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1960 17' Chris Craft Cavalier

I know some in the classic boating community that look down on the Cavaliers due to their Fir-Plywood hullsides and decks, but not me.  I have always liked these boats, even though many were abused and no longer survive today.  They were light, maneuverable, and usually pretty darn fast.  Many made good ski boats due to the power to weight ratio and they do not make much wake…a skiers dream.  They also have a once piece (per side) plywood bottom that if maintained at even a minimal level will still function well today.  No real plank swelling needed here.  If you’re looking for a smart and economical boat to get into the classic boating hobby don’t rule out the Cavaliers.  They can be had at an attractive price and provide just as much enjoyment as the more expensive planked models.

So, this boat has belonged in this particular family for many, many years in the southern part of the country.  It was in storage for the last decade or so until the family decided it was time to breath life back into this old gal.  As you can see from the photos she needs just a little attention.  A complete refinish for starters, a new windshield, interior, flooring, chrome, and some engine attention as well.  And, as I stated above, the bottom is in remarkably good shape, in spite of some oil in the bilge...so we’ll only sand and repaint the bottom with the correct Hard Racing Bronze.

We’re going to shampoo and re-use the carpet flooring…uhh…NOT!  We also evicted the mice as well.  You might say we foreclosed on them.  Ok, we might go ahead and splurge on some new step pads too.

I may be wrong, but I believe this is an aftermarket mirror attachment.  Not sure that can be saved.

There’s nothing like the smell of a good Macanudo cigar and burning varnish.  Now all I need is an open can of CPES to inhale for good measure.  You can send my ‘Get Well’ cards to…oh never mind, it helps me slow down and relax.  Now, if I can just get rid of this little twitch…

The biggest concern when stripping the Cavaliers is the veneer is only about 1/16” thick, so if you’re not VERY careful you can sand right through and leave a big UGLY that will stick out like a pimple on Jennifer Aniston’s you-know-what after you stain.  Fortunately that did not happen and the wood underneath the ancient and crackling varnish was actually quite nice.

These Cavaliers do not have ceiling boards, and the interior does not get stained…just varnished.  After we let the stain thoroughly dry for a couple of days, we’ll apply two coats of Pettit’s sealer, then begin varnishing.  For that I leave the Macanudo in the case.

****Finishing the Project ****

The Cavaliers are actually quite attractive boats and always zippy, due to their light weight.  The only rub, as in most lightly built boats, is they do not provide the softer ride in rougher waters.  That notwithstanding, these are charming boats with lots of personality on the water.  When we did the water test following the complete rebuild of the ‘K’ motor, it must have taken us half a day on the water to finally realize that there was just nothing wrong about the boat and regrettably had to pull her out after a couple of hours on a local lake putting her through her paces.  It’s a tough job but someone has to do it!

Ahhh, now she looks better than new… and ready to run as well.  I’m sure the owners will thoroughly enjoy their fresh Chris-Craft.  We had fun working on her.

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