1959 Chris Craft Sportsman Buffed Assembly Begins

I just spent some minutes viewing our intake photographs of this 1959 17’ Chris-Craft Sportsman. A then vs. now comparison is at least startling.

She was so completely dried out; her deck and covering board planking was black, curled and split.

Yet, through our conservation efforts, all but two outermost, tiny, triangular foredeck planks have been saved.

It can be done. Destroying an antique or classic wood boat by simply replacing topside, transom and deck planking, is absolutely not necessary. Nor is it defensible. The perpetrators of such heresy exclaim that their “old” boat is now perfect. Really? Well, since it is now longer an old boat in any historically correct sense of the word, it had better be perfect, because it is now a new boat.

Yes, conservation can be more expensive than wholesale replacement of frames and planking, but additional out-of-pocket-cost is dwarfed by the value added by keeping her as original as possible.

The one exception, and one that the ACBS now recognizes, is installing a True 5200 bottom, since doing so contributes materially to safety.

Snake Mountain Boatworks simply will not countenance such willful destruction. Conservation, as with a fine oil painting or the vintage cars that Restoration and Performance Motorcars of Vermont is all about saving all that is original to the absolute maximum extent humanly possible. Would you proudly show a Degas painting that you had completely repainted?

Then how can you proudly display a floating artifact of history clad in completely new wood? New paint or new wood? The horrific result is identical.

Enough said. Assembly has begun as we await Robert Henkel’s completion of completely rebuilding her engine, transmission and all that hangs off of it. Although the wait is very likely to span two months or so, we will have the hull ready for the engine install, and this wonderfully original Chris-Craft will be back with her owners for the 2018 boating season.