The Plate!

Fellow Woody Boater Francis Hopkinson picked up what could be a very special find. But he has questions. Here is his story.

I purchased a 1929 Chris-Craft 20ft Triple cockpit, model 100. Chris-Craft did not offer the model 100 until 1930, and the hull numbers start with 7001. My hull number is 7000. This is in quite a few places on the hull, stringers, floorboards, seats, hatches, etc. And on the plate under the engine hatch.

The Number

The Mariners Museum has no record of a hull 7000. I believe it is a prototype, partially due to the hull number and because the instruments (tach, oil, amp) are mounted directly on the wood dashboard, with no metal surround plate, as the 100s had.

7000 all over the place

The plate on the inside of the engine hatch shows an engine number of 00225. The engine has the number D225M stamped in it, so I am guessing it is the original engine. The engine itself has no plate on it, no maker information. The distributor is marked Chrysler, so I am guessing it is a version of the KM engine, which the 100s came with.

Letter

With the boat I received a letter, written in 1995, by the widow of the third owner, giving some history. It seems that the boat was impounded in Canada for rum-running during prohibition, and spent its entire life in Canada until I bought it in November of 2018.

Number?

I also have a photo showing the boat at some earlier time with the registration number 48E-394 on the bow. Is this Canadian? Ontario? Can it be traced?

Miss Maureen

I would like very much to have any records from the Chris-Craft company (like a hull card) or documents indicating that it was a prototype, etc. If anybody has a way to track down the registration number that would be very helpful.

Being preserved

I have written to a gentleman who has written books about liquor smuggling on Lake Erie during prohibition to see if he can shed any light on the rum-running story. This story has credibility because there is no seat in the rear cockpit, but rather a hatch covering the whole cockpit and fashioned to look like the rest of the boat (i.e. mahogany with grooves, chrome piano hinge, handle, trim.) The hatch area follows the lines of the engine hatches and shape. From a distance it looks like it was part of the original design.

Below is a bullet list of her history.

On a rail

HISTORY OF CHRIS-CRAFT HULL NUMBER 7000
1929 20 FT TRIPLE COCKPIT RUNABOUT MODEL 100

Built 1929 (engine casting date August 29, 1929)
Used for liquor transport from Erieau, Ontario, to Cleveland, Ohio, sometime between spring of 1930 and fall of 1933 (end of Prohibition).
 Caught and impounded, date unknown..
Sold at auction in Erieau to Sam Scoyne of Blenheim, Ontario – probably in late 1930s.
Scoyne moves to Port Stanley, Ontario, in 1952.
 Sold to Robert Dempsey of Port Stanley, Ontario, in 1952.
Used by Dempsey family for many years, probably until Mr. Dempsey’s death in 1974.
Boat was named “Miss Maureen” after the Dempsey’s daughter. Boat was in storage for many years. Maureen died in 1991.
 Mrs. Dempsey sold boat in 1995 to Ron Hall, of Chester, Nova Scotia. Mr. Hall began an overhaul of the boat, removing engine, seats, ceilings, floorboards, etc. Some work was done on the engine, and much new chroming was done, but he eventually lost interest.
Ron Hall sold boat in 2006 to James Matthew Durnford, who planned to complete the overhaul. Mr. Durnford never got around to the project.
The boat was sold to Francis Hopkinson, Jr., of St. Michaels, Maryland, on November 27, 2018.

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24 Responses to “1929 Prototype Model 100? Anyone Out There Help?”
  1. Troy in ANE

    I think it is sooooooo cool that stuff like this still surfaces out of nowhere! AMAZING!

    The letter is AWESOME!

    Reply
  2. charley quimby

    Bow number looks like the old USCG-assigned numbers that were discontinued in the 1950s, I think. Maybe Canada shared this numbering scheme. Interesting provenance. C.Q., St. Leonard, MD.

    Reply
  3. charley quimby

    My 1932 Hacker was assigned 13P-152. I tried to find info on the number through the USCG several years ago, but was told the numbers were not archived. There is a book, “Rum War at Sea”, that shows this numbering scheme in a listing of captured boats that were either destroyed or put into service by the Coast guard during Prohibition. Many interesting photos and stories… CQ

    Reply
  4. Jeff H

    48E was the prefix used for St Thomas ON as 29E was North Bay, etc. Now the use an “ON” much like we use in the states.

    Reply
  5. Bob Weaver

    If the engine was built at the end of August and then shipped to CC would it be safe to say the boat was built in the fall/late fall? If that’s the case could it possibly be the first 1930?

    Reply
  6. Greg W

    Assuming engine is original as installed then Aug, 1929 would definitely make her a 1930 model. Hull number certainly supports it being the first one out. If the workmanship on the rear hatch is consistent with that of the factory perhaps the case could be made for a “special order” further suggesting an “interesting” client. If found, hull card would likely tell the tale. Engineering memos and “material list” might shed light if hull card has been lost.

    Reply
    • Brian Robinson

      I agree. Would have been a 1930 model.

      Ask the museum to check the old microfiche for the hull card. Sometimes they are there.

      Reply
  7. John Rothert

    Great story to read early in the morning! Good luck with research on this fine find.

    John in Va

    Reply
  8. Dan T

    Sounds like a very credible and interesting story to me. My family lives on a river that was notorious for rum running. Lots of coves to hide in and a narrow channel that was only known to locals. My great grandfather bought a brand new Buick and built a garage for it during that era. Family never could figure out where the money came from? The old man never did figure out how to drive the car, but my great uncle Elton took him to Florida in it a couple of times. I suspect Christopher Smith had some special customers during that time. Great Find!

    Reply
  9. Tuobanur

    Might even find out that the engine has just a little more horsepower than some of the others.

    Reply
  10. tom

    what a great project. I have question, the serial in the top picture (on the wood) looks raised.the numbers on my shepherd stem(under cutwater) were originally like that.long gone now.does anyone know how they did that originally? I would guess with a stencil,but how?

    Reply
    • Jim V

      Interesting comment from Tom on the Shepherd. What number hull. Mine is 449 and I don’t believe they are there on mine. Fantastic story on the Chris

      Reply
      • tom

        Jim, my hull number is 432.Found under one side of cutwater,don’t remember what side.the numbers were definatly raised.numbers were also stamped in ink on the inside of the rear seat plywood.you would have to take the uhpolstery and filling off to find it.

        Reply
    • Frank Hopkinson

      It is not raised. Both nombers (and others on hatches, floorboards, etc.) Are stamped in. Must be a trick of light.

      Reply
    • Bruce

      Shepherd hull numbers were stamped on the stem about a foot below the shear line and included the year, length and hull number as in 54-22-324 on my old Shepherd 1954 22 ft utility.

      Reply
      • tom

        Bruce,were your numbers “raised”? as opposed to stamped in.I remember mine were raised,made them to easy to sand off.By the way,your not Bruce Hall,are you?

        Reply
  11. Ken MacStephen

    During prohibition in eastern Lake Ontario there was a boat builder who, when asked who was the boat being built for he said he didn’t know!!! One in particular had no seating except for the driver and an ample Scripps! Boat named “Lucky Strike”

    Reply
  12. Jimmy

    Chris craft typically started with 0 in the hull series. Looks like hull card for 7000 was lost and it was assumed 7001 was the first hull. Being built in late 1929 would make it a 1930 model. The missing hullcard 7000 didn’t happen to be in the group that was on eBay awhile ago?

    Reply
  13. Matt

    Those were Registration Factory cards from what someone mentioned. Someone bought the entire lot of stuff from the guy in Florida, we dont know who that was or where the stuff is today.

    Reply

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