18 x 54 Uncle J Custom Boats "TG Edition" w/36 HP Prodrive
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Author:  BlueShamu [ Sun Jul 01, 2012 2:27 pm ]
Post subject:  18 x 54 Uncle J Custom Boats "TG Edition" w/36 HP Prodrive

MM Brand: Prodrive
Horsepower: 36
Boat Brand: Uncle J Custom Boats
Boat Size: 18' x 54" x 24" Sides
Boat Layout: Center Console with 5' Fish Deck

Speeds | Shallow Water: 27 mph bumping 28 @ 4000 RPM
Speeds | Deep Water: 25 mph bumping 26 @ 3950 RPM

08/2013 Speeds | Deep Water with Worn Prop: 25 mph @ 4300 RPM (See Video viewtopic.php?f=18&t=44070 )
12/2013 Speeds | Deep Water with new Prop: 27-28 mph @ 4050 RPM (See Video viewtopic.php?f=18&t=48083&p=637308#p637308 )

Total Boat Load With Gear Etc: 1,600 pounds...breaks down like this...weighed the boat, motor, two batteries, trolling motor, 16 gallons of fuel and all the "things and knick-knacks" in the boat (tool box, life jackets, flare kit, throwable, etc.) using a load cell suspended from an overhead crane. 1,380 pounds. I'm at the 185'ish mark. Add ice chest, fishing poles, tackle box...rounded it off to 1,600 pounds total weight.

(See this topic on the weight viewtopic.php?f=4&t=46759)
Deep Water Conditions Tested In: Deep bay water, light chop, light winds
Shallow Water Conditions Tested In: Shallow, sandy bottom river, light current, no winds.

Initial Deep Water Boat Loading: One person – 190 lbs., 16 gallons of fuel, two batteries, MinnKota Riptide trolling motor, one pod w/seat, one pedestal w/seat, military surplus ammunition box holding a small mixture of the essential bare minimum tools, marine fire extinguisher, two life jackets, flare kit, push pole(why?)….and 20 pounds of marine grade 6 gauge wiring!(not really that heavy…but heavy!)

Shallow Water Boat Loading: Same as above.

This review will read more like a long story (or short novel!) I am going to break it down into several posts which will encompass three parts:

Part 1 – The Design
Part 2 – The Construction
Part 3 – The Sea Trials

This endeavor began around the beginning of the year...and BTW...THANKS!! to all the folks that answered my questions (the ones newbies are still asking before they figure out how to use the "Search" feature) and answering my questions even when I posted them in the wrong forum! :lol:

As I was saying, this began around the beginning of the year. I had a concept of what I "thought" I wanted in a boat. 18+' x 54", 1/8" sides, 3/16" bottom, center console, performance crimps, extended fishing deck, hybrid vee, pointed bow and sport deck.

Leonardo, I am not; but, I grabbed a pencil and lots of paper and used the skills I could remember from my Catholic School 6th grade art class. Here is what that looked like:

TG Boat Build Sketches_Page_1.jpg

TG Boat Build Sketches_Page_2.jpg

TG Boat Build Sketches_Page_3.jpg

Yeah…I was a little crazy about courtesy lighting…and no, I’m not scared of the dark. Looking at the sketches, I think I made the transition from papyrus scrolls, ink wells and turkey quills to paper and pencil pretty well! :D

Author:  BlueShamu [ Sun Jul 01, 2012 2:31 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: 18 x 54 Uncle J Custom Boats "TG Edition" w/36 HP Prodri

After finally figuring out the search feature, it didn’t take long to figure out which builder I was entrusting with this build – Uncle J Custom Boats. I saw WAY too many reviews that read something along the lines, “It was exactly the way I wanted it.” Or, “They went out of their way to do this…” “they went above and beyond…” etc. Comments like, “personal attention, kept me updated through the entire process”…and all the other positive comments let me know, this was the builder. It was a no-brainer to me. Sure, there were some people with negative things to say…but, why? I could never figure it out…didn’t seem like they ever had any dealings with the man regarding boat building. I went so far as to PM a couple “Uncle-J Naysayers” to figure out why. But, nothing specific was ever given to me. The best thing that somebody could come up with was “he steals other peoples’ designs.” Really??? So, I spend hours upon hours copying everything I like about every boat I saw and asking people what they liked about their boats so I can include them in my build....does that mean my design was stolen and my boat is not going to be custom? Crazy. So, the builder was picked. Only problem was, he didn’t know it, yet! :lol:

I have no boat designing or building skills whatsoever other than knowing it “should” be water tight when floating. So, I really didn’t know if what I wanted was right or even practical. After looking at more boat photos, reading about other people’s boats, talking with the best builder in the country and talking with you folks (the "Professionals"); I made a few revisions from the original concept. I learned about ankle twisting gutters, hydroturf, LED courtesy light strips and spud holes in the hunt deck get you wet! I cleaned up the lines using Autocad and here is what I figured was “The Build, Revision 1.”

Boat Side View1.jpg

Boat Top View.jpg

Yeah, I know…the wrong color light on the side. It’s the “Louisiana Right.” :oops: But it was something I could give Jason to get a quote going. Now all this time in the interim, I had been texting Jason several times a day and blowing up his email inbox with questions galore. I have this “attention to detail” personality characteristic (FLAW!). Although he never came out and said it…actually, my brother was the one that suggested it to me…but, I had the feeling Jason thought I wasn’t serious and I was just “window shopping” and wasting his time. So, I called him and basically said point blank, “What do I need to do to convince you I am serious about getting a boat built and that I am serious about wanting you to build it?” I needed a price because I really had no idea of what I was getting into price-wise other than what was on the Prodrive and Gator Trax websites. “What kind of deposit do you need to get me a price and get me in your build cue?” So, he said he would get me a quote in a couple days. To help him out, I combined all my text questions, email questions, pictures, drawings, wants, thoughts, notes, etc. into one document and sent it to him. I think this made things a little easier on him…even though it was still 12 pages of “stuff!” :o Like I said, I have this “attention to details” DNA wiring flaw.

Author:  BlueShamu [ Sun Jul 01, 2012 2:37 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: 18 x 54 Uncle J Custom Boats "TG Edition" w/36 HP Prodri

Somewhere amongst all this stuff, I started reading about the pros/cons of Prodrives w/hunt decks vs. Prodrives w/sport decks. Ya’ll see where this is going, don’t you? So, I fire up Autocad and start playing with the design….again. Much to my disbelief, what I thought was the perfect looking rig just got better looking with sport decks instead of the hunt deck! But, then again, beauty is in the eye of the beholder and this was just my thoughts….but, my thoughts are the only ones that count, here….right? So, here was “The Build, Revision 2.”
Sport Deck Looking Down Model.jpg

Sport Deck Hybrid Vee Side View1.jpg

So, I got the quote…but with bad news. They wouldn’t be able to start on it for about another six weeks. I sent my deposit without even doing any price comparisons or shopping around. But, don’t think I wasn’t tempted…in fact, idle hands and temptation got the best of me sometime during that six weeks. So, I called two other builders and left messages that were never returned. I don’t know why I did that. Even if they were cheaper, I was already convinced this was my builder. So, that was that.

Author:  BlueShamu [ Sun Jul 01, 2012 2:42 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: 18 x 54 Uncle J Custom Boats "TG Edition" w/36 HP Prodri

Fast forward six weeks….. :lol:

That was the longest six weeks of my life! I have already spent an additional $1500+ on a trolling motor, quick release bracket, deep cycle battery, seats, bilge pump, stereo, speakers…the list goes on! The bad thing was, six weeks had passed and construction had not begun, yet! :( Jason was still backed up and had not caught up. Talk about getting antsy! But, I’m giving credit to the Good Lord for even having a plan for me with my boat build! Memorial Day weekend, my wife and I go to Grand Isle and borrow my brother’s 18 x 60 Prodrive X-Series Center Console. I was quite surprised at how well the boat handled the Caminada Bay chop. I kept the throttle cornered and the boat seemed to just ride the wave tops, never dipping into them. Don’t get me wrong…it was still rough…especially Monday morning when a “cool” front had passed through leaving a stout North wind in its wake. But, I never really got that anticipated bow “slap.” That bow slap was the whole point of wanting the hybrid vee. Now, I had to make another decision…do I really want/need the hybrid vee? After all, flat bottoms all the way up are the mud boat standard…and probably for a reason. But, the hybrid sure “looked” good. Alright…one more call to Jason. He knocked off just enough money from the quote to help me decide to go flat all the way up! Dangit! “The Build, Revision 3” was drawn up:

Sport Deck Flat Bottom Side View Model1.jpg

You probably also caught where I “stole” the dual bow eye design…something I liked about my brother’s rig. So, I’m now thinking it was a good thing Jason hadn’t gotten started on my build yet….or else it would still be a hybrid vee design…not that it would be a bad thing. Just didn’t think it was needed. Maybe I’ll regret it…maybe I won’t miss it. Time will tell.

So, the money I saved, I used to go to the doctor and check to make sure my estrogen levels weren't elevated since I had been changing my mind so much! :lol:

Author:  BlueShamu [ Sun Jul 01, 2012 2:48 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: 18 x 54 Uncle J Custom Boats "TG Edition" w/36 HP Prodri

The first week of June, I got a call from Jason saying make sure everything I want is on the drawings and send him the finals. They would be starting on it sometime the following week. So, I detailed out the center console and sent Jason my version of the “IFC’s” (Issued For Construction) drawings with notes and details...and yeah...I think there were a few changes on those, too:

TG 18x54 Drawings with Comments_2012JUN04_Page_1.jpg

TG 18x54 Drawings with Comments_2012JUN04_Page_2.jpg

TG 18x54 Drawings with Comments_2012JUN04_Page_3.jpg

This is where you finally get to get up, go to the bathroom and refill your cup of coffee...or grab another beer…on your way back to the computer and read some other posts.

To be continued........

(PART 2 – THE CONSTRUCTION will be updated, soon.)

Author:  mizzippi jb [ Sun Jul 01, 2012 6:30 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: 18 x 54 Uncle J Custom Boats "TG Edition" w/36 HP Prodri

both of you have been working hard! Ought to be a sweet rig!

Author:  BlueShamu [ Sun Jul 01, 2012 8:30 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: 18 x 54 Uncle J Custom Boats "TG Edition" w/36 HP Prodri

Jason and his guys are the ones working hard. He sent me text photos of the boat at 11:30 Friday night! It was photos of the motor on the boat and rigging everywhere! :D Hydraulic steering hoses, wiring, cables. I called him up just to get the skinny on everything. He then sent a text Saturday morning saying the motor was completely rigged out and the boat was going to paint on Monday. It is a really SWEET looking rig. I think both of us are pretty excited about it.

I'll get to weaving another yarn about "Part 2 - The Construction" and post all about it when the paint is done. I will be picking it up on 7/12 a.m. and by p.m., hope to be putting redfish in it!

Author:  brasso [ Mon Jul 02, 2012 1:12 am ]
Post subject:  Re: 18 x 54 Uncle J Custom Boats "TG Edition" w/36 HP Prodri

This is a really good review, and sounds to be like an extremely nice and thought out rig. Your pretty handy with autocad, I like the drawings btw... I actually admire that you include god on here.. It definetely shows he was with you every step of the way on this thing. Im glad things are working out and cant wait to see it, and hear more about it!

Author:  missile [ Mon Jul 02, 2012 10:20 am ]
Post subject:  Re: 18 x 54 Uncle J Custom Boats "TG Edition" w/36 HP Prodri

Hey blueshamu I seen your boat last week while I was visiting different builders, it looked good just like what you have asked for. I decided to go with Uncle J myself can't wait to see how your paint and finished product comes out. The hardest thing for me is the wait but at least it gives me time to make some changes and bug the crap out of Jason. :lol:

Author:  BlueShamu [ Mon Jul 02, 2012 9:25 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: 18 x 54 Uncle J Custom Boats "TG Edition" w/36 HP Prodri

I can honestly say, if I ever have another boat built, Jason will build it for me...I can see him cringing as he reads this... :lol:

But, he'll probably throw in the stipulation, "I'll build it if you promise not to text me, call me or email me after you send me the drawings."

Author:  BlueShamu [ Mon Jul 02, 2012 9:31 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: 18 x 54 Uncle J Custom Boats "TG Edition" w/36 HP Prodri


One common theme amongst the Uncle J boat owners’ reviews and comments was that Jason gives you a lot of attention and keeps you updated on the build progress. I really wondered about that leading up to construction because I often thought it was so hard to get in touch with him…but he may have just been ignoring me…after all, it was me. Looking back, I would have ignored me, also! After 46 years on this earth, I’m still trying to grasp the concept that the world does not revolve around me. :lol: Seriously, and sincerely, this took me a little time to figure out – but the reason you may not get a call back, email response, text back (as quick as I would have wanted)…because he is probably giving somebody else his spare time and attention. And when it comes to boats, he’s giving that attention to the guy getting a boat built. Your turn will come when your boat is being built! I have yet to meet the man in person. But, he seems to lead a REALLY busy life. Believe it or not, I think he has a real life outside of boat building and MMT! I do know he has a “real” job with a very large company, he’s a junior high girls’ softball coach and has a wife and kids. So, yeah…sometimes, it can be tough to get in touch with him. But, I will say this, when your boat is in fabrication, he will make up for any lack of attention prior to fabrication. You will have his attention or he will have yours! Once fabrication started, I think he started trying to pay me back with the same amount of text messaging and phone calls I had sent him prior to construction! Well...probably not quite that much. For me personally, this was good…because now I was starting to feel like the world really did revolve around me and my needs!

First call out of the box…and with a sense of urgency in his voice, “We are about to start on your boat. Since you said you are running the bays and some open lakes, do you want to stay with the 21” sides or would you rather have 24” sides?” I was oblivious to an answer. So, he had to go through the pros/cons of high/low sides with me. I figured this was Jason’s form of “Boat Designer’s Intervention.” It was his way of knowing what I really needed…not necessarily what I wanted. After the brief discussion, I opted with 24” sides. I really had no idea on how high the sides needed to be. I figured since we would be crossing salt water bays, he had a good point; higher = better. The high sides weren’t going to amount to a hill of beans in weight. Furthermore, it didn’t cost me anything extra…so the Louisiana State Motto kicked in; “If it’s free, it’s me!” :lol:

Like I said, progress photos, text messages and communication were fairly frequent. June 14th, I got the first text message from Jason with pictures of what resembled a boat! It was really just the sides, bottom and transom…but they were enough to charge my batteries and stroke my ego!

01 - 2012JUN14a.jpg

02 - 2012JUN14a.jpg

Jason commented that it may not look like much now, but by Monday, you will start to see “your” design.

Author:  BlueShamu [ Mon Jul 02, 2012 9:34 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: 18 x 54 Uncle J Custom Boats "TG Edition" w/36 HP Prodri

Boy Howdy! Jason wasn’t kidding! Him and his guys worked through the weekend. He sent me pictures the following Monday which had the longitudinal bracing in place. The catwalks and gunnel rails were tacked in place. The boat also had the front deck and the sport decks coming together! It really was starting to be recognizable as “my” design.

03 - 2012JUN18a.jpg

04 - 2012JUN18a.jpg

05 - 2012JUN18a.jpg

Author:  BlueShamu [ Mon Jul 02, 2012 9:37 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: 18 x 54 Uncle J Custom Boats "TG Edition" w/36 HP Prodri

The next day, I got photos of the floor in place, the catwalks welded out and the console tacked together! Now, I am really getting stoked! This is really my boat being built!

06 - 2012JUN19a.jpg

07 - 2012JUN19a.jpg

The construction phase was going surprisingly quick and the boat really started taking shape. It was going faster than what I had anticipated and I was really getting excited about the build!

Stay tuned….we’ll be right back!

Author:  nocemdead [ Mon Jul 02, 2012 10:06 pm ]
Post subject:  18 x 54 Uncle J Custom Boats "TG Edition" w/36 HP Prodrive

Blue Shamu,
By far the BEST THREAD I have ever read looking toward to the rest of the story. Now I will hush and get out of the way please continue......

Author:  Nate [ Tue Jul 03, 2012 5:02 am ]
Post subject:  Re: 18 x 54 Uncle J Custom Boats "TG Edition" w/36 HP Prodri

Looking good!

Author:  BlueShamu [ Tue Jul 03, 2012 5:56 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: 18 x 54 Uncle J Custom Boats "TG Edition" w/36 HP Prodri

Thanks for the comments, guys! Still weaving a little more yarn. I'll try to get an update here, soon.

EDIT - On a side note, I resized the photos above so this thing reads a little least on my monitor!

Author:  BlueShamu [ Thu Jul 05, 2012 8:12 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: 18 x 54 Uncle J Custom Boats "TG Edition" w/36 HP Prodri


The updates from Jason slowed down a little. To his credit, he was in Houston on business. The time in between became hap-hazardous for him. I tend to be Always Noting Aspects Little about things…my propellers are always spinning. I can at least say I am aware of my analytic nature….I’ve been told that’s the first step to admitting you have a problem!

Do any of you recall learning in a college psychology class about the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator personality assessment? That was the first place I heard about it. Then, many moons later, I actually had the opportunity to take the assessment with my employer as part of leadership training. What an eye opener! This was my actual results:

Myers-Briggs Type Indicator.jpg

In a nutshell, I have an “ISTJ” personality type. If I had to guess Jason’s personality type, I would think he is basically the complete opposite – “ENFP.” If you know about the MBTI, you know that there are no “correct” answers to the assessment. Nor is there a “correct” personality indicator. It is simply a way to be aware of your particular “style” and better understand and appreciate the helpful ways people differ from one another. If you have personality “markers” within an indicator which lean heavy toward one end of the scale, you “favor” that indicator. Here are the personality type indicator descriptors:

Myers-Briggs Explanation.jpg

I had to preface with the Psychology 101 lesson so that everybody understands just how much Constant Reassurance About Plans from me that Jason had to put up with. Idle hands and no new pictures had me analyzing old pictures which led me to believe I was going to solve all the problems with features about my design that were not practical. My wife will attest, "Why does everything have to be your way?" As it already stood, Jason was being rewarded for photo updates with a barrage of questions! (That may have been another reason the photos slowed down! :oops: ) You really have to know just how bad I wanted some things done….and even more so, just how hard Jason tried to make it happen…even after he told me, “It’s not practical.” Or “It won’t work.”

So, when you see subtle differences between the drawings and the finished product, you must realize, this is where Jason’s personality helped out my personality by coming up with practical solutions to impractical designs. Remember, my personality is one that “is always right no matter how wrong I am.” Jason’s is more like, “I can tell you from past experience, I don’t think that’s a good idea. Here’s what I think you should do.” So, when I persisted with trying to make things work like I thought they should, Jason went right along with it so he could say he at least tried. I later found out about this type of effort from a third party that happened to be at the shop one day to discuss a build with Jason. BTW…that guy agreed that the boat looked really great and that it is better looking in person!

As one instance went; I threw out a curve ball of an idea :idea: that I just knew would work…and when I “know” something will work…well, you know. Jason had an alternative solution that he felt he could make work. Bless their hearts; Jason and Heath tried their darnedest to do this in all the ways I suggested and it just was not going to work! They ended up doing what Jason had suggested doing in the first place to remedy the situation! I probably lost a day of production and Jason lost a day of paying labor for my experiment. But, Jason took it in full stride stating, “I know now if somebody wants this done in the future, I am charging an extra day of labor to get it done!” So, when you see the fuel fill cap located on the fish deck instead of through the catwalk and the pop rivets in the fuel storage bulkhead….DON’T ASK!!! :shock:

Author:  BlueShamu [ Thu Jul 05, 2012 8:19 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: 18 x 54 Uncle J Custom Boats "TG Edition" w/36 HP Prodri

June 25th, I get a host of photos of the boat on the trailer! This is what I’m talking about! :D That boat was looking SHARP!! The aluminum trailer, the shiny aluminum hull…I had to put my sunglasses on just to look at the photos! Now, I’m not even sure I want it painted. This is looking WAY too good! This was really “MY” boat, now!

08 - 2012JUN25a.jpg

09 - 2012JUN25a.jpg

11 - 2012JUN25a.jpg

Maybe I'm being a little biased…but that was the best looking build I had ever seen! Even if you don’t think so…I think you get the idea of just how excited I was about seeing what was basically a completed hull! Okay…not quite completed. There were a few cosmetic things that still needed to be done. And even though I knew things needed to be done…I just couldn’t resist making sure Jason was on top of “the details” as much as I was. You know...wanting to make sure everything is "right."

This is where you save me a lot of typing, click on the thread link below to a related story in another forum and read on. When you’re done, come back here for some more updates!


Author:  Will [ Fri Jul 06, 2012 4:27 am ]
Post subject:  Re: 18 x 54 Uncle J Custom Boats "TG Edition" w/36 HP Prodri

That's a great looking set up.

Author:  BlueShamu [ Sun Jul 08, 2012 7:40 am ]
Post subject:  Re: 18 x 54 Uncle J Custom Boats "TG Edition" w/36 HP Prodri

So, from this point on, I promised myself to take a chill pill and let Jason and his guys do their thing. I think that probably made him happier…or more eager to get me and my boat out of his hair! :lol: At least I wasn’t badgering him about any of the finer details. I may have asked one question about the build from this point forward. When Jason had a question for me, I just tried to leave the decision in his hands…or at least get the most input from him for an answer. But, his response was usually, “Dude, this is your boat. I’m going to do whatever you want me to do.”

Seriously, though…there were a LOT of things Jason and his guys were doing that were just like everybody said, “above and beyond” what he needed to be doing. Like the grab handles across the catwalks…I had envisioned a simple piece of aluminum round bar stock bent and welded into place – just something to tie things down with. You see what I have, don’t you? Some really nice cast aluminum grab handles!

So now the boat was ready to have the motor and all the rigging installed. This included all the controls and the hydraulic steering. Well, Prodrive was apparently backlogged with several dual rig orders and would not be able to get my boat in for at least another week. Once, again, Jason stepped up to the plate. He knew I had a date planned to be down there to pick up the boat. Prodrive’s schedule wasn’t quite jiving with ours! June 28th was when I got photos of the motor on the transom and hydraulic hoses everywhere! Yeappers...Jason was doing the motor install and rigging.

12 - 2012JUN28a.jpg

Jason and his guys were really going above and beyond through the finishing stages of the boat. There were things that Jason and I agreed I would do on my own…and I had no issues with doing them…especially since these were going to save me on labor costs and were things I could do in my spare time. Yet, he went ahead and did some of them, anyway. Here is one example of those small extras:

He mounted and wired up a power and a ground bus…and installed my Blue Sea switch panel (Thanks Jason and everybody else for all the recommendations out there on this switch panel!) I had ordered this through Amazon and had it shipped to my mom’s house. Jason got it and installed it…no questions asked. Well, he did ask me where I wanted the switch panel located because there were not many options…and he named off some ideas. I prioritized the locations based upon whether or not it would fit and here is what I got:

13 - 2012JUN28a.jpg

Another really neat surprise…at least I thought it was neat…was this floor drain. It's located in the bottom left corner of the picture. I still don’t know if there was one on each side or just this one. (I'm doing my best to avoid questioning little details :lol: ) At any rate, it was something I really hadn’t thought about or asked for...but I now have it…and I like it!

14 - 2012JUN28a.jpg

Stick around….there’s still MUCH more to come!

Author:  BlueShamu [ Mon Jul 09, 2012 7:54 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: 18 x 54 Uncle J Custom Boats "TG Edition" w/36 HP Prodri

The next day…errr…night…I get a series of text messages with photos. The first one started off reading, “Only thing left is steering, throttle, and cleaning up wires. Then off to paint on Monday.” Here is what followed:

16 - 2012JUN29a.jpg

17 - 2012JUN29a.jpg

18 - 2012JUN29a.jpg

Author:  BlueShamu [ Mon Jul 09, 2012 8:00 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: 18 x 54 Uncle J Custom Boats "TG Edition" w/36 HP Prodri

Let me clarify “night.” :lol: This was 11:23 PM on Friday night! Unusually, my wife and I were still awake. I was pecking corn in front of the television about to fall asleep. I immediately sent the pictures to my email. After seeing them on the big monitor, now, I’m so excited, I can’t go to sleep! He followed up the boat pictures with a series of text messages that read:

“Guess what…”
“I’m putting the camo you wanted from Gator Trax..”
“Deck, floor, two sport decks, and top of seat in front of console.”

Then, this photo:

Hydroturf - Duk Grassa.jpg

You see, Jason originally quoted me the Hydroturf installation from my 12 pages of “stuff” where I had mentioned wanting the “Swamp Camo” pattern. I had even sent off to Hydroturf for a sample swatch beforehand. It looked pretty good. Much later on, after the quote and even after the build had started; I had seen the Gator Trax “Duk Grass Cameaux” pattern. I really liked this pattern. I really didn’t like the price of the stuff, though! :o

So, earlier in the week, Jason had asked me, “Which Hydroturf pattern do you want?” I laughed and said, “What I really want probably wasn’t in the quote!” So, I told him I would really like the Duk Grass Cameaux. And I explained I knew the retail price was nearly double the Swamp Camo. So, my answer was, “If it was too expensive, I would go with the Swamp Camo.” Well, he called me the next day and said if I wanted the Duk Grass, it would be X-amount plus materials. The “X-amount” was not far off from the original quote with materials. So, I opted out. Jason explained why the cost was higher and they were all valid reasons which I understood and could accept.

I don’t know what kind of horse trading Jason did…but, he obviously wanted me to have the Duk Grass Camo pattern! I had to phone him up at 11:30 at night and talk about it….you know…get the details! :lol: He told me he really wrung the guy’s arm to get the price lowered and then made up the difference out of his own pocket so that I could have that pattern! I haven’t mentioned this yet, but, this was not the first time he “ate” some costs out of his own pocket for this build. Have you noticed the fuel gauge on the console, yet? Besides the labor around the gas tank installation…he ate up some costs between the actual gas tank, fuel fill assembly and gas gauge quoted versus what was actually installed. I saw the model number and the retail price for that tank and installation kit. I can only hope he had some Slap-Yo-Momma seasoning and a few Old Milwaukee’s Best to help ease the taste of that cost going down!

I was totally shocked and totally taken off guard with the news of the Hydroturf pattern! Believe it or not, I was really speechless. All I could say was “Thank You” a couple dozen times and how much I appreciated it. I also added, “Don’t think it was going unnoticed.”

He then told me that he was going to be at the shop before daylight and was going to finish out the rigging and wiring. Sure enough, 10:28 Saturday morning, I get the text, “Boat is rigged, minus throttle.” Which, he explained the night prior, ProDrive had given him a throttle cable too long. But, it would not hold up painting.

So, on Monday, July 2, the boat and motor were off to the painters!!

Set your thread alerts…paint photos coming soon!

Author:  naj [ Tue Jul 10, 2012 2:39 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: 18 x 54 Uncle J Custom Boats "TG Edition" w/36 HP Prodri

Dude I just fondled your boat a few minutes ago. Practically had sex with it because they have so many holes in it but figured I'd leave that to you. :D

Nice boat by the way. Should be able to take a chop with those high sides.

Author:  BlueShamu [ Tue Jul 10, 2012 4:14 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: 18 x 54 Uncle J Custom Boats "TG Edition" w/36 HP Prodri

^^^ :lol: :lol: ^^^

I am quite envious of you!! I am counting the hours until I get down there and actually get to see it in person. Don't know about the "making love to it" part...but I do know I am already loving it! But, thanks for the encouragement! :D

Those holes are so Jason can make more money off of me in the future when I start building the modular add-on's I have in mind. Hopefully, there won't be much chop around Grand Isle this weekend...because that's where it will be getting the sea trials Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday!

Ahhh...but that will be left to tell in Part 3 - The Sea Trials! :D

Author:  BlueShamu [ Tue Jul 10, 2012 4:26 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: 18 x 54 Uncle J Custom Boats "TG Edition" w/36 HP Prodri

July 5th….(yeah…the 5th!!!) I get these photos in a text message from Jason:

19 - 2012JUL05a.jpg

20 - 2012JUL05a.jpg

I will be honest, I have no idea how long it takes somebody to paint a boat and lay down Hydroturf. But, I wanted to call Jason and ask him if the paint was still wet on that boat?!?! Considering the guy gets it on a Monday and finishes it on the following Thursday...with a holiday day on Wednesday…that was QUICK! Even if he worked on Wednesday, that was still way faster than I would have anticipated. I need that guy to come to my house and help me finish some of my “honey-do’s!”

Besides being done quick, there was nothing missed. He even laid Hydroturf on the center console trays! That was a really nice thought I wasn’t expecting. I really thought I had all the bases covered with little details. This was one I didn’t think about…but they obviously had it covered (pun intended!)

Author:  BlueShamu [ Tue Jul 10, 2012 4:42 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: 18 x 54 Uncle J Custom Boats "TG Edition" w/36 HP Prodri

Naturally, I needed more views and other angles other than just those two teasers! Actually, I just wanted to get in my truck and start the 400 mile drive south! It will take every fiber in my body to wait until July 11th before I leave work and head south. But, I took a chill pill and drooled over those two pictures all weekend long. Besides, I had too many other things going over the weekend to keep my mind somewhat distracted.

So, Sunday evening, I sent Jason an email making sure we were still good for a Thursday “butt-crack-of-dawn” pick-up. My plans were to pick up the boat, do a little bit of wiring/rigging, and haul that thing down to Grand Isle. My plan was to put some redfish scales on that Hydroturf all weekend long! I had asked him to finalize my balance and give me a shout in the morning. I already knew what my balance was and I knew I had room to throw in a little extra for all the extra efforts they put forth. He called me Monday morning and we had a nice, relaxed, long conversation…probably the longest of all our conversations. It was really an unusual “relaxing” sort of conversation. It was like two friends just catching up. No urgent or rushed questions needing answered. No tough decisions. No explanations about how/why things were being done the way they were. Maybe simply knowing this boat was really pretty much done made it seem so relaxing? I was so relaxed I didn’t even ask a single question about the boat other than ask for a picture fix! I didn’t even ask what he had left to do. But, Jason did ask me about another base I had missed…the water separation filter. Yes, I wanted it. A few bucks more to my total…but still plenty of room for something extra in the final payment! So, plans were set. I was probably going to pick up the boat on Wednesday night! And, here was my picture fix:

21 - 2012JUL09a.jpg

22 - 2012JUL09a.jpg

23 - 2012JUL09a.jpg

I'll probably try to post a few pictures after I pick up the boat. Then, I'll start Part 3 after the weekend!

Stay tuned...

Author:  BlueShamu [ Wed Jul 11, 2012 11:34 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: 18 x 54 Uncle J Custom Boats "TG Edition" w/36 HP Prodri

Well, you know, Uncle-J just couldn't wait for me to get there. He sent me a phone full of photos again this morning! That just made the day go by even slower...watching the clock tick until I was able to leave work!

25 - 2012JUL11a.jpg

27 - 2012JUL11a.jpg

31 - 2012JUL11a.jpg

When I finally did get to leave work, I needed a boat just to get down to Jackson! I pointed the nose of that big truck to the south and the bottom just fell out of the sky! It was raining so hard, I couldn't see the front of my truck! I needed a super-high for my wipers. Finally got to Jackson and it let up. I was able to air out the injectors a little bit...although I didn't make up for the time lost between Memphis and Jackson.

I hit the state line right around dark-thirty...errr...bug-thirty. I knew I was back in Louisiana! The bugs hitting my windshield sounded like some of the thunderstorms I went through! Since I was off schedule, Jason and I are meeting in the morning!

Like I said.....STAY TUNED!!

Author:  txmudcutter [ Thu Jul 12, 2012 7:51 am ]
Post subject:  Re: 18 x 54 Uncle J Custom Boats "TG Edition" w/36 HP Prodri

Man I'm really looks great...congratulations looks like you thought of everything too lol

Author:  dguidry [ Thu Jul 12, 2012 10:00 am ]
Post subject:  Re: 18 x 54 Uncle J Custom Boats "TG Edition" w/36 HP Prodri

Picture a hamster running around on his wheel. Now picture Jason running around your boat during construction and finish. About the same picture. That forker has more energy than my damn wife and if you knew my wife you'd know what I'm talking about. I don't know how long his skinny little body can take it at the rate he's going. He must enjoy his work to be able to sustain that pace. Congrats on the boat!! Looks good.

I'd do a few shake down cruises before going to grand isle if I were you.

Author:  nowake [ Thu Jul 12, 2012 7:12 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: 18 x 54 Uncle J Custom Boats "TG Edition" w/36 HP Prodri

Nice lookin boat!!

Author:  missile [ Fri Jul 13, 2012 5:32 am ]
Post subject:  Re: 18 x 54 Uncle J Custom Boats "TG Edition" w/36 HP Prodri

The boat looks great turned out well. Funny how paint and Hydroturf can change the look of one.

Author:  BlueShamu [ Mon Jul 16, 2012 9:55 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: 18 x 54 Uncle J Custom Boats "TG Edition" w/36 HP Prodri

After breakfast at Meche’s in Morgan City, I was driving to Uncle J’s shop when I spotted the boat at a Circle K in front of the gas pumps. Since I had never met Jason, I figured I would just pull in and pretend to just be checking out the boat and ask a few questions like “Where can I get a boat like that?” :lol: Well, that plan was spoiled when Heath came out from the store walking back up to the truck. I had met Heath once before - the day after Memorial Day. I still gave it a try. But, it was to no avail. He recognized me and we just laughed about it.

I finally got to meet Jason and we finalized all the paperwork, went over all the boat details and got the grand tour of the boat. Jason fired up the motor, checked the RPM’s for idling and for the rev limiter. From my walk down, the only detail missed that we discussed actually doing was the dual bow eye. I certainly could live with that. Boats have been made with a single bow eye for years. I wasn’t going to lose sleep over not having the dual bow eye. Stuff happens. Overall, the boat was awesome! Everybody did a great job and I was very pleased and humbled.

I still needed to wire up my bilge pump, run the wiring for my trolling motor receptacle, install the receptacle and mount the trolling motor bracket. Jason was gracious enough to let me use the front half of his shop to take care of these things. Even though I had brought my own tools, Jason gave me some of his stuff to use, anyway. He made a phone call to Lafayette Electric and got me lined up with some marine grade 6 gauge wiring for the trolling motor and a few connectors for my circuit breaker. That marine gauge wiring isn’t cheap…and it sure isn’t light weight!

If you ever want to have a build like this one…and want to mount the trolling motor receptacle in the front where mine was located…..DON’T!!! Unless you have the wiring and receptacle installed before the deck plate, do not even contemplate this thought…especially if you are using that stiff, heavy gauge, triple insulated, armored marine grade wire! That stuff does not make the bends you need it to make…and it weighs about a pound per foot! But, after numerous cuts and scratches and numerous attempts, I somehow managed to get wire through the hole and get the receptacle installed.

32 - 2012JUL12a.jpg

33 - 2012JUL12a.jpg

Jason’s dad showed up and gave me a hand with the trolling motor quick release mount and trolling motor installation. By this time, it was now one o’clock in the afternoon. I had the two most needed items installed…trolling motor and bilge pump! I am off to Grand Isle!

The actual boat build was pretty much completed. There are still a lot of things I have yet to add and I will update as I get them installed…12 volt cigarette lighter receptacle, stereo, speakers, LED courtesy lighting, fire extinguisher bracket, stern running light storage clips…and maybe a few other little odds and ends.

So, off to the Sea Trials!

Author:  BlueShamu [ Mon Jul 16, 2012 10:17 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: 18 x 54 Uncle J Custom Boats "TG Edition" w/36 HP Prodri


Many of you may not remember this, but back in the late 70’s/early 80’s before the current Highway 90 four lane version was completed, people had bumper stickers that read, “Pray for Me. I drive on Highway 90.” Somebody should revive that bumper sticker with something like, Pray for Me. I still drive on Highway 90!” You will need to remember this prelude!

First stop from Morgan City was Walmart in Mathews where I picked up miscellaneous items…bow/stern lines, flare kit, extra plug for the dry storage compartment and a trailer tie-down strap…the trip down Highway 90 memory lane reminded me I needed the strap.

dguidry wrote:
I'd do a few shake down cruises before going to grand isle if I were you.

Everybody needs to remember dguidry’s comment above. Whether you love him or hate him, he is right about this one (even if he tends to be left :D ).

I really should have not been in such a rush to get to Grand Isle! I finally got there late afternoon/early evening. I backed the trailer down into the water. Jump in the boat to fire it off – nothing! No power. UGH! How embarrassing. :oops: New boat on the trailer, on the ramp, everybody checking it out and no power! It was just running this morning. What’s wrong? Pull the cover off the battery box and the positive terminal nut is off the post and the wire is not connected. The negative post nut is loose and only a few threads from coming off! I’m thinking that may have been a combination of a hand tight install Jason just didn’t put a wrench against and Highway 90 working its magic! I found the missing nut in the bottom of the battery box, tightened everything and it fired right up.

Once in the water, the boat looked to sit pretty high and level with little draft. Here’s what the boat looked like drafting with nobody on board:

03 - Sea Trials_2012JUL12a.jpg

04 - Sea Trials_2012JUL12a.jpg

Next, I put it through the maiden voyage around the bay. Not two minutes out of the marina, I was trying to find the sweet spot on the trim when the trim just kept going down after I had let go of the button! It bottomed out and the hydraulic motor was still whining. I shut down the engine…some reason or another thinking that would stop the hydraulics…duh. :oops: Then, I pushed the trim up side of the rocker switch giving the screaming hydraulic motor a break! I have read about Prodrive’s having the reverse/forward switch not working on the tiller steers. But, I have not read anything about this issue with the trim switch. So, I looked beneath the console at the back of the switch. One wire felt loose, although I know that probably had nothing to do with what just happened. I pulled each wire off individually and pushed them back on very securely. Worked the switch up and down several times, no problems. So, back up and running, I found the sweet spot on the trim while watching my Tom-Tom GPS. These were the conditions and the results of the first speed assessment:

Deep, Bay Water – 8 to 12 feet?
Winds ~ 5 – 8 mph
Seas: ~ 8” ripple/slight chop
Boat Loading: One person – 190 lbs., 18 gallons of fuel, two batteries, MinnKota Riptide trolling motor, one pod w/seat, one pedestal w/seat, military surplus ammunition box holding a small mixture of the essential bare minimum tools, marine fire extinguisher, two life jackets, flare kit, push pole(why?)….and 20 pounds of marine grade 6 gauge wiring!(not really that heavy…but heavy!)

Maximum RPM’s before cavitation - ~3950’ish
With the wind, steady/consistent 25 mph.
Against the wind, steady/consistent 24 mph.

I can’t say if these are good or bad speeds for what I would consider a “big boned boat”…but, I know how people like to call BS on speeds for some reviews…so, here is what I could manage trying to hold the throttle down, hold the Tom-Tom GPS next to the Tiny Tach (and see the display) and snap a photo:

05 - Sea Trials_2012JUL12a.jpg

First impressions after the first short ride – the boat seemed very sluggish getting on a step before it planed out. But, my only comparison for this was my brother’s much lighter PD X-series. The boat handled the slight chop pretty good, especially with a side cut into the waves. Despite being one mph slower dead into the wind, the boat actually felt like it was going faster as it rode atop the slight chop. Riding against the wind felt like it gave the boat more “lift.” Through the deep water turns, the boat held its turn pretty good…unless I really cut the steering wheel hard.

In a nutshell, I’m liking things so far!

Author:  BlueShamu [ Mon Jul 16, 2012 10:26 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: 18 x 54 Uncle J Custom Boats "TG Edition" w/36 HP Prodri

After unloading the truck at the camp and disconnecting the trailer, I went back to the marina to wait for my wife who was just about to get to the island. The wind where we were had died down and I took her out for a dark-thirty spin around the bay. A squall in the distance and the low light conditions made for a couple cool photos:

08 - Sea Trials_2012JUL12a.jpg

09 - Sea Trials_2012JUL12a.jpg

Stay update will be what happened on Friday the 13th!

Author:  brasso [ Mon Jul 16, 2012 11:32 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: 18 x 54 Uncle J Custom Boats "TG Edition" w/36 HP Prodri

Glad you like it, it looks good!

Author:  austinabear [ Tue Jul 17, 2012 5:39 am ]
Post subject:  Re: 18 x 54 Uncle J Custom Boats "TG Edition" w/36 HP Prodri

Wow, that is a fine rig.

Author:  missile [ Tue Jul 17, 2012 10:26 am ]
Post subject:  Re: 18 x 54 Uncle J Custom Boats "TG Edition" w/36 HP Prodri

Cant wait to hear the rest of this since I am in line for Uncle J to start my boat.

Author:  BlueShamu [ Tue Jul 17, 2012 7:21 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: 18 x 54 Uncle J Custom Boats "TG Edition" w/36 HP Prodri

Friday the 13th Lived Up to Its Superstitious Namesake….But, first, I have to tell this fishing story:

I get up “not so early” Friday morning to try my hand at catching some speckled trout. My wife was not up to going out this morning because the radar showed bad weather all around us. I really wanted to go chase redfish in the marsh. She really wanted some speckled trout for the freezer…So, you know, I had to go try and catch some specks. I had live shrimp in the bait bucket we had bought the night before and headed out to “hot spot” near the marina.

I wedged the boat between two of the six or eight boats already there, spudded down and baited up. While pulling in, the motor would not idle to save its life! Once below about 1800 to 2000 RPM’s, it would die. Then it was difficult to start back up. A couple of times, I had a nice big orange flame firing out the exhaust! I don’t recall if it did that at the marina the night prior or not? After several minutes and several casts, I realized, there was not much activity happening under the cork, so I decided to try a bottom rig. As I am baiting up the bottom line, the corked pole tip started bouncing a little. The pole was laying across the length of the fishing deck. Before I could set the other pole down, the Zebco 888 and the rod went flying off the front of the boat! In a panic, I belly flopped to the hydroturf with one arm extending toward the water and somehow managed to grab the pole and give it a quick hook set…as if I needed to do that. Well, that just made this fish mad. He jumped up in the air to let me know. Low and behold, that looked like a tarpon! So, the fight was on. A little more dancing, on the water and then it was a straight shot back towards me and it was all I could do to keep the line from going slack. He was darting towards the back of the boat…so I had to run to the back to make sure I didn’t lose him in the motor. After he passes the boat and I give him a tug back, which was rewarded with another aerial wagging of the head as if to say, “Oh no you didn’t!” Now the fish decided to come back at the boat, again…except this time directly at the boat! Sure enough, directly under the boat and now angling toward the front. Next thing I realize is now he has passed beneath the boat, heading at an angle away which just so happened to have my line starting to wrap around my spud pole! I quickly jerked the spud pole out of the hole and let the line pass. So, instead of sticking the spud back through the hole, I just “spear-chucked” it back into the bay bottom. Now, I have a tarpon powered surface drive trying to drag the boat around. In the meantime, I could hear the neighboring fishermen hooting and hollering and cheering me on to land the fish. I think the fish finally got tired of showing off for everybody and I was able to get him in the net. He was just an inch or so longer than my 100 quart ice chest. I didn’t even have a camera with me! (Yeah…now it’s really starting to sound like a fish story) I unhooked him, laid him back in the water…to the “He’s letting it go?!” complaints from nearby boats…and watched him swim off out of site. I dropped my trolling motor into the water and trolled back to my spud pole to several congratulatory comments from the nearby boats.

Author:  BlueShamu [ Tue Jul 17, 2012 7:27 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: 18 x 54 Uncle J Custom Boats "TG Edition" w/36 HP Prodri

I had to tell that story because that was about as good as the day got!

I was on the west side of the island at Caminada Pass and the weather quickly started to turn bad. The wind was picking up and so was the chop. The east side of the island looked clear. Before leaving the camp, the radar showed everything moving from south to north. So, I picked up and headed east just skirting the showers which were starting to fall.

I get to the east side across Barataria Pass and pull into a spot I have had success at before and spudded down. This is where the trouble really started. Again, pulling in, the motor wouldn’t idle. I was watching the weather and it looked like it was simply following me! Suddenly, the wind picked up and so did the waves! Here’s the word of advice for all you spud kit owners:


A wave lifts the bow of the boat. It rides up the spud, then the boat shifts to the stern and comes down bending the spud pole! I felt the boat move as it came down. I looked over the bow and saw the spud pole beneath the water's surface pointing forward and saw the nice kink in the pole. The boat slowly began inching towards the rocks. The spud was still somewhat holding ground in what was now becoming REALLY rough water. So, I dropped the trolling motor into the water and put it on high to try and help the spud maintain position while I tried to figure out how to remedy my newfound dilemma. As I stood there on the bow trying to pull this pole back up through the spud hole, the waves were getting rougher and one broke over the bow. Meanwhile, the MinnKota Riptide is starting to lose ground with every rise where the propeller was coming out of the water. This is where I had to tell myself to calm down and not panic. I finally told myself, “I need to fire up the motor and power myself out of this predicament. It’s just a spud pole. Worst thing that can happen is it breaks off and I lose it.” So, that’s exactly what I did. I pulled the pole up as high as I could, pulled the trolling motor up and fired off the Prodrive.

Well, remember that “not wanting to idle” thing? Yeah…it’s still doing that. So, finally, I get it fired up and going. I am now heading bow first into some REALLY big swells! I am not exaggerating when I say waves were easily three to four feet and the wind was gusting. I had the throttle cornered, the bow was pointing up and I was getting sprayed from water coming over the bow like somebody was up there with a five gallon bucket throwing it at me! I made it across Barataria Pass and into some protected waters and into the Sand Dollar Marina where I tied off to further assess my situation. The motor was still not idling and the spud pole was still in one piece; bent to a point where it would not pass through the hole. My first thought was to just find a hack saw and cut it off. This was probably because there were a LOT of people standing around the marina waiting out the weather…and once again, this was VERY embarrassing! I walked around a bit to collect my thoughts and think about my situation. If I would have seen a hack saw, I probably would have used it! I walked back to the boat and spun the pole around in the hole so the pointed end was facing forward, again. From there, I put a foot down on the pole and pushed down. I pushed with one leg and pulled with both arms and the pole squirted out of the holder! I am not kidding when I tell you, Jason could have used this spud pole as a marquis in front of his shop! It looked pretty darn close to the big red “J” in his Uncle-J logo! Another moment where a photo would have been priceless!

I could see the looks on people’s faces…they were saying, “How in the world?” So, I stuck the pointed end back in the hole and slowly bent it back to near straight just a little at a time. I got it pretty much straightened out for most of the length except the last 12” to 18”….just a reminder not to spud down in open water when it gets rough!

Author:  dguidry [ Tue Jul 17, 2012 7:38 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: 18 x 54 Uncle J Custom Boats "TG Edition" w/36 HP Prodri

Great fish story! Now get back to the boat and explain some more why I'm always right. :D

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