TODAY ON WOODY BOATER WE ARE TIPPING OUR CAPS to our friend Kerry Price. Kerry is a true gentleman and I am proud to call him my friend. One of the many highlights of the Woods and Water 2015 pre-events last September was to once again spend some time with Kerry – and to finally see his beautifully restored 1946 Chris-Craft Custom Runabout in person. (Today you can click on the images to enlarge them – Texx)
During the first day of the pre-events, we joined a group of boats that included Kerry and his crew, and we had the opportunity to snap a few photos of “True Grit” on the Whitefish Chain of Lakes.
Their flagship post-war runabout, Chris-Craft only produced 369 20-foot Customs (including 3 prototypes) between 1946-1949, which makes these runabouts quite rare today. And many people consider the 20-foot Custom to be one of the most structurally complex Chris-Craft runabout designs of that period – probably so complex that they were expensive to build, thus the low production numbers.
Kerry Price found the 1946 Custom (Hull No. 92) in 2001, in a barn in Minnesota – which is where it had been sitting for over 40 years. The boat had almost all of it’s original hardware, but was in need of a full restoration. He hauled the old wooden boat back to his home in Austin, Texas where he began the restoration project in 2005.
What makes this story special is that although Kerry loved old wooden boats, he had no previous wood working experience – so a complete self-restoration of this complex design would be a significant challenge. Almost every aspect of the restoration project was completed by Kerry, with some guidance from his long-time friend (and mentor) Jim Frechette, a local wooden boat restorer in Austin. Jim is also the current Past President of the Chris-Craft Antique Boat Club.
Kerry outsourced the custom leather upholstery, plating and commissioned Austin Machine Works to rebuild the 158HP Chris-Craft Hercules M engine. The eight-year restoration project (Kerry refers to it as a “journey”) was officially completed in September 2013. You could say that taking on a self-restoration project of this magnitude takes “True Grit.”
Kerry admits that this was a very challenging project for him, but enjoyed every minute of it. Prior to and during the project, Kerry also managed to assemble an impressive list of existing Chris-Craft 20-foot Custom boats, hull numbers and ownership information.
The 20-foot post-war Custom has a certain presence on the water, a combination of understated elegance with a sturdy, traditional appearance – and they are wonderful to ride in.
We noticed on Facebook that Kerry is currently vacationing in Australia, taking in the Rolex Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race and introducing himself to Koala Bears this week.
So let’s see if he notices that we are talking about him today and if he reports in from the “Land Down Under.”