Who know's about 27' Uniflite Express?

Discussion in 'Powerboats' started by gluesniffer, Jun 20, 2010.

  1. gluesniffer
    Joined: Jun 2010
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    Location: Fairview Park, Ohio

    gluesniffer Junior Member

    Hello everyone--

    I'm very close to acquiring a 1970 27' Uniflite Express. Boat has twin Chrysler 318's, 225hp each. 1400 hours, seem to run good.No smoke or leaks, still pretty peppy. Cruises nicely at 25-2800 RPM, flat out at 4000 RPM the thing is really moving .Boat is, well it's a Uniflite, so it's a tank. Runs and rides like a much larger vessel.

    Generally in good, original condition, needs a good cleaning and detail-type TLC. Exterior is all chalked out, interior is as original, which means it's a little worn and dated

    At this point, any comments, ideas thoughts or suggestions are completely welcome!!
     
  2. Easy Rider
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    Easy Rider Senior Member

    I worked w Uniflite in the early 70s both in engineering and in the shop. The styling is not very slick but I like the looks of them. They are heavy and wide at the chines. Despite all that it performs well w 636 cu. in. gas power but how can anybody afford to pay for the fuel. That boat could burn $65. an hour in gasoline .. thats 3 or $400 a day. How would one go out for a week ..or a month? That's about the only downside to the Uniflite and beyond that ther'e good boats. And something else you should know is that 1970 is before Uniflite started using the resin that had the blister problems that brought the company down.

    Easy Rider
     
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  3. gluesniffer
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    gluesniffer Junior Member

    I appreciate the info. No, the styling isn't very sexy, but neither am I. Very traditional and not much on the "foo-foo" fancy nonsense that you see on some boats today. As my 15year old nephew sez:"This is a real man's boat" Yep--and that's just fine by me.

    I'm only an occasional cruiser, probably will run the boat maybe four-five hours a day on the weekend, maybe less on average, but I'm well aware of the point you're making on fuel consumption. Believe me, it's a concern.

    What's kinda curious to me, and since you worked there you might know something about this, is that this very model was offered with either 1 or 2 Chrysler 318's. Single or twin options on the same model boat isn't all that unusual, but usually it's a single big motor or twin smaller motors. Single or twin of the same motor is kinda strange.

    Having never been on the single engine version, I don't know about that, but the twin probably is 30kts or so at WOT, 17-18knts at a easy-turning (and hopefully somewhat fuel efficient) 2500RPM.

    Was the single 318 version of this model underpowered?
     
    Last edited: Jun 21, 2010
  4. Easy Rider
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    Easy Rider Senior Member

    Sniffer,
    I've never ridden on a 27. The GB 42 had single and twin w the same engine ..stupid. You can look at other boats the same size w one 318 or equivalent and ask the owner if you can. Keep in mind that the Uniflite will take a bit more power than a tolly 26. I think they had a single 350 Crusader. If they perform really well w the 350 in the T26 you should be fine w a 350. Keep in the back of your head that gas engines are more efficient at heavy loads. Almost as good as a diesel at WOT.

    Easy
     
  5. gluesniffer
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    gluesniffer Junior Member

    Unfortunately, out here on the Great Lakes, Uniflites and Tollycrafts are pretty rare. There was 1 Uniflite and 1 Tolly dealer on Lake Erie during the 70's. Neither of them were selling in big volume, what with oil crisis and all. This particular Uniflite is the only Uni that has come up for sale on the south shore of Lake Erie in 2 years. Tolly's are even harder to find. There are some of the bigger one around, but the 26, which I really like, is very rare. I know of one, up in Michigan. Sea Rays, Carvers and Tiaras abound. Good northwest-built boats, not so much.

    From what I've read about the Tolly 26, a 350 ci. might be a little light on power for it, especially if the boat is carrying a good-sized load. A big block or diesel seems to be a help. Ton's of power options for the 26: small block or big block, inboard or I/O, gas or diesel, single or twin. Kinda confusing.

    The 27 Uniflite appears to have had just two power options; single or twin 318. There are only 2 27's that I know of on Lake Erie, and they're both twins. I've talked to a guy in Toledo that has a twin 27 that bought his new in 1972 and has put 30K+ miles cruising the Great Lakes. He claims 1.5 NMPG at 2800RPM, 18kts., I think. Loves the boat.

    I've communicated with a guy who took a 27' twin and converted it to single Cummings diesel with pocket prop. He's getting good numbers out of it, but obviously he's much more adept at heavy modifications to a boat than I am!!

    Since I'm bending your ear on all kinds of trivial issues related to Uniflite, I've got one more that maybe you know something about. The forward-facing windows at the helm don't open. About all the Uni's I see, they don't open. About every other boat like it around, they do. That really bugs me! I like to get a nice breeze blowing thru as I'm running the boat (as long as the weather's nice), but can't do that with this boat. Why's did Uniflite do that?
     
  6. Easy Rider
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    Easy Rider Senior Member

    Glue,
    Are you talking about the ugly fat rubber gasket windows? Or aluminum framed ones? Here in Alaska opening windows fwd seems silly but many boats had them in the past. I had a Sumnercraft that had nice ones where only the bottom 3" opened.
    Getting back to power I've got an idea that may have a lot of merit. One outboard. You would loose soooo much weight that the boat will become sooo much more efficient that you would burn much less fuel. The aft cockpit w it's new lower floors will be great and an extended OB bracket may even work well on the Uniflite as the hull is so full aft it can gracefully support the extended weight of the engine. I usually consider the extended brackets bad design but on the Uni it may be good. You could burn less fuel and carry more. Huge improvements in maneuverability, noise and vibration could be yours. You don't sound like the kind of guy that would like OBs but look what may be gained. Another possible negative could be working on the engines without a trailer may be difficult. Are there dry storage marinas where you live?

    Easy
     
  7. gluesniffer
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    gluesniffer Junior Member

    Yeah, I'm talking about the rubber gasket windows. They seal up nice and water-tight, but it gets warm here in the (today was 90) and it would be nice to get a breeze flowing thru the helm area.

    An outboard on a bracket....wow, never thought of that....but, you're right, probably does have some merit. I don't know much about outboard technology these days ( the last outboard I had was a 1957 35hp Evinrude), how would torque match up with a compatible inboard? Of course, you're right, weight would be so much less, so what about weight distribution? Yes, she's relatively broad in the chine all the way back, so maybe she wouldn't squat too badly........hmmmm.
     
  8. mark775

    mark775 Guest

    Hmmm... wud be an ugly sucker (and incongruous) but work it may. Easy, I've got a good friend, Sandy Crane, that worked there until 1974. Do you know him?
     
  9. Easy Rider
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    Easy Rider Senior Member

    mark775,
    "ugly sucker"""" sounds like your'e getting a bit vain for a fellow Alaskan. I think the guys think it looks cool around here. Maybe you guys are a bit more sophisticated up north and near that urban thing ..Anchorage.
    What I usually say to guys contemplating an extended OB bracket is "if you need a longer boat add boat, not a bracket that shifts the CG aft w no added support and destroys the balance of a once good boat". But if you've got warp all the way aft like an old Mainship 34 or the Uniflite (older style hull) it could make a better boat.
    Sniff,
    To get your vented windows it looks like you'll need to install conventional window frames. Also I think you may be lucky in that most boats w the gasket windows have leaks. Look at Nordic Tugs. Most have gobs of silicone around the rubber or is my memory gone. There is a 27 Uni here in Craig and I'll try to connect on your behalf.

    Easy
     
  10. gluesniffer
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    gluesniffer Junior Member

    Alright, Mr. Easy, let's put some economics to your idea. Unfortunately, we will have to make certain assumptions because we don't have an hard data. But let's just suppose this: The boat in its current twin-V-8 configuration burns, lets say 20 GPH at a cruising speed of 18kts. If I run the boat like this 100 hours a year (1800NM), and assuming fuel will cost what the current price is at my gas dock, $3.25/gallon, my annual fuel coat would $6500.

    Now let's say I do as you suggest, jerk the V-8's and hang a 250 Yamaha on the back. A 250 Yammer should be about $ 16000 plus installation including the bracket, oh, I have no idea, lets just say $ 8000. Total investment: $24000 into a $ 6000 boat.

    Next assumption: we'll say that with the weight savings and all, the single 250 Yamaha can push the old Uni along at that same 18 kts. burning 12 GPH.
    Same 100 hours of use, same $ 3.25/gallon fuel price. Total annual fuel cost: $3900.

    So my annual fuel savings would be $1600. Time to recoup the $24000 investment ($24000/$1600): 15 years.

    I know that these are just approximations and guesstimates, but it's kinda interesting to put some numbers to it.

    How close to reality do you think I am?
     
  11. Easy Rider
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    Easy Rider Senior Member

    Glue,
    I feel foolish. Blows my whole thing clear out of the water ...boom. Was fun to kick around though don't you think?

    Easy
     
  12. Easy Rider
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    Easy Rider Senior Member

    Mark,
    Name sounds familiar but perhaps not. I was there in the early 70s under Keith Walton and Paul Graff. Was a bit involved in the design of the 28' Omega. The Coastal Cruiser came after me.

    Easy
     
  13. gluesniffer
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    gluesniffer Junior Member

    I wouldn't feel foolish at all...I think it's a pretty interesting idea. And my numbers are strictly assumptions, with a little bit of education in the guess. If the price of gas were to change, if I cruised it more, if I could get a decent used motor for a few thousand less--this would all change that economic dynamic a lot. Still a viable idea, I think.

    And it's an 8-9000 lbs boat. It's going to take "X" amount of force to drive that boat at a given speed. Coming up with an idea that shaves that number by 40% is pretty awesome, I think.

    I think that it's commendable to think of ways to make these old boats viable. There's a lot of good old boats lying around that nobody seems to want because what?? They're old??!! What do we do with them...clog up a bunch of landfills?

    This old Uniflite is a tough, practical boat with a lot of utility left in her. That's why I bought her. She'll probably outlive you and me, the way she's built. But I got her so cheap because Uniflite isn't well known at all down here on Lake Erie and she isn't....sexy. People down here want boats that looks like an Italian loafer or an alien space craft. It's a boat, not a gaudy Las Vegas penthouse. But that's just me, I guess.

    I posted here because I want ideas, big and small, on what's good and what's not on this particular boat. Comments or suggest of all sorts. Any ideas are more than welcome and certainly not foolish.

    Please don't go away. So far, you've been the only one to give me any ideas, and I really appreciate that. I'd even enjoy hearing more from you about the company itself, since I really don't know to much about it. I like learning about the history of the boats I own.
     
    Last edited: Jun 24, 2010
  14. Easy Rider
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    Easy Rider Senior Member

    Glue,
    In the shop I worked on Navy boats mostly 26' Whaleboats. I put in engine beds, rudder ports ect. In engineering I mostly rearranged equipment on built boats to get them to float on an even keel w no list. With all the options no two boats were close to the same. My favorite boat was the 31' and the 42' W/O the aft cabin. The 42's mostly had Detroit Diesels and I loved the sound of those engines (still do). An overpowered inefficient hull driven by two overweight inefficient engines ..what a ride.
    I think your numbers are good.
    I had a 32' boat, 8000lbs, that had a 120hp diesel and burned 3gph at about 12 knots and toped out at 20. Exceptional boat though. A Sumnercraft.
    The bad news for you is that there's not much that you can do for your Uniflite that will get significant results. Fit the boat out as light as possible and consider redoing the boat as single screw. That would be a lot of work. Like you say .. just use her as you can.

    Easy
     

  15. gluesniffer
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    Location: Fairview Park, Ohio

    gluesniffer Junior Member

    Well, I bought this boat yesterday. Ran her home from Huron Ohio to Rocky River, about a 40 nm run. This boat is solid, as if it was carved from a chunk of granite. No banging, beating, slapping or pounding. Totally vibration free. Very heavy, quality-built boat.
     
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