Born and raised in Camdenton, one of the communities within Central Missouri’s Lake of the Ozarks, Ernie Dampier has been around boats of all of his life. Yet it wasn’t until he stopped racing Pro Mod dragsters and started hauling boats for a living that he really started to enjoy them. It helped that he was friends with the late Bob Morgan and was able to do some poker runs with the legendary boat racer who owned and operated the lake’s Big Thunder Marina for many years.
Either way, the powerboat bug bit Dampier and he likes spending quality time on the water when he’s not busy with work. This summer, that enjoyment is sure to skyrocket as Dampier will be running his “dream boat.”
Powered by a pair of Mercury Racing 900 SC Dry Sump engines, Dampier’s 2002 Fountain Powerboats 42 Lightning, which he purchased last October, was finished with its transformation just in time for the Spring Fun Run hosted by Performance Boat Center earlier this month. Now, as Dampier said, let the fun begin.
“I’ve owned a couple of other Fountains in the past, but I’ve always wanted a 42 with No. 6 drives,” said Dampier, who owns Marine Service Company in Camdenton, which specializes in transportation services across the country for boats from 30 to 70 feet including water loading and launching as well complete teardown and reassembly of yachts if necessary. “The one I found was perfect. It was stored indoor, the engines only had 46 hours on them and it was always in freshwater. The guy who ordered it spared no expense.”
Check out some before and after images of the 42-footer in the slideshow above.
Of course Dampier didn’t wait long to make the boat his own. He said the obvious place to start was with the interior and the outdated cockpit so he turned to the talented team at Waves and Wheels in Osage Beach, Mo., after doing some smaller projects with Justin Wagner and his crew in the past.
Earlier this year Waves and Wheels emptied the entire cockpit and started from the deck up to create a one-off cockpit completely designed and fabricated in house. Along with building new bolster seats and rear buckets, adding step plates, creating new side panels with additional storage space and redoing the engine hatches—all with a vibrant yellow and various shades of silver—Waves and Wheels installed a new audio system, a rear-facing camera, LED lights throughout and even a new GPS centered ahead of the dash.
Once Waves and Wheels was finished with it, Dampier delivered the 42-footer to Paint Rite, which has been repairing, refinishing and painting boats on the lake for three decades. The crew at Paint Rite touched up the boat, changed some of the stripes on the paint job and added the Fountain logo to the deck and the cabin doors. It also removed the stainless rails around the engine hatches, filled in the holes and added pin cleats and billet step plates around the hatches.
As you can see from the slideshow above, the crew at Waves and Wheels created a totally fresh interior.
From there, Dampier took the Fountain to Performance Boat Center in Osage Beach where the boat was rewired and the latest gauges from Livorsi Marine were installed in a new carbon-fiber helm panel from Innotech Products. Dampier also had PBC install heads-up drive and tab indicators above the dash, and move the throttles to the right of the steering wheel (he kept the shifters on the left).
At the same time, Tony Battiato, one of the talented mechanics at PBC, refreshed the engines, installed new valve springs, replaced the water hoses and added shaft-mounted rockers.
“Tony is one of the best mechanics I’ve ever met,” Dampier said. “The boat runs great and it looks great. We got to water test it before the fun run and man is it on rails. It’ll run 115 mph fuel of fuel. But the best part is that it feels like a new boat. It’s drastically different—it doesn’t look like the same boat.”
Dampier, who said he’s a fan of the “old-school, carbureted blower motors,” can’t wait use the boat around the lake this summer. He plans to run the Fountain at a couple of poker runs in Texas and Oklahoma, too, but the event he really wants to do is the Florida Powerboat Club’s Key West Poker Run in November.