Restoration of a 1965 Chris Craft 18 foot super sport boat | Mahoney Woodworks

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Chris-Craft 16 Runabout

Restoration of a 1965 Chris Craft 18 foot super sport boat

August 4th, 2013

This project started back in April of 2012.  It was to be some minor wood repair.  At least that is what the client thought.  I had done some work on his sailboat, made a new bottom frame for another boat and built him one of my rocking chairs so he knew my work.  What we both didn’t know was the amount of work that this project would turn into.  And so began what became my biggest and most challenging woodworking project to date.

The boat was upside down in his garage on a few wood dollies.  It didn’t take me long to figure out I needed to do a lot of research.  On to the internet I went to start my search of Chris Craft boat building forums.  The internet is loaded with info.  I also went to an antique and classic wood boat show in Lake Geneva, Wi.  Lake Geneva is well known for its many owners of fine wood boats.

If you want the short version of this work in progress and now completed project, here is what it looks like as of yesterday, June 30, 2013 on the lake.

Steve Clark, the driver is the owner.  He is also a good friend.  It is very different in appearance than the original 65 super sport.  I don’t have any pics of what it looked like when we started.  There are only about 8 pieces of original wood now in the boat.  Two of those pieces have the hull stamps on them and luckily they were in reusable shape.

Back to the beginning.

I spent many hours removing the old bottom.  Old wood covered in epoxy, fastened with bronze, stainless and drywall screws in different parts.  After some discussion with the owner I suggested we not waste any more time being careful but just have at it with the power saw and get it down to the frame.  So, this became not just a repair and restore the bad stuff but a “pattern” boat.  Pattern meaning just using the old wood as patterns for all new wood.

Chris-Craft 18

I was still trying to save the topside wood at this point in time.  We now needed to get it loaded up and taken over to my shop where I could really do some damage.

You can see the transom bottom frame member has been removed due to bad rot.  This would not have been seen if we hadn’t removed the bottom planking.

It is now in my single car garage.  My vehicle will remain parked outside for the next year.  I have a 2 ½ car garage next door that is my shop and parking for my wife’s car.  She has been patient with me as there were many times that she could not get here car in the garage for various wood stuff related reasons.  I lost over 10 lbs working on this project just going back and forth from boat to shop each day.  All in all it worked out well.

This is what a 65 Chris Craft Super Sport really looks like.  Lots of vinyl which I don’t care for.  Chris Craft was trying to compete with the fiberglass boats that were just starting to make the wood boats a thing of the past.  We agreed from the start that not to use any vinyl on the new boat but make it completely mahogany.

Isn’t this a much better looking deck?  I think so.  The stripes are inlayed maple.  Caulking deck seams is what Chris Craft used to do.  I didn’t want any caulk or duct tape on this boat.  I skipped ahead with this pic as you might have guessed.

Chris-Craft 18
Chris-Craft 18
Chris-Craft 18
Chris-Craft 18
Chris-Craft 18
Chris-Craft 18
Chris-Craft 18
Chris-Craft 18

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