All Gussied Up

All Gussied Up

Lengthy facelift process really floats this little boat.

Story and photography by Matt Williams

I love my ol’ tin boat.  It’s a 1994 Alweld, a 15 footer with thick walls built to take a beating, wide draft for stability and a true flat bottom that will float in some really skinny water.

There’s a 40-horse Yamaha that’s just as old strapped to the transom. It’s a tiller drive with a rope crank that typically takes no more than a few yanks to bust those ponies loose. Not bad for a 30 year old engine that has never demanded much other than routine maintenance on the water pump and lower unit grease. It’s risky business to say it, but the boat has never left me stranded.

The motor bolts to a four inch aluminum jack plate and is equipped with a stainless prop. Fully loaded, the boat will scoot along at 30 m.p.h. It runs best with a little chop on the surface.

The boat was new to me when I bought it from a good friend, Shane Hale, way back in 1995. Hale built the boat right, complete with a lightweight subfloor fashioned from aluminum square tubing and carpeted decks made from 3/4 inch marine grade plywood.

I’ve taken good care of the boat, and it shows. About 20 years ago I roughed up the factory green paint, gave it a custom camouflage scheme using rattle cans and sealed it using automotive clear coat. Minus a few bumps, the $250 paint job has held up amazingly well.

There is no denying that bigger, heavier fiberglass boats are much better suited for big water than a little tin boat, but the economics associated with owning a new one are well beyond the financial reach of many. I know guys who have dropped $100,000 on brand new bass boats that are equipped with all the latest and greatest goodies.

There are plenty of advantages to mini boat ownership. For starters, a tiny boat is way more affordable and easier to maintain than a big one. Tiny boats also are fun to tinker with and a pleasure fish out of, especially on small lakes and rivers where the wind is rarely a problem.

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