(ex C'est La Vie) - 1986 Chris Craft Stinger 260 SL - Click on images to zoom
The following story originally appeared in the December, 2012 newsletter
by Mike Valliere
Two years ago, I was looking for a replacement hull for my current 1986 Stinger 260. After much searching, I came across a 1986 Stinger 260 in Atlanta, Georgia. From the pictures, the boat looked like it was in decent shape and the price was right. I talked to the owner of the boat – he said I could swap the motor, wax it and use it. So, I left Maine and headed for Atlanta to pick her up. When I got there I was shocked – the boat was a wreck. The pictures I had definitely did not prepare me for the actual condition of the boat. The boat had been left outside in the elements – there were even plants growing inside the cockpit! I thought about it and decided to offer the owner half of his asking price – to my surprise, he accepted. I headed back home with the Stinger.
Back in Maine, I parked the boat in the driveway. I thought about it for weeks. At first, I thought about parting the boat out – I actually did end up selling some parts. But I wasn't sure what I was going to do and the boat just sat in the driveway.
In the meantime, my original Stinger 260 sat out the boating season due to stringer and transom rot. At this point I had pretty much given up on the idea of swapping hulls. But then, I started doing some research on the Internet and found some videos on the FriscoJarretts YouTube channel. These series of videos show the replacement of stringers and a transom on a Sea Ray boat. There are over 70 videos on this topic alone! I learned a lot by watching these videos which gave me the encouragement and confidence to start my project. These videos are a great resource which I encourage anybody interested in changing out stringers and transoms to check out.
After watching the videos on the FriscoJarretts YouTube channel, I started my project. With a cut-off wheel and a swazall, I started from the stern and headed towards the bow, cutting out the stringers and fuel tank. I didn't hit sound wood until I got to the bulkhead in front of the fuel tank. To give myself room to work, I wound up separating the hull into two parts. What I found concerned me.
I had started this project because of the stringer and transom rot in my own Stinger. Now, as I opened up the Stinger I had bought in Atlanta, I found that this boat also had significant rot in the stringers and transom. Some of the stringers were so rotted out, that there was nothing left inside – they were hollow. But I found something even more concerning.
As I worked on my project, I took the gas tank out and inspected it. Originally, these tanks were 1/8” thick aluminum and pressure-tested to 3-5psi from the factory. But what I found shocked me – the tank had deep pits on the side and bottom and was almost corroded through! When I saw this, coupled with the rot in the stringers and transom, I wanted to get the word out to others.
So, to anyone that owns a Stinger or is considering purchasing one, carefully check for rot in the stringers and transom. As for the gas tank, since there is no way to visually inspect the tank when installed on the boat, perhaps a pressure-test can be done by capping the fuel and vent lines, installing a pressure gauge, and adding a regulator, and pressurizing the tank to 3psi. I probably wouldn't do this unless I was smelling gas fumes in the boat. The gas tank on my boat came off of a saltwater boat, and maybe that's what caused the corrosion. But, checking the gas tank should be a check-list item when looking to purchase an older boat.