In episode 13, Florida Sportsman Boating Editor George LaBonte and Marine Customs Unlimited Owner Brian O’Donnell look back on their favorite project boats.
The 31-foot Contender was a fan favorite, LaBonte said, with a lot of people commenting and e-mailing about the stunning remodel.
What initially began as a fuel tank replacement morphed into a complete overhaul from inside the hull to the engines, paint, deck, upholstery, dash panel and brand new TACO Rub Rail.
Another favorite was the 21-foot Paramount, which came into the MCU shop in dire need of a complete rehab.
Beginning in the stringers, the team at MCU cut the cap down, repainted the hull and installed new Power-Poles, a new stereo system and brand new TACO Rub Rail with a Stainless-Steel Insert and LED Navigation Lights.
The 19-foot Cuda Craft for Capt. Ron in the Florida Keys was also a notable project for the team at MCU.
Originally, the boat came to the shop to repair a rotten fuel tank, but further issues were discovered as the team commenced work. They also replaced the deck, remodeled the center console, installed custom live wells and refitted an Engel cooler as a seat in place of the Leaning Post.
Watch the exclusive clip about these boats below.
Watch the full episode 13 of Florida Sportsman Project Dreamboat below.
Originally, the 19-foot Cuda Craft came to the shop at Marine Customs Unlimited for a fuel tank repair. But after further inspection, it was clear the boat needed some major repairs. After re-bonding the stringers, replacing the fuel tanks and deck, remodeling the center console and installing two custom live wells, the Cuda Craft was returned to Capt. Ron in the Florida Keys.
However, after having the boat back home for a few weeks, Capt. Ron decided he wanted to replace the leaning post with something less bulky and more practical. So Brian from MCU came up with a great solution for the Cuda Craft.
Watch the exclusive clip below to see what Brian put in place of the leaning post.
Up next, MCU Master Technician Dave Singer brought his 2006 23-foot Sailfish into the shop to fix a sticky steering wheel.
Learn how you can do this quick fix in the exclusive clip below.
Watch the full episode 12 of Florida Sportsman Project Dreamboat below.
In episode 10, the crew at Marine Customs Unlimited get back to work on the 19-foot Cuda Craft. First, Austin was tasked with installing new rod holders throughout the gunnel. The catch? Because of the boat’s design and the location of the new rod holders, great care was needed to ensure the holders were angled correctly to protect the hull.
Up next, the Cuda Craft was sent to Steve for some custom rigging on two live wells. To properly rig the live wells, Steve had to ensure he drilled the correctly sized hole for the high speed pickup for each live well. These are designed to flow fresh water into the live well without continually running a pump.
Steve then attached a ball valve on top of the pickup, which provides added protection against water leaks if a pump breaks.
Steve then plumbs a spray head and overflow drain for each live well. He has some great tips to consider for boaters installing their own live wells. After the plumbing is complete, Steve installs aerators into each live well, which help keep bait alive and healthy.
Watch the exclusive clip below.
In this episode, we also learn about one man’s dreamboat – a 25-foot Mako – and watch as Steve rigs a pair of self-leveling trim tabs on a classic Boston Whaler. We also see the amazing conclusion to the 19-foot Cuda Craft!
The MCU team asked the professionals at TNT Customs Boat Works to make a custom pulpit for a windlass, which was installed on the bow of the Sea Cat by climbing inside to secure the pulpit in place. Once secured, the team then mounted an electronic drum-style retrieval system to help stop the line from tangling. After the work was complete, Brian water tested the new windlass.
Here’s an exclusive clip.
One of the first things the owner of the Cuda Craft did was remove the T-top. As a professional fishing guide in the Florida Keys, the owner wanted no obstructions, but rather a simple, clean boat.
After all the work to the deck and hull in episode 8, the crew needed to get back to the original task, which was renovating the center console.
The center console had a lot of holes and unnecessary areas for electronics the owner did not want. The team at MCU sanded downed the edges before patching the center console with fiberglass and resin.
After the center console was patched up, it was painted and reinstalled on the Cuda Craft.
Instead of drilling the center console back into the deck, the crew at MCU cut off the flange where it was previously screwed down and choose to glass the console to the deck – enhancing the boat’s performance and appearance.
The next step in the Contender remodeling project was rigging the engines. The prior rigging had a lot of spliced areas, with which the team at MCU did away.
Instead, they installed new 2-gauge wire from Pacer Group with no splices, after which they crimped on new battery cable ends that were secured with a heat gun. The new wiring will ensure a good power supply directly to the engines.
Steve then updated the electronics for the trim tabs. Previously, the old trim tab electronics were not auto contracting. To resolve this issue, they installed a new system by Bennett Electric.
The final step in this episode for the Contender was incorporating new upholstery. They chose a carbon fiber-finished material that matched the hull and center console – streamlining the boat’s appearance.
Here’s an exclusive clip.
Check out the other episodes of Florida Sportsman Project Dreamboat below.
Originally, the Cuda Craft was brought to MCU because the fuel tank was leaking. But as the team inspected the deck, some major problems began to surface.
The team at MCU discovered a deck full of poured foam that wasn’t attached or evenly filled. The foam not only added float to the Cuda Craft, but also caused the boat to become saturated with water.
The team carefully chipped and scraped away the foam all the way down to the stringers. Once finished removing the foam, they discovered the stringers weren’t properly bonded to the boat, which presented even more trouble for the 12-year-old Cuda Craft.
Before bonding the stringers, the crew sanded all around the boat and then applied new FGCI fiberglass and resin to properly bond the stringers. Once complete, the Cuda Craft was ready for new bilges, limber holes and a new deck.
Watch the exclusive clip of the boat deck removal below.
The team at MCU is now ready to install a new deck on the 19-foot Cuda Craft.
To make a new deck for the boat, the team chose to use a kiln-dried laminate for marine plywood, which is not only strong but will add an appropriate amount of weight to the boat to even out the ride and improve the boat’s overall performance on the water.
The first step to building the new deck was to create a frame – a template of the deck. After matching the laminate gelcoat to the boat’s interior, the team then began the careful process of layering the deck with fiberglass.
After covering the fiberglass material with resin and dried, a bonding agent is evenly spread to create a watertight seal. Then the core material – in this case it’s perforated marine plywood – is laid in place and then covered with an airtight layer of plastic.
Using a suction hose, the air is removed to create a vacuum-sealed hold between the plywood and bonding agent.
After removing the plastic, the plywood is then sanded down to create a smooth, even surface. After which, another layer of fiberglass material and resin is applied to the deck.
The boat is now ready for its new tank – a powder-coated fuel tank from TNT Custom Boat Works. To secure the tank into the boat, a small amount of foam is poured around the edges of the tank, which is then sanded down and prepped for a fiberglass sealant.
When the tank installation is finished, the new custom deck is installed and secured in place.
Watch the exclusive clip of the new deck being made below.
And watch the entire Florida Sportsman Project Dreamboat episode 8 below for more exciting boat renovations.