The “New Deal”: An Alumacraft “FDR” restoration part four: Just in time…

Work stalled on the Aluma Craft “FDR” for a good part of the summer months.  She was used as a test bed for motors that were repaired or restored.  But a vision came by looking through the windshield I acquired at an AMOC Swap Meet in Constantine, Michigan.

I was wandering around the swap meet, hoping to find a windshield, but with little hope of finding one the correct with.  This Aluma Craft was to have a typical late 1950’s Taylor-Made plexiglas windshield.  Taylor-Made has stopped production on these vintage windshields…and they were expensive anyway.

After walking around the for a bit, I saw a windshield in good shape sitting next to a trailer.  It was too wide, but generally could be bent slightly to reduce the width and should fit the boat.  I asked the price and was shocked the vendor only wanted 20 bucks for it.  Whata deal!

With the Taylor-Made windshield, the boat no longer looked like a fishing boat.

 Other hardware came by way of a derelict old Shell Lake fiberglass boat that I scrapped out due to the hull being cracked. 

Now with a new view through the windshield, I had a vision for finishing the boat before the Toledo Antique Boat Show on August 27th, 2010.  So the work commenced in earnest.

My neighbor contributed a bundle of teak strips from her father who had passed away.  Upon getting this little gift, I decided wood slat floors would look nice, and it would be easier to walk on.

After cutting to length, the teak floors were screwed and epoxied together, then routed with a round-over bit on all edges. Sanding and varnishing followed.

Seats were next!  My local fine wood dealer was kind enough to glue up some choice mahogany planks for me.  I then used a wood strip to create and trace an arc on the wood that would compliment the lines of the boat.  Then cut out the middle of the front seat to replicate the original design of the seats.  Then as always…more sanding and eight coats of varnish.

The depth of the mahogany is really brought out by the varnish.

While each coat of varnish was drying, I had time to sand, buff, and polish the hull.  YES…SAND!  Starting with 220 grit and working my way down to 1500 grit, the sides of the hull were sanded to get rid of the “dock rash” from years of use.  Also those pesky little aluminum warts at the end of scratches were sanded away.

The tools for the job are a variable speed angle grinder/buffer, 3M heavy-duty buffing compound, 3M polishing compound, and coarse and fine wool bonnets, foam bonnets, and microfiber cloths.

The power plants for this vessel will be twin 1954 Johnson QD-14 10hp outboard.

These two outboards will provide the power to drive the "FDR".

The seats were installed following varnishing and wiring the boat.

A view from the rear.

The teak floors were installed in the cockpit. Also note at the bottom of the photo the dual Johnson Shipmaster Throttle to control the twin outboards.

In honor of my lover of jazz, and my working on the railroad as a bridge tender, a name came to me while working on buffing her out.  I wanted a musical name, but then the idea of reflecting my job just seemed natural.

The Aluma Craft "FDR was christened "Swing Bridge"...combining two musical terms, and the type of railroad bridge I work on was a natural.

At 4pm on Friday August 27th, 2010 the “Swing Bridge was finished just in time for the Toledo Antique Boat Show.  I pressed my 1957 Johnson Javelin into service due to not having time to test the 10hp Johnson’s beforehand.

She was unveiled for public view on Saturday August 28th, 2010 at the Toledo Municipal Marina.

Basking in the sun, the "Swing Bridge" sits at the Toledo Antique Boat Show.

Aside from having some chrome hardware refinished on the 1957 Johnson Javelin and the deck hardware, the “Swing Bridge” is a fast and fun running boat.  She rides well and doesn’t leak…and attracts looks as she travels up and down the river.

16 Responses to “The “New Deal”: An Alumacraft “FDR” restoration part four: Just in time…”

  1. 1 Markus
    September 1, 2010 at 4:25 pm

    Very beautiful indeed. I love what you did with all that wood.Its goinng to look even better once you have your twins on there.

  2. 2 pmjgoodgas
    January 8, 2012 at 12:37 pm

    OMG its beautiful! was that hand sanding or random orbital or other? Paul

    • 3 conductorjonz
      January 9, 2012 at 10:01 am

      Random orbital…220 to 1500. Then finish with Scotch-Brite pad.


      • 4 John Morgan
        July 23, 2017 at 3:56 pm

        Greg, I was looking for your email, but can’t find it. Can a 1955-Alumacraft F, have a windshield? Can any of these Alumacrafts? Where in the world can I search to find parts? Ebay has very little.

      • 5 conductorjonz
        August 16, 2019 at 8:32 am

        Got buy a used one or build one. Lots on the web for the latter.

  3. 6 Dean
    March 3, 2012 at 3:21 pm

    Do you have any new pictures with the twin outboards installed?

  4. 8 karass4two
    March 25, 2012 at 10:06 pm

    I have had a great time looking through your step by step outboard rebuilds and your boat restoration. I recently was given a 1956 Lone Star Admiral Deluxe with an Evinrude 15 hp Fastwin motor. the difference here is this will be my first restoration. Your aluminim work is amazing. I was going to paint the whole boat, but now I want to leave some if not all of the boat aluminum. I think it’s a great way to show off the aluminum runabout history. I hope you won’t mind if I borrow some of your ideas. I am crazy about the floor in the fdr. I know you’re busy but I would like to keep in touch with you through my restoration.

  5. May 29, 2012 at 4:26 pm

    Greetings again, Conductor,
    I left a comment on restoring my 1956 Javelin a while back and also missed the chance to purchase your Aluma Craft restoration. I called a few days late. I think your Mailman beat me out on this one.
    Thanks for your inspiration in any event!
    (I found the “Javelin” hood script, finally.)
    You are doing us all a great service and I, again, thank you!
    Finally, I was able to purchase an Aluma Craft “Deep C” to run the Javelin on.
    I took delivery yesterday and am already needing your expertise!
    It’s a bit rough but restoreable and I only have 2 questions for you (when you have time).
    What wood type do you recommend to replace the wood on the transom?
    How would you finish/treat the wood for marine use?
    The previous owner made some small holes to mount misc. mods. and they need to be filled somehow. All are above the waterline. Any suggestions other than pop rivits or stainless steel screws?

    Sure appreciate your help and want to Thank You again, Pete

    • 11 conductorjonz
      November 28, 2012 at 11:29 am

      Fill holes by having a GOOD welder fill them with the correct aluminum welding rod. Then simply grind the welded holes down with an angle grinder until it is smooth.

      For the wood, marine plywood is best. Regardless I’d treat any wood used in a boat with Smith’s CPES epoxy. It soak into the wood to protect it from rot.

      Good luck!

      • 12 peter economos
        November 28, 2012 at 2:01 pm

        Conductor, Thank you for the personal reply and valuable information! I hope you had a great Thanksgiving and will have a Happy Holiday Season as well.  (Healthy too). Just  for an FYI although you probably you already know, I was able to fill some of the holes the previous owners seemed to think they needed with aluminum rivets. I went to the “Grainger” websight and spent a bit of time finding the correct sized aluminum rivets (not “pop”type) and ordered 100 as an experiment (shipping actually cost more than the rivets.). Basicly to see if they would do the job and since I had an air compressor and and air chisel and also a “rivit setting bit”, I thought it would make for a more professional/factory looking repair. Better looking, I think, than stainless or aluminum screws or pop rivits and just as easy to install some practice and simple tools. As it turned out, I just used a ball peen hammer and a large body working dolly to do the job without the “power tools”. I will still need the welding for the holes drilled in the cast fittings, however. Keep up the great work and I really have to thank you again for the help! Please keep me on the “Sentimental” mailing list too.                              Regards, Pete Economos   PS: I just love that old Radio too!


  6. 13 john
    June 19, 2014 at 11:20 am

    What are the dimensions of the teak lumber you used on the floor? I’m prepping to do something similar in a 1961 alumacraft queen Merrie 18′.

  7. 14 Dan
    February 11, 2017 at 11:26 pm

    Thank you for the detailed restoration, I’ve have looked at a lot of your photos and post while restoring my 14′ Arkansas Traveler 1956 aluminum vhaul similar to yours . Ironically I grew up on the east side of Cleveland but now live down in SC. I bought my first boat, a 71 Luders 21 sailboat I restored/built, in Toledo.

  8. 15 Scott
    July 29, 2019 at 10:34 am

    Hi I have the exact boat that I am restoring. Wondering if you could tell me what the measurements are for the cut out in the back rest of the front seat?

    Thank you,


    • 16 conductorjonz
      August 16, 2019 at 8:44 am

      I’ve long since sold the boat, but I just did what looked proportional and felt right. I didn’t really have a reliable pattern.

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