Tin Boat

by Timm Gage - Homosassa, Florida - USA

Hi everybody! I’m Tim Gage, a relative newcomer to this writing business but I’m going to give it a try. You see a lot of articles here about wooden boats and Styrofoam kayaks. That’s all well and good if that’s what you’re interested in. The wooden boats here a sight to behold. Absolutely beautiful handiwork and eye pleasing lines.

However, I’m here to talk about that forgotten subject. Old Aluminum Boats! Remember when your daddy took you fishing? You rented an aluminum boat and outboard and had a great day drowning worms? You got older and turned to fiberglass boats. They were shiny and new and, if you had one, you were it!

Well, now I’m an old fart and living here in Florida, having been transplanted from the Chicago area. I spent my life up in the frozen north and went fishing in the summers when I could. Now I’m here in Homosassa Florida, surrounded by water, salt and fresh. Up north I was a shore fisherman, but here along the gulf every foot of shoreline is owned by someone who won’t allow you to step foot on it. The public areas are overgrown and full of spiders, snakes and alligators.

What to do?  EASY ANSWER – BUY A BOAT! Ok, that seems easy but when you’re living on a pension, finding the right boat for the right price can be a challenge. Enter Craigslist. Gee, look at all the boats for sale! Since I wanted a boat I used back in the stone age (1960s to 1980s), the search was a little (ha ha) more difficult. After looking every day for a year, I thought I found it. A guy had a 14ft aluminum semi-vee for $200. I shot him an e-mail and said I wanted it.

Then my heart sank. He said he still had the boat but no longer had the title for it and would give me a bill of sale instead. Mama Gage didn’t raise no fool so I checked with the county tax assessor to see if I could get the boat titled on the bill of sale. That’s when they stabbed me in the heart with a rusty knife! They said “NO ABSOLUTELY NOT!” That I’d have to do a title search starting with the manufacturer going forward to the current owner to make sure the boat wasn”t stolen. And since I’d have to pay for all this, the title could end up costing more than the boat. A Word To The Wise; Never buy a boat without a clear title!

Well, back to the seller. I told him I was ready to buy the boat but had to have a title for it. He said he would try to find it and would get back to me right away. YIPPEE! things were looking up! One week goes by, then two, then five. Curses! I have to start all over again! Then, a phone call from heaven! He had it!!  That’s great, but I don’t have a trailer! Grrrrrrr. Well back to Craigslist. Luckily, I found a trailer cheap.

In my next instalment I’ll show the trailer and what I did to re-build it. Please bear in mind that I lived in a townhouse up north and never so much as cut a blade of grass or did any maintenance on the house. If I needed something done, I’d pay someone to do it. I have zero experience on working on boats but now I had plenty of time to figure it out. What could go wrong? (Pause to laugh). What I ended up with was a 1960 Richline Challenger aluminum boat. It was the 60 inch wide, rounded back model with 3 seats and a small forward deck. I went on the internet and was able to find the original advertisement for the boat and am here it is.


Here is a picture of the boat pretty much as I got it.


And here it the almost finished boat.

In upcoming articles, I”ll go over the work I did to transform the sow’s ear into a silk purse. I hope you enjoyed my little article and look forward to reading some more. Happy boating!


  1. Hi Timm, We all started the same, small article small boat etc.
    Good article. We all like boat porn which you provided and a write up. Well done. Check out past articles under “Ed Davis” you’ll find mine some go back about 7-8 years. Happy boat building

  2. Hello Timm,
    I’d say you got a good buy there. I’m fishing out of a mates 12′ at the moment. Bit of a bugger if a chop blows up but great to fish out of.
    I can’t make out what you have as riders for the hull on the trailer but the jet ski trailer,(new),my mate bought for his boat had wood with outdoor carpet as a cover and was A.P.I.T.A. to unload and load. I picked up some cheap HMWPE cutting boards and cut to shape, chamfered the back like on your trailer and shaped with a heat gun as screwed down. His very petite wife can now launch and retrieve by herself. Fitted 13″ wheels to replace the original 10″ and it is much better on the motorway and on gravel roads.

    • Here in florida we call “riders” bunks. Beats me why, thats just what they call them. I took two pressure treated 2×4’s, 8 ft long and covered them with preformed poly urethane “bunk mates”.Its a plastic material so it doesn’t soak up and retain the salt from the water which will in time, destroy the paint on the boat.

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