Archive for August, 2008


Our Thompson Brothers Runabout Part 8 – Across the Finish Line

The goal all along was to have this vessel finished and in the water by August 23rd for the Toledo Antique Boat Show in downtown Toledo, Ohio.

We made it!  But not without some sweating in the final hours.

The boat was essentiallyfinished the Friday one week before the show.  However, we had some minor issues with the rebuild Johnson dual-line pressure tanks and ended up being towed in from a test run on Sunday August 17th, 2008.  I took the motor to the local marina and it was suggested to put a fuel pump on the motor and use the modern tanks.  No problem..  I told the marina owner I needed the tanks by Wednesday the 20th due to the show.

An issue getting parts caused me to get the motor back on Friday the 22nd, the final test run was done that evening, and the motor was great.

Despite being a “photo finish”, we actually trailered the boat into the show at 7:30 am on Saturday the 23rd, and stayed until the end of the show at 4pm.  It was hot and humid, but our boat brought many smiles out and stories from others about their family Thompsons.  The response was very overwhelming after working so hard for two months to make ready for the show.


Here she is at the show as a finished project.  Enjoy!

The "Fibber Mc Gee" in side profile on august 23rd, 2008.  The unveiling at the Toledo Antique Boat Show.

The "Fibber Mc Gee" unveiled at the Toledo Antique Boat show on august 23rd, 2008.


"Fibber" sitting under the tree at International Park in Toledo, Ohio

"Fibber" under a tree at Toledo's International Park.



"The End"

"The End"


Our Thompson Brothers Runabout Part 7 – The Shake Down

A busy week for “the skipper” this week.  Along with working two full time jobs last week, and working a bit extra on my regualer fulltime job this week, the workshop called my name in the late evening hours.  I needed to be ready for the boat show in Toledo, Ohio on August 23rd.

The electrical system was installed with a minor hitch.  The switches purchased at West Marine have no schematic diagrams, so I had to fiddle a bit to get them to operate the way I wanted them to.

I was also very excited to get decals for the motor, and both the fuel tanks, as well as an operational, reproduction, wiring harness for the electric starting solenoid to the obscure plug on the Johnson Seahorse 18.  This was 135.00, but worth it!!  In need of one?  Contact is at this link:

As to the electrical, a remote electric start was re-installed, nav lights fore and aft, marine radio, compass, and a bilge pump.

The motor was brought home from the repair shop and runs very well overall.  It was installed on Friday along with the steering linkage, or stainless steel cable and pulleys in this case.

After all this was completed Friday, my wife and I decided to put her -the boat that is- in the water and see how she’d fair.

She began taking on a bit of water right away, and owing to the weight of the fuel tank, motor, and battery in the stern, she was riding low in the rear.  Nothing unexpected I suppose.  The motor was tweaked slightly before leaving home, but still more tweaking was needed on the shake down run.  The HIGH SPEED mixture was needing adjusting.

We got enough water in the bilge to need the pump twice, but after that the seemed to seal up and there was not enough water to pump.  Upon checking this morning…she still was holding the same amount of water as last night.  So I guess I’ll see where we’re at this afternoon and suck the rest out with a shop vac.

Once I became more sure she wasn’t going to sink, (My wife will tell you I was uptight as hell on the way to the ramp for a launch!) we really enjoyed ourselves.  It was a beautiful night in Northwest Ohio!  We cruised at medium speed most of the time, and she cut through the water like a hot knife through butter.  We’d hit another boats wake and she’d just go right over it or gently roll through the wave, but really felt fine.  Just like everyone said wooden boats feel.

The throttle control has a quirk that I need to work on.  It doesn’t seem to want to advance to full throttle, so I’ll look into that tonight or tomorrow as time permits.  At full throttle, I suspect she’d really run like crazy.  I think this is a cabling issue.

We also put the vessel to the test a bit.  In the Thompson Brothers brochure, they CLAIM because of the 2 inch keel and spray rail, this little boat would turn without skidding across the water.  We tried putting that theory to the test.  The Thompson Brothers won that battle.  Round and round…over our own wake like Captain Queeg cutting his tow line.  What a hoot!

Regrets:  1. She got dirty.  2. I was so worried and in such a hurry, we forgot the camera.  3. The night was falling too quickly, and we had to go home!

Although I want to do a little touch up work to the paint and have to reassemble our restored Johnson pressureize fuel tanks, the boat is pretty well ready for her maiden voyage at some point very soon.

More to come…


Our Thompson Brothers Runabout Part 6 – A bit of photo fun

We seem to be in the home stretch now in the completion of our little boat.  The varnish is dry, the interior cleaned out a bit, the seats refurbished and placed back in the boat.

Today…for the first time since we bought the boat…I got to sit in it! 

Practicing looking oh-so-cool.

Practicing looking oh-so-cool.

We still need to install the electrical system, and get the motor back and the fuel tanks restored by August 23rd for the boat show.  For the first time, I think we may make it.  To show some progress, here are a few photos for the next Thompson Brothers Boat Co. catologue.

Looking ashore for any spectators!

Looking ashore for any spectators!

Waving at people seemed to be popular back when these boats were made.  I thought I had better practice a bit.
Waving at people seemed to be popular back when these boats were made. I thought I had better practice a bit.
We installed the bulk of the hardware today, and temporarily fitted the windshield which had to be re-cut by the glass company.  They were very helpful though.  The folks at Trinity Glass in Toledo provided me with enough scrap gasket material to protect the glass as needed.
We pulled the boat out into the yard to take advantage of the wonderful weather in NW Ohio today.
We pulled the boat out into the yard to take advantage of the wonderful weather in NW Ohio today.
cleats, nav lights, radio antenna, etc.
This is a side shot. Note the “hardware”. IE: cleats, nav lights, radio antenna, etc.
And now a shot from the other side.  With the trailer, she just fits in the garage with about an inch to spare.
And now a shot from the other side. With the trailer, she just fits in the garage with about an inch to spare.
And that is how she sits as of today.  Work will continue Monday on the electrical system and final details for the next week or so.
Stay tuned!

Our Thompson Brothers Runabout Part 5 – The State of Ohio vs Jones – Part Two

When we last left each others company I was bemoaning the way the State of Ohio deals with boats and the registrations thereof.  Let continue the voyage…shall we?

So The motor is now titled and in my name.  But to title a boat in Ohio it must be not less than 13 feet 11and15/16th inches in length.  If it is uder 14 feet, no title is needed.

After having the Watercraft Division “officially” measure the boat to 13′ 6″ and send me CORRECTED paperwork, they also suggested I register the vessel as historical.  This entails a one time fee of $25.00 and then the registration numbers are good unless the boat is taken to another state.  The regitrations numbers can be transfered to a new owner for a nominal 10 bucks.  The catch: You can then only use the boat in parades and for special event like an antique automobile.  However, if you pay the regular registration fee of 30+ bucks and the 25 dollar historical registration fee, you may use your boat at any time.  Well we thought it would be nice to do this old lady the honor of being registered as historic.

I sent a check for 60 dollars, and all the paperwork given me by the Watercraft Department, in to the main office in Columbus.  I waited a week, and followed up via voice mail with the lady who handles historical registrations.  No return call ever, no response.  Typical and expected.

Then on Thursday this week I received in the mail the envelope from the Watercraft folks.  I was very excited to find out what our little boats numbers would be.  I could place an order for custom lettering.  Oh BOY!!!


What to do?

I called the HQ in Columbus and of course got voice mail AGAIN!  I left a stern and firm message that I was not happy my earlier call was not returned and was not happy that this was occuring.  I WANT A RETURN PHONE CALL THIS TIME!

After thinking about it, since we were going to pay the normal 30+bucks for normal use of the boat, I decided…hell with it…and off to the license bureau to get this thing registered!

I went to the license bureau and waited maybe 20 minutes to get to the counter, and was greeted by a lovely young lady.  I explained I have a bill of sale and the “official report” from the Watercraft Dept. proving my boat was not 14 feet, but was 13′ 6″ and could be licensed without a title as there was no need for title on boats under 14 feet.

The young lady looked over the paperwork and said…”I’ll be right back”.  An ominous sign.  (Only and orchestra of cellos playing in the background was missing as the storm was brewing in my mind.)

The young lady reappeared, took my paperwork back to her bosses office and Xerox-ed everything I presented her.  She then came back to the counter and handed me the very same form that was mailed from Columbus and asked me to fill it out.  I enquired why it was necessary given that the same info was already filled out by an officer from a state agency.  She said “That’s the rules.”

No arguing that logic.

I filled out the form and handed it back to her…smiling as best as I could.  Then the “payoff line came”.  (No pun intended.)

“That’ll be 33.00.”

I pulled out my checkbook since I knew my auto license and boat trailer license was not able to paid for with credit or debit cards in the State of Ohio.  Being so wise about these matters, I had fortuitously brought my checkbook with me.  HA!  I’m ready to pay-up.!

The nice young lady looked at me and said words I’d been longing to hear: “We only take cash for boat transaction…”

Huh!?!  Only cash?  But…but…BUT I BROUGHT MY CHECKBOOK!  I was off my rocker now.

I digress, some of my friends over the years, my wife, my family, have all seen me off my rocker.  The stories are legendary.  I’m not proud of this fact…really.  But at some point when the line is crossed…I get a little irritable.  The moment had now arrived on this delightful Thursday afternoon.  The line was now crossed, and the conversation was as follows.

Greg: You don’t take checks?

Girl: Not for boat licenses.

Greg: You take checks for cars.  You take checks for state ID’s, and driver licenses.  You even took my check for my BOAT TRAILER!  Why would you not take a check for the boat that goes on that very same trailer!?!?!?!

Girl: I don’t make the rules but we don’t take checks.  Cash only.

Greg: But I didn’t bring cash with me.  Before I beat you up verbally any further, perhaps your boss would like to come out and explain this to me.

The young lady looks to her boss who by now has heard a bit of a stern and irriatable voice from her office door…in which she is now standing.

Greg:  Are you the boss?  Come over here please and tell me why you don’t take a check for boats.

Boss:  That’s the rules.  Cash only for boats.



Girl: Yes.

Greg: GOOD.  I WILL RETURN WITH TO FRESHLY DISPENSED 20 DOLLAR BILLS WHICH WE WILL THEN EXCHANGE MY TWO TWENTIES FOR ONE BOAT REGISTRATION AND SEVEN DOLLARS IN ONES, TWO ONES AND A FIVE, OR ANY OTHER COMBINATION OF LEGAL TENDER AUTHORIZED BY THE STATE OF OHIO DMV.  (Calming down a bit.)  Now when I come back from the ATM…I’m sure you will want to end our relationship fairly swiftly, as it has been unpleasant for us both.  Therefore you won’t mind if I DON’T STAND IN LINE for another 20 minutes and just hand you the money, you hand me the change and registration.

Boss and Girl: That’ll be fine.  Thank you.

Customer at next window:  You think a boat is tough, try to get a conceal and carry permit.

Greg to customer:  I’ll probably need it for the flare gun in my safety kit.

(Laughter now breaks out in the line.)

Off to the ATM.  I return, and we consumate my privelege to legally operate my boat with a formal and legal registration in exchange for CASH!

I love a government with layers of burearacy.

As to the boat, the final coat of varnish went on the deck today.  Stainless steel botls, washer, and nuts were purchased for the instalation of all hardware.  We cleaned the inside with soap and water and even found a few very minor leaks.  Mostly just seams that need to swell closed again, but nothing major.

The gas cans are being professionally primed and then I will paint and decal them in their original Johnson Mile-Master scheme.  Rebuild kits are on the way for the gas cans as well.

Te motor should be done at the shop mid-next week, and we’ll be ready to hit the water by the target date of August 23rd, 2008 for the boat show in Toledo.  More on the boat as it develops.

Thanks for chekcing in.


Our Thompson Brothers Runabout Part 5 – The State of Ohio vs Jones – Part One

Well…now that I’ve calmed down a bit I think I can tell the tale of how the State of Ohio has a stack of paper work that must be done by boaters when getting a license.

Some background first about Ohio: we were recently noted by Forbes Magazine as having FOUR of the fastest declining cities in America.  CONGRATULATIONS OHIO…ESPECIALLY CLEVELAND, YOUNGSTOWN, CANTON, AND MY HOMETOWN DAYTON!  How Toledo was missed I don’t know.

So a state that is in decline now invites business in by having stacks of paperwork to wade through to get ANYTHING DONE!

My story is this:

I purchased the boat from a friend for “X” dollars.  He brought it into Ohio from Michigan.  It had never been in Ohio water.  NEVER!   I went to get a license and title issued, at the title office was told that I needed the original owner (seller) to pay to get an Ohio title, and then transfer this to me so I can pay for my title the next day.  However IF the boat is under 14 feet, no title is required.  If no title is required then I can take the bill of sale to the license bureau, and get a license for the boat.  But not so fast…

I asked how do I prove the boat is actually 13 feet 6 inches as described via the internet specs?  The nice lady at the title office said I should contact the Department of Natural Resources, Division of Watercraft to come out and inspect the vessel, measure it and take the hull ID number.

I explained that this old boat did not have a hull ID despite my researching on the internet, and then looking all over the boat for the number.  “Oh!” she said…”then the Division of Watercraft will have to inspect the hull and confirm there is no hull ID number, and then issue you an Ohio hull ID number.”

Hmmmm….something tells me this won’t be easy.

I called the Watercraft Division and set an appointment to have the paperwork done to prove that the vessel was in fact under 14 feet and had no hull ID number.  A nice officer showed up at the appointed time and did the paperwork verifying I was telling the truth.  He filled out a form that had the info of the boat, and upon getting to the manufacturer asked (since the boat was stripped of all paint down to the wood.) “How do I know this is a Thompson other than you saying so?”

Surprised I said “We found the original decals under two coats of paint while stripping it.”

Officer: “Did you save the decals?”

Greg: “I don’t know how to save decals that I want to remove with Zip-Strip.  We stripped the boat to do a proper restoration.  That means everything goes down to wood.  It would look kind silly with a big patch of paint and some Thompson decals under my stained and varnished wood…wouldn’t it?”

Officer: “Can you prove it is a Thompson?

Greg: “Well we took pictures of the decals when we were stripping it.  I could show you those on my laptop.”

I showed him the pictures, and that seemed to be enough proof…thank God!

A few days later the paperwork shows up from the Watercraft Divison.  In reviewing it I find he has listed the wrong year of manufacture.  I call the Div. office, and they tell me they will have to call Columbus HQ to find out how to fix it.

Upon a call back in less than an hour they told me that they would issue new paperwork and a new hull ID. 

Jeez.  Okay fine, they were very helpful at least.   But we still seemed to be going the long way around the barn here!

Next I bought a 1957 Johnson Sea Horse 18 on Ebay.  The Watercraft officer mention I’d need title for any motor over 10 hp.  This is an 18 hp motor.  I contacted the seller and asked if he had title for the motor.  He said it didn’t need one due to being grandfathered due to its age.  I double checked this with the Watercraft officer, and he assured me a title was needed, and “suggested”…”Give me the contact info of the seller.  We’ll contact him since selling the motor without a title is a felony iin Ohio.”

I said “Wait a second.  Before we take this train out of the station, and railroad this guy to jail…I’ll call him.   He’s just a guy selling the motor for his dead grandfather.”

Well upon contacted the seller, who had called the license bureau and found he did need a title.  How to obtain this for a motor that wasn’t his?  He was told to make a tracing of the serial number and bring to the title office, and a title would be issued.  You’ve got to be kidding!?!?  That’s it!?!?

The seller did so, I drove to his house in eastern Ohio to pick it up, and we and got the title notorized on a Saturday afternoon on July 4th weekend and the title and motor were mine.  Yippee!  I came home on Monday and had the title cut for in my name…case closed.

There’s more to the story when we return to the boat registration, but that’ll be next time.


Our Thompson Brothers Runabout Part 4

This week I have worked two jobs…full time jobs.  My regular daylight gig in commercial sales and also since our full time bridge tender is off, I’ve been filling in on the railroad bridge before and after, and sometimes during my other job (With my employers consent!  She’s very family oriented and understands employees have lives.  A great lady!)

At any rate, owing to the fact that we use a small aluminum boat to get to the bridge which we normally leave open for maritime traffic, I am dying inside a little bit every trip on the river.  I look at how beautiful the sunset is, and the smooth water, and think to myself…I WISH I WAS IN MY BOAT!

A view from our railroad bridge at sunset.  Ahhhh!

A view from our railroad bridge at sunset. Ahhhh!

A big friehgter heading off to the lake at dusk.  What a great job!
A big freighter heading off to the lake at dusk. What a great job!

Now as to our little boat…work continues to progress.  I still had to sand yet again the side of the hull due to not being happy with the minor sags from the varnish.  The heat and humidity I think are mostly to blame on this count…and perhaps may impatience.  However, we’ve had a bit of rain and temps have dropped back a tad as has the humidity, so today I met with some success.

The side of the hull was hand sanded with 180 grit sandpaper and a sanding block.

The side of the hull was hand sanded with 180 grit sandpaper and a sanding block.

A sag in the varnish is evident in this photo even after sanding.  What to do?  Sand some more!

A sag in the varnish is evident in this photo even after sanding. What to do? Sand some more!









Another coat of varnish was put on the hull, and this will be the last one.  If there are sags, so be it.  It will have to get fixed in the fall.

My wife and I began working on sanding and varnishing the bench seats.  This involved repairing some “tear-out” and chipping of the wood over the years with epoxy.  Not the perfect solution, but this way the original seats could be saved and used.

The "BEFORE SHOT" showing the seat as removed from the vessel.

The "BEFORE SHOT" showing the seat as removed from the vessel.


The seat were disassembled and old varnish removed, the slats sanded, then restained, and then made ready for fresh varnish.

The seat were disassembled and old varnish removed, the slats sanded, then restained, and then made ready for fresh varnish.

A couple of coats of varnish and some sanding between coat.  Just like new.  New stainless steel hinges will be used in place of the old hardware.

A couple of coats of varnish and some sanding between coat. Just like new. New stainless steel hinges will be used in place of the old hardware.

Some of the stiles that hold the slats together were regular in color, all of them didn’t match, so we’re modifying them slightly and changing the seat slat spacing a bit to give a lower profile to the seat backs.
A “Punch-list” has been made and is ready through August 15th for a completion date.  I am currently two days behind due to working two jobs this week…but will probably be able to make up some time over the coming weekend.
Yesterday I tried cold calling on a prospective customer.  He does furniture restoration, but is closing soon to retire.  We got talking boats, and he pointed out the window to FOUR of his boats he is going to “restore someday” and one which he plannerd to scrap since his “neer-do-well step-son loused it up.”  (He was more explicit in his language.)
He took me over and I noticed a nice horn and dashboard complete with an old Airguide speedometer.  I asked if he’d part with the horn.   “Oh sure…10 bucks its yours!”  I asked if he was aware the current price was 135 bucks.  “I don’t give a damn…I ain’t gonna use it!  While your here…might as well look her over and take what you want.
Well…25 bucks for the dash panel, speedometer and all the switches, 10 bucks for the horn, 10 bucks for an Airguide compass, 5 bucks for a brand new battery box, and he threw in a brand new emergency kit compete with fusees, a distress flag, and flare pistol.  It had never been opened…new i the box!
I told him I was trying to find someone to strip my old Johnson/Evinrude pressurized fuel tanks so I could repaint them and decal them.  The old man said “Bring ’em in!  We’ll see if my furniture stripper concoction will do the job!”
It did!  He said he do both tanks for 30 bucks.  Fine, but then I realized I had no cash.  I ran to the ATM and got a 100 bucks out, went back and paid the old man for the goods and services, and an additional sum to get the tanks done quickly.
He called first thing this morning to tell me they were done.  Now thats service!!
Then I took the tanks to a bodyshop customer of mine who wanted 150 bucks each to primer and re-paint them red.  I swear, if a tradesmen hears the words “marine” or “boat” the cost goes up 3 times from normal!!  I hedged of course.  He then said since he used to enjoy my traffic reports when I was on television, he offer to primer them and fix any rust…and sand them properly so I could paint them myself.  Cost 60 bucks for the pair.  FINE!  I’ll pick them up next Tuesday.
The first company I checked with about stripping and painting the fuel cans wanted $175.00 per hour plus materials.  YIKES.  Outta my league a touch.
My next post will be about the State of Ohio and and the Watercraft Division…and the insane amount of paperwork that one must go through to get a boat licensed, and a title for your outboard motor.  Yes the motor has to have a title.  Good grief!  It has been a real joy dealing with the state on a simple matter such as a boat, but right now I’m just to irritated to discuss it logically, let alone write about it.
That and more coming up next time.  Thanks for checking in!