Category: 1957 Chris Craft – “Virginia”

Chris Craft Topside Prep

It’s been well over a month since I have put any time into Virginia, but as we get into February I realized I need to kick this project into high gear!  I spent the past few days planning out how I am going to do the deck and interior, and while I wait for some materials to start that part I figured why not get started on the topsides.

The original plan was to veneer the topsides, but that was pre-Naida. Now the plan is to paint her topsides so she matches Naida, as Virginia will end up being her tender.

Virginia overall is pretty solid, but she did have an odd combination of some dry rot, and a golf ball sized hole on her starboard side just before the transom.

Back in November I glassed the corners, inside and out, and haven’t touched it since.  First step before sealing, priming, and painting the topsides was to bust out the marine filler (aka Boat Bondo) and fill, then fair over this glass repair.

First layer of marine filler is on, let it dry, sand it down, apply more to fill holes, let it dry, sand it down.... you get the idea.

A heat lamp helped speed up this process as it was fairly cold in the shop today which slows drying times.

In the mean time I started sealing the port side, I used Interlux’s Clear Wood Sealer, the primer I am using is Interlux’s Pre-kote which really exposes any imperfections in the hull, it will have to be sanded and filled in a few spots before the next coat.

First coat of Pre-Koat is on the port side, since it will have to be thourughly sanded and filled with several more coats applied on top I opted to just brush it on. Final coats will be sprayed, along with the top coats.

It felt good to make some solid visual progress on Virignia, espcially since I know once Naida arrives in Chicago she will be consuming most of my attention and time for a few weeks.

 

Stay tuned for more updates on both boats coming soon!

Johnson Engine Testing

The engine that came with the boat is a 35HP 1957 Johnson Javelin. It is a 2-Cycle engine, and it has electric start, however it does not have a generator or alternator so it does not charge the battery.

35 HP Johnson Javelin

The previous owner didn’t have much information on the engine, but it appears to be in excellent condition. To get ready to start the engine I replaced the plugs, and had to get a pressurized gas tank off of ebay. These engines don’t have fuel pumps, instead they take pressure from the tank, feed it through a secondary fuel line into the tank to pressurize the tank, which then forces fuel back up to the engine and into the carb.

The tank I bought off ebay had some some serious leaks, I had to order a new gasket set and rebuild the top half of the tank.

After some fiddling, and eventually some compressed air, I was able to get the tank to pressurize enough to fill the engine mounted fuel filter and the bowl on the carb.

I jury-rigged a start solenoid and switch, and after a few clicks it lit right up!

It ran pretty smooth considering it hasn’t been run in over 5 years, but the impeller would appear to be shot as it wasn’t passing water. I’ll have to replace that once the boat is ready to go in the water.

I love simple 2-stoke engines, they don’t take much to maintain, and they typically will outlast the boat.

Interior Varnish Stripping

Stripping the paint and deck went well, removed more of the interior and began stripping the varnish off the inside of the hull.

Deck removal

I have found the best product for stripping varnish & stain is Zissner’s StripFast, now I think this has been discontinued as I can not find it in stores any longer and have yet to find a replacement. If you have a favorite stripping product share it in the comment section below.

Pre-Varnish Stripping

This was a multi-day process, applying the StripFast, scraping, stripfast, scraping… While this stuff is effective, it will BURN if it gets on your skin. Not to mention it will eat through gloves. I keep a bucket of soapy water near by incase it splatters onto my skin, you know when it does because it feels like someone is putting a cigarette out on your arm.
After stripping the interior down, sanding was the next step. Sanded with 60 grit, then 80 to get the last of the stain off and leave the wood with a fairly smooth surface.

While doing this I removed several pieces or poorly laid fiberglass in the bilge of the boat, it appears there was some rot that was dealt with by quickly laying glass over it. Once all of it is out I’ll take a deeper look and decide on the next step. One thing is for sure this bilge will be sealed this time around.

Pickup & Topside Stripping

I had been searching for some time now for a vintage wooden runabout, preferably a Chris Craft. In early August 2017 I came across an eBay listing for a 1957 Chris Craft kit boat with a trailer & engine. It was only located about 3 hours from Chicago, after chatting with the seller and setting a price I went to go pick it up that week.

Once back in Chicago I began stripping the deck, trim, and topside paint off. I was expecting much more rot than I found, overall the boat was in very serviceable condition.

Stripping off the topside paint took several days as whoever put it on sure didn’t skimp on material.

The deck was toast, but the underlying frame was very solid, I only had to re-make a few pieces, the majority of the hull is still original.

The plan for now is to strip her down to bare wood inside & out. Replace any rotted pieces, then work over the bottom.