1981 Dolphin 20' Commercial

Questions about boat repairs with our resins and fiberglass: hull patches, transoms and stringers, foam, rot etc.
MSRiver
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1981 Dolphin 20' Commercial

Post by MSRiver » Tue Jun 05, 2018 10:31 pm

First off i want to say this has been one of the more useful websites I've been on. When i say I've researched and read for hours and hours its been awhile and just happen to stumble on here. So much useful imformation to how to's and what kind of materials to use. As i said I've spent a good amount of time researching all this i have yet to see another Dolphin redone, matter of fact i only found 1 on the hull truth that had been redone but i only got to see the finished product. I don't know why more of these aren't getting done, because it should be a great bay a river boat. But lets get Started.

I recently purchased a 1981 20' Commercial Dolphin with a 2004 Mercury 150 Saltwater. Buying this boat i knew that some work would be involved, but as the day i bought it i could have run it a couple of years without any major issues but with a small issue with a motor part i figure i might as well start to replacing everything so I'm not stuck or frustrated while using it. The hull is in great shape other than some gouges in the gel coat an off paint color.

OAL = 19'-6"
Beam = 7'
Transome= 2.25"

1. While the transom isn't awful right now I'm going to be redoing the floor and might as well do the transom while I'm at it.
2. Floor is soft but hard to tell if the plywood under is gone and or the stringers are gone as well. One thing i noticed once i removed the gas tank lid is the glass seems to be in good shape on the top part but the wood is gone along with epoxy that was wrapped over the wood(bottom part) was gone giving no structural value to it.
3. Ply wood under the cap needs to be replace, along with plenty of spider webs and other small glass patches to be redone.
4. Hull is in great shape like i said but the gelcoat has seen its better days, after trying to buff a small area i noticed dark spot showing up, which after a small amount of sanding, its the hull fiberglass showing through. While I'm not a huge fan of yellow bird yellow, I'm going to give this old girl a whole new paint job on the outside and inside to hopefully make her look like she came straight from the factory in 1981.
5. The gas tank and the area the gas tank was in is in great shape all the glass is still super solid. Looking through the hole for where the main hose goes into the tank i could see plenty of plywood decay under the front deck.
6. As for the sides theres plenty more spiderwebbing to be fixed and small glass work but seems in good condition for the most part.
7. I can tell plywood in the splash well is gone along with wood that is in the main bench seating or really between the cockpit and storage of the bench.
8. The wiring was kind of a joke, as there was random wires, the bilge and other small things not working with no access to any of them
9. The center console is in good shape other than the very top, where wood was put and has rotted.
10. The motor was mechanical steering which I'm going to replacing with hydraulic steering, along with new shifter throttle system.
11. Im sure i might be missing something but I'm sure ill get to it at some point.

Now on to the real question as where should i begin first. Ive taken down all the main measurement, and I've gotten about as far as i can go until the motor comes off, but I'm trying to keep planning so i can keep this project moving forward.

So should i be removing the cap first and work my way down to the bare hull and replace from the floor up. Or should i replace floor and transom first and leave the cap on to main its shape. For either case where should i start cutting? And if i didn't state earlier the sides aren't in bad shape just spiderwebbing and small glass work.

Also if somebody needs some more pictures i have a million but figured this would be a good start.

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Fuzz
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Re: 1981 Dolphin 20' Commercial

Post by Fuzz » Wed Jun 06, 2018 1:15 am

First welcome to the fun MSRiver :D
Looks like the hull is setting on a bunk trailer. That is a good start but if it were me I would make sure it is level for to aft and side to side. Make sure it is well braced as you do not want it changing shape when you take it apart.
I would want to find out what I really have and then make a plan from there. Pike a few likely spots on the transom and cut a plug out with a hole saw. do not drill through the outer skin if you can help it. I like using a hole saw because you get a true picture of what you have. If it is good you can always fill it back in with epoxy and wood flour glue.
I am sure some of the other guys will chime in soon.

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topwater
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Re: 1981 Dolphin 20' Commercial

Post by topwater » Wed Jun 06, 2018 6:38 am

If it were me i would get the cap off. The only way to see what you got to work with is to be able to
see what you got to work with.
Novi 23 finally launched !

Jeff
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Re: 1981 Dolphin 20' Commercial

Post by Jeff » Wed Jun 06, 2018 7:17 am

MSRiver, Welcome to our Builders Forum!! As you can already see from the comments from Fuzz and Topwater, you will receive good guidance and help!! I look forward to watching your project!! Again, welcome!! Jeff

OrangeQuest

Re: 1981 Dolphin 20' Commercial

Post by OrangeQuest » Wed Jun 06, 2018 9:32 am

Welcome to the forum MSRiver,

You will get a lot of good advice from this group. It may seem you are jumping in over your head at first but that's what happens when you jump in the deep end. As you start to make your repairs it becomes easier. As you figure out what is bad and needs repair, see if you can't get your motor running too. If that is no good then you can decide if the rest is worth it all. It is good that you have listed things that need done so far, keep adding to it. Don't let time control your repairs, things can get sloppy fast and you don't want to waste your money and labor on sloppiness. Sounds like you are wanting to restore her back to OEM standards. If that is so then when you start then you may decide that you can make it better than an OEM production boat. POST LOTS OF PICTURES! Even mistakes so we all learn from each other. Good luck.
OQ

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Re: 1981 Dolphin 20' Commercial

Post by IpswichGrady » Wed Jun 06, 2018 10:54 am

OrangeQuest wrote:
Wed Jun 06, 2018 9:32 am
You will get a lot of good advice from this group. It may seem you are jumping in over your head at first but that's what happens when you jump in the deep end. As you start to make your repairs it becomes easier.
OrangeQuest is so right... people here are knowledgeable and patient! Take it from me, I have asked a ton of questions! Once you read other posts and get into your repair any anxiety will slowly go away.

Good luck! and BTW, Welcome

MSRiver
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Re: 1981 Dolphin 20' Commercial

Post by MSRiver » Wed Jun 06, 2018 11:06 am

Must say I thought I sure enough I got in over my head before finding this site. But I’m a pretty handy guy so I just knew I’m gonna have to take it one step at a time. Motor cranks right up. Only problem with it is the oil reservoir float is out so the computer kicked in and won’t let it go above idle. And so far that’s the only problem I know about with that.

Soon as I pull the motor off, I’m hoping this week, I’m going to pull it off the trailer so I can work on the trailer more as well.

Y’all suggested to pull off the cap first. I’ve taken all the screws out and run a knife to cut through seemed like basic silicon between hull and cap. Still doesn’t seem like it wants to budge other than some small movement. So how far down on the inside do I need to cut to take off the cap. Such as cut at the floor level to keep sides and benches and back live wells intact? Or cut 6” down all through the front then have to cut through cap where the bench and live wells start?

Fuzz
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Re: 1981 Dolphin 20' Commercial

Post by Fuzz » Wed Jun 06, 2018 2:40 pm

Is that cap and liner all one piece? Either way I would think the factory would have used something to bond it to the hull. Getting it to come out in one piece could be a chore. I hope one of the guys who has done one like this will chime in.

MSRiver
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Re: 1981 Dolphin 20' Commercial

Post by MSRiver » Wed Jun 06, 2018 5:59 pm

I know the back two lives wells where one was converter to where the battery goes are all the same piece. Which makes me think that the sides and floor would be apart of that and one big mold to fit on the hull. You might be able to notice where you can put rods in are two different pieces and are not attached. Thinking about it if i just cut at the floor what else would be holding the cap down along with the benches?

Fuzz
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Re: 1981 Dolphin 20' Commercial

Post by Fuzz » Wed Jun 06, 2018 6:22 pm

I would have no problem getting that thing apart. Problem is you would never be able to reuse what I took out :help: I have no idea of how to take it apart the right way. sure hope one of the other guys can help. Maybe try posting the question in the upper powerboat section so JM will see it. He does not try to follow all the threads here.

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