The Truth Of Age And Flaws.

Old boats rule

We have touched on this subject many times here, and with all this back and forth about this years awards, it dawned on me that what was it about that original interior that hit such a nerve. Its polarizing.. YES, I am bringing it up again.. But not for the reason of the interior. I like what was done. In fact once you change from the actual original material, you should have free rain to do what ever you want. It’s not original anymore, its a copy.


No different than the statue of liberty in Las Vegas, or Lake Hopatcong! And thus the entire concept of a Preserved Category seems a tad odd to me. Yes, I know there are some areas like bottom and safety that should be considered. But if we are gonna take preserved seriously, and we should, than an all 100% original boat should sweep the show clean. Period.


Like Andrew C’s Amazing time capsule Utility at Clayton. It is what it is. Its original, there are zero flaws when its like that. And yes a new bottom is a flaw, its not what is original.

The Ramsey Bros amazing original Dart.

Now we can get in the weeds of categories, this isnt about that. Its about the zen of it all. The smell, sound and feel of an original boat is unmistakable. The tension of “will it break down or sink” adds to the romance of it all. Sure it’s a pain in the aft. But it’s also what your boats heart and soul is about. The flaws and never ending tweaking is fun, It’s gonna be cold out, do you want to be thrown in the water and expect to run like its a 70 degree day?


Like many of us, WE NEED YOUNGER PEOPLE IN THE CULTURE… Like many of us that are let’s say Mature…. I have learned over time, that my flaws and history are at the heart of my soul. I like my boats like that as well. They… well…


22 replies
  1. Jack
    Jack says:

    I have my grandfather’s 1961 Chrysler. Other than filters, belts, fuel filter, wiper blades, fluids and tires it is completely original…. and looks and runs great. Even the original spare tire is in the trunk. I hope you don’t find these as flaws, Matt! Our boat has been lovingly maintained since birth in 1948 and is original enough to qualify as Preserved. It does have a recent 5200 bottom. The statement, “its only original once” is important to me. I would never restore the car, but I am happy to have a great bottom on a boat I trailer for useful fun.

  2. Bob Moreau
    Bob Moreau says:

    Would love to share a trailer restoration with the group if interested. have photos, videos of my ’58 Holsclaw trailer (before, during & after restoration). Please reply either way via email. Thanks & happy boating

    • Eric Zelman
      Eric Zelman says:

      I would like to see your video. Your name / email are not in the ACBS 2014 directory. Can you reply here with the link to view it? Or send it to my email listed in the directory- thanks

  3. Andy C
    Andy C says:

    I am having the same debate with my ’49 racing runabout that has been in storage for 50 years and is 100% original (except for the hideous plastic through hull)I am leaning towards cleaning it up and using it. For now.

  4. Briant
    Briant says:

    This is why I love having a custom one off 1930 wood boat. There is no “original”. It has been morphing since birth. There are no others to compare her to, to say that this or that is wrong. She is merely a beautiful and safe old wood boat, with tons of history, that just continues to provide enjoyment and memories each and every year. And nobody can bitch at me to tell me I did something wrong or used the wrong screws or the wrong fabric or the wrong part. Everything on this boat, from 1930 to today, is correct….

  5. Michael Green
    Michael Green says:

    The utility is amazing and a great representation of a preserved boat and I would love to see more pictures of it. With boat like these we need to document them for the next generation to see. One reason we know so much about the 1939-1942 Chris Craft Custom Runabout (barrel back) is years ago there was a couple found completely untouched. A few restorers went out and documented the whole boat from bow to stern taking pictures and a video. They then shared that with others which is the important thing for the hobby. As a restorer and Chris Craft family member it is very important to me to know how these boats left the factory and keep them that way. If everyone strays to far from originality eventually we will have nothing to look at as factory correct and it will be lost for ever. I have thousands of photos documenting every boat I have taken apart and restored over the years some like the utility above. These help us to our job and we take it seriously. The Dart although cool is not in my opinion a good representation of an original boat. It’s to far gone and no stain even left on the boat. So what do you do, do you restore it or leave it? My opinion its a good candidate for a restoration and I would love to see that boat in its glory with sparkling nickel (if earlier then 1930) hardware and a stained bright hull. As it sits now its a good conversation piece but its worn tied looking and not safe. I think people look at some of these boats and compare them to the car world with the rusted rat rods but metal is a lot different then wood. Wood really looses its fibrous strength and actually shrinks over time where metal can have some rust but still be structurally strong. As in every hobby there are persists and then some that don’t want to go through the trouble of making something the best it can be or correct for that matter. In my opinion that’s the difference between a restorer and a re-builder. If your going to call yourself a restorer then you need to pay attention to the way the manufacturer originally built it and do your best to give it a new life for the next generations to enjoy. I get it, not everyone is going to agree with this but there’s room for all of us in this hobby.

  6. m-fine
    m-fine says:

    “As in every hobby there are purists(sp) and then some that don’t want to go through the trouble of making something the best it can be or correct for that matter.”

    And this is why things get ugly. To some very closed minded members of the hobby, if you are not a purist you are lazy and if your boat isn’t factory original than it isn’t the best it can be or correct. These attitudes are going to slowly kill the hobby and keep younger folks at bay.

    In almost every other hobby there is room and mutual appreciation for both factory original and personalized custom modifications. Why can’t that be the case for wood boats?

    • Michael Green
      Michael Green says:

      I disagree. Its way worse in the car world if you touch a Auburn or Duesenberg the wrong way the purists have a coronary. How about a chip and dale piece of furniture or an old Colt revolver? I think just by saying closed minded, lazy and comments like that turn most people away. There is room for everyone. But if your going to have it judged then just remember what the standards are and that as it left the factory. Its not for everyone in the hobby for sure but I’m glad it it is for some. What would the car world do if there was no Pebble Beach Concours, Amelia Concours d’Elegance or The Elegance at Hershey there would be no standards of excellence and what would that do for the value of cars. Some of the high end shows have a separate section and awards for rat rods and other special cars which would be rally cool for the boat hobby. The closed minded are way fewer them you would think if you really know the people in the hobby and I personally don’t know 1 person that thinks that persist is the only way. Take Thunderstruck for instance, a 19′ Chris Craft racing runabout that is decked over except the middle cockpit with minimal hardware. Its about the coolest look out there and its done by one of the worlds best restorers that has won a lot of awards at Tahoe and the international shows. I would love to see more boats like that at shows.

  7. Andy C
    Andy C says:

    One problem I see with having a totally original boat that is 80 years old is what do I do with it? I will never use it and after it has been displayed at various shows, it is going to sit in storage.

    • Johnny V.
      Johnny V. says:

      Andy-We appreciate you and your father displaying the utility for many people to see. It does truly belong on permanent display as it is in one of the boating museums.

      Regarding modified boats-there certainly is a place for them at boat shows. Easy enough to establish judging criteria-I’d use the same format as contemporary classics where it is judged on execution, fit and finish. I’d hate though to see someone take a nice original boat and “restomod” it.

      • m-fine
        m-fine says:

        I also would hate to see the nice original boats resto-modded, but 1) there are way more not so nice and or unoriginal boats out there that I would like to see get money and attention to preserve is one form or another, and 2) in the end it isn’t our boat, it is the owner’s boat and we need to defer to the people writing the checks and doing the work.

        The other issue is if you look 10-20 years out, the choice may not be original vs resto-mod, it may be burn bin vs resto-mod. Someone needs to buy and take care of all the boats that have been restored or preserved, and that can’t be someone who is currently pushing 80.

  8. Dan T
    Dan T says:

    The real issue is caring too much about what others think. If you love your wooden boat regardless of which category your in and others have a problem with it, well, that’s their problem and not yours. Happy Boating!

  9. Jeff N.
    Jeff N. says:

    I spent a lot of time/ money on my 50 mercury making it a period correct dead nuts early 50s custom. Especially under the hood and not many people even notice or care. I’m not sure if I would do it again to that depth. I did a lot research abd many years learning from old timers who were there in the early 50s.
    Now here I am with my 1940 Century utility that supposedly has been on one family it’s whole life and never had a full restoration. They revarnished her and calked the seams and I’m sure restained but that it is it from what the old owner told me. The people I bought it from is the grand daughter of the original owner. Most of the boat looks original to me but I’m a rookie. The previous owner said it was used a ” few” years ago. Do i do a full restoration ? Just refinish ? Keep it as is as long as I can ,

    • briant
      briant says:


      Finish it the way YOU want, get the family and friends out on it at every moment and build memories.

      You and everyone else will recall the fond memories, none will give a rat’s bum if you won an award because you used the right bloody screws or fabric.

  10. briant
    briant says:

    With all due respect, my last comment probably ticked off a few people, but in my defense I will say this….I would bet that the overall majority of wood boat enthusiasts are in it because the great grandparents, grandparents, parents, or uncle etc had one when you were growing up, and it is those fond memories that made you want to stay with the old boats, or get into owning one yourself. There is not one person out there that decided to purchase and restore a wood boat correctly down to the last screw and bit of fabric because way, way back in 1952 grand dad won an award at a boat show. Hey, if you want the challenge of redoing something down to exactly the way it left the factory, then knock yourself out….but for most, I think many people are missing the boat (ha!) worrying about the exact details when they should be restoring or keeping an old wood boat safe and beautiful….to be enjoyed while you’re on the earth for such damn too short time.

      • Gary-H
        Gary-H says:

        I am new to this Hobby, I purchased my “project” boat just over a year ago, I have owned several “plastic” boats over the years, still do, and one pontoon, (i know, just lost all my credibility) but have wanted a classic woody for as long as i can remember, I finaly stracthed the itch last fall.
        Now I have been building custom Motorcycles for a long time, (as a hobby, more fun that way) so I have a pretty good skill set and attention to detail, that is kinda important when your riding what you built 80 miles an hour down the freeway, I call my boat my project because that is what I wanted, I found a 1947 CC 17′ Deluxe runabout in Penn, ( I live in in the U.P. of Mich,) this boat was owned by the same family and used every summer for the past 52 years, I chose this boat because of few things, #1 I love the style of this vintage, #2 the size was manigable (fit in my shop), 3, it was in a condition that did not scare me! and it was AFORDABLE,
        This boat is not super rare, I looked at 3 in Hessel this year and 3 or 4 at Port Huron, the 2 shows I attened this year, all very nice boats, all mostly original, And ALL THE SAME!! I may have hinted to the point of my chiming in today, I want a reliable weekend boat my family can enjoy for many years to come, I also want to make it my own, I am going to RESTOMOD it, that is why I picked this boat, Chris Craft produced higher numbers of this boat, My boat did not have original engine, (heck it was born with a B In it!!!). the boat was in good to fair condition and 100% complete, I am taking my time resurching the heck out of every step, and doing things right, I am now in the process of doing a new 5200 bottom, Some new frames and re-fastening all planking, it was the original bottom but was fiberglassed over a few years ago by the owner to get a few more years out of it,
        My point is, I am doing this boat for ME, some may not care for the chromed out EFI V8 I am going to stuff in this thing, but, I dare say some will think it’s pretty COOL. And when I push to button, it will go and go and go. if you are wonderng I am 59 years old, (just a number!!!!)
        to be clear I greatly apreciate all beautifuly restored and original boats, I would not be restomoding a rare Barrel. but my little 17 is going the be something DELUXE!
        I HOPE

        • m-fine
          m-fine says:

          Gary, that sounds like a boat I would enjoy seeing! As you say, we have all seen the standard 17 deluxe many times, but none of us have seen whatever it is your boat will be.

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