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Formula/Thunderbird
 BoatUS Boat Groups/Manufacturer Forums>>Formula/Thunderbird
Subject Topic: Flipper boat - 69 Formula Thunderbird Post ReplyPost New Topic
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Flipper1969
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Joined: August 15 2005
Posts: 8
Posted: August 15 2005 at 00:00 | IP Logged Quote Flipper1969

I was given this boat and thought that I might want to try restoring it, since I know virtually nothing about boats.

Suffice it to say, I dont have the time to devote to such a project.

Anyone want to make an offer on it?

I have photos.

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233 Double E
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Joined: May 05 2004
Posts: 116
Posted: August 16 2005 at 00:00 | IP Logged Quote 233 Double E

Flipper,

That's perhaps good news for someone...  We're interested to hear more about it. 

What is its history with where you got it from, where it was used, how many owners, etc.

What's the overall condition? (Be as detailed as you want.)  Does it have a trailer? Color? Engine type? What is it rigged for? Fishing or Cruising?

Let us know when you get time...and good luck.

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KeithO
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Joined: September 04 2005
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Posted: September 04 2005 at 00:00 | IP Logged Quote KeithO

Just seen Flipper 1969's post about a boat for resto.  Is this like the cathedral-hulled I/O as used as the Park Ranger's boat in the original "Flipper" TVseries?  I've been looking for one for years!
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KeithO
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Posted: September 04 2005 at 00:00 | IP Logged Quote KeithO

OK, just seen a picture of your boat on another website. The boat you have is NOT the same type of boat from "Flipper", but close.  You have a Thunderbird Comanche or Pawnee, which is a 19' ouboard. The boat on Flipper was a 23' Iroquois, powered by twin inboards. Same hull-type (catherdral) and they look alike, so as you admit to not knowing about boats I'll forgive you for getting my hopes up!   If anyone out there knows of an Iroqouis please post!
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sjl626
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Posted: September 04 2005 at 00:00 | IP Logged Quote sjl626

Flipper, what are the specs? i.e. power, drive, etc.  Have you got a price in mind.  Please email me direct @sjl626@hotmail.com.  SJ
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funnyboy
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Posted: September 06 2005 at 00:00 | IP Logged Quote funnyboy

Does anyone even have a picture of an Iroquios?  For a boat that was very popular in its day, I have seen not a one for sale or on the water or in backyards.  I too, have looked for a few years.

I already have a '70 Apache 187 (bowrider) with an outboard.  Its a fabulous, smooth riding hull.

John

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KeithO
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Joined: September 04 2005
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Posted: September 06 2006 at 00:00 | IP Logged Quote KeithO

I did track down one of the original boats actually used for filming later episodes of Flipper, (via the son of the (late)designer Richard Cole) but she'd been underwater, both engines were shot and it was just too much of a project for me to take on. Also I'm in Sth Africa so I had to buy her sight unseen, despite lots of really kind people off the "Fiberglassics" website offering me their help. So, still looking - the dream of owning that boat has lasted almost 40years, so I'm not giving up now!

I have a few pics - a T'Bird / Flipper tie-in ad which shows the '65 model,  aT'Bird '67 brochure, and some others, but they're too big to upload (not that they're huge files, but there seems to be a 15kb(?) size limit).  Post your mail address or mail me at kro@telkomsa.net and I'll happily send them direct.

I was a huge fan of the show in the 60s (I was 7years old in 67), but only because of the boat! I distinctly remember the model change (there are some obvious differences) 

Cheers from an Iroqous fan in Johannesburg!

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79T233
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Joined: September 16 2005
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Posted: September 16 2006 at 00:00 | IP Logged Quote 79T233

Here is a 21', similar to flipper boat.

<link removed>




Edited by Sonja Lowe on September 20 2013 at 15:53
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Pasogrande
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Joined: June 21 2008
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Posted: June 21 2008 at 23:22 | IP Logged Quote Pasogrande

Is this topic dead?

I have a 1969 Thunderbird, 22 feet long, with walk-through cuddy cabin.    I do not believe it is an Iriquois, but that general shape.

It is powered by a Ford 302 motor with a Penta 207 outdrive top speed around 30 mph.

Would like to talk to anybody with a similar boat or interested in "Flipper" boats.

 
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submarinesailor
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Posted: September 04 2008 at 11:19 | IP Logged Quote submarinesailor

Hi, Iam the proud owner of a 68 iroquios that I am restoring, It is a little different in that I have a single outdrive (Merc) and a 165 in line GM 6. The Cuddy windows are also rectangular not round. I will be posting pics as the restoration continues. My main issue at present is a 2' by 2' rot area in the transom, but I don't think that will be very hard to repair. (someone left an open hole) I also have to install a holding tank for the head. Any info or helpful hints greatly appreciated. I did enjoy the article in DIY about your boat in Johannesburg KiethO. I was here years ago as pcdoc and the restoration had to be put on hold, but it is now officially underway, My initial post was im a newbe and I noticed it is still in the forum.

Edited by submarine sailor FTBC on September 04 2008 at 11:33


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Pasogrande
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Joined: June 21 2008
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Posted: September 06 2008 at 10:30 | IP Logged Quote Pasogrande

Hi Submarine Sailor,

It's good to hear that I am not the only one working on an old Thunderbird.   My problem is that I bought another, younger, boat and naturally my enthusiasm goes to the newer toy.

I got rid of the scruffy wooden door into the cuddy and replaced it with 1/2 inch smoked acrylic;  also the cover.   Wow what a difference that made.   Of course it looks less like an original.   I too have sliding windows, not round.   The previous owner replaced the head with a Porta-Pottie.

Let me know your progress.

Pasogrande.

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submarinesailor
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Posted: September 11 2008 at 14:37 | IP Logged Quote submarinesailor

The news is only worse, now its a new longblock, seems as the block has a 6 inch crack in # 4. I hope to order on Monday, I think I found a good deal at about $1150.00 for the engine. So is the way with boats and water. I will be posting pictures later this week or next



Edited by submarinesailor on September 11 2008 at 14:38


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Diablo
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Joined: September 28 2008
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Posted: September 28 2008 at 14:24 | IP Logged Quote Diablo

I have a 1970 Thunderbird 19' Cheyenne that I completely restored structurally.  New everything from the stringers up.  It looks like a smaller version of the boat from Flipper except mine is outboard powered.  Here are a couple links to a T-Bird brochure showing the 1969 version of the Cheyene  http://www.fiberglassics.com/thunderbird/69thndr002.jpg

http://www.fiberglassics.com/thunderbird/69thndr001.jpg

I am shocked by how well the boat rides.Big Smile  As expected, it's very stable both at rest and at speed but, I was truely amazed by how smooth the ride is in rough water.  Richard Cole certainly got the design right.  I've owned and rode on many other Tri-hulls that would knock your teeth out in choppy water.Dead  Not the Thunderbird Cheyenne. I've also owned to top line deep vee designs and believe the Thunderbird is one of the best all around hulls I've owned.

The deep-V center hull of the Cheyenne's Cathedral hull design really provides a great ride.Clap

If anyone has questions I'll be glad to help if I can.

Okay I'm going to try to add some pics.  Love the deep V which is carried from the bow to the transom.  Also love the 12' of open cockpit which is impossible to find on a modern 18.5' cuddy cabin hull.  All this and a grest ride too...



Edited by Diablo on October 30 2011 at 17:38


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embibb
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Joined: August 06 2008
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Posted: January 27 2010 at 20:06 | IP Logged Quote embibb

here is a pic of the original Iroquois in the series... anyone out there have a restored one?   
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Pasogrande
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Joined: June 21 2008
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Posted: January 27 2010 at 22:56 | IP Logged Quote Pasogrande

Mine is not an Iroquois.   It is registered as a 1969 22' Thunderbird, but sold to me as a Woodie, as they were called for a while. 

If I knew how I would post a picture!!!


Edited by Pasogrande on January 27 2010 at 22:58
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Tiger
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Joined: February 25 2010
Posts: 17
Posted: February 28 2010 at 11:07 | IP Logged Quote Tiger

Quote: funnyboy

Does anyone even have a picture of an Iroquios?  For a boat that was very popular in its day, I have seen not a one for sale or on the water or in backyards.  I too, have looked for a few years.

I already have a '70 Apache 187 (bowrider) with an outboard.  Its a fabulous, smooth riding hull.

John



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submarinesailor
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Posted: March 01 2010 at 14:23 | IP Logged Quote submarinesailor

I am still working on my "Flipper" boat. It is a 23 ft 1967 Iroquios with a single inline six GMC and an Alpha Outdrive. Mine is in reasonable condition, it's just having the time to work on it. I will take some pictures and paste them in as soon as I can take some current photos..

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shucker1
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Joined: July 19 2010
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Posted: July 19 2010 at 19:12 | IP Logged Quote shucker1

I actually have a 1966 T Bird Iroquois still in running condition.

The hull is a 1966 and was powered by twin Merc 120's.

I suffered a catastrophic engine failure in 1987 on the port side. Dropped intake valve on #3.

Repowered to twin Merc 3.0LX (135 HP) 4cyl units in 1988.

I had a Starboard lower gear case failure in 2008 and have not run since.

Trying to find time to do a refresh, but need to work so I can pay for it.

Changing out one lower unit to counter rotation gear set with larger pitch props.

Need to rebuild carbs, gimbal bearings, drive seals, drive boots. etc.

Any info I can provide please let me know.



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Shucker1
Metairie, LA
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shucker1
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Joined: July 19 2010
Posts: 6
Posted: July 19 2010 at 19:26 | IP Logged Quote shucker1

P.S.

I had a good cruise speed of about 27 MPH @ 3000 RPM swinging 13 1\4 X 23 P

SST props.

Fuel burn was about 6-7 GPH.

Got some good high resoultion picts but I can't post them here.



Edited by shucker1 on July 19 2010 at 19:28


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Shucker1
Metairie, LA
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Pasogrande
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Joined: June 21 2008
Posts: 4
Posted: July 19 2010 at 21:03 | IP Logged Quote Pasogrande

Shuckier,

Check out a company called Sterndrive Engineering Inc located near Tampa Florida.   On my other boat I just replaced a Mercruiser Alpha One Gen One (Counter Rotation) with an SE106CR from SEI.   Their prices are great and their warranties are excellent.   They sell new units (no core needed) and work perfectly if you follow the run in procedure.
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Tiger
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Joined: February 25 2010
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Posted: July 19 2010 at 23:24 | IP Logged Quote Tiger

I phoned Formula / Thunderbird to try to get info on my Thunderbird "Iroquois". I was told that those records are no longer kept at the current factory. But, I did find out how rare these boats really are. I was told that Thunderbird only built around 10 t0 12 of the "Iroquois" each year!

  My rebuild is coming along just fine. But, it won't be a restore. It will be a 'custom" build. I'm finding out just how expensive the word MARINE is on each part I buy. But, I will have an awesome boat for my company, Treasure Hunters Unlimited, in Southern Oregon.

  I still need to find a few important parts. Progress photos on request.  Best regards, "Tiger"



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shucker1
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Posted: July 20 2010 at 10:01 | IP Logged Quote shucker1

Quite a few years back I actually got in touch with Mr. Cole's son and got a copy of the original Thunderbird Sales sheet.

I think that dead weight was about 5500 LBS.

I'll see if I can't hunt it down.

I saw another post on this site about it having a good ride, I'll second that.

I have put a lot of miles and a lot of fish through this boat (Plus a couple of mud flats LOL)

Always remember "A boat is a hole in the water that a man constantly puts his money into"



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Shucker1
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BigLew
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Joined: August 08 2010
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Posted: August 08 2010 at 23:51 | IP Logged Quote BigLew

I hope I am not bursting anyone's bubble, but I grew up running an Iroquois for about 8 years and then "inherited" it and put it back into shape in the mid '80s before I sold it four years later. 

The Iroquios is a 20' footer with sngle power.  Ours ('64 or '65) had a a merc 160 hp I/O.  It easily cruised at 30 and would top out about 36 to 40- no GPS back then.  It was all mark to mark and a watch.

With regard to the Thunderbird on the TV show 'Flipper", that was a '23 w/ twin I/O's.  Probably 120-140hp a piece; maybe 160's, but I doubt it.

The ride was very good in any rugular wave pattern, but would slap you silly is a BIG chop.  I remeber running back to Chatham from Nantucket in 5-6's with a 15-20 mph wind from the north.  Dry,at least up front, but a real bear.  You just couldn't get it up to let the hull do it's thing and and it was up the front and down the back all while getting slapped around by the chop.

I would like to get out in one again for old times sake. Currently I have an '85  23' Seacraft Scepter with a Volvo 260 I/O and I love it to death!  However, I do plan on bumping the power to 300+, God willing.



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submarinesailor
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Posted: August 12 2010 at 08:16 | IP Logged Quote submarinesailor

Hi everyone, I am still in the long process of restoring a 68 23 foot Iroquios. I have a 165 mercruser with a new engine and I am now rebuilding the outdrive. Someone before me removed all the emblems and I am still looking for some originals ( off an old Thuinderbird if possible) If anyone knows where and old derelict or someone who has some of the old emblems I would like to get in Touch. This has  (and still is) a real Labor of love for this old boat and I really want to get it back to its natural habitat ( the water) . I will post some pictures as soon as I can to show my progress..

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shucker1
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Posted: August 13 2010 at 05:26 | IP Logged Quote shucker1

I have got the factory emblems on mine but one is cracked.

I have actually thought about taking them off and having copies made out of Stainless Steel.

It's actually easy to do with a water cutter.

Just expensive.

I can get you some pictures and perhaps some dimensions if you want.



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Shucker1
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Tiger
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Posted: August 13 2010 at 07:59 | IP Logged Quote Tiger

When are you going to post the photos and info on the Flipper 69?  What is your location?   "Tiger"     Tigersmail@msn.com

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submarinesailor
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Posted: August 13 2010 at 12:37 | IP Logged Quote submarinesailor

I will try and get the pictures this weekend,(weather permitting) and post them for all to see. I am in Northern Virginia in the Shenandoah Valley. I'm an old submarine sailor and I still love the open Ocean, One of my projects ia a full glass cokpit for my flipper, (radar,GPS and sonar.) The First Mate and I wanrt to cruise the intercoastal.

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seadover
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Posted: December 13 2010 at 09:11 | IP Logged Quote seadover

Hi All;

Not an Iroquois but,

Grew up working a Great Lakes marina gas dock in the late 60's as a teen and remember the Thunderbird cathedrals. Always wanted one and well time passes.

I did come across a 68 Comanche this spring that had survived time and owner neglect and snapped it up. It is not without issues but they are within reason. It is Mercruiser 120 powered.

I've worked as a marine sevice professional for the past 40 yrs and have very little time during the season for my "projects". For this one I will not fade. The big decision is whether to up upgrade the Mercruiser drive system from the MC1 package to a more modern transom system. It is the old conflict of keeping it original or not.

Hope the threads here keep the talk regarding the Thunderbird cathedrals alive as so little is available online. Thanks to all for your contributions.

Steve

 



Edited by seadover on December 14 2010 at 20:00
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shucker1
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Posted: December 14 2010 at 15:31 | IP Logged Quote shucker1

Seadover,

  I actually had a set of the 120 MC packages in mine. They worked good till about 1988 when I dropped a valve in the Port Engine.

 

  We put a lot of hours on those engines. You know as well as I do with an older engine your worst problem will be parts.

 I now have a set of 1988 MCM 3.0 Alpha 1 Gen 1 units and things have been good so far. Fuel effiency is good, about 6 GPH @ cruise \ 27 MPH.

 During the down time this winter I plan on changing one drive to counter rotation.



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Shucker1
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seadover
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Posted: December 14 2010 at 21:04 | IP Logged Quote seadover

Shucker1;

No doubt parts availability is an issue for those of us that prefer some of the older classics. As you are also aware there have been some design improvements over the MC1 drive systems as we moved forward in drive design.

I was lucky this past summer in finding a nearly complete (less the drive unit) 1969 120 engine package for free by pulling it from a soon to be scrapped boat. The engine had been sitting out exposed but upon teardown was found to be in quite good condition and of low hours. Surprisingly, externally it looks better than the one in the boat. I also have a line on a complete 3.0L engine/drive package (MR or Alpha 1) at a fair price that I am considering.

My boat looks identical to the pic Embibb posted other than it is a single and perhaps a foot or so less in length.

BigLew;

You made a great point about the chacteristics of cathedral hulls when pushed. I have run nearly all the power catamarans out there in the marketplace for the past 15 yrs; it's all about knowing your hull characteristics vs sea conditions and running smart.

I have excellent wood in the my boat except for two areas; the stbd side of the transom is bad and the cabin top where the windscreen thru bolts had passed through the balsa coring has failed. These are my winter projects. A complete new transom and windscreen base. Though more expensive, I am considering some of the synthetic board materials as coring. I have pulled my engine in preparation for replacing the transom.

Unfortunately, like submarine sailor I am missing some emblems taken off sometime in the past. In my case it was the hullside Thunderbird name.

 

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Terrytunes
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Posted: April 07 2011 at 10:00 | IP Logged Quote Terrytunes

I have a 1969 Thunderbird 18.5' with a Mercury 115hp outboard. I am trying to determine which model it is. The HIN plate is long gone and the paperwork just says '1969 Thunderbird'.

Any help would be most appreciated.



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Diablo
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Posted: April 07 2011 at 12:25 | IP Logged Quote Diablo

Does this help?



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Terrytunes
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Posted: April 07 2011 at 12:46 | IP Logged Quote Terrytunes

That's a HUGE help!!!

It's a Comanche!!

I don't suppose you happen to have any closer or more detailed photos do you??

I'm still restoring it.

Thanks again.



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Tiger
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Posted: April 07 2011 at 19:44 | IP Logged Quote Tiger

Quote: Terrytunes

That's a HUGE help!!!

It's a Comanche!!

I don't suppose you happen to have any closer or more detailed photos do you??

I'm still restoring it.

Thanks again.



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Tiger
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Posted: April 07 2011 at 19:49 | IP Logged Quote Tiger

I also have a Thunderbird brochure that states that a "Cheyenne" is 18'3".  The "Arapaho" is 20' 2". The "Sioux" is 17'. And I have a "Iroquois" that is 23' 6" without the outdrive.  "Tiger" in Medford, Oregon.

 



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Diablo
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Posted: April 07 2011 at 20:31 | IP Logged Quote Diablo

Glad this helps.  I was trying to cut and paste the 1969 catalog but, for some reason I couldn't get it to work. 

Click on the link in my posting up above.  That will take you to the FiberGlassic web site. Click on the library button. Click on Thunderbird and you'll find plenty of literature on old Tbirds.

 



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Tiger
"Seaman Recruit"




Joined: February 25 2010
Posts: 17
Posted: April 07 2011 at 21:19 | IP Logged Quote Tiger

How about some photo postings of some Thunderbird Boats. I will post some on my Iroquois is anyone wants to see them.   Tigersmail@msn.com   "Tiger"

 



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I have a Thunderbird Iroquois boat
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Pactola72
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Joined: August 14 2011
Posts: 4
Posted: August 14 2011 at 18:02 | IP Logged Quote Pactola72

I was doing some periodical research and got hooked for a couple days on the whole "Flipper" Ricks Family and the" Iroquois Launch", i too was a huge fan back in the day growing up.
It indeed was a boat in it`s day, a working Tower of Power, but as a retired body and fender man / mechanic [corvettes / boats] , i needed to delve into the matter a bit further, those mysterious behind the scenes technical facts, which i really could not find a whole lot of documentation other than some pics.
From what i can make out, Richard Cole patented this boat twice and the other models were then taken from the Iroquois, presumably being the "Master Template" for the rest in descending footage order. I would assume there were various trim packages attached to each model which would also include underwater / waterproofed hull lighting to the rounded or rectangular port windows installed in the cuddy cabins.Twin and single I/O horse power units and single outboards on the smallest of the cathedral model line. Without doubt, the "Flipper" series promoted grand sales and filled Mr. Cole`s financial portfolio with an overabundance of working capital for his Thunderbird  company and boat designs.

Though they are grand thoughts of ownership, this would indeed be a massive project restoring a boat with twin power units and drives , let alone all the gel coat repair , glass repairs and the painting, then there is the hardware refinishing or replacement to bring one of these units up to running snuff thinking it would be do-it yourself around $10k for boat and trailer when all is said and done and 400 to 600 man hours of labor to R&R and refinish everything, it would be a gleamer on the lake though , that`s for sure.

The reality is, Ricks was a park ranger, and the State of Florida paid for his fuel /service expenses and anytime anything needed to be repaired, the launch would be dropped off at the Coral Key Marina, and all he would do is sign for the repairs and the state would be billed for it, a whole different ball game with work spaces , money, and impatient spouses. I have no doubt this working mans boat produced an incredible amount of speed and power, and drank a quantity of fuel to do that, but when your Coral Keys only Park ranger catching bad guys and keeping the coral park preserved............stick the ooogaH! horn into the water and call "Flipper"!!!



Edited by Pactola72 on August 14 2011 at 18:05
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Pactola72
"Seaman Recruit"




Joined: August 14 2011
Posts: 4
Posted: August 14 2011 at 18:18 | IP Logged Quote Pactola72

I believe these old twins are in a Mako.
One thing i learned out of the past is i don`t use solvent anymore for cleanup work, i buy WD-40 [petroleum distillates] from Home Depot in a gallon can, use a spray bottle to soak the grease down, scour everything with various nylon bristled brushes,  use a large syringe to draw up the excess puddles and put into a dead can and capped for hazardous waste and wipe up gook with towels and news paper. I then spray that down with Zep Citrus Orange concentrate from Home Depot in the gallon jug using it full strength, then hose it off cold water with the garden hose.

It`s the only thing i have found to throughly clean aluminum engine components, the WD-40 dissolves like butter, soaking brittle hard piston carbon to sludgy grease and the Zep rinses everything sparkling ,  like brand new. [I`m restoring an 86` Jaguar XJS v-12 at the moment] from there using cheap lacquer thinner from the hardware store [sunnyside brand], i rag wipe the remaining fiberglass down to remove any traces of oil film before grinding and glassing repair areas for maximum bonding strength. Anytime fiberglass is worked, it needs to be throughly scuffed, ground or sanded, even the rough stuff underneath, the old paint over spray needs to be gone over with a wire brush wheel mounted in a drill motor or polisher/grinder and throughly cleaned.

When replacing / repairing transoms especially, use a 36/40 grit auto body grinding disk and get into fresh glass completely and entirely, not surface scuffing or sanding, but grind into it and let the dust fly, everywhere new resin and cloth are going to bond too, grind it good and throughly and follow accurately the recommended catalyst mix ratio = # drops and it will come out perfect. Anything other than fine exterior surface colored gel coat should be ground to clean fresh glass for maximum bonding, cover it also so the rain can`t get to it afterwards and if some time should pass, hit it again slightly before glassing.
Hint : I dip a wire cupped brush into catylized bondo, finger spread it over nice and even, only exposing the fine wire tips, this makes an excellent nook & cranny paint grinding tool and lasts forever. Keep plenty of acetone on hand for resin clean up and lacquer thinner for general purpose and bondo clean up.

Tip: masking off engine bays after prep work, use rubberized under coating in a spray can to cover all surfaces and detail bays out, this stuff is tough and for the most, water and oil impervious and can be cleaned up easily keeping transoms in healthy shape and the water rot out.





Edited by Pactola72 on August 15 2011 at 18:19


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" Speed costs money son ;..." just how fast do you want to go..?"
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Pactola72
"Seaman Recruit"




Joined: August 14 2011
Posts: 4
Posted: August 14 2011 at 18:28 | IP Logged Quote Pactola72

Back in the good `ol days, things were simple as Panasonic pocket transistor AM radios a big beach towel, Levi 501cutoffs and long bodied surfboards and a whole life time ahead.....
 
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