1975 Checkmate V-Mate: A Family Project
The great thing about restorations is it saves a cool boat from ending up in a garbage heap somewhere and allows it have a new lease on life. Another benefit is you end up with a project that often is a family venture and one where you make some friends along the way. Will Switzer's 1975 Checkmate V-Mate project certainly was a worthwhile family project that does all those things.
Will and his family have a love of Checkmates, his Dad bought a new 1977 Trimate from Action Marine in Detroit, and Will would see his Dad and uncle Tom run the Checkmate in Southeast Michigan as a kid. Eventually, Will would get his own Trimate to run on Lake Glennie Michigan. But, as any boat fanatic knows all too well, you are always attracted to a new boat or new project no matter how much you love your boat. Will found a 1975 V-Mate that he fell in love with and grabbed it for $200.
The 15' Checkmate V-Mate, a great boat for a project, classic design, good hull and a familiar name.
In the late 60s and early 70s Bill Combs had much success racing and building outboard race boats and I feel the V-Mate is a nice combination of early race design meets small family boat. They are a great hull that were often run with straight six Mercs and had a very unique look, with a really low profile and slight bow rise, and a large framed windshield, although some don’t have the windshield. I believe they were rated for 100 HP from the factory at the time. It has a V type running surface at the center, supported by two sets of running strakes.
Will assessed his new classic and determined it would need a complete restoration, the only thing that survived was the core, which is incredible. In the beginning, Will had the boat stored for the winter but recruited his dad to help out in what became a 3 year endeavor that Will claimed was tons of work and even a few “fights” with his dad, but the end result makes it all worth it.
The boat was stripped and split in two, his dad tackled the transom and Will went to work on the floor and structure. He layed out a single 2x4 stringer, ¾ plywood for the seat boxes and battery box, plus a new ⅜ plywood floor glassed in. For the transom, it was rebuilt and filled with Seacast. Since the boat was missing the back seat, Will just fabricated one himself. Then they turned to the major job of stripping the paint off, using stripper and scraping it until the original orange and black gelcoat was revealed. Unfortunately, it was shot and a new paint job was in the cards.
Paint is always a big decision, there are a number or types to use and millions of colors and Will made a great choice here. His color scheme is classic and very complimentary to the boat while looking up to date. After some research, Will decided to go with Interlux VC Performance epoxy on the hull and Interlux Perfection above the waterline. The best news was Will’s Dad used to paint cars back in the day, so Will bought him a gun and asked his Dad to do the honors and he did a fantastic job. After the paint cured, they put the boat back together.
Will's Dad spraying the Interlux Perfection, dark blue stripes.
Now it was time to get to the interior and think about rigging. Will took the seats to Twins in Southgate Michigan and they did a nice custom job for Will. They even added a Checkmate embroidery to the back seat, which really finishes it off. Will’s uncle made a transom block to raise the engine mounting by 2.5 inches and the Checkmate trim tabs were refinished and mounted like they were from Action Marine. The horizontal mounting helps with adverse handling and keeps the hull flat in different conditions, and don’t cause the same drag flush mounted tabs can.
For power, Will had a 150 HP straight six Merc, it was taken apart and the powerhead was sent to Wayne Conino in South Carolina for a full rebuild. Will went with a more custom look of the red XS decals instead of the blue on fresh black and it looks amazing. The classic Merc looks big on the 15’ Checkmate and it really pushes the hull well. Will has has it up to 70 MPH with a 24P Chopper. Will and his Dad did a great job saving this classic Checkmate and now have a better than new boat. A family project with a few friends along the way. Will’s boat was featured as a boat of the month on the Checkmate forums in 2013 and Will runs it on lake Glennie in Michigan. Thanks to Will for sharing the restoration with us.