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".

This forum is registered as chriscraftcommander.com

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For you Lancer and small Commander fans !

July 1 2015 at 3:30 PM
Paul  (no login)

[linked image] Anytime anyone really wants to know if a Chris-Craft is a good design, just remember THIS photo of Walt Walters (left) and Jim Wynne (right) out doing what they seemed to do best, and that is build and race boats that won races. happy.gif

If you really wanted to race, it would have been wise to pick some other race that these guys were not in, lol.

Many an expensive boat met its demise at the hands of these two guys, because finishing in second place really has little charm in the racing world. These are the guys who designed the Lancer hulls, and of course the XK-19 and XK-22, and the 19 and 23 Commander hulls as well. If you want to go fast in these hulls, just keep adding more and more power. The hulls come from a pretty well tested formula (pun intended).

Regards,
Paul








The Restoration of the Original Cigarette Speedboat
CHRIS CASWELLJUN 13, 2014
116
SHARES

Back from the Dead

The story of the restoration of the original Formula 233 The Cigarette is one that could change the face of historical boat collecting forever. Witness the rise of the “glassic.”

The annual Vintage Weekend at Key Largo’s luxurious Ocean Reef Club is a gathering of impressively restored boats, cars, and planes on display. And normally that’s more than enough to wow the crowd—but this year there was a surprise.

The entries in the nautical arena included the likes of a former presidential yacht from the ’30s, not to mention classic Trumpys, Chris-Crafts, Burgers, and Ryboviches lining the piers. All had their mahogany and teak varnished to a syrupy brilliance, their brass polished to a sparkle. Brilliant crystal ornamented the tables.

Original Cigarette engine
But the truly knowledgeable—the cognoscenti—among the boating visitors bypassed these opulent offerings and made a beeline to one boat, where they stood in awe, discussing her amongst themselves in hushed tones. What was this diamond among the jewels?

A small white plastic boat.

If you were a mouse eavesdropping on the comments, they ran something like this: “Can you believe it? That’s the boat that started it all!” or “So that’s where the name came from!” or “That was his very first boat!”

When one thinks of classics in the boating world, the word conjures up acres of varnish and a pedigree dating back to the early 1900s. This boat had barely enough wood to make a respectable cutting board. She was built just 50 years ago in 1963 and—egads!—she’s fiberglass.


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Aronow’s first race boat in like-new condition.
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See more photos of The Cigarette here ▶

So what was this magnet that caused such a stir? She was The Cigarette, a Formula 233 that was the debut fiberglass boat from Don Aronow’s first company, Formula Boats. Aronow, a wealthy real estate developer, had retired to Florida as a 33-year-old millionaire, where he was bitten by the offshore-powerboat racing bug. He entered a wooden raceboat in the 1962 Miami-to-Nassau Race but, after seeing a 17-foot racer co-designed by Jim Wynne (inventor of the sterndrive) and Walt Walters, he hired them to design a larger, fiberglass version.

The company was intended as a thinly disguised tax shelter for Aronow’s racing ambitions and there are two versions of the naming. The first is that when Wynne and Walters were discussing the plans with Aronow, he would ask them a technical question and one of the two designers would answer, “You know, there’s a formula for that.” According to Aronow’s son, however, the name was chosen because the combination of designers Wynne and Walters with fiberglass builders Buddy Smith and Jake Trotter was the “formula” for success. I like both choices.

The first hull out of the mold was a prototype, but Aronow grabbed the first production hull for racing, following the Detroit precept that “what wins on Sunday, sells on Monday.” He named her The Cigarette in honor of a successfully fast Prohibition-era rum runner of that name from his native New York. Entered in the Miami-to-Key West race, he proved the boat by winning his class, and actually finishing second overall to a much larger and more powerful racer. The boat, bearing Aronow’s lucky race number and The Cigarette name on the stern, returned to the shop and Aronow moved on to larger projects. Other 233 racers followed, however, with Wynne winning the Miami-Bimini-Miami race in a sistership.

The Formula 233 proved very successful, with production lasting more than 20 years and hundreds of boats. And, over the years, one editor noted that he could identify more than two dozen other boats built with lines stolen from the popular 233.

So where was The Cigarette, and how did it languish for so long before becoming the classic “barn-find” so cherished in the world of automobile restoration?

Aronow had sold The Cigarette to another budding racer, George Peroni, a few months after that first race. The boat carried a list price of $8,600 but, because Aronow had raced the boat, he discounted it to $6,090.

Shortly after the sale, however, Aronow called Peroni and asked to borrow the boat back for an afternoon, saying he had “some guys who want a ride in a fast boat.” Peroni loaned him the boat, and Aronow used it to take The Beatles out for their first speedboat ride just as they were about to become insanely famous in America.

Peroni eventually changed the boat’s name to Empirical and raced her from 1964 until 1972, filling his shelves with silverware including an overall win in the Gateway Marathon from Palm Beach to Grand Bahama and back. In the Gateway, he drove alone, standing for the entire three hours!

But ocean-racing equipment and speeds soon left the Formula behind and the boat was retired to family use. At one point, Peroni and his son decided to restore it, but tragedy struck first when his son was killed in a car accident. The boat was put in the backyard under a canvas cover and there it remained for decades.

Fast forward nearly 40 years from 1963 to 2002, when Bob DeNisco, Sr., visits his old friend, George Peroni who, along with Jim Wynne, had all gone to high school together in Miami and remained close over the years.

Ticket to Ride

How’d that famous boat ride with The Beatles come about, and how did they like it? Well, The Beatles were in the United States for the first time making their historic appearances on The Ed Sullivan Show. On a day in between their first and second performances, the boys from Liverpool decided they wanted to have some fun, and were put in contact with Don Aronow—not surprising considering all of Aronow’s celebrity clients and contacts. The five men tooled around Miami for the day at speeds none of The Beatles had ever come close to on the water. By most reports, John Lennon, Paul McCartney, and George Harrison got a touch of seasickness. But Ringo Starr? He apparently had the time of his life. And that’s saying something when you’re a Beatle. Drummers; they really do have all the fun. For more on Aronow, see Kevin Koenig’s award-winning oral history, here. ▶

In Peroni’s backyard, DeNisco saw the very tired Formula 233, covered in mold and with a palm tree literally growing out of her. DeNisco remembered riding with Peroni on the boat decades earlier, when Peroni both raced it and used it as a pleasure boat. In classic barn-find style, DeNisco asked Peroni if he wanted to sell it and the two cut a deal: the “valuable consideration” for the sale was one dollar, but DeNisco had to promise to restore the boat.




Builder: Cigarette
This article originally appeared in the July 2014 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.










    
This message has been edited by FEfinaticP on Sep 29, 2017 11:36 AM


 
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AuthorReply
Paul
(no login)

The family tree extends back into Formula Boats and Don Aronow

July 6 2015, 12:48 PM 

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Don Aronow (left), Jim Wynne (center), Walt Walters (right).
Aronow hired these two guys when he formed the Formula Boat Company, and the rest is history.

I think it is safe to say the 23 Lancer hull is a close approximation of the FORMULA 233 that Don Aronow had Jim Wynne and Walt Walters design for him 2 to 3 years before Chris-Craft hired the same team to design a 23 for them. Two boats of the same length, designed by the same guys, heck it may as well have been a direct copy of the mold, and it has been said the 233 was one of the (if not THE) most copied hull of the times. The reason was, it was just awesome in rough water.

As pleasure boats for the general public were more often geared for smooth water, the use of the deep v was given up in favor of boats with flatter hulls. All Chris-Craft "speedboats" by the way, have a nearly flat-as-a-pancake aft plane section, in other words they have a zero-degree deadrise, where the 23 Lancer has a 24-degree deadrise. The ski boats can do the slide turns allright, but the deep V will allow the boat to lean into the curve instead of leaning outward onto the chine. That is, of course, if you have the right deep v. The 23 Lancer was just one more step in the evolution of a very fine idea. People are re-discovering the Lancer these days due to the fact that most of us have been aboard those flat bottom speedboats that run so nice on flat water but pound like hell on anything approaching a chop. I know, I have a 17-foot Chris-Craft Sportsman Utility, and it is most certainly designed for smooth water. It is no fun in the chop, where the Lanccer would not even know there WAS a chop.


Walt Walters by the way, is the man who drafted the plans so he is the "pen" behind the designs, and Jim being more on the engineering and business side also had input of course, but they were coming from different perspectives and made a great team when they worked together. Jim Wynne was the businessman and promoter behind the firm, and of course he was an avid competitor as was his partner Walt. When Walt finally departed the business Jim had to find another designer and for a short time he collaborated with C. Ray Hunt. In an arena of working together as a business, nobody knows really just what contributions one made to the other while working on the 23-foot hull, for instance, but because someone drew the plan does not necessarily mean it was his idea (I am well aware of that from the architectural side). In my practice I always preached that "nobody cares who has the good idea around here, we just want to all be smart enough to recognize it when we see it."

The lifting strakes, for instance, were a Jim Wynne patent, and I don't know if that was established at Formula before doing the Lancer hull, but the Lancer got em for sure. In the very same era, boats like the Moppie (race winning Hunt design for Bertram) had strakes, but they were not lifting strakes. That little tweak makes a HUGE difference in the way a deep v hull performs.

It has been suggested that Walt Walters played a bigger role than he got credit for in these designs because Jim Wynne was the flamboyant and debonaire man about town, and this may be true. One thing for sure, the two of them working together was one heck of a team.

Regards,
Paul


    
This message has been edited by FEfinaticP on Jul 6, 2015 12:58 PM


 
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Paul
(Premier Login FEfinaticP)
Owner

The Golden Era of offshore boating hull development

September 29 2017, 10:24 AM 

The 1960s !!

Paul

"\"\""

 
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Craig L
(Login clindberg)

Great Boating Lineage; Time to Share Your Classic Lancer Photo

September 30 2017, 3:56 PM 

Paul,
Fascinating story and background on one branch of the classic Chris-Craft family tree. Glad that so many of these boats have found custodians among the classic boating community faithful. Examples of apex marine design and production deserve to be cared and shared so others may come to enjoy and appreciate them.

I've been a Forum follower since 2009 and Paul along with many of the contributors have been instrumental in my acquisition and restoration efforts of two of these fine boats. So I'd like to invite all the Lancer enthusiasts to post a photo here of either their current and/or past Lancers and XKs, their production number, and where you acquired them. Should make an interesting post we can all enjoy and share happy.gif


Lancer 23 New Crowd
1978 Chris-Craft Lancer 23 Overnighter, Production #137 of 160, Detroit, MI

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1972 Chris-Craft XK-22, Production #77 of 230, Port Huron, MI

Skol!
Craig L

 
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Paul
(Premier Login FEfinaticP)
Owner

Okay, here's mine but it's NOT PRETTY !!!

October 1 2017, 11:40 AM 

Hi Craig,

Here are a few photos of my 23 Lancer, but they’re not glorious. Well actually they ARE glorious to me because it represents some good fun in the shop and an investment in the future for more good fun on the water. These are just a few photos in a long line of what has become an expense of blood, sweat, tears, a little torture, some fun, and quite a bit of procrastination due to “other interests and needs”. Hang on, this one will be running under it’s own power soon, and it’s going to be a beast. This is an opportunity to re-cap my progress or lack thereof, and motivate me to get off the couch and into the barn to work on this boat !!
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Two different hulls, the green one is a 20-foot fiberglass (1966) Sea Skiff with a 16 degree deadrise and a “lapstrake” hull all the way to a mini transom, she rides “nice” but is nowhere near as formidable as the 23 Lancer with the 24-degree hull. In addition, the Lancer is going to have nearly 200-horsepower more than the Skiff, all the better to make noise for that neighbor you see next door.
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Interesting thing about my 1973 23 Lancer, it came with a Monel fuel tank !!
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Outpatient surgery was needed on the side pockets, the bottom was rotted out even though clad in fiberglass, no doubt the result of being left out in the weather a long time. In any case, this is an easy fix.
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And then I found this, a support for the rear section of steering gear at the transom, which I eventually cut out, removed all wood, and replaced it with embedded epoxy surrounded oak.
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Here is what the old pieces looked like.
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The seats were fastened to an aluminum plate, which was also screwed to the fiberglass floor structure. With all the holes there, I guess it’s safe to say this boat had seen some pretty good action in the past, but the hull is ROCK SOLID.
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Like I said, not glorious. This is an example of getting a boat that “needs everything”, where I could have spent less money than the trailer cost me, and got one that might have even been a runner. However, I like the fact that this one came with no motor or transmission, because I got to start over from scratch.
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So that’s what I have, and here is what I am dreaming about.
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Well I did select a “spare” 427 from my shop, pull off the 2.0 reduction gear, get a new Borg Warner 72c with 1.5 reduction, along with some specialty mounts for it so it would work in the 23 application. And yes, the motor is done, runs great, has “under 400 horsepower”  The time will come, stay tuned !!
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Here are the original style mounts from Chris-Craft, these would have come in physical contact with the exhaust but I couldn’t use them anyway because a 2.0 reduction in a runabout is nuts. I elected to bump down to 1.5 based on the advice from the Naval Architect at Michigan Wheel because he was concerned about “getting enough prop under that boat”.
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Here are some nice mounts I got from Ebay, fit the BW Velvet drive perfectly.
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Making a little progress, got the vinyl name taken off the transom, cut in new larger exhaust tips, remounted the fuel tank a bit higher so the larger exhaust would work, no need to choke a motor on the exhaust side.
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Some nice guy by the name of Craig Lindberg sent me a perfectly good fuel filler to replace the one that was badly corroded. This came off his yellow Overnighter, and I am proud to have that provenance on my boat. Thank you again, Craig, much appreciated.

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This remains an obstacle. I’m going to put a harmonic balancer puller on it. It’s a vibration damper and probably still good but I want to pull it off so I can replace the shaft with a stronger version of stainless steel. If anyone knows the brand of this let me know, I want to research it.
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Gear shifter looks good for re-use but will need some chrome.
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Here is how I raised the fuel tank for clearance necessary from going from 2-1/2” to 4” exhaust.
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So you can see the boat arrived in poor condition but the shell was sound. So far there has been a lot of work done but nothing to really show for it. Hopefully this winter things will start to go back, because most everything has come out now and it’s ready for bilge paint and filling holes, rewiring, etc., oh heck there is always something to do.

Regards,
Paul
"\"\""


    
This message has been edited by FEfinaticP on Oct 1, 2017 1:06 PM


 
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Glenn F
(no login)

Nice

October 1 2017, 1:47 PM 

Nicely done Paul. Looking forward to seeing the Lance skip across the water.

 
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Paul
(no login)

Okay guys, here are a couple photos of Lancers :-)

October 2 2017, 12:44 PM 

We give Lancers a lot of deference around here, because they are great boats, but also because they have an important place in boating history, represent a great milestone in Chris-Craft production and reputation, and they are a part of the Commander fiberglass family tree. I’m going to seed this thread and Craig’s comment with some archive photos we’ve received from Forum Members in the past. These photos are spread around our various threads, but I’m pulling a few of them into this post just for fun. There are a few Commanders and Italian models too, but they're essentially all Lancer hulls happy.gif
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Italian Monte Carlo
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And this could go on for thousands of more images, but this should set the stage for Lancer respect. These are great boats and everyone should have one in their fleet. They make a great companion boat to any larger cruiser too.

Regards,
Paul






    
This message has been edited by FEfinaticP on Oct 3, 2017 3:57 AM


 
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Craig Judge
(Login craigjudge)

I'm BAAAACK!

October 3 2017, 12:25 PM 

Did someone say Lancers?

1975 Lancer 19' Hull number ORFZ-19-3023T Chattanooga boat.
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1978 Lancer 24'4/S Hull Number 240-8039H Holland Michigan boat. One of 84 built.
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This message has been edited by craigjudge on Oct 3, 2017 1:16 PM


 
 Respond to this message   
Paul
(no login)

He's Baaaack !

October 4 2017, 7:28 PM 

Man you drag a Lancer through a Commander web site and there is no telling "who" is going to show up !!

Craig, it's always a pleasure hearing from you, and even though you have not posted recently you are still a member of the family, and "with us", especially due to all of the good info you've posted here in the past, and tutored all of us.

I was too timid to ask for your mailing address again, I wrote it down and I'll be darned if I can find it now, turned every paper over looking with no avail. Please just send it again to the chriscraftcommander@hotmail.

Best,
Paul

 
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Joe
(Login jossar)

Lancer photos

October 3 2017, 6:46 PM 

Here's mine
1968 19' Lancer Hull Number 117 of 140 built. Appleton WI Boat
Just finished a total rebuild of the engine. Started the break in last weekend - 4 hours running no more than 3 min at any given RPM. Runs like a swiss watch!
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This message has been edited by jossar on Oct 26, 2017 9:34 PM


 
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Paul
(Premier Login FEfinaticP)
Owner

Beautiful Classic Boat

October 6 2017, 8:42 AM 

Nice work Joe, the whole project is spectacular, the motor belongs in a museum. We don't see too many 19-foot Lancers, so good to see this one brought up to such a standard snd actually being used !!

Regards,
Paul


"\"\""

 
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Paul
(Premier Login FEfinaticP)
Owner

Some more Lancer photos from the archives (Compliments of Mike Gibson)

October 8 2017, 8:43 PM 

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Hey another 73 with a monel tank like mine !!
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And here is the VIDEO !!!!!
Thank you Lisa Gibson happy.gif
https://www.youtube.com/embed/wHpRx7wEPjA

And thank you Mike, for sharing these images. Great job.

Paul


"\"\""

 
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