CHRIS CRAFT COMMANDER FORUM ® .......A photo-intensive technical reference file and ongoing newsletter regarding the original fiberglass Chris-Craft Commander series. This is an independent not-for-profit and non-commercial web site, not affiliated with the Chris Craft Commander Club ~~ or ~~ Chris-Craft Corporation. Our mission here is to "have fun and share information" about the Commander series (and those associated fiberglass boats on the Chris-Craft family tree) for your individual personal use, and by doing so help promote the good name of Chris-Craft, and help preserve, restore, and appreciate Chris-Craft boats. The main reference feature is the ever expanding MASTER INDEX File which contains what we believe to be the world's largest collection of documentation photos and technical information on the Chris-Craft Commander line of boats, (like these original brochure scans, featuring the iconic first 38 Commander styled by Fred Hudson, and many of the great Dick Avery renditions that followed) , (a huge collection of Chris-Craft 427 tuning and specification information), and a few words about how to use the forum.

We extend to you a cordial "WELCOME ABOARD !" Come on in, make yourself at home, we are a friendly group of enthusiasts, and we also appreciate the classic Chris Craft Roamer, Corsair, and Lancer boats too , as they are all on the same family tree and share much in common ! Just start by posting a note introducing yourself to the group, that's all it takes here (we don't ask for or retain any personal information here, because our intention is to just "have fun and share information".

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* Update on the 20' fiberglass Sea Skiff project (an "almost Commander")

December 16 2006 at 5:23 PM
Paul  (no login)

First, here is a link to the thread "first look inside", showing what the boat looked like when it arrived in Nashville, after being shipped from the south shore of Lake Ontario.

This boat was built in the Cortland, New York, Chris Craft Corsair Division's plant, where the 19' Commander Super Sport and 23' Commander were built two years later. 70 were built in 1966, and 10 in 1967.

Well today I can announce that all the vinyl covered panels, all flooring, all interior trim of any kind, the gear selector, steering wheel, steering system, gauges, are out of the boat. It's basically a bare hull with lots of stuff inside now that needs to be cleaned up. I plan to take a pressure washer and shop vac to it tomorrow, but for today all the major disassembly is done.

The motor runs, the new (old) transmission is here, along with four spare exhaust logs and a couple risers.

The gear selector is from MORSE, and it's a good unit, but heavily pitted. I'm going to have it restored and replated instead of using a new one. The funky steering wheel is going to be powder coated and reused too. Gauges have been sent off for restoration.

I am quite amazed at the sheet after sheet of vinyl plywood that has come out of this thing! Two layers of side panels, one to line the inside of the long ski storage pocket, and they extend all the way to the bow of the boat. Numerous other fit and finish pieces, all wrapped with vinyl. Just looking at all those copper staples, now I know I must buy an electric staple gun for this project, because I don't think my hands will survive a million concussions with the old mechanical style. Since so much of this boat is flatwork, I plan to do that because it's so easy to do. I'll do that in my shop during the coldest weather of the season, and I'll be out in my "boat capsule" when weather will permit. The reassembly process should be very fast and rewarding.

Yes, I've purchased one of those (Cortland) New York boats built in the Finger Lake region, so the two guys who are most likely to see another one are Bill and Tom, because I don't think there would be too many of these that ever got south of the Mason Dixon line, and fewer that would still be on the water today. Our goal when finished, is to have "an original 1966 condition 20' fiberglass Chris Craft Sea Skiff" to dock along side our 1966 38 Commander. If the restoration is good enough, I'll be taking this one to the Mt. Dora 2008 boat show. The ACBS recognizes any boat of 1968 or older as a "Modern Classic" and I suspect there will be a lot of pretty informed boaters down there who have never even seen one of these low production boats. Most people would fail the test when asked "did Chris Craft ever build a fiberglass Sea Skiff". The correct answer is "yes" happy.gif

I am very impressed with the integrity and sensible construction used on this boat. It is VERY STRONG, and it is built EXACTLY like the Commander series. It has transverse and longitudinal hollow fiberglass box beams, just like a Commander. There is NO WOOD that comes in contact with water. The engine stringers are wood, but they are free standing heavy timber pieces that span from fiberglass to fiberglass.

Encapsulated marine plywood has been bonded to the inner wall of the fiberglass hull with polyester fiberglassed straps, to serve as a medium to screw into and hold those vinyl finish panels. They all look perfectly preserved.

The windshield has to come off in order to get the minor pitting out of the aluminum frame. The upholstry (seats) will be a pretty easy job, and it will have to match the motor box (which is presently intact, but needing a top and needing a through going over to tighten everything up.

I'm not sure if the motor will have to come out at this point or not. I was optimistic when I got it started, but the freeze plugs are steel and rusted out(the 327 block is an automotive transplant) and they are darn near impossible to get at because the motor mounts are in the way. The new Paragon transmission is a beast, and it won't fit onto the motor without the motor being lifted, so it looks like I'm in for a weekend of wrestling with some big iron. Not sure just how that's going to be done, but rest assured, "it will be done". happy.gif

Janet spent the day at the lake house with her family, and she said early this morning, "you have to work on the boat today". I smiled when I heard that, and I asked her to repeat it so I could savor the moment, ha !

I'll post some photos later this eve when I get a chance to upload them.

Regards, Paul


After a year of restoration work, part time here and there, this is the almost end result. The windshield isn't installed yet, but as you can see, she's a runner! happy.gif I discovered the motor is actually an automotive block, with higher compression than the 8.0:1 Chris Craft 327F, this one has 8.5:1 and the lowest power rating for that motor was 250-hp. This boat will FLY !!

Here are more brochures

Here's what one sounds like (mine being test run while on the trailer)

July 2009 UPDATE: New Videos and Photos ! The boat is running great, and gets compliments where-ever we go. I have yet to compound out the hull and get the Chris Craft script rechromed.

Quiet morning July of 2009, birds were chirping, then the 327F was fired up.
Turn up your speakers for this one, even though it's a small block, it is a BEAST !

[linked image]

[linked image]

[linked image]

Here she is July 2009 at speed on the Cumberland, in front of Alan Jackson's fish camp.

This message has been edited by FEfinaticP on May 16, 2012 6:59 PM

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Photos of the fiberglass hull construction

December 16 2006, 6:06 PM 

Here is a marine plywood piece that has been "encapsulated" and bonded to the side of the hull with polyester, and a polyester soaked fiberglass strap. The purpose of this wood piece is to receive screws that hold vinyl side pieces.

This shows the inside of the starboard hull and if you look closely, you can see a horizontal box beam run along the side, for purposes of general strength and also to hang supports to hold the flooring. You can also see the imbedded plywood.

That vertical piece on the left is part of a fiberglass and wood "air duct" that runs from the cast in scoop on the side of the boat and down into the bilge.

I suspect much of this construction technique was "learned" by acquiring Thompson in 1962 and refined for use in all of the Lancers, Corsairs, and the entire Commander line. Naturally the big Commanders use heavier roving, but the techniques appear to be the same. No three piece hull on this one though!

Regards, Paul

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(no login)

Photos of the MORSE gear selector assembly

December 16 2006, 6:19 PM 

I am not a big fan of a single lever to control a boat, but hey, this is original equipment and I plan to restore it accordingly. I am comforted that the torque of an idling 327 will easily manuver this boat to the dock. Looking at everything about this hardware, it looks solid as a rock and therefore it's worth the expense of replating.

Here is a photo of the selector in place, taken under the blue shrink wrapping

Here you can see the pitting on the casting. 40 years of humidity have taken their toll.

Here's what the inside of this puppy looks like, still as good as the day it came off the assembly line.

I don't know about the Commanders that were built in the Cortland, New York plant (two years after this boat was built) but I suspect there are a lot of Lancers and Corsairs out there using this same MORSE hardware. It's a pretty nifty assembly, and it should clean up quite nicely. I think having period hardware like this will add to the allure of the boat, especially if someone who knows the vintage well sees it. Hmmmm, I'll bet the boat show judges have never seen one of these boats???

I took a series of documentary photos to assure I can get all of this back in place properly. Lots of "under the dash" photos, and lots of the windshield and steering gear too.

Regards, Paul

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(no login)

Any motorcycle shop can make that hardware look new

December 17 2006, 12:58 PM 

Do yourself a favor though, and do all the sanding yourself. Get it generally cleaned up so they won't be tempted to put it on a fast production device and screw it up. Most of the damage at rechroming shops comes from their haste to get things prepped. You can take a wet sandpaper and spend an evening on that, and you'll be surprised how clean it will look. Be prepared to sand long enough to get down to the bottom of all the pitting. It would have been better if that piece was brass, but it's still going to look like new with a good prep and plating.


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(no login)

Exact same hardware used on the 19' Commander Super Sport

December 18 2006, 10:30 AM 

here's the proof, it's the exact same MORSE twin cable selector, one to the gearbox, the other to the throttle.


I suspect the rack and pinion steering gear is identical as well, but the instruments are different.

Another one of those obscure trivia points you can dig out some day when you're at a boat show

regards, Paul

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(no login)

19' Commander Steering Gear

December 18 2006, 10:38 AM 

Ooops, I failed to see that traditional steering gear in the previous photo. Here's a closeup.

Odd that the high powered SS would go back to the rod driven steering system, but as you can see from the photo below (my 1956 300-hp Sportsman) the ole rod driven steering is reliable and it works without feedback or strain. Perhaps that's the reason they chose thos "old style" steering for the Commander Super Sport too?

From what I've heard, not all of the SS Commanders got this type of steering. Maybe there was a transition when the model evolved into the XK-19

Looking at Alan Jackson's SS, (below) no change here, but that hardware is identical to what I'm presently restoring.

Regards, Paul

This message has been edited by FEfinaticP on Dec 18, 2006 10:41 AM

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23' Commander gear selector

December 18 2006, 11:44 AM 

Oddly, the 23' Commander got a different throttle and gear selector than the 19' Commander. I'm puzzled, because I understand the larger boat also got the cable drive steering (see friction knob), while the smaller Commander got the shaft drive steering.

BELOW: A documentation of the 23' Commander steering wheel (same as my 1966 20' Sea Skiff), gauges, and gear selector.

Looking at the cross-pollenization between models at the Chris Craft Corsair Division, who built the small Commanders, and looking at similar features on the Lancers, Corsairs, and Sea Skiff's, I'm seeing some interesting mix of features for my next trivia contest:

My 1966 20' fiberglass Skiff has the same steering gear and wheel as the 23' Commander, and the same gear selector as the 19' Commander Super Sport. I suspect hull construction is very similar between these models, and it's "all good news" as far as I've seen. The strangest thing I've seen is the 1969 19' Super Sport has the same steering gear as my 1956 wood 17' Sportsman. They must have used that same steering on thousands of boats, and had a good stock left over.

In my 1966 Skiff, there are NO fiberglassed wood stringers, and NO wood that touches anything wet. Therefore, engine stringers are as good as the day they were cut. Awesome to find a 40-year old boat in this kind of shape, and it's a tribute to Chris Craft.

Study up for that pop quiz!~


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Tom Slayton
(no login)

Glad to see you gettin after it

December 16 2006, 7:03 PM 

Congratulations on the progress, Paul, I'm impressed with the drive you apparently have, because I've seen a lot of work being done on that project of yours in a fairly short time frame. I guess you're serious about having a runabout to drive in the springtime. I am also impressed at your measures to keep things original, because I can't tell you how many boats I have seen over the years that have "the mark" of a previous owner left on them. Few people have the restraint to "leave well enough alone" and it seems everyone wants to personalize or customize things. Thats not all bad, but more often than not, the customization from the general public is not a pretty sight.

I have been looking over the files you posted about Warren Pateman's restoration of his 38' Commander. That whole project of his is inspirational. His work is all custom. He did it to such a high standard I think he missed his calling in life and should have been in the boat design or manufacturing business. The decision has to be made on each project, and on yours I think it's great to keep the boat as original as possible.

Cheers, Tom

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Artifacts discovered during disassembly !!

December 17 2006, 3:03 PM 

Wow, I've discovered some interesting stuff during the disassembly of everything. I found a first aid kit tucked waaaay back in one of those side pockets where you wouldn't normally look. It contains a mirror, a very cool old hand compass, a nice case pocket knife, assorted first aid provisions, and a note outlining every single item in the box, including the dime (dated 1966).

I found a cool multipurpose tool, which is a plier with an adjustable wrench on the handle. It's old style, well built, and I soaked it down with penetrating oil. It can be re-used and I guess I'll keep it aboard as a memento.

Now for the GOOD STUFF !

(drumroll please)

Upon lifting out some of those side trim pieces, I see something that looks like a credit card. It's wedged in the upturned vinyl lip on the backside of the bottom edge of one of those panels. It is located inside one of those side pockets. Guess what it is?

(drumroll please)

It is a NY State Conservation Dept., Division of Motor Boats-Albany, NY 12201 certificate of boat registration. The name is Alfred L. Goodman, of 2077 Lexington PKY, Schenectady, NY 12309. The expiration date is 10-31-73 which would have made the boat 8-years old at the time of expiration. Mr. goodman's birthday is listed as 3-22-22, which would make him 85 years old today.

You know how much I would love to contact this gentleman and discuss his boat! Anyone out there with connections in NY, it sure would be good to find Alfred! How cool! Perhaps he's the one who itemized all of the notes in the first aid kit.

Almost forgot, there is another pouch discovered in the boat, sealed in a ziplock type of pouch of sorts. It looks like a list from an outing. I'll post later when I can uplink the images.


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Photos of artifacts found aboard

December 17 2006, 7:03 PM 

This is the "Rosetta Stone" of the boat history, as I believe this was the original owner. I believe Mr. Goodman is deceased, from information obtained from another "Goodman" I found on the internet and called by phone this eve. He was very considerate and cordial, and said he knew of Alfred L. Goodman, but he was deceased. He did name his son, however, who I am trying to get in contact with now, hopefully tomorrow as his tele is unlisted.

The son would be roughly my age, and I suspect he would have been water skiing behind "that green boat". So I am wondering how to open the subject. Perhaps I'll say, "did you ever water ski behind a green boat?" happy.gif

In honor of Mr. Alfred L Goodman, I went out to the boat, put my hand on it, and proposed a toast to him today. May he rest in peace. What this does, is it reinforces my notion that we are all custodians of the boats (cars, houses, land, etc.) that we own at the moment, and someday there will be another owner. Mr. Goodman may be gone, but in 1966 when the boat was new, he was 44 years old, and I suspect he had a young boy who spent a lot of time aboard the boat.

Here are some of the other things found aboard. This is a first aid kit, which I found wedged waaay forward of a side pocket. It may have been there through several owners, and the only way they would have found it would be to disassemble the boat like I did.

Whomever assembled this kit, was VERY methodical about it. Everything is in it's place. Everything is itemized, and ready if needed.





Interesting how you can learn more about a boat during a restoration process ! Part of the fun and appreciation factor.

Regards, Paul

July 2012 Edit Comment: I don't know if it is apparent from subsequent postings or not, but I did reach Mr. Goodmans's son, who is a retired surgeon, who remembers the boat, water skiing, etc., and who said he would talk with his mother who is still alive about the boat. I asked him if he had any photos, which I would love to get, but he did not seem interested in searching his family photos for some guy who was goober about the old family boat. He said it was used on Lake George for 25 years, bung in a boat house each winter, and that explains the stress deformation I found on the rear boat lift hooks, which I had to replace, due to perhaps hanging the boat with a full fuel tank. I asked the son if he would want the contents I found but he was not interested in having that stuff around the house either. Oh well, it was an interesting find, and it sure rings home the notion that these boats have seen a lot of history during their life so far. In that sense they do have soul !



This message has been edited by FEfinaticP on Jul 12, 2012 12:28 PM

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James Brunette
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Interesting time capsule

December 17 2006, 8:04 PM 

I like your take on the "custodian of care" philosophy. I also am fascinated by some of these old boats, and wonder what kind of tales they would tell if they could talk.

Interesting read, thanks for posting the story.


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Bill Basler
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Very interesting find

June 18 2007, 11:33 PM 

Paul, I love this part of the process. I have been working on a 1936 Gar Wood utility. One of my finds was a flawless 1932 penny...not so unusual, but a reminder that this boat had a long life. I also found a thirties vintage can of unopened motor oil, and strangley about 30 assorted vacuum tubes. I don't know why they were there, but there must have been a bunch of them stored in a box at one time. I found tubes from stem to stern. Bill

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Knowing the history of the boat makes the experience so much more fun !!

June 19 2007, 11:13 AM 

Hi Bill,

I guess it's okay for the Executive Director of the Chris Craft Antique Boat Club to be working on a Gar Wood !

Save those vacuum tubes! They're probably worth their weight in gold on the vacuum tube black market, especially in Cuba, lol!

Finding the 1932 penny and a 30's vintage can of oil, that is great stuff!

When I found the "artifacts" in my project boat, I was really taken aback. I went out and put my hand on the boat and gave it a pat as I said "Alfred Goodman" out loud. I think the boat appreciated it. Boats have a soul of sorts, and knowing the history helps in the appreciation factor. Knowing a guy like Alfred Goodman had this boat on Lake George, and knowing his now retired surgeon son learned to water ski behind the boat just adds to the appreciation.

All boats have a history of fun and excitement, and if they could only talk, just think what an interesting tale they would tell! I imgaine they liked some owners more than others. I hope my Sea Skiff likes me, because if there's one thing you do NOT want, it's a vindictive boat!!


all the best,


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Re: Knowing the history of the boat makes the experience so much more fun !!

July 7 2007, 12:49 AM 

According to my wife, I've never met a boat I didn't want. This has plagued me since childhood, and it's not getting any better. RIght now I am tackling the old Corsair. The 1942 barrelback is moving along slowly as is the 1936 Gar Wood.

Regarding your comments about the history...that is very rewarding to me. I love the research, and the feeling that I get saving these old boats. 2 out of the three of my boats would have certainly met the scrap yard within a couple of years. A Chris-Craft barrelback scrapped? It still happens. I am so in tune with the history of these boat that I have been in contact with all of the families that have owned them over the years. They are all cordial and very grateful that their boats are in good hands.

I mentioned to my wife that these boats have such interesting "souls" that I should name them all after their prior owners. In each case, the prior owners had intended to restore the old boats, but just never quite got there. If I carry through with that thought, it would make the Gar Wood Adolph, the barrelback Larry, and the Corsair, Mikki's Bomb!!!

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News (Previous Owner's Son just called with information about the boat)

December 20 2006, 12:41 PM 

History is what I really love about vintage boats! They all have a history, and without the history they're mere good looking objects, but with the history, they retain their soul and character. Without knowing about the builders, previous owners, where the boat was run, etc., there are too many missing links.

I've often thought "what if boats could talk". What interesting tales they would tell about their outings, their previous owners, and all of the people who were aboard. This is one reason I love to research Chris Craft history, leaning about the people at the helm, corporate expansion, engineering R&D, styling issues, etc.

Knowing the history of an old boat, sure makes it a lot more fun, and I would encourage everyone to track down as much history as possible about each of their boats.

Today Dr. Steve Goodman called, who is a retired surgeon, and his dad, Alfred, is the gentleman who left the registration card in the boat I am presently working on.

Alfred Goodman passed away in 1995 and was not the original owner of this boat. His son, Steven, is looking for any information he can find right now, and will be asking his mother about the history of the boat, and any photos they may have, etc. The conversation was really good stuff, Steven was very interested in where his dad's boat had gone after they sold it, and of course I was very interested too.

Information to date, the boat was purchased by the Goodman family from Bill Morgan, Morgan Marine, and present owner of Hacker Boat Company, building replicas of HackerCraft boats on Lake George. The boat stayed at a cottage on Lake George, in a boat house, lifted out of the water during the winter, and apparently got good care under the ownership of the Goodman family.

Steve kept the boat for a year after his dad passed away, and sold it for something like $7000, not sure.

Since then the boat was owned by Messer' Sikorski, Maynard, and Flower, ending up in Medina, NY and being sold by a yacht broker in Buffalo. It's now in Nashville getting ready for the next 40 years, with a total restoration down to the fiberglass on the inside.

Here is the history of the boat as I understand it today:

Year of manufacture 1966

1966-1970 ?? Original owner, held it perhaps 4 years.

1970?? Guess as to when Alfred Goodman bought the boat.

1970-1996 Boat remained in the Goodman family on Lake George for 26 years.

1996 Boat was sold to unknown person (presently being researched). Here is where the trail gets cold. Not sure where the boat went from Lake George, but I think it went to a location where it ran the Mowhawk River area.

Mr. Sikorsky owned the boat at one time near Albany, and intended to restore it, and kept it at a local yacht club.

Mr. Maynard (who was a member of the same yacht club) bought it from Sikorsky when Sikorsky moved to Florida. Mr. Maynard listed the boat with serial number in the 2004 ACBS directory.

Mr. Maynard sold the boat to Mr. Flower, of Medina, NY, who intended to restore it.

Mr. Pletcher bought the boat from Tom Frauenheim, yacht brokers, located in Buffalo, NY, and transported the boat to Nashville, TN where it is undergoing complete restoration (after said boat was listed on Yachtworld and Steve mentioned it on the Chris Craft Commander Forum!).

Thanks again, Steve, I owe you one! We continue to be thrilled with the boat.

As I obtain more info, and hopefully some family photos of the boat on Lake George, I'll post them here.

Regards, Paul

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Dave Mehl
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Paul, that is a great story !

December 20 2006, 2:50 PM 

This is a great read.

Thanks for sharing it your notes. I'll bet Steven was rather surprised to hear from you. Random acts of kindness like this are what make the world go around, and we could use more of them!


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Thanks for the note Dave, we're having some fun with all of this

December 20 2006, 6:06 PM 

I know its not a Commander and was hesitant to "dillute the forum" with this off topic information, however, our content on the forum really is plenty strong enough to survive with an occasional off topic but related thread. From the responses (like yours) I think people welcome a little diversity in model discussions. It's been an education for me to discover how close this boat is to the Commander culture too, having been built under the same roof as two of the Commander models, sharing construction techniques, power, steering wheels, gear selectors, etc., with some of the Commander models.

Steve Goodman was a gentleman and obviously a scholar. He was really captivated by the chance encounter, and is willing to pursue more information. He is anxious to look through some of his family photos, and I'm optimistic about what he may find. After all, if the boat was in their family for 26 years, I suspect he has a lot of photos from their experiences on Lake George.

I do subscribe to the "random acts of kindness" theory and practice, by the way. I agree, there is too little of it going around these days.

All the best to you and yours,

Regards, Paul

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Re: News (Previous Owner's Son just called with information about the boat)

December 23 2006, 11:51 AM 

I just had one of those feelings when I saw the boat listed on Frauenheim's web site that it would be a good match for you and that's why I sent you the link. As I said before,I was probably as excited as you were about the purchase and to see how you've gotten right after it is just amazing. I'm looking forward to seeing photos if it rafted along side Tradition sometime this summer.
A couple of years back, I was visiting my son in Saratoga Springs,I happened to see a unique looking boat on a trailer that was parked behind NAPA store in a strip mall. Luckily, my wife often indulges my nosiness, and we stopped to look at it. It just happened to be a CC Corsair,white with a red boot stripe, and it was in perfect condition. That was the first one I'd ever seen until I saw the listing for the one that you bought.
Keep up the great work and of course,keep us posted.
Happy Holiday's to all.

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BEFORE ~~ and ~~ AFTER (photos)

December 23 2006, 3:23 PM 

Thanks again, Steve, for the great referral, Janet and I will be forever grateful, and we’ll think of you when we’re out running this boat. Yes, you’ll see a photo of the Skiff along side TRADITION for sure.

I’m blessed with good weather this holiday season, and I’ve been working on the boat today. Later today I’ll take a shop vac and get everything out of the boat, and then’ll I’ll do an internal pressure wash. When it dries up, I’ll shop vac again. Later we’ll be doing the Chris Craft gray bilge paint thing. Some of that bare fiberglass is exposed way up in the forward bow area where the side trim stops.

Here’s a taste of the progress. These chrome trim rings are pretty unique. I’ve never seen them tapered like this for upswept tail pipes, and the look is pretty cool. Those rings cleaned up nicely, but we’ll have them re-chromed along with everything else. All the better for that 250-hp to bark through! I plan to send all the stuff to Graves Plating, who specializes in boat hardware, as I had a rather poor experience many years ago going to a place that didn’t specialize in boat hardware. Since there’s really not a lot of chrome on the boat, may as well have what is there looking good.

BELOW: “Before” and “After” a little touch up work.

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(Login ChrisWade)

Hey, you missed one !

December 23 2006, 11:20 PM 

Hey Paul, I hope the phillips head screw on the mounting flange of the trim tap cylinder has an 1/8 of a turn left. It would be unsightly if all the screws didn't line up correctlly. ha, ha , ha just kiddin ya. Keep up the great work and Merry Christmas.

Chris Wade

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