Sometimes an interest can stick with a person from childhood even to retirement age.
Bud Hursh, Syracuse, had his first boat motor, a 3 horsepower Mercury outboard motor on a small Chippewa boat at the age of 6. At the age of 8, he began racing class A runabout boats. Growing up, he and his father, Dr. Charles Hursh, were actively involved in boat racing.
But then life happens and there is graduating from high school, going to college, working, getting married and starting a family. Hobbies take a back seat to other more important priorities.
Bud Hursh is now retired, having owned Hursh Insurance Agency in uptown Syracuse for several years. “I have time to ‘fiddle’ around now,” he said. He has lived at Syracuse Lake for several years.
“I’ve always liked boats — the design, smell, the touch,” he said fondly. “There is nothing quite like squeezing the throttle and hearing the RPMs crescendo.” He added he also likes the look of many boats and the construction techniques.
“I like to work with my hands, too,” he said, explaining why he has approximately 17 boats of various models and sizes and in different stages of being repaired. Though he rebuilt a couple of motors several years ago, he mainly refinishes and repaints antique boats in order to return them to their original condition as much as possible. He emphasized, too, repairing or correcting is a more accurate way to describe what he does because restoring involves many more details.
There is room to work on smaller boats in the heated garage at his home, while work on the larger ones is done in a storage building a few miles away or at a marina. Hursh does what he can with limited tools, but sometimes relies on others with more extensive equipment.
Presently he is working on repairing a Hansen runabout, as well as a Kid-Craft runabout. His collection also includes one sailboat (a Sunfish), two rowing boat shells and four ice boats (three are in the DN, or Detroit News category).
There are also some racing boats, such as a 1967 Sidson class B hydro. Another is a 1952 13-foot Lyman outboard boat. Hursh noted Lyman was once a very popular boat in the area “but then almost all of a sudden you never hardly saw them anymore.”
Chris-Craft is another well known brand in the boating industry and Hursh has a 1948 17-foot deluxe model. One special boat to him and would stand out to others, is a 1960 Century Coronado. It is impressive looking even now, loaded with chrome and heavily styled.
“It’s my favorite boat,” he said of the Century Coronado. “I fell in love with those boats. The first time I saw those boats I was kind of frozen in my tracks.” It has a 325 horsepower Cadillac engine.
Another project is refinishing and repainting a sort of hybrid racing boat in the B runabout class his father designed in 1954. The boat was used to win two national competitions.
Hursh finds antique boats on the Internet he is interested in repairing. He spends a few hours at a time on repairing, being careful not to make it another full-time job, which it could become.
He noted there is no “magical” way to repair a boat and it involves stripping, sanding, varnishing and painting. Once repaired, Hursh takes the boats for rides in local bodies of water.