Archive for the ‘Chris Craft boats’ Category


A friend who lives in California emailed me the other day, inquiring whether I was OK, as he hadn’t heard from me, and hadn’t posted anything here for a while.  I assured him I’m doing fine, in fact, busier than ever, adding to the already crowded project list.  More on that in a bit.

The big news of this past summer is that Kim and I sold our ’48 Pontiac convertible.  This car has been a part of our family since 1974, before we got married.  In fact, Kim was opposed to my buying it, since we were  both in college, and a wedding was on the horizon.  Of course, I bought it anyway.



Since getting the Diamond T finished, we haven’t been driving the car, it’s been setting in the garage, sort of covered, for three years.  It’s not that we didn’t like it, but I thought it needed some changes, and having built the car three times in over 40 years, I wasn’t enthused about the thought of rebuilding it again.  Our friends Brandon and Liz, fellow Tin Can Tourists members, learned we had the car, and after some conversation and couple of visits, we agreed to sell it to them.  I put a new battery in it, dusted it off, had a sticking front brake caliper replaced, and the car left our driveway with someone else behind the wheel for the first time in 41 years.  They’ve been busy putting their own personal stamp on it, enjoying using it to pull their vintage Trotwood trailer.  We’re happy to see the car being used and loved, not slowly going to seed in the garage.


Of course, the empty space in the garage, and the sudden positive balance in the checking account was not destined to last very long.  I’d been talking about building a ’27 Highboy roadster for several years, and began now to look for a body and frame.  I talked to several friends, looked again at the beautiful little black ’27, the Frank Mack car, at the Gilmore Museum, and decided a ’27 wasn’t going to work for me in my old age.  I’d seen a ’31 on ’32 rails this summer, and thought maybe a Brookville body on ’32 rails would do, and started adding up the bits.  The totals soon added to more than I’d gotten for the convert, and was getting a little discouraged, when I saw an ad on the HAMB classifieds for a ’34 roadster, pretty complete minus the engine and transmission.  I called the owner, we had a good conversation, I told him I’d get back with him.

Discussing it with Kim, her concern was that I’d suddenly switched gears from the ’27 she’d been hearing (incessantly) about, to this new idea, a bigger, heavier, open car.  I assured her it’d be more suitable for us at this stage in our lives (the stage of needing to be relatively comfortable).  She gave a green light, I called the guy in Connecticut, Bill, back, we made a deal and two days later, by dad Rex, 91 years old, and I were in the Diamond T with the trailer tagging along, on the way to get a roadster.

We drove the 802 miles in one day, leaving at 6 am, arriving at Bill’s house at 10 pm.  Steady construction although Pennsylvania and New York slowed us, but we had no trouble at all.  The next morning we looked over the parts and pieces of the disassembled car, and I was happy with what I saw.  It had been a finished car in the 70’s and 80’s, running a blown flathead, and was featured in Street Rodder magazine in ’83.  Of course I have this issue, and even remembered the feature once I saw the car.  Now wearing a quickie coat of black swap-meet primer over the original burgundy paint, it still has the original lettering “Flying Flathead” on the tail pan.  IMG_6952

imageIncluded in the pile of parts are the original top and upholstery.  The flathead and original chassis are long missing, the cars builder had decided he wanted a coupe, and pulled the glass body, an early Gibbons body I think, and sold it.  Bill had bought it after it changed hands a couple of times, built a new frame, accumulated all the chassis parts to make it a roller, and for some reason, perhaps because like me has three other projects going already, offered it for sale.

Dad and I took two days to drive home after loading (almost) all the parts into the enclosed trailer.  We stopped halfway in Pennsylvania, and headed out early the next day, getting home at 2:30.  I was a little worried about the long drive in the cramped cab of the truck, but dad enjoyed the drive, and even though he’s never been a “car guy” seems enthusiastic and supportive of the project.  He remembers ’34 Fords as being sporty looking cars of his youth, so that may be part of it.

imageTwo weeks later, I haven’t yet unloaded, or even fully inventoried what all I have, mainly because I know if I get it out of the trailer, I’ll be drawn to work on it rather than the T’bird and the Spartan trailer, so, it’s still in the trailer.  I’m excited though, and have located a 700R transmission for the (tired) 350 Chevy I have in the garage, decorated with vintage Cal Custom finned aluminum valve covers and an Offy dual quad intake with two new Edelbrock carbs.  Aside from wiring, I have, I think, everything I need to put the car together.  The dropped front axle we’d left under Bill’s bench, I remembered it in the middle of the night on the way home, he shipped to me.  We’d kicked it out of the way rolling the body and chassis out.

image image IMG_6928
In other news, I’ve started stripping the interior of the ’47 Spartan Manor in the back yard.  From Brandon and Liz we have some vintage 9×9 floor tiles in a nice gray/green, and some black and red to sprinkle in at random.  I want to get the floor repaired, there a couple of soft spots under windows in the rear, and flooring down before cold weather.  Once the floor is in, and the new front windows in, the trailer becomes its own workshop, and the goal is to have the wiring, plumbing, walls and cabinetry in by spring.  Once that’s done, finishing the interior and polishing can be done by next summers camping season.

We had the boat out this summer, and found its leaking so badly that the pumps can no longer keep up.  In fact, in a two-day period in the water without being used, the battery had run down and it wouldn’t start.  Underway, the rear pump was overwhelmed, and water filled the bilge to the floor.  The problem turns out to be a loose rudder post, due to decades of over tightening the bolts and pulling them into the wood, and a bad chine plank, which I’d short planked 26 years ago.  It’s so soft I could push my finger through it (I could, but didn’t).  So, it needs to have a new bottom, which is going to have to wait until other things get done.IMG_6951

Speaking of getting things done, I finally have primer on the Thunderbird.  I had planned on having it in color by now, but summer came and went working on the car at all.  It really looks good all one color, even grey primer, and I’m enthused again.  Now the tedious job of block sanding, re-priming, blocking, guide coating, re-priming before color goes on.  And, what colors to pick?  We’ll see, we’ll see…eblackdesign_1_13 IMG_6953 IMG_6954Kim’s Riviera may be on hiatus, but we have big plans for it as too, so, keep checking in, and keep reminding me to keep up with the blog so you’ll know I’m OK!

Using our I-phone, with poor texting skills, we will the photos speak. In no particular order, Summer, 2014…




















What we have here, boys and girls, is what we call an “Oh S#!t” moment. You see, normally the bow of a boat, below the waterline, would NOT have a hole in that one could put ones finger in.

This new fenestration is the result of the telephone pole sea-wall at the state park at Gun Lake (who hits a telephone pole with a boat, anyway?), a slight miscalculation of water depth and speed, and 60 year old bottom planks.

We were able to use the boat, even leaving it in the water all week, but this is a clear message that we will be starting a major woodworking project. We’ve been putting off putting a new bottom under the Chris Craft for the past several years, but now there are no more excuses. At least until summer is over, and the 3M 5200 I plan caulking up the hole with, lets go…




DSC02091 (1024x768)You, faithful reader, may have noticed that it’s been awhile since there’s been an update here at “Cool McCool’s Garage”, and you’re right.  It HAS been awhile, almost a month.  There’s been lots of activity here, lot’s of new stuff, some of the old is gone, and there’s been some well deserved R & R.   We’re feeling a little guilty about not keeping up, so we’ll try to catch up with  a little recap of the past few weeks activities…

The second weekend of August found the staff of “Cool McCool’s Garage” at the third “Relix Riot” at the Gilmore Car Museum right in our own back yard.  In addition to seeing all our friends, some of the coolest traditional hot rods and customs in the mid-west, we were surprized and thrilled to have the ’51 Pontiac Tin Woody chosen as “Coolest Surf Wagon”.  It’s not a “judged” show, the awards are chosen by the guys in the Relix car club on the basis of what they think is cool.  That they picked our work-horse wagon, hauling the Spartan, really means a lot.  Plus, a totally cool vintage board, complete with shark-bit marks, was the trophy, a great addition to the shop wall!  It really means a lot, thanks guys.

Here’s a little snap-shot of some of the other great cars there this year…

The weather was perfect, the cars are first-rate.  There’s huge competition for attendance at the show, as the Woodward Cruise is the same weekend, but to have the chance to hang with our friends from the Relix, camping on the grounds, seeing over 300 seriously cool hot rods at the Gilmore sure beats being stuck in traffic on Woodward, paying $50 to park, don’t you think?

From the Riot, we went directly to the state park at Gun Lake for two weeks.  This was a “working” vacation, as we, the staff here at “Cool McCool’s” had to all go back and forth to our day jobs.  That didn’t mean we didn’t have a great time.  Being there mid-week meant that we had 3 or 4 days of an almost deserted campground before it started to fill up for the Holiday (Labor Day) weekend crowd.  We did some “chill’n and grill’n”, enjoyed cocktail hour daily (sometimes starting at noon or before!).   We had the Chris Craft out, had some great moonlight rides, did some skiing and wake-surfing, and just idling around the lake-shore.  We were also treated to the company of our  friends Kirk and Donnell of “Crafty B” fame, joining us in there newly polished Airstream Land Yacht.  It was two weeks of fun, family and friends, and left little time for keeping up the web-site.

Here are some pics of the two-week stay.  We’re sure you’ll see why we had no time, or inclination, to set down at the keyboard!

So, this gets us up to Labor Day, and the need to get back to the real world.  We’ve been working hard having fun, and in fact just spent this past weekend camping at the Fort Custer State Park in Augusta.  The Spartan is unpacked, and awaiting a thorough clean up before we head over to Milford for the Tin Can Tourist Fall Meet at Milford in two weeks.  Meanwhile, the Nats North is next weekend in Kalamazoo, and there’s big news about the Cool McCool’s Garage stable of cars to report, but we’ll save that for another days news.

Meanwhile, the shop watch-dog Ari, is on duty, and there’s work to be done.  Stay tuned!

If you said “There’s water in your boat”, that would be correct, but not the answer we’re looking for, and not a problem anyway.  If you said, “Your lines aren’t stowed properly”, that would technically correct too, but again, not what we’re looking for.

If you said, “Brian, isn’t the prop shaft supposed to be connected to the coupler at the back of the transmission?”, DING, DING, DING!  We have a winner folks!

While out with the boat earlier this afternoon, I’d anchored of a sandbar and went swimming with my unwilling partner, Ari, our Jack Russel/Beagle dog.  When we pulled away, I heard what initially I thought was the prop hitting a rock (it was shallow, but not that shallow), and I immediately threw it neutral.  Determining the water was indeed deep enough not to hit the stoney bottom, I put it back in gear, and nothing happened.

Peeking under the engine box revealed the problem instantly.  The prop shaft had slid out of the coupler, the “thunk” noise was the prop hitting the rudder.  Happily, by the time it got to that point, it was no longer driven, having slid completely out, and no damage was done. 

I thought I’d be able, with the help of  the Leatherman tool in the boat bag, to loosen the bolts on the coupler intended as pins to keep the shaft from doing what it did, but nope.  The Leatherman tool is good for giving a guy the false comfort that, like McGyver, he can fix anything, anywhere, with only what’s at hand, but it turns out a tool roll is a much better.  The Leatherman IS good for opening bottles of Bells Oberon if the opener isn’t in the boat, but that’s about it.

I got a tow back to the boat launch from a couple also anchored on the and bar with a pontoon.  It was nice of them, but the guy insisted on trying to tow me at WOT, which did not  make us go any faster, but did make the bow of the Chris dig down and pull harder.  So  hard, it tore a cleat out of the deck in fact.  I kept signalling them to slow down, and he would for a moment, then he’d crank it right back up.  Figuring he meant well, but didn’t know he was just burning more fuel than he needed, I gave up and stopped signalling.  The bow chock is a standard Perko item I can replace at the Marina, and the holes I’ll fill with sawdust and epoxy and just replace it, no big deal.

Once home, with proper tools, I quickly put it back together after grinding a couple of flats in the stainless shaft with my 4″ grinder and new wheel.  We’re now ready to go boating this evening, and I’ll have the tool roll from the wagon in the boat this time. 

Oh, and be carefull with power tools, they will bite…







Here at Cool McCool’s Garage,  when the weather is hot, we go camping.  When we go camping we take as many of our toys as we can.  When we take as many toys as we can, we want to use those toys as much as possible.  When we want to use those toys as much as possible, we need a cocktail, and we head for the fridge.  When we head for the fridge, we end up making ourselves a Gin and tonic, a Vodka tonic, or grabbing a cold beer.  This is what summer is for.  Don’t let your summer go buy without going camping!

Despite the near record heat, we’ve managed to beat it.  The air conditioning in the Spartan keeps it meat locker cold.  So cold in fact, I double dog dare ya to stick yer tongue on the outside of the trailer!

Kimmy Sue, seen here in a rare moment of repose, has been pressed into duty again as a tug, this time towing our new water toy, a wake surf board.  Owing to the vagaries of my ascending aorta, I am now forbidden to participate in high energy, potentially high impact sports such as water skiing, so I’ve had to find alternatives.  Wake boarding SEEMS less stressful, it’s easier to get up on the board, the speeds are slow, and impact with the water should be, and has been, more like a dunking the bone jarring crashes of losing an edge on the ski, or face-plants with a wake board.  I had my bell rung pretty hard a couple of times, and decided that was enough.

The relaxed pose here demonstrates that even old geezers can at least stand up on a surf-board, although I haven’t yet been able to find the sweet spot on the curl and let completely go of the tow rope.  I think we need a couple of fat sacks for ballast, to make the wake a bit bigger.  Untill then, it’s been fun learning to get up, and stand up on the board and simply ride the wake behind the boat as much as I can.  I think I’ll be able to get the hang (if not hang 10) of it.  If the link to You-Tube works, you can watch some exciting video here:

So, back to camp.  The plants are watered here at home, Milo the cat has been fed and watered, the GMC has been washed and ready to roll, to replace the ’36 at camp so we can tow everything home when we leave.  Stay tuned for more!


Fall color tour.

Posted: October 11, 2011 in Chris Craft boats

I stopped worrying about whether or not I should let the Roadster’s ebay sale continue and just keep it, and just had fun.  Kim and I got the Roadster out and drove to our favorite restaurant in Hastings, “Seasonal Grill” and a had a wonderful lunch.  We took a leisurely drive home, then got the Chris Craft out, and went to Gull Lake.

Somehow, a color tour followed by a beautiful boat ride and Sex (I know what you’re thinking, we drank a bottle of Mawby Vineyards “Sex” sparkling wine on the boat ride) took the anxiety away about the ebay auction.

I’ll let the pictures tell the rest of the story.  Enjoy, we certainly did!