Podnocker — Redesign

(This is the last of three posts about my boat rebuilding project)

Having torn apart the boat (described in my Podnocker — Deconstruction post) and rebuilding the structure (described in the Podnocker — Reconstruction post) it was now time to start repainting and rebuilding the interior.  I only started this in New Brunswick: the majority was spent over several weeks in the fall of 2014 back home in Kingston, ON.


To start with, here was the original boat design and my mockup of how I wanted it to look:

The first step was to get rid of the old stickers: in the top photo above, the “THUNDERCRAFT” logo and the bottom three strips between the brown and beige were all stickers.  Being 30 years old, the stickers had degraded significantly as well: it took a lot of time with a hot air gun to get them softened up enough to come off cleanly.  Then I had to sand down the paint all over the boat (both top and bottom) to give the new paint something to stick to.  This whole process took a couple of days with a hot dust mask and ear protectors and a noisy sander, much of it spent lying on the ground under the boat trailer, but eventually finished, and I could start painting.  Here was the first coat:

(The green part is masking tape).  Here’s the top:

Sadly I had vastly underestimated the amount of white paint I needed, and without a local supplier of the special marine paint I was using, I had to leave it like that until I got back to Kingston.  I did manage to at least get a couple layers of the side colours, however, which came out looking pretty great:

The black strip at the top was a layer of foam meant to be sandwiched between the bottom and top of the boat.  (In the end, though, the fit was too tight and this had to come off.)  Just after this photo was taken, we reattached the top, with a large number of rivets: not as many as had been there originally, but still a lot.

At this point it had been nearly a month of work (from August 10th to September 7th), and I had to rush to get things back together and didn’t take photos of it.  We got the motor back on, hooked up the controls, and placed the seats inside—just enough to try out one trip down the Saint John river in the rebuilt boat.

It worked.  It not only floated without any leaks, it moved, it cruised down the river.  It went faster than it ever had before (due in no small part to a much more solid transom!), and it looked great!  Of course there was still basically everything left to be done inside the interior, but as a boat, it was whole again.

Over the next couple of months, now back in Kingston, I finished the painting (with some help from friends now and then), and added new “Podnocker” (and the registration number) vinyl stickers, reattached the navigation lights, etc.  Here’s an exterior shot of the finished boat (on its trailer):

The interior required quite a bit of work before it was ready to go.  Where previously there had been brown carpeting and beige seats, I’d ordered new seats to match the colors, and decided on gray carpeting:

The panel at the back (behind which rest the batteries and gas tanks) was all new from a panel board, painted white to match the rest of the boat:

The controls:

I also bought a fancy new waterproof cover: the old one wasn’t completely waterproof (it liked to leak along sewn seams), and anyway had ripped:

One of the neat things that I added to the new design was some interior lights.  I found an LED strip at Costco which had the lights embedded in what looks like silicone, and has independent red, green, and blue LEDs and the ability to change colours—and, importantly, ran on 12V DC (through an AC-DC converter).  I threw away the converter and hooked it directly into the boat’s battery.  I ended up applying four different strips: two above the side storage pockets, out of direct sight, and two around each of the seats.  Here are some shots of these lights in action:

Here’s also a shot of the new control panel: the left switch turns on the interior lights, middle is for the navigation lights, and the right switch activates the bilge pump.

The bilge pump switch also has a second, hidden switch behind the panel that lets me switch between a float switch—that only activates the pump if there is water in the bilge—and an override switch that forces it on regardless.

Here’s a shot of the port storage pocket, with paddles.  The side light strip is on the inside of the white part above the paddles, shining to the right.

Here’s the name, redone in the same font as before but now white on red instead of black on beige (as seen in the previous post).  I also moved it to a much better location: where the old Thundercraft logo used to be.

Here’s a shot from the bow of the finished boat (along with the new, high-brightness LED front navigation lights):

And finally, here are a couple shost of the boat actually in the water (at Cedar Island), just to prove that it still works:


Writing about it now, almost exactly a year after I first started planning it, the project was a lot of fun.  A huge pain in the ass at times, to be sure, and probably not a project I’d ever want to undertake again, but on the whole it was worth it.  Where I started with an ugly old used boat with a soggy floor and rotten transom.  I now have a solid boat that looks good, runs well, and that I know is soundly built.

And just to wrap things up, here’s a picture a friend took of me captaining Podnocker:

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