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A love affair with Lancers and saving one from the scrapyard

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Matt Burns
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A love affair with Lancers and saving one from the scrapyard

Post by Matt Burns » Wed Sep 28, 2011 6:28 pm

First, let me preface this by saying I need another boat like I need another hole in my head. In order to understand all of this, a little history is in order. I already have 3 boats at my dock, and own a 1970 lancer 19 with my Grandfather, which we have been restoring in the spirit of his 68 or 69 lancer that I grew up boating on, the "Nunch" (named after the nickname he gave my Grandmother, the love of his life since they were 18, the woman he was married to for 69 years).

The Nunch was a special boat. Bought brand new from Irwin Marine in Laconia New Hampshire, it was the first boat my grandparents bought that was worthy of the waters on Lake Winnipesaukee. It fit perfectly into the boathouse at my grandparents camp, a piece of property they purchased in 1964 to eventually retire on. It should be noted, that at 92, my grandfather still lives there, independent and active, still boating to this day.

A boat that spends it's life in a boathouse is a special boat indeed. As other boats faded and showed signs of aging, the Nunch was immune. The interior was immaculate, the gelcoat shined on both the hull and the topsides. The chrome was spotless. It spent years pulling skiers, taking people out to dinner on the lake, trolling for salmon or lake trout, taking grandkids out to see fireworks from the water on the 4th of July, and showing people the simply amazing sunsets that can only be seen on Lake Winnipesaukee. For better than 20 years that little Lancer was a true workhorse, accumulating hours but rarely giving trouble. Only after about 800 hours did it start showing signs of age. Not in the cosmetics, but in her peformance. It started burning oil, the carb started getting a little finicky, and she just wasn't her old self. More concerning than that, some blisters were showing up on the hull that were concerning to Grampa. He made the decision it was time for a new boat, and The Nunch was traded for a Four Winns, a decision that to this day he says he almost immediately regretted.

Now as you can tell, I was quite fond of the Lancer. Truth is, it signifies some of my fondest memories in life. The summer of 1974 my mother remembers riding in the Lancer with my father. I was born in October of that year. Though we lived far from Winnipesaukee, my family made it a point to spend 2-4 weeks a summer on the lake as our annual vacation. Being as I was quite solidly a gear head by age 4, my memory is full of not just sites, but sounds from the Lancer. The distinct tone of the blower, the sound the starter made winding down after the motor started, but most of all the whine of the Volvo drive mixed with the sewing machine like noises of that little 283. I spent as much time on that boat as I could. Cleaning it, checking fluids including "dipping the tank" to see if we had enough fuel for our journeys, and sitting on Grampas lap as he let me drive to our destination. I still don't think there is anymore precise a controller than that beautiful chrome morse shifter. Mostly though, I came to appreciate the sheer simplicity of the Nunch. Other boats were to plush and cluttered. They sacrificed cockpit space for a cabin that was mostly useless in my estimation. They had carpet that would easily stain from fishblood, unlike the red Nautilux on the Nunch. And the higher sides meant visibility was lousy to me. Thus when Grampa told me the news of the new Four Winns, all I understood was that the Nunch was gone. I was crushed, and it didn't take Gramps too long to notice it the next summer.

Fast forward 10 years, and I am now an adult, living in New England, and my wife and I are fortunate enough to have our own camp on Winnipesaukee, raising our girls with not just 4 weeks a summer, but a lifetime of weekends on the lake (which would eventually turn into our permanent residence). I get a call from Grampa that he has a surprise for me. We take a ride to a local marina and he is thrilled to show me a 1970 Lancer he has found. We go for a ride and the sounds of the Volvo outdrive is a blast from the past for both of us. He buys it on the spot, with intentions of restoring it and leaving it to me. I tell you, they don't build men like him anymore, that is for sure.

Over the years, "Another Nunch" has undergone quite the transformation. She has gone from faded blue to white with red stripes. Her worn flooring has been replaced with white and black Nautilux with red carpeting up the gunwales. The 307 QLV has been rebuilt and painted to look like new. It looks right at home in the boathouse. Though still not perfect, and surely different than the original, it is a fine boat that is making memories for another generation of kids.

Me being the gearhead that I am, and especially nostalgic towards Lancers, I can't help but stop and look at every one I find. One of them even cropped up a few houses outside of my neighborhood. Stopping in and visiting with the owners, I was able to help him by letting him copy my Volvo service manual and help answer questions about his boat. Though he thought it was a 73, I was able to quickly determine he owned a 69, nearly identical to the original Nunch. Eventually he found another 69 he bought for parts for his restoration, most notably the drive lifting mechanism. A solid boat overall, years of neglect were evident. After a year or two, he realized he really didn't need a parts boat, so he attempted to sell it. Not many buyers were out there, including me as my wife had put a halt to any more boat buying. Eventually, I got a call from him. After going to look at the boat, I apologized, but told him I didn't have any money to spend on another boat, even a lancer. Apparantly, my help was more appreciated than I thought, as he offered to give me the boat for the assistance I had given him with his boat.

So here I am today, not only with a lancer restored out of love from my Grandfather, but with another lancer nearly identical to the original Nunch. Clearly, it is in need of a restoration, but the boat is 95% all there, and very restorable. I snapped some pictures for posterity that I will attach to this post. Hopefully this doesn't seem too much like the ramblings of a sentimental nut job. I feel extremely fortunate for everything I have in this world, most of all my family and my memories growing up. Hopefully I can eventually bring this latest Lancer, which I have already decided will be named "fondest memories" back to the shape of the Nunch I grew up with.

If you have made it this far, thanks for reading all of this. I am hoping this post will serve as the start of a journal of the fixing up of this boat.

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Trick414
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Location: Richland-Chambers Reservoir, Corsicana, Texas, USA

Post by Trick414 » Wed Sep 28, 2011 10:16 pm

I made it to the end!

Very sweet* post and boat!


*As in very cool, not girlie-sweet.

:)
1951 Riviera 18' KLC
Hull Registry

aliwildatwork
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Great story!

Post by aliwildatwork » Thu Sep 29, 2011 5:46 am

Thanks for telling us about your Grandpa! and your new boat! It looks well worth the redo! I can't wait to follow your progress. Keep us posted!

Ali

Matt Burns
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Post by Matt Burns » Sat Oct 01, 2011 3:27 pm

So 3 generations of Burns men pulled the motor out of the boat. It is seized, and 2 freeze plugs were in the bottom of the bilge, though I don't see any cracks in the block. She will be torn down over the winter to assess the damage. I come from a long line of machinists and as a professional mechanic myself, the motor work doesn't scare me.

The floor, that does scare me. There is plenty of rot in the back of the boat. I am going to take it over to my friend who restored the 70 lancer and see what he thinks. At bare minimum I think the floor and floor stringer system will need to be replaced. I am betting the transom and the engine stringers aren't much better off. I broke two lag bolts pulling the motor mount on the port side, and the starboard side would have broken also, but I instead pulled the 3 bolts that attached the mount to the block. I was under the assumption that these were just lag bolts into the stringer, but that doesn't explain why they would have seized and broken. I have done very little wood work or fiberglass work, but I have the feeling I am going to have to learn if I ever want this boat to be water worthy again. The hull is in very good condition, so I am hoping it is still worth the effort to restore it. If anybody has any tips on the flooring or stringers I would love to hear them.

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craigjudge
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Great Story.

Post by craigjudge » Mon Oct 03, 2011 10:10 pm

I really enjoyed reading about all of your great memories. I also have a 19 Lancer that originally came from Winnipesaukee. Formerly owned by the Forbes family on Birch Island. How about some pictures of the restored boat?

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Paul P
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Location: Nashville, Tennessee, Cumberland River and Lake system
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Post by Paul P » Fri Sep 07, 2012 1:37 pm

Hey I agree with Craig, would like to see some photos.

These boats are very worthy of restoration, there is nothing about them that can not be fixed. As for the floor, my 1966 20' fiberglass Sea Skiff had a wood floor structure, I just replicated the pieces with white oak, sealed the oak with bilge paint, put it back together with a 1/2" marine fir plywood walking surface covered with Nautolex and it is ready for another 40-years.

White oak is suitable for the framework, it is inexpensive, strong, and was used in the steam bent ribs of the wood CC Sea Skiff so it is no stranger to marine use. Here are a couple photos of my framework for the front cockpit, and another of the support around the twin battery box I added. I like dual batteries (my box is coated with epoxy for obvious reasons). Good luck with your project, send us some photos.

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regards,

Paul
1956 17' CC Sportsman, 300-hp
1957 17' CC Sportsman, 95-hp
1966 20' CC fiberglass Sea Skiff, 210-hp+
1973 23' CC Lancer inboard project, 427/375-hp.
1966 38' CC Commander Express, 427/300-hp(2)

So many boats.........so little time.....but what a way to go!!

Jim Bell
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Post by Jim Bell » Sat Sep 08, 2012 8:12 am

Hey Matt, Curious where you are at, almost 1 year later. Great story. 8)

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Paul P
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Re: A love affair with Lancers and saving one from the scrap

Post by Paul P » Thu Sep 26, 2013 11:50 am

Hi Matt, Jim, guys,

I agree it's been a while since we heard from you Matt, and wonder how the project is going.

One thing I can assure you of, is the fact that you are going to see MORE interest in the Lancer series as time passes, and the movement toward this direction is already under way and gaining a LOT of speed. The price of these boats is on the rise, and so is the appreciation factor. They are solid, have great rough water capability, have some great Jim Wynne history, and they look good. Right now you can get a project boat for pennies on the dollar too !!

Hey, a boy has to have a hobby !!

regards,

Paul
1956 17' CC Sportsman, 300-hp
1957 17' CC Sportsman, 95-hp
1966 20' CC fiberglass Sea Skiff, 210-hp+
1973 23' CC Lancer inboard project, 427/375-hp.
1966 38' CC Commander Express, 427/300-hp(2)

So many boats.........so little time.....but what a way to go!!

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mfine
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Location: Pittsford and Penn Yan NY

Re: A love affair with Lancers and saving one from the scrap

Post by mfine » Thu Sep 26, 2013 6:19 pm

Slow down there Paul, it has taken me two years just to get through the first post! I am going to need a breather before the update comes.

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quitchabitchin
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Re: A love affair with Lancers and saving one from the scrap

Post by quitchabitchin » Thu Sep 26, 2013 7:50 pm

Hey, two years isn't that long is it? Surely not long enough to finish a fiberglass project....
FLASH1969 Chris Craft Cavalier Ski-230 HP 327Q

CCABC Board of Directors Member

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suesailor
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Re: A love affair with Lancers and saving one from the scrap

Post by suesailor » Sun Oct 13, 2013 2:09 pm

We just trailered our 23' Lancer to Cabrillo Beach (near Los Angeles), launched there, and ran the 23 mi. over to Avalon on Catalina Island. Spent a week cruising the island. What a nice reward for our couple years of work bringing "Cheers" back from the leaf-infested hulk it was when we bought her in Long Island. The Lancer is a head-turner and definitely worth every minute of hard work.

Here's a shot of us as we left Catalina last Monday.

Cheers,
Lon & Susie
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"Cheers"
1974 23' Lancer
Mercruiser 350 MPI Straight Inboard (1998)
Sausalito, CA

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