The Restoration Of D.D. Gorgeous – Rough Cut


DD Chris Craft Barrelback

Owner Cindy Peterson on re-launch day expressing her appreciation to restorer Bruce Bronson as he warms up “D.D. Gorgeous” for the water test. – Andy Gustafson photo

On Monday this week we ran a great story about the successful re-launch of “D.D. Gorgeous” a (now) outstanding 1941 Chris-Craft 19′ Custom Barrelback owned by Jay & Cindy Peterson from Lake Steilacoom, Washington. Fellow Woody Boater (and neighbour of the Peterson’s) Andy Gustafson was on hand with his camera last weekend to celebrate the re-launch, and he sent us the original story.

In the original story, Andy noted that the owners Jay & Cindy referred to the old 19′ Barrelback as “Nothing More Than An Old Rotted Out Flower Box When We Bought Her” – which of course we had to use for the title of the story – in case you missed it, you can click on the title (above) to see the original story from Monday. (Also for the newcomers to the Woody Boater website, you can always click on the photos to enlarge them.)

Since the story was published (with a title like that), we have received a number of inquiries from our viewers asking to see what “D.D. Gorgeous” looked like before the three-year restoration began at Bronson Boat Works in Gig Harbor, Washington.

Well, fortunately for us, Jay Peterson made his weekly Saturday visits to Bruce Bronson’s workshop throughout the restoration process, with his camera. Thanks to his wife Cindy and daughter Elizabeth, yesterday we were able to get some of Jay’s photos to share with our viewers today, and some more information on the ’41 Barrelback. Jay & Cindy Peterson are seasoned classic boaters, and currently own a few unique wooden boats. – Texx

Hi Texx – We bought the 1941 19′ Barrelback (Hull# 48805) in May of 2007. We had a 1929 Chris-Craft we were going to restore and then “D.D.” came along. We bought her from Mitch LaPointe at Mitch LaPointe’s Classic Boat & Motor in Minnesota. It came from Wisconsin and was originally delivered to someone in New Haven, Connecticut in 1941.

Bruce Bronson told us about her and that she was a much rarer boat than the 1929 Chris-Craft, so we made the deal with Mitch. We stored her for 3 years in a space near Bruce’s shop in Gig Harbor along with our 1948 Fairliner Torpedo (the next boat to be restored…”Tacoma Boy”).

D.D.’s restoration started on August 15, 2011 which lasted just over 3 years. We decided to put modern power in her – Our 1948 Chris-Craft Deluxe is always breaking down and we wanted a more dependable engine for this one. “D.D. Gorgeous” now has a “closed system” Crusader Marine 5.7L. 300 HP V-8 engine. With the closed system Crusader we will not only be able to take her on fresh water, but salt water too – The Puget Sound area here is absolutely beautiful.

She ran beautiful on her test run last Saturday. Such a smooth ride. We can’t wait for May to come. – Cindy Peterson

Thanks Cindy, you and Jay certainly have a beautifully restored and rare wooden boat. A total of 393 – 19′ Custom Barrelbacks were built by Chris-Craft from 1939 to 1942 (Hull #48500 to #48932 – with a gap in the numbers between the 1940 & 1941 models). Of those, only 93 19-footers were 1941 models (Hull #48800 to #48891 plus #48894). Only 48 – 1941 19′ Custom Barrelback models are known to exist today. So “D.D. Gorgeous” (Hull #48805) is a very early 1941 model.

As you can see by Jay’s photos, they were not exaggerating when they said is was “Nothing more than an old rotted out flower box” – but thankfully, with Bruce Bronson’s help, they forged on to eventually save with rare boat.

The point of no return is when you first remove those old original 70 year-old bottom planks, discover what you have lurking inside, and give the restorer the nod to move forward – as restorer Bruce Bronson takes a deep breath…





Bruce dreaming about the day when “D.D. Gorgeous” is in fact – gorgeous.



New covering boards usually marks a major milestone in a full restoration project.



And now the antique Barrelback begins to take on that unmistakable shape from 1941.








The traditional blue face gauges, dash and steering wheel now ready to be re-installed.


“Her transom art was painted by noted artist William Dalton from Dalton Art Studios in Bremerton, WA. We originally wanted a blond bombshell, but once he drew her and gave her the ginger hair – it was perfection. Her bikini also matches the color of the bottom of the boat. We had the image of her in our mind for several years.” – Cindy Peterson





DD Chris Craft 167

With restorer Bruce Bronson looking on – owner Jay Peterson takes the helm for the first time of his freshly restored 1941 Chris-Craft 19′ Custom Barrelback “D.D. Gorgeous” – A memorable day after a successful 3-year restoration. – Andy Gustafson photo.

Over three years of restoration work condensed into 24 photos hardly begins to describe the amount of hard work, time and dedication Bruce Bronson from Bronson Boat Works put into this project. His talent certainly shines in the finished product, and best of all, Bruce has a happy customer in Jay & Cindy Peterson.

Hat’s off to Jay & Cindy for their part in saving this antique boat, and congratulations on a successful conclusion and re-launch last weekend!

DD Chris Craft 158 - Copy

A happy customer in Jay Peterson – Andy Gustafson photo.

Also thanks to fellow Woody Boater Brian Robinson in California for providing us with the Chris-Craft production numbers and related information for this story today. And to Andy Gustafson for the lake shots from the re-launch on Saturday.


20 replies
  1. John Baas
    John Baas says:

    WOW! Makes one wonder how many boats of all makes in that condition are consumed in a bonfire or left to disintegrate in the woods? Great job everyone!

  2. mike k
    mike k says:

    i am glad to see the inner bottom pictures, thats where im at in my resto and i thought it was only my ineptness that cant get the narrow pieses even. now i can sleep alittle better.

    great artwork on a great boat!


  3. Steve Moreau
    Steve Moreau says:

    WOW Cindy it’s way past beautiful! Here’s a new project. Go have fun with her and bring that camera and report back please!

  4. Cobourg kid
    Cobourg kid says:

    Terrific time lapse photos by the Petersons , artfull woodwork by Bruce Bronson and , as always, smoove narration by Texx , what else could one ask for? Well maybe a warm November day , glassy water on lake Steilacoom a full tank of high test and a bombshell on your 6

  5. Chris
    Chris says:

    What an amazing restoration! I have been considering the idea of embarking on a new project and wanted to hear what the Woody Boater community thought. Ever since letting go of my 1956 hard top Sea Skiff project, the one Woody Boater kindly ran a story about years ago, I have wanted another wooden boat. This begs the question of what is “too far gone” when the project has all of its “hard to find” hardware. Wood can be replaced but hardware sometimes cannot. Especially when its a 1959 Century Coronado. I have been working on a 1968 Correct Craft Barracuda Super Sport for the past two years but it doesn’t get me as excited as a classic woody. This article has really inspired me to save the boat Ive found from certain death. I think it is worth saving but it sure does look rough. Thanks for the inspiration Woody Boater and keep the stories coming!


  6. Texx
    Texx says:

    Hi Chris – It’s nice to hear from you again! Just last week a similar Sea Skiff to yours (less the hard top) popped up on one of the Internet sites for sale and I thought of your boat.

    Last summer I had the pleasure of driving an old, very original 1958 18′ Sea Skiff in Minnesota and it was wonderful.

    • Chris
      Chris says:

      Hey Texx,

      The Sea Skiff is a great boat. Well, the Century I wanted to rescue was scooped up. I had been corresponding with the sellers friend and as last night the boat was no longer available. Someone got to it before me.

      Guess I’ll need to look for a new one!

  7. Rich Marschner
    Rich Marschner says:

    Texx, this story just makes me love my 19 barrel-back Talaria (nee Sylvia) all the more…if that’s even possible. Not sure I could have gone thru the three-year process, so I’m ever-more happy that Matt did it for me!

    • Texx
      Texx says:

      Rich – The Barrelback models continue to be the benchmark of the hobby. Every one that can be saved (regardless of how much work they require) is important.

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