About seven years ago we purchased a 1987 Sunbird 195 bow rider runabout with a 130 hp Mercruiser stern drive and trailer from an Ebay auction. She was in rough shape but as you will read has served us well. She now will get a much deserved rebuilding.
She had been sitting for a couple years when we got her so the interior was rotted and the upholstery coming apart. The motor had been allowed to freeze due to not being winterized and had cracked the block along the top deck. It was also run for quite a while with a head gasket blown between cylinder two and three which caused a deep gauge in the block surface and head between the two cylinders. Out the little four cylinder 130 hp motor came. Upon tear down we found everything below the head deck in beautiful condition so these blocks being very difficult to find we decided to save it. We took the block to Govel welding and had them weld up the crack. Couldn’t ask for a better job. Generations in the trade pays off. Once the welding was completed we had to straighten out the deck so off to the machine shop. They had to take 40 thousandths off the deck to straighten it and clean up the damage from the blown head gasket. This brought the piston deck nearly 20 thousandths above the block deck. We got lucky with using a compound head gasket to restore the clearance and squish. Rolled in a new set of bearings and rings, as well as added a new aftermarket large valve head and of course new soft plugs. By the numbers it should be a really good running four cylinder and it was. We put her on the water and she ran flawlessly for two seasons. During the mechanical work we doctored the interior to make it usable but it still wasn’t pretty.
Early in the third season we put her back in. Still running great but about a month in she started getting that tell tale shake in the steering wheel that indicates a stern drive U joint starting to bind. A quick pull on a Sunday to remove the Mercruiser drive and replace the joints. Of course while your there you have to change the gimbal bearing unless you want to be doing it all over again next year. A moderate drive tear down just to look showed everything else in perfect shape. With a new water pump and the prop sent out for a straightening and ding repair she was back on the water the next weekend.
Sorry I don’t have any pictures of the mechanical work that was done but at the time it wasn’t a “project” and I never thought of writing about it. That said the fourth season is the last she was on the water. Different circumstances kept her in the yard under cover for two seasons. This year we get back on the water.
Upon uncovering her it became painfully evident that this old girl although running like a nearly new boat was in desperate need of a face lift. Three years of use as well as two of storage have taken it’s toll on the already poor interior. They upholstery was more ripped and faded and the wood more rotted. Some places on the hull and deck areas are chipped and scraped as well as areas that were brush painted by the previous owner. She needs to be as pretty as she runs. Time for a full tear down, refinishing, and reupholstering as well as some changes to accommodate the boarding of some senior passengers we regularly have on board. So here we go.