Chris Craft getting a new bottom

top view

Miss Elyese is a 1954 Chris Craft utility runabout. We've taken care of it for many years. A leaky bottom has been getting worse. The fix: a whole new bottom. This era of Chris Craft was built with a bottom consisting of an inner layer of plywood, then a layer of muslin (which really provided the waterproofing), then an outer layer of mahogany planking.

First the seats, engine, and gas tank come out. Then it goes in our slings:

in slings

Over it goes.

mid flip upsidedown

Begin by removing the outer planking, exposing the inner plywood.

outer planking removed

The muslin had rotted to shreds long ago. Waterproofing had been provided by working seam compound in the edges of the mahogany planking. I hesitate to call them seams as they weren't really designed for caulking. Eventually the planking comes a little loose, the inner plywood deteriorates, the outer planking gets scraped and sanded thin over the years. Also there are apt to be problems with deteriorating frames and chines. Then the plywood comes off. framing one side

The skeleton is visible. We replaced three rotted frames while we were at it.

all plywood removed

A good fix is to replace the bottom with laminations of plywood which we did. We used three layers of 5 mm sapele mahogany marine plywood, the best plywood.

first layer of plywood

The layers are bedded in 3M 5200 adhesive and temporarily fastened with sheet rock screws.

lamination in progress

The sheet rock screws are removed and exchanged for 316 stainless steel screws. I anticipate this to be a long term fix, definitely 50 years. After the new layers were applied we found the keel was a little shallow for much of its length, so we applied a quarter inch shim.

red bottom

The bottom got two coats of clear epoxy, then two coats Awlgrip epoxy primer, then two coats red paint

new bottom from inside

You can see the new bottom once the boat is upright.

boat back together

The boat's back together: engine, seats, floorboards, fuel tank, windscreen.

varnished topsides
The topsides needed varnishing because we installed some new side frames with the associated fastenings and bungs.