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1955 19' Chris Craft Capri

As most of you already know, the very cool Capris were the successor to the equally beautiful Riviera models. These were the company's sexy runabouts, yet their reign as the 'go-to' boat to have at your dock was giving way to the growing popularity and usability of the utility configuration. Runabouts would only be produced for a few more years. 1955 was the first year of the Capri, and sported the same raked 'bull nose' stem as the rocket ship Cobra. I personally owned a 19' Capri for several years, and it was one of the most enjoyable boats I had the pleasure of using. With a growing family and more river cruising, we ended up moving to a large utility. Still, I loved that boat. It always turned heads and looked awesome on the water.

This particular Capri is the second boat we've done for this very successful business man that lives just two hours from the shop. We actually found this boat on eBay. The boat was upside down, not all the planks or interior was quite there, yet the hardware was intact. The new owner wants the boat done right and visually correct in every detail...which is the only way to have this type of boat restored.

As always, we'll start with the bottom and go with the bullet-proof 5200 procedure we've used with much success on more than 135 bottoms now. They're visually correct, use the same construction methods as Chris-Craft used, and eliminates the need for annoying attention to swelling before use. Then she's to get all new sides, decks, transom, interior, flooring, chrome, engine rebuild, etc., etc. You get the idea. He wants her to stand tall, which she will when we're finished.

As you can see, there was some structural issues that needed to be addressed before we got too far with the rest of the bottom. The transom was pretty well rotted, and so were the chines and several frames. Once those were done we installed the inner 4m Okume layer, then attached the new mahogany planks with 5200 and 316 stainless fasteners. Coat with CPES, Interlux primer, and finally Racing Bronze bottom paint. Let sit for several days before rolling back over. Now to the fun part, fabricating the new hullside planks.

Capri Update...

Once we roll the boat back over the real fun (yes, I really do mean fun) begins. I've said it before, and it is indeed true...my favorite part of a restoration is re-planking the boat. You need to be a little creative and the hull just looks so darn good when finished with all new mahogany. We've used the same method my buddy Don Danenberg taught me years ago, the router method. It does take a little longer, but the results are always worth it.

Before cutting the new planks, we always replace the battens. It's really foolish to use new mahogany without replacing them. Not only are they fresh and strong, but it provides new wood for the plank fasteners. It doesn't take long to do, so just do it.
You'll notice the small pieces of wood screwed into the chine plank. That's to give us something to clamp on to. Use drywall fasteners. Once your done remove the wood and fill the small pinholes with Famowood. You'll never see them once the boat is stained.

The forward sheer plank is always the toughest to do, as it has several extreme bends, and we usually need to steam the plank for a couple of hours before attaching. Cut the plank as close as you can get it, steam for two hours, then attach with temporary drywall fasteners and washers. Let sit overnight. Remove the next day, do your final fitting, then seal and permanently attach. It pays to be patient. If the board cracks or snaps in two (which has happened to us more than once), have a beer and cool off. Then cut another board and start over.

Once the sides are done start on the decks. We had no patterns for this particular boat as the original planks had been destroyed. As we had another Capri in the shop we cheated and took measurements from that one.

Part of the structure was very tired, so this is the time to replace any questionable wood. When done, seal with CPES and then thinned bilge paint. We use Farmhouse Red for Chris-Crafts.

The covering boards are always a real treat. You need a large piece of 8/4 lumber, a good saw and careful measurements. Clamp down to help relieve the pressure on your fasteners. The fasten. Don't over tighten your fasteners to draw down, use the clamps for that. Nothing's more frustrating than breaking off a fastener.

Once on, use a power planner to shape, using cross sections of the originals to get the correct curve. It takes a long time to do this. We'll spend an entire day to get it right.

The hatch was pretty tired as well. When cutting your planks for the hatch, be sure to use one continuous board from the top of the hatch down to the transom covering board so the grain matches.
The Capris, Cobras, and a few other models with the curved windshield frame require a small router cut into the deck. Mark the holes, then make a very accurate template for your router edge. Then very carefully make your cut. This can be nerve racking. Take very little wood at a time, you'll need to make several passes, but it's easier this way. And yes, it can be a little nerve-racking. We always open the Land Shark afterwards...if we don't screw it up.
Whew! Perfect this time. Glad that's done!
After a full week of fairing and then sanding until your arms are ready to fall off, she's ready to bleach. And yes, we spent two full days long boarding.
Now that she's bleached, we'll let set for a couple of days then begin staining.
Completion... A lot of taping before staining. The most difficult are the quarter-rails.
There were no interior ceiling boards with the boat, so we had to fabricate new ones.
Same with the furniture. Lucky for us we had another Capri in storage we used to get measurements from. Before we take to the upholsterer we coat heavily with CPES and then bilge paint.
Chris-Craft was really on top of their 'designing' game when they planned the Capris.