Putting her on the market was truly a difficult decision for Shirley, my wife, and me. We fully intended to make her ours for decades to come, and my entire approach to her preservation was framed in that expectation.
Were the market is attracted to wood boats with no-soak, leak-proof True 5200 bottoms, “our” RIV would keep what is her original bottom and thereby require some soaking before she is completely watertight.
Why? For one we are preservationists, and two, her bottom, both her inner and outer planking, presented itself as in just remarkably fresh condition. Yes, we released a replaced a few fasteners, and tightened others. Yes, we stripped the bottom planking to bare wood and sealed it with three coats of CPES, followed by treating her seams with Interlux Seam Compound designed for below the waterline. Five coats of Interlux Interprotect barrier coat were applied, followed by four coats of Pettit Hard Racing Bronze bottom paint.
The hardware, windshield brackets, wheel, gauges were all preserved as we have detailed in our library of ’52 RIV videos, but not a single component was replaced or added because it was missing.
As is our custom, the few dings and one slightly soft spot we found were repaired with Dutchmen, rather than replacing planks. She remains 99% original as far as her wood is concerned.
Her gas tank was beyond saving so we asked RAYCO to fabricate a new one for us.
The path we followed to bring her cosmetics from as-found to Bristol is chronicled in our earlier videos.
Finally, a huge shout-out to Michael Forshaw and Antique Boat America, who, over a period of about four weeks produced several interested parties and finally what would turn out to be her new owners. I cannot thank Michael and his team enough for how they executed this process.
You see her entombed in her transport cover in the clip, but that is only for this evening, as we have rain in the forecast and I want her hooked to my truck and ready to leave at first light tomorrow. (The cover will be removed before we pull out.)
Yes, it is with slightly heavy hearts that Shirley and I bid the RIV adieu.
Why did we do it? Well, all of you share the addiction to varying degrees. One boat seems perfect, but then some other vessel that is rarer, older, sexier, more powerful appears on the horizon. We are chasing a couple such boats and will share what we find, and our next adventure with you when I tow her or them home.

Today we harvest two long years of painstaking preservation of the almost completely original 1952 Chris-Craft Riviera 18 Runabout. Save for several tiny Dutchman patches, her wood is entirely original, as are her upholstery, hardware, gauges, Iva Lite, windshield, steering wheel, and on and on.

We did have RAYCO fabricate a new tank. The burgee is after-market and stern flag is period, but not original. That’s it.

Her Chris-Craft Hercules KBL power plant’s 131 HP should push her along quite satisfactorily.

Pearl Craft of Perth, Australia preserved her steering wheel. Richard Sligh made the Iva Lite new again, as did New England Plating for all the hardware. George Beer and his team at American Metal Polishing transformed the stainless into jewelry.
Tomorrow she will debut at the Lake Champlain ACBS Chapter’s 30th Annual Antique and Classic Boat Show at the Community Boathouse in Burlington, VT.

We cannot wait!

We purchased this 1952 Chris-Craft 18-foot Riviera in the late autumn 2014. I could not believe, no matter how disheveled at the moment, how original she was.
In the intervening months, we have executed a comprehensive preservation. Aside from two small Dutchman repairs, nary a single piece of wood has been replaced. Even though she will live on a dry dock railroad system between romps on Lake Champlain, I made the call, “Other than refastening the planks, we will leave her original, traditional bottom intact.” Yes, she will leak, but the 2,000 gallon/hr. bilge pump will deal with that.
I open this clip full of bravado, which was then tempered by the challenge of dialing in a Chris-Craft KBL’s triple carbs. John La Fountain once again brought is decades of experience building racing engines to the fore, and roar she did and does.
Next we will install the few remaining components, and RJ will detail her to a standard that amazes me every day.
We will launch her for sea trials early next week. Yes, the HD Flip video camera will be with us.
Following that romp, she will be debuted next Saturday, August 8, 2015, at the Lake Champlain ACBS chapter show in Burlington, VT. The show, our 30th annual, will celebrate Chris-Craft’s incredible array of vessels with at least 20 quite different models on display.
Please join us at the Community Boathouse in Burlington, VT!

Thank you for your interest and the “helpful” shots across my bow for trying to show my ’52 RIV off while she was stuffed between two other boats and inside our showroom.
So … her she is in her glory outdoors and with a bit of sun shining.

Yes, the date is last week … YouTube had a glitch and two clips did not actually upload…
My 1952 Chis-Craft is getting so close to her debut and sea trials that I can almost taste it!
She is now laying comfortably on her brand new, four-bunk, tandem-axle, 5,400 pound GVW Sea Lion trailer, purchased where I source all of my trailers, the Trailer Outlet in Tilton, NH.
All the hardware is back from New England Chrome Plating in East Hartford, CT, and all of it save for the rub and splash rails has been installed bedded in Dolfinite.
Dale Kocian, Kocian Instruments, Forest Lake, MN, has restored her gauges both mechanically and cosmetically. His work has no equal in our experience.
Dick Sligh, Iva-Lite, Holland, MI, completed an excellent mechanical and cosmetic preservation of her original Iva-Lite.
We are waiting for a few more ancillary parts before we can bench run her 131 HP KBL engine.
So close… Waiting is truly difficult!

 Offered at $16,750 – Fully & Professionally Restored 1964 25’ Lyman Sleeper, Eleonora & Tandem Axle Sea Lion Trailer

Eleonora, Hull Number K-1250, had languished in a shed on the shores of Lake George for years, when longtime Vermont TV journalist and WCAX TV (CBS) news anchor, Marselis Parsons, bought her and chose Snake Mountain Boatworks LLC to preserve her.

Save her we have! Watch Eleonora being launched and roaring back to life on Lake Champlain during her September 2012 Sea Trial. 

She moved to her new home at the Lake Champlain Yacht Club, LCYC, in Shelburne Bay, VT. From that port Marselis, his family and many friends enjoyed roaring at speeds approaching 40 knots across Lake Champlain. (She is powered by a 1984, 5.9 liter Chrysler V8 that produces 260 HP.)

She is now in cold inside storage, with all fees paid through May, 2017.

She offers you incredible originality, a dry bilge, all original and functioning gauges, throttle, shift lever, cushions and canvas. She has been updated with an Iva Lite, oiled teak swim platform and a Hummingbird depth sounder. She rides on a 2012, tandem axle, Disc Brake Sea Lion trailer

She is particularly turnkey.  She includes a color-coordinated set of green fenders and dock lines. Her full canvas is original, Lyman Customline, fabricated by Nielson Canvas Co., Sandusky, OH.

We lost Marselis to Cancer in 2015. At his family’s request, Snake Mountain Boatworks brought Eleonora into the shop in September 2016, and freshened her decks, topsides and bottom. She has been winterized and is waiting for her new stewards to own and launch her anew in 2017.

In preparation for offering her to new stewards, we freshened her bottom and topside paint, burnished and waxed her decks, windshield, covering boards and horizontal interior bright surfaces. (Several dings along her gunwale and foredeck edges were repaired and varnished anew.)

Her bottom was scraped, all dings and scrapes were repaired and inter-strake seams were sealed where needed, before she was spot primed with Pettit Tie Coat Primer. Her bottom then received three coats of Pettit Copper Bronze Antifouling paint.

Her topsides were sanded flat and then received three fresh coats of sea green Interlux Brightside Topside paint. (The new video errs in using “Wet Edge” instead of “Brightside.”)

Here are two new videos shot in November, 2016:

Meet Eleonora

2016 Engine Winterization

Following is a partial list of work we performed during the summer and fall of 2012, and thereafter.

  • Engine:
    • Compression test returned 150 PSI across all 8 cylinders
    • Cleaned and rebuilt the carburetor, water pump and distributor
    • Replaced the fuel pump, exhaust hoses and mufflers, coil, voltage regulator, belts and cooling system hoses
  • Bottom:
    • Repaired stem and knee
    • Stripped to bare wood and re-fastened
    • Sealed seams and applied three coats of Clear Penetrating Epoxy Sealer
    • Primed and painted – Pettit Tie Coat Primer and Copper Bronze Antifouling paint
  • Topsides (Note: Eleonora retains all of her original wood on her topsides, transom, decks and interior.)
    • Stripped to bare wood & refastened where necessary
    • Sealed seams and applied three coats of Clear Penetrating Epoxy Sealer
    • Primed with Interlux PreKote – three coats, sanding between coats
    • Applied three coats of Interlux Brightside Sea Green topside paint.
  • Transom – We were constrained by Marselis’ decision to leave her name unchanged, so could not strip the transom to bare wood. Fortunately, the lettering had already been varnished over.)
    • Sanded the surface flat
    • Applied four coats of Pettit Hi Build varnish
  • Decks, covering and coaming boards, and all horizontal surfaces in the cockpit and helm station
    • Stripped to bare wood, sanded, bleached and stained (Sandusky Paint Co., Lyman Mahogany Stain before applying three coats of Clear Penetrating Epoxy Sealer.
  • Running gear
    • The skeg, rudder and prop assembly, including the prop itself, were released. Their interior and exterior mounting surfaces were scraped to bare wood, after which they were sealed with Clear Penetrating Epoxy Sealer. All components were installed, bedded in 3M5200, and fastened using silicon bronze carriage bolts, flat and lock washers, and hex nuts.
  • Bilge – cleaned and scraped before applying two coats of Sandusky Lyman Sand Tan bilge paint.
  • Interior seating, cabinets, bulkhead and ceilings
    • Unfortunately, Marselis’ battle with Cancer began the same spring that we were scheduled to refinish the aft and helm station benches, seatbacks and bases, the bulkhead, and the two storage lockers situated behind the helm seats. As such, we did not address these issues. They remain as unfinished business for her next stewards to tackle, or have Snake Mountain Boatworks tackle on her behalf.

CONTACT: Michael Claudon by email: michael@snakemountainboatworks.com.


COWHIDE IIIOffered at $13,750: 1956 16-foot Century Cowhide Palomino & Tee Nee Trailer

With hull number “P5652” is still stamped on her transom, this completely preserved 1956 “Cowhide” Century Palomino is as original a boat as I have ever seen. We did not replace a single scrap of wood. 

She is a one-owner boat and among a tiny number, perhaps as few as 2-4, survivors of the cowhide-upholstered, black Palomino model that Century built for a single year.


  • Save for her burgee, stern flag and seat cushions, which we had fabricated using the same 1956 NOS cowhide fabric, from the same vendor that Century Boat Company used in 1956, every bit of her upholstery is original.
  • The bottom planking was stripped bare, received 3 coats of CPES, primed with 5 coats of Interlux 2000E Marine barrier coat, followed by 4 coats of Pettit hard racing bronze.COWHIDE I
  • The topsides, transom, decks and covering boards were stripped bare and sealed with 3 coats of CPES prior to applying 12 coats of Pettit High-Build varnish and 6 coats of JD Total Boat Wet Edge topside black paint.
  • The hardware, windshield, stainless trim strips, Century hull tags and windshield, are all original, and were fully restored by New England Chrome Plating, East Hartford, CT.
  • Fran Secor of Otego, NY, executed a comprehensive rebuild and cosmetic engine restoration.
  • The original 1956 Tee Nee trailer has been completely disassembled, sand blasted, re-painted and reassembled. The wiring and wheel bearings are new.


Offered at $21,500: 1956 17’ Chris-Craft Special Sportsman

This 1956 17’ Chris-Craft Special Sportsman is completely original. She is hull number C-17 3708, which, according to Conrad, makes her a 1957, but her build sheet identifies her as a 1956.

She has the blonde king plank and split helm seat, which is a 1957 treatment, but her straight windshield was typical of the 1956 model.

That she is identified as a “Special Sportsman” also points at 1956.

No, she is not a “marriage of convenience,” put-together boat. We purchased her from her second owner, who, in turn purchased her from the original owner, his son. Both father and son took and saved documentation, including her original build sheet. She stands before you now as she left Algonac.

The immediate prior owner, and electrical engineer, began restoring her at least 15 years ago. I purchased her as an empty hull with engine still installed, and with every part, piece, even the screws carefully sorted and tagged.

Upon arrival at the shop we did a complete inventory and realized that nothing was missing.


Engine Test: https://youtu.be/KqcQtqWcGWI
Debut: https://youtu.be/UISquiSbWJg
Sea Trial:  https://youtu.be/NH_nX76w5-E

Our comprehensive preservation included

  • Engine and transmission
    • Complete teardown and rebuild
    • Conversion to 12 volts
    • Generator replaced with a one-wire alternator, which enhances reliability hugely
    • Points ignition replaced with Pertronix for hotter spark and enhanced reliability
  • Gas tank – The previous owner provided a new, exact copy of the original tank, as well as the original one
  • Bilge – Painted with 3 coats of Sandusky Paint Company Chris-Craft red bilge paint
  • Floor panels – Covered with black small-ribbed rubber sheeting that is correct for Chris-Craft
  • Mickey Dupuis, D & S Custom Metal Restoration, Holyoke, MA, restored all of the hardware
  • Kocian Instruments executed a comprehensive mechanical and cosmetic restoration of the gauges
  • Roger Towle, Snake Mountain Boatworks, restored the wheel
  • Marks Upholstery, Middlebury, VT, fabricated new upholstery in Chris-Craft red
  • Hull – was stripped to bare wood inside and out. Every square inch of wood received 3 coats of CPES ahead of any finishing.
    • Bottom planking released, interior ½” plywood sheathing refastened. The sheathing and planks were sealed with 3 coats of CPES before being re-installed bedded in 3M 5200.
    • The topsides, decks, covering boards, ceilings, seating, seat boxes, engine box and dash were bleached, stained either blonde or mahogany as appropriate.
    • All bright surfaces received at least 16 coats of Pettit High-Build varnish
    • Below the waterline, the hull received 5 coats of Interlux 2000-E barrier coat, followed by 4 coats of Pettit hard racing bronze bottom paint
  • Sea Lion trailer
    • Galvanized box beam bunk trailer with electric disc brakes
    • Fewer than 150 miles since purchased new by Snake Mountain Boatworks.
    • Extended bow tower, which greatly eases retrieval from the water, and guarantees that the bow winch line never touches the boat
    • According to Conrad, the 17’ Special Sportsman weighs between 1,600 and 1,800 pounds. The trailer’s GVRW is 3,800 pounds, more than sufficient to carry the boat easily and smoothly.

1956 Chris-Craft Special Sportsman Information Sheet

It is all about minimizing the amount of paint applied with each coat. We alternate between gray and white so we can ensure there is a ghost image of the previous coat showing through the one that is being applied.
Minimizing film thickness, in turn, is all about rolling each stroke out aggressively. Coverage is not your goal here. Build three super-thin coats to retain this primer’s wonderfully flexible properties.
We have tried most of the other topside primers on the market. TotalBoat is not only the best value, it is the best topside primer available today in our experience.
It dries quickly – to the touch in less than half an hour at most at 65 F. If your surface is still sticky 30 minutes or so post application, you are laying on way too much paint onto the surface.
Recoating in 4 hours means you can apply the first 2 coats on day 1, and the final coat the next morning. Four hours later, after a final quick sanding and wash-down with Acetone, and you are ready to begin applying the Interlux Premium Yacht Enamel.

Knock on Wood has her sights on the finish line. Two more coats of Pettit Tie Coat Primer below the waterline, followed by 3 – 4 of Pettit 1933 Antifouling Copper Bronze bottom paint and she’s ready to float.
Three coats of Interlux Premium Yacht Enamel, which we will roll and tip, and she’s almost there.
We still have 3 – 4 more coats of varnish to roll and tip onto the transom. Her lettering will follow, as will rea-installing her drive train and hardware, and she will be good to go home.
Well, not quite as we have a surprise for her owners that will stay strictly in-house … for now.