Fix'n a Vixen  Part III
                                                                                 
By Scott Hraska

 

            After a ton of grinding and fiberglassing it was time for some finishing bodywork and paint. My father and I brought the boat over to Ronnie’s house for a paint job.

 

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 When we got there I thought the boat was just about ready to paint. Boy was I wrong! I wasn’t even prepared for all the sanding that we had to do to make the boat look good when painted. After 2-3 weeks of rough sanding (80-100 grit), Ronnie worked his magic for the finishing bodywork. He didn’t want my father or myself to even try to help because he would just have to go over it again (which was true). At first I didn’t understand really but I soon realized how perfect the boat must be before paint.

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It was about 2 more weeks before Ronnie was ready to paint the bottom. My father and I stood outside the garage and watched as the blue metal flake was sprayed on.  It looked so amazing, finally I knew all my fathers hard work, Ronnie’s, and my own would be paying off in the near future.

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Once the bottom was all painted and cleared my father and Ronnie’s each grabbed one side of the boat and I grabbed the nose and we just picked it up, flipped it over and placed it back on the trailer. Ronnie did a little more sanding and then sprayed the top metallic blue also. He called it “dumpster paint” because his friend was throwing it out after sitting on the shelf for like 10+ yrs. It worked awesome though and came out great!

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My father and I towed the boat home to put the floor in and begin rigging.

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We also added little braces in-between the stringers to make the boat even more rigid. The floor was glassed down over the stringers and then covered with 2 layers of bi-axial fiberglass.

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Once everything was dry I painted the inside of the boat with outdoor paint just to make sure its all sealed up nice. After that we started on the wiring. That took about 2 ½ weeks to complete to what I thought was good.

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We had an idea of a windshield that we made out of some thick paper. I went out looking for some lexan shops but found I didn’t have enough $$ for it. I ended up using just tinted Plexiglas. My father and I (mostly my father) made a skeleton mold to form the windshield with.

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 I borrowed a pair of my neighbor’s fireman gloves and stood in front of our 110,000btu kerosene heater with this sheet of Plexiglas and some gloves.  (Keep in mind this is in the middle of the winter in NY - temps were in the low teens).

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 Once it got nice and pliable I would run over and push it over on the mold. I repeated this process for a few days until I liked the shape. Next was the trimming and fitting. That took a week or 2 just because it’s so hard to make it fit the curved shape of the vixen’s deck. Once it fit nice we screwed it down and sealed it on with 5200 black marine sealant. I love the way it came out and really think it gives the boat a “sleeker” look.

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 Next up was the carpet. We went to Home Depot a few weeks earlier and ordered up 12ft of charcoal grayish carpet. Once it arrived we began fitting it so there was the least amount of seams possible. Once the carpet was cut and fitted it only took about ½ hour to glue down. We were originally going to carpet the transom, the transom knees and the back of the boat but decided it was not needed.

The original molding inside the boat was missing a 2 ft section. We couldn’t find a match for it so instead of using push molding we decided to use aluminum and rivet it up. It only took one night for that and it came out better then I expected.

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day b4 the first run just need to start motor0008.jpg (64844 bytes)Back out to Ronnie's the boat went to get the final rigging. Once the boat was out by Ronnie's again the holes were drilled and the jack plate was mounted. Then taken off and sent out to be powder coated. In the meantime, the holes for the steering were cut. When I went out to Ronnie's one day I found all my wiring laying on the floor. It turns out that he didn’t like it, but that’s fine with me. Its OK though because the wiring job he did is 10X better then mine. Now I know how to do it next time J.

Just about all that was left was to cut down the lower unit, and find a way to make the midsection fit. I bought this mid (2cyl) off ebay for $40 and thought it was perfect. It turns out that Ronnie had to mill the top off that one, and the top of one of my 3 cylinder mids and then re-weld the 3cyl top on the 2cyl. mid. This was because on 2 cylinder motors there is a different bolt pattern on the power head. I gave Ronnie a bunch of aluminum and he welded up an AWESOME looking snout off the back of the mid (really sounds cool).

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at ronnies starting to hang motor0016.jpg (61550 bytes)Over the winter my mom and her friend re-covered the seats I acquired from Ronnie.day b4 the first run just need to start motor0002.jpg (69828 bytes) They did an amazing job with the white pleats and blue stripe down the middle- it's just what I wanted J so while my dad and Ronnie were wiring up the last bits on the motor, I was bolting down the seats and the gas tank.

 

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it runs!0005.jpg (60150 bytes)Eventually it was time to start the engine and man did it sound like crap! I know it’s an OMC and all but still…something wasn’t right. We took the boat out and I couldn’t even get up on plane, but the trip was successful because I wasn’t towed in!  We found out that the hi-speed jets were clogged shut, which is why I had no power at all. We re-built all 3 carbs and took the boat out again. It got on plane but still had a lot of trouble doing it...and still sounded really flat…. like it was losing power somehow??

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With the suspicion that the motor was sucking in water we pulled the head to find that indeed water was leaking in. We moved on to the exhaust cover. It turns out that ALL 3 gaskets were junk and the motor was sucking in tons of water. After replacing all the gaskets the motor ran AWESOME. I saw a top speed of 56.1 on the GPS first day of testing.

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After messing with the motor height and some props, the best I’ve seen is 60.4 mph on the GPS. The first prop was a cleaver I bought off Ebay for $50 - it’s a solid hub OMC cleaver (dimensions unknown) and it turned about 6500-6700 rpm. The most recent prop is a cut down V-6 chopper that’s 13 ¾ X 26 with a good amount of cup; I turn that prop to about 6000 at 60.4 mph. Keep in mind this is only with an old junky 1985 70hp that was used on a 2000lb Boston Whaler for years before I got it from my uncle. I can’t wait to get some real power out of this baby!  I’ll keep you updated on my progress J

 
 

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