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Wooden Boat Building and Restoration


This was a week of planning and deciding on materials and ordering them... one of those weeks that much was done but little to show.

Now that the boat has been somewhat disassembled, we have a clearer picture of the condition of the boat. I met with the boat owner this week and together we went over all the details of the project and made decisions on the work scope.... time well spent. This was a good exercise for both of us. The owner saw first hand what was revealed in the disassembly, and we discussed repair options and decided on a plan of action.

The boat initially came to the shop for a thorough refinish. In disassembling the interior in preparing for the refinish, it was revealed that the stringers were in bad shape with rot under the engine mounts and fuel tank support straps, as well as other areas that supported the floor panels. Together we decided that the best course of action would be to replace them rather than trying to patch it. To do so means that the engine will have to come out.

Other additional work was revealed in removing the vinyl cover on the transom deck, there was rot on each end of the deck. Also, the floor panels were in rough shape too and we decided to replace them all with a thicker (increase from ½" to ⅝") marine grade fir plywood for added support underfoot.

While I have a good understanding of how internal combustion engines work, I don't feel qualified to work on a customer's engine and recommended that it be brought to a mechanic with experience on these famously old Chris Craft 283 V8 engines. Just giving it the "once over" shows aged hoses and ignition wires. Hours are very low for a boat this age with approximately 750 hours showing on the Hobbs meter (which is equivalent to 45,000 miles). It was last used 3 years ago and was winterized when it last came out of the water. The oil is clean. The carburetor was replaced not too long ago. It's a little on the greasy side and paint is peeling. So I will pull the engine out next week. We will take it to a mechanic to have it looked over, de-greased and repainted "Chris Craft Blue", as well as having the compression checked, having worn hoses and wires replaced, and having it tuned up replacing the distributor cap, rotor, points, plugs and condenser, and lastly replacing the water pump impeller. The owner decided we would take the engine down to Bayside Marine in Excelsior, MN where they're experienced with these old engines. When I've finished repairing and refinishing the hull we will take the boat down to the marina and have them remount the engine back into the boat.

Next is addressing the console. The bottom two inches will be cut off in order to remove the rotted areas and replaced with an new oversized cleat to compensate for the material that will be cutoff. Then it will be stripped, a new veneer will be applied to the outside surfaces and then the whole console will be encapsulated in epoxy and varnished.

The last bit of additional work that we decided on doing is to rewire the console. In disassembling the console, I felt that the wiring ought to be brought up to today's standards for boat wiring. Wires will be replaced with type 3 wire (tinned copper heavily stranded marine grade wire) of the proper colors, shrink wrapped ringed terminals will be installed, a new enclosed spaded fuse block will be installed, and an enclosed bus bar for 12 VDC distribution to each individual switch rather than the daisy-chain distribution it was originally wired with. With the new wiring schematic/upgrades, it would no longer be considered "original" in boat show competition, but it would be safer to have the boat wired to ABYC/USCG standards.