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LIQUID LIMO: 1989 Crest Sundecker Rebuild

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    Posted: 12/27/2014 at 12:03am

Heya, all... Longtime lurker here. I've decided to come out of the woodwork. Hello. Call me SeaJay, and I'm a boat addict. (Hello SeaJay.)

I was born in a US Naval hospital in Beaufort, SC and was piloting my own johnboat and sailing a Sunfish by age 7. Mom was a sailing regatta winner and Dad a military pilot... But it was my grandfather that really taught me a love for the water.

I've got salt in my veins and after graduating from college (Rutgers, UofA and USC - the real one in SC) I made my way through the corporate ladder (OMG it was rough) right back out and into the world of commercial diving. Today I own a commercial diving operation (http://www.deepsouthdivers.org) and dive nearly every day. This month I'll be using an underwater chainsaw to cut down my second dock at the nearly-famous Windmill Harbour on Hilton Head Island.

Something like a decade ago a client called me and asked for some work to be done on his Great Harbor 37 at his private dock. When I pulled into his driveway, I ignored his pride and joy and instead focused on the ugly leaf depository on a trailer in his front yard... A dilapidated 1989 Crest Moonlighter (a "Sundecker" with an aftermarket hard top/camper conversion installed at the factory). Of course, I didn't know what it was or what to call it... I just thought it was a thing of beauty.

I tried negotiating the old pontoon boat into the deal, but the retired Marine pilot would have none of it. I left the job after finishing with one eye on my rearview mirror, wondering just how great of a dive boat she would make.

Years passed and I worked on the 'Harbor religiously, sometimes even talking to the big old pontoon, and a day came when the client (with whom I had become good friends) offered her for sale for $2500. The Yamaha 115 2-stroke ran, he said, but I doubted it. I'd never seen her move. I offered $1200 for the rig, whose deck had become the color of compost.

"No way," he said, "She's a great boat."

All four of the trailer tires had gone flat and the trailer hitch had rusted off, making moving her impossible, when he called me again... "$1200. You've got a deal." Of course, she was maybe seven years older now. Hm.

"Fine, but... I don't have it at the moment... I found a woman that I must marry, and her ring's my focus right now..."

I didn't know it at the time, but my client's health had become an issue. So... As a wedding gift... I got a phone call. "She's yours. Happy Marriage." :-) I think his beautiful wife talked him into it. She and I are both cancer surviviors.

The wedding was a whirlwind... My first and only, at 43. Incredible. Beautiful wedding.

We decided to call the new boat Liquid Limo... And she'll have two purposes: A family boat at the local sandbar (where she'll replace my 20' Sea Hunt as a party barge) and as a work boat specifically set up for diving.

I have mentally entertained her rebuild nearly every day while diving, and nearly every night after I kiss my beautiful bride good night (it's been nearly two years now). I have lurked on this and other forums incessantly, and been through no less than 166 different design iterations. I have seen the good and the bad, and even sought sponsorships with my company based on who can supply for Liquid Limo's rebuild.

For example... Her name was selected from a rolling list that I keep on my work computer of around 300 names. Most are dive-related, but in the long run I plan to use her as much for fun as I do work. She will haul firewood to the local fishing camps, serve as a diving platform for work, then be beached for hours at our local sandbars with other boaters drinking beer and listening to music while we get sunburned. She will offer protection from summer thunderstorms, a beachable platform, deepwater access for divers and swimmers even fully geared, and most of all... A throne by which to ferry my beautiful, tanned wife wherever she wants to go.

I wish I had pictures of her when she had all those rotting leaves on her, with disintegrated furniture and four flat tires. The beads had broken off the rim and the wheels sat deeply buried in the ground. Getting those tires seated right where she was with the boat on the trailer was quite a trick, done with a scuba tank, a valve wrench, a lot of pushing and pulling, and a ton of cursing. Not for the faint of heart. Got them seated, though. Ooo-rah, Marine.

I cut the trailer tongue right where she was, too, to get rid of the rusted-through, welded-on hitch. I cold-galvanized the trailer tongue right there, drilled new holes and put on a new heavy-duty, 9,000 lb, bolt-on 2" hitch. Then I was able to move her out of the four holes that her rims had made in the ground over the past decade or two.

Her trailer bearings were surprisingly intact, and I hauled basically three tons or so of rotted wood down to the dump and began her strip job right there at the dump. Most of her walls and such came off with a good karate-style kick.

Second stop: My home. She needed a pressure washer to see of any of her floor was intact:





After a two-day pressure wash and removing the rest of her rot (you mean they used to build these with laminated particle board?), I brought her to my workshop:





...Which is where she's sitting at the moment, and has been for the past six months or so while I catch up with some big jobs at work. I have recently removed her hard top and fencing, after realizing that there is nothing even vaguely salvagable about her carpeting. Add quite a bit of delamination in her wood deck and... Well... Looks like I need to redeck before I begin her build. Now is the time!

Her 'toons are nearly 30' long and 24" diameter. Her deck is around 27', and of course she's a double-decker. In the next few days I'll pull the deck off, replace two stringers bent from motor weight, add two more, and begin a new deck. I will underskin first, use Advantech for the deck, and then coat in TuffCoat (Key West Sand color, fine grit). The original fencing will be used, but it will be altered; the front rake will be removed for a vertical bow fence, the side gates will be removed completely, and the stern fencing will be completely left off for a totally open stern similar to a Newton dive boat. No bow gate either. The aft 5' of deck or so will be left totally open, and a real, tubular aluminum dive ladder (CWI dock ladder) will be added. All ingress and egress from/to Liquid Limo (except beach access at the sandbar) will happen back here.

The top deck will be retained, and it - along with the entire playpen - will be moved forward 3'-4'. The engine will be moved aft almost 4', and be beyond the stern by at least two feet. Two more feet of deck will be added to her stern as well for a very modern, slick appearance as useful on the beach as it is for divers.

Her LOA will reach around 32', with a deck of about 29' and a playpen of almost 25'. Her top deck will retain it's original dimensions of 8'x10'.

She will have onboard a very illegal, real, flushing toilet, 100 gallons of freshwater, a tankless hot water heater, a 5 gal/min freshwater hose, a 3" dredge pump, a crane capable of 800# lifts, and room for more than 15 people... Or six divers with gear with plenty of room to spare. Her cabin will be completely enclosable. Nothing on the boat will not be capable of being hosed off - even inside the cabin. Two scuba gear rinse tanks will reside on the deck, and she will hold three house AGM batteries, one starting AGM battery, a bluetooth stereo with twin subs, and a 42" TV in a waterproof enclosure with phone screen mirroring capability and an HDMI input from the sidescanner.

Dedicated places for removable Igloo coolers, dry chargers for cell phones, and a 12v blender will all be part of the design concept. The tankless hot water heater and grill will both be powered by propane. One large DP-1 zinc will be bolted to the port pontoon, just underneath the dive ladder where it will be seen regularly.

Here's a look at the final design concept, from over 160 different designs dreampt over the past two years:



The top will be adorned with quite a variety of lights and electronics... One speaker in each corner for the sound system, navigational and anchor lights, and a 54" LED light bar (30,000 lumens) facing each of the four ways for nighttime motoring and working. An external GPS antenna minimizes sidescan layback and provides a very fluid (6 fps) feel to the GPS system for proper sidescanning.

I took a trip to Jacksonville (3 hrs each way) a few days ago to explore fence paneling options at a plastics supply house. I went in believing that I wanted an acrylic product. I came out deciding to use a unique product called "ACM." It's essentially a 1/8" foam core sandwiched between two layers of black powdercoated .050" aluminum sheets. Very solid-feeling, dent-resistant, lightweight and BLACK POWDERCOAT for a Liquid Limo effect. The "glass" will be deeply tinted acrylic and self-supporting on rubber mounts. Ths entire superstructure (except for the acrylic) will be assembled using 3M VHB (tape) rather than rivets or screws to provide a slick look that SCREAMS "Liquid Limo." She will have no graphics other than the name "Liquid Limo" in large styled cursive letters in silver foil. The name should take up the entire side of the boat. Of course, the fence will rest on 3/8" spacers to allow water to flow off the deck in any direction.

Steering is going to switch from cable to hydraulic steering, and she will have no instrumentation other than a flush-dash mounted, touchscreen LOWRANCE HDS10 equipped with sidescan, NAVIONICS 3D GPS, and associated flat-screen instrumentation. My company is sponsored by LOWRANCE, and we can get the setup for basically nothing. And the sidescan is HUGE for our diving.

Some seating will be the high-end stuff from right here on PontoonStuff.com , but less seating will be present than on most pontoon boats. Open deck will be a design feature with Liquid Limo, and folding chairs and jumpseats will be an interior key. Dock boxes will also be a design key, which will act as storage, rinse tanks, makeshift tables, gear assembly areas, and double as hard (UV stable) seating. Durability and storage are the main advantages.

Liquid Limo's Yamaha 115 2-stroke is in great shape, so that's staying... Although her controls will be modernized. We may have some issues with the motor foot. We will see. There is a remote possibility that if the motor is no good, we may elect to go with a single electric powerplant, recharged by a top-deck mounted solar panel. This would add quite a bit of expense, though, to the project, so we will see how the old motor fares before taking that route.

...Anyway, that's it... Liquid Limo. I'll keep y'all informed as the project progresses over the next few months. Budget: Around $10k.


Edited by DeepSouthDiver - 01/08/2015 at 8:13pm
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote Barnmb7117 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 12/27/2014 at 9:15am
Looks like a good project. Good luck and keep the pictures coming.
Mike
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2015 Evinrude pontoon series 90 hp
Summer - On the wolf River Weyauwega, WI
Winter- Chicago, IL
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote DeepSouthDiver Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 12/27/2014 at 11:38am
Thanks!  Tongue
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote DeepSouthDiver Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 12/27/2014 at 11:56am
The day we moved Liquid Limo for the first time:



Edited by DeepSouthDiver - 12/27/2014 at 11:57am
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote DeepSouthDiver Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 12/27/2014 at 11:59am
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote nathan Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 12/28/2014 at 9:38pm
looks like a good starting point!!! nice boat
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote CMack Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 12/29/2014 at 11:52am
You have a figure on how much weight will be added to this beauty? Have you considered adding a 3rd toon? That thing is a monster, I would worry about being top heavy on the trailer and too heavy for the toons in water. But I got a feeling your already addressed that issue. 2 thumbs up and your not interested in selling LL are you? I would be willing to give 4-5 times more than you paid for it... hahaha.
Keep us posted on LiquidLimo. 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote SunBlocker Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 12/29/2014 at 12:15pm
Ambitious project!  But it sounds like you have some excellent ideas and the knowledge to implement them.  Bravo!

If you're familiar with my "project" you'll see that there are some similarities.

My suspicion is that you're going to run out of buoyancy.  While you probably won't be loading her as badly as The `Blocker, I think you're still going to exceed the comfortable capacity of the 30' 24" logs (basically what I also started out with).  That being said, you might want to give serious consideration to adding the center toon right now.  Coming back later "after the fact" is a bit more difficult and often results in what looks/feels like a "hack".

You might also want to consider putting your fresh water storage into that center toon.  I have a 75 gallon poly tank buried in mine, and that configuration not only keeps the CG low, it also helps with the trim of the boat.

Just some thoughts.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote DeepSouthDiver Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 12/31/2014 at 1:59pm
Thanks, y'all, for the encouragement.

Believe it or not, this project was the LEAST ambitious of all of the designs that I originally came up with.  This was actually the 2nd or 3rd favorite design, but once time, effort, and especially money got involved, it was the clear winner.  It was also by far the lightest of all of the designs.

What I pulled off of the boat during it's demolition was a full galley, several particle board walls full of rot and water, a full head (bathroom), and something like 30' of wood (saturated and rotten) furniture.  I never got the opportunity to measure it all out, but I'm guessing something like 2500 pounds of garbage came off of the boat.

What's going back on there is significantly less weight than what was on there before, and I can see where the old waterline used to be.  So...  I feel confident that it will be an IMPROVEMENT over what used to be there, not the opposite.

Broken down, here's what I've got:

The flooring will be Advantech.  It weighs about 10 pounds per sheet more than marine plywood.  Seven sheets = an addition of 70 lbs.  However, the old plywood was saturated, which throws the weight measurements off in Advantech's favor (it will not saturate).  I believe this to be basically a wash.

The old fencing will actually weigh a few pounds less than the new because the new design includes no rear fencing at all.

The old fence paneling weighs less than the new stuff I'm putting on there, but the difference is less than 50 pounds.  The foam core is very lightweight and most of the weight increase comes from the second layer of .050" aluminum.

The top is generally unchanged.

The addition of the acrylic "windows" is significant, yet still less than 50 pounds.  It totals about 30 square feet and is 1/4" thick.  They appear bigger than they are because of the high fence line (27").  In boat design, they call that a "high beltline," and I think it looks very modern and has several advantages.  Less acrylic is one of them.

The TuffCoat weighs no more than a vinyl floor does.

Underskinning adds minimal weight...  About 20 pounds.

The new design will have significantly less furniture on it to leave more room for divers and their gear.  That furniture that is there will consist largely of dock boxes, which weigh equal to or less than pontoon furniture.

In all, LL should weigh less than her original design...  And a LOT less than she did when all of her wood (floor, walls, furniture) was saturated.

The biggest issue that I have seen with this design is the moving aft of the motor.  Taking it out of the deck (it sits in a notched deck now) to a position more than 4' aft of where it sits now improves roominess at the swim platform quite a bit, lengthens the boat overall, and will make her handle like a boat that's four feet longer than she is now.  The bad news:  This changes her center of gravity quite a bit aft, requires a fair degree of capital outlay, and requires a change from cable steering to hydraulic steering (an improvement, but about $1,000 for steering alone).  To compensate for the weight change, I have moved the cabin forward, moved the fuel tanks to center (they were aft), moved the playpen about 4' forward, and located her four batteries into the bow (they were also aft).   This should compensate nicely.

...Now, 100 gallons of freshwater...  That's another story.  That'll weigh in at something like 700 or 800 pounds when full, and would need to be located low and center so as to not change the pitch of the boat when full to empty.  Still working on that...  But if I can't do 100 gallons of freshwater onboard, alternatives (less water) exist, so I'm not concerned about working out the issue yet.  A third log would be ideal for this, but I'm not sure that I can justify the disadvantages.

In all, the math says that I have about 7500 lbs of total buoyancy in each pontoon, which matches up with the size of my company lift bags.  That's 15,000 lbs of buoyancy total, with a real usable buoyancy being something like 6,000 lbs if I want her to sit in the water and have any freeboard left.  I haven't weighed her as of yet, but with no deck she's probably around 1000 pounds.  Add deck and fence, paneling, acrylic, top, etc and she's probably around 2500 pounds dry...  Lighter than she looks and significantly lighter than most 30' boats.

Bottom line?  Assuming I do a good job balancing her weight on the 'toons, she should have plenty of buoyancy left.

Would I like a third 'toon?  Well...  Kinda.  Yes, I know the advantages, and I know it's a quick and easy way to get additional buoyancy in your boat.  But it seems that they're best taken advantage of only when mounting a larger, heavier motor on the boat.  With a third 'toon, you get more weight capacity, but more drag...  So they're really best when combined with a larger motor else you'll end up with a slower, heavier, more weight-capable boat.  I recognize the weight-advantages, especially in my case with a second deck, lots of onboard freshwater, and divers onboard...  But if I had my druthers, I'd simply opt instead for larger diameter pontoons rather than a third 'toon.  It seems like a better method of adding buoyancy.

...But these logs are 24" diameter by just a few inches under 30' long, so...  They're not the largest, but they're up there.

I also would prefer the semi-displacement feel of a pontoon over a tritoon or planing hull.  And with my desire to beach her regularly, I can't see how the normal practice of using a slightly larger diameter third 'toon would work out real well.  

There is a huge draw, however, of having a third 'toon for fuel and water storage...  But I have not been able to find an affordable option for this.  What do y'all recommend?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote DeepSouthDiver Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 12/31/2014 at 3:04pm
Sunblocker, I just got finished reading all about your beautiful ride!  Wow!  What an amazing boat!

You've really done some amazing things with that.  Great information, and very encouraging!  :)

I'd have loved to have considered an aluminum deck.  My initial price quotes for it alone were around $3,000, and it would have necessitated either new stringers or an alteration of stringers, given that my stringers are only 7'6" long.  So I'd have easily had $4k or more in the floor, and I just couldn't justify it.  How did you?  Got a secret on how to justify the deck, other than robbing a bank?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote SunBlocker Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 12/31/2014 at 4:31pm
Where did you go for quotes?  I did part of the boat in LockDry, and I'm re-doing the top deck in AridDeck.  Also did a friends 28' Party Hut in AridDeck.  I'm doing a quick pencil-whip and I'm not seeing why your boat would be much more than $2K.

Don't get me wrong... $2K is nothing to sneeze at.....  but it's still less than $3K!

Coosa board was another material that I looked at for decking purposes. But if memroy serves me correctly that stuff was prohibitively expensive too. 

And thanks for the comments regarding the `Blocker.  She's a fun boat and has been a great, ongoing project.  Still plenty to do, but there will always be plenty to do.... as long as I am physically able.  

My HDS-7 Touch should be arriving on Monday, looking forward to retiring the HDS-5 and upgrading from the LSS-1 to the LSS-2.  Having the sonar is purely fluff for my application... but I do so like my fluff.

And right now I have my the bow portion of my center log pulled off, and it's here at my shop.  As I noted in my build thread I am changing the bottom profile of that log (adding buoyancy) and hopefully we'll start on the welding part of that project mid-January.

I'm also adding two more Group-27 flooded Trojans to the house battery bank (bringing me up to a grand total of 5).  This will give me a bit more margin on the length of time that I can run total-loss from the inverter, and I'm also using them as ballast for fine-tuning the trim of the boat.

If I can be of any assistance, don't hesitate to ask!
1992 SunTracker Party Cruiser 41ft
18' Cobalt, 13' ElDebo E-Pontoon
-- Okauchee Lake, WI --
The `Blocker Build
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Originally posted by DeepSouthDiver DeepSouthDiver wrote:

My initial price quotes for it alone were around $3,000, and it would have necessitated either new stringers or an alteration of stringers, given that my stringers are only 7'6" long.  

You lost me on that part of it.  Why would you need to alter your stringers?
1992 SunTracker Party Cruiser 41ft
18' Cobalt, 13' ElDebo E-Pontoon
-- Okauchee Lake, WI --
The `Blocker Build
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote DeepSouthDiver Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 12/31/2014 at 10:36pm
You know what? I am so thrilled to have your input. To date, I've done a ton of tearing down and a ton of planning... And while a lot of people have attempted to help and give input, it's never from a point of experience. You... You have the experience!

The quote I got was from LockDry. Apparently they have a facility about four hours from my home near Savannah, GA, and if I had gone with them, I'd have saved the shipping expense and driven the 'toons and stringers up there and assembled the floor right in their parking lot - presumably with some help and expertise. For reference, they DID say that they could make full-length planks, which would mean no seams.

Frankly, at $2k, I'd do an aluminum deck. My alternative is $250 in Advantech covered by about $800 in TuffCoat. That's roughly $1050 or so plus materials and a whole bunch of work.

...Which is a complicated way of saying "at $2k, the cost is about equal," and aluminum will last longer, provide more stiffness, never rot, and... Save several hundred pounds of weight (read: better fuel economy and better performance).

My point about the stringers is this: I understand that the planks need full support from stringers. My deck overhangs the stringers by about 3" (half a plank) on each side. That is... I would be forced to have a deck 7'6" wide rather than 8' wide. Am I missing something?

...I guess that really isn't a big deal to lose 6" of beam in the boat, but... Originally I was very interested in a 10' beam. Going LESS than what it is now is really bothersome to me... And would make my top 6" wider than my deck. Things would get kinda weird there.

How did you do it? Accept the 6" loss? Alter your stringers? Is there something I missed?

On the sides of the deck I have a 3" overhang. The front overhangs about a foot. The rear will not overhang the stringers at all when I'm done with it. But these aren't issues anyway because the planks are plenty strong enough to provide support in that direction. Did you mount your planks sideways? If so, how?

I'll tell you this: For $1000 price differential between Advantech/TuffCoat and aluminum deck, I'll do the upgrade. For $2000, I won't. For $2000 and a loss of beam - or an alteration that requires another $1000 to get aluminum deck on, I DEFINITELY wont. :-)

I'm also a bit concerned about dropping scuba tanks on an aluminum deck. Thats why I chose TuffCoat over vinyl... TuffCoat can be reapplied in case of damage. Vinyl not so much.

See, THIS is why I made this post... So I could hear from the people who've been down this road already. :-)

Thanks for your help. :-)

I got a price of $5 per linear foot of decking. 28 x 5 = $140 per plank. 16 planks = $2240 plus fasteners and the trip up there, which would certainly be overnight. $3k or so. No? Shipping would be similar in expense if I didn't make the trip.

Why are you using AridDek next time, and should I be looking into that?

...And how do I have this site email me when there is a response to this thread (notification on setting)?

Edited by DeepSouthDiver - 01/01/2015 at 12:53am
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote DeepSouthDiver Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 12/31/2014 at 11:00pm
Oh, and by the way... Nice choice of electronics. My two other boats have HDS10's, LSS1's, and NMEA2000 networks. One has radar overlay as well. I've been seriously considering the HDS12 touch for Liquid Limo, although I have a spare HDS10 already, so once again it's a matter of expense...

We need to talk. Don't buy anything LOWRANCE without using my key man program. It's basically half retail, and I have a ton of stuff already that I wouldn't mind selling, so I might be able to get you an even better deal. LOWRANCE stuff is by far the hottest stuff available.

Did you do a NAVIONICS chip in yours? It enables 3D GPS with satellite image overlay - critical in our 8' tidal waters. The charts say it's dry land, but the satellite says we've got 7' of depth at high tide so... It changes everything. Nothing else comes close, and that's not even getting into the sidescan.

I was fascinated to see your pod for scanning. Too cool. My experience is that you want to hang the sidescanning transducer off the back of a toon and HIGHER than the bottom of the boat for protection. Sitting it under a toon is a good way to crush it when you run aground. It's worthless above 6 mph anyway, so mount it high. The standard transducer should be mounted flush with the bottom of the toon, or even inside if possible, because it works as a depth finder at all speeds.

...And don't separate the two by much distance in any direction, so that the downscan imaging can work properly.

I scan professionally often for several agencies, including several States, law enforcement, and of course, commercially. I have thousands of sidescan hours. LOWRANCE rocks more than anything else we use (HUMMINBIRD and three commercial towfish units). You made a great choice.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote DeepSouthDiver Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 12/31/2014 at 11:40pm
I looked at Coosa board too. In fact, I looked at several similar options: Starboard, generic, unbranded, similar stuff, solid plastic board (both virgin and recycled) and all kinds of stuff. I once called a construction company that built a local theater after I'd been in the bathroom and fallen in love with a poly product that they'd used to make the bathroom stalls. :-) Best price I got was about $300/4x8 sheet. I need 7 sheets. No cheaper than aluminum.

It seems that all products had advantages and disadvantages, but in the long run I felt that the best product for boat flooring would be powdercoated aluminum. Advantech with TuffCoat seemed really great too, and at a fraction of the price. Marine ply (the RIGHT stuff here at PS) is pricier, but is the tried and true way. Advantech says not to use their product in marine applications, but the internet is packed full of people who have, and it appears to exceed the life of marine ply at a fraction of the cost. It's stiffer, too.

Plastics of any kind are heavy and lack rigidity needed in a flooring product... And were no less expensive than aluminum. Many of them aren't UV stable either, meaning they'd need to be covered in carpet, vinyl, bedliner or TuffCoat (probably both sides) if they were to last. That would create weight and expense. I'd once again need to alter my stringers from a 24" center-to-center to a 16" center-to-center... Adding more expense and weight. Compare that to aluminum, which needs no additional coating, reduces weight by hundreds of pounds over coated wood, never absorbs water, and survives just fine if the coating is damaged.

Coosa board, Starboard, FRPs and similar products seemed like a good option, but aren't UV stable... Meaning they need to be coated or otherwise hidden from sunlight. Some yellow badly in a matter of days without a coating. When you added the coating expense, it was actually MORE expensive than aluminum, and still heavier. And if you missed a spot or it became uncovered... Bad. Imagine that stuff on a workboat!

Powdercoated aluminum is clearly the way to go... And no need for an additional coating. But can I afford it?

What did you use for your walls? I fell in love with aluminum composite material ("Neitabond"). 4x8 sheets are around $60, and edges bevel nicely for a finished, polished, and safe edge without gimp trim. Powdercoated on both sides. Lightweight and much more dent resistant than sheet aluminum. It also won't expand and contract like vinyl and other polymers. It seems a perfect choice to add paneling to the OUTSIDE of my fence without having to buy all new fence (my fence's panels - and therefore the channels - are INSIDE).

Edited by DeepSouthDiver - 01/01/2015 at 12:17am
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote SunBlocker Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01/01/2015 at 12:47pm
Lots to comment on....

W/respect to the AridDeck....  there are some subtle differences between the extrusion die design for the AridDeck and the Lockdry.  Not huge game-changing differences, but I personally feel that Wahoo did a slightly better job with respect to the interlock and top rib design, so for the second go-around I went with them.  Both are winners though.

I've been impressed with the durability of the powder coated finish.  I certainly had my concerns and still cringe when large, metallic items (like anchors) go crashing into the deck, but to-date we haven't had a chip or blemish.  That being said, my bow and stern anchor platforms are topped with hollow composite decking (Ultradeck Fusion).  That stuff is way too heavy to be used for the entire boat, but it's great for those areas that you just know are going to get hammered.

You're right about Starboard and UV protection.  But, Playboard is a similar material that does resist fading and degradation.  It is used for playground sets and the like.  I made my engine bay cover out of that stuff and so far it has remained colorfast and is showing no obvious signs of UV damage.  BUT...  solid HDPE is a terrible decking material.  Stupid-heavy with a terrible stiffness/thickness ratio.  Great for hatches, doors, and stuff like that though.

W/respect to your stringer overhang issue.  I guess a lot of it would depend on how your rub-rail is configured and attached.  The extruded aluminum decking is quite stiff and it has a central support rib that runs down the centerline.  That rib would probably contact (and could be secured-to) the very ends of your stringers.... giving you the 3" overhang.  I personally wouldn't lose sleep over that, but I'd probably do some simple screw/bolt-on extensions on every-other stringer to pick up the mounting lip on the extrusion and create an anchor point for the rub-rail.  It would be easy to make the extensions from garden variety anodized aluminum angle stock (locally available at places like Ace, Menards, Lowes, etc..).

W/respect to my walls:  I've seen some wonderful aluminum/foam/plastic laminates used in applications like this and I'm envious of the results.  I had some specific dimensional constraints that I was working with (my panels needed to be 1" thick to work with my existing framing) and also needed to be extremely light.  Strength/rigidity is/was a minor concern.  I contacted a lot of laminating houses, and Parkland plastics came through for me.  They made me some 1" PlasTex/rigid foam/Plastex panels that worked perfectly for a very reasonable price turnaround.
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Electronics and drivel:

I'm a big fan of NMEA 2K and have been gong through and iterative incremental process of upgrading the boat from analog where and when I can.  Retiring the old Johnny 60 and putting on the E-Tec was a huge step since the 2K support and implementation in the E-Tec is pretty robust.  Converting all level sensing (gray water, black water, fresh water, fuel, etc.) to 2K, adding a pressure sender, and then capping it with the HDS (and GMI10's) really started to flesh-out the system.  Video and audio aren't currently tied in and both run autonomous... but I'm not sure if that is going to change.  I like my old-school drop-down LCD screen for the backup camera, and I'm too big of a SONOS fan to ever consider yanking that system.

Future plans for the 2K system include instrumenting my AC and DC systems (which are currently stand-alone and handled by the Xantrex hardware), adding temp monitoring for the hot water system, and then tying it all into my on-board WiFi/MiFi WAN/LAN for wireless and remote monitoring.  Low-priority stuff, but one of these days.  I already have some simplistic stuff working and the Blocker can send me an EMAIL when shorepower has gone off-line and the house bank is sagging....  but the geek in me would like to have some additional capability.

Yes... my LSS mounting pod is a curiosity.  I installed that before I added the log extensions under the stern anchor/boarding platform.  So, at that time, due to the stern thruster, hydraulic ladder, and other things it was difficult to find a decent mounting location for the transducer that kept it out of harms way and nasty turbulence.  There is a lot of activity back there... and with the slide you get a crud-load of small children who aren't paying attention to where their feet, legs, arms, heads, brains are going.

My center log is actually "higher" than my outboard logs (unusual, I know)... so if I mounted the transducer directly to the underside of that log I was concerned that I'd get field of view clipping (due to the outboard logs) during sidescans.  Not really sure if that was a valid concern, but I figured I'd play it safe and use the pod to drop the transducer down so it was the "lowest thing" on the boat (excluding the outboard leg).

The concern about damaging the transducer when running aground is valid, but in my specific case that's just not going to happen.  The `Blocker is run on a fresh water lake that I know like the back of my hand.  Water level variations rarely if ever exceed 1', and the only part of the boat that has ever touched the lake bottom are the very underside tips of the forward logs during an intentional "beaching", and the skeg.  If the LSS transducer by chance did ever hit the bottom, I'd be right in the middle of much larger problems!

I noted that you are going to convert over the hydraulic steering.  Yup.... make that plunge and never look back.  Mine's a *not allowed* hybrid system pieced together from Ultraflex and Teleflex components... but it is a night-and-day improvement over my old Morse cable system.

As always... if there is anything I can help you with, don't hesitate to ask!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote DeepSouthDiver Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01/01/2015 at 1:47pm
Awesome information!

How do I set my "notifications" on? Can I get this forum to email me when there's a response in this thread?

How did YOU do the aluminum deck? Does Suntracker have 8' long stringers?

HDPE... Yep, great stuff if it has added UV inhibitors. Solid, but not stiff. I actually considered keeping the deck I have and just topping it with the stuff. The weight kept me away from this idea though.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote DeepSouthDiver Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01/01/2015 at 1:51pm
Oh wow... So your center log is smaller diameter than your outers? That's a great idea. Best of all worlds. And that pod makes a whole bunch of sense then. Cool!

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote DeepSouthDiver Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01/01/2015 at 2:01pm
Glad to know about the hydraulic steering. I wasn't totally sold on the idea, but I didn't really see how I was going to move the motor and pod aft out of the boat and still have a cable steer from the side. It'd have left a cable way out and in the way. Hydraulic steering would route straight back under the deck and into the motor pod, so it seemed a natural solution. Opens up room for ladders, too. Additional benefits were secondary.

A hydraulic ladder? Oh wow... That's cool! I'd love to see how you did that!

The latest HDS systems have HDMI outputs, if I'm not mistaken, so you can video-out to your flatscreen TV. This is a big deal for us when we have multiple divers involved in a sidescan and need the large screen. An HDS12 sounds like a big screen, but when three divers are hovering over it, it's tiny. 42" flatscreens can be had these days for $200 and improve things a lot for us... And we can mount it somewhere besides the helm.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote DeepSouthDiver Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01/01/2015 at 2:17pm
Stern thruster... Too cool! I read your posts about that. I bet that's great, especially when the wind is blowing. Awesome. Did you do a bow thruster too?

Rearview camera... Wow! My design was to leave the back wide open with a ladder on the stern of the port side log so it's easy to see a boarding swimmer from the starboardside helm. The galley and the head would be designed to be out of the line-of-sight. But if I were to fully enclose the cabin, a rearview camera would be on the list of additions. Cool stuff!

Wow. Yeah, you and your design have a lot in common with me and mine. :-) I'm so thrilled to tag your ear!

Edited by DeepSouthDiver - 01/02/2015 at 9:50am
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Wow! Impressive plans. Some of the tech stuff being discussed is beyond my depth of understanding and I used to be quite the techie. You mentioned the underskinning would add 20#. What will you be using? I underskinned my 24' with .063" 5052 aluminum as recommended on this and other sites. I used three 4'x10' sheets cut into four 4'x5' sheets and the last sheet cut into long narrow sections to fill the gaps on each side (run lengthwise). Each 4x5 sheet weighed signifcantly more than 20#. Having installed this, I don't believe that anything thinner thatn 5052 would hold up well as underskinning.
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Uh-oh. Maybe my estimates were off on the weight of the underskinning.

I was planning on using four 4x8 sheets of marine grade aluminum. Any 5000 or 6000 series would do fine, but if you've got a recommendation for 5052, that would be great.

I had anticipated a minimum of .050" thickness, and .063" seems perfect. Since my logs are 24" diameter (some literature says 23" - actual measurements don't seem so precise, and there appears to be some variation... It may be because this is a salt water boat and the bottom of the logs has been epoxied to receive bottom paint) I have exactly 4' between the logs... Although another 6" or so each side between the actual mounts. I was planning on leaving this space open, as it didn't seem nearly as critical as the centerline of the underside of the deck. It'd allow for additional drying of the wood and easier wire/line routing as well.

...Anyway, so I was planning on mounting my underskinning lengthwise, and would need just over three sheets to do the job. I have 24" between my stringers, center-to-center, so it would work out pretty easily, albeit without any overlap. I was planning on underskinning as I redecked and throughbolting both using the same bolts.

I'd be thrilled to get your opinion.

Looks like I need to do a little research on the weight of these panels. :-)

Edited by DeepSouthDiver - 01/02/2015 at 9:39am
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote DeepSouthDiver Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01/02/2015 at 9:25am
Can someone tell me how to set my email notificafions on for this thread? I can't find the setting anywhere.
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According to
http://www.statelinesupply.com/Handbook/Aluminum/Sheet-Plate.aspx the weight of each 4x8 sheet would be about 29 pounds at that thickness.

...So where I had said "20 pounds for underskinning" (and was thinking "20 pounds per sheet," but didn't say that) I should be thinking more like 30 pounds per sheet... Probably 100 or 110 pounds total.

I am surprised it's that much, frankly. Jeez, maybe I should revisit the whole weight thing again. I wonder what else I'm off about.

Notifications on? How?

...And what did we talk about that was "beyond" you? The electronics? Sorry. Yeah, that stuff wouldn't make any sense unless you've used it. You could even read the manual and not have it mean anything to you until you're actually in the water and using it. Even then, half the features seem pointless while others seem critical yet oddly buried and/or ambiguous.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote SunBlocker Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01/02/2015 at 9:51am
Sorry.... I don't know if it is possible to get EMAIL notifications with this forum software.  Haven't tried.  I just put it in my daily rotation and check for "New Posts" on a regular basis.

The beam in the Blocker is 8'6"... and the stingers are probably about 8'4".  There is a lot of "wrap" on the rub-rail extrusion and they cover about 3" of the top deck surface on each side.... so I was able to be pretty sloppy w/respect to how the start and stop boards were configured... and just covered all that up with the rub rail.  My specific situation is a little unique since it wasn't really a complete re-decking.  I only did the fore and aft deck sections, and left the cabin section alone (which is double-decked from the factory using two layers of wood decking).  The rub-rail wasn't even removed during the process... the start and stop boards were slid/wedged in-between the stringers and rub-rail flange and fasteners that went down through the rub-rail into the stringers secured the "sandwich".  

The original Tracker configuration had a transom "pod" that was actually a center log about 8' long.. and about 20" in diameter.  That's what the LSS transducer pod is secured-to.  I have a section of 23" U-shaped log that telescopes onto that original transom pod... and that's what holds my 75 gallon poly fresh water tank.  And then I have another 23" round log that telescopes into the U-shaped log.  That round log runs all the way to the bow of the boat.  So when all of that is installed I end up with a 3-piece continuous center toon that runs from the bow all the way back to the transom.

On windy days the high profile of the Blocker makes her little more than a big freakin' sail.  There were days where I could barely bring her into our home slip.... so that became the inspiration for the bow and stern thrusters.  They're not variable speed, just bang-bang.  But really that's all that is needed for my application.  They get a fair amount of use.

The backup camera was ESC (Easy/Simple/Cheap).  I was able to pick up the camera itself through some random eBay vendor and it's not bad.  It has Ired illumination and decent resolution (NTSC 480i if I remember correctly).  The drop-down LCD was another eBay acquisition... and it's just an inexpensive unit designed to be an automotive "ceiling mount" entertainment system.  Add a long run of coax and it's done.

Personally I love the bow and stern hydraulic ladders, but they're pretty heavy.  They were made by CMC Marine (hydraulic jack plate folks) and only in production for a few years.  When they went out of production there were some fire sales and I was able to grab two of them.  I have them set up so they can be controlled by switches on the helm, or via local rockers at the ladder locations.  I added some magnetic reed switch position indicators hooked to LEDs on the helm so I don't make the embarrassing mistake of driving off with my ladders down.  I have LEDs for the thrusters also.

I'm paranoid about the toons developing leaks and taking on water, so they all run pressurized at about 2psi.  I have an on-board "silent" dental compressor that feeds the regulator... and that also gives me an on-board source for ~150psi air for pneumatic actuators.  That's what is used for the bow and stern thruster pivot mechanisms, as well as the actuator that lowers the flag and TV antennae mast for when we go under the bridge.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote DeepSouthDiver Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01/02/2015 at 12:05pm
Holy cow, that's crazy! And fascinating, I might add! :)

I'm disappointed that there's no thread notification here. I've never seen forum software that doesn't include it. It sure seems like it would stunt the growth of the forum. Oh well! Thanks for addressing it. :)

Wow... Pneumatic actuation in the boat! Amazing! You DO realize that a second-stage regulator normally runs around 130 psi, right? I mean... For $50 at your local pawn shop you could pick up a second stage scuba regulator (the part that goes in your mouth), add 50' of line and a mask... And you'd have a pretty nice little surface-supplied unit, good to about 30' or so. Pop your ears like you do in a plane, and never hold your breath (breathe normally). Ascend no faster than 30 feet per minute. That's pretty much it. Instant underwater breathing apparatus. We call these kinds of surface-supplied rigs "hookah" rigs. Add a belt and clip the hose to the belt to take the strain off your mouth. Add 2-4 lbs of lead to it to prevent floating as you breathe.
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I'm a card-carrying PADI OWD from way, way, way back "in the day" and still have my complete rig sans tank.  Although I'm not sure I can still fit into my old stab jacket <sigh>.  I've pondered making a quick and dirty hookah rig on occasion, but I'm afraid I might contaminate my cocktail...   ;)
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote DeepSouthDiver Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01/02/2015 at 12:40pm
Bummer that thd ladder isn't made anymore. I bet that's a trip. Too cool that you added LED indicator lights.

Yeah, I certainly could see how she'd be a handful in the wind! Thrusters totally would solve that problem. Really cool! I'll have to keep that in mind regarding mine... I have a lot less side area than yours does, but I'm guessing that my coastal area tends to be windier than yours up there. I've been boating nearly 40 years, and have dealt with it all my life, and it can be a real pain. Liquid Limo's going to be my worst offender yet, for sure.

Interesting about the way your boat is put together. My Crest has 7'6" stringers, so the deck overlaps the stringers by about 3" on each side. The rub rail is thru-bolted to the deck. The fence is through-bolted to the deck just inside of the rub rail... So there is a 3 1/4" loss of deck width on each side. I may mount the fence on top of the rub rail to help. But for now, the total inside width is about 7' 5", and I feel that's a minimum and I will not go any narrower. In fact, I really wanted to go WIDER, but the cost-to-benefit ratio is very high and leaving it as-is is looking really good right now.

...Which would mean sheet, not plank, and I haven't been able to figure out how to do aluminum sheet without spending tens of thousands on the floor.

If I did aluminum plank, I'd be forced to choose between a loss of 6" of beam, new stringers, or altering the stringers I already have. That additional expense on top of the additional expense of the aluminum itself, plus the feel difference between TuffCoated Advantech vs. powdercoated aluminum I think outweighs the benefits of the weight loss of an aluminum deck. We're talking a difference of probably $3k, and I lose the comfy feel of a rubberized deck... For a weight loss of one fat guy. :)

The biggest advantage I can see with going aluminum is the fact that it'll never rot or delaminate. But I believe the Advantech product to have similar properties and doubt I'll have an issue for a decade or two... And let's face it - I'll have (yet) another boat by then.

I sure wish I could justify it.

Thanks for the feedback. :)

Edited by DeepSouthDiver - 01/02/2015 at 12:52pm
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