78 Sleekcraft Aristocrat Project... thoughts?
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78 Sleekcraft Aristocrat Project... thoughts?

  1. #1
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    Default 78 Sleekcraft Aristocrat Project... thoughts?

    First, pics:















    1978 Sleekcraft Aristocrat. 350 small block. Unknown lower unit (anybody ID that for me if you can, it would help a lot!)

    Guy contacted me about it, because I put an ad looking for a "cool" boat. He bought it for $1200, with an extra bravo one lower unit. The previous owner did nothing to the thing. The owner before THAT, had the engine rebuilt, installed, but could not figure out the firing order, and gave up. Yes, it DOES RUN, the guy had it running 2 weeks ago, and one of the exhaust manifolds was leaking, so he spent $200 on another used set, and a marine alternator. Beat looking, but supposedly pretty fresh engine.

    The interior is shot. The gauges are beat, the floor is soft in between the tunnels, the seats are intact but the vinyl is extremely hard, and the steering and shift cables are inoperable. The stringer along the keel of the boat is rotten. Not sure if that is structural or what?

    The exterior is extremely glossy, and will buff out no problem. The deck is firm. There are small, hairline cracks between the hull and the cap on the left side. The stern has a massive crack right above the transom... this initially worried me, but I drilled a small hole in the transom from the inside, and it seems very rigid. I also pulled the bolts out of the trim tabs, and the wood was "okay". I'm guessing that the crack is from TOWING innertubes or something, because the fiberglass above the transom, but below the towing hook, is very thin. That makes sense to me, and would explain the crack.

    The stern drive is what I am concerned with. Why did the PO have a Bravo one? How much power can the current stern drive handle? I know for SURE it needs new bellows. Any idea on pricing for those? Also, pricing for the steering/shift cables? If the lower unit turns out to be garbage, how much is a replacement?

    Definitely LOVE the style of the boat. LOVE it. It's a little ratty, but I've restored boats before, so not scared of it either. Guy is asking $1000obo. I'm thinking that is a steal. Thoughts? Experiences? Ideas?

    Currently the plan is to throw plywood over the floor, bolt in the seats after a good scrubbing, and sort out the mechanical stuff before tackling the floor/fiberglassing the thing. Seem like a good idea?

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  3. #2
    Senior Member Sleek Freak's Avatar
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    The Aristicrat done right is one of my all time favorites. the style and lines on these are one of a kind and very cool in my eyes. cant help you with the outdrive. the Aristicrats are a little heavy but they ride good.

  4. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by cash68 View Post
    First, pics:















    1978 Sleekcraft Aristocrat. 350 small block. Unknown lower unit (anybody ID that for me if you can, it would help a lot!)

    Guy contacted me about it, because I put an ad looking for a "cool" boat. He bought it for $1200, with an extra bravo one lower unit. The previous owner did nothing to the thing. The owner before THAT, had the engine rebuilt, installed, but could not figure out the firing order, and gave up. Yes, it DOES RUN, the guy had it running 2 weeks ago, and one of the exhaust manifolds was leaking, so he spent $200 on another used set, and a marine alternator. Beat looking, but supposedly pretty fresh engine.

    The interior is shot. The gauges are beat, the floor is soft in between the tunnels, the seats are intact but the vinyl is extremely hard, and the steering and shift cables are inoperable. The stringer along the keel of the boat is rotten. Not sure if that is structural or what?

    The exterior is extremely glossy, and will buff out no problem. The deck is firm. There are small, hairline cracks between the hull and the cap on the left side. The stern has a massive crack right above the transom... this initially worried me, but I drilled a small hole in the transom from the inside, and it seems very rigid. I also pulled the bolts out of the trim tabs, and the wood was "okay". I'm guessing that the crack is from TOWING innertubes or something, because the fiberglass above the transom, but below the towing hook, is very thin. That makes sense to me, and would explain the crack.

    The stern drive is what I am concerned with. Why did the PO have a Bravo one? How much power can the current stern drive handle? I know for SURE it needs new bellows. Any idea on pricing for those? Also, pricing for the steering/shift cables? If the lower unit turns out to be garbage, how much is a replacement?

    Definitely LOVE the style of the boat. LOVE it. It's a little ratty, but I've restored boats before, so not scared of it either. Guy is asking $1000obo. I'm thinking that is a steal. Thoughts? Experiences? Ideas?

    Currently the plan is to throw plywood over the floor, bolt in the seats after a good scrubbing, and sort out the mechanical stuff before tackling the floor/fiberglassing the thing. Seem like a good idea?
    That would be one sweet ride all restored, love that style. The drive is a pre-alpha, Mercury's drives before the Alpha One came out were the R drive, 888 sterndrive, 898 sterndrive, I and MR. It's most likely am R or MR drive going by the ring at the top for lifting the drive.

    Good luck with the project..should be awesome when your done. You'll notice I am saying that like you're going to buy it

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    Senior Member Sleek Freak's Avatar
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    check the trailer close it looks like problems to me. or figure some changes or a trailer swap. I like the boat alot.
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    Last edited by Sleek Freak; 04-27-2010 at 08:29 PM.

  7. #5
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    Well, I bought it. Rewired the trailer, replaced/repacked one bearing, and shoved it next to the garage. Roommate and I took out the seating, the carpet, and anything else that was rolling around inside, and washed the thing. Sure cleaned up nice! The seats might be salvageable... the vinyl is okay, but the wood is rotten, so we'll see what I can do. The gauges will need to be replaced, as well as the floor between the tunnels. Need to reinforce the cap, as the side area flexes due to rotten supports, as well as reinforce the tow hook. Pretty pumped about this thing though, looks amazing.

    Here she is after a quick wash:





    And the beginning of 4 weeks of ridiculousness:


  8. #6
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    Default Sleekcraft Aristocrat

    I have a '77 Aristocrat. The outdrive should be a 888 or 898 depending on Ford or GM. The lifting lug on the top of the upper unit is for a hook that will stick in the top of the transom assembly for trailering. The 888/898 are alpha style outdrives. The drive you have should be a pretty low gear ratio ~1.32:1 making for plenty of getupandgo, but because the hull is heavy, you will have to be careful to not cavitate the prop.

    What engine does it have?

    The bellows kit for the drive, water hose, shift cable should easily be less than $100 retail. I'm installing new bellows on mine this weekend.

    I'm surprised that your boat still has the through prop exhaust. Most people will cap the exhaust port on the drive and run dual exhaust through the transom.

    Congratulations on buying an extremely fun boat. You're going to love it.

  9. #7
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    I purchased one just like this last month. A 78 20 ft aristocrat, Nearly the same paint job, except different colors. Had been sitting since 04. The guy didnt winterize it, Had a sweet 400 small block chevy built in it, but had to throw it away due to cracked block. Also had to replace floor after the engine swap to a 350 SBC. Im anxiously awaiting more post on this boat project. Give me some insight and ideas as well. Mine has different ladders on the rear but the same boat.
    You can email me if you like as I am in the stages that you are going thru with mine. Had it on the water for the first time yesterday.. runs good idling then has no power in foward. Getting it tuned and checked over now. Also needs some foward/reverse adjusting as it is difficult to get into and out of gear. I give $1800 for mine with a bad motor, but the hull has no stress cracks.... yet!!! Dont know how to put photos up or I would. Mine is blue with red and silver
    Michael

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