Starcraft Marine has been in existence since the turn of the 20th Century.
Are Starcraft boats any good?
Here’s How Good Starcraft Boats Are:
Starcraft Marine produces solidly-built boats from entry-level to mid-range in cost. They make fishing boats and runabouts for inland and offshore waters and a variety of pontoon boats. Unlike most brands in the price range, owners rarely have bad things to say about the boat or the company.
A Brief History of Starcraft Boats
Starcraft Marine traces their roots back to 1903 and the Star Tank Corporation in Middlebury, Indiana.
Arthur E. Schrock started working for the company, which manufactured galvanized steel tanks at the time.
Under Schrock, the company branched out into building galvanized steel boats. This proved successful, and the company changed its name to the Star Tank and Boat Company. When the owner died in 1926,
Schrock bought the company and renamed it Starcraft, focusing solely on building boats. In the late 1950s, they began using fiberglass in boat construction.
The company, while successful, went through a series of ownership changes, culminating in being bought by the Brunswick Corporation in the late 1980s. The RV side of Starcraft was divested to Jayco.
In 1996, Brunswick sold the company to the children of Harold Schrock, bringing it back under the ownership of its founding family.
Soon after this, the Schrocks and Starcraft united in a unique partnership of families, which includes five brands under the Smoker Craft, Incorporated umbrella. All five brands are manufactured at the combined factory in New Paris, Indiana.
How Reliable Are Starcraft Boats?
Starcraft boats are well-known across the United States, with a reputation beyond the local recognition many aluminum brands have.
Oddly enough, there does not seem to be as much debate about the merits of Starcraft on marine, boating, and outdoors forums as there is on nearly every other brand, despite their widespread usage. This seems to be attributed to the fact that most owners are happy with them.
The consensus seems that Starcraft boats provide a superior ride through waves due to the Power-Trac hull design.
The Power-Trac is an innovative system of machined, longitudinal ribs that flexes a bit with the waves rather than pounds through them in conjunction with their Torsion Beam Construction system.
It is noted on forums, even among non-owners, that Starcraft boats seem to have the fewest problems and complaints.
How Durable Are Starcraft Boats?
The aluminum boats that Starcraft makes are riveted. Both of their aluminum and fiberglass boats have a reputation for being tough.
There is a never-ending debate about which construction method is better for aluminum boats – riveted or welded – and partisans in both camps. However, there is no debate that it is easier to repair a failed rivet than repair a cracked welded seam.
The following is a typical forum post on Starcraft boats:
“You cannot go wrong with Starcraft. I had an ’83 Fishmaster and in ’85 upgraded to the 18′ w/115 and had it for 15 years. Another friend bought a Fishmaster shortly after my 1st purchase, and he still has it with no problems. All of our boats have seen harsh use in travel, waters, and storage in our balmy WI winters.”
[Source: Walleye Central]
What About Older Starcraft Boats?
The fact that the company has been in business for over a century and still has national name recognition is a testament to the quality boats they have produced over the years.
Many Starcraft made right up until the early 1970s had weaker transoms. They could only support outboards if they were under a certain weight. This was not initially a problem, as outboards were limited in horsepower right up until the 1960s.
With larger outboards being introduced, some of the Starcraft made to that point began having transom issues as owners got bigger outboards.
Some of their older, Offshore models had a reputation as stern-heavy and having rough rides in high chop conditions. This was before they developed their Power-Trac construction.
But overall, the older models have a good reputation, even as the company changed hands several times before returning to the Schrock family.
Do They Still Make Parts For Older Models?
Given that Starcraft has been in business for over 100 years and that the nature of their boats and manufacturing process has changed so much in that timespan, parts for the oldest models are no longer made.
Despite the company’s age and how well they are known, there is little information on older replacement parts. The company has legacy catalogs on their website but no older parts catalogs.
Some owners have found old parts through the extensive dealer network, as some dealers have been with Starcraft for many decades. Others have reported success on forums in locating rare parts by talking with the company directly.
There are several online dealers for replacement OEM parts, such as greatlakesskipper.com and boatseabass.com.
There is also a Starcraft owners’ Facebook page, through which owners may communicate with each other in looking for obscure parts.
What Are Typical Problems With Starcraft Boats?
The most common problems with Starcraft boats that turn up on forums concern the transoms.
Many Starcraft Marine aluminum boats have transoms that were all-wood or a layer of aluminum sandwiched between two layers of wood. While it is far from a common occurrence, water can get into the layers and cause rot.
In the case of the sandwich construction, it can both rot the wood and compromise the aluminum.
Some owners of aluminum models report leaks, mostly in the bilge area. This is not rare in aluminum boats, so it is probably unfair to categorize this as a Starcraft problem. Partisans do claim this is a result of riveted rather than welded hulls.
One other problem owners will occasionally run into is rotten floors on both aluminum and fiberglass models. The floors on most models are made from wood or have a wood core.
Water can often get into the wood, often through unsealed screw holes, and the wood rotates. Floors can be replaced, but it is a time and resource-consuming proposition.
It is important to point out that there is little evidence that Starcraft suffers from this problem more than other manufacturers.
How Long Do Starcraft Boats Last Compared To Similar Brands?
Starcraft boats seem to last longer than most similar brands if feedback on forums is to be believed.
It is common to find owners who have had Starcraft boats for 10 to 20 years without having any problems. The quote above is typical of most Starcraft owners.
That being said, it is important to take care of your boat and perform regular maintenance. Even the most solid boats will decline if left exposed and seasonal maintenance is not performed.
Do Starcraft Boats Hold Their Value?
Most Starcraft boats hold their value well compared to most other brands.
For example, a 2015 aluminum Expedition Sport 186 sold new for $23,470 that year. That boat has a current average resale value of $19,070. That is a depreciation of 19% over the first 6 years, which is favorable.
Their 2015 Limited, 2000 Fish fiberglass boat, sold new that year for $25,104. Currently, the average resale value on that boat is $20,330, for depreciation of 19% again.
Their Majestic Starliner 256 pontoon boat was sold in 2015 for $58,658. That model has a current average resale value of $45,700. That is a 22% depreciation.
Are Starcraft Boats Still Being Made?
Starcraft Marine, now part of Smoker Craft, Incorporated, still makes a large number and variety of boats.
They are manufactured at the Smoker Craft plant in New Paris, Indiana, and have over 500 employees. They make boats out of fiberglass and aluminum and have a wide range of pontoon boats.
They have a solid warranty (their Lifetime +6″ warranty) and an extensive dealer network.
They divide their boats into four general categories: Deckboat, Fishing, Utility, and Pontoon boats.
Their pontoon boats are divided into 9 different lines; their utility boats are split into 7 different lines; their deck boats are split into 8 different lines; their fishing boats are split into 7 different lines.
All told, there are nearly 100 different models of boat offered currently by Starcraft Marine. They do not give prices online; instead, they refer you to a dealer.
Starcraft Marine is a major manufacturer of boats in the USA, with a long tradition of quality that most owners readily attest to.
While it is straightforward to find online complaints about almost every other brand in this price range, they are less common with Starcraft, and they are almost universally regarded as good boats.