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Jan 23rd, 2013
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Modifying an older fiberglass bass boat interior #13714841 09/29/20 03:43 AM
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Spreng Offline OP
Green Horn
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I have a 1978 Ray Craft 15ft fiberglass bass boat that I've been restoring over the last couple years. I've gotten it to a point where it's great mechanically - now I can start thinking about usability. Being over 40 years old the design and layout of the top cap/interior aren't up to today's standards and leaves much to be desired. Here are my complaints with it:

1) small casting decks
2) lack of enclosed storage
3) poor layout resulting in improper weight distribution

First, not only are the casting decks small, the hatches aren't flush and pose a tripping hazard. Second, the lack of enclosed storage is abysmal (it has a large open floor - large enough for an adult to lay down and not touch the bow or stern decks). And third, arguably the most important, is the weight distribution. The live well is directly behind the driver parallel with the starboard gunwale and the passenger seat is 2-3ft toward the stern from the driver (see photo below for reference).


I have a decent idea of what I want to do but don't know the best way to go about doing it. Here's what I'd like to do:

  • Raise front casting deck, extend rearward to edge of console, make new flush hatches, relocate batteries to the bow
  • Bring passenger seat in line with driver seat and add 3rd seat in middle
  • Reconfigure live well to either be centered between the gunwales or on the port side (to offset the weight of the driver)
  • Raise and extend rear casting deck to facilitate flush hatches, more storage, and better weight distribution


Here's where I need the help of the wonderful folk on TFF - how to accomplish the above wish list while retaining, or improving, the structural integrity of the boat. I'm a clean-slate kinda guy - meaning I'd love to just cut out the front/rear decks and build all new from scratch, but don't have experience with modifying fiberglass boats and don't want to proceed without some insight from the wiser. Below are some of the questions I have:

  • Marine-grade plywood would be the material of choice to construct the new decks/storage compartments, correct? What thickness of plywood would be best for a smaller bass boat that can't handle a ton of extra weight?
  • How should the plywood be attached to the boat gunwales/sides/floor (screwed to it via brackets then epoxied/glassed over)?
  • Should the new plywood decks be fully glassed over or will epoxy-based paint by itself suffice?
  • What precautions must one take when removing such a large portion of the boat's top cap?
  • Are there any maintenance items or checks that can be done when the original material is removed that otherwise would be difficult or impossible to do?


I appreciate all input and advice anyone is willing to give. I know this is a lot of work for a cheap older boat but I've already put a lot of work into it making it run and function great, and it's the only boat I have (and can't afford a newer one at the moment).

Evan


[Linked Image]

Re: Modifying an older fiberglass bass boat interior [Re: Spreng] #13717891 10/02/20 01:26 PM
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Brock Landers Offline
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As someone who has worked with fiberglass for the last 30+ years, I'm going to recommend that you not attempt this. You're better off saving your money for a different boat.

Re: Modifying an older fiberglass bass boat interior [Re: Spreng] #13760310 11/07/20 06:14 AM
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TxDanFishMan Offline
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That definitely is a strange layout for that boat and a lot of labor to reconfigure.
I have and old boat too, 1987, and not sure how long I’ll keep it.



Slide right, coming in .... Fish On!
Re: Modifying an older fiberglass bass boat interior [Re: Spreng] #13760358 11/07/20 12:00 PM
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Dan21XRS Offline
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What your planning to do is going to add a lot of weight... As Brock said, I wouldn't do it... Save and sell to upgrade... Dan

Re: Modifying an older fiberglass bass boat interior [Re: Spreng] #13760470 11/07/20 03:05 PM
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Beak47 Offline
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I owned a 15 foot Raycraft back in the late ‘80s that had been overpowered with a 135 Evinrude. I found a 70 Evinrude in Dallas that I put on it! Great little boat that would scoot along pretty good. Dealer in Lufkin had sold it new. Make a good crappie rig when you get it finished. Good luck.


Hardcore Texan
Re: Modifying an older fiberglass bass boat interior [Re: Spreng] #13764951 11/10/20 08:40 PM
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Spreng Offline OP
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Thanks for the input. I'm in the process of restoring the hull and interior gel coat (starting with wet sanding) in order to make the boat presentable enough to sell in the spring so I can get something larger for the family (torn between a bow rider, deck boat, and pontoon - may also consider a center console).

Beak47, I agree. It's been a great boat and an even better first boat project. Mine'll cruise all day at 35 with more to spare!

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