Archive for February, 2009


Feather Craft Vagabond Part Three: In the beginning…

As I described in a previous post, this vessel came to me from a gentleman who used it for he and his sons to share some time with one another.  The boys have grown up, and the man decided that the time was now to find a new home for this vessel, where it would be used instead of laid up in the backyard.

The man and I talked about it briefly after I saw photos at an Antique Outboard Swap Meet in Detroit.  I had not real intentions of buying it, but wanted to look at it since I’d only read about Feather Craft’s on-line.  I called the gentleman up and we set a date for a look-see.  We also talked about price.  he was willing to deal.

I drove up to his home in Michigan with cash in hand, just in case.  Well the rest is history.


The Feather Craft is a 1955 Vagabond with a divided cockpit, and it cam complete with it’s original Piper Trailer.

The boat itself is in good shape with all new seat cushions and a recently installed Taylor-Made windshield.  New marine-grade plywood flooring, though it needs a coat of paint.










Photo above is of the cockpit, complete with glovebox.                   In this photo the transom is shown to be well built.

I was impressed that the vessel had all of its original hardware still intact, including cletes, bow handle, and stern handles.


The bow light is very reminiscent of a by-gone era of class and elegance in boating.  A bit of buffing, and this little item should shine right up!

The Trailer leaves a bit to be desired.  It has been repainted at least once.  The trailer has rust, and is of the Tilt-Type which are no longer made.  It is restorable, but that will have to come at a later date.







Above is the Piper Trailer Tag.piper-trailer-tongue










The pin that holds the trailer in place is shown on the tongue of the trailer in the photo above.

New tire will have to be bought before she travels very far.  The tires on the trailer are fairly rotted.


That’s all for now.  As the project progresses…more is sure to follow.


Feather Craft Vagabond Part Two: From the Boathouse to the Doghouse Part Duex!!

The night before leaving for vacation the Gods exacted a toll on my wife’s behalf for my indiscretion of this “little purchase”.

I decided to drive up to Michigan and pick up this vessel and get it home so restoration can begin as spring approaches.  I got to the sellers home, and he was readying the vessel for its 8 mile trip south.  Upon hooking up the trailer hitch, I found the trailer plug had been replace, and did not match my current wiring.

With some effort I was able to modify the plug in hopes of getting the brake lights to operate, but upon plugging the cables together…no dice!  No lights either.

Oh well says I.

Off to Toledo.

Two miles into the trek the voltage gage on  the truck begins to drop off drastically.  Fearing the trailer lighting was shorted to ground somehow, I pulled into a filling station and unplugged the harness.

No good.

I began to trek south and the damage was done!  The meter continued to drop radically.  Unlike my outboards with magneto ignition systems, the truck requires a battery to run it.  finally as the truck sputtered to an untimely end, we rolled into a church parking lot.

I called my wife, who immediately gave me a towing company number.  The only question was…what to do with the boat?

Upon talking to the driver via cell phone, and explaining my situation, he convinced a friend into coming along behind him with his personal vehicle and towed the boat to our house. 

The first expense for our new vessel was a 125 dollar tow bill.

My wife suggested to me as we talked while I was waiting on the tow truck…”Perhaps this is someones way of giving you time to think about what you’ve done.  Perhaps this is an OMEN!”

As she said these word, I would swear there was ominous music from an orchestra of cellos playing in the background.

We will see how the whole thing turns out this summer.



Feather Craft Vagabond Part One: From the boathouse to the doghouse…

Much is written about how women are pressured to act in a certain way, look a certain way, and generally live up to the pressure presented them in the media.

Well, it has long been my contention that the male of the species is never portrayed in a positive light in the media.  For example, how many commercials do you see on TV where the woman is always smarter than the male counterpart?  Cellular ads?  Breakfast foods?  Household cleaners?  The list is pretty much endless!

I have now done my part to support this theory by the ad agencies, and the media.  I have lived up the the vision of the male by heading from the BOATHOUSE to the DOGHOUSE in a very scant few seconds by purchasing a second vintage boat to restore.

This all began last summer when we bought a 1950 Thompson Lake TVT Cedar Strip 14 footer and restored it.  What a thrill to see this boat go from ugly duckling to noble vessel plowing the waters of the Mighty Muddy Maumee in 60 days.

I was so pleased with the outcome, I decided to try my hand repairing two 1956 Johnson RD18 30hp outboards to go with it.  Not being much of a motorhead, I found this to be enjoyable as well.(Much to my surprise!)   I then joined the Antique Outboard Motor Collectors ( to gain more knowledge about these old motors.  This is a national organization of people who gather monthly in various areas of the country and show their lastest classic motor, and the run them in a 55 gallon drum of water, or on their boats on a lake in the summer, etc.

I went to my first ever outboard swap meet in January.  My loving wife gave me “marching orders” not to come home with any more outboards.  After all I have seven to work on now.  I dutifully agreed.

Of course when I arrived at the swap meet I found a friend from Michigan had haul a 1955 Johnson 25 hp RD-17 down from his farm.  He knew I liked Johnson outboards for their style in the 1950’s.  I had seen this motor at his home and expressed interest in it, but passed on it at that time.  Well this time its stylish beauty got to me. 

Perhaps it was the cold weather…or more likely I was just being a male.  But I bought it and loaded it into the truck so he could have space to take home the six motors he purchased that day.  I rationalized I was doing him a favor since he liked Mercury outboards.  I also rationalized I was doing a service to this motor, as it would otherwise sit outside his workshop and probably not ever be a “runner” again.

I wandered inside the shop where the event was held, and looked over the many classics being displayed.  Then while wandering past a folding table I noticed a plastic sleeve with photos of a Feather Craft aluminum boat that was for sale.  I’d noticed these boats on the web and thought they were very stylish as aluminum boats go.  I wanted to eventually get one, but had not expected to find one so close to home.

img_0568b     mbibr05-37a







A set of photos of a restored 1955 Feather Craft Vagabond from  dig the sleek styling and that “barrel-back” transom.  The class of wood cruisers with the durability of aluminum.

I was introduced to the owner who stated he wanted 2000.00 with the original trailer and a Mercury outboard, but would take less.  He and his sons had used the boat, but the boys are now grown up and he hasn’t used the boat since 1999 or so.  He would be willing to talk price…he just wants to see it used by someone who will enjoy it.

Again living up to media expectations of being male, I thanked him and decided now was not the time to buy the boat…BUT!!!

I mulled the thought of this boat over for a while, a few weeks any way, and did some research on the website above, and elsewhere.  These boats were really built like an aircraft with riveted construction, and rated for 40hp before that “high horsepower motor” even existed!  The twin semi-enclosed cockpits wer a real “turn on”, and I thought it was just plain damned stylish!

I called the owner a few weeks later and we talked over price and came to terms minus the motor…which I certainly didn’t need.  I had decided to divest myself of several trombones I wasn’t playing, and had a few extra sheckles to toy with.  The thing was I forgot one important ingredient.


I had mentioned the boat to her, and was met with the equivalent of “You don’t need another boat.  You’ll shoot your eye out kid!”

Arrrgh!  The old “You’ll shoot your eye out kid” strategy!!

I lived up to the media portrayal of males by buying the boat…with the intention of telling her about it.  However after the purchase was made, I just plain lacked the 16 pound bowling ball sized testicles to tell her we owned a new vintage boat.

Oh how I tried!  But couldn’t do it.  The longer you wait the worse it’ll be.  I was right!

I told her.  She was mad, hurt, pissed.  Can’t blame her.  This is the stuff television writes about all the time.  However the laugh track was missing during our discussion.

Friendly advice…

I would advise anyone not to try this at home!  I am not a professional stunt person, so I’m certain I won’t try this method again.

Revenge from the Gods would be found on my wife’s behalf.  But you’ll have to tune in for that story in the next edition.

For now…remember…NOBODY REALLY LIKED RAYMOND!  Or those who act like that guy on televison.