View Full Version : 1953 33' Chris-Craft bull nose Express Crusier

01-30-2011, 12:59 AM
Hello all,

I have the opportunity to buy this boat for $2,000. I've always wanted to restore a classic Cruiser, but really don't have a lot of real boat repair knowledge. Really, I just like the shape and styling of the boats and would love to have one in mint condition, but lack the funds to buy a fully restored beauty. Plus, I think I'd rather put my heart and soul into her and see her back on the water.

There is a little bit of planking work that needs to be done to her (3x3'), and the engines need some work. Also, I need some advise on how to hull-block her and get her off a trailer.

Well worth $2000.00? Just thought I'd ask.




01-30-2011, 01:54 AM
Grab it Brian!!! :) JayInOz

01-30-2011, 02:34 AM
Yeah man. I think I'm going to go take a look on Monday. I have to figure out a way to hull-block her and get her off the trailer.

Tom Freeman
01-30-2011, 02:36 AM
Read the first four articles in posted in my restoration thread opening post. If you aren't afraid at that point, then you may have what it takes for an inexpensive wooden boat that "just needs a couple of planks." Good luck in whatever course you choose!


mike hanyi
01-30-2011, 03:11 AM
2 grand sounds great... but remember that you will have well over 15 grand in it well before it hits the water.

I picked up a beautiful motorboat around 24ft long last summer, the hull is perfect condition.
now all the extras to get it in the water
powertrain 7000
trimtabs 500
throttle controls and cables 450
new batteries 300
full new electrical 200+
new cushions ?
full strip and buildup of paint and varnish time
new roof plywood and canvas

it all adds up!
Just be sure you have the energy and funds to see the project untill it hits the water! if you give up half way its a big financial loss.
best of luck

01-30-2011, 03:12 AM
I love the look of the bull-nosed Chris-Craft cruisers. That's why I bought one. I remember seeing one glide across the water as a kid, navigation lights on during the twilight and headed for some unknown destination. I promised myself that one day I would have one.

I hope that you have the boat surveyed prior to purchase. Know what you are getting into before you purchase her. There is nothing more sad than an abandoned restoration job. If these boats were kept on the water for most of their lives, reasonably well-maintained and protected from the elements they can get through the years in remarkably good shape.

01-30-2011, 08:53 AM
Hey! Good for you. I'm restoring a 1950 30' Express now. check out my thread as Tom said, if it doesn't scare you, go for it. http://forum.woodenboat.com/showthread.php?112986-1950-CC-Cruiser-Restoration

But wait! There is a free CC 50s Cruiser for free at boneyardboats.com. And its engines run and she can go in the water as-is. Also, there is another 50s Cruiser there asking $6,500 that is ready to go in the water which you could probably haggle down. They aren't near you but you could ship them. If your engines aren't running and she need plank work, you can bet you are going to spend some bucks to get her going. Post some pics. Get a survey. If you got rotten planks I bet you have rotten frames as well.

Post us some pictures!

01-30-2011, 09:24 AM
And go to yachworld.com and restrict your search to 1950s Chris Crafts. I see at least a couple that are ready to be enjoyed. Yes, higher than $2,500 but you are going to spend more than you think on a boat that needs significant work. As I have found out, everything is expensive! paint, old hardware, wood. I'm double or triple what I expected to spend. You really should think about something that appears to be ready to go because you will save time and money in the long run and have a boat you can enjoy sooner.

And this is a buyers market! Don't be daunted by advertised prices. No one is buying these cruisers right now--No one (Except you and I and now its just you). Make a ridiculous offer on the best one you can find. And if they don't take it, move on to the next best.

I love these 50s Chris Crafts--you definitely need to get one.

01-30-2011, 01:22 PM
Yeah, I was thinking of just throwing a really low offer out there. $500 bucks or something. The guy is losing his slip, and just wants out from under the boat. Also, I just got an email that said the boat went down on new years eve, not good - per the email "I understand that it has a hole on the bottom of the stern which caused the boat to sink on New Year's Eve... It was immediately brought back up, however, the engines were not cleaned afterwards, therefore, we believe that the engines may not be working. The engines were working prior to the event".

I'm kind of worried on the extent of the "event" at this point, and I'm concerned on how much rotten wood there actually is now.

Also, per emails - "Technically, the boat will have to be out by the end of the month or, it's going to a salvage company for wood... I would hate to see it destroyed...

We had a quote for re-conditioning the engines: $1100 each. I have no clue how much would the re-planking cost but the surface is about 1ft x 1 ft."

Here are some pics. I'll just have to go take a look at her this next week sometime. Thanks for all the GREAT replies!!!

01-30-2011, 01:41 PM
Let me know what everyone thinks!!!

mike hanyi
01-30-2011, 02:13 PM
i agree with chukt! if this is the style you want then find the best one in your price range, it all adds up. dont feel sorry for the one in your neighborhood, chances are you can vulture off it when it gets the axe, pick the best one and get it surveyed, a boat that sank should be free of charge unless it is a really rare bird.
you could even think of picking it up for parts to fund the other?

think wisely my friend and then act.

mike hanyi
01-30-2011, 02:23 PM
well if the hole is only that big, and ok it was under water, get your ass down there and change the gearbox oil, and the engine oil, clean the carb out of water, spark plugs out and crank it thru, then put a I. V. fuel bottle on it and force it back to life cranking it till it starts, then keep changing the oil untill it is clean, this could take a few changes. no matter what you wil still at best have used engines.

you could make a botch patch to get you by untill you figure out how to do it properly. and of course get a survey!!!!

Tom Freeman
01-30-2011, 03:59 PM
If you are really serious about this boat, I would do things in this order:

Go find a shipwright that you trust. Interview a few and get to know their personal style and philosophies/approaches. Understand their point of view about owners working along side them. This is important, because just based on what you've posted here, you will likely end up spending a fair amount of time together. We've had a great experience over the past 3 years with http://www.jensenmotorboat.com, but there are a lot of good people in this area.
Make arrangements with your shipwright and the owner to get the boat hauled and blocked up at a convenient work location. You may be there for a while, so choose carefully. When we spent ever spare hour at the Jensen yard for 6 months, we saw dozens of boats come in to have a little leak addressed, and the next thing you know the whole side of the boat is open as they chased dry rot throughout the hull. It seemed that certain ChrisCrafts were the worst for this.
Get a survey. You'll spend $300 or so, but it will be the smartest money you spend. I can give you a name in the Seattle area, or get a recomendation from your shipwright or the other folks on here.
If you like what the survey says, write a little check or get the owner to buy you a case of good beer or a bottle of scotch for taking the boat off their hands and saving it for free. Roll up your sleeves and get busy.
If you don't like what the survey says, move on to the next boat. As they guys pointed out earlier, there are a lot of great boats for sale, so you don't have to marry the first one you kiss. Above all, be really clear about what you are getting into. As a benchmark, we've spent well over $50K on our little project, and we haven't had to deal with any mechanical issues thus far, other than replacing the ignition and repairing the starter motor.
Best of luck with whatever you decide. The folks on here are great and will be along with advice and moral support when you need it the most.

Tom :)

01-30-2011, 05:38 PM
I stopped by the marina today and glanced her over. I didn't board her, but from the outside there appears to be some rotting on the planks. I'm making an appointment with the owner to go on board, and I think I'll just offer to pay for the moving costs and see what he says. Hopefully some of the inner beams are visible. She was hoisted up so she wouldn't go down when I stopped by today. The marina owner said she thought the bilge pump failed is why she went down.

No way I'm offering up $2g for her at this stage in her life. I think I'll heed the advise of finding the best boat in my price range. This is far from that. Plus, I really wanted a 1948 Commander when I first started looking. We'll see what happens after I go on board. First thoughts I had, "wow." ha ha

Tom Freeman
01-30-2011, 05:47 PM
Sounds like the "lost his slip" story may be code for "can no longer keep the boat afloat." Boats with intact hulls don't sink because bilge pumps fail, and if it was a slow leak in an even remotely active marina, it's very likely that someone would have noticed the boat heeling or listing well before she sank. Do your homework on this one! :)

01-30-2011, 06:32 PM
Yeah man, I kind of thought the same thing about the "story". From the looks of it, it def went down due to some rot/plank separation issues. I don't think it completely went down, but started too. If he's willing to give it to me for covering the removal costs, I'll prob get her - if not though, I'll prob continue searching another beaut' out...

Peter Malcolm Jardine
01-30-2011, 06:40 PM
Nice boat, plus that it has been in a covered slip. $1100 per engine for "reconditioning" may be a waste of money. A rebuild for those two engines is ten times that.

What other people have said is all true, this boat is probably rotten as the day is long, and will require a lot of time and money. Look around.

01-30-2011, 10:12 PM
Do you know anyone in the Portland, OR area that could give me a fair shake on survey?

01-30-2011, 11:20 PM
It's likely that this boat was leaking like a sieve for some time and relying on a bilge pump to keep her afloat. Marinas can get pretty quiet over the holidays. Maybe it wasn't that unusual to see it listing. I'm not surprised no one noticed her going down: some mom and pop marinas can be pretty blasť when it comes to watching the docks. Besides, other than making a phone call to the owner when things don't look right, a lot of harbormasters won't board a boat without permission from the owners. Insurance and lawsuits can get sticky about this.

I still recommend getting a survey prior to buying this boat. The owner doesn't want to make the repairs and the slip is costing him money every month. You may be able to purchase the boat for $500 or less. If the owner stops making slip payments the marina will take possession of the boat on a lien. I've seen marinas sell lien boats for a couple of hundred dollars or $10 to anyone who wants to tow them out or make the slip payments.

Lew Barrett
02-01-2011, 11:23 AM
Boats that have recently sunk are always a bad bet, more so for an inexperienced owner. I wouldn't even bother with the survey based on what you've told us. Many good boats are going begging now. This boat could well be quite expensive even for free.

No insult is intended, but here in the northwest 30-36 foot bull noses are relatively common. Buy a better prospect or gird yourself for a major project. Of all the era's cruisers, Chris Craft are the most common, and because they are good boats that benefited from major production efficiencies, there are plenty of survivors. Look for a batter loved one.

Personally, I think it is a mark of experience and knowledge to buy the best boat one can, not the cheapest. I do understand that for some people only a very inexpensive boat will offer the opportunity for ownership. To those folks I'd say "buy a smaller boat."

In these cases, there's always more work than has been planned for. Always. Thus, even a good example will offer lots of opportunity to gain experience and to learn by doing.

02-01-2011, 03:27 PM
I totally understand falling in love with these 50s bullnose boats--they are so damn pretty. You really have to steel yourself to not get in a hurry. It will still be there in a few weeks if you don't find anything better. I'll never forget that one time last year when I was looking, some guy gave me the line that "there had been other recent calls." He knew from my smile that I knew he was BSing and that no-one was coming to look and I had been the only potential buyer to look at the boat in months. Right before I left, he threw in that he would entertain any offer. This was the typical situation.

02-01-2011, 03:31 PM
I just checked--the New York boat I mention above is still for sale. I bet I could get it for free now.

02-07-2011, 11:30 AM
I am new to the forum and I was looking for a 50's express cruiser in the 33'-34' foot range. I live in NY and was wonering if anyone knew of any boats in the north east. thanks

02-07-2011, 11:54 AM
Brooksideracing: There are a bunch. Go to www.yachtworld.com (http://www.yachtworld.com) and search for boats in that size and for those years. I have actually looked at a bunch up there so Private Message me if you see one you are interested in and if I looked at it I would be happy to give you my impressions. I was looking on the lower price range and, consequently, at boats that needed work.

You will have to decide your price range and what level of work you want to put into it.

02-09-2011, 08:25 AM
Here is one in Maine; pretty expensive, though...