Over the last few days, we have enjoyed learning more about the Chris-Craft Model 99 Runabout as part of the “Rowdy Dow” stories by Tommy Mertaugh and Alex Watson. According to the Chris-Craft – Essential Guide by Jerry Conrad, a total of 226 – 17′ Model 99’s were built during the model’s run of 1930-1931 (Hull #s 14000-14225).

Based on our limited research and comments from the Woody Boater community over the last few days, we now estimate that approximately 12 Model 99’s are known to have survived today. We all know that there are probably a few more Model 99’s hidden away in the rafters of a barn somewhere, or taking up space in someones garage, but here’s what we know today.

Of the 12 survivor’s out there that we are aware of, we already know from Tommy Mertaugh where two of them are, “Serendipity” and “Rowdy Dow”. On Monday fellow Woody Boater Don Vogt suggested that it would be fun to use the power of Woody Boater to locate the other 10 Model 99’s. On Monday afternoon, Woody Boater reached out to do just that – locate or document the others.

Well, to our surprise, on Tuesday afternoon just 24 hours after reaching out for information on the Model 99’s, we received an e-mail from fellow Woody Boater Leland Bisbee in Philadelphia. The e-mail included information and photos of many of the surviving Model 99 Chris-Crafts we were looking for.

Leland Bisbee, who currently lives in Philadelphia is a 24 year-old Woody Boater originally from Jackson, Michigan and summered in Charlevoix, Michigan. Leland currently owns a Model 99 (14119) and researched this series of Chris-Craft runabouts to also learn more as he restores his.

Leland at the 2011 Bay Harbor ACBS Show photographing an old Lorraine light

To introduce Leland for today’s story, I asked him to e-mail me a short summary of himself, and here’s his response, it’s great!

Short summary of myself? Well…. I guess here it goes.

I am probably one of the youngest members of the Chris Craft Antique Boat Club at 24 years old. I guess you can say that my interest in wooden boats started around 80 years ago when my Great Grandfather purchased a 15.5 ft Chris-Craft runabout and named it the “GELE B”. My family has had 7 Chris-Crafts since then, increasing all the way up to a 52 ft Connie (Constellation) “GELE B VII”, and we now have a fiberglass Hatteras “GELE B VIII” but that is an entirely different story…

Leland's Grandfather, Leland S Bisbee Jr. in GELE B circa 1932 or 1933

My Model 99 (14119) started it’s life in Harbor Springs, MI at Melching Marina (now Walstrom). From there it had many rough summers on Crooked Lake until the early 80’s when my very close friend George Crook purchased the boat with intentions to restore. With 6 cars and 3 other boats…. the Model 99 slept in his barn for about 20 years. George actually ended up giving the boat away to a neighbor to have it restored.

George and I would attend boat shows together in Northern Michigan and if he was feeling up to it we would bring along his triple cockpit Gar Wood. Until one day he mentioned his little “Dog House Boat” that I might be able to “have”. He called the raised engine cover “The Dog House” – I think it referred to what he was in with his wife when he returned home to Tennessee with the boat.

I then tried to put together what model Chris-Craft it actually was. When I showed George a picture of a Model 99, he said “Yep, that’s it.”

Next thing I was heading down to Tennessee to pick up a boat that I had never seen before. My Model 99 needs a complete restoration. It will get new frames, keel and chines this winter. Unfortunately my boat is not 100% completete, so I tried to track down as much information as possible on the Model 99’s and these are the boats I ran into on my research path. I would probably guess that that are only a few others left, maximum 20 total, being the runt of the pack I believe that many were just disregarded, destined for the burn pile.

“Rowdy Dow” has to be the only one with original power, simply because of how underpowered the Model 99’s were, everyone probably opted for a larger engine at some point.

I attached some photo’s of my boat and the other Model 99’s I have found, let me know if you need anymore information as I have gathered quite a bit of information on the Model 99’s recently.

1st Model 99 being the unknown boat that auctioned in May 2009 the only detail I have is a photo.


2nd Model 99 is the very beautiful “Kings Transom” (14191) now owned by Don Gulliksen according to the ACBS Directory. I first saw this boat on Woody Boater and then tracked some more info on it through the Chris-Craft Hull Registry. I have lots of photo’s and a couple articles on this one.


3rd Model 99 is at the Clayton Museum and has a folding top and a triple-carb Gray Marine in it… And is called “Toots'” – Not sure of the Hull Number.


4th Model 99 is “Miss MJ” (14032) this is the boat discussed in the Woody Boater comments section that was recently sold and in for some fresh varnish at Bruce M’s shop. Full restoration by MBBW a few years ago. I think Chris Smith picked this boat up for MBBW some where in Iowa? and claims that it was in such bad shape that he was afraid it was going to fall apart on the road to Michigan.


5th Model 99 is “Betty Anne” (14327) and is the only one other than mine listed in the Chris-Craft Hull Registry.


6th Model 99 is “Pal-O-Mine” which was listed on AntiqueBoatAmerica.com located on Long Lake, NY. I saved the listing but the boat sold.


7th Model 99 is “Serendipity” (14020) recently restored by Classic and Antique Boats in Hessel, MI.


8th Model 99 is “Rowdy Dow” (14131) currently being restored by Classic and Antique Boats in Hessel, MI.


9th Model 99 (14081) listed on Antiqueboatamerica.com


10th Model 99 is “Only Child” (14117) I found this boat with a simple google search – 1931 Chris-Craft but when you search now it doesn’t show up.


11th Model 99 is “Raz Ma Taz” which is / was listed for sale on Yachtworld.com


12th Model 99 is my boat (14119) which is being restored.


13th Model 99 is a new addition (added Nov. 17,2011) named “Chrissie” which we are told is an original, unrestored Model 99 – purchased/delivered from the USA in 1988, and now lives in Norway. Hull number unknown. For more info see Woody Boater story Nov. 17, 2011. (Update Nov. 18, 2011 – Fellow Woody Boater Bob Kays from the Lake Hopatcong, NJ area did some research today on “Chrissie”… Bob commented – It was owned by a fellow on Lake Hopatcong, New Jersey. When he was ready to sell in 1988, Wayne Mocksfield of Wayne’s Marine sold the boat for him to Hans Emron (?) in Norway and had the boat shipped there the same year.)


Thanks for all you guys do at Woody Boater! – Leland Bisbee

Thanks Leland for sharing all your information and photos on the Model 99, it’s great stuff! We are treating this story as an “Active” story, and if we receive any additional information or photos from our viewers about the Model 99, that information will be added to this story, so it has the opportunity to build and be a future resource for anyone interested in 1930/31 Chris-Craft Model 99 Runabouts.

If anyone out there has any more information on Chris-Craft Model 99’s we would love to hear from you. You can contact me at [email protected]

1931 Chris-Craft Model 99 Sales Brochure Courtesy Chris-Craft Antique Boat Club

We often remark that “It’s a small world” – Three weeks ago I was traveling down the highway in my SUV to a construction project. It was about 10:00PM and as I passed by one of those weigh scales for transport trucks, in the dark I noticed what looked like a small antique wooden boat loaded on a Boat Transit highway transport truck.

I quickly made an unsafe U-Turn in the highway and drove in to the weigh scale parking lot to see what the boat was. (I guess I have become a curious Woody Boater reporter). The little wooden runabout dwarfed by the huge plastic boats on the trailer was in fact “Miss MJ” a Model 99 being transported west to her new home. I took a quick look in the dark, but was unable to get a good photo of the boat with my iPhone, made a note of the boats name and left the parking lot. Afterwords, as I was driving down the highway, I couldn’t help think to myself “What model of split cockpit Chris-Craft was that, it’s so short?”

Three weeks later, here I am writing a story that includes “Miss MJ” (or X-Miss MJ) with help from our new Woody Boater Reporter in Philadelphia, PA. “A small world, just the same.”

Update – Saturday November 26th.
Woody Boater has published a story today with some additional Model 99/199 information and photos that we have recently received. You can click here to go directly to that story. – Texx

Update – Tuesday, December 20th. Hull # 14013
Texx: I found this classic boat site (Woody Boater) a few days ago, GREAT SITE. I’m intrigued by your articles on the cc model 99/199.

I acquired a Model 99 about 20 years ago, a barn find, a hole in a plank on the side lots of bird droppings and dust. The previous owner said it was put in the barn in the early 50′s, he remembered water skiing behind it in the 30′s and 40′s. The boat is completely original except for 1 plank and a piece of combing. I started to restore it in the early 90′s I got discussed with it when the plank I replaced split as I was screwing it in place,I replaced a small portion and when I stained the boat it stood out like a sore thumb. I put the boat aside as I had 2 other classics to use.

After reading the articles I have renewed interest in the project. It’s No.1 on my bucket list when I return from Florida in April. Its a cute little boat not very well constructed, thin bottom and side planking, puttied screw holes in the side planks (to save expenses during the depression). I have a rebuilt Model B 60 hp, just right for 2 people more than that take it easy. Hull # 14013 (an early 1930 Model 99 shipped from Chris-Craft to a dealer in New York City on April 12/1930. I’ll keep in touch as I progress’

Tom B

Thanks for the upadte Tom, and we look forward to hearing from you in the spring.

Texx

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30 Responses to “Chris-Craft Model 99 Week Continues – With A List Of Known Survivors”
  1. Frank Miklos

    Love the rear deck…The 1930 model 100 had a similar rear deck. I think these were the only two cc to have that type of rear deck… ( I have heard it called a turtle back)… The Model 100 is a 20′ triple CC’s smallest triple..

  2. WoodyGal

    Thank you Texx for being a curious Woody Boater reporter. Leland it’s great to have you with us! The small size of the 99’s may have increased their survival rate. Being 17 feet it would be easier to tuck away in a barn or garage. And a little easier and cheaper to maintain and restore. I shudder to think of how many large, beautiful cruisers are sitting outside rotting.
    Great story and I look forward to meeting you Leland and seeing your beautiful boat!

  3. don vogt

    Texx, what a fantastic story. Leland Bisbee is to be congratulated for doing a lot of great detective work on this model. It would make a great article in the Brass Bell if he were interested. I am sure Bill Basler would be happy to publish it. The 99 is really a link to a lot of the smaller runabouts ultimately made by cc. Thanks for pursuing this!

  4. Mike Green

    I remember another one from years back. It was the first one that I saw and called “Chicken Coop”.
    Frank the model 100 20′ had 2 styles of year decks from 1929 to 1931, some had the standard rear deck and I believe it was the earlier ones that had the rear turtle deck on them. The 1931 that I restored had the standard deck.

    • Brian Robinson

      Mike,
      “What’s Behind the Chicken Coop” was the name of he article. The boat was Toots, which is at the ABM. If someone kept their acbs directories from the mid 1990s look up Dick Brown for the hull number of that boat.

  5. MikeM

    I can’t reveal my sources, but I have it on good authority that the Great One, Wayne Gretzky, took his numerical inspiration from this mighty little craft, too. As Matt might say….”just sayin'”.

    Great story and I like how it quickly turned into an informative post on a rare boat. Kudo’s to Leland for filling in a lot of the blanks.

  6. Alex

    Texx, I’m amazed at how this story just keeps growing, and becoming even more interesting. Fantastic work! The Clubs should reach out to these new found boats and sign ’em up.

    It’s a new-found power of WB. To use the extent of its reach to bring hidden, undocumented boats into the light.

  7. Natashia Kadimik

    Mike & Frank –

    I was just talking to my dad about our Model 100. He thought that the flat rear deck is a Model 200 and the reverse upswept rear deck is the Model 100.

    • Frank Miklos

      Natashia & Mike:

      Here is what I thought the 1930 20′ was the turtle back and had the model #100… the 1931 20’was the normal rear deck and was model 200…

      I had never heard that this was built in 1929…

      Just went and looked up in the Essential Guide it does not say anything about 1929 either..

      The book also says there were 291 units built for the two years.

  8. Frank Miklos

    I was thinking that the 1931 was not called a 99. and looking at the 1931 catalog page above I see that it was not.. the 1931 was called the Model 199… Did I miss this or was this mentioned above somewhere…

    Also did the 1931 have the turtle back or a standard type of rear deck…

    I know that the 20′ model 200 did not have it in 1931…

  9. Philip Andrew

    Texx what a brilliant story. Matt Smith – see what ya started!
    Leland, thanks for sharing your life of woody boats.

    • Philip Andrew

      Ahhh Frank, now we are talking. Century the Thoroughbred of boats.

  10. Bruce Middleton

    Just to confirm Texx’s story on spotting Miss MJ indeed it was heading west to our shop (Absolute Classics Marine) in BC and the trucker mentioned how many times he was stopped and asked about the ‘pretty little boat’. Upon arrival at the shop she was surrounded by curious onlookers with the same comments. Yes she is still carrying her Miss MJ name. I’ll send pictures once she is ready after her re-finish is done.

    And Leland to assist in your restoration if you need any specs from this one, while we still have it here at the shop, don’t hesitate to contact me: [email protected] or 250 807-2194……Bruce

  11. Frank Miklos

    I saw this in the Essential Guide that the 99 was not in the 1930 catalog. I checked this out looked in my 1930 catalog, and it is true… It must have been a mid year addition. In 1931 it is there as the 199… This was the first Chris Craft under 20′ as far as I can tell…

    I first saw one of these in 1988 at the Lake St Louis boat show, Lake St Louis , MO. Thought then and still think these are pretty cool. I may have a photo of that one somewhere…

  12. Mike Teusink

    It is interesting to hear that Miss MJ is now out west. Kirk, who is pictured in Miss MJ at the top of the article, says that the boat was picked up in Oregon and brought to Holland for the restoration. If memory serves, he believes the hull card noted that she was originally delivered to Jessic’s Marine in Holland MI. Thus far in her life it seems she has resided in Holland, Oregon, Holland again, and now BC.

    • Texx

      Thanks Mike – Good to hear from you again.

      To tell you the truth, I didn’t recognize Kirk’s smiling face in the Miss MJ photo today until you just mentioned it. That would be a good photo to hang up in the Chris-Craft Land Cruiser…

      This morning I received an e-mail from Don Danenberg re Miss MJ. Seems that Mike was also the “Test Pilot” back in 1993 when they re-powered her. More to come… HA!

      • DonD

        Naaa.., It wasn’t Mike, he was still in diapers back then.
        That was some 18-years ago.

        Kirk and I are good friends…, but not THAT day…, OH NO!
        Kirk was driving on that watertest and every time I yelled to SLOW DOWN, he giggled and yanked the wheel back and forth just to see how big my eyes could get!!! You had to slow down just to turn!
        I was certain we were going to turn turtle (we did call that boat a turtle-back).

        • Texx

          Oops – Sorry Don, a typo – meant to say Kirk.

          We need video, pictures, anything you have of that historic water test. Do you think we could find an overpowered Model 99 and do a reenactment of that day for the record, with video?

          Woody Boater will come to Michigan for the event…

          • DonD

            Miss MJ is out west now. Have Bruce fix that computer chip back to full power and the HE can ride in it!

            I’ll warn ya though, it felt to me that we had about 1-ft of planing surface at speed!

            Besides, when I called Mike to tell him to check woodyboater for Kirk’s photo and ask Kirk about the de-tune chip, I could hear Mike in the background (obviously at his computer) start laughing!
            He postulated that neither Kirk or I could even get into that little cockpit again!

  13. LB

    Great to see this story come alive, the model 99 is a special boat. I would love to hear about other survivors out there.

    And yes the model 99 was a mid year addition to the CC line in 1930. I would have to guess that the boat was on the drawing board in in late 29. And might have ben an early reaction to the fast crumbling economy.

    • Texx

      Cenger – Thanks for the update on “Only Child” (14117) Engine # 3113. Nice work.

    • DonD

      Yep,
      Remember Easter Marine (all swallowed by Eldean)?

      They bought Northshore Marine as well, across the lake.

      That was a decade ago, who knows now, ask Mikey?

  14. Alex

    Tommy, since Texx seems to have a quest for excessive speed in a wooden boat, can you arrange for him to go in that V-10 powered triple this summer? I’ll film it. From the shore.

  15. Todd Cook

    Hello everyone. My name is Todd Cook and I am the current owner of Miss MJ. I have a few photos of the above mentioned water test that were passed down to me from the previous owner a number of years ago. I will try to get them to “Texx” to post later tonight.

    • DonD

      Whoa dude,

      Somebody was taking ‘pictures’ then?
      Tex doesn’t need an extra ‘X’, let alone the “TEXX” quotation marks?

      His name is something like Reginold, or some such.

      Make him ride along if you RE-tune that little engine.
      Have Kirk drive (Yeah, thats the ticket…, Get Him Wet!)

      • Texx

        I am always looking for an exciting ride in an old wooden boat, so I say “Let’s Do It Kirk”… I’ll bring the GoPro video camera.