Chris-crafts are mag­nif­i­cent boats, and al­ways a priv­i­lege to work on.

Boating NZ - - Feature -

Chris-crafts are mag­nif­i­cent boats, says Alan, and al­ways a priv­i­lege to work on. “On the face of it, this one didn’t pose any ma­jor prob­lems. For­tu­nately, she came with most of her orig­i­nal fit­tings. So we were mainly look­ing – or so we thought – at a re­build of the in­te­rior, re­pair­ing a bit of rot, and re­paint­ing.

“But the owner’s brief was a lit­tle un­usual. He’s also a clas­sic car en­thu­si­ast and his vi­sion for the boat is best de­scribed by a term com­monly used by car-buffs – ‘Resto-mod’. While keep­ing the boat as orig­i­nal as pos­si­ble, in­cor­po­rate mod­ern tech­nol­ogy into the re­fit – but keep it all hid­den, out of sight.” Uh...sure. The first hur­dle Alan’s team en­coun­tered was power – the boat ar­rived with­out an en­gine. Orig­i­nally, these Chris-crafts were usu­ally equipped with a 110hp Her­cules straight-six en­gine. Its re­place­ment would be a 5.7-litre, 330hp Cru­sader V8 with a ZF63A 1.5:1 gear­box.

“Mod­i­fy­ing and strength­en­ing the en­gine bed was rel­a­tively straight-for­ward – though we did have to fit a new stern tube for the al­tered prop shaft an­gle. But the real prob­lem was the Cru­sader’s height – the only way we could ac­com­mo­date it was by rais­ing the cock­pit sole 100mm.”

The new sole is a work of art – a glossy study in ma­hogany with ash in­lay, and

it wears mul­ti­ple coats of Awl­wood var­nish. It’s seam­lessly in­te­grated into the ves­sel’s ex­ist­ing struc­ture and, along with the in­te­rior pan­elling and floors, ab­sorbed most of the project’s new tim­ber.

Also miss­ing from the boat was the strut, shoe, shaft and rud­der – new ver­sions were sourced lo­cally – as well as a prop. “We set­tled on a four-blade Bri-ski – 14-inch by 14-inch – and af­ter ini­tial test runs had the pitch al­tered slightly, adding a lit­tle cup­ping to the blades.”

It’s un­clear what sort of speed the boat did with her orig­i­nal en­gine, but the Cru­sader drives her to a stately 28 knots, and a healthy mea­sure of sound-proof­ing keeps the V8’s en­thu­si­asm to a muted roar. Adrenalin-spik­ing stuff!

Some re­caulk­ing also en­sured the team’s her­itage skills were put to good use. “The hull’s Ore­gon plank­ing over oak frames,” says Alan, “and while the boat­yard in the US had re­paired the hull to the wa­ter­line – and glassed over it – the top­sides needed work as the planks had opened up. It in­volved dig­ging out the tired caulk­ing and re­plac­ing it with new.”

Many of the slid­ing win­dows – still car­ry­ing the orig­i­nal glass – leaked and needed new frames and tracks. The curved ma­hogany frames, in par­tic­u­lar, re­quired del­i­cate lam­i­na­tions of 1.5mm lay­ers.

RIGHT A beau­ti­ful ad­di­tion to Lake Ro­toiti’s fleet of clas­sic launches. LEFT Then named An­gel Baby, the boat fea­tured in a copy of the pop­u­lar US mag­a­zine, Clas­sic Boat­ing.

LEFT The orig­i­nal chromed spot­light and horn, and the new strut, prop and rud­der.

RIGHTThe raised cock­pit sole is a work of art.

RIGHTNow where are all those elu­sive lit­tle trout...?.

ABOVEThe new Cru­sader V8 re­quired the cock­pit sole to be raised by 100mm.

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