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Formula/Thunderbird
 BoatUS Boat Groups/Manufacturer Forums>>Formula/Thunderbird
Subject Topic: 1967 Thunderbird Sioux Tri Hull 17 Post ReplyPost New Topic
 
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edaztek05
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Joined: January 17 2006
Posts: 3
Posted: January 17 2006 at 00:00 | IP Logged Quote edaztek05

Hello!

1967 Thunderbird Sioux Tri Hull 17'

I'm going to be looking at the above mentioned boat this week as someone is looking to get rid of it. The price is right.. free. They said it needed seats replaced/redone and the exhaust manifold needs replacing. Other than that I'm not sure on the condition. The engine they say is a Mercruiser 160hp. I have a mechanic friend who is able to fix just about anything so I'm sure he could help on the engine side.

My question is, does anyone have anything I should look for? Aside from obviouse damage and neglect, etc? Also, I've been looking for information on this model and haven't found any. Does this resemble any other models from that time? Any info, advice or recommondations would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!

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72/76formula
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Joined: November 22 2005
Posts: 24
Posted: January 18 2006 at 00:00 | IP Logged Quote 72/76formula

would check out the floor, stringers, and hull, make sure everything is good, use a rubber hamer and tap the transom, make sure its not roted out before starting a project. if all is good, and with formula's they usualy are build like a tank, even the old ones are a solid boat. check out the trailer also, make sure the weels are free and bearings have grease if your takeing it any distance. if both the hull and the trailer are good, then ye on a great boat. good luck, and hope ye the best.

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edaztek05
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Joined: January 17 2006
Posts: 3
Posted: July 05 2006 at 00:00 | IP Logged Quote edaztek05

Hello again all! Well, I FINALLY was able to pick up this boat. It took forever due to weather, etc, but it is now in my possession. I've started cleaning it up a bit first to see how bad it is. Overall, seems sturdy. I did find one soft spot in the floor right under where the driver's seat was (I just removed it because it was completely ruined). I'm going to keep checking it out and hopefully all will continue to pan out OK for me.


I have one question... does anyone know where I can find any info on this boat? I've been searching everywhere and cannot find a single post for this boat. I even e-mailed Formula to see if they'd have anything in there historical database, but they said the don't go back that far. If anyone would be able to point me in the right direction for this I'd be greatly appreciative.


Side note - the boat did come with two sets of brand new seats still in the box! Very happy about that!

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edaztek05
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Joined: January 17 2006
Posts: 3
Posted: August 23 2006 at 13:26 | IP Logged Quote edaztek05

Hello again all.. well I finally got it all cleaned up. I am planning on replacing most of the floor within the next few weekends. That should be interesting. We cut out one softspot on the floor and the stringers look good.

The order we're planning on attacking this now is:

1.) Replace floor and all that goes with that like side panels, etc

2.) Engine work

3.) Electrical work. There's not too much of this on this boat, so I should be fine.

4.) cosmetics

Any advice is welcome. I would post some pics, but can't figure out how to on this forum yet.....

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reintime
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Joined: October 18 2006
Posts: 6
Posted: October 18 2006 at 22:38 | IP Logged Quote reintime

Hi There. I was searching for Thunderbird stuff on the web and came across your post. You have yourself a great boat there! My father had two of these (both '67 Thunderbird Sioux) when I was growing up and I fell in love with them. One had an open bow and one had a closed bow. Both were outboad models so a little different than yours. We used them for fishing in the ocean. He still has one in excellent condition, but had to sell one some years ago. You can find some history if you search around the web. Fiberglassics.com has a section on them with company history and some brochures etc. My brother and I now have our own old Thunderbirds ('70 and '71 Shawnee). They are built like tanks and the older they are the heavier they are built. Good luck with the project!!!

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ncruz86
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Joined: November 08 2006
Posts: 5
Posted: November 08 2006 at 04:49 | IP Logged Quote ncruz86

Hello.  I just purchase a 1968 Thunderbird Shawnee.  It's in pretty good shape for a 40 year old boat, but I still need to do some restoration work before I put it in the water.  I am having trouble getting infrormation as well.  I did go to the Fiberglassics.com web site and it was great to see the brochure picture of what my boat looked like when it was new.  My big problem now is that I would like to try to find an original equipment top or a remanufactured top that I can use.  I know I can use a standard bimini top, but I would like to try to find one of the original tops that snaps into the windshield and side rails.  My boat still has the bows and the slide rail for the top, but the top has faded away with time.  If anyone has an old Thunderbird Shawnee top that is still serviceable or has the patterns for one, I would be willing to pay to take it off your hands.  If no one is willing to part with theirs, can someone at least tell me who might have experience fabricating one of these.  Perhaps I can convince them to make one for me too.  Thanks.

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reintime
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Joined: October 18 2006
Posts: 6
Posted: November 09 2006 at 15:00 | IP Logged Quote reintime

I have the complete original top for my Shawnee including side curtains etc. These were made by Water Bonnet. Mine is dated June 1970. The design depends on what type of windshield your Shawnee has. Some have a wraparound (bent plastic corner) winshield that goes back farther on the boat and some have a shorter multi-piece windshield (metal frame corners).  
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ncruz86
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Joined: November 08 2006
Posts: 5
Posted: November 09 2006 at 18:19 | IP Logged Quote ncruz86

Thanks for that information.  However, I did some research and found out that Water Bonnet no longer manufactures tops or canvas products.  Oh well.  I'll keep looking.  The more I shop around the more I am resigned to just purchasing a standard bimini top. 

By the way, my boat came with a 1969 Merc 650 (65 hp).  I was told by the previous owner that it needs some work, probaby a new cylinder.  He had never run the boat or the engine.  It had been given to him by a friend who moved away and didn't want to bother with selling the boat.  It looks like someone played around with the engine, and it may be unservicable.  I also forgot to mention that I purchased the boat, motor, and trailer for only $300.  I overhauled a small 5 hp outboard, and I am going to try to repair this Merc 650; however, it's a lot more complicated and I know that parts replacement is going to be a big issue.  If I do have to replace the outboard, what size or weight engine do you recommend?  Talking to a salesman, he said that the new 4-stroke outboards are quite a bit heavier than the 2-strokes, and even though the nameplate on my transom says that the boat is rated up to 100 HP, I may want to stick with a smaller motor because of weight.  Do you have any input on this?  I would be very interested in your opinion.

Also, for anyone reading this who is restoring this type of boat, my plan right now (in case anyone is interested) is the following:

My boat has the original yellow gel-coat exterior which is faded and chalky right now.  The topside fiberglas is chalky and flat white.  Since the hull is in good shape (no holes), I plan to rub down and wax the hull exterior until it shines again.  I don't know if the topside fiberglas is gel-coated.  If anyone reading this has restored the topside, I would be interested in your opinion of how to recondition it, or what paint (if any) is recommended.  The carpet that was in the rear section of the boat was deteriorated, so I completely removed all carpeting and plan on just painting the floor area with glossy white acrylic latex paint, then putting down strips of black non-skid tape.  I will be replacing the seats as well.  Luckily, replacement lounge seats are relatively cheap and readily available from many different suppliers.  Now the transom exterior has a different finish than the sides.  I assume that it's because the paint is something other than gel-coat or and/or the material underneath is something different than just fiberglas.  It looks like the transom exterior is a little pitted, not smooth.  I plan to fill the pits and holes with bondo filler, then sanding it down and painting it with primer and glossy yellow acrylic latex paint.  I used acrylic latex on a wooden boat I built earlier this year, and it worked fine.  I don't necessarily need a high-performance paint finish using marine paint.  I plan on using my boat for fishing and water sports, not as a show piece.  However if anyone has a better idea of how to refurbish the transom, please let me know.

Thanks for you advice and input. - Norm

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reintime
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Joined: October 18 2006
Posts: 6
Posted: November 09 2006 at 20:01 | IP Logged Quote reintime

I think purchasing and off-the-shelf bimini top is not a bad idea. I can tell you that the original tops are very low and not really that great unless you like to bend way down to go in and out of the cockpit area. My brother and I both have Thunderbird Shawnees and we both extended our tops so we can stand up under them.

I can definitely give you some advice on engines. First of all, does your Shawnee have an open or closed bow? I ask because weight distribution makes a significant difference in getting these boats up on plane. You can probably tell that they are built like tanks and quite heavy as a result. Mine came with a 60hp Evinrude 2-stroke that weighed about 200 lbs. This pushed the boat along pretty nicely (~25-30 knots) but still struggled to get on plane with a full load (4 people and gear). I replaced it with a 2001 Evinrude 50hp 4-Stroke  that weighs 238 lbs. This has a top speed of about 25 knots with just me in the boat. The extra weight does not seem to make a difference in how the boat sits in the water. The new engine does not have as much power as the old one, but makes up for it in all other areas of performance. It is extremely reliable, extremely fuel efficient and extremely quiet at trolling speeds. Also, you don't have to mix oil in the gas and you don't have any blue smoke (I have to admit I miss the smell of 2-stroke oil in the morning...).

Horsepower selection depends on how many people you typically plan to have in the boat. The 50hp 4-Stroke is okay for 1-2 people, but it is somewhat underpowered with more than that. If you are planning to do a lot of waterskiing I think you would want something with more power. If I were to do it again I think I would go for the 70hp model even though it is much heavier. I think the tradeoff would be worth it. My dad has the 70hp model on his Sioux (18 ft. Thunderbird) and it has plenty of power. These boats are fairly tolerant of weight on the transom so I think it would be okay. If you can find a good used 2-Stroke that would be okay too. I have to leave now, but I can elaborate on this more if you have more questions...

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ncruz86
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Joined: November 08 2006
Posts: 5
Posted: November 12 2006 at 01:21 | IP Logged Quote ncruz86

Thanks for your adivice.  It is very much appreciated.  I will go with the Bimini top and make it high enough to stand underneath.  To answer your question, my Shawnee has an open bow.  If I can't get the old 65 HP Merc working, then I'll try to get an engine of 70 HPl or greater.  I do plan on doing a lot of waterskiing when the kids get older.  For now, I just want to do a little fishing and go out on the lake once in a while.  I saw a picture of a Thunderbird with a modification to it's top like you describe.  I attached it.  Is this what you did?  I also attached a picture of my boat when I picked it up.  I saw a lot of boat pictures with this yellow and white paint scheme so I assume it's the original paint job.  -Norm

P.S. It sound like you use your boat for a lot of fishing.  Did you install rod holders and if so, where did you put them.  Is it better to do all your fishing between the rear seats and the transom or do you do most of your fishing up in the bow where there's plenty of room? 

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reintime
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Joined: October 18 2006
Posts: 6
Posted: November 12 2006 at 13:47 | IP Logged Quote reintime

You're welcome. Based on my experience, the more power you have on these boats the better because they are quite heavy. Also, with more horsepower you can back off the throttle a little bit when you are cruising which can save some gas.

My boat is also the open bow model. This means you will probably have your gas tanks in the back of the boat in the port and starboard corners. The closed bow models allow a person to put the gas in the bow which balances the boat out better. However, like I said before these boats seem to be pretty tolerant of weight on the stern so I don't think having a heavier motor is a big problem.

The top shown in the picture you posted is very similar to what my brother and I have done with out tops. That looks like a custom made deal which is really the way to go if you have the money or a good sewing machine. If you will mostly be out in nice weather then a good bimini top should be adequate to give you shade from the sun and light rain.

The yellow and white color scheme is the most common for old Thunderbirds, but they also came in white and baby blue. The topside is always white gelcoat. These boats were always gelcoated and not painted as far as I know. If you see one painted it was probably done by the owner.

In regards to fishing from these boats - yes, I pretty much use my boat exclusively for fishing. I troll 95% of the time (mostly with downriggers) so my rod holders are set in the middle and back of the boat. If you plan to still fish it is nice to mount a few rod holders on the bow rail. I had some there, but used them so seldom that I took them off. When I had my 2-Stroke motor I used a small 4hp kicker motor for trolling, but now my 4-Stroke trolls great. I have posted a picture of my boat so you can see where my rod holders are - I have six pretty much evenly spaced from the back of the seats to the stern plus the 4 that you see the rods in in the picture (those are just used for storage). My downriggers are set just behind the seats. This setup works extremely well for trolling. Note that I have removed the original lounge seats and replaced them with single swivel seats on top storage boxes. This is personal preference of course. I just wanted more fishing room in the back of the boat.



Edited by reintime on November 12 2006 at 14:02
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ncruz86
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Joined: November 08 2006
Posts: 5
Posted: November 12 2006 at 17:00 | IP Logged Quote ncruz86

Thanks for sharing the picture of your boat.  It looks great!  It gives me something to shoot for.  I have a 3HP and a 5 HP motor.  If I use the two stroke Merc 650, then I'll use one of these small motors for trolling.  I'm glad you told me about your seats.  The lounge seats that came with my boat are too deteriorated to salvage and I was going to replace them with the same kind of seats as were originally installed; however, I am going to think about this a little more.  I might install pedestal seats like you did.  We'll see.  Thanks again - Norm
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reintime
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Joined: October 18 2006
Posts: 6
Posted: November 12 2006 at 17:26 | IP Logged Quote reintime

Thanks for the compliment - there are many hours of work there, but I did have a pretty good hull to start with (always stored inside). The only major problem it had was a rotten floor because water had been left in the bilge by the previous owner and the lower hull was painted when I got it so I removed the paint and shined up the original gelcoat.

Your small motors will work perfect to troll with. We used various 2-4hp motors and they were adequate for trolling. You will probably want to get a linkage rod to your main motor so you can steer with the wheel, but you probably already know that. 

If you have any questions as you proceed feel free to ask. I don't claim to be an expert on these, but we do have 5 of them in my family (3 Shawnees, 1 Sioux, 1 25 footer) so I have seen many of the variations and different aspects of the Thunderbird design. Good luck with it!

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reintime
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Joined: October 18 2006
Posts: 6
Posted: November 12 2006 at 19:10 | IP Logged Quote reintime

Here is another picture of my boat that shows the top more clearly. I am about 6' 1" so you can see roughly how high it is (that is me standing up). I plan to make my own top for it with side and back curtains, but have not had time to do it yet. This picture also shows where my seats are positioned. 

 

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ncruz86
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Joined: November 08 2006
Posts: 5
Posted: January 12 2007 at 03:42 | IP Logged Quote ncruz86

Now that the holidays are over, I'm starting to work on my boat project again.  It's really starting to come together!  I did some trouble shooting and found out that my Merc 650 has a bad starter motor and starter solenoid.  Moreover, one of the cylinders had zero compression.  Because the cost of replacement parts was going to be pretty steep and because I wanted to get a bigger engine for waterskiing, I just decided to remove the Merc 650 and get a different engine.  Someone in Illinois sold me their Merc 850 (85 HP) including controls and gas tank for $400.  According to the seller, the motor is running.  It was shipped last week and I just mounted it on my boat, but the controls are missing a couple of small parts, and the control cables were disconnected from the control box.  I think that when the cables were removed, the two small parts fell out and were lost.  I thought about taking getting the parts I need by removing them from the old Mercontrol box (for the Merc 650) that was originally on the boat; however, I think I might try to use the old Mercontrol box with the 85 HP engine.  All the connections look the same and my old Mercontrol box is in better condition cosmetically than the one that came with the Merc 850.  Another thing that's wrong with the Merc 850 is that the prop is all chewed up.  It looks like it dug up a lot of gravel and it's in really bad shape.  The prop on the Merc 650 is in good shape and I would like to use it to replace the chewed-up one, but it looks like it has a smaller pitch and diameter than the one currently on the Merc 850.  I have to do some research on this.   By the way, my old motor came with power trim/tilt, but the hydraulic hoses were broken.  The Merc 850 I just installed does not have power trim/tilt capability.  So I just completely removed the power trim/tilt system to cut down on weight and clutter. 

I installed a trolling motor mount and I wil be mounting a 5 Horsepower 1968 British Seagull motor as my auxiliary/trolling motor.  It's a very simple and reliable motor, and I feel more comfortable having it as a backup in case my Merc 850 stops working.  Some background on this installation.  I originally thought that I was going to be getting my Merc 650 and its power trim/tilt system working.  Because of that, I couldn't mount an auxiliary motor mount on the port side of the transom becuase that's where the hydraulic unit for the power trim/tilt system was installed.  Becuase of propellor side force, I knew that the port side is where the auxiliary motor should go.  Another part of this installation story is that my British Seagull Motor is a long shaft model.  For all these reasons, I installed a "universal" trolling motor mount on top of the rear deck on the port side.  The motor is clamped to a composite board that has a metal bar attached to it.  The metal bar slips into the surface mounted piece and is secured using a spring tensioned pin.  It's not as solid as the more popular motor mounts, but it suits my needs.

I found out that the pitted paint on the transom was a previous attempt to touch up the boat.  Using acetone and elbow grease, I was able to remove the incompatible paint and get down to the original yellow gel-coat. 

I used to be in the Navy and I spent several years on board ships in all kinds of weather.  Because of that, I am very cautious about safety and weather.  I purchased and installed a marine compass.  I also installed an immersion-proof marine radio.  My boat came with a good anchor that is more than adequate for my size boat; however, I was unhappy with the poor condition of the lines and hardware, so I re-rigged the assembly and included heavy-duty chain, anchor shackles and I safety-wired them. 

The running lights were failing intermittently, so I replaced them.  The original horn and horn button didn't work either so I replaced them as well

I plan to do some fishing, and my friends who fish kept mentioning the use of a fish-finder whenever we talked about getting together.  So I was keeping my eyes open for a fish finder to install.  Luckily for me, I was browsing craigs list on the internet for my area (Las Vegas) and I found an ad for a fish finder.  The seller had won the fish finder at a company Christmas party as a door prize, but he didn't fish.  So I got a Humminbird 585C for $200 and it was still in the box unopened.  List price was almost $400 so I was happy with the deal.  I just hooked it up last week and turned it on.  Wow, it looks great!  I thought I was going to have to get some bare-bones black and white thing, but the one I have has all kinds of features and it's in bright color.

I laced up a steering wheel cover for my boat's steering wheel.  The steering wheel cover is black and so is the fish-finder, the compass, and the marine radio.  I purposely wanted these items to be black in order to offset the white color of the topside fiberglass and the new white lounge seats.  By the way, I thought about installing single seats or pedestal seats, but my wife really liked the lounge seats, and we figured that it would be better for when we were out with the kids and our friends.  I let my nieces and nephews play in the boat and I quickily discovered that if you lay out the lounge seat so that a person could stretch out, it can also be used as a bench seat.  Four children can comfortabley sit on one lounge seat. 

On the trailer, I replaced the lighting system and the winch.  So you see, I have done quite a bit of work, but it's been fun and I'm learning alot.  This weekend I hope to get the motor hooked up and at least turned-over.  I also need to test-operate my small motors that I use on my skiff.  I have been so busy working on my Thunderbird Shawnee that I neglected to lay-up my two small motors for the winter.  So I need to run them.  I should have stored them away properly a long time ago, but since I think I'll be using them in only two more months, I should probably just run them for a while.

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