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1968 20' Chris-Craft Grand Prix

It was the end of an era for wooden runabouts for the watercraft industry. Century produced their last wooden hull in 1968, and Chris-Craft would soon follow. One of the last wooden runabout hulls they produced was actually a very sleek-looking utility...named the Grand Prix. The hull appeared to be doing 100 mph standing still with its rakish stem and long pointed deck. Hulls came powered with either the popular 327 or the very powerful (and heavy) 427. Even though the 427 offered a 100+ more horsepower, the larger engine only pushed the hull 5mph faster. Not much of an advantage. The 427 power weighed 300 pounds more than the 327...like carrying around two extra passengers in the boat.

This particular boat comes from Rapid City, SD...and the owner has two of them. It's in for a new 5200 bottom, new hullside and deck planks, refinish. The original interior is not all that bad...as is the chrome and stainless. So, plans are to keep those for now. Where do we always begin? Oh yeah, the bottom.

Yes, it was snowing...a LOT when he brought the boat by.
After removing the very tired bottom, it was cleaned, degreased, all the bolts checked and tightened, sealed with CPES, then painted with thinned bilge paint. Then we can proceed with fabricating the inner layer with 4m Okume. Remember, you want to use the European Okume, NOT the Hydro-Tech...that some places use. We experimented with the H-T on one of my boats and we found it has a tendency to delaminate after time...NOT good. (I sold the boat to my brother-in-law, so no worries if there's problems ;-) ). It is cheaper, and cheaper is what you get. Spend the extra money and get the good stuff. You only want to do this once, so make it last.
Turned out just as we hoped. Now that sucker won't take on any more water. Leave it on a lift or trailer...it doesn't matter. Just drop in the water and go. Perfect. Now, on to the really fun part...planking. One of my favorite things to do...especially if you have some beautiful mahogany sitting on the shelves.
Notice we added some intermediate longitudinal battens to help support the new primary battens near the bow where this a lot of stress due to the compound bends. It helps support the battens and makes the overall hull much stronger. It's out of sight, so why not do it?
This is what we were dealing with. It was this way on about 75% of the hullside planks, so it would have been a waste of money to sand it down and refinish. The client would have been extremely disappointed...and so would we.
In case you're wondering, yes...the Grand Prix deck seams are brown, not white.
Not bad considering we used the original interior, gauges, flooring, etc. The owner has another Grand Prix just like this one we'll be restoring over the winter to show condition. Can't wait, cool boats!