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: http://www.nymarine.ca/

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…


2 Responses to “Our Thompson Brothers Runabout Part 7 – The Shake Down”

  1. 1 Rob
    August 17, 2008 at 10:17 pm

    I’m really impressed with your project and it’s inspired me to complete mine.
    I have one of these boats in my barn now. I’ve stripped it inside and out, and have to repair some minor problems where some of the cedar planks meet the bow. Otherwise, it appears to be in very good condition.

    At some time, someone used some #6 cc nails to ‘fix’ the planking on the stern. I’ve pulled out a number of these and will fill with epoxy.

    I’ve not done anything to the bottom yet and considered at one time with glassing it, but decided to just use marine paint. In retrospect, do you have any advice or lessons learned? Something you would have done different?

    Looking forward to going thru the Ohio titling process

    Rob in SW Ohio

  2. 2 conductorjonz
    August 18, 2008 at 8:04 pm

    Thanks for the kind words!! I’ve really enjoyed the work and end result.

    I’m no expert on boat restoration, but plenty of fine web-sites have info that helped me along the way. Use a search engine to ask the question, it will find an answer. Also find restoration companies, or boat enthusiasts in your area. They will be a great source to draw from.

    I have heard that Thompson Brothers did factory glass below the spray-rail on some boats such as mine. I have also heard of boats that were “glassed” after the factory which didn’t hold up too well. Remember wood expands and contracts, and must breathe. Glass doesn’t accomodate this well in many cases. I’d research this thouroughly first.

    We stripped ours down to bare wood, and then we knew exactly where issues were…or weren’t. We dealt with any problem areas as needed. We also used clear penetrating epoxy from Smith Co., which I am sold on. I was skeptical at first, but it is easy to mix, and just saturate the wood with it, and it will likly last many more years.

    As to paint, I used antifouling bottom paint. In fact I went overboard on materials in many areas to assure longevity.

    What would I have done differently? Paid more attention to end-grain areas,especially the stern where planking meets the transom. I re-did this tonight by coating this area very heavily with CPES and then used fairing compound to seal the seams. Our boat took on quite a bit of water on the first outing, but yesterday it showed signs of being much tighter, as the wood swells, it took only a minimal amount of water.

    Remember, the new paints, expoxies and products available today are much better than in years past. So those who think wooden boats are a big hassle are “talking out of their hats”! Fiberglass can dry-rot and warp, and must be waxed and buffed just as wooden boats need maitainance.

    Final thoughts…take pictures…lots of them. It can inspire you to see where you began and where you are now. This was a real motivation for me. People won’t accept the amount of work you have to be proud of unless the have done it, or can see it. Let’s be honest, people who restore old boats are likely into history, love saving an antique from ruin, and/or wish to use the boat, but we all want to be complimented on our end result.


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