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Wooden Boat Building and Restoration

Boat Rolled / Engine Refresh Complete

The boat roller is of my own design that I came up with after reviewing an article in WoodenBoat magazine (issue #203) on various methods of rolling over boats. Since I am a one-man shop I needed a way to do this by-myself. My idea is quite simple really. I hung a steel H-Beam across the top of my new boat gantry. From the H-Beam I hung a trailer axle with a pair of rims (no tires). And from the rims I hung a pair of circular straps (also called endless straps) which cradle the boat. Using the chain hoists, the boat is lifted up off its stands, the circular straps are then slid around the hull on each end and then hung from the rims above. Finally the boat is lowered onto the circular straps. Once the boat is cradled in the circular straps it can be rolled over.


With this boat roller mechanism I was able to easily roll the boat from one side to the other side by myself. But to actually roll it over so that it was upside down, I needed the aid of an electric winch, which I hung off-center, across the top of the boat gantry. With that the boat rolled over almost effortlessly.

With the boat safely turned upside down, I resumed removal of the bottom. Prior to rolling it over I used a Sawzall from the inside of the boat to cut away as much of the bottom as I could, as can be seen in the picture above. What remained of the bottom were areas that were fastened to the bottom stringers, stem, transom, keelson, and chines. This was the the difficult part as the remaining bottom area was screwed and glued down. First I used paint remover to remove as much of the bottom coat as I could in order to reveal the locations of all the fasteners (silicon bronze wood screws). It took 3 applications of the nasty, messy, stuff which revealed a majority of the screw heads. The rest I located with a metal detector. Then I removed the screws... approximately 1,200 of them in all. Then I carefully chiseled away the remaining plywood which was also glued with what looks to me to be 3M 5200.... truly tenacious stuff indeed. With that done, I scraped away the reaming glue remnants from the bottom structure which was mostly in very good shape.


To give myself a break from the mundane work work of removing the bottom, I divided my workdays to also include time for working on completing the engine refresh. The engine is now ready to be installed back into the boat with one exception... as soon as we get a break from the severe cold here in Duluth with a day with temperatures above freezing, I will run the engine to make sure it is running as expected as well as adjust the ignition timing.

So here's a before and after shot of the engine, its a 1964 Chris Craft Flywheel Forward 283-M Series 2 V8, which is really a marine version of the popular Chevy 283 2end generation small block V8 with a Carter 4 barrel carburetor:


Here's a summery of the engine refresh:

  • Compression Check performed (6 cylinders are at spec, two were just below spec but showed improvement after an hours run time... decided it was probably due to sticky rings since the engine hadn't been run for a couple of years)
  • Engine De-greased, Scrubbed, Primed, and Painted
  • Alternator and Water Pump belts replaced
  • Water Pump impellers replaced (there were two of them)
  • All Hoses and Hose Clamps replaced
  • Exhaust Manifolds were pulled, inspected, and a minor surface crack was repaired using JB Weld, then de-greased, scrubbed, primed, painted and remounted with new gaskets
  • Entire Ignition system replaced (Spark Plugs, Spark Plug Wires, Distributor Cap, Rotor, Points, Condenser, Coil, Voltage Regulator)
  • Dwell and Ignition Timing adjusted to specs
  • Valves adjusted to spec
  • Front and Rear Rubber Engine Mounts replaced
  • Wire Ring terminals replaced with new shrink wrapped insulating ring terminals
  • Fuel line replaced with barbed fittings and US Coast Guard Approved Marine Grade A1 fuel line
  • Oil and Oil Filter change

The process began with doing an initial compression check and then running it for about an hour to see and hear it followed by another compression check:


The only concerns were a little white smoke from the exhaust and a very small water drip form the exhaust manifold that can be seen in this picture if you look closely at the rusted area and at the wet spots on the wood engine stringers below the rusted area:

The engine was then pulled from the boat and set on a homemade engine stand I made out of old 4x4 fence posts and scrap 2x4's. I had to cut the engine stringers (they were going to be replaced anyway) due to being unable to unfasten the engine mounting bolts because they were so badly corroded:


Check out the rotted engine stringer (under the front starboard engine mount) and corroded engine mount bolts:


Once it was on the stand I disassembled all the engine components, and removed the loose paint, rust, dirt and grease. Then wiped it down with lacquer thinner followed by spraying on 3 coats of zinc chromate primer paint:


Next three coats of Chris Craft Blue engine paint was sprayed on followed by two coats of clear coat:


Next all the engine components were cleaned up, painted and remounted back onto the engine.  New authentic decals were applied. New hoses were installed with marine grade stainless steel hose clamps.Water pump impellers replaced. The new ignition components were installed, wires were cleaned up, and any questionable ring terminators were replaced. Here's the completed engine... check out the bronze water pump and bronze hose fittings and alternator bracket.



While I don't really want to pursue engine work, I proposed this engine refresh project after being unable to find a local marina that wanted to do the work. I felt I could handle it, wanted to know what was involved, and wanted to save the boat owner some money. I'm appreciative of the boat owner for having confidence in me and accepting my engine refresh proposal as it was a learning experience for me.Identifying, locating, and purchasing parts was more time consuming than I thought and a bit frustrating too... but now I've established some Chris Craft contacts and resources. Keeping my work area clean was a challenge too, my shop became a bit of a mess while working on it... greasy mechanical work done in the same area as woodworking does not mix well... grease, grime, and dirt seem to spread out everywhere, and the last thing I want is grease and grime on a woodworking project. All-in-all I'm very pleased and excited with the outcome.

Next up is a trial engine run on the next warm day... I wonder if it ever will arrive? In the mean time I'll continue forward with replacing the bottom.