Keaton Boats

Information on my boat

July 2005: I recently purchased this boat from the original owner in July of 2005.  It has the original 455 Olds motor.  The previous owner had kept the boat stored exclusively inside and had only used it intermittently over the years and not at all the last 6 years.  The motor had a total of 81 hours displayed on the hour meter.  After bringing it home and doing some initial prepping of the engine such as changing plugs, oil, oil and fuel filters, rotor, points, etc. and pumping some oil up into the top of the motor it fired right up.  Well, it fired up after I removed the old Jacobs ignition module that was wired in. It was no longer functional.

The only other thing I've done to date is replace the entire helm and steering cable. It originally had a Steermaster helm and MarkII cable. I found that neither the Mark II or III cable is  available so I converted to a Teleflex helm and cable. If you want information on this contact me and I can provide the details of what  is required to make this conversion.  I've also added a bilge blower for some added safety.  Other than that the boat is completely original and outside of a few scratches on the keel the boat looks and runs as if it just came out the door back in 1976.  UPDATE ON STEERMASTER CABLES!!  Steermaster cables are now available through Glen-l Marine. They have found a new source for these cables although some are on backorder. Here is the link to the Steermaster cables at Glen-L

The only thing I plan to do in the near future, as a preventive measure and on the recommendation of Jack Keaton, is to replace the fiberglass fuel tank as he noted they are prone to breakdown and leak. This is something they do at their shop in Sacramento and for me living nearby is easy to have done.  Other than that I may consider adding an MSD ignition box for a little better spark. The original owner had an old Jacobs module on there but it seemed to be bad so I took it out prior to running the boat. Oh, yeah, maybe I'll replace the cassette player with a CD player.

What is also pretty cool about buying this from the original owner is that he had kept all the paperwork he got when he purchased the boat. This included the original Berkeley Packajet Owners Engine Manual as well as the envelope containing the Guarantee, Installation, Operation and Maintenance Instructions for the engine including the Quality Test Control tag for the engine and pump signed off by Fernando on 4/26/76!  Also, when I went up to see Jack Keaton he gave me a Keaton 18' Runabout Service Manual that he had put together.  


November  2005:  I took my boat to Classic-craft in Sacramento to have my fiberglass fuel tank replaced. Although mine had not started leaking I thought it best to have it done as a preventative measure. Everything went well and they were even able to save the original carpet. You can't even tell they replaced the tank. I left the tank dry until April 2006.

April 2006:  I installed an MSD6A ignition module.  As I noted above when I purchased the boat it had a Jacobs module installed but this module was no longer functional. I installed the MSD6A and it seems to have improved the idle and general operation. The one thing to insure you do is to install the diode on the altenator to prevent engine runon due to voltage leakage to the MSD box.

After installing the fuel tank I left the tank dry until April 2006 when I went to install the MSD box.  During the installation of the MSD box the original Olds AC-Delco mechanical fuel pump died.  I looked high and low for a NOS or original pump to no avail.  The alternatives that I found were to use an electric pump or go with a pump from Mondello's Performance in Southern California. What I ended up doing was use an automotive pump for the 455. I welded a tube in the hole at the bottom of the pump on the other side of the diaphram and connected this to the tube that goes up to carburator.  This may not be the best solution (and probably not really marine legal), but it has worked flawlessly to date.  I plan on using this one  until it dies and then I may go ahead and get the pump from Mondello's.

June 2006: After spending a few days on the water during the heat of summer we decided to get a bimini top. We ended up going with a custom top from Dawnines Custom Canvas in Oakley.  We dropped the boat off in the morning and by early afternoon it was done. She uses all stainless material and fabricates the support tubes onsite.  We've been very happy with it and it provides great shade. There is no vibration and it is very solid under power.

July 2007:  Added new MSD Blaster coil to go along with the MSD 6A box

Nov 2007: Nice little article in the Modesto Bee on my 18-J. Here is the link or if you like click here to get the pdf version

August 2009: Due to a failure of the port side exhaust manifold water entered the exhaust chamber and broke a valve. The engine was pulled and completely rebuilt from top to bottom. New modified cam was added along with an MSD electronic distributor, larger oil pan, high capacity oil pump and oil restrictors.