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1958 Chris-Craft Continental

The Continentals came on the scene beginning in 1955 when Chris-Craft wanted to offer a new flagship utility series. The Holiday utilities had been very popular boats and a steady seller for the company, but they regulated them to a second-class status with the new Continentals that offered more bells and whistles. The Holidays were the same hull with fewer amenities which made them more affordable for those that could not come up with the funds for the high-end Continentals, which came with the blond/natural stain combination, interior ceiling boards, nicer upholstery, etc. Even then the Holidays continued to hold their own when it came to sales numbers.

This particular Continental was in the shop a few years ago for a replacement bottom and new trailer, and you may have seen it on our web site for that work. The owner had indicated at the time he would bring her back later for a badly needed refinish, upholstery and other items. He had his priorities right getting the bottom done first and now the boat returns for those other items. The KFL engine encountered some trouble last season and is also in for a complete rebuild. The unique thing about this boat is she did police duty many years ago and was painted white with sirens and multiple other lights and silverware (ok, just kidding about that) on her forward deck. The owner wants the original look, so we begin with a good stripping which took forever to remove all the white paint, much which had settled deeply into the grain. None-the-less, we took our time and were able to save all the hullside and transom planks and they faired out quite nicely. The rear decks were too bad to save with multiple cracks, gouges, and 1/4” deck seams so we replaced those. As the early Continentals had blond aft decks we really wanted those to look nice. The splash rails were also in pretty bad shape, most noticeably at the corner miter joints where the gaps had come apart and gunk has worked their way in them.

We’re on a pretty tight budget with the engine rebuild taking most of those dollars, so we took great pains to repair the covering boards and forward decks which held more hardware than a navy destroyer. We decided to experiment by drilling the excess screw holes with our 3/8” counter-sink and then making bungs with the discarded lumber from the aft decks to match up the old mahogany. They blended in well and after bleaching they’re barely noticeable. It was less that replacing with all new mahogany. We removed the splash rails, gave them a good cleaning then re-cut the miter joints before sealing and re-attaching. They are about 1/2” shorter on the sides than they were, but no one will notice…especially as the miter joints are tight now. That’s a small compromise in my opinion to save original wood.

We replaced many hullside fasteners and bungs, and then spent many hours fairing to get a smooth hull. Then we bleached the boat to bring both the old and new wood to a more uniform color. This is also necessary when staining a portion of the boat blond. After staining we sealed with two coats of sealer and we now have four coats of varnish on her. We’ll get up to a dozen coats, then stripe the deck seams and re-install the engine before moving onto the new upholstery and flooring. She should be on schedule for completion in May.

Completing the project - July 2009

No real surprises on this Continental…just the many final details getting her put back together.  She looks much better now in her factory original colors than she did in the police boat white…don’t you agree?




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