Tom Slayton
Tom Slayton

September 17th, 2007, 4:51 pm #131

I appreciate the comments. With old fiberglass Chris Craft boats out there, the hobbyist has no need to spend hard earned cash on a new boat. If we have to rebuild this motor, we'll do so with the understanding that we plan to keep the boat and run it long and hard. Even with a rebuild, the ultimate cost of a full restoration with "as new" relibility is about a third the cost of a new boat that would do what this one will do, and the new one would look like a plastic jelly bean.

Our next project is going to be to do some major cosmetic work on our 1956 17' Chris Craft Sportsman Utility. It also has a 327 but with a little more power. It's wood, so I'll have to get back into the varnish thing, but I've done it numerous times before. Wood boats are great fun, but the classic glass is the way to go if you want something that will run long and hard with minimum concerns about the hull and finish. Every time we took the mahogany boats out, we were always very concerned about getting a scrape, etc.

I appreciate your comments, thank you, all the best.

Paul
Paul, I was ever so pleased to see you finally got this boat on the water, and it is impressive to see how good it looks afloat! Here's hoping you have many years of great service with this unique Skiff. I'm sure you will get a lot of rubbernecking, wondering what it is. Not many of those still on the water these days.

It may not be a Commander, but it is still a very desirable Chris Craft.

Tom

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James Brunette
James Brunette

September 17th, 2007, 5:06 pm #132

After our run on the river we came back for another pass at the marina and we pulled up to the party dock. Alan Jackson had a few guys working on his spectacular new 1959 Rybovitch (more on THAT later !!)and they turned their heads and watched as we burbled by. Not only did they LOOK, they looked twice, lol. They are pretty boat savvy, being tasked with maintaing some of the finest vintage boats in the country. Later when one of the guys came over to look and chat a while, he said "we heard you coming, and we thought it must be Alan". Yes, this boat sounds great !!







Fun on the water Tennessee style ! I wish we got this boat on the water earlier, but in reality, we would not have used it in the 108-degree sweltering heat of the summer. It is amazing, just after September 1, it was like turning a big switch, and the weather suddenly became quite beautiful again. We got a little rain, and today I couldn't have asked for a prettier day. Thankfully, our season is long, so we'll be running this boat a lot until it freezes!

Regards,

Paul
Paul,

I recall seeing your photos of faithfully rebuilding the seat structure, and how you measured the original seats and all. Those seats look marvelous, and right out of 1966. I see they have the same C-shaped marine hardware hinge too, and fold down just like my Commander.

Here are some of the pics from my bookmarked seat rebuilding files. Thanks for posting all this info, by the way, because I will be doing the same thing with our Commander seats in the near future. After seeing how good yours look, I see no reason not to stay with the original seats.










In addition, I do not recall ever seeing a runabout with the backward facing seat cushion in the front cockpit like this. It is a great place for kids or adults to go if they just came out of the water and don't want to be exposed to the wind.

Nice work, and thank you again, for sharing all of this work.

James


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Rickard
Rickard

September 17th, 2007, 11:42 pm #133

Paul, I was ever so pleased to see you finally got this boat on the water, and it is impressive to see how good it looks afloat! Here's hoping you have many years of great service with this unique Skiff. I'm sure you will get a lot of rubbernecking, wondering what it is. Not many of those still on the water these days.

It may not be a Commander, but it is still a very desirable Chris Craft.

Tom
Congrats Paul, you have done a very nice work with that boat.

Regards

Rickard
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Joined: January 4th, 2006, 10:39 pm

September 19th, 2007, 12:15 am #134

I wanted to add my name to the list of people saing "well done". I have followed this project of yours for months, living a vicarious life (inexpensively) by watching your step by step progress with this boat. By doing so, I now have a good idea of how much time it will take, and what to look for, etc., and I am considering doing the same sometime in the future. It looks like great fun, we have a good place to do the work, and I will be keeping a look-out for a suitable boat.

Good job, Paul.

Howard
Huntsville, Alabama
1967 Commander Express

howard at howardechols@hotmail.com
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Joined: March 14th, 2006, 3:44 pm

September 19th, 2007, 11:15 pm #135

The restoration looks first rate Paul. Well done.
If you're looking for a little something to keep you busy over the upcoming winter months, there's another one here in Pt.Breeze for sale. I think it has been posted on the Forum. A little rougher than the one you bought,but what the heck, you're up for it!!!
Regards,Steve
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Paul
Paul

September 20th, 2007, 12:21 am #136

I have it sort of out of my system right now, not looking for another boat project in the near future, ha. My project is far from being anywhere near some of the projects showcased here, but it was enough to get it out of my system for a while. I admit, the boat was more work than I anticipated, and once I got into it, there was nowhere to go but FINISH IT ! Nobody was going to finish it for me, so it was something I had to focus on. Actually, I also admit to having a ball. It was great fun, but it lasted too long because I have too many other distractions right now.

In any case, thanks for the vote of confidence. I'll pass for awhile on the boat projects, thank-you-very-much!

Regards, all the best, we still love the boat, thanks for the tip!

Paul
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Paul
Paul

October 8th, 2007, 12:04 am #137

First, here is a link to the thread "first look inside", showing what the boat looked like when it arrived in Nashville, after being shipped from the south shore of Lake Ontario.http://www.network54.com/Forum/424840/m ... 1162070768



This boat was built in the Cortland, New York, Chris Craft Corsair Division's plant, where the 19' Commander Super Sport and 23' Commander were built two years later. 70 were built in 1966, and 10 in 1967.


Well today I can announce that all the vinyl covered panels, all flooring, all interior trim of any kind, the gear selector, steering wheel, steering system, gauges, are out of the boat. It's basically a bare hull with lots of stuff inside now that needs to be cleaned up. I plan to take a pressure washer and shop vac to it tomorrow, but for today all the major disassembly is done.

The motor runs, the new (old) transmission is here, along with four spare exhaust logs and a couple risers.

The gear selector is from MORSE, and it's a good unit, but heavily pitted. I'm going to have it restored and replated instead of using a new one. The funky steering wheel is going to be powder coated and reused too. Gauges have been sent off for restoration.

I am quite amazed at the sheet after sheet of vinyl plywood that has come out of this thing! Two layers of side panels, one to line the inside of the long ski storage pocket, and they extend all the way to the bow of the boat. Numerous other fit and finish pieces, all wrapped with vinyl. Just looking at all those copper staples, now I know I must buy an electric staple gun for this project, because I don't think my hands will survive a million concussions with the old mechanical style. Since so much of this boat is flatwork, I plan to do that because it's so easy to do. I'll do that in my shop during the coldest weather of the season, and I'll be out in my "boat capsule" when weather will permit. The reassembly process should be very fast and rewarding.

Yes, I've purchased one of those (Cortland) New York boats built in the Finger Lake region, so the two guys who are most likely to see another one are Bill and Tom, because I don't think there would be too many of these that ever got south of the Mason Dixon line, and fewer that would still be on the water today. Our goal when finished, is to have "an original 1966 condition 20' fiberglass Chris Craft Sea Skiff" to dock along side our 1966 38 Commander. If the restoration is good enough, I'll be taking this one to the Mt. Dora 2008 boat show. The ACBS recognizes any boat of 1968 or older as a "Modern Classic" and I suspect there will be a lot of pretty informed boaters down there who have never even seen one of these low production boats. Most people would fail the test when asked "did Chris Craft ever build a fiberglass Sea Skiff". The correct answer is "yes"

I am very impressed with the integrity and sensible construction used on this boat. It is VERY STRONG, and it is built EXACTLY like the Commander series. It has transverse and longitudinal hollow fiberglass box beams, just like a Commander. There is NO WOOD that comes in contact with water. The engine stringers are wood, but they are free standing heavy timber pieces that span from fiberglass to fiberglass.

Encapsulated marine plywood has been bonded to the inner wall of the fiberglass hull with polyester fiberglassed straps, to serve as a medium to screw into and hold those vinyl finish panels. They all look perfectly preserved.

The windshield has to come off in order to get the minor pitting out of the aluminum frame. The upholstry (seats) will be a pretty easy job, and it will have to match the motor box (which is presently intact, but needing a top and needing a through going over to tighten everything up.

I'm not sure if the motor will have to come out at this point or not. I was optimistic when I got it started, but the freeze plugs are steel and rusted out(the 327 block is an automotive transplant) and they are darn near impossible to get at because the motor mounts are in the way. The new Paragon transmission is a beast, and it won't fit onto the motor without the motor being lifted, so it looks like I'm in for a weekend of wrestling with some big iron. Not sure just how that's going to be done, but rest assured, "it will be done".

Janet spent the day at the lake house with her family, and she said early this morning, "you have to work on the boat today". I smiled when I heard that, and I asked her to repeat it so I could savor the moment, ha !

I'll post some photos later this eve when I get a chance to upload them.

Regards, Paul



After a year of restoration work, part time here and there, this is the almost end result. The windshield isn't installed yet, but as you can see, she's a runner! I discovered the motor is actually an automotive block, with higher compression than the 8.0:1 Chris Craft 327F, this one has 8.5:1 and the lowest power rating for that motor was 250-hp. This boat will FLY !!


Here are more brochures
http://www.network54.com/Forum/424840/m ... 1170963414

Here's what one sounds like (mine being test run while on the trailer)







July 2009 UPDATE: New Videos and Photos ! The boat is running great, and gets compliments where-ever we go. I have yet to compound out the hull and get the Chris Craft script rechromed.

Quiet morning July of 2009, birds were chirping, then the 327F was fired up.
Turn up your speakers for this one, even though it's a small block, it is a BEAST !










Here she is July 2009 at speed on the Cumberland, in front of Alan Jackson's fish camp.






Well today we ran the boat for the second time, and this time we ran it hard and long. It was a chance to try out the new carb. Yes, I still have the old ignition points, but I added the new plug wires and new plugs too. The new carb worked very well, but it appears there is too much carb at wide open throttle. We'll take care of that with a jet change.

The good news, is the boat ran like a scalded cat. At first we blew some oil smoke. The boat actually has not run long enough to burn off the ATF and motor oil that got into the exhaust manifold and exhaust pipes. I oiled everything down bigtime before spinning the motor, and the low temp idle runs I've had in the driveway have not gotten the system hot enough to burn all the oil away. That's my theory anyway.

After checking to be sure the tightened rudder log and shaft log was not taking on water, we fired it up and let it circulate some water. It drew a crowd!! People were asking lots of questions, two women said they loved the color, ha ha.

Today we were prepared for photos too, and we had a 31' Commander Sedan powered by twin 327Q motors as our photo boat !!!!!!!!

Here is a photo of my mom and dad, who gave me a hand, took the speed photos, and paced me on the river in their 31' Commander.



After the obligatory check-this-check-that routine, we finally pushed off and did a little testing of the transmission linkage. I found out the transmission was not full of ATF last time, and I was hopefull the shifting would improve this time. It did.




It was a beautiful day in Tennessee, just spectacular in every way. This photo shows the boat being tested in forward and reverse, just checking things. That's my mother watching!! It was a fun family event.


more photos in next posting...................

regards, Paul





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Paul
Paul

October 8th, 2007, 12:13 am #138

Testing reverse, staying clear of the PWC, depth gauge working, motors running cool, sounds good, bilge pump standing ready, I guess it's time??







I took on an additional ten gal of fuel, good ole 93 octane marine gas, 4-bucks a gal (less 25% for club members).

I hovered out here while mom and dad walked over to their Commander and pulled around to pace me. From here, off we went down the channel to the beautiful Cumberland River.

I was out there waiting on them to cast off and bring the 31' Commander around. Here is what they saw when they exited the channel. See what I said......pretty day !!



More photos in next posting...............


Regards,

Paul
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Paul
Paul

October 8th, 2007, 12:19 am #139


This photo I'm pouring the coals to it. She rides flat, high and dry, never any concern at all.


Here are another few passes, not full speed, just some documentary photos. Sun angle varied, because I was running both way, literally running circles around the photo boat. What FUN !! There are some really great close up images in the next thread, check em out.








Here I'm coming up on that 31' Commander, photo was taken from the fore deck.




More photos in the next posting............. (some great close up shots )

Regards,

Paul

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Paul
Paul

October 8th, 2007, 12:26 am #140


How's this!! Just motoring down the blue waterway at a nice rpm. Man, this was some fun, and such a relief after all the work I put into this boat !! Check out those tail pipes, pumping lots of water and sounding like a Corvette!!

Interesting thing I noticed about the boat, the deep V (or semi-deep V) makes it track beautifully, and it will respond to the steering, but it will NOT do the ski-boat slide turn. If you want to turn sharply, like a full speed turn on the river, you'll do well to back off and slow down, because it is not a flat transom, and it therefore won't turn anywhere as fast as a ski boat will.









Photos of the photo boat and photographer in the next posting....................

Regards,

Paul


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