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