Happy New Year



Just wanted to let you know we are still waiting on the window tracks to arrive (not surprised, bad time of year for shipping) and we hope to get back in gear as soon as they arrive.

I wanted to wish you a Happy New Year!  Be safe tonight and watch out on the road.

I plan on doing some minor stuff to the boat tomorrow, I will post some pics and update you if I do.

Best wishes to you and yours,

It's a little difficult to tell from this picture, but the counter on the Portside of the rear of the salon is gone.  You can see the ugly green refrigerator right in the center of the picture.  It is temporarily moved to the back of the galley.  The pile of wood is a pile of wood :)  As  usual I learned something today.  The thing I learned is that we either have a leak or unbelievable condensation right above the counter I tore out.  The was water standing on the ceiling tile in the port rear corner of the salon.  I couldn't find any obvious point of entry.  I will track this down before reinstalling a ceiling.  Ah, the joys of owning a boat.  I can't wait till the window frames come in.  As soon as the water issues are fixed, it will be time to start making my imagination become reality.

By the way, I really thought my wife and I had discussed tearing out the counter.  I guess we had not.  When she stopped by to see how I was doing, I was a little surprised to see a bewildered look on her face.  She thought we had "talked" about removing the counter, and I thought we had "Talked" about doing it.  She is OK now , but I am supposed to verify moves like this in the future.  Sounds reasonable to me.

By the way, if you find my truck keys, let me know.  I know I had them with me when I drove down there, but they must have been stolen by elves while I was working.  My wife really enjoyed coming back down for a second look at the boat.

Ive posted new pics on the main page, I know there are a lot, but I am trying to track this whole deal.  I caption them if that helps.  Hope you enjoy,

Anchors aweigh.

P.S.  Carpet on the deck of a houseboat sucks.  I have just been meaning to say that for a while.  I can't see why you would want to glue sponges to your deck so it can be almost permanently wet.  Rant mode off.

This was the best picture I took today for a comparison with the one on the home page (and currently above on this page).  It looks a little different without paneling, couch, curtains, and ceiling panel.  You may have thought my title for this posting, "They don't build them like they used to" was about our boat.  But really, I was talking about the sleeper sofa I tore apart today.  Holy cow.  That was a tank of a couch.  The sleeper mechanism weighed a ton and the frame had approximately 38,000 fasteners in it.  I hope our new one is built as good.

Speaking of how they used to build things, the Kingscraft is amazing.  The number of welds and the amount of aluminum is amazing.  I realize now I should have looked the boat over more closely, but that was just inexperience.  What I know now is that I did my homework picking out a Kingscraft.  Even with leaking windows, the interior repairs are all cosmetic.  The Window frames are not cosmetic, but I knew they were in bad shape.  I really feel a newbie can comfortably buy a Kingscraft (if they do their homework, inspect the hull, and have a current survey) with a great deal of confidence.  I am still very happy with our purchase, even with a few surprises.  It's funny how experience will teach you the things that "old hands" will tell you for free.  You would think after 50 years I would listen to people with experience a little more closely.

This is only a small portion of the fasteners I removed today.  This may not see like much, but there is not a piece of wood or trim on the boat that isn't securely fastened down.  I am sure new boats are well built, but they really did it right back in the day.  We are going to go back with whitewashed woodgrain paneling for a "beach house" feel.  After adding insulation (which should help with condensation, heating, and cooling) we will restructure the refrigerator area and open up the boat a little.  I've started working with SketchUp, a free drafting software package, and hope to show you a few examples of my "vision" for our baby.  Details in the future.

One quick thing I wanted to point out before I close today, The channels on each side of the front door.  If you are a Kingscraft refurbisher, you already know this, but if not it's interesting/important.  The channels on each side of the door house electrical, mechanical lines.  This is pretty ingenious and secure.  I am really glad I opened up the ceiling.  Just thought you would like to know.

Have a great Christmas and a wet wonderful New Year!

Best wishes,



Feeling better now


It has been a rough week.  I thought I had a sinus infection and it turned out to be the full blown flu.  I had never been sicker than I was last Thursday nite.  Enough of that.

I finally got back down to the boat this evening after work.I finished taking everything out on the Port side from the counter forward.  This is why I feel better now, not just that I'm all but over being sick, I just want to get going on this project.  It surprised me in a way that they used pop rivets to attach the paneling.  I had assumed they would have used screws, but I guess in a production scenario rivets are faster and less expensive.  They definitely have a clean look.  I am considering going back with rivets when we do the reinstall on the walls.  I could always drill out the heads if I need to remove a panel.

I talked with John, of Marinette Yachts, today.  He seems like a good guy.  I asked him a few questions and he seemed more than happy to talk with me.  I had to get exact measurements tonight so I can place my order tomorrow.  I think the aluminum tracks will be a fantastic improvement over the rotten factory tracks.  Hopefully no more leaks and usable windows.  I put a link to Marinette on the Home page, if you get ahold of him tell him KC55 said HI.  I will document the install of the tracks and post pictures when I get going on that job.  I am excited.  By the way, he said he could do aluminum fabrication and he could do struts and other items.  A good thing to keep in the back of your mind.

I made a series of measurement this evening of parts of the boat, I will try to put up a "Dimensions" drawing soon on the Documentation page. Did you know that the Flybridge deck (including the "roof") has 260.25 sq ft of surface area?  This could be handy to know if you were considering Line-x ing the decks.

One last idea before closing.  We are seriously thinking about redoing the ceiling in the salon.  We saw a boat on Lake Monroe this Summer (Dan's Gibson) that had the coolest ceiling.  It has a channel that runs around the outside edge that kind of conceals rope lights and the window shades.  My question is this.  If you were redoing a ceiling, what material would you use.  We are considering wood flooring (laminate), bead board, and sculptured tin (if that is even what it is called, the plastic version anyway).  I would appreciate any pictures you have or experiences you have had doing this.  Just email admin@kingscrafthouseboats.com.  PS Dan, if you read this, please send me some pics.  I'll post them here and give you full credit.  Thanks.

Why try to think up a good idea when someone else has already had it and worked out all the little details.

I promise pics next time.

I don't think it's that bad.  I mentioned we had found some water damage and wasn't really too concerned, but I have found more.  I am pretty sure at this point all of the walls in the salon are coming out.  Maybe the ceiling too.  I really chalk this up to inexperience (I believe I said somewhere that I was going to get a lot of experience).  Its not like everything is shot, it's just when you start to take out a thing or two you can really start to see what is going on.  The paneling looked really good except for one small area about a foot wide.  I knew this and the the wall seemed solid on both sides of the area.  The wall was solid.  The problem is that on the Port side, at the ends of the windows it has been ever so slowly leaking for probably a long time.  It was absolutely the worst under the front cabinet and under the built in settee.  We had agreed that we were going to at least paint the walls (after repairing the small area) and maybe re-panel (redo the walls somehow), but now we are going to have to.  In all seriousness I am looking forward to it.  We just need to figure out the windows.  I am hoping that the owner of the Kingscraft from the linked blog A Boat Reborn will get in touch with me.  I saw pictures on her sight of the tracks I need and I want to see if they work well and are perhaps less expensive than others I have found.  Speaking of window tracks, I received samples today of a 2 track sliding glass door track I found online.  The samples turned out to be too wide (track wise) and I will be requesting more (different) samples tomorrow.  I will post how these turn out.

I know I am a little long winded, so unless you just want the nitty gritty details from tonight's visit to the boat that's about it.  Click "Read More" below if you are a glutton for punishment..

Still Smilin' , after all I was aboard "Empty Nestin' " today.  Were you on a houseboat today?

So anyway, the Mother-Lode.  I have seen numerous boats, pictures of Kingscraft Houseboats, and been aboard (and looked in the windows) of numerous Kingscrafts.  The next boat I want to tell you about rivals any boat I've seen and cannot be beat when it comes to craftsmanship of construction.  We were traveling up and down the Ohio River (I told you) and we were on the Indiana side above the Markland Lock (I want to preserve these folks privacy) and we decided to stop at what we thought was a nice little Marina.  It was nice and we approached the management and told them our story, non-owners, interested in houseboats, we will be respectful, and could we look around?  You would have thought we were long lost cousins.  The manager introduced us to a group of people having a late season cook-out.  They were great and invited my wife and myself to look around all we wanted (even offered us food and drinks).  We went up and down the dock and saw some boats way over our head but we really enjoyed it.  As we were walking back toward the group of folks the manager said we should go over to the next dock and look at a boat.  It wasn't for sale but he thought the owner might be open to talking.  As we walked over, the realization that we had found a beautiful 55' Kingscraft was upon us.  I want to tell you now, this is not the boat we bought.  To make a long story barely shorter, we were able to get in touch with the owners and meet them the next day.  The interior had been completely redone.  Completely.  Everything I looked at and I looked closely was done with the highest level of craftsmanship and obvious care.  The layout was different, but useful and efficient.  The flooring, walls, and decorations were just beautiful.  The mechanicals were topnotch (engine bay you could eat off of) and gorgeous replacement windows.  Wood floors and carpet, wood walls and trim.  It was awesome.  We talked and they made us an offer, one I truly wish we could have gone with but it was out of our range. I will just say, as we redo our boat, my minds eye will have a standard to look up to.  I am hopeful the owners will consent to a picture spread here one day, time will tell.  Needless to say, our fire was stoked to an even higher degree to find our own baby.  Closing this part, I just want to say we met two of the finest, hospitable and friendly people you could hope to meet when we met these folks.

Man, boat shopping is FUN!

Back to the Minnesota boats.  I had spoken to the owners of both of the 55' Kingscraft Houseboats in Minnesota, just to talk and to hear things about their boats and I guess maybe to see if they had any room in their prices :)  As I talked more and more to one of the owners (let's call him Captain) I became more interested in the boat.  It had been a twin to the boat of the gentleman who owned Redwing Boots.  As a matter of fact my boat had been owned by a guy that owned the leather tanning business that supplied the leather to Redwing Boots.  It turns out these guys were buddies and bought the boats together,  One day I mentioned to my wife that I was seriously thinking about taking the short drive to Minnesota (12Hr non stop one way).  I was surprised to hear her say, I think you should, but that's too far for me to ride in one day.  The adventure was on.  It turns out there was a current survey and I am crazy.  Having no experience with boats, I drove up and met the "Captain".  I could tell you stories about this guy, but I hope this is a little bit more family friendly site than most on the internet.  They are good stories, but the Captain has lived a colorful life.  We went out for a 3 hour sea trial on the Mississippi River and I found our boat.  I wish I had taken more pictures.  It was about as bone stock original as you could hope to find a 1974 boat.  It ran true and strong.  It was a cool and sunny day and we went up to the nearest lock and then back down to the the St.Paul riverfront.  Three solid hours of joy.  He knew every boat we passed and gave me the best tour of that stretch of the river you could get.  He taught me navigation and showed me a few tricks.  He also showed me he could handle the boat, turning it around in its own length between the dock and another houseboat docked about 75' from our slip. 

We sat aboard after we finished and talked.  I didn't realize it at the time but I think he was having a hard time letting her go after 25 years.  He had lost his wife of many years after owning the boat with her and had many memories aboard her.  He let me crawl anywhere I wanted and answered all my questions.  At the end of the day he asked where I was staying and ended up offering to let me use his spare bedroom.  I took him up on the offer and stayed there 2 nights.  The next day he had the boat hauled out, power-washed, and blocked.  I was able to inspect the bottom thoroughly and go aboard her some more,  We spent the whole day checking things out and then we winterized her that afternoon/evening.  I finalized my insurance by phone ( I had made preparations beforehand) and we shook hands and finalized the deal.  I stayed the second nite so we could go to the bank and do the transfer and get all of the paperwork lined out.  About 3 O'clock the next afternoon we were the official owners.  Captain is a great guy and he even called me day before yesterday to see how things were going.  I hope someday when we have finished putting our touch on her that the "Captain" will be able to come and visit and see her.  I know he would love to take her out again, he just won't like that we changed some of the interior.  Wow, we are the third owners of a 38 year old boat.  And I am still tickled to this minute.

The only down side to this story is the hauler.  He is a nice enough guy, I will just say initially the boat was to be picked up no later than Nov. 1st and ended up getting picked up Tuesday, Dec. 4.  It was delivered unharmed (as far as I can tell) and blocked Saturday, Dec. 8.  At least he didn't deliver it on Dec. 7th.

This may not have been as long of a search or as far afield as some others, but my wife and I had fun, are learning, and have met some really great people (some that may remain friends for a long time).  She was very happy when she finally saw her.  This is saying a lot as she can be a little particular sometimes.  The wife that is, not our boat, "Empty Nestin' "

Fair winds and smooth sailing....

The road to a boat


One of the largest boats I've ever owned. Overall Length 10' Beam 4' Notice the good overall condition, dry!
I mentioned in one of my previous posts I would tell the story of how we came to own "Empty Nestin' ", our 55' Kingscraft. As I mentioned in the previous posting, We went for a boat ride and the next morning my wife said, "I want a boat"  Well, we had never owned a boat much less three.  I jokingly tell people who are looking at our houseboat that if we had bought the 10' dinghy that came with it, that would have been the biggest boat we had ever owned.  I spent a lot of time the first two or three weeks researching boats and particularly houseboats since that is what we decided we wanted.  After coming across Houseboat Magazine and reading the Old forum ( a new one had recently been started) I narrowed down the search to either aluminum or fiberglass.  We had gone out the very first week and looked at a 54' steel hulled boat that was advertised for $15k and we thought that if we could get into the boat for $10k to $12k we would have plenty of budget to get it in top shape.  Wrong. Let's just say that after a few calls checking on insurance and the cost of redoing the bottom we continued our search.  There was our first two hours of travel time and gas.  The search for a boat then led us to Lake Monroe in Indiana. Two 4 hour round trips later we had learned that boating people are some of the funnest, kindest, and friendliest people we had ever met.  A couple my wife knows have a boat there and the husband was kind enough to give us an extensive tour, introduce us to dozens of people and actually show us several boats (inside and out) that folks were trying to sell or were just being friendly and showing us their "babies".  We had a blast and got several good ideas from the boats we were on.  It was a great introduction to houseboating.  Lake Monroe is a fantastic place, I highly suggest you visit there if you have the opportunity. (Go IU)

After having seen everything from late model $1,000,000 aluminum hulled houseboats to 1960's era fiberglass TLC cases, we started thinking aluminum in a serious way.  One thing became quickly evident.  The least expensive late 70's to early 80's aluminum houseboats were in the $65k -$100K neighborhood.  We don't have an address in that neighborhood.  That is something to shoot for in the future.  Then we started to notice Kingscraft and read more about them on the HB Mag forum.  I looked on Craigslist and eBay and came across a 44' in Hockingsport, Ohio.  A late 4 1/2 hour drive one way with a sick and vomiting Maltipoo dog and we were there.  We drove over and got a hotel and went to see the boat first thing in the morning.  When I crawled under the salon and saw the aluminum floor joists I knew this was the boat for me.  My wife liked the way it looked.  We were serious about the boat and went out for a test drive on a beautiful sunny day.  It was my first time driving a houseboat.  It was fantastic, the only problem was a hesitation and surging from the Starboard engine at near full throttle.  I now believe this was just water in the bottom of the tank.  I later learned she had sat in dry dock for somewhere around 2 years.  We made a serious offer but were turned down.  We stopped 3 times and pulled over to the side of the road when we left to try to talk ourselves into going back and buying it.  We didn't, but my heart was set on Kingscraft.  The people that had the boat were about as friendly as could be and if we lived closer I would like to think we could socialize with them.  If your are reading this Hockingsport, thank-you.

About this time I noticed 2 55' Kingscraft in the Minneapolis, Minn. area. I dismissed any boats almost 700 miles away, but I will get back to that in a while.

Next was a 55' on a lake in southern Kentucky.  At only 3 hours one way, we thought if this works out we could keep her there.  There had been a lot of upgrades and work done on the boat (gorgeous huge galley) and we test drove and made an offer on this boat.  We agreed on a price pending a thorough inspection.  I thickness tested the hull with a fancy device I had borrowed and it showed some potential hull thinning or pitting.  We parted ways when I asked to split the cost of an out of water survey.  I would have been happy with this boat but things happen for a reason.  My wife will miss that galley and so will I.  Just a note, this boat had twin 454's and could really move.  My taste buds had been whetted for a fifty-five footer.

We next were briefly lured away from Kingscraft.  A 52' (I think) WaterCraft came up on Craigslist and it was beautiful.  It had an all aluminum hull and the topside had been COMPLETELY removed and professionally redone.  The price was right because the twin 351 engines had not run for 8-9 years.  They looked good but I wanted to give a little less than the owner was willing to take to make sure we had the budget for the mechanicals.  This guy knew a bunch of people in the Louisville, Ky boating scene and treated us like royalty.  My wife couldn't believe I had looked at something other than a KC, but I will say, I was impressed with the hull construction on the WaterCraft. I hope to see more of those in the future, I would like to see one in the factory configuration.

We ended up talking to 4 or 5 other 37' to 44' owners all over the Midwest and going to look at a 55' Kingscraft in Cincinnati, Ohio.  None of those would work due to condition and/or pricing. During this whole time we had been going on our free weekends driving up and down the Ohio river (literally) looking for Marinas and boatyards hoping to find a good candidate.  We found several old Kingscraft (and Marinette) houseboats during that time.  None for sale.  We found a Kingscraft in an old guys backyard that had obviously been sitting there for years.  I knocked on his door and he told me it was not for sale and he was going to put it in next spring.  I don't think so.  But, I hope I am wrong and we will see him while we are out and about on the Ohio.  Either way, I know I met a fellow Kingscraft lover that day.  The connection with his boat was one he could not bear to break.  As long as he has it he can dream and make plans for the future.

Enough for now.  My wife says I am a little long winded, what do you think :)

Next time, The Mother-Lode.  See you then.

Settee no more


We went down to the boat for about 3 hours.  I woke up with a nasty sinus infection and it took a little while to get to feeling good enough to work.  The salon settee (Port side) was a little uncomfortable and a whole lot of out of date.  So we tore it out this afternoon.  I don't think we will miss it at all.  We plan on putting in a sleeper sofa, a lazy-boy and one of those Scandinavian wood and leather chairs with an ottoman.  We will be able to sit 5 comfortably and sleep 2 in a sofa-bed that won't keep you tossing and turning all night.

We had some good news and some bad news.  The good news is that the HVAC vent on the end of the settee was not actually ducted in to the HVAC.  The underneath of the settee acted as a hot/cold air return for the system.  It was kind of weird, but I will be able to just use the floor vent and not worry about rerouting ducting.  Now for the bad news, we found more water damage.  Check out the pictures from this date on the HOME page.  This was under the built in settee.  One small spot will have to be replaced/repaired.  Once again, Kingscraft windows suck.  It's funny, I am still in love with her, warts and all.  The boat that is :)  She won't find that funny (the wife that is).

I hope I am as good at rebuilding as I am at destroying.  It looks like the first real project is the salon side- windows.  I am going to order some new window tracks tomorrow.  I will let you know how this works out as soon as I get to work on them.

We also took some measurements that I will post to the DOCUMENTS page as soon as I figure out a good format.  The salon is definitely starting to feel larger with the built-ins gone.  We are really getting some good ideas off of the KINGSCRAFT PICTURES page.

Hopefully my next posting will be about the story of our search for our boat.  Hopefully you can laugh at us or maybe learn something from our experience.

Any day where you set foot on a Kingscraft is a good day.
Work began today for real.  We decided that the front built in cabinet was taking up more space than it was worth.  I am glad we did this, we found a lot of water damage we had no idea was there.  I think my wife was a little discouraged at first, but I told her this was something we can handle.  I reminded her that we had already talked about replacing the window-tracks.  I had originally planned on fixing the Starboard salon windows first, but now it looks like we will do Port and Starboard at the same time.  We are planning on removing the settee and repainting the salon.  

It took a lot longer to get the cabinet torn out than I had planned.  I was going slow to make sure I didn't damage anything we would want to keep.  There will be about 5 linear feet of paneling to replace and 4 t0 8 sq feet of flooring plywood.  I will wait to do this until the window is good.  Kingscraft factory windows suck,  If you are buying a boat inspect under every window and push on the walls and floor all around the area.  I knew I would learn a lot during this, and I would guess that most veteran owners are getting a good chuckle from this.  Just think, if we were rich we wouldn't be having this fun and getting to know our boat so well :)

My wife spent her time continuing to clean the rest of the window-tracks and wiping down the walls.  It was a very glamorous day for her.  This is an awesome situation for me, I am really into doing this work and she is motivated as well.  Her only problem is the cold.  She is very cold natured (unlike me) and needs to have heat on her even when working in the 50's.  I can work in the 50's in a t-shirt.  We will work out the temperature thing, even if I have to sit and have a cold drink and watch her work.  Compromise is a beautiful thing.

We also quickly cleaned and organized the hold beneath the salon.  I think that is the correct term, "hold".  It was pretty clean but was stuffed with outdoor furniture cushions and life-jackets.  There are 14 adult and two junior life-jackets, at least we are covered in that department.  Some of them are old-school, and have the original owner's name on them.  These are like 38-39 years old.  They are in excellent shape, so I folded them neatly and stored them back in the hold.  The seat cushion were in really nice shape and of high quality.  Unfortunately they were custom shaped and had 1970's style flowers all over them.  They are in a dumpster now, I hate that we couldn't use them.  I moved all of the good stuff we found in the cabinet down into the hold.  I will wait to reorganize the hold until we have finished working in the salon.

We are taking the "central vacuum" out also.  It doesn't suit us and takes up some space underneath,  If you would like a vintage houseboat "central vac" let me know, I would love to trade for Kingscraft or other boating related items.  Incidentally, I removed the factory 8-track player that was installed in the front cabinet. It has an insert that plays cassettes and an insert that has an AM/FM tuner in it.  We also found a collection of 1970's country music 8-track tapes.  I would trade that stuff also.  This boat is vintage, it feels like stepping back into the 70"s when you step aboard.

I added a few pictures today,a few more I found from the original inspection and a couple form the work we did today.  I keep forgetting to take a saw to trim off the the excess on the stairs.  Man, am I glad we have those.  A definite must when working on an elevated boat.

All for now...catch you later
Well, we had never owned a boat and the thought wasn't even on our radar.  Some friends of our asked us to go boating with them and go out for dinner.  We took their 19' runabout (a sweet boat) out on the Ohio River about 4 months ago.  We went up a little creek past Captains Quarters to a really neat little water-side restaurant for dinner.  It was really fun and very different than what we were used to.  After the meal we went back out and went all the way down river to the Louisville, KY waterfront.  Going beneath the Kennedy bridge and seeing Louisville lit up at night from the water really made an impression on us.  It was a memorable evening, even more so than I realized at the time.

The next morning when my wife woke up the first thing she said to me was, "I want a boat".  You could have knocked me over with a feather.  For a guy, this is like your wife or girlfriend saying, "We need a motorcycle" or "I think you should get a new chainsaw" or even, "Wouldn't you like to get a new Jeep Rubicon?"  I was excited but I didn't waste any time locking her in :)  We talked about it and decided we wanted a Houseboat since our boys were grown and it would mainly just be us and maybe some guests.  Little did I know, that boat ride would start us on an odyssey that has lasted 4 months so far.

Needless to say, we zeroed in on Kingscraft.  I will tell you the whole story, but I suggest you go to Houseboat Magazine forums Vintage boats section and read "Kingscraft owners and fans" (button on Home page).  I started that thread before we bought our boat.  All I can say is that after extensive research and comparison shopping I have fallen in love with Kingscraft.  I have even communicated with Tommy Gentle, he was a VP for Kingscraft back in the day.  He is a great guy and very knowledgeable and helpful.  Hopefully I will get him to contribute some content here.  I also want to quickly mention the folks at the Houseboats forum (especially OHB), they have been a wealth of knowledge and wisdom.

Just a word of warning, I am heavily biased towards aluminum hulled boats.  This is my preference and what suits us best.  I have found that boating people are genuinely the nicest people you will hope to meet and I am not down on any other type of boat.  You'll just have to bear with me on the whole "aluminum" deal ;) , other than that I think I can be reasonable.  I will say this, if you have been boating for longer than 4 months you are obviously smarter than me.

One more quick point.  My wife.  She has been wonderful through this whole deal.  She is excited about redecorating and all the "pretty" stuff, but she has been a great adviser and supporter while we discussed, planned, picked-out, negotiated, transported and now own our boat "Empty Nestin' ".  There is no other person in the world I would rather be doing this with than her.

More to come...