Sal Gennuso...1987 Vegas XT with 1994 Mercury 2.5 Carb.


My obsession with Hydrostream goes way back for me to when I was a kid watching Vectors and Vikings flying down past the sandbar at my cottage on Rice Lake. Mecca to the Canadian Edition Hydrostream manufactured by Jim Tucker in a small shop in Hastings, On. This was a time where Hydrostream legends (in my 11 year old eyes) were born. Names like Wayne Hammond , Tony Virag, Joe Luciano were eating up Rice Lake and nothing could touch them. My first encounter driving a Hydrostream I was 17 years old working in the local restaurant in Hastings for Joe Luciano who happened to have a Hydrostream Vulture with a fresh new Mercury 2.5 Mod VP 260 Hp and flew high 80ís low 90ís. I got to drive that boat a lot.Video of Sal's old V-King That just poisoned me. I was addicted. There was not a season where I did not admire the boats at the beach. But I was young and didnít have the means. I settled for sitting on the beach, watching all the lake racing, getting to go on the occasional boot in Tony Virag's V-King. Good 80 MPH ride. Years later I was working and raising a family. I was in the market for my first. She was a pretty red V-king American with a stock 200 Mercury. My training boat. 74 MPH. Not fast enough for me.

Early in the second season I found a wreck: a V-King with a good 2.4 Bridgeport. I scooped it up. With help from Donny Tucker who I found working at a local marina, I flipped the 200 Merc to help pay for my Bridgeport and V-King wreck. Quickly had it rigged and now Iím doing 80 to 83 mph. Had a good season with that configuration.

Sal's Old V-King Sal's Old V-King The wrecked V-King The wrecked V-King

This is where my story starts, now that you all have a brief history. One night I was working late and my brothers were with me. My brother Danny was playing on E-Bay. For fun he punches in the word Hydrostream in the search. This Vegas XT comes up for sale in Philadelphia for $1500.00. I had just sunk dough into the wreck I bought to upgrade my engine but I had considered this hull at the time. Not knowing what I was about to get myself into. My wife was not for it at all. But I fell for this boat and bought it anyway. It was merely a shell. No steering, no floor, no gauges - nothing but a bare hull with pretty good paint and a lot of potential. I figured for $5000 and my new to me 1991 Bridgeport I could get this boat in the water and make a go of it. So I go talk to all my good friends, Anthony Santocono, Rob Luke, & Bill Keegan who I thank by the way for all the help, and good advice.

I drive to Philly to pickup this boat after completing the purchase on E-Bay. I find when I get there that the boat is much rougher than described and that the trailer has no working electrical or plates. So I drive from Philly to Bowmanville Ontario, Canada with Pep Boy magnetic trailer lights and a trailer plate from my Dadís trailer that luckily was in my truck. I had a few problems at the border. Did I mention the boat had no serial number? It had been ground off. The seller got the boat in an American theft recovery auction, and apparently had been found sitting behind a barn for over 9 years. Animals lived in it. It also had been sitting in the sellerís driveway for over a year with no floor.

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Anyway I get it home. What do I do now? I took the boat to Donny Tucker and he hooked me up with John Spathe of Hydrostream Canada in Brechon, Ontario for an estimate on doing a floor. From inspecting what work the floor needed John found that this boat was going to need more than a floor to make it right. It was rotten to the core and it needed a transom job. It needed pad work etc. etc. etcÖÖ..

First round in Johnís shop it got vacuum-sealed balsa core, a floor, fiberglass stringers, and a ski locker, and a complete transom replacement.

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From there I took it back to Donny who provides me steering, and rigged the Bridgeport & provided gauges, gas tank. And he took the seats from the Hydro wreck (Back seat was too small but somehow I was in the water that next season).

It ran good but I had a lot to do. I was probably doing 82 to 85 but the difference in the stability compared to my V-King was incredible. I was happy so far. But late in the season I started having mechanical trouble that I couldnít work out. So I put the boat away for the off-season.

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Back the boat went to Johnís shop in Brechon, this time for some finishing touches. This round John made me fiberglass seat shells, front & back, seat mounts, new carpet and inner moldings, a new gas tank, new steering wheel, and a good buff and polish. In the mean time I had the trailer redone (sandblasted and Tremcladed), and new rims and tires.

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I got the boat back looking like new, a fantastic journey from behind an old barn thousands of miles away, just like it had had an extreme makeover. Once I got the boat back, a big chunk of change later, I still had engine problems from the season before. I took it to many mechanics for a bogging problem at the top end. Finally found the problem: a bad coil. It was causing the main fuse to blow and the performance problem. Thanks to Sal at Dryland Marine, now it is mid June, the boat is good Ė oh, and somewhere in there I got a hydraulic jackplate installed. I thought everything was good. The first day of the first weekend of getting it back it ran like a dream for the first time. I was getting high 80ís for the first time effortlessly. Happy happy joy joy till the second day. Sunday ran great all day. 7000 rpm 28Ē Merc II Chopper. At dusk Iím loading the boat on the trailer. I go for a last pass. BOOOOM!!

I blow the Bridgeport up. Unrepairable. Munched. Dead! Pistons through the block!! Shrapnel! Iím stranded.

At this point Iím broke, frustrated, and almost divorced. I mean ready to give up. Its two and a half years later I am at least $15000.00 in and the boat is like new. And now I am powerless at the beginning of the season.

I take it back to Dryland Marine Sal finds the power head not worth rebuilding but my Mid and Sportmaster lower unit are deemed good. But no one has anything cheap and good as far as bolt on power heads at the time.

A week goes by and Iíve asked everyone I know for help in locating a power head that I could afford. I had gone this far and wasnít about to give in now. Itís the middle of June.

With Donny Tuckerís advice I call Paul at Top Gun Marine. He had a power head there, a 2.5 carb. Very fresh, for a price I could swallow. Like a big pill. Made the journey to Top Gun and Paul had me going in one day. Thanks to him also. Within two weeks Iím back in the water. After some dialing in, a Tuner change, and a shift from my 28 pitch to a 26 pitch prop my 1987/2002 Hydrostream Vegas XT with a 2.5 Mercury carb with a Sportmaster lower unit, with all new Gaffrig gauges, new everything does 93 MPH turning 7500 RPM and I am the happiest Hydrostream owner in the world. My wife still hates me though. I probably have to sell itÖÖ.and Iím living happily ever after.

Sal Gennuso
Bowmanville, Ontario

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