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Welcome To The Lancaster's Page!
The Lancaster's Boat Is Featured In The Book

Photos detail this conversion in the "Jon Boat To Bass Boat" book!

Meet The Team That Built "Freetime"

Boat Planner/Builder

Plywood Fitter/Meal Provider/

David Myers
Electrician Extraordinaire

What Kerry Says About His Boat "Freetime"

My wife, Troyce, and I have always loved the calming affect of being around water.  We both grew up fishing with our Dads, but never, I mean never, wanted a boat!  We are now both retired and getting back to our roots, which brought us to this fun and interesting project.  We love people and when we find something that is so much fun, and satisfying, we want to share it with others.  Thank you, Ray Magness, for getting us started.


“Freetime” is the name of our boat.  All my buddies who retired before me kept telling me to get some free time, so we could go fishing, hunting or anything else fun.  Here it is, the beginning to finish of the “Freetime” Hydrilla Gorilla. 

The Hunt

The first thing I did was to look for the perfect size boat.  Ray recommends 14 feet in length, and if possible, 48 inches in width at the center floor line.  A boat for bass fishing should be stable, especially if you stand a lot.  Take your time!  It will be worth it.

It took me six months to find a slightly used 14/48 boat.  Check with a dealer or marina for a demo or trade-in.  You will be surprised what you might find.  I wasted a lot of time chasing through the Advertisers and newspapers.  Remember, it’s just a raw boat you are trying to find.  You can do it!

Supplies for Hull

Bosch metal cutting saber saw blades. 

Boat paint—Cabelas Outfitters.  Great paint, two coats and plenty to spare from one gallon.

Spray bed liner paint—Advance Auto Parts.  Approximately 11 cans for 14/48 type boat.  No leaks so far.

Liquid Nail instead of screws in a lot of places where wood is used.


Ray is right, use the right gauge wiring for the job (see size in your Hydrilla Gorilla Book and CD).  Loose or undersized wiring can make your fishing trip miserable or cut short.  We used 1-0 battery cable because the main trolling motor is on the front of the boat and the two 12 volt deep-cycle batteries are in the back of the boat.  This was done because  we did not want any voltage drop between the trolling motors and the batteries. 

I also have a small back-up trolling motor for the rear where the two deep-cycle marine batteries are located.  The batteries are tied together with a GFCI type breaker system.  We ran all wires along the side of the boat with sealed heat shrink and metal connectors, with only one wire through the center floor, this one for the bilge pump located in the back of the boat.  We decided to add the bilge pump as a safety factor.  The panel box is a 6” x 9” water-proof, plastic purchased at Lowe’s.  The panel is a fused, six-switch from Cabelas Outfitters.  On it now are the:

Bilge Pump

Front trolling motor


Cabin Lights

Navigational lights

Plug-in for spot light or access.

We mounted the box in the front deck storage area.  All circuits are fuse protected. 

We installed two plastic battery boxes with gel foot pads inside the boxes, keeping the batteries up off the bottom of the case.  This is supposed to help lengthen the life of the batteries, plus it acts as a shock absorber.  We added a small solar panel charger that works while the boat is not in use.  It works great!

TIP:  I attach the back of the panel with velcro while on the water.  When I come home I cover the boat and then place the panel outside the boat, on the cover, in the sunlight.  If you are going fishing the next day I suggest you use your regular charger for a quick power use.  The panel is to keep it active only during several days or months without use.  Cost is approximately $30.00.  It could extend your battery’s life.

Carpet/Interior Panels 

I shopped days for the carpet.  I found the best deal at Boat Carpet Buys on the Internet www.boatcarpetbuys.com.  They sell to the big boat distributors, as well as to individuals.  They are very friendly and will send sample pieces and colors before you order.  I also used their carpet glue—it worked great!  This carpet has a tight pile and has a rubber backing to resist moisture and stains. 

The trim strips along the side of the boat where we rolled the carpet over the edge is metal carpet floor trim purchased at Lowe’s (I happen to live closer to Lowe’s than I do Home Depot).  The holes are already drilled and spaced and come in several colors.  They are aluminum and easily cut with a hack saw.  I used stainless steel self-tapping screws where possible, but not a must. 

TIP for flooring only.  If you have a modified V boat, with slight curved sides instead of a square Jon boat, cut the plywood approximately one-half inch (1/2”) shorter on the sides with your jig saw set at approximately 30 degree angle.  Make sure it drops in, THEN glue the carpet to the flooring after the side panels have been carpeted.  It should drop in for the perfect fit.

Power Anchor

Now for all those folks who are tired of getting muddy pulling and grabbing the anchor, or have bad shoulders or backs.  The Minn Kota Deck Hand 15 or 25 is the trick.  It has a simple switch up and down with approximately 60 feet of rope.  When the anchor hits bottom the pressure switch stops.  Flick the up switch when you are ready to move, up it goes and docks back into the davit. 

The Deck Hand 25 comes with a davit, which means the anchor no longer bangs into the side of the boat.  The power anchor is not a must, but it’s great for us retired guys and gals.  There are many ways to mount or use anchors (See your Hydrilla Gorilla Book and CD for examples).  Note:  You are going to need two anchors, one on the front and one on the back, otherwise, if there is a slight breeze you are going to be moved around away from that fishing hole you have found. 

Boat Accessories

Seats can come in all sizes and prices.  You can spend from zero, out of a junk yard, to $200 per seat and mounts.  Ray is on target about small shafts, not well reinforced seat mounts.  You can buy the mounts three inches, or so, at Wal-Mart for approximately $13.00 per mount and swivel tops for approximately $15.00 to $25.00.  I used adjustable mounts with the wide bases.  Big people can rock a seat to ruin if they lean back too much.  I bought the weather proof seats from Bass Pro, a little pricey, but well worth it. 

Trolling Motor

I researched many sources on trolling motors, since I have never owned one.  I decided on 55 lbs. of thrust.  The most I could get without going to a 24 volt system.  I finally decided on the new Motor Guide 55 Wireless.  It comes with a wireless foot pedal, which can be operated anywhere in the boat. 

An optional hand-held fob (key) that straps to your wrist is also available.  I love this system!  It has plenty of power and is the easiest motor to stow and deploy that I found for bow use.  Bass Pro and Cabelas, both carry this motor.  The second motor is mounted on the back, it was given to me by a friend who never used it.  It is great to get us away from the bank/ramp.

Roller guides

I decided to change the loading skids on the boat trailer to rollers. This allows easier launching and loading, especially if you are by yourself. Some boat ramps are really level, while others are steep. When loading just hook the winch and crank to the boat, no jerking or straining. It really makes a difference.


It takes a lot of hours to convert a Jon boat, but the possibilities are endless!  Now that you are wanting to do the same, you will look at every Jon boat that passes you on the highway and think, “I can do that, and maybe even better.”  The fun thing is you don’t have to buy the latest and greatest things for your Jon boat, after all the fish don’t care. 

I guess it is a matter of pride of ownership, but as my neighbor says, “it’s the way you present the bait”.  Good fishing on your new Hydrilla Gorilla.  We could have never done this without the help of Ray’s book and CD and several phone calls!  He is truly a man of superior customer service. 

Kerry Lancaster

Jonesboro, GA

Many thanks to the Lancasters and David Meyer for their pictures,
quality craftsmanship, and a great addition to the
"Jon Boat To Bass Boat" Book!


Magness Enterprises
23853 C.R. 114
Iola, Texas 77861

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