Custom Livewell for the Bertram 31
Copyright 1995 - 2006, Capt Patrick McCrary
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Please Read Carefully before ordering any parts.
The production cost of the finished unit, ready to be installed, is $4,300.00 FOB, LLANO, TX. Domestic shipments will be by motor freight.
I know this sounds a bit pricy for a livewell, but then it's far superior to any other
livewell on the market, it's designed especially for the B31, is totally custom built and
is easy enough to permanently install that even a relative novice can do the job.
Once you've read this whole page, I think you'll agree that value and quality support the price...
The full insulation rates it at near R10, and it takes almost 100 hours to produce. My
intent from the beginning was to create a truly unique and high end livewell that will,
most probably, be a limited edition of no more than 10 units. The first similar well was
installed as a "one off" design on Jerry Wells' "Fortuna", (now the "Ishgair" owned by
Kevin Schuller). Numerous design features and refinements have been engineered since
then and the production tooling has evolved over a period of 4 years and several hundred
hours with an estimated tooling cost of around $3,500.00.
Unique features include:
Multi-port water jacket delivery of fill water:
The volume of the interior of the livewell is 4.4 cu ft, with a useable water fill of 35
gallons. Since the well if fully insulated at a minimum of 1 1/2" of 2 lb per cu ft
polyurethane foam, (2 part pourable used, not the cheap one part pressure can stuff),
the well is very usable as a fish box or one hellofa' ice chest.
Why a Multi-port, water jacket fill system? A single source hole
introduces the water at in much heavier stream which can both damage
delicate live baits, (such as sardines), and if directed at a 90 degree
angle to develop a rotational current flow, the fitting is now protruding
into the well. By contrast, the multi-port, water jacket fill system
is recessed into the wall of the well and because the water delivery is
spread between multiple holes, the input is a far more gentle stream. It
also contacts the side of the well quicker and flatter, further reducing
any turbulence. In any livewell, there should be no hard angle corners
for the bait to get trapped into, and a gentle currant is necessary to allow
the baits to swim in a more orientated pattern.
Fully insulated with 2 part polyurethane foam to R10+:
The full insulation of this livewell means that you can also use the well
both a fishbox or an ice chest. At a 4.4 cu ft capacity, the capacity in
crushed ice is 60 pounds, about equivalent to the capacity of the Igloo 120
quart cooler, (approx. an R6 insulation value). Because the livewell has
an average 44 1/2" inside length X average 10 1/2" width X 20 1/4" height,
the contents have a higher stack than the Igloo. This, along with the almost
doubled insulation value of the Igloo, the constant temperature will be
maintained about 3 times that of the Igloo. If 50 lbs of ice melts by 50%
in the Igloo in one day, the melt rate for the livewell, (used as an ice
chest), is only 8 - 9 lbs...
Oh, did I mention...? All screws and locking pins that penetrate the fiberglass skin are blind drilled
over sized, filled with solid resin, and re-drilled to size. This means that absolutely no water can work it's
way into the foam core!
Removable center baffle to segregate baits and control sloshing in a beam sea:
Ever chase that last couple of baits around a big livewell? Amazing how elusive they
can be! The center 3/8" acrylic baffle plays double duty in this case... With the
baffle track molded into the well there is no hardware or external guides to get in the
way, water sloshing back and forth in a beam sea has the brakes applied to the extent
that by the time the water is stacking up on one side, the counter roll of
the boat sends it back the other direction, again to be drastically slowed by
the baffle. Load half of your bait on each side of the baffle and those little
speedsters have hale the space to allude you. This also means only one lid
needs to be opened and catching bait doesn't become a two man job...
When using the well as an ice chest, use one side for food and drinks and the
other side for your rigged baits. By placing the baits on the drain side and
in aluminum foil baking pans, any not so good tasting bait flavors are drained
to the bottom of the well and away from your corned beef sandwiches...
Self tensioning lids to further reduce spill out in a beam sea:
How many livewell can boast the the lids are held closed under tension? None,
to my knowledge, but certainly very, very few! In keeping pace with the quest
of building the best damned transom mounted livewell/ice chest on the face of
globe, while keeping all parts, systems, and features as simple as possible,
I've taken a clue from the speargun divers. The lids are tensioned in closed
a position by means of a black surgical tubing strap that has several pounds
of tension when the lids are closed. This does two important things: 1) it
further eliminated the chance of getting a pocket full of water while standing
at the end of the well in a beam sea, and 2) it keeps the polyurethane gasket in
close contact with the well ledge, insuring no undue temperature loss to the
The ends are attached to the tubing using clips designed after the hardware
attachment of the bands on a speargun. They can only be removed with a dedicated
effort, but the tubing is easily and quickly replaced, if need be, with out any
tools other than a sharp knife. The stainless steel clips catch into chrome
over bronze eyelets that are securely screwed into the fiberglass.
Neoprene rubber gaskets around lids:
Proper care of the gasket and livewell lip will prolong the bond of the gasket
to the lid. If you notice the gasket starting to peel away, simply clean the
contact surfaces well with acetone or denatured alcohol, allow to dry, apply a
bit of solvent type contact adhesive, keep the surfaces from contacting for a
few minutes, and press them firmly together. If you ever need to replace the gasket,
it can be ordered from McMaster-Carr. Item# 93725K76
Lids are locked in place, but easily removable:
Most wing lid livewells have the lids attached by screws. You want to remove the
lid? Break out the tool box... Not so with this lid system! The lids are
hinged to a center piece that is in turn locked firmly into place by means of
two 1/4" polished stainless steel pins on one end and a solid brass slide bolt
on the other. Simply slide the bolt back and the entire lid system is free...
What no window?
Windows are neat on livewells for everybody but the bait... Yeah, you can see from the
flybridge that you have water in the well and it's flowing, your companions get a kick out watching the
swimmers wiggle around, but your bait on the other side simply thinks that the window is an escape portal
and bang their noses into the glass. Damaged baits don't live long...
Then also, there's the engineering and maintenance aspect of livewells with windows. Properly designing a replaceable
window that won't leak later down the road, additional material cost, and additional the time you'll spend
in maintaining that cute window, add up to far greater costs.
If you want a window in your livewell, you'll need to either add it yourself or purchase someone else's livewell.
Sorry, but I just won't do it...
Like windows, interior lights are an excessive item. True, baits do better in a closed well that has some light source,
but use the K.I.S.S. principle to add a light source to the well: Simply twist tie a small cyclume stick near the top of
the tank. A 6" stick will last for hours, is maintenance free, can be stored indefinitely, cost very little, and can
be used for a ton of other applications when/if needed.
Installation will be very simple, (at least for someone with good fiberglassing and epoxy
skills), and should be able to be accomplished, paint ready, in about 8 - 10 labor hours.
The livewell will be fully gelcoated in white and no further refinishing will be needed on
the interior of the livewell. The exterior will need to be painted or gelcoated to match
the owners boat.
California Fishermen have asked, from time to time, about how my livewell will work for their style of Live Bait Fishing... The following two links may answer some of your questions also.
Questions and Answers on Live Bait Tanks
How big a tank should I get?
The livewell will be shipped FOB from LLANO, TX and will be accompanied by a full
set of installation directions, tips, and recommendations.
All Rights Reserved to make changes in Design or Pricing without notice.
Capt Patrick McCrary
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