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1946 25' Chris-Craft Express


In my opinion one of the ‘coolest’ post-war boats Chris-Craft ever designed and produced is the Red & White 25’ Express’.  The overall design was quite radical in the boating community at the time and was considered quite futuristic in 1946 when it was first introduced.  These boats also featured a very ‘art deco’ appearance, right down to the Chris-Craft ‘art deco’ logo painted on the hullsides.  They offered a lot of cockpit room, a comfortable cuddy with head and v-berth, ample freeboard forward, and a huge fuel tank (60-75 gallons depending on the specific model) to provide larger than normal cruising ranges.  In other words, a great all around day or weekend cruiser that also provided stunning looks.

This particular model comes to us from Texas.  She was taking on a lot of water and then suffered an accident that broke the port side chine which only exaggerated the water problem.  The bottom had been worked on before with the addition of plywood over the existing bottom and then covered with fiberglass.  Not exactly the best remedy for these wood boats.  As usual, she began to rot from the inside out.  Our only task is to replace the bottom with a new marine plywood bottom in lieu of the traditional planked.  Now, this will not be original but a double planked marine plywood bottom is just as strong as a planked bottom.  And in many cases even stronger.  The fee is also a little less, and as the Express is a painted hull it will not detract from its cosmetic appearance.





As you might expect, it took more time than usual to roll this very heavy boat over.  Only two of us incurred double-hernias but she went over as all of our other bottom projects.  Normally we position the boat upside down on one of our movable dollies, but the Express is just too heavy for that.  So we picked a location in the shop and braced her up there until the project is done.  As you’ll see in the next photos there are multiple issues with the bottom structure.  Both chines are rotted and need replaced, as well as several frames (including the bottom transom frame), the two gripes (yes, this has two gripes between the keel and stem), the rudder plate, and then the keel is cleanly broking through at the shaft hole.  The rest of the keel is straight and in good condition, so we’ll scarf in an 8’ section (about three feet forward of the break) and she will be just fine.  There are other issues as well, but these are the major ones.  Like all Epoxied or Fiberglass bottoms the only way to remove it is by cutting it off.  This may sound quicker but it actually takes longer as you have to be extremely careful not to damage any of the underlying structure during its removal.  Then a lot of time-consuming chiseling and scraping are necessary to remove and clean up what’s left.





It should only take two weeks to get this work done.  Uh…just kidding, I hope you didn’t think I was serious.  It will take at least three.  Ok, really, we have our work cut out for us and will need to take our time to make sure we get her just right.  Stay tuned…

*****Finishing the Project*****

This is the largest bottom project we’ve taken on, and we were pleased with how she turned out.  I think the toughest part of this job was rolling this behemoth over…which took eight of us with only one fatality (not really).  After making the numerous structural repairs we installed a double-layered Okume plywood bottom per the client’s request, using 6m for the inner and 9m for the outer which with the 5200 adhesive makes this perhaps the strongest bottom we’ve ever done.  We actually walked on top of it and even hopped and the bottom would not give even a fraction of an inch.

As with all our bottoms we sealed with CPES, primed with Interlux 2000e, and then painted three coats of bright red bottom paint.  Now she’s ready to do some boating without those pesky leaks.  The owner will refinish the rest of the boat himself

















Whew!  Now that’s a big boat.


   
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