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New CCABC member, first time question

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usa_won
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New CCABC member, first time question

Post by usa_won » Thu Jun 27, 2019 9:10 am

Greetings all!

New member here, first time poster. Firstly a bit of background, then on to the question(s). Long time Chris Craft fan, finally in a position to purchase in the next year or so. Recently joined CCABC and ACBS to start gathering information to make the most informed purchase possible. Of course, the more I research / read, it becomes very clear I have a LOT to learn. From original to epoxy to 5200 bottoms, KBL / 283 / 327 / 430 engine options, repowering, varnishing, bottom painting, the list just goes on and on.

With that being typed, the one thing I do NOT need at this point is a boat that needs a lot of work. I have a 2.5 year old son, and by the time he is 4-5 years old, I want to be out on the water a LOT without (major) worry of issues. I have access to a lake not 2 miles from our home, so quite literally could hook up the trailer and be on the water in 15 minutes. Being an avid classic car enthusiast (Chevy's mostly), I have done my fair share of restorations. Quite frankly, from what I can read, it appears 'buy it already restored' holds even more true for a classic wooden craft than its automotive counterpart (unless you want a project of course).

Given the aforementioned knowledge of the Chevrolet marque, having a Chris with a 283 or 327 seems to be the obvious choice. Based on research thus far, the Continental, Holiday, Capri, or Super Sport seems like solid options with 'as delivered' small block Chevy engines. Which brings me to the question(s): I understand there *are* applications (twin engine cruisers) where one engine actually has reverse rotation. I also know there are some applications in single engine crafts where the *engine itself* is in the boat 'backwards,' with the distributor moved from the 'traditional' Chevy location. What I cannot figure out is: 1) Why on earth would Chris Craft install an engine backwards? The transmission / drive seems to be much more complex than when an engine is installed 'traditionally.' In a situation where it is installed backwards, does it have reverse rotation (and a firing order different than 18436572)? I have purchased the Essential Guide to Chris Craft book (got it for a song at Half Price Books), and while it provides a plethora of knowledge for each model, it does not delve into the level of detail that would answer the question(s) above. I've also done a 'search' on here and while there is reference to engines being installed in reverse, I can't find anything finite with regards to if the reverse installed engines also spin in reverse.

Honestly, it seems from a maintenance perspective alone, having an engine installed 'the right way' (flywheel to the rear) would make logical sense. Again, I simply don't know which models would have the 'traditional' orientation vs. backwards, and that might help pare down my purchase options. Finally, being in Central Indiana, I would be interested in talking / meeting with individuals who are in relative proximity to learn as much as possible. I've been looking at 'Antique Boat America,' 'Katz' for the crafts currently available, are there any other good places to search? Are there any other recommended books / documents to purchase to help me learn more?

Thanks for reading, I look forward to 'navigating' (ha ha) my way to the 'perfect craft' for my family needs.

Brian A.

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Bilge Rat
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Re: New CCABC member, first time question

Post by Bilge Rat » Thu Jun 27, 2019 11:04 am

Welcome to the asylum!

The real reason for installing a standard car engine with the flywheel forward in a boat has to do with clearances within a decked over hull or an engine box type design. By mounting it flywheel forward, the engine profile is less at the aft end, higher at the front end. Since a straight inboard installation must pitch downward to the aft end to meet up with the prop shaft, this was actually less complicated than some sort of skewed drive to match a non-angled engine profile to the prop shaft. Chris Craft and other manufacturers were doing this flywheel forward layout for decades before the Chevy V8 came along with the 4 and 6 cylinder in line engines. Some manufacturers such as Century incorporated this clearance in the hull designs when the higher performance V8 engines were available to marine use and utilized flywheel aft design.

Some manufacturers would mount the engine facing the opposite way and used a V drive closer toward the forward part of the boat to match the prop shaft angle. This also allowed for placing the engine further aft thereby giving more cockpit room for passengers. Shepherd boats of Canada was one such manufacturer. Obviously placing the engine more central to the boat hull affects the center of gravity and planing angle versus at the back of the boat. Naval architects designed the hulls for both layouts.

A standard car engine rotates clockwise as viewed from the front. When installed backwards in a boat, it rotates counter-clockwise. This allowed for a simple 1 to 1 transmission and is why standard boat installations for a single screw boat are known as right hand rotation (when viewing the prop from the back of the boat). To counter act the tendency for prop walk in a twin engine design, the installation would have a counter rotation engine on the port side and a prop designed for this rotation. If both engines were right hand rotation, you would be forever fighting the helm to keep it tracking straight. Not so noticeable in a single screw installation.

You are correct in that with this layout, firing order may seem a bit strange as which cylinder is number 1 at which end may be different than in a car.

The 327 V8 Graymarine engine in my Lyman is flywheel forward and is coupled to a velvet drive hydraulic transmission. Different intake manifold designs would be required to keep a downdraft carb at the proper angle. This and special designs for the exhaust manifolds along with cooling modifications are what the manufacturers did when they "marinized" car engines for use in boats. Except for very early V8 engines in the 1920's Chris Craft purchased engines and made the design changes to accommodate their use in boats. The Chevy 283 V8 was not available to Chris Craft until about 1959.

The attached picture is the restored Graymarine engine prior to installation in the Lyman. You can see how lower the height is at the aft end versus a bell housing to adapt the flywheel to the transmission. Length should be less too. Engine horsepower and torque are the same at either end of the crankshaft.
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1966 Lyman Cruisette 25 foot "Serenity Now!"
1953 Chris Craft Sportsman 22 foot "Summerwind"

usa_won
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Re: New CCABC member, first time question

Post by usa_won » Thu Jun 27, 2019 1:48 pm

Thanks for the welcome BR!

Funny, i say something similar when I meet someone who just bought a Corvette to restore... ha! Also thanks for the comprehensive response, but want to make sure I understand a point. I understand when the engine is moved 180 degrees, it effectively makes it rotate the opposite direction. But to be clear, the engine itself (in a single screw craft) is still rotating the 'conventional' way (i.e. like in a car). Reason for asking is, and I don't profess to fully understand, but in order to make an engine actual 'run' in reverse, it takes a different cam, etc. As mentioned in my initial post, my intention is to have an engine as close to a 'car' engine as possible(in the sum of it's parts anyway, I understand about water jackets, different oil pans, drilled crank, etc). Between my Father and I, we have so many 283 parts it's somewhat sickening. However, IF the engine when installed backwards also RUNS backwards (and I'm pretty sure it doesn't based on your explanation), that adds even more complexity eliminates the potential use of a good portion of our spare parts (cams, distributors, etc. will not work). Which brings me back to: Is there a resource available that would identify which CC's had 283s (or 327s, as the case with the Super Sport) installed 'conventionally' vs. backwards? It appears that different length crafts (perhaps also varying by year?) of the same design (Holiday, for example) can have them installed both ways. That likely is answered by your mentioning installation location is based balance of boat, etc.Thanks again!

Brian A.

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Bilge Rat
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Re: New CCABC member, first time question

Post by Bilge Rat » Thu Jun 27, 2019 3:32 pm

Answers broken down as follows:

"But to be clear, the engine itself (in a single screw craft) is still rotating the 'conventional' way (i.e. like in a car)." Yes just mounted ass-backwards in the boat.

"Which brings me back to: Is there a resource available that would identify which CC's had 283s (or 327s, as the case with the Super Sport) installed 'conventionally' vs. backwards?" Not totally sure the source for production records on boat engine selections other than reaching out to the Mariner's Museum's Chris Craft archives. The book you said you have details available engine options only, not production hull numbers with types. Other members might chime in here with sources.
1966 Lyman Cruisette 25 foot "Serenity Now!"
1953 Chris Craft Sportsman 22 foot "Summerwind"

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Re: New CCABC member, first time question

Post by jfrprops » Fri Jun 28, 2019 10:59 am

all this started with the starter. The hand crank starter...back in the day.....most people are right handed....hence they have most strength when cranking clockwise at the front of the engine.
just a tidbit thought...

John in Va.
1980 Fairchild Scout 30
19?? custom Argentine Runabout 16'
1954 Whirlwind deluxe dual ckpt 16'
1921 Old Town Charles River 17' (founding Captain, James River Batteau Festival)

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maritimeclassics
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Re: New CCABC member, first time question

Post by maritimeclassics » Fri Jun 28, 2019 12:25 pm

So hopefully I read this right but don't really understand. My question is why would it make a difference? I really don't see how there would be any maintenance difference or advantages in working on the engine no matter which way it is pointing but I have worked on mostly boats my whole life. I know that the flywheel on a flathead 6 cylinder engine acts like a harmonic balancer and that is why it is weighted and at times you see holes drilled into it to help. I believe it would be easier for an engine to be flip around because you usually bolt a transmission to the flywheel side and but on a boat you need a different type of transmission off the crank and really that's the way the marine transmissions where made by the companies that offered them to the boat builders and the marine engine manufactures.
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1936 25' Gar Wood Custom
1947 Ventnor Hydroplane
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1948 25' Chris Craft Sportsman Twin
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1929 26' Chris Craft Custom Runabout
1937 25' Chris Craft Custom Runabout

usa_won
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Re: New CCABC member, first time question

Post by usa_won » Sat Jun 29, 2019 7:42 am

From my perspective (and with the preface that I am just starting to learn about boats):

It appears, at least from the boats / photos I've seen where the engine, in my example, a SBC, is installed 'backwards,' parts interchangeability would be much less vs. one installed 'conventionally.' For example, I don't think the distributors are the same (they are moved to the other end of the engine and the distributor 'hole' in the intake manifold is capped, for instance). Also, something as relatively simple as changing a cam becomes more difficult when the engine is installed backwards. Perhaps difficult is the wrong word, but certainly different. Again, that is a very non-experienced opinion, but I do know small block chevy's very well.

I'll continue to search, but to this point, still cannot find an authoritative site / periodical / book that outlines what models have the engines installed 'conventionally' (like in a car) vs. 'backwards.' I very much appreciate everyone's willingness to provide their wisdom in what may seem like a very odd 'first' question.

Brian A.

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Re: New CCABC member, first time question

Post by Greg Wallace » Sat Jun 29, 2019 12:43 pm

For the most part, the items you seem most concerned about...Distributor, carb, and other external accessories are not interchangeable from auto to marine application due to safety considerations (regulatory as well as practical). As far as cam changes...how often do you expect to be doing this? Probably an engine out job either way and I can pull the rev gear as fast as the front accessories. However, if you are determined to have the timing gear facing the bow (front), then you will be limited to the 283 and 327 hydraulic gear models that appeared in the mid sixties. This will provide an approximate 4 year window (64-68?) to choose from if you stick to wood...longer if glass is included. Assuming you want as original and prefer not to repower then I would pick models that appeal to you from this era and research available power to confirm your preferred architecture. The archives here and Conrad's "Essential Guide" would be a good start. If you are lucky, Jim Staib might chime in and provide the models of CC 283 and 327 with your desired architecture. Good luck and welcome aboard.
Greg Wallace 23 Custom 22166 former Chris-Craft dealer Russells Point, Oh.

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Re: New CCABC member, first time question

Post by usa_won » Mon Jul 01, 2019 10:07 am

Thanks Greg!

I have the Essential Guide, and while it does a great job of outlining certain specifics as to models, the engine orientation is not one of them. Interesting you mention 64 and up, I could almost swear that some of the early 60s Continentals had the engines mounted with the timing gear towards the bow. I very much hope Jim is willing to comment

Brian A.

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