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Kit Boat assembly

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scalertom
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Kit Boat assembly

Post by scalertom » Wed Jan 21, 2015 12:33 pm

Good morning. My name is Tom Cunningham and on the board of directors in the ACBS/PNW Chapter, and live in Tacoma, WA. My question is if you have any information on a company, that is not in existence any more, that put together Chris-Craft kit boats? Their name was The Tacoma Boat Mart. I have a few photo's of cruisers being assembled but very little information on length and models that were offered. I'm trying to put together a article for our chapters monthly newsletter The Wet Edge. Any information from you would be appreciated.

Thank you,
Tom Cunningham.

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Al Benton
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Re: Kit Boat assembly

Post by Al Benton » Wed Feb 18, 2015 4:06 pm

Tom, sorry for not noticing this inquiry sooner. I know nothing about The Tacoma Boat Mart but I am curious about them, when they were in business and if they were working closely with Chris-Craft Boat Kit Division at the time. Most of these kits were produced in Caruthersville, MO and shipped out to customers, distributors and dealers from there. When the facility was closed, the records were not salvaged and most are now long gone. But there may be some mention of Tacoma Boat Mart in some correspondence that resides in The Mariners' Museum.

Some Kit Boat Cruisers are known to exist that appear to have a traditional hull (double planking on whit oak frames) below the chines and plywood construction from the chines up. Its hard to imagine that these hulls would have been shipped in kit form to individual customers, along with the materials to complete them. It is more feasible that Chris-Craft may have worked with one or more companies which would have been able to receive a pre-assembled hull for a 31-foot Express Cruiser. The Tacoma Boat Mart may have been one of them (or the only one).

Lets see if we can get Patti Hinson, Curator for the Chris-Craft Collection at The Mariners' Museum Library tuned into this topic. She may be aware of, or could research this and answer your question.
Al
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Greg Wallace
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Re: Kit Boat assembly

Post by Greg Wallace » Thu Feb 19, 2015 8:36 am

Perhaps this firm was a Chris Craft Dealer who found a demand for "assembled" Kit boats and was simply ordering Kits and sold them fully assembled. This practice along with other factors contributed to the introduction of the Cavalier Div.
Greg Wallace 23 Custom 22166 former Chris-Craft dealer Russells Point, Oh.

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Al Benton
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Re: Kit Boat assembly

Post by Al Benton » Thu Feb 19, 2015 2:44 pm

True! Many have heard Chris Smith (founder's grandson) tell his story of dealers ordering pre-assembled boat kits to display in their showrooms. Customers began to purchase the kit boat rather than ordering the boat kits. Note: it's a "Boat Kit" until its assembled. Then it became a "Kit Boat". The dealers simply ordered another assembled one. The demand for this increased over time, which led to the beginning of the Cavalier Division.

I might also add that the Boat Kit Division of Chris-Craft brought about changes to the way their Main Division built all of their products. Beginning in 1953 the 17-foot Sportsman hull was constructed using the same frame designs that the boat kits were using. The traditional 7-piece frames were replaced with 3-piece frames of wider material that were easily planked with large sheets of plywood. They were wide enough to support the flat sole without additional framing. Chris-Craft still applied solid mahogany planking to the plywood inner planking. This was eventually used on most, if not all Main Division hulls beginning in 1959.
Al
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