Chris Craft 63' Motor Yacht scratch build in UK
GREETINGS FROM ENGLAND!
Hi. Let me begin by apologizing for the length of this opening episode. I was already well in to my build before being persuaded to start a log.
Although there is at least one other very worthy on-going Chris*Craft 63' Motor Yacht build log on this forum, I have been 'encouraged' by several members to post one of my own. I am not an experienced modeller and this is only my third ever project, but I have a lonely passion here in the UK for Chris*Craft wooden boats, for which I blame Henry Fonda and his 'Thayer IV' CC Sportsman Utility that featured in the movie 'On Golden Pond' #see pic #1#.
Having made a fairly reasonable job of the Dumas 1941 CC 16' Hydroplane I built in 2010/11 #see pic #2# which turns heads at the lake and goes pretty well, I was hungry for a meaty new project to see me through the coming winter #or winters as it might turn out to be#. I wanted something big, stylish and before the plastic boat era and, after discounting Graupner's Jules Verne retro motor cruiser #see pic #3# because of its ready-made GRP hull #where's the challenge in that?#, I settled on the CC 63' Motor Yacht. I have a great book on Chris*Crafts by Anthony Mollica and Jack Savage #see pic #4# and whilst this particular model isn't pictured, the great photos of other Chris*Craft cruisers of similar vintage really took my fancy #see pic #5#.
So I started looking for copies of the original Sterling 63' Motor Yacht kit from the 1960's on ebay but none seemed to have templates for the actual die-cut parts. Then, by chance, I came across a post from iamplanecrazy2 on this forum who was able to help. With a full set of plans, instructions and a sheet of scans of the original die-cut parts I was ready to start. #see pic #6#
Mistake #1 - thinking it would be better to preserve the sheet of die-cut part scans intact, I had it copied at my local print shop. However, it was only after I had traced and cut out the keel parts and most of the hull formers that I realised the copy wasn't exactly the same size as the original. Consequently my 63' Motor Yacht is about 1% larger than it should be. That's OK as long as I keep remembering throughout the build!
Having gotten used to lite-ply, spruce and expanded foam board construction for my Hydroplane, I was very nervous about building such a large model almost entirely from balsa and did consider using alternative materials at the start. However, wise counsel from other model boat builders #and oldbilgewater in particular# prevailed and I went ahead with balsa. My apprehension was further relieved when I discovered an excellent source #The Balsa Cabin at Maldon, Essex# where they hand-picked sheets for me of harder density that withstand damage but can still be worked easily. I was glad, however, that I had acquired a small Spiralux Shapercraft hobby scroll saw on ebay #see pic #7# which, with preparatory knife-scoring and some practice, achieves a fast and accurate cut of the most intricate shapes.
As I started building the boat before deciding to write this build log I’ve already made all the hull parts and constructed the frame, but not, however, without some problems. #see pics #8-11# Although I traced from the die-cut patterns and cut out the parts very carefully, there were some discrepancies and lining-up issues that required ‘open balsa surgery’ during construction. This was mainly about the position of slots and notches, but also getting the right degree of curve on the assembled chines. I actually had to break and reset them to fit the hull formers. Consequently, there was a lot of cursing, compensating and tidying up to do in order that the finished hull frame was sufficiently smooth and tolerably true, but it was worth the time and effort.
Lastly, before I close this mega first epistle, I took the precaution of treating the entire hull frame with water-thin epoxy resin aka Ronseal wet rot wood hardener #see pic#12#. Turns soft balsa into hard timber and makes it waterproof. Only downside using it at this stage was that further sanding or shaping is much more difficult. If I did it over I would wait until I had skinned and planked the hull sides and bottom #which I will have to treat inside anyway#.
That’s quite enough for now. Next episode will cover fitting the hull skins and planking.
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PETER : Welcome to the best group of mentors,experts,antagonists,and good guys & girls.
Since our first contact (your PM 5 Sept) your project has been of interest to me .
Obviously,I am interested in Stirling 63 s.,There was more. Your introduction here shows the builder and the person.
Again,welcome and above all enjoy,ask,learn,add your insight so others can learn from you. Oh,and did I say,enjoy?
Thanks to all!!!
Well, I am somewhat humbled by the level of interest and kind comments received. I'll do my best to make a reasonable job of the boat.
I'll post something about skinning the hull shortly, but I'm onto the planked sections at the moment. After the almost instant gratfication of achieving a smooth and unblemished hull shape after applying the balsa side skins, the planking always looks a mess but I have to keep reminding myself that it'll be OK (I hope!) when it's all sanded and filled.
Meanwhile, a neat little USPS postal box has arrived from Gary Barnes (www.garysboatyard.com) containing all the metal fittings I'll need - everything from anchors, portholes and hatches to railing stanchion bases and ChrisCraft logos - all cast in bright pewter that should polish up to something approaching chrome. I'll post a photo in due course.
I've also made one other significant transatlantic purchase by ordering a bespoke power and hardware package from Rich Koll (frankg) at M.A.C.K. Products. I could have tried to match the spec by buying similar kit in the UK form various sources and saved some money, but as I've never properly understood how best to match ESCs, motors and props etc I reckoned it was well worth leaving that to an expert. Looking forward to opening the box!
Thanks again for your combined encouragement.
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