A 45 year old Chris Craft from Okinawa - RC Groups
Shop our Airplanes Products Drone Products Sales
Thread Tools
Sep 29, 2008, 11:18 AM
Registered User
daemuon's Avatar

A 45 year old Chris Craft from Okinawa

My father was stationed in Okinawa in 1963. He was in the US Marines. At the time he had 1 son, my older brother who is mentally handicapped. One of my Dad's platoon buddies built the model i have pictured below for my Dad to give to my brother. They were not allowed to bring some things like that back to the States, so my Dad wrapped it an extra shirt and packed it in the middle of his sea bag for the ride home. The boat originally had 2 motors/screws, a compartment for 4 "D" batteries, a steering wheel that was a switch to turn on the red and green lights, and a rudder that you could manually turn for the boat to go in circles or to go straight. There was also a plastic wind shield that was surrounded by metal that has long since disappeared.

By the time i came along ( my brother is 15 years older than me ) the boat did not run, scuffed up pretty bad, and did little more than sit on a shelf. As a child i would look at it and play with it with my brother, even though the boat did not run. I always wanted to fix it up and make it RC so my brother could really get a chance to pilot it. So my brother gave it to me when i moved away from home 16 years ago. The boat moved around with me, usually sitting on a shelf. Three years ago my wife got tired of hearing me say that i wanted to fix it up some day, and bought me a RC boat to cannibalize for parts to make it run.

That boat only had 1 motor, but it also had reverse (not a common thing, i hear, for an rc boat from the toy store). So i immediately set about stripping the other boat and fitting the parts into Okie 63. I changed the 2 screw setup to one, moved the rudder forward a bit to allow it to attach to the steering control box, and tried making the openings in the deck water tight. I had to install all of the components into the boat with the deck in place, because i didn't want to risk breaking the deck while removing it. That was not easy. None of the openings had a lip for the hatches to sit on so i attached lips to each one with nuts embedded in them. Then i covered the lips with a waterproof putty that i molded to the shape of the hatches. The two hatches at seem out of place were made by me because the seating openings would let in water, and i didn't have room to build a seat in the front, as the motor is in that area. I also added the flag.

The little boat is really quick and only ships about 1 teaspoon of water during an outing. I think that comes in through the rudders tube, or possibly when i back up. I have a few things i want to improve upon, but remember there is a lot of sentimental value to all of the little bits of this boat, so i want to use as many original parts as possible. So, after that long story, here are my questions:

1. Does anyone recognize the boat or know of a way to find out the original kit manufacturer?

2. Any ideas on how to better water proof the openings? The rear hatch, with the flag, slides into place and the sides where it slides into are slanted. The other ones drop in.

3. I would like to put the other screw back in, is it a matter of simply soldering in another motor, or is there a gearbox i can use to power both screws with one motor. I'm not looking for more speed, i just want to get it back to original. What would be a good motor/esc combination for this boat? It's 18" long, 6" wide.

4. Any other comments/advice would be appreciated!

5. I'm thinking of building a Chris Craft to gain more experience before rebuilding Okie. What are the best kits? I've never built a model boat, but i've done other models and a lot of woodworking, furniture mostly. I don't want a beginner kit... something with a wood hull and planking. I've looked at the Dumas, but can't decide on one.

Thanks in advance for any help for all these questions!
Sign up now
to remove ads between posts
Sep 29, 2008, 12:52 PM
Retired for now
You really have a nice boat there and something special from your father and his buddy from back during the war. I have no idea what the kit may have been or who made it but maybe someone with a lot more experience can come up with some info for you.
I would say that it appears to run very well and maybe a little weight added to the bow would bring it down some and look a little more realistic. That would be an easy fix I'd think. As for the hatches with the putty caulking you could probably remove the caulking and just screw the hatches down snug to keep out the water. If a few drops got in it wouldn't hurt anything I don't think. Either that or add some coamings in front of the openings to divert any water that does splash up on the deck. The putty has to add a fair amount of unnecessary weight to the model.
I would write up the complete story of the boat for future generations. Include the location of where it was made and what your dad and his buddy were doing there at the time. It's a great story and deserves to be preserved with as much detail as you can come up with. Pete
Sep 29, 2008, 03:37 PM
Registered User
daemuon's Avatar
I'll ask my dad for more detail. He uses few words when talking about the war... Who knows, maybe his buddy is still building model boats and is on a site like this!

The kit is kind of different from what i have seen of other Chris Craft. It does not seem to have a frame, it's just a solid wood bottom, about 1 inch thick. Then there are 2 or 3 other boards that are about 3/4 inch that were cut out to the shape of the boat and glued on top of the other one. Then a board was shaped for the back. This is where i think most of my water problem is coming from, the area between the back board and the other boards. I took that off and used guerrilla glue to re-attach it. Maybe i should try something else? Although, if i glass it there should be no problem.

I'm thinking about doing the Dumas 1949 Chris-Craft 19' Runabout Kit to gain some experience with boat building, then i'll take some time and re-do Okie.

I'm currently putting together and italerie pt boat model for my Doctor, so when i'm further along with that i'll start the Dumas.
Sep 29, 2008, 03:44 PM
Sea Dragon-Lover
Umi_Ryuzuki's Avatar
You have a wonderful keepsake, with a lot of history.
Thanks for Sharing.

Are you building the Italerie as an RC model, or desk top display?
You could do a build up here either way, and for the Dumas 19 also.

Welcome to RCgroups!

There's a nice build up that you can follow when you get to your Dumas kit
Sep 29, 2008, 04:00 PM
Retired for now
It's true that most men who have seen the horrific results of war don't often like to talk about it. You don't have to ask your dad about the gory details but he probably wouldn't mind talking to you about the model and the guy who made it. Maybe the model is a scratch built one where there wasn't a kit or any directions for it. Maybe your dad's friend just made it up on the fly so to speak but made it look like a boat he was familiar with from home. Lots of possabilities here.
I don't know how old you are but I'm 66 this year and my dad has been gone for twenty years. There are a lot of questions I wanted to ask him when he was with us but didn't because I was afrid he wouldn't want to talk about some things. I reget that I didn't bug the heck out of him to answer my questions and now of course it's way too late. I'll never get the answers to my questions now.
You should do what you think is right but if you want to know anything from anybody you have to ask the questions. Otherwise you too will never know the answers. Write it all down too for posterity. Somebody way down the road will really appreciate it. Pete
Sep 29, 2008, 04:12 PM
Registered User
daemuon's Avatar
Umi, The italerie is for display. My Dr. bought it and didn't think he could tackle it. He collects figurines and other WWI/WWII memorabilia.

I'm pretty far along with it, so i'll probably skip the write-up... But when i do the Dumas 19 i'll do one. And definitely when i redo Okie.
Sep 29, 2008, 04:19 PM
"day ain't over yet-"
der kapitan's Avatar
The fittings on that boat look a lot like the ones I've seen from Stevens International, or the old Model Shipways. They are chrome plated stamped brass for the most part.

The builder probably used the same construction method as the small ready-built boats that were coming out of Japan about that time, which used pretty much the same fittings. He just made a bigger model. These little Japanese boats are occasionally for sale on E-bay, and fetch a nice price---.

I'm still trying to figure out what war is being discussed here, as in 1963, WWII had been over for 18 years, and Vietnam was just starting up---.
Last edited by der kapitan; Sep 29, 2008 at 05:02 PM.
Sep 29, 2008, 04:20 PM
Registered User
daemuon's Avatar

I'm 34, and luckily still have both parents. Dad will probably have no problem with these questions, like you said. But he is still a man of few words. It's like pulling teeth! Some of those questions you posted are good ones, i'll see if i can think of a few more leading questions to ask him.


Sep 29, 2008, 04:43 PM
Registered User
daemuon's Avatar
der kapitan,

as soon as dad turned 18, he left the boys home and married my mom. she was 17 and they somehow got her out of school. they weren't even married a year when he went into the service. he was in before the vietnam war. he was in motor pool, so he may have been in okinawa as part of the initial staging. he's (sorry..bad with ages..) 79 now? it think.. i'm a terrible son (my wife remembers ages, birthdays, and all the important stuff)

he was a driver for a general. 4 star i think. can't remember the generals name, atm. the general had a nickname like "lefty" or something.

my wife and i had my parents up for dinner one night around his birthday and we talked a lot about it. she has made entries in our journal recording a lot of what he said. making excuses, but my memory is kindof shot with running our business and having a 2 month old. not much sleep.

hope that helps place the timeline.


Sep 29, 2008, 05:11 PM
"day ain't over yet-"
der kapitan's Avatar

Yep those are the ones, I still see packages of them at some of the older hobby shops, and have a few of those parts down in my shop.

I went into the service in 1963, and was shipped to the far east. Luckily, I was
with the engineers, based in Japan, so didn't do too much time in Vietnam.
Sep 29, 2008, 05:16 PM
Registered User
charlie eaton's Avatar
All of those chromed parts,the age of it and the construction,the design of the hull says ITO,a Japanese company from just after WWII through the early 60's. Most were pre built but there were kits available too. As noted above Stevens International imports the same metal parts,they've been around fore ever it seems. I believe the windshields are still in Stevens catalog. The boats are on ebay quite often.
Last edited by charlie eaton; Sep 29, 2008 at 05:25 PM.
Sep 29, 2008, 05:20 PM
Registered User
P_J_Glor's Avatar
The fittings look like K&O, particularly the strut and the bow mounted "torpedo" like hood ornaments and chrome plated scoops. K & O made a lot of ready to run boats out of wood with chrome plated fittings, some painted and others natural like yours.

I was lucky enough to spot one in a trash can one day when I was on the way to school and I grabbed it and took it home before running back to the bus stop. It had been covered in some icky green enamel, but I was able to sand it off and restore the hull and running gear and build a cabin for it. Where that boat is now is one of life's unsolved mysteries...

K & O also used to sell separate fittings, which I recall looking like those in your pictures. I used to use their spring-wound universals as shown in the photo and bow lights. I believe I also recall a switch like the steering wheel.

Pete G.
Sep 29, 2008, 05:27 PM
Registered User
charlie eaton's Avatar
True Pete, K&O was another brand name they were sold under. Also A.H.C. (American Hobby Center) and I believe Polk's sold them too. I have one now that was in the town dump, hull still usable, most of the chrome parts gone.
Sep 29, 2008, 06:24 PM
Retired for now
Dan. Just keep after your dad and pretty soon he will loosen up. When he sees that your really interested he'll tell you everything. Good that the wife is keeping track of things. It will matter in the long run.
Looks like your getting a lot of good info here. Lots of OLD guys that remember that stuff. Hee Hee! Pete

Thread Tools

Similar Threads
Category Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Discussion old chris craft wanted to restore littlechief Scale Boats 9 Mar 11, 2014 04:43 AM
Discussion Recovered from closet a 15+ year old RC car--can I extend its range? JWilliams2 Radios 2 Sep 04, 2007 05:48 PM
Discussion Help to update an Old Chris Craft Cobra Armound R Meyer Dock Talk 9 Feb 12, 2006 10:56 PM
9 year old swims from Alcatraz to benefit Katrina victims: irony, anyone? CAFplanekid Life, The Universe, and Politics 9 Oct 15, 2005 11:26 PM
New flyer resurrecting a 10 year old trainer out from mothballs. Hello. Iso Octane Beginner Training Area (Aircraft-Electric) 79 Jan 28, 2004 03:59 PM