1970’s Renken Runabout Restoration!


In the early days of eBay you could really get some smoking deals that you just can’t seem to find today. That being said, it was also a lot easier to get burned back in those days as there weren’t as many checks and balances. I purchased this boat for my wife’s birthday (I understand how that sounds!) somewhere around 2004. The seller only had a few pictures and they were from years past. In his description he said that over the winter a racoon had gotten in the barn and messed up some of the upholstery but that the boat was still very usable, it just needed the upholstery fixed or new seats. Being the naive young man I was I won the auction and headed out to get my new boat…I mean my wife’s new boat! I don’t remember the specifics but I remember something went wrong and it ended up being around 1 in the morning when I finally made it to where the boat was. I pulled in to a rural driveway in the absolute middle of nowhere. It was pitch dark and I didn’t even have a flashlight. All I had was the light from his windows as he came out. The boat was there waiting for me so we made our exchange and parted ways. I noticed there was a strap on the out-drive of the boat but he assured me he just kept it there as “insurance” but that everything was perfect last time he used it (remember I was young and Naive).


When we woke up the next morning and went out into the sunlight to inspect our purchase my wife and I were both sick! It looked as though the boat had sit outside for years! The floor was rotten, half of the interior was actually missing and there were spider cracks all through the fiberglass. After further inspection I found out the hydraulics were busted, the engine had carburetor issues as well as a vacuum leak and the gimble ring was leaking as well. I learned 2 things from this experience: Don’t trust someone who is trying to sell you something and learn when to cut your losses.

One of my greatest assets as well as my greatest faults is that I don’t give up easily. I was determined to make this boat like new, so I pressed on. After months of replacing the floor and carpet, repairing fiberglass, painting the hull and trailer and so much more, it came time to buy new seats. Something that had not occurred to me up until this point is that although you can buy new seats fairly easily and economically, it is not so easy to buy matching vinyl to cover all of the trim pieces and the console. No matter how hard I tried I could not find matching whites, much less colors! So I once again dug in my heals and went to Walmart and bought a sewing machine! I purchased a couple rolls of vinyl from my local fabric store and started off on a new adventure! I can truly say that I gave that boat a new life, unfortunately I couldn’t wait that long to get on the water so during this project I purchased a boat that was already finished so by the time this one was done I only used it once before selling it. My wife says I always fix things up and then sell them before I get to enjoy them!

Don’t worry about the straps, they are just “insurance”…LOL!

Don’t worry about the straps, they are just “insurance”…LOL!