Complete rebuild of Starcraft SF14L

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New member
Dec 22, 2014
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Let me start with a big THANK YOU to this community, the true inspiration for me in this project, not to mention the countless ideeas and amazing details available for so many issues.
My "metal" story started few years ago with a starcraft SF14 (I like it so much that I don`t see myself ever selling it. Light weight and paired with a yam 2 stroke autolube 25 hp...great weapon for shallows). I am a keen fisherman, mostly for zander (close relative to the american walley) on jigs. Some pike and perch come into play from time to time.
Than beeing said, I convinced myself that a bigger/wider boat is a must. I live in eastern Europe, here tinnies are not too popular but starting to grow big time on serious fishermen. Happily, I came across a used starcraft SF16L (when I got to the boat, it turned out to be the SF14L). Had to drive almost 2200 miles to bring it home was only miles :). The boat was in almost decent condition, some salt water corrosion, but nothing huge. Got the boat home in oct 2016 and it goes.

Took out the mid and rear benches, filled with water to test for leaks.Fond some loose rivets

Helped by a friend, replaced the bad rivets (air gun+blind rivets)

The tough part starts here, with mockups for various layouts.

Yes, it did cross my mind :)))

More mockup, had to decide the size and height of the rear platform+the hatch size so 2 portable tanks could be tucked under the deck. It really payed to do this, the finished "product" met my expectations.

Since the boat is not that wide, centerline seating for fishing was the only option I ever have considered.

Happy happy, finally, the OB I wanted has arrived.A 3 cyl, small block 30 hp autolube, mint condition (or almost) is mine!!!

Got the alumium profile (no chance to buy it here from a scrap yard ) and started on the rear deck. Had to bend the angle in a vise so it was flush with the sides.Wherever I could, I used blind rivets. The rest is all standard pop-rivets.

For cutting and shaping I used an angle grinder. Most of the pieces were one-off, so a template was out of the question.

These babies took enough time (and skin, when I was not paying attention), but turned out fine

Finished with the rear deck, now off to the beams for the center floor.

these were tough due to the small space

more odd looking parts :). Let there be ...aluminium shavings all over inside the garden shed that was my workplace for this project.

Wanted to keep the floor (and center of mass) as low as possible, for better stationary stablity. Looks fine to me and rewarding. By this phase of the build I felt like I could do almost anything out of aluminium angle/tubing, using just the angle grinder and vise.

Moving towards the bow, againg some angle, some cuts, some vise work . Some back and forth trips to the shed also, to get the piece flush with the sides :)

Led-strip testing, not a minute too soon since it was almost Christmas time

With 2 of the benches out, I had to put back in some of the lost flotation. Left a centerline channel along the keel so the watter could go to the stern easy.

Cut-and-fit for each piece, but all in the past now.

Time so switch from metal to wood. I used an outdoor grade, non slip plywood. I went with the thinnest one I could get by with and have ZERO flex, that is 9 mm (1/3 inch) for the horizontal surfaces and 6.5 mm for the vertical ones. The main goal of this build was to keep the added weight to the absolute minimum, even if I had to go for more expensive materials. The total weight of the wood put in the boat should be somewhere at 80 lb. After the mods, boat is rock solid, regardless of how hard I`m raming the waves.

For wood cutting I used a vertical saw and the thinnest blade I could find. Cuts turned out fine when my hand was steady. The biggest hassle was to cut out the hatches in the front deck, since I had no help, no propper tools , just a small table to work on and skills :).

Mother nature decided I had to do a little shoveling :)). No biggie, since 90% of the work on the boat I did outside (no option) between november and january, during the coldest ever recorded winnter. Since I work a fulltime day job and did not want to cut on the time I had for my son (now 10yo) and wife in the evenings, most of this I did apter 9:30 PM, as often as I could.

This piece was the nastiest to cut to size. I did not want to use a template, so I took measurements of width every 3 inches. To add more fun, I made the cut to an angle, so the fit on the sides is as "airtight" as possible. Happy when I got it done, because a failure would mean ...another sheet pf plywood.

Adding a floor drain seemed a good ideea. I used a heatgun to melt the green styrofoam, easy work.

The package from Cabelas finally has arrived! Wellcome seats, seat posts and seat bases. After I have evaluated all options, I decided to go for swiv`l eze and tempress high seats

more mockup on layout, measuring 10 times before the cut:)

my preciouss!!! can`t wait to go fishing. Due tu unusual cold winter, all rivers were solid frozen, so I was seriously needed a hookset asap. As in no sooner than 2 months :(

To replace the side support provided by yhe now missing middle bench, I added some more metal. Flotation also, to use every available space.

Started on the electrics (auto/manual bilge pump with separate control and a pannel with dedicated swithces for fishfinder/interior lights/nav lights/headlight/cigarette lighters (for portable bait bucket aerator)/dual usb (for phone&tablet charging).

Bow metalwork done, rear deck wood done!

Battery "tray" done, again some odd looking metal pieces.

Since the front bow ply piece was too heavy and there was a big chance I could not fit in, wife helped to draw out the front hatch opening with a knife :))).

Again, I have to deal with the big *****! Had to invent someting to get the cuts as staight as possible (as in less then 1 mm error margin).

Finally, the horisontal wood finished.

Used bio-component epoxy for all the edges to protect the plywood from elements. At this point, it occured to me that I could just use the decking as is and just add vynil latter, if I wouldn`t like it without.

Oh, electrical time....test each connection before final assembly.

Another milestone, the custom trailer is done.


Headlight gives fenomenal light for its size. For all lights I went with LED, to be sure that continous pounding from waves and water exposure would go unnoticed.

Bilge pump set, hose routed to side to avoid drilling such a large hole in the transom.

Never enough flotation :)

Final assembly for seat bases. For the centerline ones it seemed logic to go for the screw in, SS plate with bronze bushing. For the side ones the plastic bushing should be fine. Still, I got 4 replacement bushings, just in case. I am not too skinny (206 lbs this morning) , but so far every pase, seat and piedestal seems fine, withouth any wear.

wear gloves! Way better on the long run :))))

The vacum cleaner, the only permanent help I had for this build :)))

All done, ready to go! The sticker says 20 'cause here you have to register any boat over 20 hp. I don`t like idiotic papers and burocracy so...20 hp it is. No educated r"rangers" here who can tell a 20 from a 30 hp.

I went with the deepest blue I could find, not sure if the fish are disturbed by abnormal lights during the night-time. I put an inline switch to be able to have only the back corner lights, if I want to.

last, but not least, a selfie from the last fishing trip

I hope the above will be usefull to somebody, someday.

Tight lines!

wow - for being the newbee, I think you have set the Tin Boats record for a few things.
#1 - we have not had anyone from "Across the Pond" in a long time - a very warm welcome !!
#2 - the longest post ever for a new member
#3 - the most INFORMATIVE tutorial ever with great photos and descriptions. awesome job.
#4 - the most photos for a tutorial in a project.

Thank You for sharing your project with us

Johnny, happy to be here.
I`ve been lurking this forum for a long time, but I am not the type to speak...just to say nothing and add posts. As I said, I trully appreciate this community, so I saw fit to make this topic in my own time, after I got`er done :D. I made my homework before the start, so I wouldn`t have to ask for help or run into snags mid-build.
Thus the fine (or at least, fine enough for someone to gain value from it) details of my build. I did select these pics from the aprox 250 I took. To my defence, most of this was done at aprox 0 to 10 degrees (Faranheit) , so my fingers were almost useless :))
I do not dare to call my post a "tutorial", since I am not a profesional at this (please read..."the labor cost was no more than 2 sixpacks"). However, I will happily reply, if I can, any future questions.

thanks for the warm wellcome,

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