Mike Willerding's 1976 Ventura with Merc 2.4 Bridgeport


In 1988 I was an apprentice mechanic for Volkswagen in Toronto Canada.  At the dealership I met a life long friend Gordon Skinner. Soon after meeting him I found out he had a boat, a 1984 Hydrostream Vector, with a 225 hp V6 mercury. A couple weeks later I went to see him at his lake front home and went for a ride at nearly 90 mph.  I was freaking out and needless to say I was smiling from ear to ear. The following year in the boat trader I found a 1976 Hydrostream Ventura for sale.   The exact same color boat as Pete DeLucia's in pretty rough shape. The boat had a red trim inline 115 hp mercury engine and needed a lot of work.  The throttle cables were seized, the power trim motor was leaking and the tach did not work.  The trailer was in serious rough shape and the orangey metal flake paint job was very sun beaten. In the next few weeks I replaced the throttle cables, re-sealed the power trim motor and could not afford the tach at the time. A weekend or so later I dropped the boat in the lake at my buddy Gord's place and went for a ride. Mid day another inline started flying up beside me and  my buddy Gord routed me on to race him. Without having a tach and being fairly green to boats he started to pull away and I trimmed up not realizing I was severely under-propped and that I was over revving the engine. My boat came to a  sudden stop - my first lesson of what not to do with a boat. I was towed back to shore and sent the boat to a qualified marina which informed me that I needed 6 rods, 2 pistons and a crankshaft.  It being such an old motor I told them not repair it.  I immediately thought to myself do I go the summer without a boat or get another engine.  I got a loan and found a 1976 blue trim inline Merc 150 same year as the boat with a full season's warranty and the exact bolt pattern of the old engine so no drilling would have to be done on the transom. 


      I really bought this boat at a young age and did not intend do an absolute restoration but it has turned out that way. Since owning the boat all the light fixtures have been anodized black, the aluminum rub rail has been changed to Canadian Edition black rubber supplied by Jimmy Tucker. The boat was painted a snow white Willerding1.jpg (63584 bytes)polyurethane, a full fuse panel installed, Mercury gauges changed to Medallion, original single ride guide steering system changed to Teleflex NFB dual cables, 2 1/2" Bob's jack plate added.  Interior was re-upholstered with a new design on the factory seats.  When the boat was painted I had the painter fill in theWillerding2.jpg (135936 bytes) holes of the original HydroStream logos with the intention of putting on large black decals. The windshield was a smoked gray that did not compliment the boat so I had it blacked out with a large decal.  Recently the floor was replaced with 3/8" balsa and completely recarpeted.  After Willerding6.jpg (85384 bytes)getting bored with the 70 mph of my inline I sold it and bought myself a 2.4 Bridgeport with balanced and blueprinted heads, Boyesen reeds, modified exhaust, and solid motor mounts.  As the original trailer started to show signs of stress I had Wesco trailers located in my new home in South Carolina build me a small custom tandem trailer which brought the whole package to life.  Wherever this boat goes it attracts serious attention, especially when people find out the year of it. This boat is my pride and joy and I really appreciate the opportunity to be on this website with so many awesome HydroStreams.

- Mike Willerding

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