Eternal Life For The Voyager
By Art Azis

 

 

 

After 15 years of faithful service I finally repowered my Canadian Edition Voyager, in July 2000, with a new 2.6L 200HP Yamaha VMax. I decided to go with a Yamaha again as I was extremely pleased with the quality and reliability of my previous motor.

This was the start of a number of woes that were to beset me. First of all, after three hours of operation, the new Yamaha blew a hole through a piston. I could tell that something wasnít right when power seemed to drop and I heard that clanging noise from inside the motor.

After roughly a month of sitting at the dealership, the Yamaha factory rep finally showed up. He determined that an improperly calibrated carburetor was the cause and then authorized a new engine block replacement.

By the time I got the boat back I had to put the boat away for the winter.

Shortly after bringing the boat back I had already noticed that the transom didnít look good. There was a wow in the transom at the point where the jack plate was attached to the transom and also several fairly deep cracks at the top of the transom, again at the attachment points. In addition, one of the upper mounting bolts, on the inside of the transom, had penetrated into the gel coat. Unfortunately, I didnít have a transom stiffener plate to help protect the transom surface.

The Voyager had been solid and flawless for the first 15 years since I bought it new in 1986. There was never a crack anywhere on the boat. The transom failure seemed clearly to be a result of the new motor and its set up. I had increased the jack plate set back from 5" to 6" and the new motor was about 20 lbs. heavier. It does not sound like much but that was all it took to cause the breaking point. Unfortunately back in the 80ís knee braces to the transom were not installed by the manufacturer.

After consulting with several members of The Performance Boat Club of Canada, it became apparent that, if I wanted to keep the boat, the transom would have to be replaced.

The cost of transom replacement could only be justified if I was to keep the boat for at least another 5 years. In my case I had owned the boat since new and frankly I still love the boat. I would not want to have anything else. What also made it easier to justify was the fact that despite its age, the boat still looks like brand new. The gel coat is fade free and the interior as well as the floor is still original and in excellent condition. The Voyager is one of only a few performance boats out there that can accommodate a family comfortably, has a full windshield and still runs over 70 mph.

I quickly came to the conclusion that the best person to do the job was John Spaeth. John is located near Brechin, Ontario and operates under the name of HydroStream Boats Inc. He is very experienced with HydroSteams and came highly recommended. John acquired the HydroStream moulds when Canadian Edition, then owned by Jim Tucker, went out of business somewhere around the mid 90ís. John still builds HydroStream Voyager & Vegas models in both a V Bottom and XT configuration and the V Bottom V-King, Valero, Vista and Voo Doo. Several PBCC members have had Vegas XTís built by John. The quality of workmanship and performance have been excellent. He is also well known for his expertise in fiberglass repairs of all sorts and has worked on all kinds of boats including Fountains.

AzisTransom8.jpg (115128 bytes)
Inside view of John's shop. Art's boat is at the far end.

 

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A new Vegas hull curing in the mold. Note substantial use of balsa core and that knee braces are now standard.

 

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A Vegas deck.

 

John is a real busy guy so I finally got my boat to him at the end of June 2001. It was decided that , in order to do a proper job, both the transom and splash well would be replaced. Also, John would install plywood knee braces. Because of the knee braces the unfortunate thing was that the old gas tank would not fit. John would have to install a custom sized tank that would fit snugly between the braces. This makes for a neat and solid installation.

Before I gave the OK to proceed I had John cut out the rear portion of the floor to get a better idea of the condition of the existing coring and frame work. He also used a moisture meter to check out the moisture content and did the rubber hammer test on the rest of the boat. Everything checked out well. In fact John noted that it looked like brand new underneath. This can be attributed to the fact that the boat has always been stored out of the water and in a garage when not in use.

 

AzisTransom1.jpg (107467 bytes)
Preparing the top and upper inside edge of the transom for removal of the splashwell.

 

The transom replacement was very labour intensive because they had to chip all the wood out from the inside. As the transom was not very water saturated, as verified by the moisture meter, the wood material was still very hard. John leaves the entire fiberglass skin around the transom intact. He does not cut the outside fiberglass skin as he feels that by doing so the strength of the final rebuild would be substantially compromised in the long run.

 

AzisTransom2.jpg (82168 bytes)
Pattern drawn showing where the splashwell area is to be cut.

 

AzisTransom3.jpg (101275 bytes)
Splashwell area has been cut. This will also make it easier to remove the old transom plywood from the inside.

 

A high grade multi ply mahogany plywood, with an additional Ĺ" of thickness over the original, was used for the transom replacement. Two ĺ" plywood knee braces were glassed to the balsa.

 

AzisTransom4.jpg (99948 bytes)
New transom plywood in place along with added knee braces.

 

AzisTransom5.jpg (128845 bytes)
New transom installed. Note that the outer fiberglass skin of the transom has not been cut.

 

The motor well was constructed from 8084P vinylester resin.

 

AzisTransom6.jpg (86569 bytes)
A new splashwell has been fabricated from a mold and is now put into place for bonding to the deck and transom.

 

All exposed wood areas were heavily treated with resin.

In addition, the colour match for the new transom well was not an easy task. He had to duplicate a mellow yellow with gold metal flake and clear coat on top.

After being in the shop for about a month and a half it was finally finished. The end result was excellent with the colour match being as pretty close to perfect as you can get.

 

AzisTransom7.jpg (119543 bytes)
The completed job. You can't really tell that anything has been done.

 

A lot of thanks should also go to Terry Anderson who works in Johnís shop as he actually did most of the work and the motor re-rigging. Terry is an excellent fiberglass and graphics man. He acquired an AE21 mould from John and built an ultra light version for himself. I saw some pictures of his boat. The finish and inlaid graphics are totally unique and stunning. Terry indicated that he has run this boat, with a heavily modified Mercury race motor, at speeds well in excess of 110 mph.

My boat has run great since the rebuild. The trusty Yamaha has been running very strong!

Was the expense and down time worth it? In my viewpoint it definitely was. I now have a very solid boat that can likely run another 10 years and in addition I have a boat that is 6-7 miles per hour faster than my previous set up with the original 200 Yamaha. It currently runs at a max 6100 rpm with a 14.5x26" Mercury chopper. The previous motor, which was still in good shape, only pulled 5400 rpm with the same propeller.

The improvement arose primarily because the extra inch of setback and the increased trim range of the new motor now allowed the hull to break loose and fly properly. The previous setup would not allow the boat to lift. I didnít install a nose cone on the new motor as I found the cone on my previous motor made the boat lift less. A Voyager needs all the help it can get to lift properly. As the newer stock Yamaha gearcase has fairly low water pickups, water pressure has not been a problem even with the motor jacked all the way up.

This shows you that setup is probably the single most important thing you can do to improve performance.

In conclusion, if you love your HydroStream and the repair makes sense, in relation to the overall condition of the boat, then go for it. There is still nothing better out there than a classic HydroStream! A good HydroStream never ages and remains eternal!

Art Azis

 

Note: For sales of new HydroStreams, and repairs of all kinds to your boat, John Spaeth can be reached at 705-484-0407

 

 
 

This section features articles written by you guys.  Submit whatever you would like - as long as it applies to HydroStreams, motors, trailers, or towing vehicles.  Please send it to me in a form where I can just insert it into this page (some kind of Word processing document would be good).  It would be a good idea to check with me first to make sure nobody else is working on the same topic.  Everyone please consider writing an article and sharing some information that will help out your fellow Streamers.

 


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