1961 Boston Whaler Restored To Perfect Perfection!

Fully restored 1961 Boston Whaler

Fully restored 1961 Boston Whaler and 115 Engine,

Thanks to Matt Balogh and Brian Conroy from The Antique Boat Center for sending us in this great restoration of a classic 1961 Boston Whaler that Brian has worked on for 8 years! This is what happens when you apply the same high standards of restoration on a 200K triple to a 16’7″ Boston Whaler. I will now let Brian tell the story, take it away Brian.


Thanks Woody,

I asked my brother in law that was into boats look out for a fix up boat to take to Florida. While out on a river in TN. he met up with some folks.  “You are into whalers?  I’ve got an old whaler that you really need to see.”  Found next to a barn with a tree limb crushing the windshield an damaged the back seat.  Brother  in law took it home, cleaned it out and then he called me!  “Boat would be really cool to restore”  He purchased boat, motor and trailer for $300. we drove down to TN to bring to Cincinnati.  That was in  2006.  New tires and lights on the trailer to get it home.

Note the perfect restored trailer!

Note the perfect restored trailer!

In 2006 we started with the original trailer.  Spent  $2,000 restore original damage when could have bought a new one for less!


Then began restoration of hull – severely damaged keel, lots of broken areas, dock damage, holes poked into the side.  Just started sanding and sanding.  Began research on internet and fiberglass repair.  How to fix the keel problems.  For most, had a dry hull!  Did the tap test and found no soft spots.

The Gel coat on these are usualy spider cracked to death.

The Gel coat on these are usualy spider cracked to death.

Rewired for lights, researched how to gel coat.  Patched everything and re-gel coated.  While all of this was going on.  Trailer returned from the chemical dip and restored with automotive paint, clear coat.

The dream factory brochure look! We can do it!

The dream factory brochure look! We can do it!

Then in 2009 Brian was hired at The Antique Boat Center and brought the Whaler to work with him Parked out back and worked on it a little at a time.  Not much to spend.  In 2011, Antique Boat Center  sent me to the West System class in  Bay City, MI.

Whaler perfection!

Whaler perfection!

Then in 2012 we moved to our new facility.  Then in 2013, I was a speaker for a fiberglass instructional seminar for the ACBS.  After the seminar, now was my time to ask Dennis Ryan if I could keep my boat in the shop and so I could finish up the restoration.  Figuring that I had only a few more months.



Then I discovered that I had to do a lot of fiberglass repair in the interior.  This last Christmas vacation, I had it ready to do the liner.  Over the holiday I sprayed the liner and put on a new textured floor.

Stunning restoration of an iconic Whaler. With a  beautful two tone touch!

Stunning restoration of an iconic Whaler. With a beautful two tone touch!

Then proceeded with the wood work.  All the wood was in pieces in my basement and slowly started bringing it in to restore. All while working on it every weekend since until completion.


Out for a run.. Acording to the GPS, she hits about 43mph! Thats very fast on a whaler!

Out for a run.. Acording to the GPS, she hits about 43mph! Thats very fast on a whaler!

My brother in law found a motor in Cincinnati on Craiglist. a 1981 115 hp Evinrude with low hours!  Sat in a garage for 7 years.  In May of 2014, brought the motor to the shop and Brian Keen put in new plugs and impeller and it fired right up.

With the help of the Antique Boat Center for the facility and Brian Keen for all the mechanical help.  My goal was not to take it back to original status.  All the plans were to be a fishing boat for me and my son.  Now it is a trailer queen.

Trailer queen headed home!

Trailer queen headed home!


26 replies
  1. m-fine
    m-fine says:

    You know it has to be a damn good boat if they can put out a brochure showing three guys in the boat and still manage to sell a bunch.

  2. Cliff
    Cliff says:

    What happened to the bow light? Beautiful boat, very nice. Much better than that Clorox boat thing Matt found on ebay a couple days ago. What was that thing? Wait don’t tell me I don’t want to know. Nice job Brian!

  3. Big Red
    Big Red says:

    I don’t understand the appeal of these whalers – they look like very awkward and uncomfortable boats to me. Can someone tell me what I’m missing??

  4. matt
    matt says:

    They look cool because the design is driven by pure function and safety. In the early seventies, they changed the interior gel coat to an off white grey thing.. Why? The story goes, the son of the owner was out at sea lost and from the air the blue blended in with the water. So the color was changed.. Thats the design philosophy. For a small family on a small body of water these are battle ships, unsinkable and take a beating! Here is our Woody Boater official Whaler now sold back to the original owners. This is a 100% original boat. She is PERFECT..

  5. Troy in ANE
    Troy in ANE says:

    Nice Whaler!

    Is that BB Dave in the brochure headed out 30 miles off shore to do some fishing?

  6. Rick
    Rick says:

    Growing up my friend had a 13′ Whaler and if had been destructible we would have done it, we gave it quite a beating. On the flip side I had a 16′ Winner, what a piece of dog doo, and I basically did destroy it. Paper thin bottom fiberglass.

  7. Bill Hammond
    Bill Hammond says:

    Indestructible as they are I will never be able to think of them except as Utilitarian. So they have their place and I can respect that. It’s mahogany fittings is the only thing giving it any character.

    But a Woodie, virtually any Woodie, will always steal my heart away! That Mahogany!! That beautiful grain!! Just can’t replace that in my heart!

  8. Alex
    Alex says:

    Whalers are way overpriced, and worth every nickel of it. Which makes them a great value.

    They also hold their value like no other boat.

    Re their design / styling, they are beautiful boats to everyone who has ever owned one, because of the great experiences / adventures people have with them. Outstanding execution has a beauty of its own.

  9. Wilson
    Wilson says:

    Young fellow here in town has a 13′ Whaler he had as a kid…It still looks brand new.

    So tell us…Is there an on line course on fiberglass repair ? I’ve worn out the bottoms of my Hobie Cat hulls dragging it up on the beach. I have the cloth and the gel coat. Hurry.

  10. Old Salt
    Old Salt says:

    Whalers are the perfect boat for when our woodies break down and we need a tow…. Oh.. Wait.. Any running boat would be perfect for towing in our woodies.. Oh wait.. Our woodies never break down.. Oh wait.. I have said oh wait too many times.. Must be an disfuntion caused by breathing too much varnish, bottom paint, and cpes…

  11. Ollon
    Ollon says:

    At the NY boat show circa 1977 they had a video at their booth showing a couple of guys out in a 13′ Whaler. One guy takes out a chainsaw and cuts the boat in half restarts the motor and cruises around in the aft end while the other guy breaks out a pair of oars and starts rowing around in the bow section all the while remaining high and dry. Dad says, “Thats the boat I’m getting for you!”
    We found a used one with a 50 horse pullstart Merc. I was 11 or 12 at the time and once I could manage to get it started I flew all over the Great South Bay of Long Island in that thing. Waterskiing clamming fishing you name it. I even took it out into the Atlantic once “Just Because” We sold it to a family down the street when I left for the Army in 84. When I was back in NY this spring I saw their grandkids out in my old whaler. The Merc was long gone but the boat itself hadn’t aged a bit in 30 years.

    • Greg Wallace
      Greg Wallace says:

      Ok guys , here is a piece of “Whaler” trivia for you to chew on. Popular folklore places the origin of the Bostom Whaler with the “wooden” Sea Sled. It was to be essentially a fiberglass copy of Albert Hickman’s patented design. When a licensing agreement could not be reached the Whaler Folks (Fischer Pearce?) decided to add the center hull section in order to circumvent Hickman’s design patent. So I suppose you could say that its attachment to the days of mahogany go beyond the varnished bits that were ultimately retained.

      • Jon H
        Jon H says:

        Interesting info Greg, thanks. Dick Fischer started Boston Whaler. The Fischer Pierce Bearcat started out as a Crosley car engine adapted into a 4 cyle outboard by Lou Fageol, then sold to Homelite, owned by Textron, in 1962. Fischer bought it and upgraded it in 1966 to sell on their Boston Whalers as the Bearcat.

      • Bryan Conroy
        Bryan Conroy says:

        Thanks to all for all the kind words about my Whaler.
        It does have a bow light. Because I used a later style rub rail
        I had to make a mahogany perch for it to sit on. Sadly, I’m not teck savvy enough to post one. I thought I sent in one to Matt, but most of the pictures he used were of my water test and the perch was still in varnish. Thanks again!


        • Larry Pearson
          Larry Pearson says:

          Was your mahoghany solid or plywood veneer? I am in the process of resoring a 61 Nausett and all the wood is a mahoghany plywood. Most is in great shape but the front rod rack should be replaced due to veneer cracks.

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