ON DECEMBER 29, 1961 F.L. McCUNE FROM MINNEAPOLIS, MN purchased a brand-new Carver 18-foot Lapstrake Commuter from the family business – McCune Outboard Marine Co. in Denver, Colorado. It came with a 75HP Johnson outboard and a Tee Nee trailer.
According to the original Bill of Sale, the package cost:
– 75HP Johnson Outboard Motor – 1,043.50
– Carver 18′ Lapstrake Boat – 1,495.00
– Tee Nee Trailer – 346.00
Total Cost 2,884.50
The new Carver was then delivered to Bay Lake, Minnesota where it lived for more than 50 years, until November 2013. It stayed with the original owner until 2000, when it was purchased by Bruce Carlson which he added it to his impressive marine collection also on Bay Lake. Bruce Carlson was fellow Woody Boater Dane Anderson’s cousin.
We were first introduced to the all-original Carver back in the summer of 2013 while in Minnesota for the Gull Lake Classic Boat Show. At the time the Carlson family was preparing to let a portion of the collection go so that more people could see and enjoy what Bruce had assembled over the years.
Although the Carver had not been in the water for many years, we were immediately attracted to the raw originality of the boat, a proverbial time capsule right down to the period correct life preservers, dealer installed tops and nearly perfect original upholstery and instruments – it was all there.
Mr. McCune (the original owner) re-powered the Carver with a newer 1969 Johnson 85HP which was also purchased from the family dealership in Colorado. Not uncommon to upgrade the outboard for a newer, larger motor back then.
Later that year, in November of 2013, a portion of the Bruce Carlson family collection went over to the Minnesota Lakes Maritime Museum in Alexandria, which was a perfect move for everyone involved. (We reported on that story which can be seen by Clicking Here)
At the same time, Dave Bortner from Freedom Boat Service became the new owner of the Carver and he eventually located a period correct 1961 Johnson 75HP outboard identical to the one that was installed on the boat when it was new.
Fast forward to July 2015 – When we decided to return to Minnesota to cover the Gull Lake Classic Boat Show in August, we thought it would be fun to enter the Carver in the boat show and use it for a shoot boat. We contacted Dave Bortner and he arranged to have the Carver ready for us to use. Better yet, Dave even entered the boat in the show for Dane & I which was appreciated.
With some help from his engine expert Ed, and Dane, they worked out a few minor issues with the 1961 Johnson and we launched the Carver on Friday the day before the show for a tour of the Gull Lake chain of lakes which was a blast.
In preparation for the show we did some basic interior cleaning, and the Carver presented herself well at the show. After more than 50 years, the boat is showing her age as you can see in the above photo. The varnish is starting to peal in a few spots and she is due for some paint on exterior of the hull – but the boat performed great all weekend, staying relatively dry after being out of the water for approximately 14 or 15 years.
Yesterday on Woody Boater Matt ran a story suggesting that there should be a new category of classic boat aptly named “Prerestoric Boats” for those all original, unrestored boats that have “stood the test of time.”
Matt’s description of “Prerestoric Boats” was – “They are wonderful boats that have lasted enough time so that they are usable, and ripe for restoration, but the owners have had the courage to keep them going at that plump and juicy stage.”
Although the 1961 Carver is not nearly as old or not nearly as rare as the 1928 Ramsay Brothers Dart Jr or the Christopher Wise 1925 25′ Split Cockpit Runabout featured in Matt’s story – the Carver is still an all original, unrestored wooden boat that is safe to use with little or no work required.
To me, the Carver is best described as an “Original” boat (same goes for the 1928 Dart Jr or 1925 Wise Runabout). If the term “Preserved” was used the same way it is used in other transportation / collector related hobbies, that description could be used to describe the Carver after it received the absolute minimum amount of work to either protect the wood and make it safe to operate.
However, in the antique & classic boat hobby – what exactly is the difference between a “Preserved” boat and a “Restored” boat? The description of a “Preserved” boat (according to the ACBS) is quite a bit different from other transportation related collector hobbies.
In the collector car hobby and most other transportation related hobbies – the term “Preserved” has a much different definition vs the collector boat hobby.
For example, on their website, Hagerty Insurance describes a “Preserved” car as follows:
Preservation Class Cars
Over the past several years, Hagerty’s Cars That Matter has observed unrestored cars sell for prices that would have astonished in the recent past. Preservation Classes are being added to concours nationwide to showcase well preserved and mostly unrestored, un-refinished, and unaltered cars.
The old car hobby is headed in the direction of the fine art, decorative arts, and antique furniture markets, where a premium is placed on originality and where refinishing or altering a well preserved example can have a negative effect on value.
This isn’t to say that it is wrong to restore a car. Cars, unlike art and even furniture, are used and exposed to the elements and are made from different materials that don’t always age harmoniously. Often, restoration is the only way to preserve a car if it has deteriorated to a point where its useful life has been exceeded.
For those exceedingly uncommon examples of vintage cars that have managed to survive with original powertrains, finishes and interiors in sufficient condition to serve as an exemplar for a correct restoration on other less fortunate examples, clearly, careful preservation is the route that will ultimately result in the greatest return on their owners’ investments. – Hagerty Insurance website
“Barnwood” the very original 1948 Chris-Craft 25’Sportsman that won the award for Best Preserved at the 2011 ACBS International in Lake Geneva is a perfect example of what a “Preserved” boat should be. That boat was preserved in a way that would be consistent with a top level “Preserved” collector car, maintaining much of it’s original patina, wood and equipment.
Maybe it’s time to rename these original “Prerestoric” boats or come up with a way to better describe original boats – along the same lines as what other transportation collectors describe as “Preserved” to make it less confusing.
In collector car circles, this Carver would be considered as a “Preserved” boat (with a little work) because of it’s pure originality and ownership documentation from the day it was delivered to it’s original owner in December 1961.
However – if the current owner of the Carver ever wanted to enter the boat in an official judged ACBS event as a “Preserved Class” boat, these days in order to compete it would probably need to be completely disassembled, stripped and repainted / revarnished, hardware re-plated, upholstery replaced, outboard engine rebuilt and repainted, wiring replaced, steering wheel replaced or repainted, gauges and instruments rebuilt, replace or repair the windshield, rebuild or replace the fuel tanks, etc?
The owner can even replace the bottom – and as long as they can prove to the judges that a certain percentage of wood is original to the boat as it was delivered in 1961 to comply with the rules (description) as a “Preserved” boat.
At what point in that process does it become a “Restored” boat rather than a “Preserved” boat? Is that confusing to someone new entering the hobby?
Let us know what you think.
Photos for today’s story were provided by Dane Anderson. Special thanks to Dave Bortner from Freedom Boat Service for letting us use the 1961 Carver during the Gull Lake Classic Boat Show – we had a great time.
September 11, 2001 – We Will Never Forget