Custom 9' Baby Virages  Part III
By Ron Pratt


Now the fun really begins....the rigging........... X3!!

I decided to start with the rubrail. I  found two derelict Bayliners that had good rubrails.  One was a 24' and the other was a 26'. The price was right (free) so off they came.  They were through bolted so my girlfriend (with a flashlight in her mouth) climbed under the gunnel and held the nuts while I backed out the screws with my cordless screw gun.  Great fun!!!  Once home we went to work putting them on the mini's.  They installed quite easily and the aluminum bent around the rear corners easier than I had expected.  A buddy came over and calked the seam where the aluminum touched the deck.  This filled in any small gaps and gave the install a "clean" look.


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I decided to keep the original Whalers Mahogany bench seat due to the different size of occupants. The kids can sit on a cushion if needed but the adults need as much room as possible.  The same issue pertained to the backrest.  I had to keep the foam at 1".  Any thicker and an adult would have the steering wheel in their bellies.

When Melodie and I went to Seattle over Thanksgiving, we hit the upholstery shops for the vinyl.  After four stops and three hours we had all the material.   I had called for quotes to have the panels stitched and the prices ranged from $200.00 to $400.00.  I bought all the material for $45.00 and had my mom sewed it.   She is a perfectionist and spent over seven hours making them.  The flaps where the different colors are stitched together on the backside posed a problem.  They stuck straight out, 90* to the backing and if you folded them to one side, the vertical pleats would look uneven. Mom cut the foam into strips that would fit between the flaps so we could leave them in their natural position..  Next, I cut and resin coated some plywood to staple the upholstery to.  I installed two stainless "T" nuts along the upper edge of each of the panels so they could later be bolted to the rear lip of the cockpit.

After setting the backing wood over the foam, I started to staple the vinyl.  I started in the middle of each side working my way to the corners.  At the corners, I stretched the vinyl around the plywood corner and folded it on the backside.  I used rustproof (Monel) staples so I wouldn't have to restaple these in a few years.

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As soon as I hung the first motor (a 15 hp Mariner), I realized I had made the splashwell too narrow.  The steering cable was going to hit the well when turning right.  I would have to butcher a huge hole on the left side of the well to make room for the steering cable and the link rod.  I decided to make a set-back bracket to get the cable behind the transom.  My first thought was to make a fiberglass bracket (I even made a mold), but scored on some 2"x3" angle aluminum and decided to make a manual jack plate.  It worked slick!!  The two other motors (a 25 hp Mariner & a 15 hp Merc) were 20" shafts so raising the plates made an excellent 5" transom lift.

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Since I was trying to get the mini's to look as close to my boat as possible (within reason), I scuffed the two Mariners with a red scotchbright and acetone and painted them black. (the third motor was a Merc). I dipped a paint brush into the left over striping  paint and "flicked it" at the cowls to give them the splatter effect. I did this with all three colors.   I had the guy that made up my cowl decals down size them to fit the smaller motors. I even figured out the Liter size for these motors and had decals made.

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The steering systems were scrounged from junk boats... taken apart, cleaned and oiled.  Two of the motors didn't have tilt tubes to mount the steering cables to and I couldn't bring myself to buy the kits for $78.00 ea so I pulled a couple tilt tubes out of some spare midsections I had.  I mounted these through the jack plate bracket and they worked perfect!!!

As soon as I finished all the rigging and test ran all the motors, the weather turned bad.  I mean really bad!!  It rained / snowed for like six weeks straight!!!!  It was on a Sat. when the weather finally broke.  I woke up to blue skies and no wind.  Since my kids are too small to go out solo, I had to get two other adults to ride shotgun .  Everyone was busy except for my dad. My oldest daughter wasn't feeling good so she stayed with grandma.  We grabbed all three boats and headed to the ramp. We launched two boats first and both motors fired up easily. The first thing I noticed was how tender these little boats were. With a 200# adult sitting to one side (my dad's 230#), the boats leaned quite a bit.  It looked so funny.

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Once on step, they leveled out and rode nice.  The kids were ecstatic!! We ran around some of the islands then did some racing.  I was with my son in his boat and we smoked Dad and my daughter  (we had the 25 hp)!!

Top speed with the 25hp is around 30 mph and 20 mph with the 15 hp. The boats porpoise even with the motors tucked all the way under so I'll be adding dole fins to hopefully solve this problem.

I wanted to get a picture of ALL the boats in the water for this final article but finding the weather and three other adults  has been difficult.  We'll hopefully get one  for "Snapshot of the month" this summer.

This has been an exhausting project. Seeing my kids in their own Virage turbo's with ear to ear smiles make every minute worth it. We are going to have a super summer!!!!

A special thank you to Mark Casper for doing a great job putting these articles together.


Ron Pratt
Sitka, Alaska


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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