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background info on 1955 express cruiser outboard

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bracydb
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background info on 1955 express cruiser outboard

Post by bracydb » Mon Jun 08, 2009 6:16 pm

I've been looking for info about these boats, but have never seen one. Mariners Museum only had a couple of brochure pics. How many are out there? This one also has a 1956 Mercury Mark 75 outboard with 166 hours. I am deciding whether to fix up or sell to someone with more time. Background info would be much appreciated.
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Al Benton
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Post by Al Benton » Mon Jun 08, 2009 9:23 pm

Welcome to Boat Buzz.

Chris-Craft sold these mainly as kits. They shipped 1,950 of them un-assembled. They also assembled 183 of them. These could have been sold through Montgomery Ward or Sears catalogs. I believe some were used as displays at Chris-Craft Dealerships as well. The assembled ones had a hull number which should have hull cards on file at the Mariners' Museum.

There's no way of knowing how many may have survived over the years. This is the first one I have seen. Have you searched through her for any sign of numbers? The numbered ones were KD-18-451 to KD-18-633.

Al

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Post by Wood Commander » Mon Jun 08, 2009 10:00 pm

At our recent "The Wet Edge" symposium in Seattle, we had Herb Pocklington as our keynote speaker. Herb is the oldest living Chris Craft executive and has a wonderful knowledge of our favorite boat company and is extremely interesting and a great guy to boot!

He told me the story about how the company was selling the kit boats and the dealers kept asking them to build them one to have in their showrooms for the customers to see what they looked like when they were built.
The trick part of the story was that the dealers kept selling the "demonstration" boats and would then ask the company for another built up unit for display.

Eventually the company got tired of being "tricked" by the dealers and started up the Cavalier line to sell the plywood boats that had been the meat and potatoes of the kit boat line, and added even more and bigger models as well.

Thanks Herb, for that little gem!
Bret

1953 35' Commander "Adonis III"

1970 23' lancer project

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Al Benton
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Post by Al Benton » Mon Jun 08, 2009 10:44 pm

Bret,

Thanks for sharing that story. It's the stories like this that make Chris-Craft history even more interesting. There's several stories of like interest in Don MacKerer's "View From The Bilge". Chris Smith has shared many stories of Chris-Craft history that you can't find in books (yet).

I would be curious if the assembled boats that went to dealers were included in the numbered ones.

Order a copy of the book "View From The Bilge" on-line from The Club Store. While you're at it get a copy of "Chris-Craft on DVD". It includes an interesting segment about Chris-Craft Kit Boats.

Al

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Post by Wood Commander » Mon Jun 08, 2009 11:31 pm

Al, I already have them both! Along with a fairly substantial collection of other Chris Craft books and magazines, models, sales brochures, original magazine ads, hull tonnage and lines drawings, a small hull card collection and various engine catalogs and manuals. Not to mention several complete 1950's and 1960's helms and many parts and hardware pieces from mainly the 1950' and some from the 1960's including a complete Chris- O- Matic system from a 1957 twin- engine 27' Semi- Enclosed Cruiser (Thanks Dick D.!)

I'm truly not a well man, I've got the Chris Craft bug baaaddd!!!!!!
Bret

1953 35' Commander "Adonis III"

1970 23' lancer project

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Al Benton
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Post by Al Benton » Tue Jun 09, 2009 8:59 am

Bret, that's quite a collection of Chris-Craft Stuff, far exceeding mine.

I meant to direct the "sales pitch" to barcydb and anyone else passing through. I figured you would probably have them already. Don's book is great, very interesting reading.

On the DVD, I still get a kick out of the Gray Marine segment, ...just 22 easy to follow steps to start your new Gray Marine Diesel powered Landing Craft... , exaggerated of course but... well, it's bitter/sweet when you think of the brave men who drove these things into a war zone.

In the 1929 segment some of the craftsmen wore neck ties to work. Not only tha largest boat company but the best dressed boat builders in the world.

Al

bracydb
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Post by bracydb » Tue Jun 09, 2009 1:39 pm

Thank you very much for the info. I will order the DVD. Have to discuss refurbishment with the wife. She wants to cut it up and use it as decoration around a pond we will be building shortly. Not happening on my watch.

cgodfrey
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Post by cgodfrey » Mon Aug 10, 2009 3:55 am

bracydb, I've sent you an email regarding this boat.

I've got the exact same boat in really rough shape (we're talking a 2 out of 10) that I've been looking to restore for years, but haven't been able to find a single shred of info about it.

Chris Godfrey
[email protected]

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Al Benton
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Post by Al Benton » Mon Aug 10, 2009 9:45 am

Welcome to Boat Buzz, Chris.

As mentioned earlier there's not much information about kit boats available. You may try talking to Jerry Conrad at The Mariners' Museum regarding this particular model using the above included hull number series as a reference. He may have some history being this model was one of a few that were shipped pre-assembled. www.mariner.org go to Library then Chris-Craft. Contact information is at the bottom of the page.

Good Luck,

Al

cgodfrey
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Post by cgodfrey » Mon Aug 10, 2009 12:09 pm

I have indeed been in contact with Jerry Conrad, about three years ago. He pulled this model's folder and said that the only thing in it was dust and a xerox copy of a sales brochure that I've seen before. I was most disappointed. My grandfather bought this boat in the late 1950's from the original owner/builder. My grandfather squeezed 20 years of use out of it before it sank one summer at the dock. They retrieved it, and it sat in his yard for another 10 years before he did some hamfisted makeshift repairs for a last hurrah summer about 15 years ago before he put it back on the trailer behind the house where's it's been tragically rotting ever since.

I'm the only one who's ever shown any interest in it, except for my uncle who's itching to cut it up for the metal pieces and I know it's a MAJOR undertaking, probably beyond my skills and my budget. Even worse is that I'd never seen another one, which is why finding Dave Bracy's boat totally randomly has been a shot in the arm of excitement. I couldn't sleep last night because of it

Chris Godfrey

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Al Benton
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Post by Al Benton » Mon Aug 10, 2009 4:05 pm

Chris & Dave,

You guys may need to lean on each other for details about your boats. They may be 2 of very few left in this world. As for construction, most of the small Cavaliers produced by Chris-Craft are marine plywood on solid frames.

If frames are solid, the plywood replacement isn't all that difficult. Frame pieces needing replacement could be cut from solid Philippine mahogany using the old ones for templates. It could be done.

There are Cavalier owners here on Boat Buzz that have done this and I'm positive they will be here to answer questions and offer advice as needed.

Al

chriscraftrick
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Post by chriscraftrick » Mon Aug 10, 2009 9:18 pm

Bret, do you have the assembly manual for the Chris-O-Matic and do you know where I can get parts? I have a '54' Riviera Runabout that came from the factory with a Chris-O Matic according to the hull card. I know it was special ordered. I plan on rebuiding it over the winter. It should be simular to the cruisers. Thanks!!!

Wilson Wright
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Post by Wilson Wright » Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:41 pm

There was a picture of a 23' (I think 23') in an early Brass Bell. I can find it if you don't locate it in the archives. I think the name of the owner was mentioned although he may have gone to the great marina in the sky by now.

Jim Shotwell knows a lot about boat kits as well.

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Wilson Wright
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Chris-Craft Antique Boat Club

cgodfrey
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Post by cgodfrey » Tue Aug 11, 2009 11:36 pm

I went through the family albums, and scanned some old photos of the boat.

http://s199.photobucket.com/albums/aa12 ... =slideshow

I'm going to un-bury the boat from it's damp junk pile behind the uncle's barn this weekend. There's a very real fear that when we move it, it's going to collapse like a house of cards. I'll take some pictures if it survives.

I'll also contact Captain Jim Shotwell, if he knows where I can find some sort of technical documents related to the boat, I'll name my first born after him.

Chris Godfrey

cgodfrey
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Post by cgodfrey » Mon Aug 17, 2009 9:07 am

I dug the boat out yesterday.

http://s199.photobucket.com/albums/aa12 ... =slideshow

Thankfully, everything went much smoother than expected.

Filled up the long-flat, 40 year old tires, and they shockingly held air. We strapped the boat down like a big turkey (how apropos...) and decided to risk the trailer making one last 20 mile trip on backroads. Bearings were cooking, and I left a sprinkling of plywood mulch much of the way, but we made it.

My 82 year old Grampa kept a stiff upper lip when we dragged it out of the woods, but once we tucked into my garage, he got a bit emotional. It was clear that saving this boat from the burn pile was a big relief for him. So even though this whole project may be impractical folly, I feel good about it.

I hope to have a good half decade of dirty, dusty weekends.

Incidentally, my grampa has confirmed the boat as originally constructed in 1953.

Hopefully Dave will be able to get some more pictures of his boat as well.

Chris

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Al Benton
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Post by Al Benton » Mon Aug 17, 2009 1:47 pm

Chris,

I can understand your Grampa's emotion, heck I'm getting emotional just reading about it and seeing your photo album. As The Cable Guy would say, "git-r-dun", then take Grampa for a ride.

Al

cgodfrey
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Post by cgodfrey » Mon Aug 17, 2009 4:40 pm

No idea how or when I'm gonna get to this project. This all came up so quickly, my head's kind of spinning

My wife and I bought our first/starter home 6 months ago. The one car garage simply isn't going to be a very accomodating work space, especially in winter.

Until recently, I had unlimited access to all the pro wood shop tools I could have ever wanted, so I have a serious tool deficiency.

Plus, I haven't touched a wood boat in at least 5 years, so even if I had appropriate workspace and tools, my carpentry skills are pretty rusty.

(Oh, and my wife knows all this, yet she's keeping her opinions about my decision to herself. Yes, she's a catch)

I'm pouring over the Don Danenburg books trying to kick start some confidence and ambition, but I'm definitely a little freaked out about trying to chew what I've bitten off.

cgodfrey
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Post by cgodfrey » Sun Aug 23, 2009 2:12 pm

Added a couple pictures. Prepare to wince.

http://s199.photobucket.com/albums/aa12 ... =slideshow

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Post by Wood Commander » Sun Aug 23, 2009 4:01 pm

chriscraftrick, I just saw your post in this thread! I do have some material on Chris- O- Matics, but they are buried deep. I won't have time to look into that for some time, my schedule is killer, including a cross country trip in about a week and a half. So I won't have much time until later. Keep after me, private message me in about a month or so if you don't her from me and remind me and I'll see what I can uncover.

cgodfrey, I don't think that there are too many of the old kit boats, especially the cruisers, remaining.
Being a sort of entry- level boat, hand made from a kit, and usually a long term job, they are probably less prone to be held to "authentic" standards than other Chris Craft models might be, and I don't think that too many records were kept either.
I hope you save her and fix her up. Having those old family photos and memories along with the actual boat to go along with it is a real treasure. It would make a heck of a great human interest display at boat shows!

Also, there is a video on youtube somewhere from back in the day about the final touches being put on a CC Kit Boat cruiser, her launch, and first voyage on the Maumee River near Toledo, Ohio (god, how I miss Ohio!). Look under "Chris Craft", it might be "first voyage" or something about "launch".
Bret

1953 35' Commander "Adonis III"

1970 23' lancer project

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Post by Wood Commander » Sun Aug 23, 2009 4:06 pm

I found the video, it's called "boat launch". I'll attempt to post the URL link. Here goes-


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TqTT4m3Y0mo
Bret

1953 35' Commander "Adonis III"

1970 23' lancer project

cgodfrey
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Post by cgodfrey » Mon Jan 25, 2010 5:28 pm

Couple new photos for my slideshow.

http://s199.photobucket.com/albums/aa12 ... =slideshow

Again, as always, if anyone has any info or pictures on the 18' Kits, please contact me.

Chris Godfrey

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