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California Airboat

Posted: Fri Jul 01, 2016 3:17 pm
by Fiddlehero
Hi folks, I bought an airboat from a friend a few years back. He had bought it hoping to do a delta tour type thing, but I guess it didn't pan out, so he sold it to me for $500. It didn't/doesn't run yet, but I'm planning on working on it over the summer. I live in northern California, about 10 miles south of Sacramento, and I don't know anyone with an airboat. I have a few questions for anyone who is willing to answer them.

Firstly, is there a way to identify a make/model of my boat? It looks like an Aircat, but I'm no expert on the subject.

It has a fiberglass hull, and while I haven't found any cracks or holes, I was wondering if I should do anything with it, since it's been sitting out for several years.

The engine is a 350 small block Chevy, and according the the previous owner, is frozen. I plan on either rebuilding the engine, or swapping it out with another 350 that we have in an old pickup. Would it be worth the money to put an aluminum intake manifold to cut down on the weight of the engine? I'm somewhat worried about the whole thing flipping over.

It has a reduction drive on it, and I used to know the ratio, but I forgot what it was.

It has a 72" wooden 2 blade prop, but its seen better days.

The boat itself is 14' long, and about 6' wide in the middle

Re: California Airboat

Posted: Fri Jul 01, 2016 4:19 pm
by kwanjangnihm
I'd put the money into those old fords before that airboat and I hate fords!! :stirpot:

bro if you want an airboat, in my opinion, that is not even a starter boat, sell it for parts and keep looking! JMO
:rebel:

Re: California Airboat

Posted: Fri Jul 01, 2016 4:41 pm
by Bdriller
kwanjangnihm wrote:I'd put the money into those old fords before that airboat and I hate fords!! :stirpot:

bro if you want an airboat, in my opinion, that is not even a starter boat, sell it for parts and keep looking! JMO
:rebel:
I second that, not to be rude but real that is an aircat and a non refundable money pit.

Re: California Airboat

Posted: Fri Jul 01, 2016 5:21 pm
by barhopper
Find out what reduction is on it. CH-2/CH -3? Should be stamped on the back lower corner. You might be able to get your money back by selling that. The rest is not worth the work. By the time your put a motor, prop, and whatever else it needs, you can buy something better for that money.

Re: California Airboat

Posted: Fri Jul 01, 2016 9:01 pm
by swamper2
looks like a fun project. That aircat will do fine as long as you stay in the water. no dry runnin. i do like the ford though

Re: California Airboat

Posted: Sat Jul 02, 2016 4:06 am
by Canuk
Yes it is an Aircat. This was my first airboat, mine had an 0360 for power.
I used it extensively on ice and frozen rivers to get me to my home. I added poly and some addnl stringer support and it held up well for 7-8 years.
The stringers eventually gave in from breaking thick ice while carrying heavy loads. I believe it would have lasted much longer if it had not been abused beyond its capabilities.
It ran dry across grass and pine needle surfaces quite well. It was capable of 80 mph on a snow covered lake and was very stable doing so. It is very heavy compared to others, but had rounded chines at the front of the hull which greatly helped it get going in tough/dry places.
Sold it to a buddy who is replacing the stringers so it can live again.

Re: California Airboat

Posted: Sat Jul 02, 2016 12:35 pm
by Fiddlehero
Hey guys, thanks for the replies! I'm sorry for the delay in replying, we had a busy day yesterday.
I will be putting my pickup back together, I pulled the engine (390 FE) out a couple years back, I kept breaking rocker arms.
As for getting a different boat, California doesn't seem to have a huge airboat population, so my choices are somewhat limited.
The only writing on the reduction drive that I've seen is "AIRBOAT DRIVE UNITS RD2 FRANKLIN PA 16323" I didn't see a CH-# on there, though I'll be getting a better look today.
I am excited to start this project, I do aim to keep it in the water, (and we don't get a whole lot of ice down here) how shallow of water do you think I could run it in safely? I don't plan to run it across dry ground, but we do flood irrigate our pasture fields, would an inch or two of inches of flooded pasture be sufficient? Also, how thick was the poly for your boat, and how did you attach it to the fiberglass?

Re: California Airboat

Posted: Sat Jul 02, 2016 1:48 pm
by Canuk
My poly was 3/8" and would have been better if it was 1/2" in terms of adding structural strength. It was held on with 5/16"
elevator bolts that had 1" flat heads. Chunks of ice is like boulders and is real hard on it.

Had we taken it easier with it I believe we would been able to keep it going a lot longer.
The hull is real heavy compared to many other fiberglass hulls and our dry running was limited to just getting 10' off and on the shore of our lake, which we had very little trouble doing.

Re: California Airboat

Posted: Sat Jul 02, 2016 1:53 pm
by akblackdawg
you might do a search on here, a cali guy who hunts the Colorado river delta in Mex rebuilt a old airboat like the one you refer to. This was several years ago, but a good story and write up about some of his problems.

Re: California Airboat

Posted: Sun Jul 03, 2016 7:39 am
by Gary S
If the boat is as heavy as people say it is, I wouldn't make it heavier with poly. Pressure clean that thing,put a motor on it. Call Pati over at water walker and ask her what prop to put on that thing and go have fun.

Re: California Airboat

Posted: Sun Jul 03, 2016 8:52 am
by Deano
Andrew and Plumcrazy are @ Water Walker which is in Florida.

The company Patty is with, is Whirlwind Propellers out on the left coast. :wink:

Re: California Airboat

Posted: Sun Jul 03, 2016 11:43 am
by Aeon
Mine is the later made hurricane hull. Your hull is slightly smaller than mine so could be a aircat and older.

They are great running and handling hulls, a bit funky looking but function over form. Polly is not a option in my opinion. The glass needs a backing to attach it to. Pretty thin fiberglass. One of my buddies did it to a boat like mine and it's a pig now.

Should you restore your boat? I don't know. You will need a new prop for sure, take some time and look at all the steel. A lot of mine was rusted out. I stripped mine down and rebuilt everthing. Had I not had the equipment and skills to do that I would not have rebuilt it. I even rebuilt my reduction unit. You will have to send it back east to get that done.

Your rebuild list as it sits looking at the pics
New motor 5k
New prop 2500
New radiator and tubes 300
New wires and gauges 300
New belt on reduction unit 200
Mufflers and exhaust tubing 600, have to have this in calf



Good luck if you decide to rebuild it, old boats are cool. Feel free to pm me. Here is my boat as she sits right now. Complete with a 600hp Ls3. LoL
https://youtu.be/QRrunZs3bA8/


Re: California Airboat

Posted: Sun Jul 03, 2016 12:01 pm
by helicsher
You better think about the running dry thing
It looks all full dry in those pics

Re: California Airboat

Posted: Mon Jul 04, 2016 6:55 am
by Gary S
Deano wrote:Andrew and Plumcrazy are @ Water Walker which is in Florida.

The company Patty is with, is Whirlwind Propellers out on the left coast. :wink:
OOPS I was thinking WHIRLWIND and writing Water Walker.

Re: California Airboat

Posted: Mon Jul 04, 2016 7:18 am
by newoldglory
2" of water is called skinny waters in Florida. Tons of fun and safe until you slide into that truck. :lol:

Re: California Airboat

Posted: Tue Jul 05, 2016 4:11 pm
by Fiddlehero
Thanks folks, I've cleaned it off, and looked at it, there are a few areas there the gelcoat has been worn down, but no actual holes/structural problems that are apparent.
I spoke with Patti a few years back when I originally bought the boat, and she suggested a 3 blade propeller.
And yes, while California does get dry in the summertime, we do have waterways to go boating on. Our ranch is also mainly floodplain, so come winter time, the boat could be real handy!
Aeon, The boat came with some cast iron manifolds with exhaust tubing on them, what kind of mufflers do I need to be legal?
I'll try not to hit the pickup during a flood, no promises though.

Re: California Airboat

Posted: Mon May 08, 2017 6:14 pm
by silverado57
It's patty at whirlwind!!!!


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Re: California Airboat

Posted: Mon May 08, 2017 8:37 pm
by helicsher
Round up as much junk as you can and bolt it on there
Get a $300 motor some cheap headers and a cheap wood prop from the props for sale on this site and go !!!!!!!
A 3 blade from ww will cost more than that thing will ever be worth
Find out if you like it in a cheap way forget about poly that will cost more than a new fiber Gass hull
If you can fix that truck that boats right up your alley
All the original airboats were made from junk because yuppies with money weren't aloud in the woods
Now days it's look how nice my boat is, not do I belong here

Re: California Airboat

Posted: Mon May 08, 2017 10:59 pm
by Rick McC.
helicsher wrote:Round up as much junk as you can and bolt it on there
Get a $300 motor some cheap headers and a cheap wood prop from the props for sale on this site and go !!!!!!!
A 3 blade from ww will cost more than that thing will ever be worth
Find out if you like it in a cheap way forget about poly that will cost more than a new fiber Gass hull
If you can fix that truck that boats right up your alley
All the original airboats were made from junk because yuppies with money weren't aloud in the woods
Now days it's look how nice my boat is, not do I belong here
So true!

Re: California Airboat

Posted: Sun May 14, 2017 10:04 am
by Unter
Good score.....

Re: California Airboat

Posted: Sun May 14, 2017 10:30 am
by Aeon
My boat is for sale and its in California!!!!!!!