Meet "Catch Happy One" - Our 1957 Trailerboat Restomod
The starting point.
This project started with a 13ft fiberglass shallow V-hull 1957 Trailorboat, obtained with trailer and 18hp 1968 Evinrude outboard for $800. Technically, the motor was 'running', but in reality, the chances of starting it and keeping it running were slim. The boat 'amenities' included a rough sheet of plywood on the bottom and two Walmart seats attached to it. Steering was actuated with an extra-crispy rope-and-pulley system. The remote gear and throttle were completely broken, so having remote steering was hardly a convenience at that moment. The Motor.
Pretty much the first thing I started tinkering with was the motor. When it did run, it was raspy, smoky, and oily. After initially careful pokes here and there (as it was the first outboard I've ever tinkered with), I figured out we don't have much to lose and tore right into it with hands and feet. Some part hunting proved to be a challenge for that motor of that age, but with frequent eBay scans, I was able to get a few broken part replacements along with new pistons, rings, gaskets, etc. The unicorn part was the carb adjustment needle, as all the ones that did end up on eBay once in a blue moon were just as worn out as mine. I did luck out eventually finding a NOS part on eBay for fairly cheap, and with that, the motor was completed. It wasn't as raspy and loose as before and didn't spread oil and gas everywhere, but starting and smooth acceleration were still a problem. A solution to those would come a bit later when I discovered that a little plastic cam that controlled timing advance was cracked and was flexing. After fabricating brass replacement, the motor immediately found its manners. Well, as much as 50yr old 2-stroke could at least. The Electric
Figuring that we may want to use the boat around Bay Area lakes here, many of which only allows electric motors, I really wanted to try my hand at an electric outboard. We did have 35 lb Minn-Kota, but it wasn't really a way to get around. So naturally, after looking around for a potential donor, I stumbled across a late 50's Evinrude 3hp Yaghtwin. It was about the right size, and who doesn't love that 50's styling? So after some cleaning, polishing, and extraction of the original motor (actually got it running, just for kicks) I scoured my spare-part bins for some hoverboard parts and started to piece together an electric drive. The motor itself (generic 1000W 36VDC 3-phase motor from amazon, originally sold for e-bike conversion) was coupled with a driveshaft, mounted on a fabricated aluminum plate, packaged with a small 350W motor controller and a hoverboard battery inside an original motor casing. The integrated gas tank was cut open and turned into a motor lid to make some more space inside the cowling. For control, I added an e-scooter control handle that came with the motor controller (bought as a set). That made this motor portable and independent of any peripherals. However, to take advantage of a bigger controller and more battery capacity, I added external phase connectors, which allowed me to connect external controller output straight to motor phase input, integrating it into a boat's electrical system. That system included two battery options: a 24amp-hr lithium battery pack, and a 24amp-hr lead-acid battery pack. Both have their own advantages and shortfalls, so I figured having two would be useful. The boat
Since the boat is rather small, and even a single person sitting on either side of it made it tilt to that side quite a bit, I decided to move the steering system (which was now upgraded to a rack-and-pinion cable system) with the steering wheel to the center of the boat and re-arrange sitting in tandem configuration rather than side-by-side. I added a very shallow sub-floor with ribs and a drain channel, giving the boat a nice flat deck. Added side consoles with compartments and various parts bins and cupholders for convenience. The dashboard has also been re-created around a centered steering wheel with the original speedo and ignition lock, along with some new additions like a switch panel, voltage and amperage gauges, and electric throttle lever. The boat system use 12V for operation, utilizing an ATV battery with a solar panel mounted on the bimini top to keep that battery full to run fish finder, chargers, music, and nav lights. Electric drive controls use a 36V system to monitor battery condition and motor loads also integrated into the dashboard.
We hope you'll see Catch Happy One in action on your YouTube channel in the near future.
By Paul Osenenko
Book your own guided river salmon trip here: https://www.catchhappy.co/