After 15 years of faithful service I finally repowered my
Canadian Edition Voyager, in July 2000, with a new 2.6L 200HP Yamaha VMax. I
decided to go with a Yamaha again as I was extremely pleased with the
quality and reliability of my previous motor.
This was the start of a number of woes that were to beset
me. First of all, after three hours of operation, the new Yamaha blew a hole
through a piston. I could tell that something wasnít right when power
seemed to drop and I heard that clanging noise from inside the motor.
After roughly a month of sitting at the dealership, the
Yamaha factory rep finally showed up. He determined that an improperly
calibrated carburetor was the cause and then authorized a new engine block
By the time I got the boat back I had to put the boat
away for the winter.
Shortly after bringing the boat back I had already
noticed that the transom didnít look good. There was a wow in the transom
at the point where the jack plate was attached to the transom and also
several fairly deep cracks at the top of the transom, again at the
attachment points. In addition, one of the upper mounting bolts, on the
inside of the transom, had penetrated into the gel coat. Unfortunately, I
didnít have a transom stiffener plate to help protect the transom surface.
The Voyager had been solid and flawless for the first 15
years since I bought it new in 1986. There was never a crack anywhere on the
boat. The transom failure seemed clearly to be a result of the new motor and
its set up. I had increased the jack plate set back from 5" to 6"
and the new motor was about 20 lbs. heavier. It does not sound like much but
that was all it took to cause the breaking point. Unfortunately back in the
80ís knee braces to the transom were not installed by the manufacturer.
After consulting with several members of The Performance
Boat Club of Canada, it became apparent that, if I wanted to keep the boat,
the transom would have to be replaced.
The cost of transom replacement could only be justified
if I was to keep the boat for at least another 5 years. In my case I had
owned the boat since new and frankly I still love the boat. I would not want
to have anything else. What also made it easier to justify was the fact that
despite its age, the boat still looks like brand new. The gel coat is fade
free and the interior as well as the floor is still original and in
excellent condition. The Voyager is one of only a few performance boats out
there that can accommodate a family comfortably, has a full windshield and
still runs over 70 mph.
I quickly came to the conclusion that the best person to
do the job was John Spaeth. John is located near Brechin, Ontario and
operates under the name of HydroStream Boats Inc. He is very experienced
with HydroSteams and came highly recommended. John acquired the HydroStream
moulds when Canadian Edition, then owned by Jim Tucker, went out of business
somewhere around the mid 90ís. John still builds HydroStream Voyager &
Vegas models in both a V Bottom and XT configuration and the V Bottom
V-King, Valero, Vista and Voo Doo. Several PBCC members have had Vegas XTís
built by John. The quality of workmanship and performance have been
excellent. He is also well known for his expertise in fiberglass repairs of
all sorts and has worked on all kinds of boats including Fountains.
Inside view of John's shop. Art's boat is at the
A new Vegas hull curing in the mold. Note
substantial use of balsa core and that knee braces are now standard.
A Vegas deck.
John is a real busy guy so I finally got my boat to him
at the end of June 2001. It was decided that , in order to do a proper job,
both the transom and splash well would be replaced. Also, John would install
plywood knee braces. Because of the knee braces the unfortunate thing was
that the old gas tank would not fit. John would have to install a custom
sized tank that would fit snugly between the braces. This makes for a neat
and solid installation.
Before I gave the OK to proceed I had John cut out the
rear portion of the floor to get a better idea of the condition of the
existing coring and frame work. He also used a moisture meter to check out
the moisture content and did the rubber hammer test on the rest of the boat.
Everything checked out well. In fact John noted that it looked like brand
new underneath. This can be attributed to the fact that the boat has always
been stored out of the water and in a garage when not in use.
Preparing the top and upper inside edge of the
transom for removal of the splashwell.
The transom replacement was very labour intensive because
they had to chip all the wood out from the inside. As the transom was not
very water saturated, as verified by the moisture meter, the wood material
was still very hard. John leaves the entire fiberglass skin around the
transom intact. He does not cut the outside fiberglass skin as he feels that
by doing so the strength of the final rebuild would be substantially
compromised in the long run.
Pattern drawn showing where the splashwell area is
to be cut.
Splashwell area has been cut. This will also make
it easier to remove the old transom plywood from the inside.
A high grade multi ply mahogany plywood, with an
additional Ĺ" of thickness over the original, was used for the transom
replacement. Two ĺ" plywood knee braces were glassed to the balsa.
New transom plywood in place along with added knee
New transom installed. Note that the outer
fiberglass skin of the transom has not been cut.
The motor well was constructed from 8084P vinylester
A new splashwell has been fabricated from a mold
and is now put into place for bonding to the deck and transom.
All exposed wood areas were heavily treated with resin.
In addition, the colour match for the new transom well
was not an easy task. He had to duplicate a mellow yellow with gold metal
flake and clear coat on top.
After being in the shop for about a month and a half it
was finally finished. The end result was excellent with the colour match
being as pretty close to perfect as you can get.
The completed job. You can't really tell that
anything has been done.
A lot of thanks should also go to Terry Anderson who
works in Johnís shop as he actually did most of the work and the motor
re-rigging. Terry is an excellent fiberglass and graphics man. He acquired an AE21
mould from John and built an ultra
light version for himself. I saw some pictures of his boat. The finish and
inlaid graphics are totally unique and stunning. Terry indicated that he has run this boat, with a heavily
modified Mercury race motor, at speeds well in excess of 110 mph.
My boat has run great since the rebuild. The trusty
Yamaha has been running very strong!
Was the expense and down time worth it? In my viewpoint
it definitely was. I now have a very solid boat that can likely run another
10 years and in addition I have a boat that is 6-7 miles per hour faster
than my previous set up with the original 200 Yamaha. It currently runs at a
max 6100 rpm with a 14.5x26" Mercury chopper. The previous motor, which
was still in good shape, only pulled 5400 rpm with the same propeller.
The improvement arose primarily because the extra inch of
setback and the increased trim range of the new motor now allowed the hull
to break loose and fly properly. The previous setup would not allow the boat
to lift. I didnít install a nose cone on the new motor as I found the cone
on my previous motor made the boat lift less. A Voyager needs all the help
it can get to lift properly. As the newer stock Yamaha gearcase has fairly
low water pickups, water pressure has not been a problem even with the motor
jacked all the way up.
This shows you that setup is probably the single most
important thing you can do to improve performance.
In conclusion, if you love your HydroStream and the
repair makes sense, in relation to the overall condition of the boat, then
go for it. There is still nothing better out there than a classic
HydroStream! A good HydroStream never ages and remains eternal!
Note: For sales of new HydroStreams, and repairs of
all kinds to your boat, John Spaeth can be reached at 705-484-0407