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Thread: Building an airboat

  1. #1
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    Default Building an airboat

    I have a Chevy 350, 5.7L fuel injected engine that I plan to rebuild into an airboat engine. I am retired military and have access to the auto craft shops on base. The one on Fort Richardson has a lot of specialized equipment for rebuilding engines.

    This will be a several year project and the people at the auto craft shop are mechanics and will assist me in figuring out/learning to rebuild an engine. Does anyone know of the specifics I will need to look for when rebuilding the engine, ie are there particular head units, pistons etc needed to rebuild an automobile engine into an airboat engine. Is there an airboat rebuild book/manual similiar to Chilton's/Haynes for rebuilding/building airboat engines?

    Once I build the power house I will be looking into purchasing a proper airboat and then most likely out sourcing having someone build a cage and mount the engine, unless there is information/guidelines out there for someone with welding experience to do on their own with the proper gear and facilites such as myself.

    Anyways any help advice etc is appreciated.

  2. #2
    Member akblackdawg's Avatar
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    PT, the motor is the easy part. You can get a good running used motor, 5.7, for under $500 and it will work well for a airboat. Of course, if you want real performance that will run dry as well as shallow water, the more horse power the better. Lots of motor information on SA, (www.southernairboat.com) , as well as anything else you may want to ask about. If you follow SA on a regular basis you will learn a lot. Alaska Airboats in Wasilla can help you, but you may be better served by Skip in Fairbanks when it comes to the actual boat building. I'm suggesting Skip because he is well known, does excellent work and is less expensive then AA. Study up especially on belt and gear reduction units for your motor, you will most likely want one. When building the motor, the goal is not horsepower, but rather low end torque. Most likely the prop will be set to where your motor won't turn over 5200 rpm at any time, lots of info on that available. Sounds like it will be a while before you are ready to build, feel free to send me a pm or you can ask anything you want on SA or here if you have questions. Just touching on some things to consider for now. Bud

  3. #3
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    Thank you so much. I am more or less doing this as a project to learn because I enjoy turning a wrench and am pretty motivated learner, by reading or advice from others and applying it and seeing what works. Overall I think the process will be fun and exciting. I will take my time and am planning on doing it right and setting it up for real performance the best horse power and low torque. Just wondering I also have a GMC 2000 6.6L turbo diesel. Would I be better off using that versus the 350. I was just going with the 350 because that seems popular and widely used. I want someting I can run in cold weather too for up here over snow, partically frozen rivers etc. BTW I also have each vehicle fully intact. It is just the 350 is definately needing rebuilt and the turbo diesel just needs new gaskets/seals, but would most likely rebuild either one whichever is better. I will be needing parts of it such as the radiator exhaust pipes, starter etc?

    Thanks again Bud I will definately PM u as I get closer towards it. It is a pipe dream now, but the parts and motivation are there. I got some bills to pay, but fortunately I have a good paying job and I am hoping to get started this summer or next coming fall/winter. Again no rush but with working, school, etc. I am giving myself a year to get the engine done but realistically may be done sooner.

  4. #4
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    i have no idea on the 6.6l that would be kinda cool but i have never seen a diesle airboat i dont think it would turn the rpm's you need. and as far as running in the winter a buddy of mine that has run airboats for years said if you wana run in the winter get fuel injection, are you planning on building the hull also.

  5. #5
    Member skip olsen's Avatar
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    Default Boat Build

    Hi There If I Can Help Let Me Know Don't Mind Question Always Glad To Help. Skip

  6. #6
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    Skip:

    Email me or just post your phone #

  7. #7
    Member skip olsen's Avatar
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    907-322-3291 skip383@hotmail.com

  8. #8
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    I will definatley email you skip. I appreciate all the input. Again this is just in the planning phase all I have at this point is the engine (has to be rebuilt) and access to the auto craft shop on bases. The thing I am lacking is the money and I have a lot of debts to pay from a divorce "yuk" until I get there. Most likely not until the Summer, Spring if I am lucky. Again I have the Entire vehicle. It is a 1998 Chevy 1500 4X4 I owned for several years but the engine blew on it, has over 170,000miles. It is sitting up in Fairbanks at a friends house and I plan to haul it down to Anchorage this summer. I am in no hurry to do this and want to take my time to do it right and put money into it to make it the best performance airboat engine I can and then figure out a boat to put it in.

    Thanks to all :-)

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