scare me. they are such thin aluminum. id be weary to add any wood to the boat for fear of rubbing or weakening it with denting.


I feel you there. I think they use .063 gauge aluminum in these boats which isn't the strongest, but then again, I'm not hunting any big water or timber so I don't really have to worry about that. It's all fairly flat water, short runs (within a mile) and muddy/sandy bottoms. Maybe I'll throw some extra carpet under that switch box to absorb rubbing/high impacts while driving just for good measure.

Anyways picked up some self-etching primer, hinges and short screws so hopefully I'll have this bad boy ready by this weekend if the weather holds out here in VA. I have about 3 spray cans of primer and I think 3 spray cans of paint. Doubt I can finish the whole inside with that, but we'll see. Pics tomorrow
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Re: Another boat build

Postby atownducks » Wed May 17, 2017 9:14 am

Did some painting boys. I felt like such a POS doing this the lazy-man's way with rattle cans. If you're going to paint a boat - do it the right way with a spray gun. My last boat turned out great when we painted it with the gun and used rattle cans for stenciling. I cringed almost the entire time because of left over dirt, small patches of adhesive, and the inconsistency of a rattle can spray. Being a bit of a perfectionist, I had to remind myself over and over again that it's just a jon boat and it's going to get beat to sheet. Also reminded myself that sanding the entire boat down to the metal would take me a ridiculous amount of time, so whatever I know it's 100% my fault when the paint starts failing at those rough parts.

Anyways, I barely made it with 3 self-etching primer cans. Took about 3.5 cans of paint green paint to get the inside covered. I'll probably run over it once more for good measure to make sure all thin spots are covered. Still need to do behind the back bench seat, but finished the rest.

Carpeted up the back storage covers and mounted the switch box. Need to strengthen up the corners with some 90 degree aluminum I have laying around because it's fairly flimsy now. Here are some pics from last night

Half primed
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Fully Painted
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Switch box carpeted up with reused carpet
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Carpeted storage hatches
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Re: Another boat build

Postby dasimmon » Wed May 17, 2017 9:28 am

atownducks wrote:Did some painting boys. I felt like such a POS doing this the lazy-man's way with rattle cans. If you're going to paint a boat - do it the right way with a spray gun. My last boat turned out great when we painted it with the gun and used rattle cans for stenciling. I cringed almost the entire time because of left over dirt, small patches of adhesive, and the inconsistency of a rattle can spray. Being a bit of a perfectionist, I had to remind myself over and over again that it's just a jon boat and it's going to get beat to sheet. Also reminded myself that sanding the entire boat down to the metal would take me a ridiculous amount of time, so whatever I know it's 100% my fault when the paint starts failing at those rough parts.

Anyways, I barely made it with 3 self-etching primer cans. Took about 3.5 cans of paint green paint to get the inside covered. I'll probably run over it once more for good measure to make sure all thin spots are covered. Still need to do behind the back bench seat, but finished the rest.

Carpeted up the back storage covers and mounted the switch box. Need to strengthen up the corners with some 90 degree aluminum I have laying around because it's fairly flimsy now. Here are some pics from last night

Half primed
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Fully Painted
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Switch box carpeted up with reused carpet
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Carpeted storage hatches
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nice job so far! excited to see how it looks finished
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Re: Another boat build

Postby Smoke68 » Wed May 17, 2017 9:31 am

2 questions:

- are you going to use the switch box "box" for more than the switches? Extra storage? If so, how are you protecting the back of the panel from getting banged by something loose in the box?

- how to the tops on the two rear storage pods open? hinges or just set on top?


Lookin good. I've never used a spray gun, but I've got a big enough compressor to power one. Think that's the direction I'm going to go just to get some practice.
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Another boat build

Postby Bluesky2012 » Wed May 17, 2017 10:02 am

Out of curiosity how much did this hull run, and how much in "upgrades" is this costing?

Aside from just fun/hobby stuff, I just don't get why you're doing all that to a topper? A while back I got an older 16' XPRESS hull for like $900 that didn't need near that kind of work, and the hull was built to last through many years of rugged use. I just don't see a topper being anything more than a pond scooting around boat, so why did you go that route instead of searching around for a bigger stouter hull that required less re-work?

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Re: Another boat build

Postby atownducks » Wed May 17, 2017 11:40 am

Smoke68 wrote:2 questions:
- are you going to use the switch box "box" for more than the switches? Extra storage? If so, how are you protecting the back of the panel from getting banged by something loose in the box?

- how do the tops on the two rear storage pods open? hinges or just set on top?


1. I'll prob run the majority of my wiring into here and maybe put a small tool box in here. I'll prob use some Velcro I have laying around and fashion some sort of tie down. Doubt I'll have anything big enough in there to bang the back of the panel and break anything.
2. I bought some hinges so I'll mount them properly tomorrow or Friday. Can't be driving down the road and have my storage tops go flying off haha

Bluesky2012 wrote:Out of curiosity how much did this hull run, and how much in "upgrades" is this costing?

Aside from just fun/hobby stuff, I just don't get why you're doing all that to a topper? A while back I got an older 16' XPRESS hull for like $900 that didn't need near that kind of work, and the hull was built to last through many years of rugged use. I just don't see a topper being anything more than a pond scooting around boat, so why did you go that route instead of searching around for a bigger stouter hull that required less re-work?


All fair questions. It's a 2011 topper & trailer I picked up for $650 with both titles.
Switch Panel - $31.46
Nav Light - $9.98
Trailer Lights - $20.19
Bus Bar - $10
Primer - $14.28
Paint - $18.80
Aluminum seat cover - $180
Not including the cost of tools bc I'll have those forever and it's technically not a part of this build (angle grinder, rivet gun, etc)

All together about $285 in parts/paint/extras + $650 for boat & trailer for a total of $935.

I live in an area where the cost of living is very high and finding a deal on a newer boat is pretty rare, so I jumped on it. I wanted something cheap enough where I could spend a little money to get it fixed up, acquire some tools along the way and breakeven when I go to sell it. I also really enjoy doing the research and exploring new crafts with metal/wood work.

I have a 22hp Predator Longtail and after a bunch of research, it looked like a 15x42 topper was going to be a perfect fit for it. Light enough to maneuver by myself and stable enough to run 3 guys + gear in the waters by me. Like I said before, I don't have to worry about going 40 mph or hitting logs on my run out to the blind, so I think heavy hull wouldn't do me any good. It would be nice to have, but not 100% necessary.
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Re: Another boat build

Postby Bluesky2012 » Wed May 17, 2017 12:33 pm

I'd be REALLY careful running 3 guys in that boat in Virginia. Especially with a small hp long tail powering it. Good luck.


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Re: Another boat build

Postby atownducks » Thu May 18, 2017 7:08 am

haha I ran 3 + gear in my 14x36 with a 15hp longtail before this and it was a little sketch. This boat will def be better on the sketch scale. Thanks tho bud
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Re: Another boat build

Postby atownducks » Thu May 18, 2017 10:37 am

Picking up the bench seat cover today. Will sand, rivet and paint it today. I'll start running electronics sometime today or tomorrow.
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