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'88 Skier Restoration

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About a year and a half ago I posted some pictures of early progress on restoration of my 1988 Skier. I got back from Afghanistan recently and finally had the opportunity to get back to work on it. It took two more weeks after I got home of grinding to clean all the surfaces on the inside and cut out the stringers; it's a nice change of pace to finally be rebuilding instead of just cleaning out rotted materials. If anybody else is considering a project like this, here are the major problems I have discovered so far:

The transom core was rotten on one side, along with the rear foot of the starboard stringer. There was also an eight inch crack in the bottom of the hull, just underneath the rotten stringer, that had a wider area of water-damaged fiberglass. Much of the flotation foam was saturated with water and the drivers seat base was completely soaked. It never really rotted because it never had the chance to dry out, but there was nothing structural left to it. The two smaller outer stringers were delaminated and rotten as well. Except for the port stringer, basically all the wood was ruined or pretty badly degraded. There were also significant stress cracks all around the rudder hardware, so I ended up grinding that down to about 1/8" and rebuilding it when I redid the inside of the transom.

Believe it or not, the boat was cared for pretty well, but I have been kind of surprised by the quality of construction as I have torn it apart. I don't think when Malibu was building Skiers in the '80s that they expected some of us to get so attached and rebuild them twenty years later.

So far I have the transom rebuilt and the starboard stringer glued back in. All of the new wood is either marine plywood or mahogany, and I'm using WEST epoxy rather than fiberglass resin. Progress is slow, but in the next few weeks I would like to get all the woodwork and large pieces of fiberglass done. I don't have any idea when I might be done with the whole boat, or even least when I might be able to water test it; things seem to take at least twice as long as I expect.

Pictures showing overall progress so far:









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  • Lee52


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Nice thread. Glad to see another one brought back from the dead. Looks like your taking your time and doing a nice job.

That first pics of the rotten stinger made my stomach turn and then the new fiberglass on it made me go..."ahh that's better" Thumbup.gif Keep up the good work and I'd love to see more progress pics as you go if you have time! Clap.gif

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:notworthy: More than I would be willing to take on. :notworthy:

I've felt the same way quite a few times. There have definitely been days after grinding fiberglass for two hours in a 100 degree Vegas garage that I came inside and looked for boats on sale online. It's better now that I'm rebuilding, and I like to think it will be worth it when I'm done and I have a better version of my old boat back.

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please tell me that motor is not always hanging from cieling all the trime. i just dont wanna know anything about any kind of outcome if it came crashing down.

No, that was only to get it out of the boat.

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A few more pictures: Both stringers are in, plus the starboard engine bed. I seem to spend the majority of my time doing in-between work, which makes the whole process painfully slow when I only get to work on it one or two days a week. Gluing in a stringer might take two hours, but then it takes four to sand and prep everything for the next step. Still, it's nice to finally see progress. Even with just the stringers in, it gives shape to the bilge again. It's going to be painful to cover all that mahogany with fiberglass though.




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  • 1 month later...

Slow progress as usual, but here are a few more pictures from my Skier restoration. The woodwork on the stringers is done; fiberglass over the stringers, sides, and bilge is going to take a while. It's not moving quickly, but at least a day in the garage in Vegas in November is a lot more enjoyable than in July.






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Looks great. Looks like the wood fitment is spot on. Your taking your time and doing it right.....that's good. Thanks for the pic updates. It's cool to watch the project come along. Thumbup.gif Can't wait to see the fiberglass in!

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Looks awesome!

Beaf that transom up while your in there to support a wedge! :crazy:

Keeping it traditional...no wedge, no ballast system, no tower, just a better built classic boat for skiing and barefooting. There are some custom details I have in mind for later on, but the only major change I'm planning on is an engine upgrade.

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Thats cool man, you might want to think about it even if you dont plan on installing one. It might be good for resale, plus you never know what might happen down the road.

Whatever you decide, what your doing is awesome! I love to see another square windshield back to showroom condition! :rockon:

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Looks awesome ! Hope you get good stretch of time to work on it over the winter. Noticed you're recently back from Afghanistan. I'm assuming from being in one of the services. Thank you sir ! Very much !

Steve Brusso

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Not sure what you engine upgrade plans might be, but you can easily upgrade a standard SBC to upper 300 hp level with some pretty straighforward modifications. The key will be to upgrade the cylinder heads, get some with at mimimum the Vortec 1996 or newer chambers. You can either get some GM units or go with some good aftermarket versions. The next step is to free up the exhaust, a good set of manifolds will help as once the heads are upgraded, that will be the next restriction in the system. A set of 1.6 ratio rocker arms are always a help and a mild cam such as the ZZ4 will also boost power. The additional power provides a great improvement for these boats as it then does not require WOT for things like get up and barefooting.

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Wow this is coming right along. I saw this thread along time ago and forgot all about it. I am in the process of pulling my floor and stringers. I don't really believe they really need it but I found a weak spot on one side and decided a winter project was needed. Can I ask how far forward your stringers go under the dash? Also what type of wood did you use and what type of floor are you putting in?

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Wow this is coming right along. I saw this thread along time ago and forgot all about it. I am in the process of pulling my floor and stringers. I don't really believe they really need it but I found a weak spot on one side and decided a winter project was needed. Can I ask how far forward your stringers go under the dash? Also what type of wood did you use and what type of floor are you putting in?

The stringers go about three and a half feet under the dash. You can't really see any remnants of it in the pictures, but the stringers run about two to two and a half feet beyond the bulkhead that forms the vertical part of the shelf under the bow. If you're taking out the floor and stringers you're probably going to have to go all the way to the front to get everything out from under the bow as well.

I used mahogany for the stringers. You could do laminated marine plywood or any number of other hardwoods, but I think mahogany has the best overall characteristics. It's quite a bit more expensive though.

I'm not certain exactly how I'm going to do the floors. I want to use something other than plywood; Nida-core or Plascore are what I'm leaning towards. It's a lot lighter and apparently very stiff, but the downside is that it's going to require more fiberglass work. I also saw a thread a few days ago - Floor Material - about the material Malibu uses now, so I may look into that as well. Mainly I don't want to use plywood, since every older boat I've ever been in that had a plywood floor had a soft spot somewhere near the back.

How good are you with fiberglass? The woodwork was the easy part for me, but the further I get into this project the more I dislike fiberglass. First it was cutting and grinding out all the old material. Now I'm starting to see how complicated and difficult it gets to do manual lay-up with large sheets of fiberglass and large volumes of epoxy. Last night I cut out the two layers of fiberglass for the main stringers, and working with fifteen feet of material is not easy. I have a feeling it's only going to get harder when I have to form it around the stringers and glue everything together. I love the boat and seeing progress towards a goal makes it worthwhile, but I'll never restore another fiberglass boat again. Point is, if you're pretty sure your stringers are solid, maybe consider only doing the floors. There's probably rot or water damage somewhere, but you might be able to stabilize it with CPES or patch a small section of stringer without entirely removing the old ones.

Hopefully that helps. Let me know if you have any other questions. It's nice to talk about it with someone who's actually interested ... my wife just wants to be able to use the boat again.

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Great thanks for the advice. I would hate to lose the floor. The floor that is in this thing is amazing. However, where I found the bad spot, may be hard to fix without removing the floor. I will probably be putting wood make as the floor, even though I'd rather use the newer composite material. It is one of those things, that until I tear it up, I won't know how bad the rot section is. I'm hoping, and praying, it is perfect and only needs a little repair, but I am going into the project ready to redo it all.

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A little more progress ... it doesn't look like much, but it took four hours and several quarts of epoxy to put two layers of glass over that stringer. I need to go back and clean up some edges around the engine mounts, but otherwise I was surprised at how well it came out. I'd like to get the other one done the week after Thanksgiving, then move on to the flat surfaces.




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Looks great man. I can relate on the fiberglass. I've worked with it on several projects including car restorations and can never say I every enjoy it. The only part you enjoy is laying the last piece for the project!

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