BigTerp's Tracker Sportsman 16' O/B Jet build

BigTerp

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First off this is an awesome site. Tons of awesome ideas and a bunch of people willing to give advice.

Was finally able to find a decent deal on a 16 footer over the weekend so I pulled the trigger and brought her home. I recently moved to a subdivision that has river access with a boat ramp about 300 yards from my front door. I sold my old 12 footer before we moved, so a new (to me) boat was in the near future. Got myself a '95 Tracker Sportsman 1648 with a like new '06 Valu-Line trailer. Couldn't be more excited!! Going to be a long and expensive project, but I hope to have her finished by the spring, which helps give me time to gather funds as the project progresses. Will be used for fishing (mostly catfish with occasional musky and smallmouth chasing) and duck/goose hunting the potomac river. I'm hoping to make this boat last a LONG time, so I plan to try and do things right from the start. My plans include:

-Steelflex for the bottom of the hull and fresh paint everywhere else.
-Small aluminum bow deck, riveted to and braced with aluminum angle from the existing bow deck back to the first rib in front of the middle bench.
-Dry storage and storage for batteries under deck.
-Removal of the middle bench seat for a more open floor.
-Aluminum sheet for flooring. (Foam beneath)
-Aluminum sheet to cover gunwalls similar to what caveman and dixie_boysles did in their builds. https://www.tinboats.net/forum/viewtopic.php?f=21&t=7695&hilit=just+thinking
https://www.tinboats.net/forum/viewtopic.php?f=21&t=12178&start=105
-Hydroturf for the deck/floor/back bench.
-Hydroturf (or possibly something like grizzly grip) for the aluminum sheet up the gunnels.
-Transom replacement. Transom isn't in horrible shape, but I'd rather knock this out now than have to fool with it down the road.
-3 pin mounted seats. 1 captains seat, 1 in middle of open floor and 1 on the deck.
-Radio
-LED lighting mounted to the aluminum sheet on the gunwalls for night fishing.
-Hard wired nav/anchor lights
-Switch panel and 12V socket for spotlight
-Rod holders
-Fish finder/sonar
-25hp tiller and either bow or transom mounted trolling motor.

A few questions.
-What is the best way to reinforce the gunwalls after removing the middle bench? Is the decking/flooring and aluminum sheet up the gunwalls enough? I plan to bring the deck back to the first rib that's right in front of the existing bench, and floor the rest of the way back to the back bench with aluminum sheet attached to the ribs with stainless steel screws. I'll also be attaching the aluminum sheet on the gunwall to the ribs with stainless stell screws.

-When installing a pin mounted seat to an aluminum deck what do you attach it to? I'm thinking you would pattern your aluminum angle bracing so that the seat base is screwed through the aluminum sheet and the aluminum angle? How about attaching a pin mounted seat to an aluminum sheet floor?

-The boats in good shape, but has some typical dents from running a rocky river. Whats the best way to deal with these? Leave them as is, or go to town with a rubber mallet?

I'm sure I'll have many questions along the way, and I already appreciate the help/advice I've gotten so far.

On to the pictures.
 

BigTerp

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The day I brought her home:

IMAG0513.jpg


IMAG0509.jpg


IMAG0508.jpg


IMAG0507.jpg


Was told this issue can be fixed by adjusting the bow roller down since it looks like the boat is sitting a little stern heavy on the trailer. Theres also a stern roller on the trailer, but the boat sits to far forward to touch it. Should I also adjust the bow roller back to get use out of the stern roller?
IMAG0512.jpg


IMAG0510.jpg


What do you guys think about the transom? It seems to be in decent shape, but is obviously the original and is about 17 years old. Seems like it would be fairly easy to replace without having to remove any rivets. I'd rather do this now if it's only going to last a few more years.
IMAG0511.jpg


IMAG0514.jpg


Halfway through a pressure washing. Didn't get any after pictures since it started to rain. But she really cleaned up surprisingly well.
IMAG0515.jpg
 

BigTerp

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I'll keep this thread updated throughout my build. I got so many good ideas from others threads, and maybe someone will get some ideas from mine. It will be slow going, and I'm sure I'll have alot of questions, so thanks in advance!!

First up will be dealing with the cosmetic dents, transom replacement and giving her a good leak test. Hopefully get some of that accomplished over the coming weekend.
 

BigTerp

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A few pics to show how well she cleaned up. Just a thorough pressure washing did wonders!!

IMAG0517.jpg

IMAG0518.jpg

IMAG0519.jpg

IMAG0520.jpg


Here is a pic of the stern trailer roller I was mentioning thats not doing a thing. I need to adjust the bow roller down and back so I can get the stern of the boat over this roller. The more I looked over things I realized the bottom and side bunks are somewhat out of whack and need adjusting so the boat is sitting centered on the trailer and not resting on the ribs. You can see how off center she sits on trailer, and to get her centered the bottom bunks would be resting on the ribs, which I don't think is the best way to go. Where should the bottom bunks be resting? More towards the center or outer part of the boat?
IMAG0516.jpg


Still not sure what I should do with the few dents in the hull. Hammer 'em out, or leave them alone? Any suggestions? I'll try and get some pictures of the dents I'm reffering to.
 

donmac

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Just in case you haven't stumbled upon this similar build: https://www.tinboats.net/forum/viewtopic.php?f=21&t=11485
 

Zum

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Cleaned up real nice,good size,looks ready to go as is.
If those little pieces added to your boat(bow and stern) are steel...I'd get them off first.
I find a bow mount trolling motor easier to fish with but depends on your style fishing.
Looks like you already have a little bow deck,are you thinking raising it?
Are you planing to do all these mods right away,seems it might add up in a hurry.
Might off been cheaper to buy a loaded boat to start with but I guess you will get what you want this way.
Have fun.
 

novaman

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Nice cleanup job =D> . I think You've 2 pcs. to remove though, the TM mount on the bow, and the FF transducer mount on the rear. The rear is showing corrosion now, so get it off asap, then clean good ,down to bare metal and put some self etching primer on to seal up the surface for now. As far as the dents go, IF THEY'RE NOT LEAKING, I'd leave them alone since they're out of sight, rather than maybe make a crack from pushing the aluminum back past center point of where it's already been strecthed. Look at them as river character, and move on to the part You really want to change. You've got a great start, carryon with it!! =D> MHO
 

BigTerp

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donmac said:
Just in case you haven't stumbled upon this similar build: https://www.tinboats.net/forum/viewtopic.php?f=21&t=11485
Thanks. A little disappointing when I got to page 4 and saw the op never finished posting his build. Some good ideas on how he did his framing though. Kind of how I'm envisioning mine.
 

BigTerp

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Zum said:
Cleaned up real nice,good size,looks ready to go as is.
If those little pieces added to your boat(bow and stern) are steel...I'd get them off first.
I find a bow mount trolling motor easier to fish with but depends on your style fishing.
Looks like you already have a little bow deck,are you thinking raising it?
Are you planing to do all these mods right away,seems it might add up in a hurry.
Might off been cheaper to buy a loaded boat to start with but I guess you will get what you want this way.
Have fun.
Yes she did clean up surprisingly well. Actually a good thing the previous owner did very little to the boat. She obviously sat outside uncovered for quite a few years, but without any wooden decks, carpet, etc. nothing really to rot or rust. I removed the steel bracket on the stern yesterday. Just a bit of corrosion from the screws, but alot better shape then what I was expecting. What looks like corrosion around the transducer on the stern is actually some sort of crap goop the previous owner used to seal it up. The transducer is the typical plastic. There is 2 rusty screws holding the transducer to the stern I need to remove and seal up with some solid rivets. I'm going to do a leak test first though. I know I have big plans, but I'm hoping to have this done by march/april. I do pitching lessons in the fall/winter for a local baseball complex they earns be some extra money. That will provide most of the funding for this project. No way I could afford to tackle this all at once. Plus i'd still like to be married when I'm finished my build!!! I plan to extend the bow deck back to in front of the existing middle bench at the same height. I'm 6'8" and plan to duck hunt out of this boat as well so I don't want a huge high deck.
 

BigTerp

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novaman said:
Nice cleanup job =D> . I think You've 2 pcs. to remove though, the TM mount on the bow, and the FF transducer mount on the rear. The rear is showing corrosion now, so get it off asap, then clean good ,down to bare metal and put some self etching primer on to seal up the surface for now. As far as the dents go, IF THEY'RE NOT LEAKING, I'd leave them alone since they're out of sight, rather than maybe make a crack from pushing the aluminum back past center point of where it's already been strecthed. Look at them as river character, and move on to the part You really want to change. You've got a great start, carryon with it!! =D> MHO

I mentioned in my last post about the transducer and trolling motor mount. What looks like corrosion around the transducer is some sort of sealant the previous owner had used to seal up around the transducer. I'm still anxious to see what I'm going to be dealing with under the transducer once I remove it. Hopefullly it don't be to bad!!! Thanks for the advice on the dents. I really doubt they leak, but I'll find out this weekend when I do a leak test. I was really stumped on what to do. Never thought about causing a crack while trying to beat them out. Thanks!!! Should I sand down the corroded area around the screw holes from the TM mount and throw on some primer like you suggested for the transducer? Only place I've found any corrosion/rust so far. Hopefullly it stays that way.
 

panFried

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Cleans up nice! Are you still planning a transom replacement? I am looking forward to see how you plan to tackle it. For the posts Ive seen on this forum, theres everything from installing transom with rivets, to pop-rivets, to nuts-n-bolts with marine sealant on them. Just curious which approach you will be taking.
 

BigTerp

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panFried said:
Cleans up nice! Are you still planning a transom replacement? I am looking forward to see how you plan to tackle it. For the posts Ive seen on this forum, theres everything from installing transom with rivets, to pop-rivets, to nuts-n-bolts with marine sealant on them. Just curious which approach you will be taking.

Yeah, I think I'm going to go ahead and tackle the transom. Like I said, it doesn't seem to be in that bad of shape, but the nuts on the inside of the hull are pushing through the transom wood. So I"m thinking it's definitely starting to soften a bit. I'm not sure how I'll tackle it, but I'm thinking that solid rivets would be the best. I'm going to have to remove a few solid rivets below the waterline during my mod, so if I'm going to be replacing them with solid rivets as well as the holes from the previous transducer I might as well use them on the transom also. I plan to use plywood coated with epoxy resin for the transom as well.
 

BigTerp

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While trying to wrap my head around the design of my deck and floor I've come up with a few questions. I'll be using .125" aluminum sheet for the deck/floor and .063" sheet for the gunwalls. Planning on angle for all my bracing below deck and under the floor, but the more I check out other builds I'm thinking I'll need some square tubing as well. Obviously tube is stronger than angle, but where exaclty should I be using the tube within my bracing? Support from the floor up? Under seat bases? Around hatches? Or just angle and no square?
-What size angle should I be using? I can get my hands on 1 1/2" x 1 1/2" x 3/16" and 1" x 1" x 1/4". I'll be using 6063.
-What size square should I be using?
-Should I plan my bracing around my accessories (radio, speakers, LED lights, switch panel) so I can secure them through the aluminum sheet and into my bracing? Or can I just screw that stuff directly into the aluminum sheet?

Also tyring to figure out how to mount my seat bases. I plan to install three of these:
https://www.basspro.com/LockNPin-Seat-Base-Plate/product/74640/62545

One I'll screw directly to a 1/2" piece of plywood I plan to install on top of the rear bench. Will be the only wood on my build but seems to be the most secure way to install a seat base to the bench, unless someone has a better suggestion.

I'm stumped on figuring out how to install the remaining 2 seat bases though. One will be going on the deck and the other on the open floor. Can I screw them directly through the aluminum sheet and into my bracing, either angle or square, and it be secure enough for a 6'8" 255lb guy? Also concerned about under floor clearance for a pin type seat post. I want to keep my floor as low as possible, but also like the idea of a removeable seat post to keep the floor open as needed. Any idea how far below deck these seat bases and corresponding posts would go?

Any and all suggestions, tips and criticisms welcome!!!!!!
 

BigTerp

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Here is s agood pic of what the metal (galvinized steel??) trolling motor bracket that the previous owner had installed on the bow did to the aluminum. Going to pick up some self etching primer this evening and take a wire brush to debur the old screw holes. Then I'll sand it down to bare meteal and throw on some of the primer.
IMAG0524.jpg


Here is whats left of the transducer bracket. I'm going to do a thorough leak test before I remove this mess. I'm anxious to see what I'm going to find underneath :shock:
IMAG0525.jpg


Plans for the weekend:
-Thorough leak test
-Remove old transducer bracket and clean up all the sealent that was used around it
-Sand and prime any spots that show corrosion
-Remove boat from trailer and adjust bunks and rollers to get her sitting level and even
-Beer drinking :beer:
 

BigTerp

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Got a little bit of work done yesterday. Once it finally stopped raining I was able to clean up the corroded areas around the old TM bracket and stern transducer. Did a good leak test and only found 1 leak!! She's leaking from the drain plug. The aluminum opening was a bit smashed when I got the boat. I simply rounded it back out with a screwdriver so the plug would fit. Obviously the plug doesn't fit as well as it should, although it seems like I have to really smash it in to get it in the hole. Maybe the plug is bad?? Whats the best remedy for this?? Also pulled her off the trailer, gave the trailer a good pressure washing and got all the bunks and rollers adjusted. She sits alot better on the trailer now. Some pics....

Here is where the old transducer was mounted. There wasn't any corrosion, just some sort of sealant that I removed with a razor blade. I went ahead and sanded it down regardless and apllied a few coats of self-etching primer. Whats the best way to go about sealing these holes back up? I plan to use solid rivets, so I guess I'll have to drill these 4 holes to size??
IMAG0539.jpg


The bow being prepped for primer. Also need to deal with these holes at some point. Since there above the water line I'm assumming I can use something like jb weld to seal them up, sand them down and paint. I want to close them up mearly for cosmetic reasons.
IMAG0529.jpg


After 3 coats of primer. Looks much better than the mess that was under the old TM bracket.
IMAG0532.jpg


There are a few, I guess rust, spots inside the hull. Should I sand these down as well and apply some primer? I don't plan to paint anything that will be hidden under the deck or floor, but if this is rust/corrosion I should sand it down and at least get some primer over it, right?
IMAG0530.jpg

IMAG0538.jpg


Something just doesn't seem right about filling a boat up with water. I was extremely pleased to not find a single leaky rivet, just a small leak at the drain plug.
IMAG0533.jpg


I may have went a bit overboard with the amount of water I put in her, but I wanted to get as much as I could so I could test some of the rivets that were on the side of the hull. Tires were screaming for help during the leak test :shock:
IMAG0534.jpg


Empty trailer. Was pretty easy to adjust the bunks and rollers. She fits a bit more snug and square on the trailer now. Should make for a safer tow. The trailer is in excellent shape. Was told by the previous owner it was bought, towed home and then sat until I bought it. You can tell the tires are pretty much brand new.
IMAG0535.jpg
 

BigTerp

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Once the battery for my drill gets charged I'm going to tackle removing the transom. Hopefully I can do it without having to remove any rivets. If I do have to remove any rivets do I center drill them from the head side or the shank side? What size drill bit? I can get my hands on a dremmel if grinding off the heads is a better way to remove them.
 

BigTerp

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Got all nuts as bolts removed from the transom, definitely going to have to remove about 20 solid rivets or so. Not really excited about doing this. I'm sure it won't be to hard, but she doesn't leak now and I hate the idea of putting holes in the hull!! I guess I'll become an expert at installing solid rivets before to long. The transom wood is in worse shape than I thought. Good thing it is being replaced.
 

BigTerp

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Got a few questions for you guys:

Here is the nut and bolt that was holding the transom in place. I'm thinking that solid rivets would be stronger for replacement, but I'm not sure you can get rivets this long. Should I stick with the facotry size nuts and bolts, or would solid rivets be a better choice?
IMAG0540.jpg


Noticed some rusty rivets near the bow. It looks like a few inches of water sat in this boat for quite some time. Also some rust?? corrosion?? around the bottom of the bench seats. What should I do about the rivets? The bench seats?
IMAG0541.jpg

IMAG0542.jpg
 

DaveInGA

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Terp,

Some answers and comments in red in the quote below.

BigTerp said:
My plans include:

-Steelflex for the bottom of the hull and fresh paint everywhere else.
I wouldn't spend money on steelflex unless a leak test shows a leak that you can't repair. From your post, you have a budget, so you'll be spending plenty with things you need. Steelflex is good stuff, but there are other things (like gluv-it and coat-it) that can seal a concern area and then you can use regular paint, such as Rustoleum Industrial paint at $28.00 a gallon from Home Depot. Much more affordable, when you are going to be buying boat stuff.

Try to repair leaks instead of "masking" the problem with sealants. Remember, these boats ran a long time without a leak after they were manufactured. A repair of such a leak is better than a coating/sealant.


-Small aluminum bow deck, riveted to and braced with aluminum angle from the existing bow deck back to the first rib in front of the middle bench.
Good, but if you're tight on funds, consider using aluminum for your framing and using Spar Urethane coated plywood for your decking material. Again, it's a money saving thing. You leave the bottom side bare (to breathe) and the top side coated with something like Grizzly Grip. Balance your choice of material against gain of value in boat and how long you might keep the boat.

-Dry storage and storage for batteries under deck.
Good

-Removal of the middle bench seat for a more open floor.
Just be sure to consider if removing a bench seat affects the boat's basic construction. If it does, you need to replace the bench with something else to re-create that structure.

-Aluminum sheet for flooring. (Foam beneath)
Make sure the foam is closed cell. Consider blue or pink (depending on company) insulation sheeting from Lowe's or Home Depot. It is closed cell and is easy to fit in between ribs.

-Aluminum sheet to cover gunwalls similar to what caveman and dixie_boysles did in their builds.
https://www.tinboats.net/forum/viewtopic.php?f=21&t=7695&hilit=just+thinking
https://www.tinboats.net/forum/viewtopic.php?f=21&t=12178&start=105
Should look good, but if I were you, I would frame and think about what I can get underneath those gunwalls.

-Hydroturf for the deck/floor/back bench.
-Hydroturf (or possibly something like grizzly grip) for the aluminum sheet up the gunnels.
Hydroturf is nice, but it is expensive. It is also basically a rubber type mat. Long term, it may wear out. I considered this and will go with Grizzly Grip over the other considered items (carpet, marine vinyl and hydroturf)

-Transom replacement. Transom isn't in horrible shape, but I'd rather knock this out now than have to fool with it down the road.
Good idea. Unless you can weld, I suggest using exterior plywood and seal it with a good long term sealant. I'd look at coat-it, gluv-it, epoxy resin and Spar Urethane as sealants.

-3 pin mounted seats. 1 captains seat, 1 in middle of open floor and 1 on the deck.
Before you decide on this and spend money, fish the boat and make sure before you locate exactly where you place them.

-Radio
If you only need a radio (like me), keep an eye on bugpac's build. He's about to put a radio that'll fit into a gauge hole onto his boat. Compact and simple. No cd, etc to croak.

-LED lighting mounted to the aluminum sheet on the gunwalls for night fishing.
Keep an eye on my build before you buy the LED lighting. I modified trailer lights for my boat and used red LED lights. Much cheaper and just as water proof as marine lights. Still not inexpensive though.

-Hard wired nav/anchor lights
Consider LED lights for these as well. Use a socket pole in back to make sure you get the anchor light a good ways up. Lots of ways for a drunk boater to nail you, so you need all the help you can get.

-Switch panel and 12V socket for spotlight
Good idea, check the board, there's many types. Some are much better than others and they all run in a similar price range.

-Rod holders
Good idea, fish the boat first unless you just KNOW you want to put one "there."

-Fish finder/sonar
Good, but depends on where you fish. Some areas are too shallow to need one. Others you must have one.

-25hp tiller and either bow or transom mounted trolling motor.
I suggest you get the largest rated HP motor your boat says it can handle. A trolling motor pulls better than it pushes and is easier to control that way, so I suggest a bow mounted troller. You'll be glad you did.

A few questions.
-What is the best way to reinforce the gunwalls after removing the middle bench?
Put a deck/floor down, then run "straps/framing" from the top of the gunwale to the edge/side of the deck/floor. The deck will stabilize the bottom of the boat and the straps will pull in and stabilize your gunwales/sides, as well as providing you a place to mount gunwale covers and possibly other "stuff."


Is the decking/flooring and aluminum sheet up the gunwalls enough?
Framing will take care of a lot of stabilization issues, if you think about how you're doing it before you put it in. Thoughtful planning prevents poor performance later.

I plan to bring the deck back to the first rib that's right in front of the existing bench, and floor the rest of the way back to the back bench with aluminum sheet attached to the ribs with stainless steel screws. I'll also be attaching the aluminum sheet on the gunwall to the ribs with stainless stell screws.
Stainless steel screws are expensive. Rivets are cheaper and do a better job. Think strongly about rivets. IN particular closed/blind end rivets. You can order counter sunk rivets for the deck. Once you've coated the deck, you won't be able to see them and they're easy to remove with an appropriately sized drill bit to remove what you've installed. Get a heavy duty riveter from Harbor Freight for not a lot of money. I have one and I've posted a link to it in another thread. Works real well.

-When installing a pin mounted seat to an aluminum deck what do you attach it to? I'm thinking you would pattern your aluminum angle bracing so that the seat base is screwed through the aluminum sheet and the aluminum angle? How about attaching a pin mounted seat to an aluminum sheet floor?
Think stainless steel bolts instead of screws. Make sure to use self locking ss nuts. Go through framing and flooring. If necessary, use a hunk of aluminum on the underneath side of the framing in that area to give extra strength. It'll be worth it.

-The boats in good shape, but has some typical dents from running a rocky river. Whats the best way to deal with these? Leave them as is, or go to town with a rubber mallet?
Ignore the dents like that. Consider those "character," unless you're an expert body man. If not, you're likely to stretch the metal and cause it to tear, thereby getting a leak.

I'm sure I'll have many questions along the way, and I already appreciate the help/advice I've gotten so far.
Don't forget to read lots of other folk's builds. Many questions answered there. by what others have done.
 

DaveInGA

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BigTerp said:
Got a few questions for you guys:

Here is the nut and bolt that was holding the transom in place. I'm thinking that solid rivets would be stronger for replacement, but I'm not sure you can get rivets this long. Should I stick with the facotry size nuts and bolts, or would solid rivets be a better choice?
For the transom, use stainless steel bolts the same size as the ones you removed. Use a good sealer like 4200 or 5200 or other good sealers when you install them.

Noticed some rusty rivets near the bow. It looks like a few inches of water sat in this boat for quite some time. Also some rust?? corrosion?? around the bottom of the bench seats. What should I do about the rivets? The bench seats?
Rivets are generally aluminum and don't rust. Clean everything up using a pressure washer or such if you can, get the rust off, then fill boat with water while it's up on blocks and see where it's leaking, if anywhere. Mark with crayon or such, then fix as necessary.
 

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