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1956 21' Chris-Craft Capri

I’ve lost count, but I believe this is our fifth or sixth Capri…and I just love the looks of these boats.  They are without a doubt one of my all time favorite Chris-Crafts.  Most of you know my kids learned to boat in a 19’, but the 21’ is the better looking of the two and provides a much better ride.

This particular boat comes all the way from Hot Springs, AR and is begging for some bottom attention and an overall refinish.  She’s been repowered with a 283 which will make her really scoot.  The engine hatch is not correct, as are some other items which we will do our best to remedy.

After pulling the engine, we rolled her over and was amazed she would tread any water whatsoever.  Have a look for yourself.  I don’t think the owner had any idea how bad the bottom really was.

Well, we had to make multiple frame repairs, but was able to save the bottom structure.  After making sure the boat was straight, we sealed and painted the frames, chines, and keel before proceeding to the inner Okume layer.  No problems, then it was sealed with CPES and glued down with 5200.  While that was curing, the bottom planks were fabricated using the old ones as patterns.  We oversized the width of the planks by about 1/8” due to the massive shrinking that had occurred to the original planks, then planed to size where needed…leaving about a ‘penny’ gap between the planks for the 5200 ooze.

After dry fitting all the planks we removed, sealed both the Okume and inside of the planks then laid them down with about three cases of 5200.  This is when it’s nice to have a pneumatic caulk gun, as I’d have about the most severe case of carpal-tunnel known to man hand squeezing all those tubes.  They went down fine; we installed the butt blocks and intermediate battens and then waited several days before filling the screw holes and fairing.  Next is much attention to the hullsides and decks before we can even begin to think about staining.

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

We did replace the chine planks and some of the transom planks, as they were less than 1/4” thick in some areas.  After finishing the bottom the Capri is rolled over and the job of getting the hullsides and decks ready for staining is next.  The hullsides were in pretty bad shape and more than a hundred fasteners were removed, replaced and re-bunged.  It seemed at times we were just going in circles.  We thought we had all of the thin bungs replaced, only to find a few more, then a few more after that.  The engine hatch was just plain toast and could not be saved.  It had been worked on earlier, as there were two pine 2x4s that were cut into frames and then screwed together with common drywall screws.  It was a dickens getting those removed.  We rebuilt the frame with all new mahogany and then re-planked.  The Capri’s engine hatch and rear deck planks are cut at an angel which requires a jig to get it just right.  As we’ve done so many of these now we just keep using the same jig we used on the first one.  It always makes quick work of getting the cut perfect.  We prefer to take one entire strake of lumber and run it from the forward end of the hatch all the way to the transom over the rear decks.  That way the grain will appear consistent from beginning to end, and makes a very nice appearance.

After we finally re-bunged and faired, it was decided to bleach due to using both old and new wood.  Bleaching, if done correctly, can do wonders for bringing wood up the same color.  Be sure to let thoroughly dry for forty-eight hours before attempting to stain.  The two-tone stain was applied and allowed to dry for forty-eight more hours.  Now it’s on sealing and varnishing.  We should have this boat ready to go within the next couple of months.

Finishing the Project

After twelve coats of Pettit’s Flagship varnish and pin stripping the deck seams, this 21’ Capri was really starting to look nice.  It always takes a long time to put a boat back together, but take your time and let it be enjoyable.  Never rush.  We ended up waiting for the ‘I’ in the transom Capri to get back from the chrome shop, but once we received that, she was pretty much complete.  The owner has the interior and is going to put it back in himself.  You have to admit, she looks down right beautiful.  One of the best looking models Chris-Craft ever produced.  We have another one coming in later this summer.

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