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  1968 Model 320 Sea Doo Saved from the Crusher
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   Author  Topic: 1968 Model 320 Sea Doo Saved from the Crusher  (Read 4627 times)
775TnT
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1968 Model 320 Sea Doo Saved from the Crusher
« on: May 12, 2012, 07:24:41 AM »
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“As Playful as a Dolphin” was the eye-catching statement of the new aqua scooter developed by Bombardier for release to the general public in 1968. When I first saw one back in the late summer of 1968, I remember thinking: “Wow…that looks just like a Ski Doo snowmobile, only floating on water!” “How does it move?” was the next thought. Upon closer examination, I found it was propelled by something called a Berkeley turbine or water jet. Too young to ride one and way too young to even think about owning one, the whole experience was filed back into the subconscious to be explored in the future if the opportunity ever presented itself again.

This write up will pertain to the acquisition and complete restoration of the model 320 Sea Doo. First found approximately three years ago, she was started up to evaluate its performance when on its trailer. Powered by a 1968 18 horsepower air cooled Rotax engine, she breathed life quite well however it was decided to eventually perform a complete restoration because of the hidden problems associated with further investigation.





Click the hotlink below for the first start up movie:

                                      1968 Sea Doo Start Up

Separating the hull required drilling out approximately 150+ rivets. Prior to hull separation, the ignition switch, starter button, steering column and air vent clam shells were removed. It was also noticed that the rear engine compartment vent grate was missing. Note to self...find out somewhere what it originally looked like.

After separating the deck from the hull, it was noticed that the two hull flotation devices were toast. They appeared to be vacuumed formed and heat sealed together air chambers that were cracked with missing pieces. The prior owner injected some expandable foam into the cracked areas that completely destroyed what was left of the functionality of the air chambers. It was decided what to do about this problem in the future. For now the chambers that were glued to the bottom of the hull were pried out. I've always remembered what a friend of mine told me many years ago: "Chris, any of this stuff was really never designed to last 40 some odd years...that's why it was pitched in the first place." It seems that for some reason, I'll rescue items that interested me from my past.









Removed the engine and examined the motor mount plate and stringer mounting plates. Because the stringer mounting plates were constantly exposed to water, they were in questionable shape at best...



As the project was further examined, it was determined that a complete restoration was needed not only for aesthetic appearance but for safety as well. All wooden stringers were removed because of wood rot throughout.



Although it was somewhat labor intensive, a pleasant surprise was discovered at a later time. The original gas tank was located. And it was in quite nice shape not only on the outside but on the inside as well…



All new oak stringers were cut from templates of what was left of the original stringers. Set in the hull, measurements were taken for flotation chambers.



Then eventually the stringers were sealed, glued and then fiber glassed in the hull:



This really strengthened the hull:



Because of poor gas vapor ventilation design of the craft, evidently clam shell vents x 2 were added to the deck to aid in greater air flow through the engine compartment. When looking at the original brochure of the craft, the lines were much cleaner without the interruption created by chrome vent installation. Therefore it was decided to delete the clam shells and review other solutions for increasing air flow through the engine compartment for ventilation safety while maintaining the original smooth lines of the Sea Doo.





Eventually the gel coat was ground off both hull and deck:



and weakened fiber glass was repaired. Epoxy coating was later applied and allowed to cure. Pin holes and imperfections within the cured epoxy were addressed next.







Now what to do about the defunct vacuum formed floatation chambers??? It was decided to create a buoyant device that would fit within the original stringer dimensions. Several layers of air cell insulation were glued together, cut and then shaped to the original dimensions finally being painted yellow. Should aid in prevention of complete sinking of the craft if ever in that type of predicament.





Restored engine, rebuilt Berkeley turbine along with the battery and updated plastic gas tank were installed for alignment and evaluation of potential problems. 





The artist color scheme rendition included a black painted grit surface for the operator of the craft.



It was decided to follow the same color scheme because of a personal appreciation of the contrasting colors. New Sea Doo decals were produced also.







Eventually clear coated for that shiny new appearance:







Now it's time to reassemble the hull to the deck. First a little cleaning:



then apply butyl rubber and finally sandwich top to bottom followed by approximately 150+ aluminum rivets:





Now what to do about the rear plastic egg crate vent that was missing???



Solution...stainless louvered vent was produced and then painted black. I know...overkill, but it seems to fit the ticket producing a clean appearance to the rear of the craft:



That dash board sure looked empty without the accessory speedometer as suggested by Bombardier.



Yet where to find a vintage speedometer with the maximum speed limit of 35 mph??? Eventually a Finson speedometer was located which was in excellent shape and operational. I didn’t say accurate…just operational.



It was installed and looked great…except for one major problem:



Because of its projection from the dash, the seat now officially could not be opened. A suggestion was made of shortening the seat by one inch would allow clearance, but I had a heck of a time having the seat reproduced back to original specs. No way with that idea. The search was now on for a low maximum speed limit instrument with a flush mount. Well, a NOS vintage specific Airguide speedo was located with an accompanying surface kit for flush dash mount. And the maximum speed limit was at 30 mph. That was cool.





Installed it not only works well, but looks cool and allows the correct dimension seat to freely open. It was decided at this time to change the 1968 ignition switch to a 1969 Bombardier electric start switch which allowed deletion of the original separate start button. Further thought revealed that the craft should have a safety tether switch incorporated just in case of the unexpected. All in all, the dash displays cleanly without that cluttered appearance.



Moving onto the next problem…of which there seems to be a never ending supply. What to do about the muffler? Supplied with the fan cooled Rotax 18 horsepower two stroke engine was a water cooled muffler. Well, you know pretty much what happened to the internal baffles over the years as the craft sat. Shaking both mufflers pretty much sounded like a baby’s rattle tenfold:





The only choice available was to fabricate a new one from what was left of the two originals. After a lot of choice words, the final product fit the bill just right:







Now as I’m sure a lot of you know, this water craft was pulled from the market within two years of its release. Numerous problems developed that were addressed from Bombardier as they arose. Initially the 1968 Berkeley turbine was driven with a multi V-Belt drive (4 belts). Because of slippage problem of the belts associated with water, a mid production solution was to change to a flat belt drive with square teeth.



Cooling problems of the engine, because of its closed environment, were addressed by adding clam shell vents to the deck in the front and rear. Personally, this visually interrupted the original clean lines of the craft and was archaic at best for increasing the cooling capacity of the original problem.





I decided to delete the clam shell vent holes to maintain the original lines. Cooling of the engine and ventilation of gasoline fumes problems were addressed by adding a blower system inside the craft. Air intake ventilation for the blower was somewhat hidden by mounting the vent grill in the seat pedestal near the driver’s leg, creating a less obtrusive appearance:



The blower duct runs toward the engine producing positive pressure within the semi-enclosed compartment which should aid in gasoline vapor ventilation and engine cooling. The blower switch was hidden by mounting it underneath the seat:



Within the picture, one can see an Attwood Sahara Bilge pump which replaced the archaic vacuum siphon bilge tube system. The black bilge pump drain tube runs toward the back and exits through the bottom of the rear engine hatch cover maintaining a clean exit appearance. Hopefully this will aid in better engine cooling and ventilation capacity along with bilge water problems:





Had some trouble with the wood grain dash vinyl that was eventually incompatible with the final finish. It necessitated complete disassembly of the dash and application of a more compatible wood grain vinyl. Overall, I prefer the new look.





The trailer with which this craft will be towed was customized to fit both the ’68 Sea Doo and the ’59 Volksboat. Took some special words, however they both ride well. Volksboat will be finished shortly.







Final touches were added. The original rub rail was functional however weather cracked. The decision was made to go with 25 feet of new rub rail which finished off the craft nicely. With no clam shell vents, the sleekness of the original design was well preserved.





Tried some of the generic covers for PWCs and they just didn't fit tight enough to travel at highway speeds. Decided to have a custom cover made with a soft felt liner next to the painted surface to prevent chafing. Fits like a glove with a ratcheting strap that pulls a strap tight underneath the rubrail. Doesn't slap at highway speeds.





Video perfomance of this classic to be added in the future.

Why all this time, work, and money stuck into this first year Sea Doo? Because it saved another classic machine from the fate of the crusher.

Thanks for reading and stay tuned...

775TnT
« Last Edit: May 12, 2012, 07:37:50 AM by 775TnT » Report to moderator Logged

1968 Sea Doo 320 (soft water Ski Doo)
1969 Ski Doo 371 Nordic
1970 Ski Doo 399 Nordic
1971 Ski Doo 399 Nordic
1972 Ski Doo 775 TnT
1966 Johnson Widetrack  (Whoops)
1971 Johnson Wide Track 30  (Whoops...again)
dooitvintage
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Re:1968 Model 320 Sea Doo Saved from the Crusher
« Reply #1 on: May 12, 2012, 07:48:13 AM »
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VERY nice!
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75 Elan
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Re:1968 Model 320 Sea Doo Saved from the Crusher
« Reply #2 on: May 12, 2012, 10:08:18 AM »
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You my friend are an artist!!!
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ddub
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Re:1968 Model 320 Sea Doo Saved from the Crusher
« Reply #3 on: May 12, 2012, 04:17:22 PM »
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775TNT, my hat is off to you.  There is a LOT of nice work there.
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SurgeSurge
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Re:1968 Model 320 Sea Doo Saved from the Crusher
« Reply #4 on: May 12, 2012, 05:43:41 PM »
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WOW!!!  Nice work man!!
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72 Blizzard 340
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Re:1968 Model 320 Sea Doo Saved from the Crusher
« Reply #5 on: May 12, 2012, 06:10:30 PM »
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That thing is a beauty, you do some nice work.
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John Taylor
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Re:1968 Model 320 Sea Doo Saved from the Crusher
« Reply #6 on: May 13, 2012, 07:16:58 AM »
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Very informative and impressive!

Thanks for sharing.
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moxymech1
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Re:1968 Model 320 Sea Doo Saved from the Crusher
« Reply #7 on: May 13, 2012, 06:18:10 PM »
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Great Documentary!

Thanks for sharing

moxy
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GaWajn
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Re:1968 Model 320 Sea Doo Saved from the Crusher
« Reply #8 on: May 13, 2012, 07:22:01 PM »
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Awesome work ... thanks for sharing the story!
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skidoo292
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Re:1968 Model 320 Sea Doo Saved from the Crusher
« Reply #9 on: May 13, 2012, 08:49:29 PM »
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thats a beautiful restoration....
I would love to see a picture of that 5 window GM pickup in the background when you get it finished...
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randy borchard
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Re:1968 Model 320 Sea Doo Saved from the Crusher
« Reply #10 on: May 15, 2012, 08:37:05 AM »
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that was over the top,great job you do not see many seadoos around its great that you made the effort to save this one really looks good cant wait to see it in the water,,,,,
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75 Elan
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Re:1968 Model 320 Sea Doo Saved from the Crusher
« Reply #11 on: May 15, 2012, 12:05:55 PM »
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Interested in that Volksboat, checked on the net can't see much, is it a jet as well? or outboard?
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Re:1968 Model 320 Sea Doo Saved from the Crusher
« Reply #12 on: May 16, 2012, 03:56:03 AM »
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Very impressed, congrats on that job well done!
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lshobie
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Re:1968 Model 320 Sea Doo Saved from the Crusher
« Reply #13 on: May 26, 2012, 06:25:09 AM »
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Wow, that is amazing, thanks for the detailed pics and write up.  I remember watching two of those fall apart on a trailer not far from here when I was a kid - a real shame.
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Re:1968 Model 320 Sea Doo Saved from the Crusher
« Reply #14 on: June 2, 2012, 06:05:36 AM »
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Absolutely amazing demonstration of will and patience. I've always had a soft spot for old unique toys like that. You took it further than most ever wood. Great to see another one saved. I have a 69 372 I restored almost 10 yrs ago. I used it quite a bit till I got a modern one. Every year I say I am going to take it out again but by summer's end it is still sitting there.
Have fun with it. It will draw lot of attention at the local boat launch.
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Re:1968 Model 320 Sea Doo Saved from the Crusher
« Reply #15 on: June 18, 2012, 01:14:42 PM »
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Wow 
Awesome job!

I've wanted one of those for a while now, having a river right in front of my house and all.. But don't think I'm going to find one over here
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Re:1968 Model 320 Sea Doo Saved from the Crusher
« Reply #16 on: June 19, 2012, 05:41:40 AM »
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X2 with what everyone else said above!!  Your restoration and improvements are fantastic!!  Can I ask how many hours in it?  I too always had a love for these.  I remember when they arrived at our local dealer.  They were pricey when new and didn't sell well in the farming community where I grew up.  Sort of a bucket list thing for me now, but my wife would kill me! LOL!

Love the Wisconsin sticker on the trailer 

I had an original Sea Doo poster of a girl in a bikini riding one I sold about 5 years ago (below) and a Franklin Hobbs poster endorsing Sea Doo (also below).  Halvorson Eqpt was a big sponsor of WCCO radio in Minneapolis with Ski-Doo and Sea-Doo brands. Now I wish would have kept them :-(

John



And this one I sold at the same time to the same buyer......
« Last Edit: June 19, 2012, 06:25:18 AM by Blizzard GR » Report to moderator Logged

My stuff:
# Phil Mickelson's Open Class alky Blizzard he ran from 1970-'72.
# Larry Rugland's factory 1976 Ski-Doo 440 liquid Sno-pro, starting resto
# 1999 Mini-Z for when the grandkids visit
# 1975 Can-am 125 T'nt
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Re:1968 Model 320 Sea Doo Saved from the Crusher
« Reply #17 on: July 20, 2012, 05:39:19 AM »
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AWESOME!!!!!!!!!!!!
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Re:1968 Model 320 Sea Doo Saved from the Crusher
« Reply #18 on: July 20, 2012, 09:39:27 AM »
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SWEET!!!!!
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1970 Ski-doo Invader/Alpine 640CC (3)
1997 Polaris Ultra Touring
1977 Ski-doo Alpine
1984 Ski-doo Alpine
775TnT
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Re:1968 Model 320 Sea Doo Saved from the Crusher
« Reply #19 on: July 22, 2012, 09:01:40 PM »
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Finished up a few more concerns with the ’68 Sea Doo…I only hope that I can check its performance out prior to autumn.

Originally, the paddle for the Sea Doo was just placed within the inside of the craft. Didn’t really like that idea for the potential of the paddle bouncing around and possibly jarring or knocking something loose. The solution was to lock the paddle in place via two tool handle holders. The holders wedge the paddle in place on the inside starboard hull without it budging an inch.



The original 1968 Sea Doo came with a vacuum formed plastic tool compartment for holding extraneous engine tools. Well, you all know what happened to the vacuum formed plastic that was new some 44 years ago…it was long gone! Now what to do with carrying some pliers, spark plug wrench, spark plugs and adjustable wrench without them bouncing all over the place. Build an aluminum tool box for the extra tools.

The next question was to determine where to mount the tool box. The perfect place was under the seat plywood, but you all know what eventually happens when humidity and wave bouncing interacts with  a somewhat heavy tool box…it eventually pulls the course threaded wood screws right out of the seat plywood base. The final solution was to un-upholster the seat to be able to insert blind mounting nuts (70’s old school terminology) in place of wood screws.



This allowed for a snug attachment of the tool box to the bottom of the plywood seat:



Next procure some gun case sponge and cut some relief into the bottom sponge for the tools:



And then shut the tool box for a secure and rattle proof enclosure thus having the problem solved:



As I stated previously, Bombardier later incorporated clam shell vents into the hull for the dissipation of deck gas fumes which personally ruined the sleek lines of the craft.



The same type of problem occurs when state issued license numbers are required to be placed upon the deck. Personally the numbers and registration sticker somewhat ruin the outward appearance of the clean lines of the craft. Tried all sorts of ideas for non-permanent number placement, such as window sticky film. Too easily peeled off.

The final solution centered upon a removable license number plaque that maintained adherence at full throttle yet was removable for display purposes. A thin piece of flexible clear Lexan with the registration numbers and sticker was made with three suction cups:



Now where to store the license plates on board when displaying the craft??? Solution…build a box for the plates:



And mount the box inside the hull with a Velcro strap to secure the plates when towing the craft:



The license plates attach firmly to the hull without the concern of releasing when at speed, yet are easily removed and stored safely tucked away inside the hull:



I know…overkill with the entire project…but what the heck. Bombardier knew what they were doing with this design, or at least I believe they did. Stay tuned for a video performance (hopefully soon) of this classic craft.


« Last Edit: July 23, 2012, 04:58:07 AM by 775TnT » Report to moderator Logged

1968 Sea Doo 320 (soft water Ski Doo)
1969 Ski Doo 371 Nordic
1970 Ski Doo 399 Nordic
1971 Ski Doo 399 Nordic
1972 Ski Doo 775 TnT
1966 Johnson Widetrack  (Whoops)
1971 Johnson Wide Track 30  (Whoops...again)
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