Barrel Back Racer – It Just Gets Better!

woody boater barn

She is in her new barn now. Welcome to Woody Boater HQ in Reedville.

What a weekend of cleaning and discovery, and another 5 gallon bucket of rodent turds. And I bet not one of you would have changed a thing about it. Our disease is universal.

late Night

Dr, I can’t sleep, and all I see is turds? Am I sick?

The good news is she is cleaned up and lots of goodies are found. Like her hull number which had been glassed over in all the usual areas. We found out she is the 25th in the line of 167 made. Hull number 42025 which we think makes her a 1937 the first year.

Barn Hull Number 42025

Also found under a floor board as is the number 16

We also discovered that she has a very rare Factory Aluminum Head. Not rare, more like a carpaccio rare. So much sweeter.  Making this an H-A the predecessor to the K-A. WOW!. Is this the only one left out there still on the engine. These are well known to self destruct. But not here.

Chris craft aluminum head

Chris craft K head

As a reference, Dave VanNeess sent us this shot of a Regular K head. Its much thinner! I like a fat head! OH, I smell a boat name…

Her stern pole was buried in turds, But man oh man the bee hive globe is perfect.

Stern pole

Wrong flag, right pole!

Her bow flag pole though got gnawed on. We are leaving it that way.

Flag bow

Yummy wood pole.


Fuel tank is old, dirty and needs to go away!

barn dash

Some extra guages, and a cigarette lighter? Thats not stock!

Barn Elbo

not a hammer mark on that elbow nut!

barn find ALGONAC

Made in Algonac!

Barn Light

Cool search light that fits onto the windshield! Ivalight?

The bilge is getting better, we removed the fuel tank and ordered a new one from Rayco. She does crank over and catches on a little starter fluid! Woohoo.

barn find bilge

Look Ma, No Turds!

barn carb

Wrong color, right engine!

Barrel Bottom

Her bottom and glass is very clean and was done very well, so I smell a water test for sure after some small patches are made while she is bone dry.

Reedville Barn Barrel back clean

Out in the fresh air at her new barn in Reedville Virginia. And so the circle of life continues!



39 replies
    • Randy
      Randy says:

      … not for all those newly ‘homeless’ rats — they indeed had a good life for a lot of years.

      At least they kept the raccoons out!

      Looks to be well preserved and a great find — amazing these treasures are still being found out there!!!!!!

  1. Troy in ANE
    Troy in ANE says:

    Now I am glad you did not buy that replica.

    I knew you would find one of these out there, but I had no idea it would be this COOL!

  2. m-fine
    m-fine says:

    Stay in shallow water, and call Hagerty first! The glass may be in good shape, but no telling what strength is left underneath it.

    • Matt
      Matt says:

      No kiidding. I have been poking around. ALOT.. There are some weak areas and I am sure the second the bottom is removed it will be a mass can of worms. So right now, we are just going to see how she does. And go slow..ish

  3. jim g
    jim g says:

    I rebuilt a KA engine in a red, white and blue about 5 years ago. It still had the aluminum head on it. We replaced it with the later prewar cast iron head. As the corrosion around the coolant holes was getting excessive.

    Be careful with that carb. It is the original one. But the throats were not angled up so if the carb gets fuel in the throat it will run out into the bilge.

    Your elbow is a postwar replacement.

    • Don Vogt
      Don Vogt says:

      Yes, i was going to mention that about the elbow. the pre-war elbows have, i think, 4 corners, like a standard nut, rather than the multiple projections of the post war design.

      But be that as it may, a great find.

      • jim g
        jim g says:

        Your correct the nut on the prewars looked like a nut. Also the postwar script is casted in it. I could not tell from the picture but if its a bronze elbow it would be 1950 or later.

  4. Bill Lamb
    Bill Lamb says:

    This is a great story. The patina on the special racer is outstanding. They are wonderful boats, I am lucky to own a 1939 16′ special racer with the original KB

    • Matt
      Matt says:

      HA, I love leaving fun stuff in images for people to be confused. Thats Ralph Walker Electrition and his side kick Mike installing new LED shop lights. WOW! What a huge difference

  5. Jack Schneiberg
    Jack Schneiberg says:

    That is a find. In June of this year a friend and I pulled his 1938 Century Thunderbolt 16 out of a barn he had stored it in since 1987. There is no record of how many years before that – that the boat had been on the hard. Restoration had been started but stalled. Wherein the similarity in the stories here is confined to “coon poop”. I found grilling tools especially useful in removal of the animal waste. Even though most of it was removed several months ago now…….with the right wind I can still smell that stuff and hope to not go thru that cleaning process again.

    • Matt
      Matt says:

      Thats a bucket list find for sure. WOW! Proof that no matter how cool something is, there is always someone out there with something cooler. Dang! Thunderbolt Lust! Send in a story

  6. Jerry, Toledo Oh
    Jerry, Toledo Oh says:

    The boat in this article is actually the 26th boat made. Not the 25th as the number suggests. Though the Mariners Museum is unable to confirm, due to a fire and loss of some records at Chris Craft years ago, it is common knowledge among the old timers around the Great Lakes on how Chris Craft numbered their boats. Example: My 1941 44ft Double Enclosed Cabin Chris Craft was Hull #440000. The last digit designates the first hull built and so on. Therefore, the last “0” in this sequence equals “Hull #1”. The second boat built would have had the hull serial # of “440001” and so forth. The boat in this article shows the last two numbers as ’25’, therefore she is the 26th hull built (again, considering ‘0’ as the first hull.

    • Matt
      Matt says:

      Well, there ya go! You learn something new every day! Thanks for the info. Its now the 26th one built.

    • Jimmy
      Jimmy says:

      Most smaller boats by 1941 hull numbers started with 01 but I believe cruisers continued to start with 00 until after the war. I’ve never heard of this said fire but in the essential guide it shows that Chris Craft did do that to every runabout up to 40/41. There should be no reason Mariners Muesem couldn’t confirm this as it is in the essential guide. There was a half restored red white and blue for sale the seller thought it was 100th built but he didn’t know that they started with 42000 making his boat hull 101.

  7. Greg Wallace
    Greg Wallace says:

    Congrats on a great discovery….leaves hope for the rest of us. Spot light and cigar lighter could be OEM. Spot light for sure was an accessory item. Hope you will publish the hull card.

    • Matt
      Matt says:

      Waiting on the mariners museum, which is closed for renovation. So it could be a while. Although Brian Robinson and Don Ayers has a list with options on it. So we may know some more soon.

  8. John Rothert
    John Rothert says:

    Wow. just WOW!

    agree with the comment about being careful with carb…those were the bomb… in leaked into the bilge.

    do Go Boating…..then get to the real work.

    John in Va.

  9. Matt
    Matt says:

    I have learned the hard way on WECATCHEM to always cut the fuel off everytime I stop. Its only happened once, and thats enough. Getting fuel out of a bilge is not a fun job, and thats if you are lucky enough to catch it. YIKES!

  10. John Baas
    John Baas says:

    I can’t stand it! How muck luck can one barn find generate? So, what does it have for seats? You should CPES that gnawed up bow pole, tho.

  11. Dominic Spediacci
    Dominic Spediacci says:

    Most Zenith carburetors of that era, had a drain hole in the bottom of the goose neck. This drain hole is sometimes threaded to 1/8″ pipe thread (NPT). You could simply thread a drain tube into this hole-and put it into a ‘catch can’ with an oil absorbent mat. It may, or may not work for you. Which is better than the fuel going into you know where.

    And…you’re boating not (ahem) exploding. Sorry 😉
    Maybe this helps. Great find!

  12. Les Best
    Les Best says:

    Interesting on the 2heads. Spark plug placement is different. Location in combustion chamber cause more power?

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