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Old 23-12-2010, 21:35   #1
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Refitting an Old Chris Craft

Hello there one and all I am rather new to this so be gentle.

The question I pose is this i am currently looking at a 1952 42' Chris Craft Catalina in Fair condition with twin Chrysler 318's. No this being said I am wanting opinions on the best way to refit for long range cruising down the West coast thru Panama someday ( I need to learn allot more before I do this ) If this is even possible either by engine swap or any means of getting better GPH out of the 318's. She only holds 200Gal of fuel. As a side note I am only looking at coastal cruising less than 3 miles from shore. again any opinions on the refit or what I need to consider for a trip of this nature would be greatly appreciated. Thank you!

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Old 23-12-2010, 22:15   #2
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Hi Marq,
If you're still just looking, consider the cost of refitting with diesels, replacing all those things that need replacing on a boat of this age. Add up all these figures and perhaps look for a boat that's ready to go, for the same $.
Sounds like you may be "looking at" someone else's restoration project that hit a wall for the current owner. If that's the case, make sure you are ready to tackle getting past that wall. It sounds like a huge project to me.
But understand, I'm a sailor, not a power boater, so take my advice with a huge grain of salt.
Twin 318's...must have really burned the ocean in her day.

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Old 23-12-2010, 22:49   #3
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Just a few notes.

You'll be lucky if you burn less than 2 gallons per mile. But let's say you only burn 1.5 (like I did in my 1966 36' Pacemaker). Using the rule of thirds, you'll have a usable range of about 89 miles. In that trip, I bet there are places where fuel stops are much farther apart than that.

With diesels, you might get 1.5 mpg. That's a 200 mile range. Still not nearly enough to make me comfortable.

A diesel refit would be many thousands. That's Many. Gotta include transmissions, etc. New props (because the diesels will turn lower RPMs). Even if you found the engines for free, it wouldn't be cheap.

If you have never owned a wooden boat, let me tell you from experience, they take a huge amount of work. (I finally sold mine for $1. And the engines, generator and systems all worked.)

Having said all that, there is nothing like the ride of a big wood boat. And the interiors were beautiful.

I'm not saying you couldn't do it in that boat. I'm just saying you have a lot of challenges down that path. You'd certainly get a lot of attention along the way, though.

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Old 23-12-2010, 23:41   #4
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Hi, Marq, and welcome to CF.

Those old Chris Crafts can be some handsome boat. But, they weren't made to do what you have in mind. They don't have the range or the strength for the W. Coast. Plus, gasoline on a boat is a bad idea. Diesels are so much safer.

You can look at a chart of the W. Coast and think that decent size ports aren't that far apart. Except if the weather kicks up, you won't be able to get in. You really need much longer range. Chris Crafts were made to be a very nice cruiser in protected waters with plenty of services around. Trying to refit one to safely do offshore cruises would be very, very expensive. Probably lots more than the boat would be worth.

If you want power, and wood, and offshore, look around at some of the diesel trawlers. Many of the older ones aren't terribly expensive and would be much more in tune with what you're talking about.

Good luck to you.

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Old 23-12-2010, 23:50   #5
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I think you'd be better served to have a destination like Alaska. Way more to see, safer (in some ways), more fuel options and your other CC buddies will be out there too.

Honestly, you've got a great boat there but as its been said she wasn't designed for what u have in mind.

To do what you want, I would say get a sail boat. And this is coming from a fellow wood boat owner.

On a side note Chrysler 318s are great and won't let you down. Had literally dozens in cars n boats.

Good luck.
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Old 24-12-2010, 14:55   #6
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I had twin 318's in my 31' '69 commander sport fish. I carried 300 gal of fuel in two 150 gal tanks. This boat was set up for offshore tuna fishing on the east coast. It would burn 23 gph at 18knots.
Not much range even with 300 gal. That is why I sold it and bought my sail boat. Now I can have the range I need and can still fish if I want. Plus it is much cheaper to fill the 50 gal tank.
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Old 02-01-2011, 23:09   #7
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Thank you all for the feedback here. I was incorrect on the engines however that is unimportant now. I will be trying a radical direction here on her repower cause I do not like the Idea of floating on two flamable materials at once lol. Again thank you.

Oh yes I am going to power her with a Serial Hybrid Drive system. (crazy yes but no guts no living)

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