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The early post-war U22s were probably the most non-standard looking of the utilities produced by Chris-Craft. They still had the great lines, comfortable ride, and lots of interior room customers became accustomed to. They were still plank-on-frame batten-seam boats that were well constructed, but the hullsides, interior ceiling boards, dash, and bottoms were of Spanish cedar rather than the customary mahogany Chris-Craft relied upon. Right after the war it was difficult, as you might imagine, getting Philippine mahogany in the quantities boat builders needed to gear up the production of pleasure boats. After all, that area of the world incurred some pretty serious damage during the war. To stretch the preferred mahogany as far as they could Chris-Craft used the water resilient cedar and then painted the hulls white, as the cedar just did not stain up to their standards. Mahogany was still used for the fore and aft decks, as well as the transom. Some just don’t care for the white/natural Sportsmans and for years they were kind of looked down on as second-class citizens of the Chris-Craft family. Now, however, they have really gained the popularity they deserve, and many classic boat owners believe them to be one of the more attractive boats produced by Algonac boat manufacturer. The color contrasts with the white hullsides, mahogany decks and transom with the red bottom makes these boats one of the most eye-catching classics on the water.

The owner brought us the boat with the task of replacing the bottom, transom, decks, hull planks as needed, and giving her a badly needed refinish. He knew there were some other issues, but until we removed the bottom no one really knew how much she needed. Unfortunately, our client had purchased the boat from an owner who left the boat outside unattended for quite some time and much damage resulted. The new owners already have the Chrysler power and all the chrome done, so they will put her back together themselves.

Once we rolled the boat over and began removing the bottom we knew we were in trouble. Just take a look at the photos and you’ll know what I mean. The keel, stem, and gripe were nearly gone, as well as the chines broken and just plain rotted out in multiple places. Every bottom frame will also have to be replaced, as most crumbled in our hands as we gently removed the bottom planks. A huge nest of wood-eating ants had infested nearly everything. I’m really surprised she did not simply collapse on herself while being trailered.

So, we’ll spend some time getting her better supported after we make certain the hull is straight. Then we’ll begin with the structure, getting that completed before moving on to the actual bottom. This is going to be a long term project, but well worth the wait when finished.


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

Whew! This U22 has turned into a real project, and one that has tested even our own experience and patience. We supported the hull with extra 2x8s once we were able to get her straight…with much measuring, leveling, and using a plum bob. Now it was on to removing first the keel, then the stem/gripe and once those were finished the frames…one by one. As you can see from the photos there were literally little if any patterns to work from. So, we made our patterns from ¼” plywood and fit them to the boat…planning-fitting-planning-fitting, etc. etc. Once we had the fit we used the new template and traced it onto new mahogany. It was extremely time consuming but it worked like a champ. We left the chines in to help us keep a visual perspective. We temporarily fastened the frames in place with just a few fasteners until we were finished with the chines. We cut and planed them into the correct size then steamed them for about two hours so they would make the bend without cracking. Before steaming we had to scarf two sections together to make one piece long enough to run the length of the hull. We cut a ten inch scarf joint then used WEST to join them together with several temporary fasteners which would be removed later in lieu of through bolting with carriage bolts…which provides a lot more strength. Perhaps a little overkill…but we don’t want and problems down the road, so why not a little insurance?

After steaming we used C-clamps and clamped the chines to the hull plank/battens itself which is a lot easier than trying to fit her into place right off the bat. Once she held her shape we then fit her into place and it was nearly a glove fit. So we fastened the chine and then installed the carriage bolts at the scarf joint. At that point we fastened the frames/gussets with carriage bolts into the keel and engine stringers. It’s just amazing how strong that darn thing is now, and she would not budge. What an improvement!

Once that was finished we faired the frames then sealed painted with CPES/bilge paint. Now we’re finally ready to begin on the bottom. I’m sure I heard the boat whisper, ‘Thank you! My back hasn’t felt that good in years!’

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

Well, this boat has become quite a project.  After getting the entire framework back in good condition, we dry-fitted the Okume inner layer and then attached with a bead of 5200 on the frames, chine, and keel.  Then it was onto dry fitting the outer mahogany planking, sealing and then putting that down.  No problems and all went fine.  Once the bottom was sanded it was time to drill the shaft and rudder hole in the new keel.  The easiest and most accurate way to do this is by temporarily attaching the strut and then using a shaft with a slightly oversized forstner bit fitted into the end.  We had two different sizes of these ‘shaft drilling tools’ made up for the different shaft diameters by our neighboring machine shop.  They work like a champ and it only takes about five minutes to drill the hole…and it’s perfect when finished.  (If you need one of these let me know and I can have one made for you.)  Be sure to have a block of wood attached to the keel just forward of where the bit will be entering the keel, otherwise the bit will veer off track due to the extreme angle.  Cut the block of wood where it meets the bit at the appropriate angle…it just makes things easier and cleaner.  Two coats of sealer, two coats of 2000E primer, followed by two coats of bronze bottom paint and now it looks beautiful and will keep that darn water out.

We decided to remove the old planks and battens while she was upside down.  The owner wanted to preserve the original Spanish cedar planking if at all possible, but the battens definitely had to be replaced.  We saved most of the original planking, but it took much effort to patch and repair the existing wood.  As a side note, unless you are really set on saving original, and marginal, wood I believe it’s always best to replace with new.  The cost difference is not all that much and you will be much happier with the result.  That being said, the cedar turned out quite nice after all our time.  She’s rolled back over now and it’s on to new decks, final fairing, and then the fun refinishing.

Completing the project - April, 2010

I don’t think either the boat’s owner or us for that matter realized just how much work was needed on this poor U22.  It seemed every time we were making good progress another lurking problem raised its ugly head.  Not to be deterred, we took our time and moved steadily ahead making each repair as it crossed our path.  I was skeptical of using the original cedar hullside planks, but they turned out quite nice.  After sanding, patching, sanding, and patching some more we sealed, applied six coats of varnish to help fill the grain, sanded again, applied two coats of Pettit’s white primer…sanded again, and then applied two more coats of Pettit’s gloss white paint.  She looks especially nice with the new mahogany decks.  The owner will install the engine, interior and all the other details to get her water ready.

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