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1958 Thompson Sea Coaster

I did most of my growing up on Lake Winnebago in Wisconsin where I lived from 1960 until 1974. There our main family boat was a 17 ft Cruisers Inc. small cabin cruiser with a 75 HP Evinrude. We bought this used in 1960. We used this every summer, mostly for water skiing. Some older teenagers on Cowling Bay had a Thompson. I'd say it was likely a 17 ft. Sea Lancer from what I know now. I coveted that boat.

Around 1990, I was living in West Linn, Oregon on the Tualatin River. I already had several boats. A neighbor was selling their house and out front was a rather needy 15 ft Thompson. I went up and offered to buy it, and they grabbed the opportunity. It was sold to me as a 1960 and had a 40 HP Johnson of the same vintage and a delapidated trailer. Total price, $800.

The dash was broken because of being weakened by a large hole for a stereo. So the deck was collapsing, the windshield framing was coming apart and one window was missing the glass. The entire deck was covered with a 2nd layer of painted, delaminating fir plywood on top of the old mahoghany. All the brightwork was painted over. After a couple uses in that condition the first rebuild commenced with replacing the dash, rebuilding the windscreen, replacing the deck, sheer strake, outer gunnels and part of the transom.

I used the boat several years, despite breaking the trailer in half, twice, before replacing the trailer. The motor became more and more of a nuisance to keep running. Finally, it sat, unrunnable for 2 years and I sold the motor for $200 on Craigs List to a guy who'd bought another of the same motor and hoped to make one good out of two bad. I was ready for repowering to make it a reliable boat.

So began the second rebuild in June 2009. I was to raise the transom for a long shaft 4 stroke while adding a splash well. But the transom had problems and more was replaced. It had always leaked quite a bit around the keel and I found the keel failing, rotting and the bottom hogging. I understand that the hogging occurs because of motor weight on an overhanging transom. Plus, it seemed strange that the boat lacked floor timbers and had no real limber holes to allow water to drain aft. Wet dirt would collect along the keel and rot it and the rabbet ends of the ribs. That's what I found. So I cut out a 3 inch swath down the middle of the boat to remove the original keel and the punky ends of the ribs. I rebuilt a totally new keel structure that has floor timbers, large limber holes and an epoxy sealed keel and keelson. The bottom is sealed and strengthened with a strip of glass cloth, but everything else is screwed and bolted together. If this ever needs to be changed, it can be removed by cutting thru the seam either side of the keel and unscrewing everything. The transom bracing was also strengthened with gussets tying the box keelson structure to the stern knee and through bolting the stern knee to the transom.

Repowering with a new 4 stroke required replacing the cable and pulley steering with Teleflex steering. This required a small modification to the dash. To compensate for the added weight of the new motor the portable tanks were moved forward under the foredeck and the battery was moved to behind the port seat. Rewiring was done.

On March 30, 2010 the reborn 1958 Thompson Sea Coaster was launched. It performs great. There are still some issues, (e.g. port transom leaking due to a shrinkage split.) and some things still need to be neatened up. I've added an upper shelf or net under the foredeck above the tanks. I need a new top and new seat cushions. I've replaced the original steering wheel (usable but cracked) with a stainless destroyer type wheel that a covered with a version of French whipping and Turk's heads.

Obviously I have not chosen the 'totally original', everything vintage type of rebuild. I want the low polluting, fuel efficient, reliable modern powerplant with a strong vintage boat that takes me back to my childhood. I want to use this boat easily for fishing, skiing, picnics, exploring or just tooling around.

See details of the work at: The Restoration Process

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1958 Thompson Sea Coaster restoration classic wood lapstrake utility runabout
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So now I'm enjoying my renewed toy, as is my step-daughter, Kylee, posing for the photo. This was on our first day of zipping around shooting photos of other boats for

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