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Restoring a '63 Hydroswift

When I found her in 2013, in a tiny corner of the Willamette Valley, sitting in the backyard of a hopeful owner, she had not seen nor felt cool running water beneath her keel in years. It was time we changed that and gave her a second chance at life. Here is a factory photo of her former glory:

1963 Hydrodwift

The gelcoat was in fair shape, the sole was rotten. Her engine only half composed, the seats completely forgotten.

All her instruments lay intact. The only original component missing, besides the seats, was her navigation light. And, of course, her original hardtop.

So, homeward bound we go!

Chevy truck pulling boat

Here she sits at her new home for the next 1 1/2 years:

I found another boat to donate a complete identical engine. Unfortunately for that boat, the trash can was it's only future. Too many years of rot and neglect.

So I started taking her apart. And off to the trash went. Piece by piece. Thanks to Joe for the help!

cutting up boat

With the old power head removed, I can finally get a look at that transom! Turns out, she was solid as a rock. No dry rot at all. Definitely not pretty either.


Now that I have all of the original hardware removed from the Hydroswift, I can finally get to the real work!

hardware removed

After I removed the old rotten sole, I discovered that all four outer stringers were in solid shape! However, the center main stringer, or keel, was just a little too soft in some spots. Time to graft in a new main stringer. Using kiln dried Fir and West Systems epoxy, of course.

stringer replacement

Now it's time to make my sole template:

sole template

With the new seat support in place, it's time to scarf in the new sole. No, not the scarf you wear! The scarf I'm talking about can be seen around the outer edges of the sole area. This is a beveled edge that will match perfectly the beveled edge under the new sole to gain maximum strength from our joints.

What you can't see in this picture is that underneath the sole, before I scarfed it into place, there are two layers of 8oz boat cloth and 3 coats West Systems epoxy on the bottom. The top surface will get the same treatment so we are even, Steven. No rot here baby.

new sole

The new sole is in, the hardware is covered and filled with thickened epoxy, and the 2 layers of boat cloth and 3 coats of wet epoxy are applied. Now all we have to do if fair and prep for our sole cover. But this will happen much later. The boat still needs to get dirty to get clean.

Notice the new dash area that was grafted in on the STBD side. I wanted to change the gauge layout so I needed a new surface to work with. It was faired and formed to match the original dash lines.

west systems epoxy

What to do with this old cloudy windshield? A new one was cost prohibitive for me at the time.


How about we just buff it out using Finesse-it? OK.

windshield cleaned

You can see I started buffing out the original gelcoat on the hull sides. It was in fantastic shape! No crazing and the only damaged areas were the transom and bow stem. We'll fix those later.

hull side

Now let's start sanding that topside! Not much crazing in the fiberglass to tend to. Just a small patch on the bow. How about that original peach color?!

sanding gelcoat

dash sanded

Now that all of the major sanding and prep for primer was completed, it was time to tape and spray Epoxy 545 primer.

The transom looks a little better, eh? The only holes remaining are for the engine brackets, splash well drains, and garboard plug.


dash in primer

Show me a 50 year old boat with straighter gunwales....


Time for sanding again and prepping for topcoat. Round two:

taping for top coat

We Decided to spray the red first.

topcoat applied

Now let's peel that tape and prep to spray the white. We had to custom color match the gelcoat on the hull sides so the colors would be as close as possible. Taped and ready to go:


And like magic:

new paint

Now let's start putting her back together.

Rubrail and windshield. Check.

Freshly chromed hardware. Check.


Instruments, switches, helm, compass. Check.

She feels the warmth of the sun for the first time in almost a year.

The new Nautilex flooring is installed and the engine controls as well.

On goes the engine! It was gone through with a complete service including: tune-up, impeller, gear oil, and paint.

Yeah, she looks good back there.

The first time she has felt water on her bottom in years and years. But, boy, was that sea trial uncomfortable without seats! Let's make some from scratch. Just because I can.

new seats

All epoxied marine grade plywood, marine grade foam, and marine grade UV resistant vinyl.

Back seat cover stitched up and ready to install.

All the seats are in! Let's hit the water again....

sea trials

She's a real pleasure to drive. Until the wakes come...oh, those flat bottom boats.

Such as beautiful scream she makes.

It took me a long time to not only find this hardtop, but to talk the guy who owned it into selling it. Not many progress pics, but here she is painted ready to install the chrome trim and put back where she belongs.

This is a true statement to the best of my knowledge.

Well, we better put some bottom paint on her.

And back in the water!

And it's just that easy...ok, not really. It was a lot of hard work, long days, sore hands, empty wallet, etc, etc. But, I'd do it all over again in a heartbeat. Again and again. This is what I love doing.

Thank you for reading and checking out my photos. If you've enjoyed this and are interested in having your own restoration completed by Corino Marine Services, please don't hesitate to contact us!

Bye for now.


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