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Old 29-05-2008, 05:46   #1
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Question Big boat! Old Boat! Restoration Project?

Not totally committed to this project but seriously considering taking the plunge. The boat is a '67 31' Chris Craft Commander. It's been out of the water for just a year (owner bought a bigger boat). I don't have too many details on it and have a qualified marine engineer going to have a look at it this week before we make the committment to go see it for ourselves (about 500 miles south of us).

We have been told that one engine (327 chevy) needs a head! Hmmm? Not a hurdle I can't get over, been there, done that. I'm figuring on replacing both. Anyhow, anyone done a restoration on an older boat like this? Wondering what pitfalls or signs I should look for that'd be a deal breaker? Signs of water intrusion around the windows and portlights are something I'd pay special attention to, things like that.

According to the owner it is in good shape with the exception of the head on one engine and was used up to the time it was hauled. There's no batteries and all the nav, mooring, safety equipment has been taken off. Again not an insurmountable hurdle. My concerns is she seaworthy enough to do 450 NM up the Hudson, Erie Canal, Lake Ontario and St. Lawrence Seaway to get her home! I guess we'll have to wait and see but if anybody is familiar with this type of boat or has done a restoration we'd appreciate hearing about your experiences.
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Old 29-05-2008, 06:09   #2
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31' Commander: Commander Models

Guidance on Inspection, Repair, and Maintenance of Wooden Hulls
NVIC 7-95
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Old 29-05-2008, 06:25   #3
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31' Commander: Commander Models

Guidance on Inspection, Repair, and Maintenance of Wooden Hulls
NVIC 7-95
Thank Gawd it ain't wood! Knottygirlz has standing orders to slap me upside the head if I ever consider a wooden boat resto project!
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Old 29-05-2008, 08:10   #4
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But.... If it ain't wood, it ain't good OK, I have to concede that I have grown to appreciate the other boat materials, but nothing like restoring a wood boat to make you feel good about it. I have worked on the wood hull version of these boats, and the biggest concern I have encountered besides the engines, is the transome. I have never found one without rot in the transome. So, if yours is fiberglass, this should not be an issue. Gas engines? For what you are doing, and considering the price of diesel right now, should be fine, but a repower could likely be in your future. At least the Target engines are not too expensive. Cheaper than building from scratch.
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Old 29-05-2008, 09:43   #5
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Cheaper than building from scratch.
Still gonna build our trawler. This is just another diversion 'cause I don't have 'nuff stress in my life and nuttin' to pour my money into at the moment!

Don't get me wrong, I love old wooden boats, just don't wanna spend ALL my time tryin' to keep the planks from poppin' off the bottom of them!
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Old 29-05-2008, 09:57   #6
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And I notice this one does not have outdrives
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Old 29-05-2008, 10:24   #7
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And I notice this one does not have outdrives

Likely they are in someone's shop.
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Old 29-05-2008, 10:42   #8
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I wouldn't wanna disappoint anybody so I'll just drop a couple of these diesel guzzin' beauties!!! What's 'nuther $40G's eh?

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Old 29-05-2008, 10:44   #9
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It's only money. OK, so maybe it's time to convert it to a twin motor, single engine hybrid
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Old 29-05-2008, 10:50   #10
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It's only money. OK, so maybe it's time to convert it to a twin motor, single engine hybrid
Why don't I put some freakin' sails on it while I'm at it eh?
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Old 29-05-2008, 11:03   #11
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Better yet, I will sell you a sail boat for the cost of a single engine repower. By the time you pay for transport, you will still save money on the twins.
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Old 29-05-2008, 11:07   #12
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Just some of the points my brother has gone through on his early 70s Chris.
His hul is bulit-proof and when we put in a depth sounder, the area where drilled was over 2 inches thick.. Seems they didnt know what fiberglass was in reguards to strength so the idea was, "when in doubt-add more" which is good for you.
His has two "forumula 400s" and they work well.. Mechanic-ly speaking, because the boat is so old, if a part breaks, you have to have one fabracated or build it yourself. His had a throttle cable bracket break on one motor.. no replacement avalable so he had to have one built.
another note is the wood above the waterline, it rots in the corners where it may stand as in the forward area of the rear deck.
He's also had a problem with water in the bildge, when it rains, the water runs through the motor cover areas on the rear deck. The pickup for the bildge is in the forward area and the natural setting of the boat in the water, keeps the water in the bildge in the rear of the boat. He's in the process of re-engeneering the area and filling the rear area with epoxy so the natural slope would be to the front.
All in all, its a pretty nice boat.. Remember that it is a "power boat" and those small blocks will use a bunch of fuel.. On my brothers, when you put it up on plane, you can actally see the fuel guage move..
We've often used his boat for the commettee boat for our sailboat races, and it works out great.....
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Old 29-05-2008, 11:26   #13
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Heres a picture of my brothers Chris 33 with my 42 in the background. if you would like, I can give you his e-mail, you can chat with him about the pros and cons.....
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Old 29-05-2008, 12:06   #14
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I hope you do a very careful analysis of what your total investment will be after you restore the boat. Old boats never sell at high prices, no matter how well they have been restored -- you are likely to take a huge hit on this boat on resale unless you are ruthless about purchase price and fanatically careful about not "over-restoring."

There are so many near-desperate sellers of newer boats around I suggest you look at something newer. There are several boat liquidators that have rapidly-growing inventories of repossessed boats of all vintages/types/conditions that are worth a look.
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Old 29-05-2008, 14:33   #15
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Thnx Randy thats the kinda feedback I'm looking for! I've read lots on the early f/g yachts built by CC & Hatteras and a lot of others and how over engineered they were with the fiberglass laminates. Pascoe points out quite a few instances where the early 60's tanks survive hurricanes with a few dings and dents and the newer cored composite boats splinter into fragments!

I am aware of the wood rot that persists on a lot of early models in the cabins and decks. I'll be looking close for the telltale signs, water intrusion around the windows and ports and all the deck hardware and fastenings.

I think GM produced about 100 million 327's and from surfing around the net the parts are readily available and cheap. Custom fabricating parts isn't totally outside my skills and abilities so I'm not too worried about that aspect of reviving a couple of small V8's. I'm extremely comfortable with working on gas engines.

Thnx for the water in the bilge tip, I'll look specifically for that. Again it appears from what you've said that's also not a difficult hurdle to get over. As for fuel comsumption I think I'll just disconnect the gas gauges!

I appreciate your concerns and insight jsschieff. I can safely say I'm not considering this project for profit. I think it goes back a long way and a love for the classic power boats I watched go up and down the St. Lawrence river as a kid. There was one, a Trojan Tri-cabin that especially caught my eye. We watched one (a woodie) die a painful horrible death by rot in our marina for years before it was eventually put out of its misery. As much as I admired that old boat I knew it was well beyond my ability to restore it. I don't think that's the case with this one. If it's doable and a reasonable investment in restoration can give us a nice boat to enjoy for a few years then we'll go for it. I don't expect to ever recover my investment in cash outlay or time. It's just not about that.

This is the ole' Trojan they put down last year. Death by backhow is a terrible way to end it all!

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