After many years of effort, the Fort Eustis Transportation Museum finally managed to acquire a Vietnam-era River Patrol Boat (PBR). The vessel was donated to the museum by the US Army Military Police Museum in Fort Leonard Wood, MO, where it had been on display as a Military Police craft.
The Sea Tigers Association, a Vietnam Veteran's group made up of members of the US Army 458th Transportation Company and members of the US Army 18th Military Police Brigade, agreed to take on the task of restoring the patrol boat to display quality. The group operated 39 PBR's in nine outposts scattered throughout Vietnam. When completed, the restoration project will have taken three years.
Aluminum work and welding services provided by Precision Sheet Metal Fabrication of Poquoson, VA.
Canvas work by Pizzoferrato Enterprises of Richmond, OH
The boat was not in very good condition upon it's arrival at Ft. Eustis. The craft had been flipped during a tornado at Ft. Leonard Wood a few years prior. The hull was in terrible condition and the coxswain's flat had been re-constructed at some point out of plywood rather than steel.
The boat had several replacement sections made of plywood. All have been removed and replaced with aluminum
Above is a sample of damage issues to hull
The boat was required to be encapsulated for the sanding process.
The plywood coxswain's flat was removed and replaced with 1/4" aluminum panels
The stern had a steel plate covering where the boat number had been cut out of the hull. It was glassed in, then the entire stern was filled and sanded several times.
90% of the hull was covered in pinholes
Four gallons of filler and a lot of sanding produced a finish ready for paint.
Reaching up under existing dash to replace gauges was deemed to be too difficult, so upper & lower dash panels were cut out to facilitate restoration. Steering wheel, hub, and shaft were dis-assembled, cleaned & replaced.
Upper dash panel & old gauges.
Upper dash panel with new gauges.
Old lower dash panel & switches
New lower dash panel & switches
Old siren was dented in several areas & did not work
Siren was restored to original condition by Norman Beaver & is now fully operational.
.50 caliber machine gun props were
constructed by Tom Farrell.
Gun covers are used over the props. Replica .50 caliber machine guns will be fitted for special events or exhibitions.
The bow was damaged during the tornado event, but was deemed too expensive to repair.
New canopy & gun covers fabricated by Dave Pizzoferrato
Mid-ships Ballistic Plates were installed in December, but weather prevented painting.
Light Mast has had Nancy Beacon, Anchor Light, and ID Lights installed.
The completed project to date. The name Magic Christian is from a PBR that was destroyed in a sapper attack in Vung Ro Bay, Vietnam.
A very special "Thank You" to:
Transportation Museum Foundation, Ft. Eustis, VA
Joe Scanlon, Director, US Army Transportation Museum, Ft. Eustis, VA
Greg Simmons of Precision Metal Fabrication, Poquoson, VA
Dave Pizzoferrato (Sea Tigers Assoc.), Richmond, OH
Tom Farrell (VP Sea Tigers Assoc.), Smyrna, DE
Bob Brower (Sea Tigers Assoc.), Bonney Lake, WA
Robert Webber (President, Sea Tigers Assoc.), Olney, IL
Jerry Wallace (Treasurer, Sea Tigers Assoc.), Arlington, TX
Norman Beaver, Beltsville, MD