Rare Thompson spotted last night at our marina boat ramp

Rare Thompson spotted last night at our marina boat ramp

Paul
Paul

June 22nd, 2008, 12:28 pm #1



Well I was at a BBQ party last night and got up to use the rest room and I couldn't believe what I saw being hauled up the boat ramp. I really had to do a double take.

It was this hull, with a factory cruisette cabin and stand up helm/windshield combination. As I looked closer, it had the "THOMPSON" name written in script on the side of the cabin, and there was no Chris Craft in the name. It said "Thompson of Wisconsin", but that hull was an identical 20 to the one in this image, and identical to my Chris Craft Sea Skiff too.

Topsides were all different, no clamshells to identify, dashboard was totally different. I thought for sure I would see something that tied the boat to Chris Craft, but nothing.

Now I'm really wondering........whether they shared molds, or whether the Cortland New York plant may have built a few boats for the Wisconsin plant, which were operating with almost the same name, due to family association, but were really different plants under different ownership. They may still have had an alliance where they traded some hulls for marketing purposes, etc.

When Chris Craft bought the Thommpson Boat Company of New York, there was already a fiberglass operation of some kind there. I understand there was also some sort of fiberglass operation under way in Wisconsin too. There was some thought this hull may have been pulled from a wood boat, and I will post some images of wood boats built by Thompson that look darn near identical to this hull, so there may be some truth in it.

The guy had no idea what his boat was. I looked where the serial numbers should be and they were gone, sanded out, bondo covered, and the upper hull had been painted. He said he bought it as junk, fixed it up, and now the kids love it. He also said the owner of a local marina tried to buy it, and now after talking with me, he understands why. Ha.

I'll try to find a photo of this one, sadly I didn't have a camera with me.

After that, I went back and ate more BBQ, had a couple more beers.

Regards,

Paul
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Paul
Paul

June 22nd, 2008, 10:39 pm #2

I looked at my Skiff hull again today, and I see it has a lapstrake bottom while this boat I saw yesterday had a smooth bottom with non-lifting strakes. The sides of the boat and such, look ever so similar. It may be the same general mold, with an improved bottom that Chris Craft eventually put into productiofn as the Corsair (or in my case, the Sea Skiff).

Very strange bit of early fiberglass history was at the docks yesterday.

Paul
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John Kloka
John Kloka

June 23rd, 2008, 2:18 am #3

Paul, you're like a marine archaeologist. If I know you, won't rest until you've gotten to the bottom of this mystery. Keep us posted, this is a rather intriguing conundrum!
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Paul
Paul

June 23rd, 2008, 6:09 pm #4



Well I was at a BBQ party last night and got up to use the rest room and I couldn't believe what I saw being hauled up the boat ramp. I really had to do a double take.

It was this hull, with a factory cruisette cabin and stand up helm/windshield combination. As I looked closer, it had the "THOMPSON" name written in script on the side of the cabin, and there was no Chris Craft in the name. It said "Thompson of Wisconsin", but that hull was an identical 20 to the one in this image, and identical to my Chris Craft Sea Skiff too.

Topsides were all different, no clamshells to identify, dashboard was totally different. I thought for sure I would see something that tied the boat to Chris Craft, but nothing.

Now I'm really wondering........whether they shared molds, or whether the Cortland New York plant may have built a few boats for the Wisconsin plant, which were operating with almost the same name, due to family association, but were really different plants under different ownership. They may still have had an alliance where they traded some hulls for marketing purposes, etc.

When Chris Craft bought the Thommpson Boat Company of New York, there was already a fiberglass operation of some kind there. I understand there was also some sort of fiberglass operation under way in Wisconsin too. There was some thought this hull may have been pulled from a wood boat, and I will post some images of wood boats built by Thompson that look darn near identical to this hull, so there may be some truth in it.

The guy had no idea what his boat was. I looked where the serial numbers should be and they were gone, sanded out, bondo covered, and the upper hull had been painted. He said he bought it as junk, fixed it up, and now the kids love it. He also said the owner of a local marina tried to buy it, and now after talking with me, he understands why. Ha.

I'll try to find a photo of this one, sadly I didn't have a camera with me.

After that, I went back and ate more BBQ, had a couple more beers.

Regards,

Paul
It’s 1963, Chris Craft JUST bought Thompson Boat Company of New York. This is what they were selling at the Thompson plant at the time. This is during the very last phase of wood Thompson boats in New York. During this time frame, a new plant was being built for the specific purpose of building the Chris Craft Sport Boats. If you look closely, you will see the Corsair name. Note the fact that the wood boats are also using an outdrive, which Thompson had pioneered.








Although these boats were built from traditional wood construction, they were quickly reproduced in fiberglass too, with almost the same identical lines. This is the very point when Chris Craft was transitioning over to glass boats. Thompson was used for the initial test run.

Just LOOK at that 20' transdrive Skiff made from wood, and then look at the 20' transdrive Corsair that popped up a year or two later. It's the same hull, only in glass.

regards,

Paul

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Paul
Paul

June 23rd, 2008, 6:12 pm #5

As one of the very first fiberglass boats out of Cortland, under Chris Craft management and ownership. This must be a very rare bird, one of the very first. This one is a 23’ Corsair with smooth hull, Interceptor power of 130-hp, and an 8’ beam. It still has NY registry, and probably never got too far away from home. I seriously doubt if they made many of these, and doubt even more if many ever crossed the NY state line.







Note the use of outdrive which Thompson had pioneered.

Regards,
Paul
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Paul
Paul

June 23rd, 2008, 6:21 pm #6

Very shortly thereafter, Thompson fiberglass boats started showing up from Cortland, New York, under Chris Craft ownership and management. You can see here, what had been wood a year earlier is now fiberglass, but looking very much the same as the original wood Thompsons. Outdrive is still an option. The Corsair Division was born, and a Lancer model was being introduced too! This is right about the time (late 1963 and early 1964) when the final touches were being put on the first 38' Chris Craft Commander Express. All the resin and fiberglass technology was being tested and refined during this time frame. That foam filled sandwich system we saw on a few boats was quietly dropped. The decisions Chris Craft made under their new ownership by NAFI (National Automotive Fibers, Inc.) were all good ones during this time frame. Chris Craft had very good managment and leadership through this part of it's history.






By the time 1966 rolled around, Chris Craft was calling the boats the new Corsair, and they looked like this.


By the time 1967 rolled around, here is what the model line was looking like.


It is also noted, Chris Craft not only was acquired by NAFI, and then turned around and bought Thompson, they also took action to be sure they had the best designers available too. They brought Dick Avery on board from the Lincoln/Mercury division of FoMoCo, and they also got Jim Wynne to design some of the hulls for what would eventually become the Lancer and 19' and 23' Commanders.

Chris Craft was on the move, in the right direction, and had their eye on the ball!

regards,

Paul


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Paul
Paul

June 23rd, 2008, 6:46 pm #7

Paul, you're like a marine archaeologist. If I know you, won't rest until you've gotten to the bottom of this mystery. Keep us posted, this is a rather intriguing conundrum!
I sent an email to Andreas Rhude, the foremost authority on Thompson boats I know, and I am hopeful he'll share some info about this particular "cruisette" Thompson, and also share some info on the activity at the Thompson plant in Cortland immediately after Thompson was acquired by Chris Craft.

Regards,

Paul
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John Kloka
John Kloka

June 24th, 2008, 2:36 am #8

I love it when Paul gets going on a mission! Maybe your friend Andreas can tell us how T & T Boats fit into the picture... I was led to believe that this was wood boat venture undertaken by the former Thompson crew after seeling to C.C., but I would be interested in knowing the real/whole story...

John Kloka.
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Steve
Steve

June 24th, 2008, 12:09 pm #9

As one of the very first fiberglass boats out of Cortland, under Chris Craft management and ownership. This must be a very rare bird, one of the very first. This one is a 23’ Corsair with smooth hull, Interceptor power of 130-hp, and an 8’ beam. It still has NY registry, and probably never got too far away from home. I seriously doubt if they made many of these, and doubt even more if many ever crossed the NY state line.







Note the use of outdrive which Thompson had pioneered.

Regards,
Paul
Paul,
I've said it before and I'll say it again, I love those old scans. My hard drive is filling up with all the past and current brochure scans, the wife thinks I'm nuts, and she's right, but I like framing all that old stuff. Keep them coming! By the way, love the video and hope to hear my starboard 427 fire up tonight after replacing the spent fuel pump...
Steve
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John Kloka
John Kloka

June 24th, 2008, 12:46 pm #10

Now I know why, on such a gorgeous Sunday on Lake St. Clair, Klokanuts was out and Bear-Z-Girl was nowhere to be found!

Klokanuts.
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