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TOPIC: Restoration 1957 18' Bell Boy Express

Restoration 1957 18' Bell Boy Express 1 month 3 weeks ago #145111

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Being the oh, so, very observant person that I am, I just discovered this sub-forum. Accordingly, I've moving my restoration blog down here from Main.

Started cleanup and inspection this weekend. That alone is going to take a while since the boat's over at my daughter's place about an hour away.

Motor is disconnected except for wiring harness. I'll have my wire markers with me the nest time I head over.
Found the label plate and managed to chase down the numbers. Motor is a 1985 85 HP US Marine / Mercury Force. Motor turns over with rope starter. Good sign!

As you can see from the pics, the interior is a mess. Good news: what I can see of the stringers looks good. Nice and solid. Bad news: I can see the stringers without pulling the deck.<g> Looks like the entire interior will need replacement. Next step on the interior will be to pull the seat pedestals and then the main deck.

I understand that an Express is supposed to have onboard fuel tanks, but I have yet to locate them. Makes me wonder if they were removed for some reason, or the 18" model didn't have them. Anybody happen to know?

The transom and splash well bulkheads are a total loss. Kinda expected that.

In all the blog entries and YouTube vids I've looked at, they only cut through one of the fiberglass skins on the transom and then go to all the trouble of trying to peel the core loose from the other skin without destroying it (the skin). Nobody explains the reason for this. Wouldn't it be much easier to just cut all the way through and re-skin both sides?

Still need to get a pressure washer on the hull so I can start inspection.

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Restoration 1957 18' Bell Boy Express 1 month 3 weeks ago #145123

Well, great project but a lot of work in perspective !

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Restoration 1957 18' Bell Boy Express 1 month 3 weeks ago #145129

Good Luck! I have always loved the looks of the Bell Boy boats!

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Restoration 1957 18' Bell Boy Express 3 weeks 3 days ago #145341

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Project Update

Managed to get a day to work on the Bell Boy over the weekend. Not a huge amount accomplished, mostly cleaning of the cockpit and passenger area. At least now it looks like a project boat instead of a dumpster.


Removed the engine wiring harness, throttle / transmission controls, and steering system. Now I have to build a stand to park that engine on. Start on that tomorrow.

Removed the panels over the area that was supposed to house the fuel tanks. Only thing in there were blocks of flotation foam. Looks like I've got a couple of tanks to 'glass up.


Once I got the garbage out of the bottom of the boat, what I can see of the stringers look pretty good.


Did find a problem, though. Behind the forward bulkhead of the splash well somebody mounted some wood strips to (apparently) anchor the bottom edge of the bulkhead. They just sank screws directly through the fiberglass and into the stringers. Let's hope there's not too much damage.

Next trip I'll be working on getting the seats cut loose, the deck pulled up, and hopefully, the motor pulled. Better get to work on that stand. <g>

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Restoration 1957 18' Bell Boy Express 1 week 2 days ago #145392

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Productive day yesterday. Got the motor pulled and loaded on the truck. Stripped out all of the woodwork aft of the cabin bulkhead.



Although the stringers *look* intact, there are several soft spots. Looks like they'll have to be replaced. The frames all have rot, so all they're good for is as patterns. Thinking that it might be a good idea to take this opportunity to raise the deck 4 - 6 inches. This would allow for some space for deck lockers that can actually store something.



After pulling the splash well I was able to get a good look at the transom. The only thing supporting the motor was an aluminum beam across the transom. The fiberglass is completely gone from the inner surface and the core is totally rotted away.



Got the motor home and unloaded onto the stand I built. Will start checking it out this week. It'll give me something to work on when I can't work on the boat itself.

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Restoration 1957 18' Bell Boy Express 4 days 22 hours ago #145417

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As a part of this rebuild, I'm wanting to install saddle tanks as described in the sales literature. My boat apparently never had them.

Does anyone have any pics of the tank installation and location of the fuel fillers?

I'd truly appreciate any help.

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