Considering restoring a 32' Chris Craft Sea Skiff

Discussion in 'Wooden Boat Building and Restoration' started by F14CRAZY, Jul 17, 2011.

  1. F14CRAZY
    Joined: Jul 2011
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    Location: Kentwood, MI

    F14CRAZY Junior Member

    First time poster...

    A few years ago I purchased an '85 Bayliner Capri cuddy, 19', holes in the deck, rotten stringers and transom, etc...with no experience with boats or fiberglass I've restored it and have it in a slip in Grand Haven, MI. Wasn't fun nor cheap but I'd say it was worth it. Most of my knowledge came from the iboats.com forums. It's a great board for fiberglass projects but they don't often have wooden projects.

    The marina my boat is at has a circa 1964 32' Sea Skiff on the hard that I can obtain for next to nothing. Its been there for a couple years (shrink wrapped). A slip neighbor has a 25' or so Owens wooden cruiser that hes done a lot of work on and walked around the Sea Skiff with me. His boat is of lapstrake construction like this is.

    He pointed out that the transom is bad along with the gunwhale board...I'm not sure if there's a better term for it but it's the wood that's behind the rub rail. It seems to be rotten around most of the boat. I'm told that the V8s and transmissions are good.

    I don't have an actual picture but it looks a lot like this:

    [​IMG]

    I don't plan on having it seaworthy this season, or even next season. I have some time and money to devote to it though. I can take care of the storage fees there. While I have no experience with a wooden boat I've found with my glass boat that budgets can be way over-run, things take a lot more time than first expected, more work is found once you dig into things...I know all of that stuff. What else can I do to better assess the situation? I'd love to own a larger cruiser and especially a classic. I worked as a plumber in the family business so I'm certain I can tackle the plumbing, electrical, and mechanical.

    Any other things for a first time wooden boat person? Thanks guys.
     
  2. gonzo
    Joined: Aug 2002
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    gonzo Senior Member

    I suggest you invest in a survey. That will give you the basis for a restoration plan and budget. Those boats are plywood planked with through bolts and nuts as fasteners. It is easier to repair them than riveted hulls. If the damage you describe is the only problem, it would take a proffessional about 150-170 hours. That doesn't include any painting or varnishing the boat needs. You can think it will take you five or six times that, as you learn.
     
  3. DianneB
    Joined: Jan 2010
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    Location: Manitoba

    DianneB Junior Member

    And be careful with iboats! There are some knowledgeable people there but there are also some who don't have a clue but talk like they know.

    Second the marine survey!
     
  4. PAR
    Joined: Nov 2003
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    Location: Eustis, FL

    PAR Yacht Designer/Builder

    That particular vintage Sea Skiff (I have a 1960) isn't especially notable or valuable, so repairs and/or restoration will very likely exceed it's market value.

    Having rotten sheer clamps, side decks and sheer strake is a common issue with the skiff as is the transom. What is missing from this friendly evaluation, is the causes and the underlying damage. The cause for the upper strake area damage is they way Chris Craft built the skiffs in general. Other areas you need to look at are the stem, particularly the lower portions, transom frame attachment points, the after end of the keel, frames breaks at the hardest turn of the bilge (from midship and aft), frames under the engine, garboard fasteners and oil soaking, etc. There are a whole bunch of typical places to inspect if you know these craft. If you don't know them, you could make a career out of finding things wrong. This is why it's important to get a survey by someone experienced with Sea Skiffs.
     
  5. F14CRAZY
    Joined: Jul 2011
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    Location: Kentwood, MI

    F14CRAZY Junior Member

    Indeed it sounds like a survey from someone familiar with these is in order.

    I was able to get photos of the actual vessel today:

    [​IMG]

    Was it only Constellations that had the cool arrow with the rings, usually painted gold?

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    What kind of wood/construction is used on these transoms?

    [​IMG]

    The deck seems to be some kind of vinyl. The cockpit is also covered with this. What's under it? Boat seems to be fairly well supported but I have like a phobia of a boat on stands and blocks tipping over on me when walking on it

    [​IMG]

    The deck under this window is soft

    [​IMG]

    Hard to see but his block is pushed up into the keel and I'm guessing that isn't supposed to happen
     
  6. gonzo
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    gonzo Senior Member

    That boat has rot everywhere. You would be better off to build a new one. It will be cheaper and faster.
     
  7. PAR
    Joined: Nov 2003
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    PAR Yacht Designer/Builder

    Judging by what I see, you should do as Gonzo suggests and run as fast as you can in the opposite direction. You have all kinds of issue there, cracked and broken frames, shot garboards, likely rot in the keel, stem, transom, hood ends, carlins, you name it. You generally get what you are paying for, so if this seems like a "deal" the only deal I see, is the guy that wants it gone, getting it hauled out of his yard. The seam or crack you see along side the cabin, where it meets the deck is an indication the hull is settling down on her broken frames. We call this "relaxing" which forces the frame heads outboard and down, which in turn tears the side deck beams out of their pockets, leaving the gap. This boat needs a full restoration, not just some repairs. I don't think you'd be remotely prepared for the realities of this.
     
  8. seven up
    Joined: May 2006
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    seven up Junior Member

    Two more oil changes. And these relics take about 8.5qts each.

    After seeing how you turned that wreck of an OMC/Bayliner into a work of art, there is no doubt that you could tackle this.

    But just look at it this way. It's gonna be years of work for you and there are not alot of "we" are gonna do this and "we" are gonna do that in your plans. However, the marina atmosphere is a blast.

    That poor boat has the worst blocking job I've ever seen and it caused a bend in the keel. There has to be a plank or two stacked on a level plane atop the blocks lengthwise. Or a cradle. That marina obviously knows squat about wood boats. Can you see launch day when they grab it with the travel lift, no blocks along the bilge or sheer line and snap crackle pop goes your turn-of-the-bilge and new ribbon stripe mahogany rub rail. And you'll probably have to wet the hull for a week to even try to reset the hull.

    So you gonna buy it ?
     
  9. PAR
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    PAR Yacht Designer/Builder

    Before purchasing this boat consider this; she will need all new steam bent frames from just forward of the engine bay and aft to the transom. Most of the sawn frames will probably be repairable, unless oil soaked. The stem and transom will need repairs/replacement, the keel will need repairs/replacement, the garboards needs replacement, the sheer strake needs replacement, the deck opening carlins will need repair/replacement, the majority of side deck beams will need repair/replacement, new comings, new clamps, new rubs and this assumes the cabin is in good enough shape to just paint and no other structural issues will be found. I'll bet the deck will need major sections removed and replaced. I work on these things frequently and this is a can of worms.
     
  10. F14CRAZY
    Joined: Jul 2011
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    F14CRAZY Junior Member

    Alas from the sounds of it this would be too great of a project for me and my determination. I don't mind taking a year or two to properly fix it but it seems virtually everything needs to be replaced. I know it would take more money than it may ever be worth but I know large lumber and mahogany is expensive stuff.

    I borrowed Wooden Boat Renovation (forgot the author) and that book made everything sound easy. Are the techniques in that book "approved"?
     
  11. thudpucker
    Joined: Jul 2007
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    thudpucker Senior Member

    A disheartening tale off Experience!
    I bought a 1953 Chris Craft 32 or 33 that had been on the beach for a year or so.
    I spent a year and some money to get it back in the water.

    Of course it leaked pretty badly at first, but then it settled and was a pretty good boat but was always wet. I thought there might be a problem I'd not seen.

    It broke my heart to have it hauled and blocked. I almost knew it would never go back into the water again. And my premanition was correct.
    I had years of experiences with wood boat repairs and always on "nearly Dead" boats. But this old CC had been maltreated by some pretty good wood butchers. The were good at Veneer. Covering their Tracks. I wish I had photos so you could share my disgust with people like that. They nearly killed me.

    Check out the 'fore foot', the whole transome, and above the struts. Those are the really critical areas.

    The Coasties had some new 'wood boat for charter or work' instructions for inspections.
    I invited them to come out and use my boat as an experience in testing.
    We spent a couple hours on my boat, then went to another "yard Queen" and the experience was well worth the time.
    The new rule was loosly said; "you have to pull a fastener and be able to replace it"
    Never happend on either boat!

    Both boats had a serious infection of 'nail sick' at the ribs up front.
    Think about 'blowing a plank' while under way. Filling the hull with that much water in such a short time while under way at 10 or 12 kts.
    No Pump can save a vessel under those conditions.
    We tried to unscrew one of the original CC screws holding the planks to the Ribs.
    The Head looked good, and at the end of the screw, the part in the Rib looked good, but in the middle, where the Screw was subjet to movment between the plank and the rib, the screw was just about gone. It broke in the effort to remove it so I dug the rest of it out so we could see what was what.
    Awfully heart breaking discovery. The whole bow section back to the galley, below the water line was like that.

    I started to gather wood to make Sister Ribs and re-fasten the whole boat.
    Soon, working by myself, I discoverd the serious wood depletion at the Keel, (the Devil) the bottom of the Anchor locker, and up under all that Canvas that had been painted down to the deck. I actually thought taking the whole cabin off and makeing it new would be better.

    Then I discovered the Death knell of the old girl.
    The Stern had two rotted boards. Looked like yours, in the same place too.
    When I was inspecting that I discovered the steering links were pretty loose. Working on that I discovered the Wood where all the belcranks were fastend was just pithy. I'd have to replace all that. (you getting tired yet? it goes on and get's worse)

    When I began to pull stuff off to make room for the work, I discoverd some idiot had put a sheet of bronze over the struts. He through bolted it to support the strut.
    The result of that made me sick in the attitude.
    All the wood between the strut and the Bronze was just Pith. Like flour. If I'd have jumped anything, the strut would have come loose and the boat filled with water right at the engines.
    I sat there in the Rain, under my nice rear deck cover and thought about the time and expense involved. Depression set in. Some more Coffee, more thought and more Depression.
    All new wood, fasteners, paint, a whole new Hydraulic steering system, new Keel up front.....all that time and so many things that need two guys....I'd have been better off to build a new boat or just go start over with another boat.

    If you dont know much about rebuilding old wood boats, you might consider passing this one up.
    However if your energetic, and have some help, and it's not as bad as my boat was.... You'll love that big ol' smooth riding comfortable boat.
    My boat had a Diesel/kerosine cast iron stove that was sooooo warm on those chilly wet days.
    Under a little different circumstances I'd still have that boat today.
     
    1 person likes this.
  12. F14CRAZY
    Joined: Jul 2011
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    F14CRAZY Junior Member

    That surely is a disheartening (I think that's the right word) story...sorry to hear.

    I'm a bit undecided. If anything, a survey is definitely in order.

    I'm past the denial stage :D. At least to some extent. While I've never done things like refasten planks, replace a transom (like that), or repair ribs, I've been against a lot before. I had a lot of negative input when I restored my Bayliner because of its OMC drive. I wondered if I truly had an idea of what I was doing while I was on my knees inside an otherwise empty tub of a hull, angle grinder in hand and respirator on beside a pile of glass dust, under a carport in winter around midnight.

    Well, I figured it out and the empty tub is all but a NEW boat with a refurbished powertrain.

    I love diving into something and learning it as I go. There's tons of good knowledge here and in plenty of books. Least wooden boats have been produced for thousands of years versus what, 50-60? I spend all the time I can on my boat with my girlfriend, friends, and family, which is every weekend (3 nights) and often in between. I picked up the hobby myself and it's just what I want to do in life :D. I know the storage will cost me, the slip will cost me, the gas for the twin 327s will cost me, etc etc...I'm over that part. I wouldn't be doing this to raise its value but for me to enjoy the work along the way and the finished product. In good condition it would make an excellent vessel for Great Lakes cruising. This won't only be a restored classic CC, but MY classic CC, that I restored myself. In "Wooden Boat Renovation" there's a line that goes something like "so when you're in the clubhouse listening to skipper go on about their brand new some-brand-or-another boat, you can pat them on the shoulder and say maybe someday you'll own a real classic like mine"

    BUT, I'm not letting the romance get in the way of the reality of dealing with a fairly large, rotten/rotting wooden boat that's been on the hard probably since 2007, at least.

    Counting that the survey shows that this vessel isn't complete termite food, I'm a bit worried since I haven't taken on a project THIS BIG. My Bayliner cuddy didn't really have to be supported even without stringers being that it was on a trailer with bunks and now I'm moving to something sitting on blocks and stands (improperly, as pointed out). The good thing is that the marina doesn't mind work being done where it's at. I understand that this could take a couple years.

    How do you get to the ribs anyway? Remove the exterior planks and the interior/cabin sole?

    Please excuse me for being new to wooden boat restoration and terminology.

    If you think I should save my money and find a 28' Catalina with good stringers you may also say so.
     
  13. gonzo
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    gonzo Senior Member

    Every piece of wood requires understanding of the building techniques used to be removed. There is no single answer. It takes many years of experience to properly restore a boat. It is easier and less skilled to build a new one. There is a really nice CCnext to my shop for $25000. It is I believe a 36' 1951. It has been stored inside.
     
  14. PAR
    Joined: Nov 2003
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    PAR Yacht Designer/Builder

    [​IMG]

    Is this the book? I've not read it, but it wouldn't be much of a book if it didn't lull you into a place, where all the women were good looking, you had all the tools for renovation and that the techniques employed will save you tens of thousands, now would it?

    The premise of the book is sound, but one key and telling detail is often glossed over. This is quite simply that it requires many years of experience to determine which project boats are worth saving.

    I look at about 100 boats a year in this general condition. Of the 100 seen, 95 of them will be in the land fill in fairly short order. Of the 5 remaining, a couple will be significant in some way, be this famous previous owners, some fine or interesting pedigree, an enviable racing record, JFK slept on it once, etc. These will be restored, possably back to original condition. The remaining 3 will be speculations by someone like me or an unwary person like you. If it's me, I've calculated out about what it's worth and how much it'll take to get this out of the old gal. If it's someone like you, it's about to teach you a painful and costly lesson. For what it's worth, I took a bath on the first several "projects" I attempted. I was fairly young and need to learn these lessons anyway. I lost my ***, but did acquire some valuable skills, one of which is how to judge a prospective project.

    As a rule the old Sea Skiffs have to be in fairly good shape or they're just not worth saving, again unless there's something that makes them more then what they are. The Skiffs where "utility" boats initially, though after some time, they got "gussied up" with trim levels, such as the "Continental" option. As a result they don't hold their value. Sentimental value can be powerful, but is a lousy marketing tool. So, unless you are trying to bring grandpa's boat back from the dead, so your grand kids can have an heirloom, the Skiffs are difficult to justify when in this condition.
     

  15. seven up
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    seven up Junior Member

    That spot in the picture of the keel at the forward blocking : looks as though the garboard plank has a hole and the keel at this location also appears deteriorated. (Was that taken with the top down, twenty feet away, on full zoom ?? lol)

    Can you just cut away six inches of structure and butt block a piece in ? I would think not. Not with my family on board. I am picturing taking on a 3 foot wake from that 56' Carver that just blew past: so we are gonna turn and take the wake fairly head-on: first off we get a huge push against the bow as well as lifting of the hull, maybe a little over the bow, as we proceed the wake is now lifting the hull because of the flattening of the hull shape as we move aft and lessening the pressure against the bow and stem, now I'm starting to sweat because of the splice in the keel and garboard plank. Repeat that motion a few times and well, what happens ? Rather not find out ? Me too.

    What is the correct procedure here for a proper repair ?

    How can the craft be safely supported to preserve the integrity of the remainder of the hull and still be able to make a proper repair ?

    If this is gonna involve epoxy then you'll need somewhat dry wood. Couple of tarps/year ? Temporary shelter ? Indoor storage ?

    Just considering these couple of variables on this one possible repair of many total individual repairs reveals that this will be a scary expensive undertaking.


    Finding a similar project in better overall shape is one possibility.

    What else is around this and other marinas ?
     
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