How to Install Bottom Battens in a True 5200 Bottom – 1938 19′ Chris-Craft Custom Runabout

1938 chris craft runabout bottom battens

As is typical of all Chris-Craft utilities and runabouts, this 1938 19’ Chris-Craft Custom Runabout, Flyin’ By’s hull is comprised of a series of heavy frames to which the bottom is fastened. A series of battens run athwart between the frames, thereby adding substantial stiffness to the bottom.

Simply put installing battens is a thankless, two-person challenge. Here are the steps for installing one batten at a time, followed by filling the countersinks, fairing the bottom, sealing, priming and applying bottom paint. The process is described for one batten, one that will be repeated for all of them:

Installing the Battens.

  • From the inside, drill two pilot holes towards the ends of the batten. • Using a straightedge and pencil, scribe a line between the pair of holes.
  • Drill holes along the line, about 1.5 inches apart using a countersink pilot drill.
  • Dry fit the batten and, while the guy underneath presses it in place, drill two holes from the outside in through two of the countersinks.
  • Sink screws through those two holes. We use #6 x 1 or x 1-1/4, depending on the thickness of the inner plywood skin plus the exterior planks.
  • Stand the remaining screws through the remaining holes and drive them home.
  • Release all of those screws for now.
  • Butter the batten’s bottom face about 1/8” thick with 3M 5200 – mahogany.
  • Hand it to the guy beneath the boat, who presses it in place.
  • Starting with the two end screws, and remembering to stand screws in all of the holes, drive all of them in place. (Standing the screws in the holes first ensures that fountains – volcanoes? – of 5200 do not squirt though the other screw holes as you work along the batten.)
  • Repeat for all battens on both bottom faces. Flyin’ By has twenty of them per face.

Filling Countersinks and Fairing the Bottom.

Filling countersinks and fairing the bottom is next. We use 3M Premium Marine Filler, available from Jamestown and elsewhere, to fill and fair the countersinks.

Three applications are required. We sand using 80 grit and one of our Festool random orbit sanders after the first coat, just to knock down ridges and what I call overspread.

Once the last application has cured – about 4 – 6 hours – we sand the entire bottom fair using 80 grit on our pneumatic longboard sanders. Declivities may show themselves at this stage, which requires interrupting the sanding as Premium Filler is applied to them. Sealing, Priming and Bottom Paint.

Once the bottom is fair, apply three coats of Smith’s Clear Penetrating Epoxy Sealer. Danenberg recommends applying the second coat immediately after the first, so we apply the CPES to one entire face and then return to where we began and apply a second coat.

I know there are other penetrating sealers available, and we’ve tested most of them. Let me just say that we use Smith’s CPES, which is available at good prices from Star Distributing in West Mystic, CT: http://www.star-distributing.com/smit….)

Our go-to primer is Interlux InterProtect 2000E Two-Part Barrier Coat Epoxy Primer because it works

From Jamestown:

Interlux’s Micro-Plate formula creates an effective barrier against water permeation. 2000E may be used above and below the waterline as a universal primer for all surfaces. It is also an excellent primer for all metals and can be used as part of a no sand system.

From Interlux:

  • Two-part epoxy water barrier with Micro-Plates
  • Up to two weeks is allowed between coats of 2000E
  • Now available in two colors, Gray and White
  • Fast drying, easy application
  • Sag resistance to insure the elimination of sags and runs during application

Technically, InterProtect Micro-Plates provide millions of overlapping microscopic plates that create a barrier similar to shingles on a roof. These overlapping Micro-Plates eliminate any direct path for water migration and also improve the sag resistance of the epoxy making application easier.

We will have a gallon each of gray and white 2000E on hand for Flyin’ By’s bottom and chine plank – boot stripe included. Once we’ve applied five thin coats, we will have created an impenetrable barrier against water permeation.

Since Flyin’ By will be dry sailed by her new owners, we will apply three coats of Pettit Old Salem Copper Bronze Hard Racing Enamel, at which point she will sport a True 5200 Bottom.

Finally, she was in show ready condition, with over 20 coats of varnish having been applied and buffed when the moment to flip her arrives. No matter how careful any of us is, and no matter how many pads we placed strategically, Flyin’ By is heavy, and her hull shape presents long sweeping curves. And with three of us working around, under and even atop her, bumps and bangs are all but inevitable.

That said her varnish is scuffed in several places, so we will sand the entire hull flat anew and apply three or so coats of Interlux Perfection Plus Two-Part Varnish to her, and let it clear before she returns to storage.

How to Install Bottom Planks in a True 5200 Bottom – 1938 19′ Chris Craft Custom Runabout

1938 chris craft runabout install bottom planks

Installing the bottom planks can be tedious and is fraught with all manner of challenges.

First and foremost, unless the planks are dry-fit so that the seams between them are of uniform width, you will all but certainly experience and “Oh X$#%^!” moment when try to install the final, chine, plank.

I cannot tell you how many bottoms we’ve encountered that sport the telltale “skinny plank” along the chine. Failing to fit first, mark the edge of each plank heavily and then obey the lines usually translates into a super wide seam, sometime over an inch, and a plank that does not fit at the stem.

Once again we drop screws part way into all of a plank’s holes before setting it in place, and screw each of them in only part way thereafter. Once all the screws are down far enough that the shanks are in the plank’s holes, begin driving them home. (We work from the middle out, but given how narrow the planks are, you can also work from either, or both ends towards the middle.)

When you clean excess 5200 – that which squeezes out – work towards to ancillary goals. Keep the countersinks free of the 5200 so that the 3M Premium Marine Filler can make a purchase on wood, not on slipper adhesive. And, be sure that all seams are filled fair with 5200.

Clean with Interlux Brushing Liquid 333, and then wipe everything down with acetone, which will accelerate the curing process.

Finally, be patient. I do not care what Interlux says, 5200 can have a mind of its own around curing.

Sometimes waiting 2 – 3 days are fine, but we wait longer, at least a week, before we go at the bottom with sandpaper.

You will be helped with being patient as the countersink filling and bottom fairing process is might time consuming when done correctly. Remember, whether it is 3M Premium Marine Filler or some other fairing compound of your choosing, it shrinks as it cures. You want every countersink filled fair to the plank surface. Apply it twice and then sand everything as smooth as you can with 80 grit – no finer, before applying it a third time and sanding again.

Even though the planks were dosed with three coats of CPES before installation, you have likely sanded into the sealed layers, so applying three more coats is not overkill.

We prime all bottoms with five, not three or four – coats of Interlux 2000E Barrier Coat Primer before applying Pettit Hard Racing Copper Bronze Bottom Paint – three coats.

How to Install the Inner Plywood Skin in a True 5200 Bottom – 1938 19′ Chris Craft Custom Runabout

1938 chris craft runabout inner plywood skin

Actually installing Flyin’ By’s True 5200 bottom begins today.

After cutting and fitting all of them, we applied three full coats of Smith’s Clear Penetrating Epoxy Sealer (CPES) to both surfaces and the edges of the 4 mm Aquatek meranti marine plywood panels.

Once the CPES was cured, three coats of Sandusky Chris-Craft Mahogany Bilge Paint were applied to the inner (bilge) side of each sheet.

We are installing those panels bedded in 1/8-inch-thick layer of Mahogany 3M5200 and secured with #6 x ¾” Frearson (Reed & Prince) silicon bronze screws.

This install is a multiple-step process

  • Lay each panel down dry – without any 5200 – and scribe lines running through the center of each frame.
  • Pre-drill, complete with countersink, all of the hole we will drive the screws through.
  • Apply a solid, 1/8”-thick layer of 5200 along each frame and the landings along the keel, chine and transom (in the cast of the aft-most panels).

The layers spread on the landings are a generous 1/8”, especially along the seams between the panel edges and the landings. Doing so produces amble squeeze-out, which, when cleaned with Interlux Brushing Liquid 333, leaves a complete seal.

As Danenberg admonishes, scrimp on 5200 and you end up with a shortcut bottom that will not last. We will apply in excess of one hundred tubes of 5200, which works out to about five tubes per foot LOA, for Flyin’ By’s True 5200 bottom.

  • Use a plastic spreader to essentially “frost” the beads of 5200 into a uniform layer.
  • Lay the panel in place and begin inserting screws.
  • Do not drive and of the screws home until all of them are driven about halfway down. Why? We know by bitter experience that driving the screws home from any edge or other starting place ensures creating fountains of 5200 up and out of the empty pilot holes that lie ahead of you. Inserting all of the screws halfway ensures zero fountains and a much more pleasant experience.
  • Drive all the screws home.
  • Clean all of the squeeze-out inside and out with Interlux Brushing Liquid 333.
  • Wipe all seams and any visible 5200 down with Acetone, which accelerates curing.

Once all the panels are installed and we’ve allowed the 5200 to cure for several days, it will be time to install the mahogany bottom planks. (Remember, all of them received three full coats of CPES – both faces, the edges and the butts – after releasing and cleaning them.)

Then it is time to fill the countersinks with 3M Premium Marine Filler and fair the bottom to be absolutely fair from stem to stern and chines to keel.

Next comes three more coats of CPES before we apply five coats of Interlux 2000E Barrier Coat Primer, and then three coats of hard racing bronze bottom paint.

How To Remove Bottom Fasteners in a True 5200 Bottom – 1938 19′ Chris Craft Custom Runabout

1938 chris craft runabout bottom fasteners

That Flyin’ By’s bottom was original to the boat is absolutely certain. How do we know for sure? After stripping her bottom’s port face bare, and finding nothing but an original inner layer of 3/16” mahogany laid on the bias, we inspected each frame searching for any evidence of extra screw holes or holes that had been filled during a bottom replacement. No such evidence exists.

Additionally, save for the aft garboard planks, the screw pattern, their sizes and lengths are precisely consistent throughout both bottom faces. The substitution of bronze Reed and Prince fasteners for the original brass slot-headed fasteners tells us that both aft garboards were removed and then reattached at some point.

Nowhere is there any evidence that the inner layer has deteriorated or been replaced. What remains of the original canvas interlayer is somewhere between some and none. Additionally, the original brass screws have been replaced along the keel edge of both forward garboards.

The aft garboards – the #1 planks – and the next ones outboard – the #2 aft planks – lie immediately beneath the engine and transmission, and are sufficiently oil-soaked that their ability to hold 5200 and paint is at best suspect. They must be replaced.

The balance of the original bottom planking is as hard and as sound as the day it left Algonac, MI in 1938. Releasing the screws fastening the bottom is a four-part sequence

  • Using a 3/8” Rotabroach cutter and electric drill set at high speed, drill each countersink until you hear the telltale sound of the steel cutter grinding the head of the brass or bronze (or stainless) screw. Take care here. The Rotabroach is designed for grinding off excess spot weld. The cutters are super hard and super sharp. Applying too much down force or grinding for too long risks rounding off the screw’s head and erasing its driving slots.
  • Reach for a sharpened awl and clean each countersink, paying particular attention to the screw’s slot or R&P driver. Grind through these and you will “enjoy” extracting the screw using one of the damaged screw extractors available today.
  • Blast all residue out of the countersink with an air chuck and compressor delivering at least 110 PSI. (That’s why wearing safety glasses are absolutely required. The particles erupt from the countersink with surprising force.)
  • Using either a slot or R&P driver inserted in a variable-speed impact gun, carefully and slowly tease the screw as it begins backing out of the wood. Trigger control is critical lest you want to destroy the screw’s head and be reaching for the damaged screw extractor.

Voila’! One screw is released. You have only hundreds and hundreds and hundreds to go!

Every screw I’ve released to this point was dropped into a plastic paint pail that now weighs over 20 pounds!

Only a hundred or so to go…

How to Open Countersinks and Remove Fasteners from the bottom of a 1938 19’ Chris-Craft Custom Runabout

1938 chris craft runabout countersinks fasteners

We clean fastener countersinks using a Blair Equipment 11090N Rotabroach Cutter Kit, which is available from Amazon.com (https://www.amazon.com/Blair-Equipmen…)

Yes, even if a plank will be reused and is filled with either a wood or putty, we remove its wood bungs, but in this application always choose a cutter that is smaller than the diameter of the bungs being removed. The cutter bores through the bung without touching the countersink’s edges and is then cleaned using one of the awls we have on hand.

We are much less careful when releasing failed planking, and often use a cutter one size larger than the diameter of the countersink. The goal here is removing the plank without breaking it so it remains available to patterning.

The air chuck is key here, as RJ demonstrates in the clip. With our compressor set at 110 PSI, the chuck delivers a concentrated blast of air that (almost always) leaves the countersink bereft of waste material.

Finally, if you have a super steady hand, as RJ does, you too can back the screws out with an impact gun, not a hand screwdriver.

When stripping a bottom, be sure to remember RJ’s admonishment. Climb beneath the hull, or down into if she’s not flipped yet, and number the intermediate frames, sometimes referred to as battens.

While we will bed them in 3M5200 during final assembly, they are originally installed by driving screws from outside the hull, through the external planking and inner skin, and into the batten without any adhesive applied to the batten or inner skin.

Numbering these battens before they’ve dropped to the floor and skittered about will save endless time and frustration during reassembly.

1946 Chris Craft Brightside U22 Preserved!

1946 chris craft brightside u22 preserved

As she emerged triumphantly from the shop this morning, our 1946 Chris-Craft Brightside U22 roared (literally) though her mother of all milestones this morning.

Shauna Whiting, Kocian Instruments, Forest Lake, MN, (http://www.kocianinstruments.com) transformed her gauges into perfectly-functioning objet d’art.

Mickey Dupuis, D & S Custom Metal Restoration, Holyoke, MA, did the same for her hardware.

We added a True 5200 bottom after having executed major frame, keel and chine repairs. Happily, we saved every piece of original mahogany and then applied 24 coats of Interlux Perfection Two-Part Varnish.

Buffing all surfaces and reassembly completed the project.

Her engine, having been rebuilt completely by Robert Henkel, Peter Henkel Inc., Marine, MI, (www.chris-craft-parts.com) turned only briefly before roaring to life and running smoothly, cooled first by water and then seven gallons of antifreeze, and finally fogged and shut down.

Our only disappointment is that what seems to be our new weather reality made doing her sea trial impossible, given the early onslaught of freezing ambient and plummeting water temperatures.

She will now rest in our storage facility until we can take her to Lake Champlain once temperatures recover next spring.

SOLD – 1938 Chris-Craft Double Cockpit Forward Custom Runabout

1938 Chris Craft Runabout sea trial

“Flyin’ By” (Hull #48264)

Best of Show, July 2017 Lake Champlain ACBS Antique Boat Show

Offered at $65,000 – SOLD

Flyin’ By was delivered to her first owners in Detroit, MI on August 12, 1937. The Aikens family of Bloomfield Hills, MI purchased her in 1960, and enjoyed her on Michigan’s Lake St. Clair until July 2016, when her stewardship passed to Shirley and Michael Claudon of Weybridge, VT.

Flyin’ By

  • Is a 19-foot (racing) Model 824
  • Is powered by and original Chris-Craft Model LC flathead 6 engine has twin Zenith carburetors
  • Develops 148 HP and 40 MPH at 3500 RPM
  • Stands before you today, almost exactly as she was 80 years ago when she left the Chris-Craft factory in Algonac, MI
    1. Save for evidence of several small inconsequential repairs. her framing and planking are original
    2. Her traditional bottom is original
    3. All of her hardware, gauges, Clum switch, steering wheel and on and on are original
    4. Only her Corinthian leather upholstery and her updated 12volt electrical system that were installed in 1980 are not original
Flyin’ By at the Lake Champlain Chapter ACBS Annual Vintage Boat Show

By the fall of 2016, her

  • Ancient varnish had finally dried and lost its integrity in too many places
  • Once brilliant white deck seams were severely cracked, split and discolored
  • Evidence of fastener failure and discolored wood bungs
  • Chrome plated hardware and stainless trim were far from show quality

Flyin’ By emerged from the shop on May 11, 2017, with stunning results

  • Captain Stan Walker, AMS, Marine Surveyor, conducted a comprehensive survey in May, 2017, concluding that Flyin’ By is in Bristol Condition in every way. (Copy available upon request.)
  • Flyin’ By won Best of Show in the 2017 Lake Champlain Antique and Classic Boat Society Boat Show.
  • After applying 24 coats of varnish and waiting 31 days for it to cure, we polished it to its mirror-like gloss.
  • Joanie Alden, Vital Signs in Colchester, VT, hand painted her “Flyin’ By” transom lettering and “Chris-Craft” hull tags, exactly matching the originals.
  • Mickey Dupuis, Custom Metal Restoration in Holyoke, MA, transformed OK hardware into jewelry.
  • Shauna Lawrence, Kocian Instruments, Forest Lake, MN, restored the gauge cluster and Clum switch to perfection.
  • A Fireboy Clean Agent Fire Extinguishing system and a Fireboy M-1 Gasoline Fume Detector were installed.

Watch her on YouTube:

1938 Chris Craft Runabout sea trial
Flyin’ By sea trial on Lake Champlain

FOR SALE – 1953 22-Foot Shepherd Model 110-S Runabout

For Sale: 1953 shepherd m110s dual quad four v drive hemi

Original 1953 Chrysler M45S 331 Dual Quad Four V-Drive Hemi Powered Best of Show July 2018 Lake Champlain ACBS Antique and Classic Wood Boat Show

Offered at $55,500

Voodoo Child is one of only two M45S 331-Hemi-Dual-Quad Four-V-Drive-Powered 22-foot, Model 110-S runabouts built by the Shepherd Boat Company in 1953. Her engine plate reads M45S–HRF– 1066V. The engine is stamped 7-6-53.

Chrysler had not yet released this engine for general sales, but agreed to supply two of them to Shepherd.

She was originally outfitted with the rare mid-cockpit third seat.

That said, whoever owns her owns a boat that only one other person in the universe can own. She is one of two. Her sister vessel has survived, but we understand she is in poor condition.

Save for a replaced garboard and several Dutchman repairs, Voodoo Child, by contrast, triumphed her May 2017 marine survey, with the surveyor declaring she is in Bristol Condition throughout. She confirmed his assessment in July

2018 when she won Best of Show at the Lake Champlain ACBS Antique and Classic Wood Boat Show.

Her original engine and transmission were completely disassembled, ported, polished, balanced and completely rebuilt by Robert Henkel, Peter Henkel Inc., Marine City, MI.

The boat is completely original, with nary a single piece of wood replaced, save for the inner skin of her True 5200 bottom and one section of garboard. Her molded plate glass windshield panels are original. Dutchman repairs to her stem and several small spots on her topsides were executed during her preservation.

Voodoo Child has gone through a comprehensive structural and cosmetic preservation:

  1. Bottom – True 5200 bottom installed
    a. Released, stripped original mahogany planking to bare wood and sealed with three
    coats of Clear Penetrating Epoxy Sealer (CPES)
    b. Released inner skin
    c. Below-waterline framing stripped to bare wood, sealed with three coats of CPES and
    painted with three coats of Pettit Bilge Paint
    d. Installed new inner skin of 1/8” Aquatek Marine Plywood, sealed with three coats of
    CPES and bedded in 3M5200
    e. Installed original planks bedded in 3M5200, and sealed with three more coats of CPES
    f. Applied five coats, alternating between gray and white, of Interlux 2000E Two-Part
    Primer – barrier coat
    g. Applied three coats of Pettit Hard Racing Bronze Enamel
  2. Topsides, transom, decks, ceiling and covering boards
    a. Stripped to bare wood, sanded fair, stained, sealed with three coats of CPES
    b. Varnished (24 coats) with Interlux Perfection Two-Part Varnish
    c. Varnish allowed to cure for 30 days and then buffed and
    d. Mahogany and yellow Sikaflex payed into deck and covering board seams to conform to
    original specifications
  3. Hardware
    a. The cutwater and hardware were restored and plated to show chrome standard by
    Mickey Dupuis, Custom Metal Restoration, Holyoke, MA
    b. Stainless rub rails were restored and polished by George Beer, American Metal Polishing
    in Shrewsbury, MA
  4. Gauge panel – restored mechanically and cosmetically by Kocian Instruments in MN
  5. Upholstery – restored to exactly match the original by Mark’s Upholstery, Middlebury, VT
  6. Floor
    a. Released, stripped bare, sealed with three coats CPES
    b. Marmolean the matches the original precisely installed
  7. Steering wheel – restored to original specifications by Pear Craft Steering Wheels, Rowville,
    Australia
  8. Gas tank – new stainless steel tank fabricated by RAYCO
  9. Safety equipment installed
    a. Fireboy MA2-150-227 Automatic Discharge Clean Agent Extinguishing System
    b. Fireboy MIR-1 Gasoline Fume Detector
    10. She rides on a custom-built, titled, 2016, tandem-axle, aluminum Sea Lion trailer

Voodoo Child Engine Test and Post-preservation videos

  1. Hemi Engine Test: https://youtu.be/xL8SinMeiQ8
  2. Debut: https://youtu.be/LemJFKlGgVg
  3. Sea Trial: https://youtu.be/A9PT66ZEYno

1953 Shepherd Runabout: How to Apply Final Coat of Varnish

1953 shepherd runabout final varnish

Yes, she is Voodoo Child, and if all goes well this fall and winter, you can see her in Tavares, FL, at the Sunnyland ACBS show, March 24-26, next spring.

John and RJ are making one final pass hand sanding to a snow field using 400 grit paper. The goal is an absolutely dirt-free, super flat surface, in preparation for applying the 20th and final coat of varnish.

We had her name applied following the 16th coat, to which four more coats have been applied. I am well aware that this issue is similar to asking five economists’ forecast for the economy and receiving at least seven conflicting replies. However, my goal is to provide some UV protection to the vinyl, while also delivering an identically glossy presentation across the transom.

We will allow the varnish to cure until early next week, at which time we will install the dual quad four, 331 cubic inch, V-drive Chrysler Marine Hemi and its drive line. The gauge cluster and the steering, throttle and shifting systems will be installed as well. Add a couple of fender cleats and we should be good to go.

Go where? To splash in Lake Champlain, since, before I can make a final commitment to Sunnyland, I must know she’s ready to romp.

After she triumphs over her sea trial, Voodoo Child will sit for 30 days during which time the varnish will finish curing, or at least have cured sufficiently to support the polishing process that completes her preservation.

Finally, we will put her back together and banish her to storage until March, 2017, when we will tow her south, away from a still-frozen Lake Champlain and equally frozen Vermont.

…Just cannot wait ….

1946 Chris Craft Brightside U22 Water Strainer & Winterizing System

1946 chris craft brightside u22 water strainer winterizing

After dealing with two engines that had been run in Lake Champlain for two seasons post-rebuild that were overheating, we will now routinely recommend, read insist on installing a sea water strainer between the raw water inlet and the water pump in every boat we preserve.

In both cases, starting at the water pump and continuing into the exhaust manifold, the engines’ cooking systems were fouled with grit and remnants of vegetation.

Installing a strainer in this Chrysler proved particularly vexing as the water pump lives directly beneath the exhaust elbow, thereby denying us the room needed for an easy install just above the raw water thruhull.

Instead, RJ designed and plumbed lines running beneath the engine from the thruhull to the strainer and then back to the water pump.

Let’s face it. Winterizing is nothing but a chore, and usually a frustrating one. We add a gate valve at the raw water inlet and plumb a garden hose line through a T that continues to the water pump.

The raw water inlet runs into one leg of the T with the winterizing line running into the other one.

Closing the inlet gate valve and opening the winterizing gate valve allows water or antifreeze to be drawn from a five gallon bucket through the garden hose and into the engine.

We will use at least five gallons of antifreeze when winterizing an engine. (Just beginning to run pink out the exhaust is necessary but not sufficient for thorough winterization.

Once the exhaust is running full pink and the engine is shut down, we open stopcocks and any other valve in the block and at the bottom of the water pump.

Note that this winterizing system also affords a simple and straightforward flushing system for boats run in salt or brackish water.

Our system makes these chores easier, but they are still no fun!