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1955 21' Chris Craft Capri

The Capris are one of the most popular and beautiful (and last of the mahogany) runabouts Chris-Craft produced. 1955 was the first year of production for the Capris, following the very successful run of Riviera runabouts from 1949-1954. The Capris are very similar with the exception of a more streamlined design, starting with the wrap-around windshield and the distinctive ‘clipper’ bow. The Capri looks fast even sitting still. They came in two lengths, the more numerous 19’ and the more rare (and desirable) 21’.

This was a boat located in the tri-state area and belonged to a gentleman who had plans of restoring the boat himself, but soon discovered what a monumental task it would be to bring her back to originality. Unfortunately, somewhere during her history someone had made some ridiculous modifications which only makes the job more difficult. She was then purchased by another local party with the intention of having us do the restoration. It’s pretty obvious she will need the ‘full makeover’. We’re starting by just doing a thorough examination and then starting with the bottom structure and getting that right before proceeding with the new 5200 bottom. The boat, much to our pleasant surprise, is very straight. The keel is also very straight but numerous soft spots and cracks will behoove us to replace it. The chines will be reused, but 2/3 of the bottom frames will need to be replaced. The stringers, although a little marginal, can be repaired with some dowels and west to firm up a couple of small cracks. Don’t want to ‘make work’ if something can be saved while not compromising structural integrity and more importantly…safety. Fortunately, the owner has the correct approach…get the boat right and don’t cut corners to save a few dollars. He knows shortcuts now will only cost much more down the road.

This Capri is a long term project, so stay tuned for updates on our progress…

********* UPDATE 7-14-07 *********

All the structural repairs have been completed on the bottom, including numerous new frames, knees, stem, gripe, etc. and she’s ready for the 6mil inner layer. All the carriage bolts and fasteners were replaced, the wood sealed with CPES and then painted with thinned bilge paint. Whew!...now she’s looking healthy again. Sometimes the boat just seems to whisper ‘thanks’ to us as we continue with the makeover

********* UPDATE 9-13-07 *********

This project has come a long way already. Most of the bottom structure was replaced, then we began with our normal bottom replacement procedure…fitting attaching the 6m inner layer, then dry fitting and attaching the outer planks with CPES and 5200. We scored the inside of the back half of the inner layer to appear like the original configuration when peering into the engine compartment. It’s best to address the two chine planks and bottom transom plank while the boat is upside down. It’s just easier. We made new planks, as the others were beyond repair. After fairing, sealing with CPES, and applying two coats of the grey 2-part primer paint we finished with two coats of the hard racing bronze bottom paint. She turned out very nice and will roll her back over to begin removing the batter hullside planks in preparation for the new Philippine mahogany she’s going to receive. No more leaks for this Capri! After that…on to the decks. Then the wood work will be nearly finished


********* UPDATE 11-22-07 *********

This Capri has really come a long way since we first got started. Once we finished the 5200 bottom we rolled her back over and began disassembling what decks were there and then the hullsides. None of this wood could be salvaged and all will be replaced. Fortunately most of the hullside framework was sound, but we did replace all the battens and started using the old planks as patterns for making new ones. The owner lives fairly close to the shop and volunteered to take on the tedious job of removing the thousands of bungs with an ice pick. The bullnose was also missing and had to fabricate a new one…a lot of fun. As with most of these boats, the forward sheer plank has a compound bend and had to be steamed to prevent cracking or breaking completely in half. That’s happened to us before, so just take the time and steam it. Sure makes life easier.

Now that the sides are done we’ll begin on the decks. There was nothing there, so we’re taking measurements from another 21’ Capri and will fabricate a new one from that. Our goal it to have her staining within sixty days…keep your fingers crossed.

********* UPDATE 1-18-08 *********

A funny thing has happened on this project…after all this time and effort she’s starting to look like a real boat! As you can tell from previous updates a lot of work has gone in to this beautiful classic. As there were no decks we had to build them and the thick covering boards from scratch, including the tricky engine hatch. Fortunately we have another 1955 21’ Capri in the shop which afforded us the luxury of accurate measurements for fabricating the new framework and planking. They turned out just as we had hoped. Now that she’s stained, we can begin the fun finish work. We still have to fabricate the interior ceiling boards and a client requested storage facility under the forward deck (nice touch and very useful). So, we’re not done yet…but she’s really coming along.

********* UPDATE 2-22-08 *********

Completing the Project …August, 2008

We ran behind on this beautiful Capri as we waited and waited for parts…the last one being the new stainless fuel tank. As there was no flooring base or seats whatsoever for her when she came into the shop, it took a little longer to fabricate all of those as well. But, as they say, good things come to those who wait…and our client was extremely patient as we worked out the final details to make her just as pretty as she should be.

The MBL runs strong and will loosen up the more she gets used. She runs about 35mph and rides very well for a flat bottom boat. As always when we tested her out she received lots of admiring looks and thumbs up. Folks kept coming over when we tied up at the fuel dock. The new owner was thrilled to take the wheel and was soon maneuvering her like a pro. We’re very pleased with the result and believe the owner is too.

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