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1994 Henry O Return to Service

Old 06-11-2021, 07:00 AM
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Post 1994 Henry O Return to Service

This thread will tell of my experience buying and restoring to operating condition a 1994 Henry O 170 DC (Taylor Mfg. model) with a 1994 Suzuki 2-stroke 115 hp outboard. Through the process of buying this boat and restoring it to working condition, this site has been invaluable to me, and this thread is intended to be my way of returning the favor. The story will be told over several posts, which will be spread out at my leisure, so be patient. This is not a full restore thread, just a story of returning a neglected boat to service.

My goal with the boat was to have something inexpensive that could be fixed up with relatively little effort and used for fishing and watersports with my kids on local freshwater lakes. I wasnít looking for showroom appearance, just functional and safe with a minimal investment. Iím not a complete neophyte. Iíve had experience on OPB since I was a kid and in my own canoes for many years, but this is the first powerboat that I have owned. Therefore the maintenance, repair, and legal requirements were all new to me.

The boat was listed in a Craigslist ad from a location about 90 minutes away. The condition was completely unknown, and the owner had not even tried to put it in the water. The story he told was that he had bought it from a non-profit on the Chesapeake Bay with the hopes of using it for fishing with his family. However, the 3 hours plus drive from the Chesapeake to tow the boat home had left him jaded and he decided to sell it. He did give me the contact information for the non-profit who sold it to him. I was able to get a little information on the condition from the non-profit, but not much. He did say that the owner had suffered a tire blowout when towing it home, and had come back to the non-profit to get a spare tire (which they had plenty of), and the owner had had a generally terrible first experience with the boat.

The boat has a Coast Guard sticker which permits up to 6 persons, which was critical to me. Six is how many will fit in my truck, and I have 5 sons who all want to go out with me. Itís crowded, but legal. My wife and daughters will have to wait their turn .

For the pre-buy inspection I focused on whether the engine would run and ensuring there was no structural damage from rot or misuse. Beyond that, I figured I could fix it if needed. I spent over an hour looking at every inch of the boat, and I think the owner was starting to wonder if I was ever going to make up my mind.

The fuel tank was empty, but the owner had a portable tank and the engine fired up fairly quickly with ear muffs on the lower unit. There was no cooling telltale stream however, so we shut it down right away. The engineís appearance under the cowl impressed me with its cleanliness for such an old engine. I checked the hull electrical circuits and every single one was not working; no navigation lights, no bilge pump, no fuel gage. The engine electrical did work however, including the PTT, starting circuit, and the electric choke. The boat had leaves in it from spending the fall under a tree, but there was not a thick layer of dirt and grime. The gelcoat was very chalky looking, with spider cracks scattered all around the interior. There was rainwater on the deck and in most of the hatches because the boat was not on level ground and didnít drain completely. When I jumped on the swim platform, which was bolted trough the transom, it was solid. The state registration decal was only a few months expired.

After taking a good deal of time looking everything over that I could think of, the owner started to get impatient and reduced his asking price to $3000 for boat, motor, and trailer. Also included was a bimini top that was stained but not ripped. I accepted his offer, and drove away with the boat.

Next post: First Impressions After Purchase
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Old 06-11-2021, 08:55 AM
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Sub'd, I have a 1989 Henry O DC170, mine is one of the last years built by the McKees. Let me know if you have any questions, I can try to help. I've had to do some electrical work, my batteries were relocated under the port console, and I added a built in charger on the starboard console.
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Old 06-11-2021, 11:18 AM
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As a 1988 Henry O DC 170 owner, welcome to the clan. My hull looks nearly identical, down to the scabby bottom paint. :-)
Great hull.
Best riding 17' hull ever. Not fast and burns some fuel, but, comfortable.
Liked mine so much that when I found a compromised transom, there was no doubt but to replace the transom so we could keep the boat.

Looking forward to the refurb.

If you need a new tank, HenryO got the originals from RDS Manufacturing. When I redid mine, 'simply called them up, told them what I had, sent to few measurements to confirm and they sent me a new tank in a couple of weeks.
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Old 06-11-2021, 12:32 PM
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Old 06-14-2021, 05:38 AM
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Originally Posted by Miljack View Post
Sub'd, I have a 1989 Henry O DC170, mine is one of the last years built by the McKees. Let me know if you have any questions, I can try to help. I've had to do some electrical work, my batteries were relocated under the port console, and I added a built in charger on the starboard console.
Miljack, thanks for the offer. While I've resolved a lot of problems just by doing forum searches and troubleshooting, there are always other issues to resolve. One thing I haven't tried to fix yet is that I don't think my multi-function indicator/warning buzzer is working like it should. But that's probably a Suzuki question and may warrant a separate thread at some point.
Old 06-14-2021, 05:42 AM
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Originally Posted by Henry0Hornet View Post
As a 1988 Henry O DC 170 owner, welcome to the clan. My hull looks nearly identical, down to the scabby bottom paint. :-)
Great hull.
Best riding 17' hull ever. Not fast and burns some fuel, but, comfortable.
Liked mine so much that when I found a compromised transom, there was no doubt but to replace the transom so we could keep the boat.

Looking forward to the refurb.

If you need a new tank, HenryO got the originals from RDS Manufacturing. When I redid mine, 'simply called them up, told them what I had, sent to few measurements to confirm and they sent me a new tank in a couple of weeks.
H0H, I have enjoyed following your transom rebuild. Someday soon I may follow down that road, but for now I hope to get a season or two out of it first.

In my limited time on plane, I have enjoyed the ride. Cutting across another boat's wake, for example, it seems I don't even need to slow down. I've seen some complain that the hull at rest is, dare I say it?, "tippy", but I have not found that to be the case. While it does rock if I move from side to side, I have no problem standing on a gunwale in calm water. But then, my other boats are canoes.
Old 06-18-2021, 05:36 AM
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Default First Impressions After Purchase

While towing the boat out of the sellerís driveway, I had my first ďwhat did I get myself into?Ē moment. When I hit the brakes at the end of the sellerís driveway to pull onto the street, I saw in my rearview mirror water come pouring out of the bow at the rub rail. Maybe just a few gallons, but it was enough to get my attention. When I got home, I realized that the three hardware store bolts (two in the bow, and one mid-ship) clamping the gunnel to the hull were not just decorations. Neither were they an ďapproved marine repairĒ. At least they used washers! I spent several days agonizing about what to do. I didnít want to have to buy a new rub-rail, and I was afraid that I would have to if I took the original one off. I also didnít want to do any fiberglass repairs if I didnít need to.

Eventually I decided that I had to take the rub rail off and see what I was up against. If it didnít go back on, I would cross that bridge when I got to it. It turned out the rub rail was easy to get off, and that it did not appear to have been damaged in the process. What I found underneath was that almost all of the sealant used at the factory to seal the deck to the hull was gone. What remained didnít look like it was bonded well and wasnít holding anything together. The hardware store bolts were just put in three of the areas with the biggest separation, but the joint was open almost all the way around.





I had planned to spend as much of my 10-day Christmas vacation working on the boat as possible, hoping to have it ready to get out on the water early in the new year. I was worried that a fiberglass repair would make that goal unrealistic. Eventually, I decided that it needed to be done. It crossed my mind that the worst case scenario was selling the outboard and trailer separately for about what I paid for the whole package. My other planned pre-service maintenance included replacing the spark plugs, rebuilding the carburetors, replacing the water pump impellor, and changing the lower unit oil. I also wanted to remove the antique fishfinder and replace it with a more modern budget model with GPS, sidescan, and downscan.

Prior to my vacation, I spent my available time working on a few simple things. I took apart the electrical switch panel and all of the fuses. They were cleaned, wire brushed, and all connections were coated with dielectric grease. Remarkably, that was all it took and everything electrical was working! I also replaced the bow nav light bulb with an LED. The battery was several years old, but held a charge and was adequate for cranking the motor.

Next post: Christmas Vacation Work
Old 06-18-2021, 06:00 AM
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So where are you at with this project now?
Old 06-18-2021, 06:29 AM
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Originally Posted by kennyboy View Post
So where are you at with this project now?
The boat is running well and what I will call "In-service". As with any old boat like this, there are still things that need to be fixed, but that will always be true I think.
Old 06-18-2021, 08:58 AM
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Damn, that's a kick in the head.
Hate to see that.
How would that joint come apart all the way around?
Heavy freeze/thaw?
Did previous owner try to separate the hulls?
Manufacturing defect?
IDK.
Hate it.


Old 06-18-2021, 10:49 AM
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Originally Posted by Henry0Hornet View Post
Damn, that's a kick in the head.
Hate to see that.
How would that joint come apart all the way around?
Heavy freeze/thaw?
Did previous owner try to separate the hulls?
Manufacturing defect?
IDK.
Hate it.
Your guess is as good as mine. I did notice that the sealant used in the joint was quite brittle. It resembled the high-strength urethane stuff that comes in tubes and is used to glue flooring down to the joists when building a house. Whatever it was, it had just crumbled away. It was still present in a few locations, but even there it was not fully intact. It was obvious to me that it was only intended as a sealant, not a structural part of the boat. As such, it had failed, and let rainwater enter between the deck and the hull. Because it's a foam-filled design that's supposed to be sealed, there is no drain to let that water out. The bilge only drains the top of the deck and the hatches.

I'm really not sure what holds the single-piece deck to the single-piece hull, but it isn't that joint. In fact, the fiberglass of both pieces was still stiff most of the way around the open joint. There were a few short areas where I could flex the hull side a bit, and this is were where someone had used the hardware store bolts. I think there was some thin wood used at the top flange of the hull molding that was probably used as a backing for screwing in the rub rail, and where that was rotten is where there was some flex.

I did try filling the open joint with heavy-duty urethane adhesive as a last-ditch effort to avoid any fiberglass work, but I was not happy with the result. There just wasn't anything to grip to, so any flex at that joint and the seal would be broken.
Old Yesterday, 07:13 AM
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Default What is this?

Something that always puzzled me was these two key brackets mounted on the starboard gunwale. Does anyone know what they are for? Is it for a swim ladder?


Old Yesterday, 07:21 AM
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Those are indeed swim ladder brackets.
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Old Today, 06:01 AM
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ChrisinVa someone else on here had a similar deck/hull "separation." You should be able to find the post. I think the conclusion was to "run it."
Old Today, 06:28 AM
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Originally Posted by Miljack View Post
ChrisinVa someone else on here had a similar deck/hull "separation." You should be able to find the post. I think the conclusion was to "run it."
Yes, I saw that one. It was on this restore thread: Henry O restore. I came to the conclusion that it would probably be OK, but I decided to strengthen the joint for my own piece of mind.

I'll have the details in a post later today.
Old Today, 11:43 AM
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Default Christmas Vacation Work

I bought the boat the week of Thanksgiving, so I had about 6 weeks to prepare for my Christmas vacation. During much of that time, I worried and fretted about what to do with the deck to hull joint. Should I even worry about it? Should I leave the hardware bolts in place and put my head in the sand? Is there a quick and easy repair that I can do? Is the hull so full of water that even if I fix it, the boat wonít float? If I did a ďproperĒ repair, what would that look like? I was still a little unsure whether water in the hull would drain into the bilge or not, but I was starting to think that it did not. Once water got in the hull, it was trapped there. A lot to worry about, and no easy answers.

When the time came, I moved the boat from my place to my dadís. He has a workshop that is big enough to back the trailer in and close the door. Itís also well insulated, so just a single propane heater can get the temperature up high enough to work with resins that donít like the cold.

The first thing I did was attempt to fill the open deck to hull gap with some high-strength urethane adhesive. Urethane adhesive cures in the presence of water, so any water in the joint would be an asset, not a liability. I used a full tube and sealed about 6 feet or so, then let it cure overnight. The next day, it was still intact, but it did not seem to be giving any strength to the joint and I was not very comfortable calling that my new deck to hull joint. So after another night to worry, I came up with a plan and decided to execute it.

I used a tiger paw (sanding flapper disk mounted to an angle grinder) to remove the gelcoat an inch or 2 on either side of the joint all the way around. As you can guess, this was very messy work, and resulted in a heavy coating of gel coat dust on everything: the boat, the garage, and on me. A dust respirator should be considered mandatory for this type of work.

Iím going to give a little bit of background, because Iím about to veer out of the marina. I have a little experience with building a composite airplane, including an inventory of all of the materials and tools. Since the airplane project is just sitting (itís not a high enough priority to spend the necessary money on it right now), I decided to put airplane parts on my boat, rather than buying more traditional marine materials and learn a new-to-me process. All of the materials I used are available at aircraftspruce.com if you want to read about them.

With the bare fiberglass now exposed, I prepared 2-inch strips of RUTAN Bidirectional RA7725 fiberglass for taping the joint. I made 2-ply tapes, and staggered them so that I would end up with 4 plies and staggered seams. The fabric was oriented with the glass weave at 45 degrees to the axis of the joint. I used MGS 335 epoxy with a mix of slow and fast hardener, and wet the tapes out on wax paper on a table, about 4 feet long each. I then used the wax paper to transfer the fiberglass to the joint. My neatly taped joint would NOT HAVE BEEN POSSIBLE without the wax paper trick. In places where I wanted the joint to be a bit tighter, I used clamps to hold the deck and hull together. The resulting 4-ply seam was a little over 1/16 inch thick, and after curing for over 24 hours, resulted in a joint that effectively welded the deck to the hull and provided a watertight seal. It was a long day, but I got all the way around the boat in one day.

I have heard of the problems with getting gel coat to adhere to epoxy, and my understanding is that the problem is with something called the ďamine blushĒ that appears on the surface of cured epoxy. The MGS epoxy I used has a very low amine content, and I have never noticed an amine blush with any of my airplane work. However, I diligently sanded the entire taped joint to remove any phantom blush that may be present, and to provide a rough surface for a mechanical bond with the gel coat. I mixed the gelcoat with another airplane material: glass micro balloons. The micro balloons were used to thicken the gelcoat so I wouldnít need as many layers. The gel coat was applied with a course bristle brush and about 3 coats were used. I tried to get enough that it was proud of the factory gelcoat, so I could sand it down to blend it in. I took advantage of the fact that 95% of the joint would be hidden by the rub rail and saved myself some sanding. While applying gel coat, I patched several small chips around the boat both outside the hull and inside the boat. I also filled and patched the holes where the dreaded hardware store bolts had been drilled. For the hull chips and holes, I used more thickener to prevent runs and to fill with a single application. The gel coat I used was bright white, which was not a perfect match to the rest of the faded boat, but close enough for me. This is a return-to-service project, not a full restoration.

When I was done, it looked so nice I wondered if I even wanted to put the rub rail back on. Then I thought about the gel coat cracking that would happen the first time I tied up to a dock.

During this process, I realized for the first time that both sides of the transom had soft spots around the deck scupper drain holes. Itís solid elsewhere, including around the outboard mounts bolts, swim platform, and stern eyes, but this was a new problem to keep me awake at night after resolving the deck to hull joint problem. I know that eventually, the transom is going to have to be fixed. If I had known to do the tap test back in November, would I still have bought the boat? I donít know. But I resolved to let this dog lie for now, and just keep a close eye on the transom for signs that the motor loads are no longer being supported. (Spoiler: thereís no indication that the motor is overloading the transom when in use.)

After the fiberglass work, the engine maintenance was anticlimactic except for replacing the water pump impellor. All four bolts on the impellor cover were stuck, and two had been broken off prior to my getting the boat. I broke the other two off myself. This was something that was fixed with the help of a visit to a friend. Two holes did end up needing helicoils, but my friend just happened to have the exact size in his garage.

I took carburetor #2 off and disassembled it. This carb was chosen first because there had been a fuel leak at the previous ownerís when we test fired the motor, and I thought this was where it was leaking from. Everything looked good inside the carb. So good, in fact, that I didnít bother with the other 3. I just put the new gaskets in, new needle valve, and put it back on the engine. I also removed some mud dauber mud from the telltale nozzle that explained why water wasnít coming out during the test fire.

Next post: First Float






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