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Not a Nautique, But a Cool Boat Project None the Less ( 1960 Chris Craft )

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  • Not a Nautique, But a Cool Boat Project None the Less ( 1960 Chris Craft )

    Just picked up my next project. Its not a Nautique, but a pretty cool boat none the less. Its a 1960 Christ Craft 18' Continental. My father bought it in the early 90's, and we used it as the family boat for about 4 years. After that it was Parked, disassembled, and sanded. Then it sat for the next 25 or so years.

    My father was sick of paying for storage, and i didn't have a winter project, so I decided to tackle it. Going to be a learning experience I can promise.

    If anyone has dealt with these or has any advise for me I would love to hear it.

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  • #2
    You've probably been there already, but if not, I would check out They have several amazing wood boat restoration projects documented.


    • #3
      After 40 years I'm still emotionally scared from working on my dad's wood boats. It certainly wasn't easy being the lackey working on these boats and the jobs never seemed to get easier even after doing it for some 5 years. I did learn a ton in the process and probably the biggest lesson was never to own a wood boat. That said there's a lot more places to learn now with the internet and dedicated forums to help with technics and education.

      Probably one of the first things we learned is wood boats rot in places you can't get to without near completed dissemble. This is why you'll see many restorers start by flipping the boat over and removing all the outer sheeting or planking and work from the keel up (or down in this case). This is where so many people get burned on buying wood boats that have had a cosmetic restoration. The boat looks wonderful on the surface but the keel, stringers and ribs are dry rotting at the keel or in areas you can't see. Double planked boats are especially bad as it's hard to get a reading on the condition without tearing it down..... and then you have to put it back together. I've only been a part of one of these (single planked) restorations that was on a pretty solid boat and that one took us 2 years to finish. We sold it about a month after it was completed and only took it out about 4 times to shake it down (part of the emotional scaring). It was last one I would be part of.

      Wood boats are a unique experience and I'll check them out at the boat shows but while most see nothing but their beauty I can't help but think about the work keeping them maintained. It's a labor of love and not for everyone but if you restore it correctly and keep up on it ownership is manageable. I did see a couple years back that someone was building epoxy resin infused wood boats somewhere. Really expensive but they were absolutely gorgeous.


      • #4
        I have been researching for a few weeks, and have not come up with any conclusions as of what to do yet. I plan on going through it this weekend, and doing what assessments I can. I will take all kinds of pictures, and see what some of the wood boat guys may say. I have a feeling I am in way over my head. The motor hasn't been turned over for at least 25 years, so I am assuming its going to need to be entirely rebuilt. If NautiqueJeff 's 11 hour motor needs to be redone, this one certainly will. I honestly don't even know if its winterized. Could be cracked in all kinds of places. I will probably pull the plugs, and put a camera in the the bores to see what they look like, check the oil, and all that. I may pull the motor this weekend jus to get it out of the way.

        I'm also going to take the boat off the POS trailer it came with. It has its own issues, and either way, if i keep or sell this thing its going to need to be fix so it can be hauled either way.

        My guess is i will have to re-bottom this boat at the minimum. opening that can of worms could mean frame replacements, and other structural pieces as you mention above. The boat has been in indoor storage for the last 25 years, do its been dry the entire time, and was in good shape last time I was on it. So maybe, just maybe the structural pieces are going to be OK. I have read a lot about re-bottoming these things, and it seems like a HUGE P-I-A. I do know that it is a plywood inner bottom with a plank outer. I did briefly look a the bottom after i got it into the shop, and the bottom has gaps and what looked to be caulk in them. From what i have read this boat should not have had caulk in the gaps, which could be a bad sign.

        Anyways, this weekend should tell me much about that i am going to be in for. Good think i got nothing to do on the weekends till the next boating season. Maybe I can get this on the water sometime next summer. I think its a lofty goal though, if I'm going to do things the correct way. I am not attched to this boat in any real way, so if it looks to be a huge money pit, I will punt on this one.


        • #5
          Got a little more done over the last few weeks. I go the motor pulled, and broke down for rebuild. Looked pretty good, just got to get the heads updated, and then put her back together with new seals and gaskets.

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          • #6
            This past weekend we flipped the boat over. I got a video of it on IG, @madesteveproof is my acount if you wanna check it out.

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            • #7
              I'm guessing Its going to need a new bottom. If anyone has any advice I would appreciate it.

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              • #8
                How much of it is dry rotted and how original do you want to keep the boat? The dry rot question will determine how much needs to be replaced. The "original" question least to the possibility to using a resin to surface or seal the bottom. The good news is if you plan to re-plank you have what appear to be solid wood to make templates from.

                Full disclosure here.... I haven't touched a wood boat in 40 years and nearly all my efforts were relegated to being the varnish removal, sanding and varnish finishing lackey. You know, the dirty or time consuming jobs no one wanted to do. My father and a couple of his friends were the ones that handled replacing any large wood panels or planks and I was never part of a full bottom re-planking. I do remember them using wood planes and filing rasps and a steamer to fit the boards which I think I still may have some of somewhere but have seen or thought of in decades. Whole different skill set to learn. In short, I'm by no means qualified to give advice here and have probably lost most of any valuable skills that would be truly helpful.


                • #9
                  They way I figure it original is out of the question at this point. If I'm going to actually use this thing, I might as well make it usable, and install a no soak bottom. That pretty much means strip all the old planks and plywood off the bottom, fix any damaged frames, and then start putting it back together. I would put it back together doing the 5200 bottom method. has all kinds of videos and such showing how to do things. The videos are interesting if you have some time to kill on YouTube. I even e-mailed them all the pics of the bottom last night and Mike from there wrote we back this morning telling me what I thought already. He says pull it all off, and start from the frames up.

                  I have most of the tools you mentioned already, other than the steamer. I bought a wood boat restoration book on amazon that actually tells you have to make one, but I'm hoping I don't have to. I hope I can just soak what needs bent, start on the bend, and work my way back. Keep them wet for a few hours, then hit them with the heat gun, and be good. But who knows, I haven't actually tried it yet.


                  • #10
                    Great post, and congrats on your new toy. We’ve got a 1936 Chris Craft 19’ Runabout that we bought and restored back in 2018, including removing what was the original bottom and replacing it with a 5200 bottom. We absolutely LOVE this boat, and it’s a great addition our mini fleet at the lake alongside our 2020 GS22 and our little 12’ fishing boat and 9.9hp Merc . Here are a few pics of “Lake Girl” getting her bottom replaced and on the water this summer.

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                    Looks like you’ve got a great project boat, but looking at those gaps and what appears to be some rotten wood at the water line near the bow, as well as the time it sat, it’s highly likely that you’ve got at least some amount of rot and damaged frames. Given all that, I would definitely suggest you replace the bottom with a new 5200 bottom which involves pulling off the entire planked bottom, inspecting and repairing/replacing damaged frames, then installing marine plywood and 5200 compound with mahogany planking on top. That will give you peace of mind and ensure that you have a fully usable boat for many years to come. The last thing you want to do is try and do it cheap and end up wasting a lot of time trying to salvage what looks like a pretty tired 60-year old bottom.

                    In terms of resources, I HIGHLY suggest that you join the Chris Craft Antique Boat Club and get onto “Boat Buzz”, which is the absolute best forum for CC boat owners with an unbelievable wealth of information that members share on restoring these magnificent boats. You can join at, and hop right into the Boat Buzz forum for all the help you’ll need on this project. And if you’re interested in getting the history on your specific boat and getting the “Hull Card” from the factory, you can reach out to the Mariners Museum who can put together a “research package” on your boat.

                    Enjoy the project, but just be prepared to find more stuff that will invariably take longer and be more expensive than you thought to fix .... these are beautiful boats, but they do require care and attention, not to mention proper storage when they’re out of the water to keep the wood in good shape. Good luck on your project, and please keep us posted on your progress!
                    Last edited by North Woody; 01-18-2021, 08:03 PM.


                    • #11
                      Thanks for the info. I’m sure this is a bigger can of worms than I really think it is. I have read a few books on restoration, and watch all kinds of you tube stuff.

                      I plan on doing a 5200 bottom. I’m going to replace all the bottom planks and plywood, probably the chine, and anything else I find. There are 3 boards right above the water line that will need replaced, and the top gunnel boards are worn out. I hope to be able to stop wood fab there, but who knows at this point.

                      My issue will be how much $$$ my fiancé will let me spend at one time. I think the bottom materials alone will cost 3-5k. CPES, 5200, Barrier Coat are all. It cheap. New fasteners will be like $800, not to mention the wood.

                      Did you do the restoration yourself, or have a shop do it?


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Stevemo14 View Post
                        Did you do the restoration yourself, or have a shop do it?
                        I looked for a boat and a restorer who I could work with to do the restoration since I have neither the workshop nor the experience to take a job of that magnitude. After a lot of research and seeing a LOT of different boats (and there a lot of dogs out there selling for big money), I found exactly the boat I wanted that was owned for 20+ years by the guy from whom I bought it. He runs his own boat restoration business, owns 6 of his own Chris Crafts, and is a boat show judge, and he agreed to sell me one of his personal boats that really just needed the new bottom. We also revarnished everything as the rest of the boat and the engine was already in great shape.

                        It looks like you’re well on your way now that you’ve flipped the boat - hope you find everything is in good shape one you pull the bottom off. Good luck on your project, and please keep us posted with lots of pictures!
                        Last edited by North Woody; 01-19-2021, 07:45 AM.


                        • #13
                          If you have some time it would be well worth your time to look over this thread.

                          Last edited by gary s; 01-20-2021, 12:49 PM.


                          • #14
                            Hard to imagine all that work in that thing ( 50 pages of posts) only to sell it in the end. Who knows, If I ever get though mine i may just send it down the road too.


                            • #15
                              Here is another-