Formula 233 Registry

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Hi folks,

So here a summary of my story. In the mids 80's, I bought a used 1979 Formula 233 LS with twin merc 260's, twin pre-alphas. I drove it in the San Francisco Bay Area and local lakes for a number of years / had a lot of fun.

  • Then in 1991 it blew one head gasket so I started that repair.
  • Well if replacing one new head gasket was good, doing both was better, right?
  • Better still may as well do 4 head gaskets (both engines), why is always better.
  • Well if I am going to do the head gaskets, I may as well re-do the outdrives (they were both right hand drives), new counter rotating would be best, always wanted them, right?
  • Ok, lets do the entire new motors too while we are at it.
  • Lets not forget about new custom exhaust.....all new Stainless Marine components......better go pick more money off that money tree growing out in back!
  • One new glassed in motor mount.....of course.
  • Lots of custom manufacturing of misc brackets make this all work, by your's truly.
  • Why stop now, let's re-do the entire cockpit and cabin upholstery, carpet and headliner too.
  • New captain's and co-pilot pedestal seats .....sure!
  • Oh, don't forget about the have to have all new paint.....never really liked the that original faded watermelon red from the factory.
  • And graphics too! 
  • New trailer....hell yes!
  • Recently....all new stereo, killer speakers, high output amps. 
  • Coming......all new gauges

All of this took place over the last 27 years, yes 27 years that the boat has been sitting on it's new trailer......never once back in the water....but always on my mind about what it could be, the quintessential mental image of where I wanted to be. 

A career, a wife, two kids, house moving, and job changes, death and of course taxes, all fit in this puzzle somewhere.

But 27 years later (yesterday, 8/19/18) it was time for the maiden voyage....the first sea trial with new motors....and new twin counter-rotating outdrives....the fruit of all of my 27 years of hard work and research to build the boat I always wanted. No more right lean and heavy trim tab use from the right hand torque of two right hand spinning props (the only factory twin option available in 1979). This boat would now be level and have full maneuverability at all speeds.....twin counters were the way to go.

Nearly everything was done.....sans a few cosmetic little things....we were ready to fire up......go blast around the bay....finally.

I had hauled it to the gas station and dumped 50 gallons in it 2 days before. 

But now, 2 minutes before leaving, I figured I'd retrieve one small thing that I had dropped in the bilge the night before. So, up with the engine hatch....and down into the bilge I went to get my widget......only to find..................a bilge full of raw gas!!!!!!

Crap.....the original aluminum tank was leaking.......slowly......50 gallons of raw new gas was draining into the bilge. Incidentally, that's the same gas tank that is permanently mounted and foamed in under the glassed in cockpit floor, under the new carpet, under all of the new upholstery, chairs, pedestals etc. that was all put in during the last 27 years of non-use! 

So, my day of a maiden voyage quickly became a day of stripping out the entire cockpit of all of my previous hard work, cutting the new carpet, sawing the floor out, digging out all of the gas saturated foam, and prying out that apparent old and leaking piece of s@#t tank.

What fun.

So this morning I researched new tank options.....and viola....stumbled on RDS  Manufacturing in Florida. Wow, they claim they probably built my original tank for my Formula back in 1979....but either way they have the engineering diagrams to built an exact replacement for it. They can also build it thicker....up to 1/4" walls.....the original is 1/8" (.125).

So.....anyone out there have:

  • Experience with this supplier (RDS)
  • Alternate sources for a new tank
  • Alternate design / replacement concepts for this boat model
  • Experience themselves doing this on their own 233 LS
  • Comments

I will post a few pics at some point. 


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Give us an update on your progress and fuel tank replacement.  A shame I know to spend all that time and money on all your upgrades only to have an issue with the fuel tank.  Been there, done that.


Quick update.

After tearing out the cockpit (again) and searching for a new gas tank, I settled on a custom made unit from SP Sheet metal out of Baregat N.J. I opted for a 1/4" wall thickness new aluminum tank as I am kind of an overkill guy. (I'll be ten feet under before this tank ever rots away!) The overall tank was sized a little smaller than the original as the installation protocol these days recommends an air chamber around the entire perimeter of the tank to keep it dry as opposed to sitting in water saturated foam (like the original version).

SP did a beautiful job...there were a couple of minor glitches that I easily got through....and the installation went well.

I first installed new 2 x 2 runners following the length of the new tank and glassed them in the bottom and, cleaned up the glasswork in the entire fuel compartment. While I waited for the delivery of the tank, I installed a new Bimini top, and worked on interior led lighting.

Upon arrival, the tank install started. The tank is blocked in, in specific areas with the only contact points being with neoprene sheeting pad isolators. The 2 x 2 runners mentioned above have the neoprene material running the entire length of the runners and the tank sits on top of these neoprene strips. Then side wooden wedge blocks were installed and screwed in along with their neoprene isolator strips. An air chamber of at least 1" surrounds the entire new tank. Blocking and neoprene sections went on top too holding the tank in and provides additional deck support. New 3/4" deck marine grade plywood went in, (penetrating epoxy treated first) then the entire deck was re glassed.  I also took the opportunity to put in a fuel compartment drain plug that can be removed to drain any water buildup that might occur in the gas tank chamber. It'll drain into the engine compartment when / if I ever pull the plug. It's a bitch to get too.....but after going through this exercise, I wanted to do everything I could do to assure a dry fuel tank and compartment.

Then new carpet (again), all of the upholstery etc. went in. A new sea trials date occurred about a month ago.

The boat made it into the water....but I ultimately experienced a few more issues. One engine kept dying.....turns out the accelerator pump diaphragm was shot and upon throttle up, the engine was starved for fuel so kept dying. Of course it ran fine on the trailer multiple times earlier at my shop! Murphy's Law! Back to the dock to try to fix it, only to eventually have the very same motor now experience an electrical short....blowing the ignition fuse. Back on the trailer it went.

I now have new carb rebuild kits sitting at the boat ready to install when I get some time. I did some preliminary hunting for the electrical short....Its easier to tell you what is NOT the problem rather then where the culprit is. It's not the coil, distributer, alternator, voltage reg, or starter or start circuit.

I suspect its probably a heat related melting of a wire somewhere. Almost everything is stock except the Stainless Marine manifolds and outdrives. The original cast iron "log" manifolds were the anchor points for numerous electrical components and original wiring harness. But the new Stainless units had no such provisions so I had a ton of custom fabrication to do to make mounting brackets for all kinds of these components. Care was taken to try to get the wiring harness away from any exhaust heat.....but maybe, maybe, I failed somewhere and a wire got cooked. I don't know for sure yet as I haven't had the time to get back to it. The Bay Area is now seeing some rain and signs of winter (water needed), so the boat's buttoned up for a bit until I have time and the weather clears.

Hell, I waited 27 years to get 'er out on the water again.....I can wait a little longer.

Greg don't give up, been there done that so my next step is working on closing the transom and putting a bracket with outboard!!!




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