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Wellcraft 18 Fisherman Rebuild

Old 01-15-2019, 08:23 AM
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Default Wellcraft 18 Fisherman Rebuild

I purchased a 1987 Wellcraft 18 Fisherman with the intentions to clean it up a bit, and just run it as a 2nd trailerable boat while the other is in the marina. When I went to pick it up I noticed the floors were soft, scum line was well above the rear scupper drains, but it had good compression and it was cheap so I went for it. It has a 150 Ocean Runner which should move pretty good for this size boat.

I took it out for the first time, and immediately noticed there were scupper / drain issues. The boat was sitting too low in the water and the well drains freely let water in and out. If you had 2 guys standing in the back, water would rush in pretty good. Lucky - the floor drains in the deck aft corners seemed to be above the water line. I wasn't 100% sure if it was that the motor was too heavy, or that the floor wood was soaked, or maybe it was the addition of a T-top, but either way I didn't like the design of the "splash well" just letting water run into the deck. The motor had some trouble getting on plane, and wouldn't go past 4K. I wasn't really sure if it was an engine issue, or prop, but something wasn't right. I used the boat once, then started to cut it up for a rebuild.

I am a little over a year into this project that was expected to be completed in about 3-4 months. (no surprise there) The good news is that it's 90% complete now, so you don't have to follow this thread for years to see the results Hopefully?

I'll start posting pictures below, and try to remember what was going on during that time. Fair warning - this isn't going to be your standard THT premium refit with the best of everything. Is it perfect? Na not at all, but i'm happy with the results so far.

Here is is Day 1.
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The piece of starboard with wood compartments is removable, and this is where water just flows onto the deck.
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Old 01-15-2019, 08:44 AM
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Looks just like a V20....is that a 20 or 25 inch engine? A 150 should push that boat to around 50 MPH
Old 01-15-2019, 08:52 AM
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Looking forward to seeing what you've done with it.
Old 01-15-2019, 09:43 AM
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I had one of those. Same exact boat, even the year. And yes, they are a bad design regarding draft at the stern. It's a 20" transom. If they would have made it 25", or full transom w/bracket, it would be fine. Mine always had water slopping in when drifting. Had to turn the wheel and drift on a angle to avoid it. I had a Johnson 120... no hardtop.
Old 01-15-2019, 10:44 AM
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First order of business was new trailer tires. This one EXPLODED on the highway.



T-Top removed




This is the removable starboard / sinker storage thing that I guess was supposed to retain water? not sure if it was from the factory or not. You can see how filthy the motor is in this pic. (leaking fuel out the carbs)


Heading into the garage. Console, seats, and various other components removed.


Ready to cut


Floor removed.... It was so wet the wood basically fell apart. I also cut the whole rear section out so I could access foam in the back. It felt wrong but I did it.


Back outside to remove the fuel and tank.


Wiring mess
Old 01-15-2019, 10:49 AM
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Originally Posted by maxie View Post
Looks just like a V20....is that a 20 or 25 inch engine? A 150 should push that boat to around 50 MPH
Yea I agree. It was not running right at all the one time I took it out. I've later realized the carbs are leaking badly, and it had some goofy ass prop that wasn't helping.
Old 01-15-2019, 11:07 AM
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I seem to be missing pictures of removing / replacing foam in the rear... but that happened. Next I got the rear cap section back on and started figuring out how to reattach it.


I decided to cut a chunk out and lay several layers of csm / woven glass for strength. This seemed to work pretty good. I used these old door knob thingys for brackets to hold it straight.


I should have taken more pictures. This ugly mess is all I have from fiberglass laying.


Grinding it down.


Cleaning it up a little. It's hard to tell at this stage, but the end it was undetectable that it was cut so i'll call it a success.

Old 01-15-2019, 01:14 PM
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I started working on the deck next. Below is the underside of the deck fiberglass I cut out. I decided to reuse the deck fiberglass and glue it back onto the fresh wood for a few reasons.
1) I wanted to use the original fuel tank cover, and recreating the existing contours would suck.
2) It's a nice template, and faring would be easier starting with a nice surface.
3) I saved a ton of time and fiberglass / resin.

First step - remove all the old wood.


I used various chizels / grinders etc.




Eventually I got it down to a nice surface with no wood. I think i'm missing that pic.


Started cutting up some fresh wood.


Now starting to fiberglass the underside.


Some test fitting - all looks good.


Old 01-15-2019, 01:18 PM
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Excited to follow this. Subscribed!
Old 01-15-2019, 01:26 PM
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Great post, I'll be following this one since I have basically the same boat (89 Wellcraft 18 Sport). I bought it in 2017 and nothing worked, but the floor and transom were still solid, so thankfully I didn't have to go as far as you did to get it in shape! Though to be honest now I'm afraid of what mine looks like underneath...

I have a 150 Mariner and the stern definitely sits low, the same way you mentioned. I couldn't stand those captains chairs so I took them out and replaced them with a 120qt cooler.
Old 01-15-2019, 01:45 PM
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Originally Posted by BTL View Post
Great post, I'll be following this one since I have basically the same boat (89 Wellcraft 18 Sport). I bought it in 2017 and nothing worked, but the floor and transom were still solid, so thankfully I didn't have to go as far as you did to get it in shape! Though to be honest now I'm afraid of what mine looks like underneath...

I have a 150 Mariner and the stern definitely sits low, the same way you mentioned. I couldn't stand those captains chairs so I took them out and replaced them with a 120qt cooler.
You should make sure your side rod holder inserts are leak free, and most importantly that your gunnel rod holders (if you have them) are capped at all times. There is no drainage under the gunnel. Any water that goes in there... stays in there. I found several inches of water trapped on top of soaked foam.

I replaced the captain's chairs with a Todd bench seat. I'll snap some pics of it later.
Old 01-15-2019, 01:57 PM
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I switched gears for a while and started working on redesigning the console. I wanted to ditch the original gauge/ switch setup, and add a MFD.


Here are a few more pics stripped down before the transformation.






Time to cut! I sliced the top off, then part of the sides to get the angle I wanted on the console face.


Started fitting up some wood.






Sealed with resin.


Time to fiberglass. Again, i'm missing fiberglass pictures. ( probably because it's a messy process)


Just the starting stages of this.


Fast forward and i'm starting to grind / fair.


It's coming along. I used gelcoat pretty often to help fill in low areas and help with resin cure. (thanks boatworks today)


Still faring.


Mocking up some instruments. Just screwing around really.


Oh look it's painted! I used Jamestown distributors 1 part. It's tricky, but cheap. Once you get familiar with it, the results are pretty nice.


Turned out pretty good.


and here it is with some goodies installed.

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Old 01-15-2019, 02:05 PM
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Wow, I enjoyed seeing this. One of my very first boats was this model.. I think mine was a 85 model. Bought it around 1994. Had a 150 Mariner on it that would scream. Lots of good memories on mine, including almost sinking. Back then, they had plastic through hull fittings. Mine had dryrotted and separated. Didn't know it. Had the wife, friends and my 2 very small kids on a river. Just about sank it. Lesson learned the hard way. Once fixed, was a pretty good all around boat.
Old 01-15-2019, 02:10 PM
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Console looks brand new! Man you are really putting some work into this. Making me feel lazy!
Old 01-15-2019, 02:26 PM
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Originally Posted by Fatherof4 View Post
Wow, I enjoyed seeing this. One of my very first boats was this model.. I think mine was a 85 model. Bought it around 1994. Had a 150 Mariner on it that would scream. Lots of good memories on mine, including almost sinking. Back then, they had plastic through hull fittings. Mine had dryrotted and separated. Didn't know it. Had the wife, friends and my 2 very small kids on a river. Just about sank it. Lesson learned the hard way. Once fixed, was a pretty good all around boat.
I've almost sank 2 boats multiple times - I know the feeling.
Old 01-15-2019, 02:27 PM
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Originally Posted by BTL View Post
Console looks brand new! Man you are really putting some work into this. Making me feel lazy!
Thank you. Remember - there is a year of work in all of this haha.
Old 01-15-2019, 02:59 PM
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Looking good!
Old 01-15-2019, 05:38 PM
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Nice job, looks like it's coming along very well.
Will you be closing the transom and adding a bracket?
Old 01-16-2019, 06:26 AM
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Now that the console is somewhat finished, I switched focus back to the deck.
Wood is glued / screwed into place. I used a really thick resin mix for glue, replicating how it was built at the factory. All fiberglass supplies were purchased through US Composites.


Now i'm gluing the original fiberglass skin back down. Again, thickened resin mixed with fibers and spread with a trowel like laying tiles.




I left a 3 inch strip to fiberglass the outside border back together.


I used several layers of glass until it was higher than the original deck then started blending / grinding it flush.


Just planning ahead here.


You can see a lot of previous deck repairs someone attempted. That all need to get fixed / cleaned up.


Starting to clean up -needs a few more layers of glass still.


You can see my harbor freight 3x21 belt sander in the background. This thing eats up fiberglass and was perfect for knocking this out. I smoked 2 of these during the project.


Getting better


Ok that'll work. I did some final fairing after this.


Looks like it snowed in the boat, but that's just dust.


Yep it's everywhere. My whole garage looked like this. I wore a respirator for the majority of this project.
Old 01-16-2019, 06:30 AM
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Originally Posted by catch232 View Post
Nice job, looks like it's coming along very well.
Will you be closing the transom and adding a bracket?
Maybe in the future if there ever is a round 2. That was more than I wanted to tackle initially, but that would be what I prefer. I came up with another solution for the poor drain design you'll see shortly.

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