1954 12' Lifetime Aluminum Boat build

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jpfieber
Posts: 46
11

1954 12' Lifetime Aluminum Boat build

Post by jpfieber »

After looking through literally every build on the Link for Boat Modifications, I'm ready to start my build. Earlier this summer, after browsing the boat section of the local Craigslist, I spotted a boat with a unique look that was in my price range and should meet my needs. Checked it out and liked what I saw, so I bought it; boat, trailer and motor.

Based on a badge on the bow of the boat, and the title, it is a 12' 1954 "The Lifetime Aluminum Boat", built by Neuenfeldt & Dickmann Co, Inc in Grafton, WI (a stones throw from me). It came with a 1982 Canadian built Mercury 7.5. The boat was painted camo for duck hunting, not exactly my thing, but easily changeable.

I got the boat for fishing on the nearby river, and so my gf and I can go for rides together. I also find it enjoyable to do renovation projects like this. I intend to change the paint, add some seats, storage, and a floor, and plenty of other toys. My goal is to keep it light, not to expensive, minimal modification to the original aluminum, and all additions easily removable.

Here are some pictures, I'll follow up with a couple more posts with pics to detail my progress so far. Happy to answer any questions anyone may have!
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Last edited by jpfieber on 19 Oct 2015, 16:47, edited 2 times in total.
1954 12' The Lifetime Aluminum Boat
1954 Mercury Mark 20
1982 Mercury 7.5

jpfieber
Posts: 46
11

1954 12' Lifetime Aluminum Boat build - The Trailer

Post by jpfieber »

One of the first things I did was modify the trailer. The boat was on rollers, and was hanging about a foot over the back of the trailer. I first removed the rollers and replaced with bunks keeping the boat as low to the trailer frame as possible. I moved the holder for the winch forward to allow the transom to be supported by the bunks. I then switched the axel from under the springs to over the springs, lowering the entire trailer by ~6". Don't really have pics of this part, sorry!
1954 12' The Lifetime Aluminum Boat
1954 Mercury Mark 20
1982 Mercury 7.5

jpfieber
Posts: 46
11

1954 12' Lifetime Aluminum Boat build - Antique Motor

Post by jpfieber »

While browsing Craigslist, I saw someone selling a '50s mercury motor. Thought it would be a nice match for my old boat. Took a look at it, and found that it is a 1954, perfect match for my '54 boat. It's a Mercury Mark 20. Ran great in a tub and I love the look, so I bought it. I've come to understand that a motor this old isn't a daily runner, so I'll probably use it just for touring around with the gf, and use my 7.5hp for fishing, etc.
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1954 12' The Lifetime Aluminum Boat
1954 Mercury Mark 20
1982 Mercury 7.5

jpfieber
Posts: 46
11

1954 12' Lifetime Aluminum Boat build - Time to Strip

Post by jpfieber »

I didn't like the camo paint job, I'm thinking maybe aluminum and green, similar to the Mark 20 motor I got. Starting on the bow, I used xxx stripper and most of the paint came off in the first application, but some took two or three applications.
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1954 12' The Lifetime Aluminum Boat
1954 Mercury Mark 20
1982 Mercury 7.5

jpfieber
Posts: 46
11

1954 12' Lifetime Aluminum Boat build - Down Under

Post by jpfieber »

One advantage of a small boat is the ease of moving it around, especially when you don't have help. I removed everything from the hull of the boat (bow, bench seats, transom) and found it is very light. Winter is coming to Wisconsin (below freezing last night), and I want to park my car in the garage, so the boat can't stay there. Instead, I realized I could move the boat to the basement, and have all winter to work on it. Since one of my goals is to have everything removable, getting it back out won't be a problem (new transom should be the only permanently added piece). I gave it a try, and it was actually easy to slide the boat down my stairs into the basement. I'll be able to build on it all winter now, and have it ready for spring!
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1954 12' The Lifetime Aluminum Boat
1954 Mercury Mark 20
1982 Mercury 7.5

User avatar
Steve A W
Posts: 269
5
Location: Northwest Indiana

1954 12' Lifetime Aluminum Boat build

Post by Steve A W »

That's a neat looking boat. Can't wait for the finished project.
Working in the basement, be very careful of stripping and painting fumes.
Good luck with her.

Steve A W

Professionals build the Titanic.
Amateurs built the Ark!

jpfieber
Posts: 46
11

1954 12' Lifetime Aluminum Boat build

Post by jpfieber »

Steve A W wrote:Working in the basement, be very careful of stripping and painting fumes.
Thanks Steve. Good point, I'm using a safe stripper, but when I get into painting I may need to run some fans and ducts out the windows.
1954 12' The Lifetime Aluminum Boat
1954 Mercury Mark 20
1982 Mercury 7.5

User avatar
Kismet
Posts: 1103
7
Location: rural SW Wisconsin

1954 12' Lifetime Aluminum Boat build

Post by Kismet »

I think that is neat as can be! What a wonderful old boat!

Nicely acquired, although it is cheating to be able to snake it down into your basement. :mrgreen:

Be safe, have fun, and tell us what you can about the history of the boat's design and use.


Really NEAT.

=D> =D>
Kis
Enjoy every sandwich

1955 Alumacraft Model A
http://www.tinboats.net/forum/viewtopic ... 08&start=0
1959 Alumacraft Model F
http://www.tinboats.net/forum/viewtopic.php?f=3&t=25386
1980 Alumacraft Model F7, 1955-56? Johnson 10hp
http://forum.tinboats.net/viewtopic.php?f=4&t=35326
1956 Alumacraft Model RB
http://www.tinboats.net/forum/viewtopic.php?f=3&t=39249

jpfieber
Posts: 46
11

1954 12' Lifetime Aluminum Boat build

Post by jpfieber »

Kismet wrote:Be safe, have fun, and tell us what you can about the history of the boat's design and use.
Thanks! As far as historical info, I haven't been able to find anything about the company that made it, or any other boats from the company. If anyone on here has any info, please share! As to what I'll be doing with it, yup, I'll include lots of details and photos, that should be more in depth than those I've posted so far (those were 'catching up to current time'). After reading through every build on the site, I know the most interesting were those that got into details and included photos. I hope to have some followers so when I have questions I might be able to get some assistance!
1954 12' The Lifetime Aluminum Boat
1954 Mercury Mark 20
1982 Mercury 7.5

User avatar
OutrageGIS
Posts: 89
5
Location: Lexington, KY

1954 12' Lifetime Aluminum Boat build

Post by OutrageGIS »

Cool hull! Really like the lines pressed into the sides and the cool fore deck. Should be real sweet with some paint and that merc 20!
1958 Richline Big 16 Center Console resto mod:http://www.tinboats.net/forum/viewtopic ... 21&t=33752

jpfieber
Posts: 46
11

1954 12' Lifetime Aluminum Boat build

Post by jpfieber »

OutrageGIS wrote:Cool hull! Really like the lines pressed into the sides and the cool fore deck.
Thanks, that's what I liked about it as well. Looking at your boat, I wish I had space to do the back like yours, but with only 12' to work with, I'll have to keep it simple. I do like on yours how the bow flows around the sides to form a lip that continues to the back, I'm considering if I might want to add something like that. When I'm done I'd like to have the feeling that the top was a big sheet, and the insides were carved out of it.
OutrageGIS wrote:Should be real sweet with some paint and that merc 20!
Yea, the Mark 20 is 16hp, which I believe is a lot for a 12', and add to that an aggressive prop (I understand when these were released, they destroyed every other racing motor at the time), I'm gonna need to be careful with it!
1954 12' The Lifetime Aluminum Boat
1954 Mercury Mark 20
1982 Mercury 7.5

VinTin
Posts: 66
5
Location: Atanta GA area

1954 12' Lifetime Aluminum Boat build

Post by VinTin »

That boat was made by Reynolds and is a collectible. Be careful about doing things to it that can't be undone or would cause permanent damage.

https://www.fiberglassics.com/library/Reynolds_Aluminum
Reynolds boat.jpg

jpfieber
Posts: 46
11

1954 12' Lifetime Aluminum Boat build

Post by jpfieber »

VinTin wrote:That boat was made by Reynolds and is a collectible.
Certainly looks a lot like mine, but the badge on mine says "Neuenfeldt & Dickmann Co, Inc", in Grafton WI. Perhaps there's some link between the companies. In any case, thanks, gives me some avenue to explore!

Oh, and I noticed the ad says no hull rivets, but on mine, the stringers on the bottom are riveted to the outside of the hull.
1954 12' The Lifetime Aluminum Boat
1954 Mercury Mark 20
1982 Mercury 7.5

jpfieber
Posts: 46
11

1954 12' Lifetime Aluminum Boat build - Alumiweld

Post by jpfieber »

So I've got a few holes in the boat that I'd like to seal up. I've read about the many ways to do this, and decided to try Low Temperature Aluminum Welding Rods. I picked some up at Harbor Freight (8 for $15).

I cleaned up the holes with sandpaper, files, drills and grinders as appropriate, then hit them good with a stainless steel brush. Fired up a simple propane torch, like you'd use for soldering a pipe, and started heating the aluminum. Once the aluminum hits 730 degrees F, its pretty much like soldering, just make sure you're not heating the rod, the heat needs to be on the base metal.

I was impressed, turned out pretty good. For a big hole, I used a piece of aluminum for backing, and one I even had to slide a piece in on the front as well on a large vertical hole to hold the hot metal until it cools (a second or two). I used a Dremel with a metal cutting disc to grind it smooth. The fill is definitely harder than aluminum, so you have to be careful when grinding not to take off to much of the surrounding softer metal. I went back on a few of the holes after they were smoothed out and added some JB Weld as a filler just to level out some dips (I'm going to be painting all those areas anyway).

One thing I noticed when doing the transom is that the heat noticeably distorts the metal (metal expands when heated). Thankfully, it pretty much went back to normal once it cooled down (was already a little distorted, so hard to tell the difference. If you haven't tried using these (it was my first time), it's pretty easy and very useful. I have a few ideas of other places I'm going to try using them, so you'll probably see me talk about them again in future posts.
Hole created by eye bolt in the bow of the boat
Hole created by eye bolt in the bow of the boat
Cleaned up with a file
Cleaned up with a file
Starting to fill with the backer in place
Starting to fill with the backer in place
Put a piece in the front to help hold the metal in
Put a piece in the front to help hold the metal in
Thought because I didn't clean the front piece it would come off easy, but I had to do a little pulling and bending to remove it
Thought because I didn't clean the front piece it would come off easy, but I had to do a little pulling and bending to remove it
After removing the front piece
After removing the front piece
After filing it down
After filing it down
Matching hole in the bow cover fixed
Matching hole in the bow cover fixed
A bunch of small holes in the transom that aren't needed are now plugged
A bunch of small holes in the transom that aren't needed are now plugged
Now you see them, now you don't
Now you see them, now you don't
1954 12' The Lifetime Aluminum Boat
1954 Mercury Mark 20
1982 Mercury 7.5


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