Kevin Barnes' '81 Vector with Merc 2.5

If you've been on the Scream and Fly Board you've probably read some of Plum Crazy's posts. He has tried to answer a lot of questions from people with transom or floor problems. Will the real Plum Crazy please take two large steps forward? Kevin (Plum Crazy) Barnes from Seabrook Texas has spent the last few years restoring his 1981 HydroStream Vector.

The following is Kevin’s short story about the project:

It all began about three and a half years ago. I bought a '81 Vector complete for $1900.00. It had the original Merc 2.4 200 hp, hot foot, hydraulic jack plate, etc. I have always loved the lines of the HydroStreams and could not let this one pass. Within 4 months of ownership, I had the boat in the glass shop where I worked. Three years later, my dream was complete.


What began as a floor patch job turned into a total rebuild. I found the entire floor to be rotten. Upon further inspection, the entire balsa core was rotten as well. I tore out all the wood in the floor and reinforced the hull. Next I installed a foam composite floorboard, and foam compressed the hull. The only wood in the boat is in the transom, and the battery box area, for hold-downs. Keeping in mind, the down draft pad1.jpg (30243 bytes)the windshield provides I made an exact copy of the original windshield out of fiberglass, and shaped in thegel1.jpg (27654 bytes) sides. I raised the dash, to meet the new windshield. And shaved an inch off the bottom, for more legroom. Next, I molded in everything, with bi-axil fiberglass. There is no "bondo" in my boat. Next, I flattened the pad, and blocked out the entire boat by hand. After this, I re-gel coated the entire boat. I love to jump wakes, pull tail stands, and generally abuse the boat, so I built it to take a beating.

windshield1.jpg (38033 bytes) windshiled3.jpg (51151 bytes) windshiled4.jpg (101091 bytes) windshiled5.jpg (30629 bytes)


Since I was trying to keep wood to a minimum when it came to the interior I used foam composite board to rebuild the seats. This not only made them light and rot proof, but made construction of the wrap a round interior1.jpg (41091 bytes)couch and the front seatbacks a lot easer. Precision Upholstery in Pasadena handled the finish work. While the seats were off getting upholstered I went ahead and splatter finished the floor using three colors of gel-coat. The final cosmetics touches came from the Rex Marine catalogue. White faced Gaffinger gauges, switch and gauge bezels, cup holders, shifter, Hotfoot, grab handles, transom savers, gas cap, and even the emergency paddle are all purple anodized aluminum.

floor removal 1.jpg (37260 bytes) floor removal 2.jpg (25099 bytes) floor removal 3.jpg (36897 bytes) floorp1.jpg (31756 bytes) floorp2.jpg (38462 bytes) floorp3.jpg (39824 bytes)



After all this prep the old Clamshell cowl just had to go. I borrowed a mid 90’s style High Performance cowlcowl.jpg (25952 bytes) mold from Ro Yale and made my own cowl. Just a word to the wise, this is something I would never do again. It takes a lot more time then it’s worth. Spend the 400 bucks and buy one from Bob's Machine.


With the help of the mechanical genius of my friend HowieDean, motor mods began early last summer. We started with a stock 81 2.4 which had vertical 10 petal reeds.  We found a 16-inch mid with a Merc one-piece tuner base over at Circle D Boats in Beaumont. After bead blasting and touching up some welds. I wrapped the mid with glass to both reinforce it and to clean up the lines a little. Ro Yale supplied us with a 10 petal horizontal front half, which we installed after test fitting it with plasti-gauge. (If you start swapping motor half’s be sure to check for proper fit as they are line board at the factory and are not meant to be interchangeable) By using a bunch of donor parts from a sunken 2.5 I had motor1.jpg (54530 bytes)bought earlier, we were able to assemble the power head. Most of the summer was spent chasing little gremlins around the electrical system. Replaced the Stator, made a new wire harness, and learned about that little tip over kill switch (if you haven’t already done it, we strongly recommend that you cut the ground wire on this little dude today). Thanks to Greg Moss for his help with some of the electrical stuff. Next we played carb roulette for a couple of weeks, thanks to Tug for stopping by and lending a hand. Just as we were getting a handle on getting her dialed in it developed a pretty severe stress crack in a weld on the shortened steering plate. And then summer was gone.

Winter plans are to transfer all the rotating parts and electronics into that salvaged 2.5 block I mentioned earlier. Plan to grind on the exhaust chest a little, flow coat the crank and intake, and a few more little tricks. Going to use a ported intake, reeds, heads, and exhaust divider from a 280. And of course, Re-weld and reinforce the steering bracket. Then it's off to Beaumont for one of those magic Chris Domino setup sessions. Expect boat to run upper 90's.

Although it cost a lot more then I thought now that its said and done I am very pleased with the out come. Again thanks to HowieDean, Ro Yale, Gregg Moss, Tug, Chris Domino, and the guys on the Scream and Fly board. We learned a lot, and even though we had a lot of fun doing it, the real fun should begin this summer. This year we plan to be spending our weekends on the San Jacinto River, instead of in the shop.

We keep up with the Scream and Fly board so if you have a glass question let it fly. Hope I can help you out. Or click over and check out our site at

We are very interested in hearing from any one who owns a HydroStream in Texas or Louisiana. Please contact us, or

Spotlight Archives


[ Home l About HH&P l History l Models l Owners' Pictures l Feature Article l Tech Talk ]
[ Literature l Events l Top Guns l Guest Boat l F.A.Q. l Video Gallery l Racing Corner ]
[ Prop Slippage Program l Animated Videos l HIN Decoder l Links l Contact Mark ]