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Gibson Houseboat repairs and rebuilding.

by Keith Millett
(Peoria, IL)

Older Gibson Houseboats are a very Popular Model.

Older Gibson Houseboats are a very Popular Model.

I have just purchased a distressed 1972 Gibson Houseboat (36 foot) & it's my first boat. I have the resources to repair the unit & would like some advice.

The unit is in disrepair as follows.

1. The flooring in the lower deck has rotted due to water coming in through the engine hatches.

2. I am told the rear deck must be replaced to correct the water problem.

3. The hull is sound, so says the marina that I bought it from.

4. The manufacturer says there are no repair manuals available.

My plan is to remove the rear deck & replace it with wood.
What type of wood & finish should I use?

Next I will remove the interior floor, replace the rotten 2x6's that are secured to the fiberglass hull & then the flooring is secured to the 2x6.

How should I secure the 2x6 to the hull?

Thanks, Keith

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Reply - Answer
Well Keith, congratulations on your Gibson houseboat purchase. You're situation is a very common one, where the water infiltrates between the layers of fiberglass and rots the wood beneath, which causes delamination, leaks and damage.

I won't sugar coat my reply, so here is my thoughts:

1) Did you get a marine surveyor (you're choice of surveyor) to
do a survey before buying the houseboat? If you did, than he gave you a list of all the repairs necessary. If you didn't get a survey before buying it, get one now before spending your resources and your time on a major project.

2) As to how and what to use to do the repairs, you will find it's best to do replace the wood and fiberglass exactly as it was built. The hatch and stringer damage is a common problem. You will want to fiberglass the stringers back into place, like original. You may want to check the transom for water damage or weakness.

3) You will find these dvd's very educational and instructional on how to do repairs with fiberglass and epoxy. The dvd's cover topics like repairs, replacement, dry rot, strength, painting, gel coat etc... All the tips and tricks to do a professional looking job.

4) If other people aren't as handy with tools and major repairs, and would rather purchase a new boat we can help. If you're looking for a new Gibson boat, we now have factory direct pricing.

Lastly, hopefully some of our readers will share and post comments about their houseboat repairing and rebuilding experiences.

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Comments for Gibson Houseboat repairs and rebuilding.

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Fiberglass Repairs
by: Carl

Subscribe to Boatworks Today You Tube channel. Andy Miller shows people how to do fiberglass repairs of all types..

1977 36' Gibson
by: First Time Owner

For those of you with late 70s boats, how is the integrity of the hull? Just purchased my first, soft spots all over the decks and surveyor sure had some comments on the state of the engine.

All manageable, but my main concern is how well the hull is holding up, especially with it being covered in barnacles.

Is it worth it to clean/recoat the hull from the barnacles and get an out of water survey? Or is it secure? Marina and other dock owners say that the hull is good.

The bilge pump was broken for a few months and so far so good.

Any help would be appreciated...

Gibson Aluminum Deck Replacement
by: Dave

I have a deteriorated deck. The aluminum deck replacement sounds appealing. Never used aluminum so no idea how to do this? Any direction would be helpful.

What aluminum do you use? Joists are rotted - do you use wood again or aluminum to repair? How do you seal aluminum to the sides?


Electric stove for a houseboat
by: Katie

I have an electric stove on a 77 Gibson Houseboat. I'm having problems with my stove, where can I buy an used stove? Any sites out there for me to look?

Gibson Repairs
by: Anonymous

I bought a 1972 Gibson and had all the above issues plus more. I decided to do away with the rear hatches all together and enclose the engine compartment running the rear roof all the way out to the transom.

I gutted the 225 chryslers, v-drives, shafts, chines, rudders etc. and fitted a Merc Alpha I/O coupled to a 4 cyl VW. 1.9L diesel. I gained an entire room of 8 x 10". By doing this I doubled my fuel mileage and gained another bedroom.

I plan to travel and live-aboard going to Florida this summer via Ohio to Tenn/Tom.

Buying a 36ft 1972 Gibson houseboat
by: Lee

@Robert what trailer and tow vehicle do you use to pull your Gibson out.

Gibson Houseboat Repairs
by: Lorna

We purchased an older Gibson and had the same problem with a rotting back deck. We replaced it with an aluminum deck and increased the size of the hatch opening, making a double hatch that is much lighter in weight from fiberglass.

This allowed better access to the engine compartment. We finished it with an outdoor carpet that matched our biminis. We have made many improvements in the boat and love it.

Older Gibson Houseboats - old ones are better
by: Mike Daw

I've just purchased a 1986 37' Gibson houseboat and I have reconditioned a '75 36' Trojan and thought I was knowledgeable.

I have now learned that the newer Gibsons are constructed with Balsa Wood core, yuck!

Facing similar problems as everyone, the rotten stringers, punky bulkheads, superstructure seems OK.

Gibson houseboat
by: Pat

Hi Keith, I also have a 1972 36' Gibson, and I replaced the kitchen floor myself. Front deck and roof where replaced couple years ago.

Who ever had this boat before me did a terrible job on back deck. I just checked it last week. And unless I find away to reinforce it, I won't be able to put in this year.

I don't want to put a hole new deck because I have to sell it soon, because my marina will be replaced by condo's, so we don't know how much longer we have there.

I have had my houseboat since 1998 and love it. So if you get any tips that can help me please let me know. Pat

Need Gibson houseboat advice.
by: Anonymous

I just bought a 1972, 36' Gibson houseboat, and I spent $468 for a marine survey, and it was definitely MONEY WELL SPENT!!!!

I bought it from a so-called friend, and I have many of the same problems as you, can I please contact you for advice? my email is jonathan_cantwell (at)

We repaired & rebuilt our Gibson Houseboat
by: Robert

Keith, I know exactly what you are facing, because I have a 36x12, 1972 Gibson houseboat that was in serious sad shape.

And also being from the Midwest right up the river from you...these boats take a beating in the winter months, you can't leave them in the water because everything around here freezes solid. I own a trailer and haul mine out each fall and winterize.

My front and rear deck as well as the walkways were entirely replaced as well as the underlying structural members and totally re-fiberglassed and painted.

My hatches were sound but the troughs that drain the water away were replaced as well. When replacing any structural member if it is attached to the hull with fiberglass replace it the same way, glass it to the hull.

Use marine grade solid core plywood as it has better glue and is made for exterior use and try to use at least 5/8's thickness it will be much stronger.

And when putting in 2/4's and along the walkways we spaced them 16 inches on center for improved strength. The hatches are easy to build as they are made from 3/4 plywood and some 2/4's for ribbing. The stringers are 2/8's and fiberglassed to the hull as well.

If you have any Carpentry experience at all you can do it. It wont be easy and it takes time and allot of patience and bucks but you can get er done...

We spent 8 months working on our Gibson and it proved to be well worth it in the end. These older houseboats are just a work in the hatches and fill it full of money.

Help AC
by: Trudy

We purchased an 1982 gibson boat 12x50. Would anyone know what kind of AC units that where used around this time. Or any place i could order a older gibson boat manual??? Plz help. Ty. Text me at 918 616 4617

1979 Gibson 50 Executive
by: Jesse

We purchased a 1979 Gibson 50 Executive in fair condition as noted by the survey. However, no manual or specs provided and we have been searching for answers on several questions we have.

Does anyone know how to contact Gibson as the email that was on their website doesn't work. One of my biggest and what I thought was a simple question is "What is the weight limit for the upper deck?"

I would like to purchase some comfortable patio conversational furniture and still allow for guests and flybridge driver weight.

It would be nice to have a few small garden containers also in order to be a little more self sustainable. 2 air condition units are the only occupants currently along with the flybridge equipment and chair. Any advice?

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