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1980 S&S Restoration and Modernization

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  • 1980 S&S Restoration and Modernization

    I'm hoping to document and share progress and learnings as I restore, and somewhat modernize, a 1980 that I purchased in mid-September.

    Specs on the boat are 351W, powerslot, gray with a dark gray flake stripe. The boat spent its life in Wisconsin where I bought it and pulled it back to Kansas.

    The plan is a full restoration with modern touches to improve reliability, utility and longevity. I've made some progress in the last two months, which I will catch the thread up to as time allows.

    As with all of these restoration threads, thanks to Waterlogged for his knowledge sharing!

    Hope this helps others along the way.
    Attached Files

  • #2
    What modern things you adding? Doing stringers? That thing looks pretty clean to start with
    Originally Posted by Hoosier Bob
    She always misses me and when I turn her on it is hard to turn her off! She is MC and she completes me! She is the first ride that wants it as much as I do!


    • #3
      Week 1 was focused on seeing what I had. I already knew the stringers were junk, the gelcoat needed redone, and that I wanted to confirm what the PO had said about the motor and transmission being operable.

      Basically, the engine ran as smoothly as you would expect on 7 year old fuel, and the transmission shifted quietly (although the prop spun rapidly while in neutral). After about 8-10 minutes, the oil pressure started to decline and I shut it down.

      We took a few hundred pictures, measured everything and made drawings, and began to think about the plan.

      Week 2 was focused on deconstruction. We pulled the interior, drivetrain, floor, etc.

      Week 2-3 was more deconstruction. Mrs. WhiskeyTango specializes in tearing stuff apart and soon became quite handy with a rotary tool while pulling out the floors. This learning would later pay off when she started cutting out stringers. At some point I stripped the motor down to a long block to take to the builder.
      Attached Files


      • #4
        Some editorial commentary on the construction of a 1980 Mastercraft. For comparison, I have a 2015 X-30. It is well built. Properly maintained, it will last until the internal combustion engine is outlawed.

        In college, I lived in an ancient trailer house. It was janky, moldy and rotten. I would wager that the same people built my trailer house and this boat. Most of the stuff you find in these, you really can't make up. Keep in mind this is basically a two-owner boat and had not been messed with beyond a new interior. The hour meter showed 270 hours, but who knows...

        What am I talking about? The stringers are lumber sitting on the hull and glassed in with polyester. In theory, this should be OK for many years. However, the front of the stringer is not enclosed in glass at all. The last few inches are bare wood. In addition, the stringer is not bedded to the hull, i.e. there is nothing bonding it, nor preventing water intrusion from the front. As a result, water enters under the front of the stringer, runs back, gets trapped and the rot begins... probably during the factory test run. Forty years later, the stringers are wet mulch in a hard candy shell. A screwdriver can poke right through them.

        The back of the engine stringers, under the gas tank, each includes a hole to drain water. That hole is drilled with a hole saw right through the glass and wood.

        For clarity, if you are shopping for a wood-era MC, plan on stringers. It is not possible that they are still solid. Re-read that.

        I knew the stringers were crap from the seller's pictures. Telltale signs were backed out mount bolts for the engine and transmission, etc.
        Attached Files


        • #5
          I also discovered a number of very well done design and assembly touches.

          The motor and transmission came out in a couple of hours. Plug and play.

          The hull is hand laid. No chop gun. Stripped down, this boat is LIGHT.

          After 40 years, the gelcoat is in decent shape except for where it was damaged from use, i.e. no bad spider cracks or blisters.

          The steering was tight and smooth. Most of the electrical items functioned.

          The nose of the boat was full of flotation foam. Despite the horror stories I had read, it was basically dry and as-installed. A huge pain to remove involving several garden tools and one smoking sawzall, but it would have floated the boat as intended.

          Hopefully tomorrow I will have time to document completing the stringers, floor layout, and early modifications. Until then...


          • #6
            Interesting for me to watch this. I have personal history behind this boat. I knew the people who you bought this from.

            The last time I skied behinf this boat was probably 1988 - 89. So alot of time has passed since then....


            • #7
              A few pictures of the stringer installation and building floor structure for the open bow.

              I put the stringers back in exactly the same places they were, at the same height. This involves a fair bit of fitting with a planer to get right. The stringers are bedded in thickened epoxy and covered with double-layer fabric. Then there is a second layer in an "L" on each side to reinforce and spread the load to the hull to eliminate stresses.

              The two engine stringers that came out had the mount cutouts at differing heights by about 1/2". The engine and trans sat at a visible angle. This didn't hurt anything but looked odd.
              They are level now.

              The outboard stringers were at different angles from the factory. I put them right back where they were as I couldn't decide which was in the right place. Either way, it's rock solid now. Their purpose is basically to provide rigidity in general, and they basically sit above the trailer bunks.

              Stringers and floor structure took about 6 gallons of epoxy.

              I've run out of picture rotation tricks. Sorry for the neck pain.
              Attached Files


              • #8
                Originally posted by EricB View Post
                Interesting for me to watch this. I have personal history behind this boat. I knew the people who you bought this from.

                The last time I skied behinf this boat was probably 1988 - 89. So alot of time has passed since then....
                Larry is a good dude. I've sent him a few pics along the way. He said he might stop by to see it next time he's in KS.


                • #9
                  The floor and storage area in the front are coming along. The goal is to have the batteries up front, enough storage for a bag and a couple of fenders, and a nice hidden mount for stereo components (head, amp, etc)

                  This involved removing the foam, building and glassing in a bulkhead and support structure, and building lots of cardboard templates (marine grade plywood is expensive... have to keep reminding myself to measure twice).

                  The front floor and the divider are all removable and either bolted through existing structure or into brass inserts which are silicone-bedded. This stuff takes a lot of time, especially to get all of the gaps right to accommodate for future carpeting, etc. But hopefully it really makes the boat much more useable. There was roughly zero storage from the factory.

                  Once it's all done, everything will be sanded and epoxy coated. 6 more gallons arrived last week.
                  Attached Files


                  • #10
                    Looking into the new storage area in front of the judge's seat. The second pic is looking up at the bottom of the bow top. This will be the panel to mount the stereo head unit, wiring, amps, etc. Trying to make space everywhere I can...
                    Attached Files


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by WhiskeyTango View Post
                      ...As with all of these restoration threads, thanks to Waterlogged for his knowledge sharing!

                      Hope this helps others along the way.
                      Glad I could pass along a few guidelines from my past experience. It looks familiar all along the way. You're on the right track and your work looks good.

                      The under floor bulkhead and the cross floor support piece under the deck worked out just fine for you. I am glad that was easily (re)constructed. The laser line works like a lucky charm.

                      93 190
                      (safe click)
                      John 14:6
                      (safe click)


                      • #12
                        Looks good so far!

                        Looking forward to seeing the stages of this project.


                        • #13
                          Impressive!! Thanks for taking the time to share.


                          • #14
                            Great job so far keep up the good work. You know owners talk about these older boats with wood stringers, guess I’m a lucky one. Original owner of a 79 SS and have never had an issue with the stringers. Check torque in motor mount lags regularly and they always tighten up snug. Not saying there might not be an issue but the stringers in my boat seem solid.
                            Anyway nice progress on your boat and it looks great.
                            If for some reason you start to believe you are a person with influence, just try ordering somebody else's dog around.


                            • #15
                              Evenings the last week were spent on the swim platform. It was pretty flimsy and I almost scrapped it but decided to see if I could empty the shell and rebuild it. Basically it's some thin fiberglass around a wooden core. I was surprised to find out the core was end grain lumber, i.e. 2x4s, 2x6s, etc. all cut about 3/8. If you want to soak up some lake water, this is the way to do it. The gussets were plywood along with the backer boards on the bolt flange.

                              Once the wood was out of it, it took quite a bit of weight to get it to flatten back out when I put in the new plywood core.

                              Still in progress but several layers of fabric, new wood, and some well-bonded gussets have it looking a bit more stable.
                              Attached Files