It Was The Best Of Times, And The Worst Of Times… To Buy And Sell Your Classic Boat.

Triple Lift
As usual at about 11 pm Alex Watson sends out an email bomb that I wake up to at 4 AM to see 14 emails form the bored of directors. Clearly Alex is bored up in the never ending winter of Michigan. Then Texx jumps in, Paul, Mike. Last nights provoked a thought in me. One, I need to turn of my email, the other was from this very cool link on ebay. A killer 1928 Chris-Craft Cadet Triple  that needs to be completed.

triple back

At first I thought. Oh man that guy has a tough sale. Like selling half burned fire wood. No one wants a project this deep into it. Selling half way through a job is never easy. But then I recalled seeing a beautiful 19K Barrel Back when I was in the throws of restoring mine. It was almost done but needed completion. $40K.. At this point I was into mine for over $90K and about at the same spot. I saw the value of what had already been done. I felt the value of what had been done. Just tearing down a boat has value. It’s all emotion, you want to buy the boat in one shape, you want to feel the dream. But the reality is, all you need is the pattern and serial number. Buying a boat in this shape make logical sense. The seller of this Cadet has felt that pain as well, and has done the worst and most brutal part of the job.He is already handing you 8K of his time.  Sure it still needs sides and, well… everything else. But if you are into projects, not a bad way to start.

1928 Chris Craft Cadet on ebay

1928 Chris Craft Cadet on ebay

32 replies
  1. Paul H.
    Paul H. says:

    My only interest in this was to nominate Alex to take the project on and serialize it’s completion for us all. I don’t think he has a runabout in his fleet and these are a nice boat. Come on Alex, help keep Tommy busy(er)!

  2. John Rothert
    John Rothert says:

    The OLD thing is not a factor…we are all destined to croak with projects undone… least this would be a worthy one!!

    John in Va.

  3. Alex
    Alex says:

    Just wondering something. Anyone out in WB-land have a nice Cadet that needs a bottom? Just buy this, bolt it on, and you’re good to go. Would take, what, an hour or so?

    Seriously though, I like the tone of the seller. Seems like a straight shooter. Reasonable price expectations. Not a bad way to go if someone wants to finish it up.

    Paul, back to you.

    • Paul H.
      Paul H. says:

      Nope, the preservation/ refinishing of the 21′ Continental is next on my very short list of boats needed work.

      The Cadet is a worthy boat for someone, but perhaps not at this price. I am not going to do a total restoration ever again, preservations and things are a bit different and this is too much project for me to consider. It is probably best tackled by a competent do-it-yourselfer so the direct costs are better contained.

  4. steve bunda
    steve bunda says:

    I think this is a very fair price and a good deal for a fine boat that seems to have 99 % hardware , less engine. For a DIYS the project would be easy and a great learning experince. The 22 foot Cadet is fun to drive and cuts the water like a water ski as it is only 5 feet wide. The hull can take a little more power and be fun and reliable with a V8. I have a cadet and plan on dropping in a MBL.. This is a great project and begs the question- If you purchase the boat and send it out for completion and restore as a nice daily user/ regional show boat , what would one expect to pay ?

  5. Paul H.
    Paul H. says:

    I’ll take a crack at it Steve – perhaps $5k. It is going to need and engine and all running gear – not sure what that would cost but probably in the $8-$10k range anyway to get somethign good. A trailer is going to be $4k, so now you are in to it about $20k give or take. That leaves about $30k- $40k tops to do everything else. Can it be done for that? Not sure, but not by a professional in all probability. A great project for a talented or experienced do it yourselfer, I would agree. I don’t know the value of one of these in clean freshly restored but not show condition, perhaps $50k-$60k? Start at the value of such a boat and work back, and see where it ends up.

  6. MikeM
    MikeM says:

    Paul, I think you’re pretty close. I bought my Cadet about 10 years ago. It was a little further along, sort of, but I had to redo a lot of it, including removal and disposal of the “new” decks and build new ones. I stopped counting at 1000 hours and think I had about $30-$35K into it.

    I agree with Steve on all points, too. It can handle a 350 (or so) and is a great handling, great looking, roomy and fun to drive boat. I’d probably do it again but wouldn’t want to pay more than $5k for it. This is definitely a boat that could make someone happy for a long time…it offers almost everything one could want in an old boat.

    • Paul H.
      Paul H. says:

      My recollection of your boat with modern power is exactly why I think this boat could be done and the owner would have a wonderful and fairly versatile runabout. I hope the seller is able to find a good home for it. It just takes the right guy with realistic and well informed expectations. Like Alex….

  7. Gary
    Gary says:

    I know exactly how he feels. I started a 21 foot pattern boat last summer and have seriously been wondering why I didn’t just take it to the dump.
    But now I am into too much. Half the frames are done, the engine is almost complete, all the hardware is there but at my age I am just hoping I can finish the bottom and get it over. If I am still kicking then the sides and deck will be the next goal. I suspect my family is thinking of an old WB home for me now.

  8. Texx
    Texx says:

    Material costs for wood, fasteners, hardware / plating, windshield plating, rub rails, upholstery, instruments, steering wheel restoration, wiring, etc – All minor costs, but it all adds up.

    I like these old Cadets with modern power or modern-ish power (i.e. Herc M’s)

  9. m-fine
    m-fine says:

    As a DIY job, you should be able to get an engine, wood to finish above the waterline and other materials for $20k or less, and have a nice boat for $30k invested. Plus probably 1000 hours of your own labor depending on how efficient you are.

    Not a bad project if you want that type of boat, you are willing and able to do the work, and you are not looking to do a show boat “as delivered” restoration.

  10. Jim Frechette
    Jim Frechette says:

    I think it is a bargain even at close to $10,000. Assuming the bottom is done well (which it appears to have been) and it really has all the hardware including dash panel and steering wheel, I think you could have it back together for way less than the cost of a restored model. A rebuilt 283, 327, or 350 should not be very much and I think it could be done for even less than M_Fine suggests. If I did not already have a 1930 triple, I would be on it!

    • m-fine
      m-fine says:

      If you are good at scrounging you could probably do it for less, especially if you went with a used engine and found a good deal on wood.

      I I didn’t already have a boat in need of $20k and 2000 hours of labor…

  11. Gary
    Gary says:

    The 21 footer I am restoring got a project plan plus detailed estimate of all material that would be needed. The only estimate that is well off the mark is the amount of time I am going to put into it plus the timeline.
    So far I am just over 20k and have 50% of the wood. I am looking at 25k and then a windshield, another 5k and then a new trailer, another 6k.
    The timeline of the project is the killer because nothing ever goes right, band saw throws a wheel, sharpening tools, and family wanting to do other things.
    It is a hole in the water but a very pretty hole.

  12. ian
    ian says:

    if you want a 22ft wood boat at a real deal then the way to make this boat work for someone is to do a plywood sides
    and a plywood deck with 1/4 inch deck mahogany deck. will it be a collector boater; no
    will someone be able to have great boat

    but he wants $25k and that is way too much

    good luck and get out in your boats and crank that motor and lets hear that engine roar

  13. Alex
    Alex says:

    Sorry Paul. I have no talent with wood, save felling it, splitting it, and burning it.

    I like Cadets too, but every time I look at this shell, and all the talent and $ it requires, I see this.

  14. brian t
    brian t says:

    Steve B says, “For a DIYS the project would be easy and a great learning experience.”

    With all due respect, the same could be said about potty-training a child. It is gonna get messy and frustrating and expensive replacing rusty things……

    By the way, does DIYS stand for…. Do-It-Yourself-Sucker? Do-It-Yourself-Stooge? Do-It-Yourself-Stupid?

    (All of which would pertain to me which is why I cannot find that damn checkbook anywhere…..)

  15. Texx
    Texx says:

    Steve Bunda is one of the top wooden boat restorers in the country, who specializes in pre-war Chris-Craft runabouts.

    So if anybody would know what it will take for a Do It Yourselfer to get this boat completed, it’s Steve…

    • Paul H.
      Paul H. says:

      That’s the fact, Jack! (sorry to Bill Murray for that) It is a worthwhile project and a neat, if narrow, boat. An M would be a nice engine, but so would be a SBC of any size. I think there are plenty of skilled non-professional restorers or hobbyists that could do this, and would enjoy the time spent doing it. Alex is not one, for the same reasons that banish me from wood working (absence of skills being the primary one) but I hope someone sees fit to buy it.

  16. steve bunda
    steve bunda says:

    LOL , To be exact , the 22 foot triple was only called a Cadet in 1927 , just to be correct.. The boat is very simple to restore because of the shape compared to some more difficult hulls like the barrels and Capri,continental, holiday,and 20 foot custom. Chris Craft made a lot of Cadets and parts are easy to find with the exception of the barrel tachometer. The interior has a lot of components ,but with so many boats out their it is easy to find one to look at and copy. In addition there is a lot of room in the engine compartment to fit an array of engine options. Heck if you can’t varnish , paint the sides black of dark blue . Picture of M installed in a cadet , 44 MPH on cop radar.. steve

  17. steve bunda
    steve bunda says:

    Let me correct my last post, the cadet with the M was pulled over by a lake cop exceeding the 40 mph lake speed. I expect my cadet with a MBL to hit 44 mph.. A new light weight 5200 bottom makes a huge difference in performance. WE see a huge advantage in speed and handeling over an old water logged bottom. steve

    • Texx
      Texx says:

      Thanks Steve – There’s nothing quite like the throaty burble of a classic Hercules M on the water…

      The response to the lake cop should have been “Officer, how could an old 6 cylinder tractor motor possibly go that fast?”

  18. Tom Gruenauer
    Tom Gruenauer says:

    If the cost of a pro restoration is not feasable, and the cost of a DYI still is too much do we start burning the grey boats?
    We just had a talk about restoration costs vs boat value.

    • Texx
      Texx says:

      Good question Tom… Been thinking about this for a few hours and I’m not sure how to answer it, as I hate to see any wooden boats sent to the burn pile.

      If the true cost of restoration is simply too high in these economic times, do we store them away and hope that (at some point in the future) the economy improves and folks once again take these type of projects on and eventually save them from the burn pile?

      In some ways, I would almost rather see that happen vs people getting involved in a restoration (not understanding the true costs) and then getting in over their head…

      In my view, that doesn’t help anyone.

Comments are closed.