Home   Don Danenberg  Resume  Forum  Links  Current Projects  Recent Projects  Forum Member Projects  Surveying 
Frame Work  Planking  Steam Bending  Sanding  Fastener Metals  Lapstrake Construction  Engines  Varnish 

Go Back to Forum Projects
Steve Leslie
1942 17í Chris-Craft Special Runabout
Hull No. 17-229
Danenberg Boatworks Forum member since September 12, 2004
I found this 17í 1942 Chris Craft Special Runabout on the Vancouver, WA Craigslist in November 2011. The previous owner had purchased it to restore back in 1988/1989. He had purchased it from a barn somewhere close to Portland where it had been sitting for many years. I was ignorant to wooden boats but had always loved them. I don't really know how or where the idea of a wooden boat got into my head but it fits. I am a gearhead with a passion for cars, antiques, and woodworking. I always seem to purchase these things in the project stage and spend a lot of time to get what I want. I get more excited looking at the potential of what something can be, then when itís finished. I also thought doing a boat might be a little cheaper! Ha!

I had looked at a few boats including a 16í Resorter that I actually drove 7.5 hrs to look at, jammed out because it was so bad, and headed home. After doing some research on the prewar Special, I made the deal and drove 5.5hrs down the I5 to get it. The framework looked pretty good to me and most of the original parts were there, but some things were wrong or missing. These little bits are costly to pick up on E-bay.

Once I got the boat home in December 2011, I started piecing it back together to see what I had. As I did more research on the internet, Don Danenbergís name, his book, and the website kept coming up. I soon had the book and signed up to the Forum. There are very few wooden runabouts around my area and even fewer people that work on them. The book and Forum have been a life saver. Although my research gave me quite a bit of buyerís remorse, it made me realize that I would have to replace almost all of the wood.
Shortly after I bought the boat I saw an ad on Craigslist for some mahogany pews from a funeral home. The pew seatbacks were made up of 3 wide planks, 14í long, and there were 29 of them. They had that blonde stain that was very common with mahogany furniture in the late 50ís/early 60ís. These dated back to when the funeral home was built and Philippine was common. After planing down to 1/2 inch, I had enough to plank the whole boat less the wide sheer planks and transom. All for the sum of $250.00!
This model was built as an affordable model offering a 60hp 4cyl, or 95hp 6cyl. It had 1/4Ē planks and puttied bungs to keep it light and cheap, promising 36 mph. On the line drawings and work order it is written as a 1941, 16í R/A lengthened 1í. There were 241 built, 17-100 to 17-341. Mine is hull 17-229. I believe it was built in the late summer/early fall of 1941 at the Cadillac plant. Although itís a pre-war boat, Chris Craft made a few changes in production like R & P screws, 4 vents, Black faced gauges, and top feeding gas tank during that year. With America entering the war that December, these may have been some of the last pleasure boats built before wartime production began. Sometime in the fall of 1941, my boat was shipped to Staff Jennings Marina, Portland OR. A marina that closed down only a few years ago.
My wife Louise, thought I was crazy and couldn't understand why I had to have a boat. She does understand my consuming, obsessive, compulsive, behavior though. I named the boat Lulu Belle because that's the nickname her dad called her when she was little. I have a hot rod background and have never restored any vehicle to original condition. I was surprised at how much research it took and how agonizing it is trying to find the proper little hardware items. Everyone on the Forum went out of their way to help and share their experience.

I cannot emphasize enough, how valuable Donís Forum has been. Itís been a very consuming, rewarding project to build. Itís nice to bring something old back life again! I've learned a lot of new skills and met some great people along the way. I could NOT have restored this boat without Donís book and the Forum. Thanks so very much everyone...especially Don! I canít wait to start another one!
 

Home   Don Danenberg  Resume  Forum  Links  Current Projects  Recent Projects  Forum Member Projects  Surveying 
Frame Work  Planking  Steam Bending  Sanding  Fastener Metals  Lapstrake Construction  Engines  Varnish