It’s Just A Chris Craft Fender Cleat. Really? Is It Only Just That?

chris craft fender cleat

A work of art!

Last week I decided I needed a set of fender cleats for WECATCHEM, since we do use her a ton and she is docked here and there and putting fenders/ Bumpers on is a bit tricky since she doesn’t have smaller cleats. So, I asked our trusty source Jim Staib of Fine Wood Boats for advise. Now, here is where it gets interesting, or deep depending on your propensity for the arts. And yes I had to google propensity.  Heck I had to google “source” as well. Anyway, back to my effusive gushing over a fender cleat.

Fender cleat 1

The cleat of all cleats!

I didn’t want a new one, or re-chromed one, I wanted an original one, one with age, with a tad bit of patina, one that had seen time and embraced it. Sorry Mr Graves. We shall meet soon enough oh you chrome magician. I wanted to not overwhelm WECATCHEM’s age and patina. Come on, putting new chrome on her would be like a new nose job and not going all the way. Now, trying to explain this to people has its fun moments. The dead stare.. “why would you do that?” “WHAT?” “Come on!”  Well, Mr Staib gets it and had to actually run to the chrome shop and pull one from being done. This way we have a perfect matching set to help un restore our boat.

Fender cleat bow

Is that a bow of a boat?

Just look at that cleat. Come on, when you really look at it, its a marvel of design. I am sure there was some young designer working for the legendary “Mac” Mackerer head of design for Chris Craft at the time that did many drawings of cleats, just to find the right motion. The right “feeling” how she starts thick and ends in a slender wind driven taper of motion so it would also flow with the design of the hull, the styling of other cleats, lights, windshields all working together like a fine oil painting. It’s not just the right part # for the boat, its a brush stroke in a field of other brush strokes that make our boats have an emotion.

fender cleat header

WOW. A cleat that moves you!

How her oval base continues that feeling of motion and helps our wonderful craft move ones soul even while holding a bumper at the Tiki Bar. That is true design, that is art, that’s more than a simple cleat, it’s talent, it’s emotion, and it’s functional. Will you ever see a cleat the same again?

Fender cleat top

A cleat that creates its own wake of chrome and motion

Just think, this could have been an ugly mess of a T sitting on the deck. No, this needed to be art, and is one of the many many reasons that our boats are iconic, they represent a time in space when a designer with a simple wood stick of graphite could change the world. If god is in the details, and he is, than my new old original aged fender cleat is truly a gift from god! Available online from Jim, who apparently is a minister of the detail. Now if you will excuse me, I need to take my pills.

Fender mask

Do you see a face? I see a face? Really its like an alien. Or tribal mask. Maybe cleats we’re brought to earth by a great civilization than ours. Maybe we are just now seeing the cleat for what it is. An image of ourselves. WOW! Mind blown.

21 replies
  1. Al Benton
    Al Benton says:

    I purchased several small cleats using eBay on more than one occasion until I finally had 6 (or was it 8) that were alike. I ended up with a tub full of the things that were close (but no cigar), and couldn’t decide which ones were original based on shape. These cleats were for the mooring cover that was factory provided and listed on the hull card. Don’t remember if any had part numbers on them. What are the chances that Chris-Craft purchased them from the lowest bidder?

  2. Bob B
    Bob B says:

    Our cleats also were for the mooring cover. 35 years ago one cleat ran away and it took me forever, stopping in every marina I passed in my traveling days, until I found one. I should have waited for the internet.

  3. Mike K
    Mike K says:

    what about the screws??? chrome plated brass? reed prince?
    8, 9, 10? how deep? top knotch?

  4. Old Salt
    Old Salt says:

    Alien, really Matt? I know you want Wecatchem to have a great market value but please don’t start claiming your boat was built by E. T. in area 69. I don’t think the Woodyboater life style is ready for dealing with friends from space!

  5. Phil Jones
    Phil Jones says:

    The Canadians even have the style on the old utility cleat. Here are original ” Button Cleats” I went to Canada to track down for the Shepherd, so I guess you are not the only anal one Matt. :):):)

    • Ryan
      Ryan says:

      Canadians need something fancy to hold the fenders firm while they are hanging overboard underway flopping all over the place…

  6. Dan T
    Dan T says:

    I love the preservation approach to restoration. I find it much more interesting and pleasing to the eye. Go with it!

  7. Verne
    Verne says:

    This one has more of a forward stance to it which I think is very artsy. Although it would allow the lines to rub on the varnish. Not a CC cleat.

  8. Verne
    Verne says:

    And then there’s this little tiny fender cleat which is kinda cool. It requires a very thin line.

  9. floyd r turbo
    floyd r turbo says:

    Use caution when photographing your chrome hardware or you may be revealing more than you planned, like this guy and his guitar tuner sales, lol.

  10. Sean
    Sean says:

    Yes, even fender cleats can be a thing of beauty. Greavette used these for some time… quick & easy for rope fenders with nothing to catch on when your near them. Kinda looks like a boat in motion too. 🙂

  11. Walt
    Walt says:

    Matt, when you put the patina’d cleat in your boat, I hope you use old screws to keep the patina theme going.

  12. Greg W
    Greg W says:

    As I read this the thought occurred to me that perhaps Matt and his cleat needs to “get a room”.

  13. Frank Miklos
    Frank Miklos says:

    You know why they are called fender cleats? Because they are mounted next to the fender or fender rail… not because they hold a fender. I believe the term fender for a bumper came from the term fender cleat not the other way around… And the term fender cleat came from where it was located next to the fender or fender rail… Which many of us know today as rub-rail or bang rail or shear rails or gunwale rails… See the photo taken from the 1931 Chris Craft Catalog…

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