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.
The photo shows Chris Smith looking over the original transom of the Chris-Craft 19′ special race boat that we are restoring. The transom contains two factory-installed backer-plates for the exhaust, even though the 19′ racers only came with a single exhaust. In consultation with Chris Smith and Don Ayers, we’ve determined the reason for this is that the boat was offered with a variety of engines, with some models having the exhaust manifold on the port side, and some on the starboard side. Since the engine was one of the last items placed in the boat, two backer plates were installed on the production line so that any of the optional engines could be installed without added complication. Our boat is receiving a Lycoming engine which exhausts through the starboard side of the transom.