Introduction: Converting Aluminum Boat to Bass Boat
I recently purchased a 14' aluminum Springcraft with EZ loader trailer from a local classified site for $500.00. I was happy with the overall solid shape of the both of them but did need some major reconstructive surgery to the boat.
I apologize for the lack of pictures taken during the construction process, I was not thinking of posting this as an Instructable until after I was done so if anyone has any questions about the construction process or how I completed something on the boat PM me I will answer you quickly as I can.
Step 1: Overhaulling
The first step I did was tearing everything out of the boat that was in when I bought it. The floor was not secure, the so-called deck was only held up by 2 upright 2 by 2's and foam insulation and the seats where falling off. Time to tear it apart!
I started by tearing out the old floorboards, removed the seats (which are still new) and cut out the center bench seat. You can tell in this picture the way it looked it wasn't suited for any real Bass anglers needs.
Step 2: Front Casting Deck
In the first picture you can see I have already torn out the first casting deck that was quite shaky to say the least. It was covered in spray insulation and a big door in the middle waiting to become an accident. I had kept the floor in the first picture because it was going to be hidden and it was actually quite sturdy and nicely insulated.
I cleaned the area with a grinder and wire cup to get all the access insulation off the bow. I the lower the deck from the previous spot 4" ( it was way to high, above the center of bouyancy) I then leveled the boat and laid out for the cross bracing in the bow for the new casting deck. I attacked the 2 2" by 3"'s with stainless screws covered in marine silicone from the outside.
After the cross bracing I used big pieces of cardboard to make the profile I needed to cut out the new casting deck. I then traced the profile on the new plywood the carpeted it before installing it. This way its easier and hides all edges.. I then made a piece of wood to attach the trolling motor mount to, and also makes for a nice stow away for the anchor. I did cut out a 10" by 6 hatch that is a baitwell if you can tell in picture #2
After the new deck was installed I bought a seat for $18.00 and 2 mounts for $9.00 a piece. I made the seat stand out of bar already in my shop. I now have the front casting deck all done complete with foot control trolling motor, baitwell and Bass seat.
There is now plenty of storage under the casting deck where I also installed a small door to access the storage under the front deck. (You can see the door from the floor step later) Lot's of room for life jackets, trolling motor battery oar's etc.
Step 3: Back Storage and Casting Deck, Livewell
The next step was the awful back of the boat. The gas tank was out in the open and the battery was laying out uncovered from the elements. I needed to close that mess in!
I started by attaching 2" by 4"'s across to make the shape I was looking for then attached them with the stainless screws and marine silicone. I closed it all in with 3/4" plywood and carpeted it.
There was a nice big opening underneath room for the battery and gas tank. i had a marine battery case I had I just new would come in handy for just this type of job. I made the hatch lift up so that it was easy to get at the gas tank and battery.
Next I added a livewell where I included a bilge pump to aerate the water within for longer lifespan of fish caught, This type of livewell is mandatory for live release tournaments. For this live well I used a coleman cooler, covered it with the indoor outdoor, and used a bit of wood to match it to the back seat area to make it look like a permanent fixture. I then drilled a small hole covered with marine silicone to seal it and ran positive and negative leads from the pump to the battery. As well this livewell doubles as extra seating.
Step 4: Floor & Seating
I tore out the pre-existing center bench as I saw this as a tripping hazard and wanted a more open concept look. I know there are many forums about this topic and how someone shouldn't do this as it takes from the structural integrity of the boat. After digging for hours on the net reading post after post I came across a site filled with boat projects. Lots of men have done this before with the center seat as log as you replace it with something solid. i.e. Flooring!
After this I re-installed the flooring in three sections, and fastened it down after slicing the foam from the old seats and placing under the new floor. This makes for better bouyancy and sound proofing. I choose to do the floor in 3 sections in case in the future there happens to be any need for replacement this would make it easier.
The rod holders where originally mounted on the console to stand-up right. I thought this was a bad idea so I installed them to the side of the boat so they would now lay down parallel to the floor.
The seats that where in it where actually in great shape, I just had to re-mount them back down and distribute weight evenly. One at the console, One at the back.
Step 5: Console , GPS & Underwater Camera
The steering console was an console from a run about retro fit to made work. It was actually a pretty good concept just had to be fixed up a bit. I re-painted it black to match the grey carpet I installed.
I also made 2 rectangular cutouts on the left side of the steering wheel. One is a 4" LCD from a back up camera for a vehicle. I also have 3 wireless spy cameras that all run off 9v batteries (both receiver and camera run off 9v batteries to make them portable) so one of these will work perfect for the underwater camera.This will be used to map out shoals, breaks, weed lines etc. that most topographic fishing maps fail to inform us with. It is also a great way to see how fish behave and their feeding patterns to give me an edge in an tournament.
The 2nd is a small 2" by 4" LCD I bought from E bay to use with my Arduino. I have a GPS module that should have been here already that will be installed for Longitude/Latitude. This is also a great way to map out hotspots you find while fishing or fellow anglers have found. Lots of fishing forums share this info.
I found a code on online that someone wrote especially for this type of need. I will keep the Arduino on board with me but I made it removable in case I do decide to use it for other projects.
The windshield I found was quite large and unevenly cut. I used a 5" grinder with a zip-cut disk to profile and downsize the windshield by about half. It looks much better now I am just going to tint it at a later date.
I also mounted the fish finder on the new console as well.
I also attached a piece of aluminum plate from the middle bench I polished with a 80 grit disk to give it a nice ,stainless steel polish look to it. I then fixed it to the front of the console to the casting deck . I also installed a solid 2" by 3" to the back of the console horizontally so that it supports the weight of the casting deck. The casting deck is now nice and sturdy and now can be screwed down using 3" deck screws.
Step 6: Tarp.
I had a few tarps laying around that where only used once before and are in perfect shape. I went to Walmart and bought 4 button/snap kits for around $17.00.
I laid the tarps on top of the boat and overlapped them by 4"'s. I carefully went around where there was already snaps on the boat and marked out where the snaps where to go on the tarps one by one. I then installed snaps around the perimeter of the boat on the 2 tarps that I joined together to make one big tarp. I then used an exacto-knife to cut the excess off just below then snaps. It is now a fitted cover for the boat that would normally cost around $200-300 I made for around $20.00.
Step 7: Completed
I spent around $ 75.00 between hardware, wood and carpet and used what I had laying around to complete my outdoors project. I now just need a better paint job which is not important to me at this time but will need to be doe to the boat and trailer next season.
Some hard work, ingenuity and patience can help doing a project like this one. Hope you like!