Archive for the ‘classic Chris craft boats’ Category

Gar Wood and Chris Craft

Gar Wood started in his winning ways on the water with the purchase of the 1916 successful Gold Cup race boat that was “a broken, battered hulk after the race, fit only for junk” put up for sale by Chris Smith, 53, who was down to seven cents in his pockets after losing in a poker game. Gar paid for the hunk with a $1,000 down payment and a note for $800.

That racer, Miss Detroit, had been built by Chris from a design by Joseph Napoleon “Nap” Lisee, who worked for Chris Smith’s C.C. Smith Boat & Engine Company. Right after buying the boat and engine of Miss Detroit, he went to the Smith factory and brought controlling interest in it. He figured that he could keep others from racing against him via this investment as it came with the talent of Chris Smith, his sons, Jay and Bernard, and “Nap”.

Next he commissioned the building of Miss Detroit II, a new race boat, using the 250 Hp. engine from the original hunk of Miss Detroit. That new boat set a speed record of 61.724 MPH while racing the next year. The first photo shows the 20’ single step 250 Hp. Miss Detroit II with Jay .W. Smith as the riding mechanic.

miss detroit chris craft 1917 record breaking wood race boat

seabuddy's photo of the Mainer's Museum Chris Craft photo

Together, Chris Smith, “Nap”, and Gar Wood won 5 straight Gold Cups from 1917-1921 and 2 Harmsworth trophies in 1920 and 1921.

But by February of 1922, Smith bought out Gar Wood and started a new company, the Chris Smith & Sons Boat Company in a new location. Chris, his sons Jay, Bernard, and Owen each owned 25% of that boat building company and started fresh with a new piece of land and and they built a brand new factory on it. In the deal, Gar Wood got the old C.C. Smith &Engine Company boat building plant. He built his race boats, the 33’ “Baby Gar” runabout that had been developed by “Nap” while still at the old company, high performance cabin cruisers, and the 28’ Baby Gar runabout model.

The 33’ Baby Gar was a outstanding design. It was a good riding, safe runabout that was a triple (3) cockpit boat and it’s bottom used all of the characteristics of the his Miss Americas race boats with the step. Gar Wood sold his boats to Edward Noble, William Randolph Hearst, John Dodge, Col. Vincent and P. K. Wrigley. The Chris Smith and Sons Boat Company sold more wooden boats to a broader range of successful folks.

These boats soon outgrew the boat building production plant. Thus, Gar Wood Boats moved into a new factory in Marysville, MI in 1930. This plant was capable of making 1200 top shelf wooden boats per year. Now 22’, 40’, 28’, 33’ boats were made. Some of these lengths were offered in a variety of model configurations. Later 16’, 18’, 19’, 22.5′, 24’, 32’, and 25’ models were added. Production of boats for Gar Wood peaked just before W.W. II.

Gar Wood, himself, retired to Miami at the age of 60, and the new management of Gar Wood Industries ordered a restyle of the boat line up and engaged Norman Bel Geddes, a noted industrial designer, for a new post war feeling.

post w.w. II bright finished wooden runabout on the chesapeake bay

Show winning 1947 Gar Wood 22.5' wood runabout

With high new design and jig costs, quality wood shortages, hardware out-of-stocks, and a somewhat distant management running the company, the company closed down in 1947. My Seabuddy photos show a restored 1947 Gar Wood 22.5’ wood boat in the brackish waters of the Chesapeake Bay. She is an ACBS award winner down from CT.

Holiday Gift for Boaters under $100

Got a wooden boat owner in the family and stuck on finding a different but memorable Christmas gift?

 

Fine boat varnish work demands good brushes. And several of those brushes to work all corners and parts of a boat efficiently. Get your wooden boat lover a gift that lasts for a lifetime.

 

A six brush Epifanes Brush Keeper metal box is the correct way and professional way to store valuable varnish brushes. This box holds up to six assorted varnish brushes. I know several friends that would die to get this item as a gift.

 

A good brush lasts for years with proper care. How do you care for a good brush? Clean each brush with mineral spirits, clip their handles into the holding plate and lower the brushes into a bath of diesel or kerosene for long term storage.

varnish brush storage box

holds six brushes

 

Ready to varnish again? Slip the brushes out of the box and thoroughly rinse them with mineral spirits. The brushes are ready for superior varnish work again.

This Brushkeeper box is made from heavy rustproof enamel coated steel. It is welded together for strength. And it lasts. Looks serious and it is.

epifanes brush keeper holiday gift boat christmas

seabuddy photo varnish brush holder epifanes

No one who gets one of these Brush Boxes for their fine varnish work will ever forget this thoughtful gift. It is a special gift. And it is under $100.

epifanes brush keeper box photo

Another view of the Epifanes Brush Keeper Box for Wooden Boaters

 

Arena Craft and the Chris Craft Cobra

There are four stories here.

classic 1950s restored fiberglass inboard ski boat Arena Craft Barracuda

seabuddy photo of restored classic fiberglass Arena Craft

 

custom tandem boat trailer wide white walls

Look for ripples in the boat's finish, there are none

First, the boat in seabuddy’s Photos.

This particular restored example has as a level of superior finish and detailing as seabuddy has ever seen on a new or restored boat. Please study the photos and look for waves or wallows in the finish or any reflections. There are none.

This ArenaCraft is a 19’ 6” Speedboat that was 5 MPH faster at top speed than the 20’ 10” Chris Craft Cobra of the same era with the same horsepower Both boat builders made their racy designs with a 6’ 9” beam. Most say that the Arena Craft handles better, also.

Both models were built with a full-width, single seat cockpit design. C-C mad their boats from wood with fiberglass touches in the deck design and ArenaCraft made theirs out of a fiberglass hull and deck molding with some wood and Hexcel stiffeners. Both were made to fit into a proposed racing class for Family Racing Runabouts.

Chris Craft was the largest boat company in the world with lots of dealers and sold far more boats of its model than ArenaCraft.

It is possible that this is one of only two of this boat model ArenaCraft that have been restored.

bow photo image restored fiberglass classic arena craft 1950s boat

close-up of the bow

 

arena craft runabout classic restored fiberglass runabout chris craft

close-up of amidships and the beginning of the fin aft tail

 

classic restored dan arena craft fiberglass 1950s boat inboard boat runabout

Lighted Tail Fins make a 1950s statement

 

transom classic restored fiberglass 1950s era ski boat v drive marine

transom, note the racing chines

 

cast name plate dan arena craft inboard runabout boat image photo marine

close-up of classic model name plate and exhaust pipes

Second, who is Dan Arena?

A boat designer and boat racing driver who competed head to head within the Gold Cup and Unlimited boat racing classes against Harold Wilson, Guy Lombardo, George Reis, Bill Horn, and Bill Cantrell, to name a few.

He is credited with designing the first Unlimited race boat to win with a modern power source.

He added to what Ventnor did with the three-point hydroplane boats by flattening his boat’s profile and packing more air between the sponsons, which reduced wetted surface.

His prop and sponson innovations led the way from the tail-dragging Ventnor’s that always had their prop submerged while racing to his boats that sporadically rode on their prop as one of their three points, to Ted Jones’ race boats that always were a prop rider after Ted’s Slo-Mo-Shun IV.

His 1953 Hydroplane design was built later line-by-line by Les Staudacher, which resulted in the boat that set the fastest straightaway Unlimited Piston Engine Hydroplane record speed of 200.419 MPH.

Dan Arena had a stroke in the 1980s and died in 1995.

Third, what is ArenaCraft, et al, as a boat builder?

Dan Arena was a racer first and a pleasure boat builder second. Dan built one-off race boats back as far as the 1930s. He started building pleasure boats in around 1953. He formed the ArenaCraft Corporation in 1955. It seems that he made the transition from wood to fiberglass boats around then. He sold that business to Reinell Industries.in 1969 or so. All ArenaCraft after that date were made by Reinell, not Dan Arena.

Mr. Arena could not stay out of the boat business, so about a year later, the Dan Arena Company was born and started making boats. This was a low-production boat builder that primarily catered to Lake Tahoe water demands. Due to the high altitude of the lake a fast boat was simply not that fast on the lake and some capable in rough water ability was valued. Thus, many of Dan Arena’s boats were capable of speeds to 75 MPH at sea level when powered up. Such a boat usually had a v-drive 425 Horsepower Chevy engine. Howard Arneson threw a turbine in his and went over 100 MPH.

This was a family business, with his son involved in the business. Chris “Kit” Arena eventually ran the production floor at the Dan Arena Company after he started right out of high school with his Dad. There were a few exceptions as the woodwork was done by Lief Lund and the fiberglass Lamination was handed by Earnest Jackson after Kit had sprayed the gel coat. Chris also did the hand lettered “Dan Arena” logo. There were no cast name plates on Dan Arena Company boats, unlike ArenaCraft boats.

Fourth, what is a Barracuda?

Almost all pleasure boat models that Dan Arena had a hand in were named “Barracuda”. He liked that name. Both ArenaCraft and Dan Arena Company boats have Barracuda named boat models.

Barracudas came in 18’ this 20’, a 21’, and 23-24 foot sizes, at least. He made single, twin, and open cockpit runabouts. Boats with and without opening windshields. Some sported Corvette car windshields.

He also made cuddy cabin boats. His cuddies were deeper (higher hull sided) than his runabouts. Since the decks were molded and he often used the same hull mold for both models, it was his son’s job to scribe, cut down, and hand fit a cuddy hull molding to a runabout deck, among many other jobs in the manufacturing the boats.

 

internet photo of running dan arena craft 1950s era boat

internet photo of the boat running on the lake

 

 

Gentleman’s Classic Outboard Runabout

chris craft james craft kit boat

She is a fun ride!

 

This is a Chris Craft – kit boat version. About 345 lbs. of speedboat in fewer than 14 feet. She is powered by a period correct Mark 55 Mercury Outboard of 40 Horsepower. She is just been restored in April of 2013 but this model was offered by Chris Craft back in the 1950s.

She is a great ride for the Captain and his passenger. Sporty, stable, and quick to maneuverer, this is a boat one launches for a fun time on the water. It is compact luxury craft that draws friendly smiles for her classic bright-finished good looks.

Her period correct Mercury Marine 4 cylinder outboard has been rebuilt by a pro and starts easily. It is the top power for the 13 1/2’ long boat. She is an opportunity to experience the classic wood boat life in a beautiful product of Chris Craft engineering.

In the restoration, this boat’s owner took advantage of all of today’s boat building materials. All the wood was sealed with Smith’s CPES and the joints of bronze and Stainless Steel bolts and screws were further strengthened with West System products. First class, top-of-the-line parts combined with a critical design eye and excellent skill towards making her a real beauty either on her trailer or out on the water is reflected the first time anyone sees her.

Boats like this Chris Craft were sold by them as complete kits in a box and this one was located already assembled, but in need of a complete restoration. That restoration took several years, not months. One just needs to see her now to enjoy classic boating at its best. She is the winner of the Best Outboard Boat at this year’s big Annual Antique and Classic Boat Society Show and Festival in St. Michaels, MD.

james craft runabout outboard boat photo image

She has storage under the rear deck

 

chris craft james craft kit boat model classic boat photo image

Note the level of finish inside this boat

 

chris craft kit boat outboard runabout boat photo image

Top level finish!

Thunderboat Row, 188th Street, North Miami Beach, Don Aronow, Magnum Marine

Magnum Marine started life on 188th street with the “Maltese Magnum”, a 27’ race boat.

Magnum had replaced Donzi Marine in Don’s daily life and in 1966 he went racing in that boat. He won, so naturally, folks wanted one for themselves and a building was built and a powerboat racing legend was born.

magnum marine 35 don aronow world champion thunderboat row 188th street

Don Aronow wins 1967 World Championship in Magnum Marine 35 vee drive boat

 

Don also built a bigger and wider boat, his 35 footer, in 1967. That new boat was intended to be kept in a slip in the water. Up till now, all of Don’s boats were for trailered boats. Initially, these production 35’ cabin cruiser boats came with two gas inboard engines. However, a few were raced without their cabin and fly bridge and with up to four outboards or two inboards.

magnum marine catalog 16 outboard boat ski boat deep vee

catalog sheet for the Magnum Marine 16 Marauder

 

He also made two smaller outboard engine powered boat designs. One was a ski boat, the 16’ Marauder. He made about 20 copies of this deep vee, 50 MPH boat design. Another boat was the Maltese Magnum Missile 16’, which was a tunnel hull boat. This boat was said to go 60 MPH with the same size outboard power as the Marauder. A production run of about 30 of these were made.

 

Magnum also introduced variations on the 27’ hull now. However, this was done under new company ownership. Don had sold his operating company to Apeco, keeping the building as a rental property. One of these variations was the sport deck model in 1968. The other, a cabin boat named the Sedan, came out the next year. A cabin style boat was needed for some racing classes in Europe. The 27’ Magnum Marine Sedan fit the bill for the best racing class there.

 

Another boat model was the Magnum 28’. This performance boat had a higher, rounded deck line primarily for more room in the cabin. It is a model without side cabin windows nor any deckhouse sides. It should have been a good seller but it was discontinued in 1979 after a six year production run.

 

It was in 1976 that Apeco sold Magnum Marine to Filippo Theodoli and his wife, Katrin.

They brought out the infamous Magnum 53′ in 1977. She was a two staterooms, wide-beamed, high performance yacht. This model re-directed Magnum Marine into a different kind of a boat company. New boat models were now powered by diesel engines. These new models were to be very high-style yachts that were eminently seaworthy in moderate seas with each having a good turn of speed.

magnum marine 53 factory launch inboard boat photo image

first 53' Magnum Marine

Seabuddy thanks Magnum Marine for their photos and the last one shown here is his favorite shot of this brand.

magnum marine 44 sea classic fiberglass inboard cabin cruiser performance boat

Factory photo of a 44 footer running fast in rough seas

Thunderboat Row, Don Aronow, 188th Street, North Miami Beach, Aventura, FL, Thunderboat Row, 188th Street, North Miami Beach, Aventura, South Florida, Don Aronow, Jim Wynne, Walt Walters, Dave Stirrat, Buddy Smith, Jake Trotter, Alan “Brownie” Brown, Donzi Marine

Sometimes it is the second boat design that makes a boat building company. Don Aronow had a craving for a new design for an offshore racer. He had sold his prior design and company (Formula and its 233 boat model) on 188th Street. He was ready for step two of his plan. Don now made a new company and a new fiberglass boat. The company became Donzi Marine and the boat was a 28 foot deep vee offshore race boat. Don had Walt Walters design that boat, make its running surface a winner, and draw up the plans that caused it to be built.

donzi marine race boat photo image

Don Aronow driving his 28' race boat 008

He and his buddies made and raced several of these fiberglass boats. The most powerful had over 1,100 horsepower in its two Ford engines. That high level of power had to use vee drives at that time. No stern drive (I/O) could stay together, either for pleasure use or racing boat use.

Boat racers were larger-than-life heroes to worship, and they all seemed to come from two addresses: NE 188th Street in North Miami, FL. and Bertram’s Miami address near the airport. Don Aronow’s “Thunderboat Row” started to grow in stature and began to pull ahead of Dick Bertram’s efforts in time. But, not yet. The 28’ while successful, did not strike gold with pleasure boat buyers. Those “Damned Donzis” were heard on the race course, but not in the boat showrooms. It took a lake and bay boat that was nimble and easy to jump in and take off in for a fast ride to make Donzi. Now it was 1964 and that nimble boat really made Donzi Marine.

jim wynne wyn mill II boat photo image race boat driver designer inventor

Jim Wynne with his Wyn Mill II race boat

 

The Ski Sporter, or Donzi Sweet 16, made Donzi Boats into a company. That model boat was based on a shorten version of Jim Wynne’s winning race boat, the Wyn-Mill II. Wyn Mill II was Jim’s racer as designed by Walt Walters with input from Jim and perhaps others. Walt drew up the plans and it is his name that is on them. A friend recently shared a sheet of those boat building plans with seabuddy. In the past, seabuddy incorrectly said that Jim Wynne designed this racer. These facts, as it was helpfully explained to seabuddy, were incorrect. Jim had input, he was there, but Walt’s name is on the drawings that the boat was built from. He is the designer of record.

(As an aside, the free exchange of facts and the making of boating friends that today’s internet gives seabuddy continues to amaze him.)

That boat’s hull was shortened into a 16’ 71/2” long fiberglass boat. She had the same 7’ beam and 24 degree deep vee hull bottom. These Donzi boats were designed to be small, light, and a fun ride. This boat was originally called the Ski Sporter Donzi and later it was named the Donzi Sweet 16. With its first Volvo engine and out drive set-up its top speed was in the 41 to 43 MPH range. Now one can find Sweet 16s with V-6 and V-8 power. With souped up engines, a strong sterndrive I/O and a special prop, she can deliver more speed than a sane person would enjoy.

Sweet 16 Donzi Marine Ski Sporter cockpit boat photo image

Classic fiberglass Donzi Marine boat cockpit

 

 

 

 

Thunderboat Row, 188th Street, North Miami Beach, Aventura, South Florida, Don Aronow, Jim Wynne, Walt Walters, Dave Stirrat, Buddy Smith, Jake Trotter, Alan “Brownie” Brown, Dick Cole, Alton Cary, Formula Marine, and offshore boat racing.

Soon, Aronow found that he also had the skills to gather together a team better than most others to build racing boats. That quickly moved onto selling others his boats, both for pleasure and to race. He soon envisioned that for him, rather than clipping coupons in his old age, he could collect rent once a month from the boat building companies that he invented. Those boating companies became 188th Street. He was killed doing his landlord activities.

OK, how does seabuddy tie this stuff into a series of articles about some boats he loves? Let me stick a Don Aronow boat company brand in this write-up. Formula Marine was said to be “The Right Formula For Success”. Its boat was the 233 Formula. Available as a single or twin engine boat. She came with an off-shore deep vee shaped boat bottom. She was 23’ 3” long and 8 feet wide. That boat was a winner and MADE the new company viable. Don sold that company with the new company owners renting the building from him and Don started a new company on the same 188th street.

don aronow 233 formula marine boat photo image racing boat single 409 mercury marine

Restored Don Aronow Formula 233 racing boat

Here is a photo of a 233 raced by Aronow in 1963 (he came in second in the Miami-Key West Race that year in this boat) and first sold it to another racer in early 1964.  It has a single 409 Chevy going into a Mercury Marine outdrive. That engine package was rated at 310 horsepower by Mercury back in 1962-63. It powered the boat to a top speed of just under 65 MPH. Formula Marine Corp. had at the time of sale an address of 2940 Northeast 188th Street, North Miami Beach, FL.

the beatles in formula 233 miami race boat chevy 409 mercruiser mercury marine boat photo image

Don took the Beatles for a boat ride in a Formula 233 racing boat

Formula was sold to Alliance Machine and Foundry in 1964. Another boat builder, Thunderbird, had been brought by them in 1961. Alliance ran these two as sister companies. In 1969, Fuqua Industries acquired both companies.

formula marine 233 catalog boat image photo

A part of the Advertising for Formula Marine Boats showing the 233 model

Thunderboat Row a, 188th Street, North Miami Beach, Aventura, South Florida, Don Aronow, Jim Wynne, Walt Walters, Dave Stirrat, Buddy Smith, Jake Trotter, Alan “Brownie” Brown, Dick Cole, Alton Cary and offshore boat racing.

A good, middle-aged fast life involved with good looking women and fun things to do involved fast boats in south Florida in the early 1960s. Don Aronow, “The King of Thunderboat Row “ coming from North New Jersey quickly found out he was a world class offshore race boat driver. Once he got within the waters off south Florida and the Bahamas, he went from fishing from boats to racing in boats. He already knew the building and land development business. Don was a building contractor up north. He had left NJ with money in his jeans from his commercial building activities up there.

So, he started having boats built that he could race… offshore powerboat race. Busting through waves, running wild surf, jumping his racer over huge freighter wakes, and always, always with the gas pedal throttles wide open and boat speed at full speed ahead. Don always thought It was his job to keep the boat going as fast as it could go. He and Gar Wood, (who was from a different generation of boat racing) are the only two Americans honored with world-wide UIM recognition in the history of boat racing. His racing made 188th Street, North Miami Beach, Fl. and offshore boat racing simply one and the same.

don aronow crystaliner race boat offshore

that is Don Aronow sitting on the bow

Don Aronow started racing wood and fiberglass boats made by others when he first left fishing from boats and started out in boat racing. He raced boats hard and they often fell apart doing his blistering racing pace. These early boats were often named Claudia, named after his first wife. He went from a semi-vee boat bottom design (Crystaliner, for one) to a deep vee boat bottom design during this early time frame.

don aronow fish boat photo image 188th street north miami beach

Don Aronow's Fishing Cruiser when he first came to the Miami area

Seventh report, Sunnyland ACBS Antique and Classic Boat Show, Tavares, Florida, Chris Craft Cobra

One of the most recognizable “wow” boats ever offered for sale is the Cobra by Chris Craft. Chris Craft made this one model its image boat in the mid-1950s.

chris craft cobra classic boat photo image tail fin wood mahogany planked

The tail fin makes this Chris Craft classic Cobra boat model

Ever since Chris Craft figured out how to make money in a nation-wide depression economy every year since 1936, they then wanted to be THE boat builder for every man, woman, and family in the world. In a very wide mix of boat models, one boat model was selected to lead in its lust factor.

chris craft cobra script tail fin

close-up of the script on the tail fin

The profit from other models would cover whatever this one would cost. This one was the one that should turn heads on the water or at a boat show. Women remembered it. Kids stopped in their tracks when they saw one and talked about it. Men wanted it.

chris craft cobra classic wood boat photo image

fully restored and a real "looker"

For the underwater hull shape, Chris Craft used the same naval architectural lines of one of their existing boat models as the running surface.  They had already sold 503 of those hulls.

chris craft cobra dash wood classic runabout boat photo image

note the alligator texture touches in the cockpit

To that underwater running surface they crafted a sleek, stretched, curvy bright finished planked mahogany boat that started at the bow as high, wide, and bold and then  tapered aft to nothing. Next, Chris Craft took out the back seat. Then they added a “Chris Craft” gold fin. Finally, they added alligator upholstery touches. Like seabuddy said, it is a “wow” design themed boat.

chris craft cobra long deck boat model photo image

Just look at the finish of this boat, top shelf, in seabuddy's book

She was a 20’, 10” boat with only one seat, so naturally they put a big, loud, and bold 200 horsepower Hemi Chrysler in most of them. A few Chris Craft Cobras topped that engine with an even more powerful 285 horsepower Cadillac Crusader from Detroit car dealer Cal Connell. Only ten of the 55-56 boats built had Chris Craft six cylinder engines in them.

chris craft cobra wood planked boat model photo image

single cockpit seating

 

Figure on 45-50 MPH speeds out of a Hemi powered boat. Add another five MPH for boats powered with the dual four barrel Cadillac 285 engine.

chris craft cobra engine wood runabout planked mahogany boat image photo

restored engine classic chris craft cobra wood runabout boat photo image

Classic Chris Craft modified wood raceboat from Lake Dora, Mount Dora, Tavares Antique and Classic Boat Show 5th report

Sleeper is an antique and classic planked mahogany wooden runabout that has been modified into a race boat by Harold Bauer. She has a 1955 to 1966 racing career over which she was regional high points champion 4 times. This is a boat that raced against Curt Brayer and his Dancing Bear and Forest Johnson and his Prowlers in the F Service Runabout class.

chris craft racing runabout wood antique and classic boat image photo

unrestored Chris Craft twin cockpit wood boat modified for racing years ago

She is a hard riding, porpoising, but fast race boat. While top speeds were over 70 MPH, her crew reported peeing blood after a race. Powered by a 95 horsepower straight shaft inboard by Chris Craft when she was built in 1931, she was re-powered as a racing boat Chris Craft. First Buick, then 390 Ford engines got the boat’s speed up. These engines were moved aft within the hull, a Casalle V-drive installed with a jack shaft to a Borg Warner transmission, a Cary two blade propeller selected, and the two cockpits relocated into forward dual cockpits with bucket seats for both the driver and the riding mechanic, a fuel tank was located under the fore deck, and the hull was fiberglassed. So seabuddy labels her both a wood and a fiberglass antique and classic boat.

chris craft racing runabout transom wooden planked mahogany antique and classic

Note how much wider she is at the chines, which was an owner addition for racing

The boat also had her structure strengthened with extra bracing, while her chines were really widened (see seabuddy’s photo), and a cavitation plate was added for stability and control. This Chris Craft racing runabout is not a Chris Craft Racing Runabout model, she was a standard production pleasure boat modified by her owner.

chris craft racing runabout 390 ford engine f service runabout

Ford 390 vee-drive re-located aft engine