Update On The Trusty “W” Being Rebuilt At VanNess Engineering.


Head removed.

Here is a long overdue update on the Trusty “W’ engine being rebuilt out of WECATCHEM. To some it may be a little late, but the engine didn’t go into the rebuild part of its life until a couple weeks ago. We took it up there early since we had time and knew it would be done now. Actually booked the rebuild the week we picked her up, knowing this was going to be a winters project.


Yikes. That would have ruined a good day on the water. Remind me to order a spare belt.


Those are original Prerestoric nuts. Just like you have!


I know, its just an engine, but when its yours its the most beautiful thing on the planet. In PreRebuildic condition.


She was torn down and the good news is that she had never been rebuilt, and was still in good condition, just worn out. As Dave VanNess said, many of these are rusted out or have huge issues. The trusty W was well loved and taken care of.




Rather simple in a classic way!


Oil pan off!


Exposing all thats good..and worn out


Crank was OK-ish, but needed some serious bearings!

We have gone the extra mile on this rebuild and ordered custom pistons, and all new high quality stuff. New bearings, etc. She had one hole in an intake and exhaust manifolds which appeared after being blasted and is already repaired. Even going the extra mile and having all the gaskets made by hand new. No cut corners. There is a inner peace when you know something is being done 100%


Sludge. 67 years of sludge! Isn’t that sludge beautiful?


Just think of all the history is in that slime! Yes a romantic view of oil slime. I can’t help myself. Thats my babys slime

W Hole 2

Hole after blasting.

W Hole


W Manafold

Just a small hole. Phew, that would have added to the bill.


W Primed parts

All cleaned up and ready for paint. I wonder how I can make it look old and worn out?


Lookn good!


Maybe we shouldn’t be looking at naked photos of my baby?



OK, this is getting a little personal. I dont feel so good. Thats her Cam! We shouldn’t be looking. Nice lobes though. Oh, that’s my baby. How can I say such things. Troy, don’t you dare say a word about my babies lobes!

We decided to rebuild the W instead of replacing the engine with modern power, or a souped up WB. The W ran great and to be honest, these large 25 Sportsman are  more fun when lumbering around. Oh sure, I love a full throttle, but the W slows life down in such a calm way. She does about 30 and that’s more than enough. With today’s cars and boats, we are all used to going fast, quickly. The trusty W gets all there is a romantic way. Stay tuned for future updates as she comes together!

19 replies
  1. Greg Lewandowski
    Greg Lewandowski says:

    Thanks for sharing these intimate family photos. I know you will not regret the decision to spend the $$’s and keep the original power.

  2. Walt
    Walt says:

    Matt, thanks for the update. So what’s the schedule look like for engine rebuild and when will the rebuilt engine go back in the refurbed hull?

    • Matt
      Matt says:

      No real deadline except I want to be able to go boating in the spring. Its been in the works since August. The hull isnt being refurbished since it was in amazing shape and already had a 5200 bottom. The bilge looked almost new.

  3. Bill Hammond
    Bill Hammond says:


    I have to gush over that fabulous Crank!! What a pleasure to open up that 70? yr. old engine and find such a great thing of beauty! I had the Portside original 283 rebuilt and was pleasantly surprised to find the major problem was a stuck valve – water had gotten on top and it had rusted in place. But all was easily repaired!! I converted it to modern ignition and replaced the distributor as well because it had lost its sense of direction!!
    I feel so much better having kept its originalistic engine! Hopefully the Starboard Baby will treat my pocketbook well and wait a few years before needing a rebuild!!

  4. Tuobanur
    Tuobanur says:

    Looks like your ciz valve has grounded up the hootnanny shaft and don’t forget to change your sparks and plugs….

  5. Al Benton
    Al Benton says:

    Not being much of a “gear-head” I couldn’t tell anyone the difference in a lobe and a journal, much less how they compare to baby parts. Thanks to folks like Dave Van Ness I suppose that I don’t need to start learning about them now either.


  6. Reddog
    Reddog says:

    Does anyone know why Chris Craft didn’t put any kind of guard on the front(rear) of the W’s or K’s. Wonder how many people lost a toe or finger back in the day?

  7. Brian Flaherty
    Brian Flaherty says:

    Always fun to see the intricate workings of these old flatheads! They just don’t make ’em this robust anymore.. I had to have the timing “system” rebuilt on my ’04 Nisssan Quest and it was alarming to see how complex the engineers made a system that used to just be three gears! My engine shop, like yours, discovered a decade’s worth of sludge in the lower half of the system… PSA: Remember folks, good oil is always worth the extra cost!!

  8. Captain Nemo
    Captain Nemo says:

    I’ve been woodyboating for around 40 yrs. and had nothing but flatheads, Hercs, Grays, Chryslers. I wouldn’t have anything else. These things are more rugged and dependable than many people give them credit for. Glorious in their simplicity.

  9. Alan Arrighi
    Alan Arrighi says:

    The cam lobe profile on that stick is quite interesting. I’ve never seen anything so steep with an immediate drop off like that. Evidence of rather low revving with moderate spring pressures I assume. Matt I’m sure Van Ness will advise on the correct oil to run in there but that engine will need some ZDDP to prevent that cam from ending up in your oil pan. I’d follow his recommendations to the letter especially during break in. Looking good!

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