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1956 30' Sea Skiff Cabin Cruiser Restoration

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PaulK
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1956 30' Sea Skiff Cabin Cruiser Restoration

Post by PaulK » Thu Mar 13, 2014 7:57 pm

Hi All,

This is my first post as I am just starting a complete restoration of a 1956 30' Sea Skff Cabin Cruiser. Now that I have started I am already asking myself questions as I uncover her from years of paint. I have stripped the Starboard side half way and found where I think there was a boarding ladder attached. Does anyone know what this ladder might have looked like?
photo (2).JPG
Also, does anyone have a boat or pictures of one like this? I would really love to trade stories and pics with someone who has one or knows about them. I cannot find a pic of one exactly like this on google.
photo (1).JPG
Any and all help is much apprciated.

Many thanks in advance!

Paul K in Mount Clemens, MI
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evansjw44
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Re: 1956 30' Sea Skiff Cabin Cruiser Restoration

Post by evansjw44 » Sat Mar 15, 2014 10:12 am

I had a '58 30' skiff express hard top and my father had a '59 30' skiff hard top as well. I know h]those boats well. I sometoimes wish I had my 30 back. I have a 35' '67 Corinthian skiff now.

As for ladders, CC offered a wood boarding ladder as an accessory but it was mounted on the transom. My 30 had one of those. My 35 has brackets like you show in the picture mounted on the hull. It is an add on purchased at a boat store. I have the ladder but I don't use it. I hae a swim deck and that seem to be sufficient.
Jim Evans

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evansjw44
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Re: 1956 30' Sea Skiff Cabin Cruiser Restoration

Post by evansjw44 » Sat Mar 15, 2014 10:22 am

As I look ate your boat it comes to mind that at some point in the 50s the 30 skiff was offered in two models. One was the express cruiser with a full galley and dinette set up as a foour-sleeper and the other was a "fisherman" wich had lower comings like your and a shortened cabin that made the back deck bigger. I saw one many years ago in CA. The one I saw in CA had a pair of Interceptor 292 CID 185 HP.

What engines does you boat have. A '56 would probably have a pair of K or KL at 95 or 105 respectively.

Note I live in the area. Sometime I'd like to see you boat.
Jim Evans

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Grant Stanfield
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Re: 1956 30' Sea Skiff Cabin Cruiser Restoration

Post by Grant Stanfield » Sat Mar 15, 2014 10:13 pm

Hi, PaulK!

WOW, WOW, WOWWWWWWWW !!!!

I'm really excited to see your new project boat; she's absolutely GORGEOUS!

What I believe you have here is a VERY early and VERY rare 1955-only 30' Sea Skiff open express. Take very good care of her, you may never see another just like it!

I recently owned a 1955 18' Open Sea Skiff, and had been looking (in vain) for a printed copy of the 1955 Sea Skiff brochure; when I finally found an 'e-copy' I was surprised to see that the 1955 30' and 35' cruisers had a completely different silhouette from the more well-known 1956-59 models...It looks like the very earliest 30' and 35' designs were significantly altered for the 1956 model year.

This first picture shows a typical 30' Sea Skiff- a very handsome boat with a hardtop and full cockpit coamings formed by long, drawn-out extensions to the cabin sides, just like many carvel-planked CC cruisers of that period like the wooden Commander or Capitan models...
Sea Skiff cruiser.jpg
What I found in the 1955 brochure only, was a slimmer, sleeker pair of 30' and 35' cruisers with less freeboard, slightly different dimensions, and a graceful, low-cut cockpit coaming that curved up and back under the roof overhang in a graceful arc. The layout of the cabin was specific to this first design, AND...the engines of the 30-footer were housed in separate, raised boxes to port and starboard, rather than flush beneath the deck! This raised-box engine arrangement allowed a low cockpit and a lower, more graceful profile. Here's the cover of the '55 catalog; your girl is at center left, while the similar early 35' is bottom right:
1955 Sea Skiff brochure.jpg
Here's a photo of an early 30-foot Sea Skiff with the hardtop- notice the different profile:
2-sleeper.jpg
Here's another shot of an early 35' Sea Skiff cruiser- note again the long low curve at the cockpit and the longer rear roof overhang:
Sea Skiff.jpg
Here's another advertisement of the earliest Sea Skiffs; the initial-design 30' Sea Skiff (with hardtop) is at bottom:
CCseaskiffs.jpg
My 1955 'e-brochure' (still looking for a hard copy to purchase) notes that Diesel power was an option only in 1955 on these cruisers, and also notes the availability of an Open Express for the 30 (without a fixed hardtop), which I believe is your boat. What is remarkable is the additional rail detail extending beyond the side glass on the flybridge of your open example; these would have framed a small piece of canvas whip-stitched into place as a windbreak. I believe the spray rails at the bow were added later, as well as the bow pulpit.

It's a really, really handsome boat, Paul...absolutely stunning. Be proud of your rare find, and keep us Sea Skiffers posted as your work progresses!

All the best!
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Grant Stanfield

SK-22-169 "DENBY"
1954 Chris-Craft 22' Open Sea Skiff

PaulK
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Re: 1956 30' Sea Skiff Cabin Cruiser Restoration

Post by PaulK » Sun Mar 16, 2014 8:17 am

Grant and Jim,

Thank you for the detailed replies and the compliments! As soon as I saw her I had to buy her! Just about everyone thinks I am crazy for buying and restoring a wood boat so it is nice to hear from people who have the same disorder!

It is interesting because the paperwork I have some says '55 and some says '56. I spent a day cleaning the bilge and could not find the hull number but I suspect I will find it as I get more into it. I am looking forward to sending away to the mariners museum to get the hull card once I find that number. Any advice on where it might be on this boat...I have look in all the "spots" everyone says to look. I will look some more.

An interesting note is the my engines are 283 chevys and are mounted completely under a flush deck. this was another thing I liked about this boat...it has a big open deck.

I will keep you guys updated on the restoration progress. I am planning a complete overhaul and will have lots of questions I am sure. My plan is to keep the original spirit of the boat in the restoration while modernizing the systems and making the boat work for our family. She has a teak fore deck gunwales that is shot but I like it and am going to replace it....however I don't think it is original....do you know of these being offered with such a teak deck?

I am a professional wood worker so that part of the equation is no problem and I have a great dry, well lit big space to do the work. I will do her proud!

Thanks again!

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evansjw44
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Re: 1956 30' Sea Skiff Cabin Cruiser Restoration

Post by evansjw44 » Sun Mar 16, 2014 1:00 pm

As far as I know, 283s won't fit under the deck of a pre- 1958 sea skiff 30ft cruiser. In 1959, if you ordered the 283s CC raised the deck and hard top 2 inches or so as to accomodate the extras height of the V8. The largest 6 cylinder available in 1958 and 1959 was the M, and they just barely fit. Standard power was a pair of K or KL.

This brings me back to the early skiff I saw in CA years ago that had the Interceptor (Ford) Y-Block V8s. They had lower profiles as they used two Carter single barrell side draft carbs to get the height down. Graymarine and Chrysler used the Carter side drafts too. The side drafts liked to dump fuel on the back of the engine so the Insurance Industry condemed them

Since you skiff doesn't have a hard top it would be pretty easy to raise the deck 2 inches to fit the 283s.

As for the foredeck, the foredecks were painted canvas covered plywood. Someone added the teak during her lifetime.

The hull number is stamped into the inside engine stringer behind the starboard engine mount.
Jim Evans

PaulK
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Re: 1956 30' Sea Skiff Cabin Cruiser Restoration

Post by PaulK » Sun Mar 16, 2014 4:16 pm

Jim,

That is really interesting.....so maybe someone raised the deck or it is not a '55 or '56 (I am going to scour around that area for the hull number!) That also explains a bit of another thing I have been thinking about...I am 6'2" and standing at the helm look directly at the wiper motor and top of the windshield frame. I have been considering/debating as to if I should build a new windshield that is a bit higher. I just don't want to make the boat look funny! but I am concern that having to crouch while driving will look funny and cause all kinds of havoc on my back!

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mfine
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Re: 1956 30' Sea Skiff Cabin Cruiser Restoration

Post by mfine » Sun Mar 16, 2014 4:31 pm

I didn't think CC started using the 283 until the 1959 model year, maybe 1958. I would be surprised if CC had a 283 in 1955 or 1956 since Chevy didn't start using them until 1957. In 1955 it would have been a 265 and I have never heard of one of those in Chris-Craft trim.

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mfine
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Re: 1956 30' Sea Skiff Cabin Cruiser Restoration

Post by mfine » Sun Mar 16, 2014 4:34 pm

Also, around 1961 CC introduced the low profile 283 with a shorter intake and carb that knocked 3.5" off the height. A 1961 or later low profile 283 might fit under the deck of a boat that would not hold the 1959 version.

Edit: Lots of 283 info in this thread: http://www.chris-craft.org/discussion/v ... hp?p=35575

PaulK
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Re: 1956 30' Sea Skiff Cabin Cruiser Restoration

Post by PaulK » Wed Mar 19, 2014 6:58 am

I found my Hull Number (i think)!

It was on the starboard engine stringer aft of the engine just like it is supposed to be....I just never looked that far back. Right there plain as day.

SK 30 207

I am going to send away for my Hull Card.

Does this tell any of you guys anything?

Thanks

Paul

farupp
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Re: 1956 30' Sea Skiff Cabin Cruiser Restoration

Post by farupp » Wed Mar 19, 2014 8:26 am

Paul, according to page 535 of "The Essential Guide" your boat is a 30 foot 2 sleeper. However, it is listed as a Semi-Enclosed Sleeper. The picture on that page has the hardtop which yours does not have. The Guide does not show the 30 foot Express Cruiser for 1956.The serial numbers for the 2 sleeper are SK-30-201 to SK-30-265. So it appears that your hull is very early in the production series. Yours is a beautiful boat; a gorgeous design.
Frank Rupp
1959 22-foot Sea Skiff Ranger
283 Flywheel Forward engine

PaulK
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Re: 1956 30' Sea Skiff Cabin Cruiser Restoration

Post by PaulK » Wed Mar 19, 2014 9:40 am

Thanks for the info Frank....I cannot wait to get the hull card!

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