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1940 19' Chris Craft Runabout (Barrel Stern)

One of the most desirable, collectable, and attractive models ever produced by Chris-Craft. This boat was recently purchased in Oklahoma from Don Ayers (Chris-Craft historian) by a local gentleman and brought to our shop for a complete makeover. We spent some time poking around the inside and found most of the structure in excellent (and clean) condition. Also a very strait and true boat, a great find. That being said, we will begin by documenting everything carefully with photos, then rolling her over where we’ll replace a few bad frames and then it’s a new 5200 bottom. She’s getting all new hullside and transom planking, and we’ll do most of that while she’s upside down. Also on order are new decks, covering boards (very tricky on the barrel sterns) and interior. All the chrome and gauges have been done. Some of the best mahogany I’ve seen in awhile also came with the boat, some pieces four inches thick and twenty inches wide. Try finding that now days. The Fireball power is already done and was restored to original specs. A new custom tandem trailer is already on order as well. This is a long term project and is doubtful it will make it into the water by Memorial Day…no need to rush these things. Better to take your time and do it right, after all…you only want to do this once.

********* UPDATE *********

Well, the more we get into this boat the more attention we find it needs. Most of the frames are shot and the entire transom needed to be rebuilt. The chines, keel, and stem/gripe area also need some serious work before we can begin reinstalling the new bottom. It’s slow and tedious work, but again…you only want to do this once so why not take your time and do it right. Then you won’t have to worry about shortcuts later when you hit the big waves with a boat full of guests. The owner is in no hurry to have her completed, allowing us important time to make sure all trouble areas are addressed.

As that beautiful transom has so many curves we've had to steam bend many of the frames, especially as many were of white oak…more difficult to work with than mahogany. All frames are coated in CPES prior to their attachment, increasing their resistance to any water penetration and prolonging their life. The one deviation we’re taking liberty with is the use of stainless bolts and fasteners. Our experience is they have the same longevity, more strength, and are just more easier to work with. Stay tuned for later updates.

********* UPDATE *********

Now that the frames, stem, and gripe have been replaced and the keel repaired…it’s time to do the fun (fun?) white oak chines. Many Chris-Crafts used mahogany during the postwar years, but these were white oak. The bend near the bow is fairly severe, so long steam tubes were fabricated where the lumber could be inserted and steamed for nearly an hour before attempting to bend. They were soaked in the lake for two weeks before that to build up the moisture level. They bent fairly easy and held their shape after being clamped into place overnight. Cutting the rabbets can also be a little tricky as the angle changes near the bow. A jig was made right onto the frames and a rabbet bit with a good router made a perfect cut to accept the planks that will follow. Sealing in CPES then a thinned coat of bilge paint now make this bottom structure complete and ready for the first layer of the 5200 bottom.

********* UPDATE *********

Even though this boat is still upside down much has been accomplished. The bottom is now complete and turned out just beautiful with the factory original CC green bottom color. Next is rolling her over to begin the all important hullside planks, then onto the decks.

********* UPDATE *********

This Custom is a long term project and it will still be awhile before she’s completed. That being said she’s still coming along quite nicely. All the hullside planking is now finished…with much steaming on the dramatically curved planking near the ‘barrel’ transom. The mahogany is absolutely beautiful and she will stain up as nice as any boat we’ve ever done. She’s now sitting aside for the summer, we’ll move her back in later this fall to start on the decks.


********* UPDATE *********

Let me say the barrel backs from ’39-’42 are the most complicated of boats and surely contain more pieces than any other boat out there.  Many times we’d look at how the boat was engineered and just shake our heads believing there had to be a better way to put these things together.  That being said, Chris-Craft had to know what they were doing so we put her back the same way she was…mostly.  Some liberties were taken in unseen places to beef up the covering boards and other structurally suspect areas.

The lumber used to make the covering boards (this was the two-piece as you can see.  Some of the early ’39 models had a one-piece covering board) was more than four inches thick and nearly sixteen feet long…and you can guess how heavy that sucker was.  Cutting them out was a real treat, and we actually used a very powerful saw-zaw to get the basic shape after drawing the line, then we finished on our band saw.  It took two of us as the boards were so heavy and difficult to maneuver.  The really sad thing is how much of that lumber ends up on the floor after you use your power planer to do the shaping.  But…what else are you going to do?  It has to be done.

From there you can follow the photos and see how the decks, engine hatches, and the rest of the topsides progress.  We figure more than 80% of the wood in this barrel is new.  A lot of fairing, sanding, and then more sanding now has her ready for staining.  All of this only took two weeks!   Ok…not really.  Stay tuned. 

Finishing the Project

It's been a long haul......but well worth the work as the boat turned out beautifully!