We moved a new boat into the shop in the last few weeks, a 24′ Chris-Craft Holiday. The boat is coming to us for a no-soak 5200 bottom, minor frame repair, refastening, stripping, and refinishing of the hullsides, and new decking. When the hullsides are removed and refastened, they will be installed with 3M 5200 used as an adhesive bedding compound, this will help to stabilize the movement of the mahogany planks, resulting in a much stronger boat and longer life for the varnish finish. The photo below shows how easily we can roll over even fairly large runabouts such as this 24′ Holiday with our gantry crane. See more photos of the rollover and the entire project on our projects page.
We have reached another milestone in our restoration of a rare 1936 Chris-Craft special race boat. The installation of new decking and a new transom is completed and the photos have been added to our current projects page. There were only fifty-one of these racers originally built, and as a result of lightweight construction and hard use only a handful are still in existence.
A great resource for antique and classic boating enthusiasts is beginning to take shape at the Chris-Craft Antique Boat Club website. Bill Basler, director of marketing and membership for the club, is spearheading an effort to make the club’s entire archive of historic documents and photosÂ available online in a searchable format. When this archive is finished it will contain tens of thousands of pages covering back-issues of the Brass Bell, wiring diagrams, factory photos, engineering memos, historic magazine articles, advertising literature, and much more. The breadth of information which will eventually be contained in this archive, in a searchable format, and available to all Club Members, will undoubtedly help to take the level of authenticity and accuracy involved in the restoration of Chris-Craft’s to the next level.
At present the entire run of the Brass Bell magazine, the quarterly publication of the Chris-Craft Antique Boat Club, is available in the online archive. The March 2006 issue of the Brass Bell contains an article celebrating the beauty and rarity of the Chris-Craft 19′ Special Race Boat. In the article, Don Ayers writes that, “Nearly all the myriad Chris-Craft models have a special place in the heart of someone–often many someones–but few are in the category of the 19′ Special Race Boat.” One of these truly special race boats is currently undergoing restoration in our shop. You can follow the progress of this restoration in our photo gallery.
If you haven’t received the July/August issue of Wooden Boat magazine yet, head over to your local newsstand and check out pages 16 and 18. Tom Jackson, editor of the currents section of the magazine, has included a write-up about The Wooden Runabout Co. and our current restoration of an ultra-rare 1936 Chris-Craft 19′ special race boat. You can see photos of this restoration on the current projects section of our website.
The full text of the article reads as follows:
The Wooden Runabout Co., LLC, has opened in Holland, Michigan, with Kirk Wingard and Mike Teusink combining their 30 years of wooden boat building experience. Wingard previously spent 15 years as senior carpenter and shop foreman at Macatawa Bay Boat Works in Saugatuck. Teusink began building wooden boats during his summers off from his job as a history teacher. They combined efforts to open the new shop, starting off with a full restoration of a 1936, 19′ Chris-Craft special raceboat, one of a handful of survivors of the 51 built by the company. The first of the boats, built lightweight for speed–which is the reason so few survive today–reached an average speed of 45.023 mph at the President’s Cup Regatta in Washington, D.C., in September 1935. The shop is also working on a full restoration of a 1934 Chris-Craft 18′ runabout and refinishing two other boats, a 1937 16′ Chris-Craft special raceboat and a 1938 Century Sea-Maid. The Wooden Runabout Co. LLC, 4261 Blue Star Highway, Holland, MI 49423; 616-396-7248; <www.woodenrunabout.com>.
We just received a new boat in the shop, a 1938 Chris-Craft 19′ Custom, commonly known as a 19′ barrel back. Some of you may be chiding me that the 19′ barrel back was not introduced until the 1939 model year, which is technically correct. This boat, however, is somewhat special. It rolled off the line at the Chris-Craft plant on July 27th, 1938. She is hull number 48500, the very first in the series that will span to 48646 during the 1939 model year. A good online resource for information about Chris-Craft barrel backs is Don Ayers’ website.
We have just started to document the boat in it’s current condition. After we are finished with the initial documentation, we will disassemble the interior and perform an initial structural survey of the hull and framework to determine the course of restoration for this boat.
You can follow the progress of this and all of our restorations on our current projects page.
Kirk and I spent this past Monday afternoon water-testing a 1953 Riva Ariston that we recently helped Macatawa Bay Boat Works restore. Our restoration work on the boat included replacing all bottom framework and about 1/2 of the deck framework as well as installing a new plywood bottom (as per original) and new hullside and deck planks. Later Rivas were built with laminated wood sides and plywood decks, but the early Rivas such as this one were built with batten-seam construction similar to Chris-Craft, Century, and other classic mahogany speed boats. Rather than using deck grooves and seam compound to achieve the classic striped mahogany deck, Riva used maple inlay to seperate the deck planking.
Even though this boat is an early example of a Riva, they had the design spot-on from the start. The photo illustrates the gorgeous flared bow which flows seamlessly into the barrel back stern. She’s no slouch on the water either. If you’re interested, take a look at our project gallery to see other beautiful wooden boats we have restored.
Chris Smith stopped by the shop last week to check how the restoration of the 19′ 1936 Chris-Craft special race boat was progressing. Chris is the grandson of Christopher Columbus Smith, the founder of Chris-Craft. He grew up in the Chris-Craft plants and if you ask him, he’ll tell you stories not only about working in the shop at an early age, but also about driving wooden boats practically before he could see over the bird’s-eye maple dashboard. Just as Chris learned the craft of building wooden boats from the generations before him, at The Wooden Runabout Co. we continue to learn from his lifetime of experience with wooden boats. In fact, when Kirk was still in high school, Chris was teaching Kirk the details of lofting as they both worked to loft the first boats at Grand-Craft. Continue reading “Chris Smith visits the shop”
It seems that lists are the in-thing on blogs these days, so here is my first attempt at a top-ten list. Here are my ten favorite pre-war Chris-Craft designs. (It should be noted that this list is highly subjective.) (It should also be noted that if your pre-war Chris-Craft did not make the list, it may be possible to influence the judging by bringing your boat to our shop for restoration. I’ve been known to fall for most of the boats I work on.)
Without further delay…
Many purists will scoff at this boat making the top-ten, but they can write their own lists. Chris-Craft was ahead of it’s time with this little express cruiser, which had fairly modern looks for a pre-war boat. Painted hullsides, wood deck, navy top, open cockpit, what more could someone ask for in a little cruiser? Continue reading “Top Ten Pre-War Chris-Crafts”
We had a pleasant surprise at the shop on Monday afternoon. Don Danenberg, the man who literally wrote the book on how to restore wooden runabouts, stopped by the shop for a tour.
Don and Kirk worked together on the restorations of numerous wooden boats during the 1990’s.Â Don looked over our current project, the 1936 Chris-Craft 19′ special race boat with approval. Eventually our conversation drifted into the exciting topics that wooden boat restorers like to hash over such as the ever popular “restoration vs. rebuilding” debate and how to achieve a dust-free coat of varnish. I’ll probably cover both of these topics in more detail in later posts, but for now I have to get back to making wood shavings.
There’s always a bit of fear in my heart the first time I launch a boat I’ve worked on. Will the bilge be dry? Will she float on her lines? Will she handle the way I imagined? I’m experiencing a similar feeling as I write these lines.
This is the first entry in the web log of The Wooden Runabout Co. In the coming months and years, I will gradually fill this space with the craftsmanship, beauty, sadness, and even drama that take place as my business partner Kirk and I launch our own company specializing in the restoration and construction of classic mahogany runabouts.