For Jeremy Strup of Joplin, Mo., the upcoming restoration of a 20-foot-long 1987 Liberator picklefork-hull boat he recently purchased is more than just updating a classic river and lake hot rod. The boat was formerly owned by Brad Smith, the noted Missouri-based high-performance marine engine builder who died last September in a boating accident on Lake Cumberland in Kentucky. A longtime, close friend of Smith’s for more than 15 years, Strup is refreshing the 27-year-old tunnel boat powered by a 200-hp Mercury outboard engine to honor Smith. The process will begin in September.
Formerly owned by Brad Smith, a rising star in the high-performance marine engine game before he died last year, this 20-footer will undergo a restoration led by two of Smith’s closest friends.
“This was the boat that got Brad into high-performance boating and Ryan Branch—another good friend of Brad’s—and I are going to pull it apart and completely restore it,” said Strup. “We have it in the water now and we plan on running it the rest of the summer on Grand Lake (in Oklahoma).
“As soon as we posted it on Facebook, we got an outpouring of support from people willing to help restore the boat for his kids, family and friends,” he added.
Said Strup: “It looks good from 20 feet away, but up close it’s pretty rough.”
While the 20-footer’s outboard engine was recently rebuilt and is in good shape, according to Strup, the rest of the boat—including paint, interior and rigging—is in dire need of upgrading. “It looks good from 20 feet away, but up close it’s pretty rough,” he said.
Strup said people “have come out of the woodwork” to offer their services to help him restore the boat. And he has no intention of selling the boat once the job is done.
“I’m going to keep it, ” he said. “This one is going in the permanent collection.”
For the remainder of the summer, Strup and Branch will run the outboard-powered 20-footer on Oklahoma’s Grand Lake.
Editor’s Note: Speedonthewater.com will provide updates on this project as it progresses.